Comment #14   
A third possibility could be a sister from a nunnery, that declined to accept the winnings due to her vow of poverty.
           Moving true stories emerge from portrait of 1930s Britain    
Six moving, real-life stories are told in this gripping slice of social history by psychologist Corinne Sweet, who addresses the poverty of life in 1930s Britain and follows individuals' stories.
          ‘I'm grateful and happy’   

Vendor Profile: Vancouver vendor Sekani Dakelth talks about her experience with poverty and how she works through life’s obstacles

Na finalu Zvezda Granda desilo se ono u šta niko nije mogao da poveruje – pomirile su se Snežana Đurišić i Ana Bekuta. Dve vremešne folk dive više od godinu dana nisu htela jedna drugoj zdravo da kažu. Po ćoškovima su se ogovarale, a javno nikada nisu želele da otkriju šta je razlog tolike netrpeljivosti.
          Thegiornalisti + Fausto Brizzi: L’estate comincia adesso?   
Dal genere indie pop ai tormentoni estivi alla colonna sonora del sequel di Poveri Ma Ricchi. L'ascesa alla notorietà della band di Tommaso Paradiso rispecchia la parabola del circolo mainstream
          The Many Reasons to Embrace Technology   

The Many Reasons to Embrace Technology $FB, $GOOGL, $AAPL, $MSFT “The strongest force propelling human progress has been the swift advance and wide diffusion of technology.” — The Economist Some historical facts, as follows: In the year 1820, a person could expect to live less than 35 years, 94% of the global population lived in extreme poverty, […]

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          "The Flight" Chapter 2 of Apurvai, a travelogue by P.L. "PuLa" Deshpande   
Many years ago, I translated chapter 1 from the 1960 book. You don't HAVE TO read it to follow this chapter, but it is recommended. Unlike my other translations which were done from audio files of PuLa narrating his work, this one has been done from the actual book. So even Marathis who've never read the book will find something new here. 

To set the stage a little, in this chapter, PuLa describes the experience of his first ever international flight. Based on the references to the Suez Crisis, I'm guessing it happened in 1956 or 1957. So almost 60 years ago! I was surprised to learn of the sheer number of stopovers flights had to make in those days. It is indeed a different era. But so much of what he writes resonated with me in terms of my experiences with international flights. Which is why I chose to translate this although it isn't as ROFLMAO funny as the previous chapter.

Usual caveats - Much of PuLa's humor comes from how he played with the Marathi language, and it can get lost in translation. But his observations and descriptions stay relevant even 55 years later.

Our flight to London from Santa Cruz airport was scheduled for 11 PM on August 20th. It wasn't my first time flying, but it was the first time I was flying to another country, that too on a huge airplane. I had been told to reach the airport about an hour before the flight. Even if I hadn't been told this, I would've gone there two hours before. Because even when I am taking an M.S.M. train (or as you kids today call it, Southern Railway), I go to the station an hour early. Even if I have a reserved seat. 

I find it convenient to allow that buffer for unforeseen but predictable events like getting on the wrong train, not being able to find my compartment, taxi to the station breaking down, heavy rain causing waterlogging, forgetting some important stuff at home and realizing it halfway to the station, forgetting to fill the water bottle, and of course, panicking every few minutes thinking that I have either forgotten the ticket at home or lost it. 

And of course, Indian Railways regularly contributes with unforeseen but predictable events of its own. Just as you've spread out a sheet on your berth and laid down, a railways employee comes and says the compartment has some problems, so we need to shift to another one. It takes about 45 minutes to find a porter, find the replacement compartment, and move all the luggage. It turns out that if you turn the lights on, the fan stops working, and if you turn the fan on, the lights stop working. Finally both are fixed, and when you go to the bathroom, there is no water in the compartment. So you have to stay awake till Lonand to find a guard and complain about it. If you're lucky, it'll get fixed by the time the train reaches Nira. Or then wait till Miraj at 5 AM so you can use the bathroom on the station. 

So even if you go very early to the station, there's no guarantee that your rail journey will be pleasant. I wonder if we are destined to ever get railways that take the responsibility of passenger comfort seriously. Until then, there are only two ways to travel without any problems - on foot like Vinoba Bhave or by air.

Or so I thought.

When I bought my tickets at the Air India office, the lady behind the counter had told me to reach the airport at 9 PM. And then, flashing me a disarming smile, suggested that I call the airline before leaving to make sure the plane wasn't delayed. So just as we were about to leave, I remembered that smile and mentioned this to the huge contingent of friends, family, and neighbors gathered at our house to bid us farewell.

"Haha, don't be an idiot! It's a plane, not an ST bus to be delayed. Airlines operate with second-by-second precision!"

A friend, who had never traveled an inch north of Malad or south of Kala Ghoda, said making me feel like an idiot in front of everyone. This guy has always had this publicly dismissive attitude towards me. I don't know why I am still friends with him. When I told him I was being sent to England by Doordarshan, his first reaction was,

"You??? Why??? Looks like the government has too much money to waste!"

When I first wore the suit mentioned in the previous chapter, he laughed and said I looked like a trumpeter from one of the Dhobi Talao wedding bands. Totally unnecessary snark. But he can't help it. So even though he had no first hand experience on the matter, he stayed true to his nature and ridiculed me for wondering if I should call the airline to check the flight status.

My wife called the airline office anyway. And we came to know that because the incoming plane from Tokyo hadn't reached yet, our flight was delayed by two hours. 

I winced. The idea of sitting in Mumbai's humidity for two more hours wearing a three piece suit, that noose-like tie, those damned expensive Chinese shoes, the nylon socks bought after the Middle East cooled down, and a thick coat meant for England's cold weather, was unbearable. I was tempted to take off all my clothes (except for one) and cal the whole thing off. 

"So....will the plane depart exactly two hours later than scheduled?"

Someone from the annoyingly large farewell contingent asked, and that question suddenly made our house explode into a pointless deliberation that made it resemble a legislative body debating a useless resolution.

"Will the plane leave two hours later or do you go to the airport two hours later?"

"But does two hours really mean two hours?"

"But what does a plane coming from Tokyo have to do with an Air India flight going to London?"

"Let's say the plane reaches earlier than estimated......will it still leave two hours late or earlier than that?"

"Let's say that Tokyo flight is delayed by four hours instead, will your flight leave two hours late or four hours late?"

"Someone told me that last week a flight scheduled for midnight eventually departed after dawn. Is that true?"

"Are you sure it's a plane from Tokyo? Maybe it's Kyoto."

"I just called a friend of mine who works in a restaurant at the airport. He says there is some mechanical problem in this plane, and the Tokyo plane thing is just an excuse."

"So the flight might get cancelled?"

"Do they have a replacement plane? How many planes does All India Radio have anyway?"

"It's Air India, not All India Radio."

"Yeah, same difference."

"Mechanical problems......that's scary!"

"You both have life insurance, right?"

"Remember the plane that crashed at Cairo five years ago? My boss' nephew was on it. His wife got two million as compensation!"

"I've heard you can buy life insurance at the airport."

All this nonsense from people who had nothing to do with our travel whatsoever. I prayed to god to rescue me from this plane chaos by sending the plane he sent for Sant Tukaram. 

"I'm telling you guys. Instead of spending the two hours sitting at home, spend them sitting at the airport. Let's say they repair the plane early and it leaves before time. What are you going to do? It's not like you can catch it on the way. It's not the Barshi-Pandharpur passenger train. Hehehehe!"

So finally, following the over-cautious traditions of my train journeys, we reached the airport at 9:30 PM for a plane that was scheduled to depart at 1:30 AM. Some of my other friends and colleagues were at the airport already to see me off. They either didn't know that the plane was delayed, or even if they knew, they were aware of my over-cautious traditions. 

All my friends at the airport made me feel very awkward and also emotional by showering me with so many garlands and bouquets, that the airport officials thought I was a politician. And I had an epiphany at that moment - the greatest wealth in my life is my friends. If wealth were to be measured in friendships, I am probably richer than Tata-Birla combined. I have so many dear friends in so many walks of life! And so many of them had come late at night and out of the way to the airport to see me off. 

I felt touched but also embarrassed. Firstly, I still wasn't sure I could pull off the suit-boot look. Having such a huge audience for it felt weird. And then there were these garlands and bouquets. I was overwhelmed. I have gotten used to getting such attention at functions and award shows and suchlike. But on this occasion, I was feeling like I had an emotional debt to pay off. Just popping by to say goodbye is one thing, but these guys had come all the way to the airport!

My embarrassment was compounded by the fact that I hadn't really done or achieved anything to deserve all the attention that night. When I get such attention after a successful theater performance, it's okay. At least I gave them some happiness, and they are appreciating it. But that night, my wife and I were just flying to England like thousands of people do everyday. And yet my mob of friends at the airport had made me feel like I was doing something special. With a luggage full of such love and good wishes, I started feeling confident that even if all the engines of the plane failed, I could fly anywhere I wanted. 

The crowd of friends and all the flowers being heaped on me made the press photographers hanging around think that I was some big deal. They suddenly started snapping our pictures like paparazzi. In all this chaos, one of my friends went to the airport officials and convinced them to open a "VIP Lounge" for me. A sturdy fellow in a crisp uniform politely asked us to follow him to the VIP lounge. 

At that moment, my wife looked at me happily with an expression that said - "all these years that I have put up with you are finally paying off!"

As we were led into the imposingly plush VIP lounge, I started feeling even more awkward. Given our colonial history, I know that "England returned" has a certain halo attached to it. But I had no idea that the halo starts appearing even before you leave India. I started feeling worried about the possibility of a real VIP showing up and frowning at how our raucous farewell contingent had made the VIP lounge resemble Khandke's chawl. 

Even in all that chaos, I overheard one of the uniformed guys whispering to the other,

"Nowadays, any random person can become a VIP."

His colleague responded,

"Hoga koi Minister ka baccha nahi toh jamai!"

and walked away.

So I tried to appear and act as VIP-ish as possible. I went around folding my hands and solemnly thanking all the people who had come to see me off. Then I started giving away the garlands and bouquets to kids and being unnecessarily nice to them. Basically, emulating every aspect of VIP behavior that I could remember. 

A few of the professional photographers kept taking pictures of all this, and then offered to send them to me. They helpfully quoted a "professional" rate for it that was ten times what it would cost to get a photo taken in my neighborhood studio. But I was pretending to be a VIP and had to play the part. Once I parted with all the advance payments for the photos, the expression on my face finally came to resemble something that actually deserved to be photographs. I have no idea where those expensive photos are now, by the way.

Eventually there was an announcement that the customs check process had started, and we finally prepared to leave that VIP cell....I mean lounge. While leaving, I handed a generous tip to the uniformed guys standing at the door. The astounded expressions on their faces made me realize that real VIPs probably never hand out any tips. They hand out only two things - promises or threats.

We left the lounge and walked straight to the weighing scales near the customs area. I put our bags on it one by one and felt relieved when each of them were a pound or so less than the 44 pound limit. My wife on the other hand seemed a little disappointed and said,

"Hmpf, I guess we could have taken a few more papads then."

I ignored her and walked to the customs booth, standing in front of the officer with an appropriately guilty expression on my face.

This was the second time in my life that I had faced a customs officer. A few years ago, when returning from Goa (then a Portuguese territory) I stood in front of a customs officer for the first time. Everyone in front of me had been questioned extensively and had their bags checked thoroughly. So I was already terrified. Even though there was no reason to be terrified. In the entire crowd there, we were probably the only ones returning from Goa without as much as a tiny piece of chocolate. But customs booths are one of those weirdly imposing places where I feel nervous by default.

Some people are scared of a dentist's chair. Not me. I have been to dentists many times. One dentist actually turned my simple complaint of an aching tooth into an imperative to extract it with the glee of a professional sadist. It hurt so much, I think I actually saw a few angels waiting to welcome me into heaven. But even then, the next time I went to a (different, obviously) dentist, I went with the ease with which I go to Kulkarni's restaurant to eat bhajiyas. No fear or worries. But put me in front of a custom's officer and my heart starts racing.

There are many random entries in my list of "people I am irrationally scared of". For some reason, I am terrified of every liftman. Not afraid of the actual lift, mind you. It's not like I am scared that the lift will plummet to the basement or anything. I am just scared of the liftmen, at least in Mumbai, where almost all of them seem to have a cold blank expression on their face. I am also terrified of waiters in fancy restaurants. If one is standing next to me, I feel so nervous that I invariably spill something. I was never scared of male teachers, but female teachers always petrified me. And I can slap a doctor on his back and sing songs with him even when he is in the middle of surgery, but when it comes to nurses, my hands start trembling even if I am handing them a note. I have no idea why I carry these bizarre fears in my heart.

That customs officer I encountered when returning from Goa had insulted me rather painfully! I still shudder and shed a tear when I think about it.

When it was my turn, he asked me my name, address, and profession. Those days, I earned my living in a college fostering deep hatred for literature among the students. As soon as I told the officer that I was a Professor, and that too of Marathi, he just looked straight into my eyes, and with an expression conveying immense pity, said,

"You can go."

He didn't ask to search my luggage, didn't ask me if I was carrying any contraband, didn't even ask me if I had anything to declare. With utter conviction that I lacked the ability or the means to smuggle in alcohol, gold, cigarettes, or anything like that, he sent me on my way. I have never felt more humiliated. I would've preferred it if he had instead put me through a two hour long interrogation under a bright lamp.

So that day in Mumbai airport, I was wondering if the customs officer in charge of examining departing passengers would be more respectful. He looked at my bags, then glanced at my face, and then wordlessly made some chalk markings on the bags and waved me through. Rude, isn't it?

Next my wife and I went to Passport Control. Our passports had been issued two years ago and were valid for three more years. But one of my friends in the farewell party had authoritatively said, 

"Ohhhh.....just three years validity left? That might create problems. Good luck!"

I nervously handed over the passports to the officer. He glanced at them for a nanosecond and returned them to me. I was less worried about the validity and more worried about the passport photo. But the officer had evidently discovered some similarity between my passport photo and the way I actually look. Once we were done with that, a health officer quickly made sure we had taken the necessary vaccinations and we were done.

Once we got the "worthy of traveling abroad" certification from Pandit Nehru's people, all we could do was wait for the plane to leave. It was past midnight. The departure area at Santa Cruz is decorated and furnished in a very modern way. There are lots of comfortable couches and chairs for passengers to relax in. But my wife and I were sitting there uncomfortably, feeling out of place.

There was a European couple sitting in front of us. They seemed confused by Indian currency. These were the days when paisa coins co-existed with anna coins and the poor visitors had no idea if the many coins they had were worth five rupees or five annas. Hoping to give them a happy memory of Indian hospitality, I jumped in to offer unsolicited advice and ended up compounding their confusion even more. Finally my better half stepped in, sorted the whole thing out, and informed them that Indian women have a much better understanding of money than Indian men. 

The European couple left for their flight and I started looking around at other fellow-passengers. With a parochial mindset, I went around to see if there were other Marathi folk there, and soon met a man named Patil and a student named Joshi. I was there representing the Deshpande name. All we were missing was a Kulkarni. If we had found one, we would have had Patil-Joshi-Deshpande-Kulkarni, the four pillars of the ancient Marathi administrative set-up. Sadly there was no Kulkarni on that flight, but it did end up having a pilot named Nadkarni. Nadkarni is essentially the South Kannada version of Kulkarni, so I guess we ended up with the full set eventually.

 Around 1 AM, the plane's wings must have fluttered because suddenly, there was a lot of activity around us. The crowd started walking in one direction, and we went along. I looked at the glass barrier at the customs desk and saw our contingent was still patiently waiting. The elders had tears in their eyes and the younger lot looked like they were cracking stale jokes at our expense and passing them off as new. 

When we eventually reached the gate, I confirmed three times that it was the right plane. Or else we'd wake up the next morning in Cochin instead of Cairo. I still carried emotional scars from the night at Pune station that I got on a train to go to Kolhapur and woke up the next morning to find I was in a compartment parked in the Pune railway yard. I have always had the kind of luck where I take a girlfriend to watch a movie on the sly and run into a nosy old relative who decided to come watch the same movie. And I couldn't afford to let that luck mess up international travel. 

There was an air hostess standing at the door, welcoming us with an unnaturally wide smile. The rest of the crew, dressed in crisp dark trousers and skirts and blindingly white shirts, sporting wing shaped lapel pins and painstakingly groomed mustaches, was darting about doing their work. We reached our seats and stared out the tiny oblong window at the terminal, wondering if our friends and family were still there. 

Once I was in the seat, I assured myself that despite all apparent obstacles, it now seemed like I would definitely go to England, and fastened the seat belt around my stomach. The engines started humming and the fans started rotating one by one.   The plane got going. After zooming along the ground for a mile or so, it slowed down and stopped at the other end of the runway. 

As soon as it stopped, I started fearing the worst. The plane had already been delayed by mechanical problems. I wasn't sure if they had fixed the problems completely or had postponed some repairs. Maybe now they'd discover more problems. I also carried emotional scars from bus drivers who'd make passengers board on a scorching hot day, bake them in that tin box for an hour while they waited, and then open the bonnet of the bus to examine what's wrong with the engine. 

Luckily, nothing like that happened. In a couple of minutes, the plane started moving again, then sped up, and eventually left terra firma in a graceful glide. I watched the airport rapidly disappear from my view and before I knew it, Mumbai started resembling a gem-laden ornament below us. In that ornament, four million people were probably dreaming as they slept, while I sat with wide open eyes, realizing my childhood dream of foreign travel. 

And next to me was my soul mate and my life partner accompanying me on this adventure. Over the previous twelve years, we had built many castles in the air together, while never feeling tempted to build a house on the ground. We never stayed in one place for more than 2-3 years anyway. We had in common a huge appetite for new challenges and new experiences. And the latest one was to be living in England for 5-6 months.

Our flight had been in the air for a while, and the plane was completely dark as was the sky outside, but I still couldn't sleep. The plane was completely packed and experienced travelers were already snoring. Our air-hostess was Japanese. She was promptly and efficiently offering candy and nuts to travelers with a studied smile straight out of the training syllabus. Her walk was brisk and her voice had the crispness of springtime. 

I was feeling really hot. That damned suit on my body started feeling like clunky armor and I again cursed myself for wearing it on the plane. I looked around and was taken aback when I noticed at an Englishman sitting in front of me. Here I was, wearing a brand new three piece suit because I was going to his snooty country. And this dude was sitting there looking very relaxed in khaki shorts, a flannel shirt with some twenty five pockets, and a flimsy felt hat that did not match.

So I discreetly looked around at the other white people on the flight. Not a single one of them was dressed even as remotely formally as I was. Sitting there overdressed in that damned suit in the middle of the night, I started feeling like even more of a neophyte than I already was. 

Suddenly the Japanese air-hostess appeared with a small wet towel on a plate. I eyed the towel suspiciously for a second. I had no idea what purpose a wet towel was supposed to serve at two in the morning. But I was brought up never to turn a plate away, so I picked up the towel and thanked her. I looked at my wife to see if she had any suggestions, but she was fast asleep. I slowly glanced across the aisle and saw that the guy there was gently rubbing the towel on his face. I did the same, and the cool cologne scented fabric gave me some relief from the intense heat I was experiencing. 

Our massive jumbo jet was slicing through the darkness leaving cities and mountains behind. I was finally feeling a little drowsy. Almost everyone around me, including my wife, was already asleep. That Englishman with the khaki shorts was in fact trying to drown out the noise of the engine with his own booming multi-octave snores with his mouth open. The ex-subject of Her Majesty's realm inside me felt relieved to observe first-hand that even the English can snore with their mouths open. Because once our travel plans were made, I was a bit worried about that. 

You see, I am one of "those" too. But over the course of my life, I have come across some impressively loud snorers. My grandma says that people with big hearts and minds snore the most. I don't know if there is any correlation between big bodies and big hearts and minds - I won't mind if there is. I started thinking a lot about snoring and hearts and minds. I do remember that I spent a lot of time thinking about it. But I don't know for how long, because the next thing I knew, I was waking up to the dawn's early light.

Our plane was flying over a huge desert. I noted how different this dawn was from any other dawn I had experienced in my life, thousands of miles over a limitless desert. This experience, coming right after I had experienced a darkness so different from any other darkness I had experienced in my life, spurred some philosophical and metaphorical thoughts. It felt like I was witness to the dawn of a new phase of my life. I thought about my recent years and realized that I hadn't really experienced real dawn in years. In Mumbai's fast-paced hectic life, by the time my day ended, it was usually well past midnight. So by the time I usually woke up, dawn would have given up on waiting for me and slid away, making way for harsh sunlight. 

Our Japanese air-hostess, still looking as fresh as a dew-kissed flower, was making the rounds with hot fortifying beverages for the morning. I have never found those beverages particularly fortifying immediately after waking up, so I politely declined her offer of tea or coffee. Instead, I got up and headed to the bathroom. Taking care not to wake up or bump into any of the other passengers, I tiptoed my way to the front, and slowly opened the door to what I thought was the bathroom. Instead I found myself face-to-face with the fine gentlemen flying the plane. It was the cockpit door! I guess the expression on my face gave away what my need was because the co-pilot, without saying anything, pointed me to the correct door. 

I finished my morning ablutions and returned to the seat to find the "fasten seatbelts" sign flashing. By the time I was able to find the belt and buckle it up, the plane had started its rapid descent. I looked out the window and saw that we were headed to a desert island surrounded by more desert. I assumed it was Cairo, our first stopover. I started looking around the landscape in the hopes of spotting some pyramids. By the time I spotted a bump that I thought was a pyramid and was about to point it out to my wife, the plane was touching down, and before I knew it, it was standing stationary in a foreign land.

I looked at the dinky terminal outside the window and was a little disappointed that a city as renowned as Cairo should have an airport that looks more like an ST bus stand. But once we got off the plane, I learned that we were not in Cairo, but in some place called "Bahrain" instead. I felt a bit like Columbus who reached land confident that he was in India but then discovered that he was instead in some strange land he did not know anything about. And I felt relieved that I had not pointed out those supposed pyramids to my wife.

I had never heard of Bahrain before and had no idea where the hell it exactly was or why we were there instead of Cairo. But we walked into the terminal and headed for the restaurant. I learned that there were oilfields nearby and that Bahrain is a small island nation that is known for its oilfields. That was pretty much all we learned about the place. 

We sat in the restaurant, ordered tea, and waited while the plane was refueled. The tea arrived after a long time. One sip of that concoction and I was convinced that in Bahrain, they used dried date palm leaves in lieu of tea leaves and the milk probably came from a camel instead of a cow. Over the course of my life, I have tasted many different kinds of tea......except of course the spilled tea from Mongini's mentioned in the previous chapter. Tea served in small glass tumblers in Mumbai, tea served in mud bowls on the banks of the Narmada, tea served in metallic cups in Madras, masala milk tea, railway station tea flavored with charcoal, tea without milk, tea without sugar, and even Chinese tea made from jasmine flowers. But I will never EVER forget that horrible tea from Bahrain airport. I will happily drink the bitterest castor potion than drink that tea again.

Well, at least the tea was free, because it was paid for by the airline.

Pretty soon, the plane was ready and we all climbed back into its belly. The plane took off soon and headed for Cairo. The flight from Bahrain to Cairo was essentially just desert after desert after desert. Once in a while, just as a change of scenery, there would be a small strip of water. But otherwise, totally barren. Not a single glimpse of green. 

And that's when I really understood why the green flag of Islam came was hoisted in these deserts first. The prophet was very clever in choosing the color green for his flag. It is obvious why millions of Arabs enthusiastically followed that rare pleasant colored flag. I'm sure that the green flag was as instrumental in the spread of Islam as the Koran was. Add to it the moon that the desert dwellers probably equated with the relief provided by night, and I felt I had to applaud the prophet for his grasp of semiotics. 

It was about 8:30 in the morning. I was staring at the desert out the window hoping to spot a camel train. But in vain. I did spot a lot of dry river beds though. Soon the sun got really bright and the glare made it difficult to keep looking outside. Soon our plane moved from the sea of sand to a sea of water. Being geographically challenged, I first decided it was the Red Sea, then the Caspian Sea, then the Black Sea, and then the Dead Sea. I still have no idea which one it was.

A while later, there were murmurs all around that we were flying over the Suez Canal. All passengers looked out the windows, identified the first strip of water they could find, and assured themselves that it was the Suez Canal. Again, no idea if any of those were actually the Suez Canal. From the height we were flying at, every strip of water looked as tiny as the Fergusson College canal in Pune. But in one strip, I spied some dots that seemed like boats and I silently convinced myself that it was indeed the Suez Canal. It was hard to believe that this tiny strip of water was responsible for almost starting World War 3 and almost sinking my travel plans.  

When your plane is flying so high that you can only see the sky and clouds above you as well as below you, you can't help but get philosophical. You forget any fears you have about the plane crashing. Looking at creation from a height that makes even seas look like saucers of water makes you realize how insignificant you are in the whole scheme of things. As our plane flew towards Cairo, I couldn't help but realize that I was looking at the cradle of civilization. These deserts were where the Babylonian, Sumerian, and Assyrian civilizations had once bloomed. Where the library of Alexandria was once home to millions of of books that were burned. I'm assuming some Big Four or Big Five must have had a summit even then and decided that burning books was in the best interests of the world.

As impressive as the sights of great oceans, great skies, and great lands is while flying, one look at the great space when flying above clouds make them all pale in comparison. And you start wondering what the whole point of creation is, and whether you make any difference to it whatsoever. 

Our plane was about to reach Cairo soon and I started thinking about it. Egypt is an ancient civilization, much like India. Historians have discovered that trade and cultural links between Egypt and India date back millenia. This is the land that saw rich culture flourish for millenia even before Christ was born. And when Christ was born, the bright star that shone was above these lands too. This is the land where Jews, Christians, and Muslims found their faiths and then unfurled the blood-soaked flags of those faiths.

I was in the middle of these thoughts and didn't even realize when I dozed off. The next thing I knew, someone was yelling "KAHIRO!!!!", waking me up.

The first sight I saw at Cairo airport was of battle-ready fighter jets. Next to them were imposing anti-aircraft guns with their barrels pointed to the sky. The stage seemed to be set for the next big war. The only question seemed to be which actors would enter the stage first and who the director would be. Actors from dozens of countries seemed to be ready, with war-paint on, or make-up on. Who knew when the final act would start and when it would end.

When I read a big sign that said, "WE WELCOME YOU TO EGYPT", I felt like someone had sprayed a stream of cold water on my face on an oppressively hot day. Why shouldn't all human beings be welcomed heartily all over this little planet of ours? Although as long as there exist things like passports and visas, built on an assumption of distrust of fellow human beings, can we really expect true expressions of such humanity? The sign that said "WE WELCOME YOU TO EGYPT" any "you" who reached there, regardless of race, religion, gender, creed.....why shouldn't such signs and more importantly sentiments, be displayed everywhere?

The funny thing is, this "WE WELCOME YOU TO EGYPT" sign was right next to the massive anti-aircraft guns and the irony endemic to human existence tickled me and troubled me in equal amounts.

We headed to the restaurant inside the terminal. The waiters there were very friendly and polite, and served us some divine Egyptian coffee. Compared to Mumbai airport, I thought Cairo airport was small. There was a lot of new construction happening around us though. Egypt is currently in the midst of writing a new chapter in its history. Everybody is watching carefully to see which way their new statesman (Nasser) takes them.

It was in Cairo airport that I first encountered Egyptian people. And as I examined their appearance carefully, I wondered how many Egyptians there might be in Mumbai too. Because in terms of appearance, I didn't really see any major differences between Egyptians and Indians. Beyond the facts I had memorized in my childhood to score 2 marks in the history exam, such as pyramids, mummies, pharaohs, and the Nile river, my knowledge about Egypt was as barren as their desert. I had never even thought about anyone living in Egypt other than Cleopatra, General Najeeb, and now this Nasser fellow.

Suddenly, I was overcome by a profound sense of ignorance and curiosity as a foreigner in a foreign land. And sitting there in the Cairo airport, I started thinking about how day-to-day life in Egypt must be and how I knew nothing about it. How do school teachers, lawyers, and bureaucrats here dress? Is it similar to how those folks dress in India? What is the most popular item in a typical restaurant in Egypt? Do wives here refer to their husbands by name or is there some tactful pronoun that has been coined for the purpose like in India? With each passing second, the expanse of my ignorance about this fascinating culture seemed to exceed the expanse of the desert.

Then I started thinking about the people who worked at that airport. For them, a typical day consisted of interacting with travelers from dozens of different countries, for maybe an hour or two at a time, before they went on their way and were replaced by a different set of foreigners. Do they feel the same sense of curiosity and note their ignorance about other cultures? Or has it become just a mundane feature of their lives by now? Do they actively notice the multi-colored lattice of different races and nationalities or does it just pass by in the blink of an eye like a frame from a cinema reel?

I spent the rest of the time in Cairo thinking about all this before we were called back to the plane. The next stopover was Geneva in Switzerland. As our plane surged through the clouds, we gradually left the desert behind and were soon traveling over Europe. Specifically, Italy, as the pilot informed us.

While I was almost entirely ignorant about Egypt except for its ancient history and contemporary politics, I at least knew more about Italy thanks to all the books I had read. Names like Rome, Venice, and Naples started swimming around in my head. I decided that if the plane had to crash right now, I would want it to do so near Naples. I had read that Naples was home to some of the most awe-inspiring sculptures in the world. So if my plane crashed in Naples, I could drag myself to those sculptures, see them first hand, and then die happy.

Yes, I know it is morbid to keep pondering the possibility of the plane crashing but that's how I am and be honest, aren't you too?

But the plane kept going. I kept looking at the Italian landscape underneath and we didn't see Naples or Venice. But we did fly over Rome. It was hard to miss. As I looked at the distant but clear images of various buildings and cathedrals in Rome, I first felt a great sense of satisfaction at seeing them first hand. Then I compensated for the unfamiliar bliss by berating myself for still not having read Gibbon's "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" even after buying it years ago. I made a mental note to read it as soon as I returned home.

When you're flying over different countries of the world, you think more about what you haven't read about those lands than what you have read. In another hour or so, our plane was flying over the gorgeous alps and I realized we were in Europe's Eden.

Soon the plane touched down in Geneva. I had heard a lot of cautionary tales about how the cold in Europe is way worse than anything I might have experienced in India. I experienced it first hand as I walked into the Geneva airport and felt like I had walked into a massive refrigerator. And this was just August! So I shivered a little and prepared for six more months of this inhumanly cold weather. No wonder these white folks ran away and captured our warmer lands.

As soon as I stepped into the chilly Geneva airport, my brain initiated a flashback from 20 years ago from my college days in Pune. I had grown up in Mumbai, where it never gets even remotely chilly. Then in Pune in the winters, every so often, I would wake up to such a chilly morning. It felt more bracing than oppressive, making me feel like running all the way across the world. I had always thought cold weather would make me feel like a shriveled old man, but instead, it made me feel like a daring young man, ready to achieve anything!

Anyway, we walked into the restaurant at the Geneva airport and it looked more like a flower shop than a restaurant. The faces of all the staff members were fresh and enthusiastic like recently bloomed lilies. There was a spring in their step. It didn't look like anyone could ever age, and everyone looked like they were in their 20s even though they probably weren't. We were served coffee in a very elegantly crafted glass cup. And it tasted divine and almost intoxicating. I wondered that if even the coffee here gets my pulse racing so much, what will stronger beverages do? I had heard that Switzerland is a place where extreme beauty and extreme pleasure is the default and my experiences at their airport confirmed it.

I didn't even realize when that stopover at Geneva ended. It was cold, but I was surrounded by beauty, human and non-human, and I felt more alive than I ever had. Before I got back on the plane, I turned around and took a 360 degree mental picture of all I could see of Switzerland from that terminal. The tall trees sheltering cute little houses, the snow-covered peaks of the Alps kissing the deep blue sky. I promised myself to return for a more leisurely visit. When the plane took off, I was looking at a meandering little river as it flowed through the verdant Swiss countryside, when suddenly, our plane ascended above the clouds. And those fluffy white things that a few hours earlier had seemed gorgeous, now seemed like villains for blocking my view of the Swiss landscape. Our journey continued.

The next stop was to be at Dusseldorf in Germany, It had been over 20 hours since we took off from Mumbai. The hands of my watch had already been rotated many times by then. Every hour, the pilot made announcements about how high we were flying, what the temperature outside was, what the local time was, and so on. Passengers around us were saying random things in response to those announcements like, "Oh! 18,000 feet? That's nice! Very high!"

We were flying through clouds at that moment, so I personally couldn't tell the difference between 18,000 feet and 18 million feet. Honestly, this whole thing of estimating distances has been a challenge for me, whether I am in the air or on the ground. Whenever I read about some witness in court say stuff like "the accused was 19 feet away from me", I feel jealous of his ability to express distance so precisely. Because I absolutely suck at it. I can't even remember the inches in my own measurements for shoes, hats, collars, socks, and so on. When a shoe salesman asks what size I want, I just give him the chappals I am wearing then and ask him to figure it out. I have immense respect for people who go shoe shopping and say stuff like "Bring me Number 8 pairs".

And when someone remembers the precise date on which something happened, I feel overcome enough with admiration to go hug them. When I hear someone say stuff like, "I remember it was July 17th...", I am amazed. I suck at dates too. Which is why I always sucked at history in school. Even now, I remember only three dates - Shivaji Maharaj died in 1680, the 1857 uprising happened in 1857, and using multiple reminder mnemonics, my wife's birthday. Other than these three, I have no idea of any other dates. You can ask me when India gained independence and I will try to hedge between 1947 and 1950.

Anyway, the point is, I am horrible with anything that is expressed numerically. So even before I could figure out how high 18,000 feet exactly is, our plane was touching down in Dusseldorf. Before I knew it, we were surrounded by cries of "Achtung! Achtung!" and "Gut! Gut!". My wife and I walked to the terminal, now sick of this sequence of stopovers. Yes. I was in Germany with its rich history and culture and intriguing contemporary split between East and West, but I didn't give a damn. The aforementioned Joshi and Patil left us here and we sat there hoping that we'd reach London before we died of boredom.

Why does the final stretch of the journey always seem to last the longest? Even when I am traveling from Pune to Mumbai by train, it is the same. The time from Pune to Thane or Kalyan seems to breeze by in a happy procession of vada, omelets, chikki, etc. But from there, Mulund, Bhandup, Vikroli, Dadar, etc seem to take an eternity to pass by. Very annoying! It's the same with other trips too. When you're taking a train from Mumbai to Delhi, everything seems great until you reach Mathura, and then after that, things seem to slow down. If you're going from Mumbai to Nagpur. it is Wardha that is the tipping point after which it is all yawns and polite curses.

The flight from Dusseldorf to London seemed similarly annoying and yawn-inducing. Finally, after about the hundredth yawn, the plane started barreling downwards. All the passengers around us seemed to have perked up as the plane continued descending. Finally there was a bump and the plane started slowing down. And a few passengers around me echoed my thoughts,

"Ah! London!"

          Antu Barva by P. L. "PuLa" Deshpande   
Fourteen years ago today, Purushottam Laxman Deshpande, arguably the most influential and beloved person from Maharashtra, died at the age of 81. He left behind a gargantuan legacy in the form of his books, plays, songs, movies, essays, social work, but more than that, the lasting impact he has had on Maharashtra. Every couple of years, I translate one of his essays or short stories on this blog. This time, I have chosen Antu Barva, a fictionalized life sketch that he created as an amalgam of several people he knew in Konkan. It is not exactly LOL funny, but is light-hearted while still tugging at your heart-strings. It is meant as a depiction of the tough life in Konkan in the middle of the 20th century, and the sort of complex and poignant characters such a life spawns.

But as somber as the basic subject matter is, PuLa manages to inject humor into it, even if the humor is dark. When I first read Antu Barva, I just read it as a slightly humorous life sketch. As I have re-read it and re-heard its narration over the years, I have come to recognize it as something beyond just that. It is one of PuLa's best allegorical social commentaries in my opinion. He was duly recognized for Vyakti Aani Valli, the book that this sketch appears in, with a Sahitya Akademi Puraskaar. In that book, I think this is THE most impressive and multi-layered sketch.

For years, I considered translating Antu Barva here but was too intimidated given how nuanced it is. PuLa gave Antu a specific Konkani "voice" (in text form as well as when he narrated the sketch for TV) that is impossible to translate. No matter how well I tried, I thought I would end up doing injustice to the original work. This is in addition to the usual difficulties in translating PuLa's wordplay and nuanced observations. So it is with a great sense of trepidation that I am even attempting this today. A LOT will get lost in translation. But I hope PuLa's fans will forgive me any errors. Because I think this particular piece is one of the greatest literary achievements from an Indian and it deserves a wider audience.

Miss you, PuLa. Bhool-chook maaf kara.

Ratnagiri's middle lane has been home to some towering personalities over the years. God used a unique formula when creating these people. These people tend to be a metaphorical amalgam of Ratnagiri's most famous products - sweet mango, rough jackfruit, hard coconut, irritating colocasia leaves, and intense betel nuts whose one bite will make your heart jump up your throat.    

It is in this unique Ratnagiri soil that Antu Barva grew and ripened. Actually, Antu's age doesn't really justify people casually calling him just "Antu". When I first met him 12-14 years ago, not just his stubble, but even the hair on his ears and chest had turned white. His teeth had mostly gone "Annu Gogtya".

Going Annu Gogtya = falling.

This is an idomatic phrase that Antu Barva coined. A lawyer from Ratnagiri named Annu Gogte has been standing in the local elections for many years. Standing and then falling. Repeatedly, without even coming close to winning. So even if a bucket falls in a well, Antu asks "has the bucket gone Annu?"

When someone is talking about old Antu, they just refer to him in the singular casual "Antu". As it is, characters from Konkan are quite singular. But no one calls Antu just "Antu" to his face.  They call him Antu sheth!

True blue Brahmin Antu got this trader caste suffix "sheth" decades ago. After all Antu himself had committed a sin justifying this demotion. During the first world war, Antu started a shop near the docks. It failed spectacularly even before the Treaty of Versailles. But that short-lived stint as a shopkeeper was enough to turn Antu into Antu sheth.

After that, no one remembers Antu doing anything specific to make a living. He manages to somehow score at least two square meals a day from somewhere. He has a little plot of land with a garden that has a couple of dozen coconut and Alphonso mango trees, sprinkled with the odd jackfruit and tamarind tree. He has a little single-room shack on that land. He has the right to draw water from the nearby well. Antu sheth manages to get by on all this.

I first met Antu at Bapu Hegishte's store. I had gone there to buy some cigarettes when Antu's face peered out from behind a newspaper. He slid his reading glasses up his forehead and said,

"You're Lawyer saheb's son-in-law, right?"

"Yes" I replied.

"Ahha! I recognized you right away! Please, have a seat, please. Bapu, some tea for our jawaibapu (a respectful term for son-in-law)!"

I had no idea who this guy was, suddenly acting so familiar. Antu sheth himself explained,

"Your father-in-law is a good friend of mine. Tell him Antu Barva said hello."


"Hmmm....when did you come from Pune?"

"Two days ago."

"Of course....the first Diwali after you got married....haha...ask him for a Ford car!"

"He is your friend. Why don't you tell him?"

"Haha, you're from Pune after all. Can't get the last word with you." he laughed. "So...staying long or just a flying visit?"

"Just a short trip. I'm leaving in a couple of days."

"Excellent! It's always good to keep such visits short. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that. Don't end up like that Kasopkar's son-in-law. He set up camp for six months. Finally Kasopkar lost his patience and made him plow his land! When a son-in-law stays with you for too long, he starts feeling like a pain in the neck, right?"

"You're right." I nodded.

"Bapusheth, I hope you recognized our lawyer's son-in-law. We are both your father-in-law's clients, jawaibapu."

Bapu Hegishte smiled and folded his hands in greeting.

"Welcome. Would you like to have some tea?" he asked.

"No, it's okay. It's really hot right now."

"Of course, it's always going to be hot in Ratnagiri!" Antu jumped in. "You can't sleep in a cowshed and then complain about the stink of cow piss! If Ratnagiri had cool weather, they'd have called it Shimla, not Ratnagiri!"

Before I could say anything, Antu continued,

"But the heat is way worse in your neighborhood with all those houses next to each other. Come to my garden near the beach. My garden do you say...."aircondition"!"

Antu sheth said the last words in English and laughed, and then added,

"That's our country joke, jawaibapu!"

Then he addressed Hegishte again.

"Bapusheth, did you know our jawaibapu here is a writer? Writes plays and movies and what not. Behave properly when he is around or he'll write a hilarious farce about you."

The pride I felt on my fame having spread even to someone like Antu Barva was dashed by Bapu Hegishte's next question. Bapusheth looked me up and down carefully for a few seconds and said,

"What do you do?"

"What the hell do you mean what does he do?" Antu thundered. "Are you insane, Hegishte? Take out that pile of raddi old newspapers and open them. You'll see his name and picture in dozens of places! He makes movies!"

"Movies!!?? Really??" Hegishte's expression changed to one of wonderment and he looked at me as if I was God.

"Jawaibapu, speaking of movies, can I ask you a question if you don't mind?"

I could see the naughty expression on Antusheth's face as he asked me this.

"Sure, go ahead."

"How much money do you make from one movie?"

This wasn't my first trip to Konkan. So by now, I had gotten used to dealing with such intensely personal questions.

"That really varies from movie to movie." I deflected.

"But still....I mean I have read that you get like a million or a million and a half."

"No way! There isn't nearly that kind of money in Marathi films."

"Yeah, but still. Even if you don't get fistfuls, you must be getting at least 2-3 pinchfulls?"

"You get it sometimes, and also lose it sometimes." I stuck to being vague.

"Well of course, it's a business after all. When it comes to business, you win some, you lose some. It's all part of the game."

Antu sheth got philosophical. But only for a moment.

"Can I ask you one more question? Only if you don't get angry."

"What's there to get angry about? Go ahead."

" know....whatever we read about these film actresses in magazines and that real or is it fake like Gangadhar Basthe's "real" Belgaum butter?"

"What do you mean all this about film actresses?" I kept a straight face and pretended to not get what he was saying.

"Quite a skillful guy you are, jawaibapu. Skillful! You'll make a great witness in court!" Antu sheth was having none of it. "All this about film actresses as in...the whole index finger nostril thing."

I didn't immediately get what he meant by the whole index finger nostril thing. So Antu sheth gently tapped his index finger against his nostril and winked. Fortunately, before I had to say anything, a waiter arrived with the tea Hegishte had ordered.

"Looks like all the cows in Ratnagiri are still pregnant, Jhampya!" Antu made a sarcastic remark to the waiter on the color of the tea. And then he poured the tea in the saucer and started slurping it.

Actually, Antu sheth could have just said to the waiter in plain words that the tea was low on milk. But he preferred the "all the cows are still pregnant" phrasing. Why just Antu sheth? Almost everyone from that middle lane in Ratnagiri spoke in that sarcastic obtuse way.

By now, Antu sheth and I have become good friends. In the last decade or so, whenever I have gone to Ratnagiri, I have spent time with him. He always included me in his group of friends, taught me the ganjifa card games they played. And over the years, I heard a lot monologues on the odd philosophy of life that those men in their 60s had developed.

I even learned all the idiomatic phrases the group had come up with. They all dressed similar. A cotton loincloth from the waist below, a small cotton scarf on the shoulder, worn-out sandals, one hand holding a walking stick, and the other holding a jackfruit. Dressed like that, Antu sheth would roam around in the neighborhood calling his friends to join him every afternoon.

"Govindbhat! Wanna play a couple of hands?"

"Paranjape? Are you awake or have you turned into a python?"

I too became a part of their card game gang. If once in a while, the card game wasn't really panning out well, Antu would put the cards down and say to me,

"Jawaibapu, why don't you sing a Malkauns or something? Godbolya, bash a little tabla with our guest. Khaju sheth, open your decrepit harmonium."

And then we'd have an impromptu jam session for a bit at Antu sheth's orders.

"Jawaibapu, your pipes are kick-ass!" he'd compliment my singing in his unique way.

Every other year or so, I'd visit Ratnagiri and attend Antu sheth's court. But with each visit, the court seemed to be getting smaller.

"Antu sheth, haven't seen Damu kaka around." I asked once.

"Who? Damu Nene? He is living it up! I am told Rambha is rubbing oil on his bald head, and Urvashi is airing him with a fan!"


"What do you mean what? Damu Nene got transferred from Ratnagiri!" and Antu Sheth pointed to the sky.

"Oh!" I finally understood what he meant. "I am so sorry. I had no idea."

"Why would you have any idea about it? Do you think that they're going to announce on the radio that Damu Nene has croaked? His family did pay for an obituary in the newspaper though. Heh, they wrote he was loving, caring, friendly, pious, and what not. What do the newspaper folks care? As long as you are paying, they will publish any nonsense."

Antu continued in his characteristic manner.

"Damu Nene and loving? Hmpf! Even when he was lying dead on the pyre, the furrow on his brow was intact! One day he decided to sleep outdoors because it was too hot. They found him dead the next morning. Lucky bugger. Died on Ashadhi Ekadashi too! So there were two processions from Ratnagiri that day. One for Lord Vithoba and another for Damu Nene. Damu died on Ashadhi. And then on Dussehra, Dattu Paranjape crossed the border and did seemolanghan. The first guy croaked, the second guy waiting for the third. They say things happen in three."

Antu looked at me mischievously and shrugged.

And that's the essence of Antu Barva for you. Standing at less than 5 feet, bronze-fair complexion, small pockmarks on his face, small gray eyes, creased skin belying his advanced age, half his teeth fallen....or "gone Annu"...leading to a new habit of poking his tongue through the gaps while talking.... and with all this, weighing in at barely 100 lbs.

Every aspect of Antu Barva's earthly existence was getting worn out with each passing year except for two - the nasal booming voice and the slick intelligence fed by decades of rubbing coconut oil on his head.

It wasn't just Antu sheth. Almost all the men his age from that part of Ratnagiri were of a similar bent....which was a crooked bent. Their language was unnecessarily complex and their attitude exceedingly cynical. They didn't feel happy if someone did well, and didn't feel sad if a tragedy befell someone. There was no joy for births, no mourning for deaths. Most of them apart from Antu didn't really like music, but didn't dislike it either. And when it came to food, the taste and flavors didn't matter, as long as their belly got filled. The engine of their life never really faltered when it ran out of steam, nor did it go fast when it did have some steam. But the road their lives took was like every road in Konkan- serpentine.

That's the hand life had dealt them. Even though their lives were full of the wholesome coconut tree, their fates and thus their tastes leaned less towards the sweet creamy inside of the coconut, and more towards its tough shell.

One summer, a second-rate theater company from Mumbai was touring Ratnagiri staging Ram Ganesh Gadkari's famous play Ekach Pyala. I went to watch it. The production was barely competent in the first act. At intermission, I walked outside to the hissing clinks of soda bottles being opened. Under a Kitson lamp, I saw Antu sheth's diminutive form. He was talking to the fur-cap clad manager of the theater company.

"'s the attendance?" Antu sheth asked.

"Not bad." the manager gruffly replied.

"Not bad? Most of the chairs seem empty. Why don't you let me in for half price?"

"No way!" the manager shook his head rudely.

"Why are you brushing me away like a lizard? I heard the first act from out here anyway. The guy playing Sindhu doesn't seem to be very good."

[aside - in the early-to-mid 20th century in orthodox Maharashtra, it was taboo for women to perform on stage. So much like in Shakespeare's days, female parts were usually played by men. The legendary Bal Gandharva excelled at this and one of his most famous roles was playing Sindhu in the first staging of Ekach Pyala.]

"The guy playing Sindhu doesn't seem to be very good." Antu sheth said. "He sang 'lage hridayi hurhur' like a squeaking mouse. Did you ever hear how Bal Gandharva sang it?"

The manager got pissed off.

"I'm not begging you to come watch it!" he thundered.

"But the town is full of your advertising boards begging us to come watch it." Antu sheth instantly replied. "And yesterday your people were going door to door with fliers. As it is, it's mainly empty chairs you are showing this play to. How about four annas?"

"Four annas? What is this? A monkey performing on the street?"

"That's better than this! They perform first and then circulate a plate for money. Why don't you try that? If the next act is better than the first one, I'll pay you an extra four annas!"

The people standing around them started laughing and the manager got even more upset. That's when Antu sheth noticed me.

"Namaskar, jawaibapu! How's it going? How's Ekach Pyala?"

"It's okay." I said.

"I'm sure you got a complimentary pass. You're from the same community. I have heard that barbers don't charge each other for shaves."

"No, nothing like that. See, I bought a ticket."

"Then why a wishy-washy response like "it's okay"? You've paid hard-earned money for this, haven't you? Assert your rights as a paying customer. Call it what it is. Utter crap. Especially that guy playing Sindhu is totally useless!"

"What do you mean the guy playing Sindhu? It's a woman playing the role." I told him.

"WHAT??" Antu sheth looked genuinely shocked. "You're kidding me! That voice and that built! If she decides, she can lift Sudhakar up like a baby! Sindhu indeed.......more like Sindhudurg!"

"So you watched the play after all?"

"For a few minutes. Moved the curtains from the window and had a peek. Hmpf! Even gypsy performers are better than these idiots."

Antu sheth spat out another unsolicited opinion and walked away.

But that's pretty much what his life was - spitting out unsolicited opinions. I knew Antu for so many years, but I never found out much about his family situation. Once Anna Sane from Antu's court had let slip a mention of his son.

"What? Antu sheth has a son?" I asked.

"Of course he has a son. Not only that, his son is a Collector!" Anna Sane nonchalantly said.


"Yup. He's in charge of collecting tickets on Byculla station." he deadpanned without letting a single muscle move.

"Doesn't look like he helps out his father financially."

"He does sometimes. When he can. He has his own family. Besides, a Western Railway compartment has been attached to a Central Railway train."

A PhD student could do a dissertation on those guys' peculiar idioms and phrases. I was well-versed in the language by now but it took me a few moments to realize that this was code for an inter-religion marriage.

"So you see, Antu sheth has trouble with his post-bath rituals at his son's place. Plus apparently his son is also into some other Anglicized habits if you know what I mean. So how can Antu sheth spend too much time there? Still, once Antu sheth swallowed all the insults and went to Mumbai to see his grandson. Came back looking like he had messed up a math problem."

"Every Dussehra and Diwali, Antu gets his son's love in the form of a money order. Not much, maybe 5-10 rupees. For a few days after that, Antu acts like he's won the lottery and splurges as much as he can. Which isn't much."

"Understandable." I said. "After all, how much can a ticket collector's pay be?"

"Yeah, the pay is pretty meager. But one hears that a ticket collector can also make a little more on the side, especially in holiday season if you know what I mean." Anna said. "Nothing wrong with it of course. If he has an opportunity to make some money, why shouldn't he? You know how it is in this country. If you get caught taking a ten rupee bribe, they put a striped cap on your head and send you to prison. But if you get caught taking a million rupee bribe, they put a Gandhi cap on your head and send you to Parliament! Democraticaly elected people's representative!"

Politics was the most favorite topic for Antu sheth and his buddies to express their unique opinions on. They had profound thoughts on every politician and party. One year, there was a famine in Konkan. Konkan is always facing a famine as it is. But this particular one was so bad that in Antu sheth's words it had "been approved under the Famine Act".

Nehru was touring the famine-hit parts of Konkan. He visited Ratnagiri for a speech and the whole town was caught up in Nehru-mania. One evening, someone asked Antu sheth,

"Antu sheth, I didn't see you at the speech?"

"Whose speech? Nehru's? Hmpf!" Antu sheth's disdain was obvious. "What nonsense. There's a famine here. Stop giving speeches. Give us food! This is like seeing a man drowning and instead of saving him, reading from the Quran to ensure that he doesn't end up in hell. Utterly useless. But everyone else is stupid. Oh, Nehru is here? He is giving a speech? He gives great speeches! Let's go! Bloody lemmings!"

"And now that Nehru is in Ratnagiri, what did they do? Idiots took him to show the house, room, and bed where Lokmanya Tilak was born! Morons. Tell me, did god appear in Gangadhar Tilak's dreams and tell him that your wife is going to give birth to a great leader? How would anyone even remember what bed Tilak was born on? But who cares? They just showed Nehru some random room and bed and bluffed - this is where Tilak first went WAAAAAAAAAA."

"Morons! Where's the proof? Where's the proof? Did they get the midwife from Tilak's birth to certify the bed? Hmpf! Forget Tilak. It's been a 100 years since he was born. You tell me. Can your own mother confidently identify the room and the bed where she gave birth to you? Go ask her and then tell me about Nehru and Tilak."

And so ended the rant.

I always wondered if there was anything or anyone in the world that Antu sheth and his friends had respect for. If they ever had a polite dignified response for anything at all.      

Somebody's son became a Professor. And Antu's response,

"Professor? In a circus?There used to be this Professor Chhatre in circuses performing magic tricks."

Someone opened a new store. And Antu's response,

"Tell him to have a bankruptcy form ready. It'll save time when the inevitable happens."

Who knows what school of philosophy these guys followed. More than half of them survived on money orders from children and relatives. They saved money from that and file lawsuits for the strangest reasons. Every lawsuit is stuck in delayed hearing dates. These guys have a big beautiful sea coast, coconut trees, gardens, everything you could reasonably hope for to be happy. But that apparent prosperity gets punctured by an occasional bout of misfortune and all that remains is an impenetrable shield of gallows humor.

Somehow the topic of Gandhi came up. And Antu sheth got on his soap box.

"Gandhi? What Gandhi? Traveled all over the world, but never came to Ratnagiri! Because he was smart. He knew that here, no one gives a damn about his loincloth or his walking stick. We are all just as naked and just as skinny. And his obsession with spinning khadi. It's all useless. Our own Shambhu sheth. All his life, he followed Gandhi's teachings and spun khadi for his clothes. Forget the British government, even Ratnagiri's Collector Gilligan didn't fear his "civil disobedience". And you're talking about Gandhi."

"Then there are all his hunger strikes and fasts. Half of Konkan is hungry and fasting, and not by choice. Someone who is well-fed will find something remarkable about hunger strikes. What do we care? Don't get me wrong. I am not saying Gandhi wasn't a great man. He was. But in our books, under what column should we make an entry for his greatness? And if you are talking about independence, then that had nothing to do with Gandhi, or Tilak or Savarkar."

"So did independence just fall out of the sky?" I asked him.

"It's up to you to find out where it fell out of." Antu replied. "One thing I am sure of is that the Brits left because they got bored. What more was left for them to loot? Their Raj business started making a loss, so they effectively declared bankruptcy and went home. The potter left with his pottery, and we sit here cradling his leftover broken pieces. This is all just a cycle of life and bigger than anything we can comprehend. It's not British rule, nor is it Nehru's rule, nor people's rule, nor anyone's rule. It's the creator's rule."  

"So how did your creator end up siding with the British?" I asked.

"Don't be silly. The creator is sitting pretty on his throne. He just played a small game."

"A game that translated into 150 years of slavery?"

"It's 150 years for you and me." Antu sheth was steadfast. "The almighty's wrist watch doesn't move forward by even one second unless a thousand years go by for us. In his eyes and on his scale, all this is just a minor game that lasted barely a millisecond."

When these emaciated old men started spouting this philosophy on the front yards of that impoverished middle lane in Ratnagiri, with dark shadows formed by the dim light of their age-worn oil lamps dancing on their wrinkled faces, my heart couldn't help but shudder.

"Socialism? What socialism? All nonsense, I tell you. Not even two mango leaves are alike. And these guys want to pretend all men are equal. In the creator's eyes, each individual is unique. How are they going to have equal opportunities or equal outcomes? But everyone is just blabbering....socialism is coming. Just like that Ratnagiri's legislator is saying...Konkan Railway is coming, Konkan Railway is coming. Sure, Konkan Railway is coming. And it's tracks are going through where one-armed Pandu Gurav's toilet used to be. Even if it does, is it going to make Pandu's shoulder stump sprout an arm? What difference will it make?"

"And without an arm to plow his field or pick his crops, no matter what you do with that damn railway, what good is it going to do him? He is still the same. Just because India became independent, does not mean that Hari Sathe's lazy eye got fixed. Nor did Mahadev Godbole's paunch disappear.  Nothing really changed. Even in the fabled Ram Rajya, Ram didn't uproot Hanuman's tail and attach it to his own ass. No. Ram stayed a man, and Hanuman stayed a monkey."

At such times, it almost seem like the Goddess of Wisdom Saraswati is sitting on Antu sheth's tongue.

"You're right." I said.

"Don't just say I am right for the heck of it to be polite. If I am wrong, say that and correct me. You might be younger than me when it comes to age, but when it comes to education, you are my elder, jawaibapu!"

Once in a while, Antu sheth will say something genuinely from his heart, without any sarcasm. But there is always some burning issue close to his heart underlying what he says.

The last few years, I could not go to Ratnagiri as often as I used to. In the meanwhile, Ratnagiri finally got electricity, its own college, tar roads, and all other features of 20th century life. When I met him after that, I said,

"Antu sheth, your Ratnagiri has now become posh! Electric lights and everything. Did your house get an electric connection?"

"No, not yet. But it's good that it's dark. Tomorrow even if I do get electricity, what is there to look at in that bright light? A penniless life? Who needs electricity to look at chipped walls and leaking shingles? It's better that my poverty stays hidden in darkness."

And then he laughed loudly for a full minute like it was a joke.

This time I saw that his teeth had gone almost completely Annu Gogte. I also learned that a couple of more friends of his had passed on and that the card game court was emptier than ever. For a change, I spotted a sense of love, longing, and kindness in the way Antu sheth spoke. I guess the empty seats at his card games were starting to make a place in his heart.

"Joglekar's son got a big promotion and moved to Delhi!" Antu sheth voluntarily shared some pleasant news without his customary sarcastic rejoinder. "Took his old man to Kashi, Haridwar, Vishweshwar, Hrishikesh and all. Fed a 100 brahmins there. Old man Joglekar was thoughtful enough to get me a small sealed pot with water from the Ganga. When you come visit next time, jawaibapu, you'll probably see that the seal has been broken and the water was poured down my throat if you know what I mean."

The next time I visited Ratnagiri, fortunately Antu sheth's Ganga water pot was still sealed.

"Wow, jawaibapu, wow! Congratulations! I heard you're going to England! Congratulations! Have a great trip. Just one "request" for you. Now I have to speak with you in English. So a "request"."

"What request?"

"Go see the Kohinoor diamond once. For some reason, it's an obsession I have always had, the Kohinoor diamond. I can't go see it, but you do it on my behalf. And then come back and tell me how it looks. See all the sights in London and Paris and everything!"

For some reason, I was overcome with a desire to touch his feet, something I had never done before. Right there on the street, I bent down and touched his feet.

"Live a long life!" Antu sheth touched my head gently. "You are a good person, which is why you are so successful."

I said goodbye and started to leave. I had barely gone four steps when I suddenly heard the familiar


"Yes, Antu sheth?" I turned around.
"Forgot to ask you one thing. Are you going alone or with your wife?"

"Both of us are going."

"That's good. Don't mind me, I just had a nagging doubt, so I asked. You are going far away to learn something new. So I was reminded of Devayani's tale from mythology. Hahaha. Convey my blessings to your wife too. I am telling you, your good fortune is all because of her. That's all life is eventually about - the right woman."

Antu sheth paused and continued.

"Let me tell you something. Just between us. My wife passed away 40 years ago. Since then, the alphonso mango tree near my door has stopped flowering. When she was around, the tree yielded hundreds of mangoes every year. But since she know....fate can take really strange turns. Sorry, I am rambling. Anyway, safe travels. So when are you leaving from Ratnagiri?"

"Tomorrow morning by bus."

"Direct Ratnagiri to Mumbai?"


"Good call. Once someone completes that journey, then even traveling around the world seems easy in comparison. The other day Tatya Jog made the trip. He is still trying to locate all his bones.  Told me some 7-8 bones are missing!"

And he started laughing hard with his mouth wide open. I noticed that there was only one tooth remaining that hadn't gone Annu Gogte.

The next morning at 5 AM at the bus stand, I again heard the familiar cry,


Antu sheth approached me and gave me a small paper pouch.

"I know you don't believe in god, jawaibapu, but do me a favor and keep this in your pocket. It is holy ash. It will keep you safe. You are going to London by air, so this small pouch shouldn't add too much weight to your luggage."

I put the pouch in my pocket. As the bus got going, I saw Antu sheth lift his shirt and gently wipe tears from his small blinking gray eyes. In that dim dawn light, seeing his bony chest and his concave stomach which had all but touched his back suddenly tugged at my heart.

Just like Konkan's jackfruit, it's people taste sweet only when they ripen for a long time.


          Townsquare Sunday: PACE   
With Federal budget cuts on the table, New Bedford's anti-poverty agency, PACE is facing some difficult times ahead. WBSM's Jim Phillips speaks with Pace Director Bruce Morrell on Townsquare Sunday.
          Success story: grant it in the right time by Billy Hadi   
Slamet was a smart and dilligent boy.His father,Mr.Tiarun, has been working as a mechanic.He is a hard worker.His mother passed away when he was seven years old.Both Slamet and his father lived under poverty Yes,Slamet was smart as well as dilligent.He used to go to school on foot.It took him 3 kms away from his house to the school.He did it everyday.Meanwhile,his friends went to school by
          Il Punk   
Esattamente trent’anni fa esplodeva l’ultima grande rivoluzione del rock, fatta di poche, povere cose, di chitarre suonate al massimo volume e pantaloni strappati, di spille da balia e urla, di sogni infranti e di nessuna speranza. Era il punk, pronto ad abbattere il vecchio rock e a farlo rinascere di nuovo, sotto la spinta di gruppi come i Sex Pistols e i Clash, con la poesia di Patti Smith e dei Television, con l’intelligenza dei Dead Kennedys e l’energia dei Ramones. Una musica ruvida e forte, splendidamente imprecisa e al tempo stesso magnificamente indipendente. L’ultima fiammata degli anni Settanta verrà raccontata da Ernesto Assante e Gino Castaldo in “Lezioni di Rock”.
          Oxfam warns that modern day land rush is forcing thousands into greater poverty   

Oxfam calls for British company to investigate the forced eviction of more than 20,000 Ugandans to make way for its plantations

Oxfam today launches a major new report highlighting the growing pace of land deals brokered around the world, often to the peril of poor communities who lose their homes and livelihoods – sometimes violently – with no prior consultation, compensation or means of appeal.

In the report Land and Power, the international agency reveals preliminary research indicating as many as 227 million hectares have been sold, leased or licensed in large-scale land deals since 2001, mostly by international investors. Lack of transparency and the secrecy that surrounds land deals makes it difficult to get exact figures but to date up to 1,100 of these deals amounting to 67 million hectares have been cross checked. Half of these deals are in Africa, and cover an area nearly the size of Germany. (1)

Oxfam warns this modern day land rush follows a drive to produce enough food for people overseas, meet damaging biofuels targets or speculate on land to make an easy profit. However, many of the deals are in fact ‘land grabs’ where the rights and needs of the people living on the land are ignored, leaving them homeless and without land to grow enough food to eat and make a living.

This is likely to get worse as the increasing demand for food, the gathering pace of climate change, water scarcity and non-food crops like biofuels compete for land. Already, nearly three billion people live in areas where demand for water outstrips supply.

Land grabs: devastating vulnerable communities

Oxfam International’s Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs said: “The unprecedented pace of land deals and the increased competition for land is leaving many of the world’s poorest people worse off. In the scramble for more land, investors are ignoring the people who currently live on the land and depend on it to survive.”

Oxfam’s report profiles the devastating effect land grabs in Uganda, South Sudan, Indonesia, Honduras and Guatemala are having on vulnerable communities. The report is part of Oxfam’s GROW campaign which aims to secure a future where everyone has enough to eat. Women, who produce up to 80 per cent of food in some poor countries, are usually most vulnerable as they have weaker land rights.

In Uganda, Oxfam’s research indicates that at least 22,500 people have lost their homes and land to make way for a British timber company, the New Forests Company. Many evictees told Oxfam how they were forcibly removed and have been left destitute, without enough food or money to send their children to school. There were court orders in force which named the company but eye-witnesses say that company workers took part in some of the evictions anyway. NFC denies that it was involved in any evictions. (2)

Evicted without consultation or compensation

Christine, a farmer in her mid 40s, who lived in Kiboga district before the Uganda land grab said: “All our plantations were cut down – we lost the banana and cassava. We lost everything we had. The company’s casual laborers would attack us – they beat and threatened people. Even now they won’t let us back in to look for the things we left behind. I was threatened – they told me they were going to beat me if we didn’t leave.”

Hobbs said: “The Uganda case clearly shows how land grabs are slipping through the net of existing safeguards which are intended to ensure the protection of vulnerable people. Thousands of people are suffering because they have been evicted without meaningful consultation or compensation.

“The New Forests Company describes itself as an ethical company, adhering to international standards. It needs to investigate these claims urgently. It’s not acceptable for companies to blame governments. They must respect the needs and rights of poor communities affected by their investment.”

Prioritize existing land use rights

Oxfam is calling for investors, governments and international organizations to prioritize putting a stop to land grabbing by fixing the current policies and regulations which all too often fail to ensure that, when investors negotiate deals, local people are consulted, treated fairly, and that all relevant international standards are respected. These include the World Bank's International Finance Corporation Performance Standards and the Forest Stewardship Council’s standards.

Governments should avoid pandering to investors’ wishes, and prioritize existing land use rights – not just where legal land title or formal ownership rights are held. Governments should recognize that women have equal rights over land and ensure that all agricultural investments benefit local communities who rely on the land to survive. While governments and companies get their house in order to stop future land grabbing, there is an urgent need to remedy the damage done by existing land grabs, including in the case of the Uganda international investment.

Flawed biofuels policies

Perverse incentives such as the flawed biofuels targets, like the EU’s target of obtaining 10 per cent of transport fuels from renewable sources by 2020, should be scrapped to curb the rush on land to meet biofuel demand.

Meanwhile, the UN’s Committee on Food Security in Rome could take an important first step when it meets in Rome next month, by adopting credible pro-poor, pro-women guidelines on land tenure.

Hobbs said: “Land investment should be good news for people in poverty but the frenetic scramble for land risks putting development in reverse. We need urgent global action so that local people with relatively little do not lose everything for the benefit of a few, and to secure a future where everyone has enough to eat.”

Read more

Pull quotes: 
I was threatened – they told me they were going to beat me if we didn’t leave.
Quotee's organisation: 
Farmer from Kiboga district, Uganda
Notes to editors: 
  1. This data is compiled by the Land Matrix Partnership, a coalition of academic, research and non-governmental organisations. The 227 million figure is based on information on land deals over 200 hectares from a whole range of different sources including government reports, academic research, company websites, media reports and the few contracts that are available. The coalition is currently cross checking the records of land deals it has identified.  It is calling for increased transparency among companies and governments so that the true scale of the problem can be accurately understood.
    The Land Matrix Partnership includes the International Land Coalition, the universities of Bern and Hamburg, the French research institute CIRAD, the German agency for technical cooperation, GIZ and Oxfam.
  2. The evictions took place between 2006 and 2010. One High Court order was granted on 24 August 2009 and remained valid until 18 March 2010. The other was granted on 19 June 2009 and remained in force until 2 October 2009. Both were to restrain evictions by the company.
    The New Forests Company stated that the majority of local residents had no legal right to the land, that they had left peacefully and that the process was the sole responsibility of the Ugandan National Forestry Authority.  It told Oxfam that it had brought jobs and amenities to local communities and that its activities had been approved by the Forestry Stewardship Council and International Finance Corporation.

Useful figures:

  • The global economy, which is expected to triple in size by 2050, will demand ever more scarce natural and agricultural resources
  • Palm oil has become the world’s most consumed edible oil and can be found in up to half of all packaged food and hygiene products. Production is expected to double by 2050, increasing the land area under cultivation worldwide by 24 million hectares – six times the size of the Netherlands
  • In Guatemala, eight per cent of farmers account for 78 per cent of the land in production. Of the smallholders who control the remaining land, just eight per cent are women.

Oxfam’s GROW campaign is calling for global action to fix a broken food system where 925 million people already go hungry every day. This could get worse in the face of dwindling natural resources, like land, the gathering pace of climate change and increasing food price volatility. Find out how we can help prevent this from getting worse at

Contact information: 

Tricia O'Rourke,, +44 1865 339157 or +44 7876 397915

Space only: 

          The New Forests Company and its Uganda plantations: Oxfam Case Study   

London-based New Forests Company (NFC) would seem to be the design blueprint of how a young modern company should conduct a major land investment in Africa in a responsible way. Oxfam’s investigations reveal, however, that serious allegations by people who were evicted from land to make way for NFC’s operations remain unresolved. How will the company respond?

Today, the people evicted from the land are desperate, having been driven into poverty and landlessness. In some instances they say they were subjected to violence and their property, crops, and livestock destroyed. They say they were not properly consulted, have been offered no adequate compensation, and have received no alternative land.

Oxfam believes that the affected communities in Kiboga and Mubende deserve to have their case heard and to see justice done.

In Oxfam’s view, NFC and its financial backers must be held to account for the lost
livelihoods and shattered lives of families evicted from the land they farmed. Oxfam is
calling on NFC and its investors to:

  • Hold a full investigation into the events in Kiboga and Mubende, and make the terms of reference for the investigation and its findings, public;
  • Commit to a transparent and accountable process to provide justice for the affected communities and, in consultation with affected communities and local and national authorities, ensure the provision of alternative land and compensation for lost homes, crops, livestock, and livelihoods;
  • Provide damages for any abuses found to have been suffered by affected communities; 
  • Where failures are found, commit to reform their policies, standards, and procedures, so that such abuses can never happen again.
* * *

Uganda land case update, 8 July 2013

In September 2011, Oxfam profiled a land deal in Uganda in which villagers were being evicted to make way for timber plantations. Read an update about the case.

Matt Grainger, Oxfam; Kate Geary, Oxfam
Site spaces: 
Report type: 
Regions and Countries: 

           People have no idea slavery exists, says Brazil's 'Narcos' star Wagner Moura    
By Anastasia MoloneyBOGOTA, June 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - As a boy growing up in Brazil's impoverished northeastern state of Bahia, Brazilian...
          Senior Support Worker - Community Integrated Care - Westhill   
Early shifts, Late shifts, weekends working, public holidays and sleepovers. We are currently seeking a highly motivated, innovative and accomplished individual... £9.31 an hour
From Indeed - Tue, 23 May 2017 19:41:53 GMT - View all Westhill jobs
          Years of apathy make Grenfell not a tragedy, but an atrocity | Deborah Orr   

Our society treats those in poverty as moral failures, whose voices of concern are a sign of ingratitude

It remains hard to grasp the enormity of the Grenfell Tower fire. There is the catastrophe itself: Grenfell, quite simply, is the deadliest fire to have raged on our soil in over a century. Even the blitz didn’t start a single fire as hard to escape from as that which began in a single flat in North Kensington on 14 June 2017.

Related: Anger over Grenfell has spilled out across the country - we want answers

Related: Grenfell is political. The right can’t make that fact go away | Suzanne Moore

Continue reading...
          Make our mental health laws fit for purpose | Letters   
Leading figures involved in the law, mental health and social work call on the government to ensure the detention of people with mental health problems is central to its promised review of current legislation

The increasing use of powers to detain patients with mental health problems is deeply disturbing. Reform of mental health legislation – announced in the Queen’s speech – must ensure respect for people’s rights and dignity. It must also incorporate robust, independent research into why rates of detention are increasing so rapidly and why people from some minority ethnic groups are so disproportionately the subject of detention measures. Too few people are able to access quality treatment and support when and where they need it. The root causes of the current mental health crisis – including societal factors such as poverty, addiction and austerity – must be properly investigated if we are to develop new legislation fit for our times.

The views of mental health service users and patients, their families, professionals and carers alongside a comprehensive assessment of community support and treatment options must be central to a credible review. Mental health underpins national social and economic wellbeing – we are glad the government has committed to giving it the urgent attention it deserves.
Robert Bourns President of the Law Society of England and Wales, Paul Farmer Chief executive, MindMark Winstanley Chief executive, Rethink Mental Illness, Wendy Burn President-elect, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Dr Ruth Allen Chief executive, British Association of Social Workers

Continue reading...
          Indie Author Spotlight: Robert Eggleton   

Hello lovelies welcome to a feature I am going to have on La Jersey Chika Reads Indie Books that is called Indie Author Spotlight. Each month I will post an Indie Author Spotlight to help spread word about the works of the fantastic indie authors that are out there!

Today tenth installment and feature is Robert Eggleton author of Rarity from the Hollow

 Robert Eggleton

Author's Bio

Robert Eggleton has served as a children's advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. Locally, he is best known for his nonfiction about children’s programs and issues, much of which was published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from1982 through 1997. Today, he is a retired children's psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome maltreatment and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel. Its release followed publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines. Author proceeds support the prevention of child maltreatment.

 Robert Eggleton Social Media Sites

Robert Eggleton Book

Rarity from the Hollow

By Robert Eggleton

Genre: Adult Literary Science Fiction

Publication Date: November 3, 2016

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Author Interview

Q. Describe your book in ten words or less.

A. An unlikely savior of the universe -- tragedy, comedy, and satire.

Q. What draws you to this genre.

A. I enjoy reading and writing literary fiction and within most genres. I'm not a big fan of pure escapist novels. I tend to look for the author's hidden metaphors -- meaning behind the superficial and that seems to detract from my enjoyment. So, when I write, my goal is to produce something that will be reflected upon after the last paragraph has been read. I also enjoy reading speculative fiction -- the what if? There are several what ifs in Rarity from the Hollow, but the one that was most fun to write was its political parody. What if some compelling force united extreme capitalism and socialism by a common cause --- saving the universe? While much of the focus of my story was on the prevention of child maltreatment, there are other analogies -- i.e. global warming. Rarity from the Hollow was the first, perhaps the only, science fiction adventure to specifically predict the rise of Donald Trump to political power -- parody with no political advocacy one side or any other. Readers find out how Lacy Dawn, the protagonist, convinced Mr. Rump (Bernie Sanders) to help talk Mr. Prump (Donald Trump) into saving the universe. The allegory includes pressing issues that are being debated today, including illegal immigration and the refuge crisis, an issue that several European commentators have compared to cockroach infestation; extreme capitalism / consumerism vs. domestic spending for social supports; sexual harassment…. Mr. Prump in my story was a projection of Donald Trump based on the TV show, The Apprentice. The counterpart, Mr. Rump, was based on my understanding of positions held by Bernie Sanders as I wrote the story. Part of the negotiations in the story occur in the only high rise on planet Shptiludrp (Shop Until You Drop), a giant shopping mall and the center of economic governance, now more easily identifiable as Trump Tower. The allegory was not addressed by ARC reviewers of the novel because so few people worldwide considered Donald Trump to be a serious political contender until the primary elections in the U.S. The political allegory in the novel is obvious now that Donald Trump has become a household name. In summary, I am drawn to literary speculative fiction because it is so much fun to write.

Q. Where do you get information or ideas for your book?

A. Much of Rarity from the Hollow is more real than not, and based upon over forty years of my experiences working as a children's advocate. I use Google for research, for example, on updated research on prevalence rates or correlates of child abuse. One interesting element of the story pertains to the ET assistance that helped cure Lacy Dawn's parents -- she begins the story as an eleven year old protagonist, a victim of maltreatment. Her father is a war damaged Vet suffering from PTSD, night terrors, and anger outbursts. Several book reviewers have complimented by imagination when writing the medical intervention element of the story. In reality, humans are living in a very exciting time when computerized diagnosis and intervention of mental health concerns is an emerging science. The fantastical means employed by the alien in my story to treat the parents were based on today’s medical reality. I’ve already mentioned that in the beginning of Rarity from the Hollow, Dwayne, the abusive father was a war damaged Vet experiencing anger outbursts and night terrors. The mother was a downtrodden victim of domestic violence who had lost hope of ever getting her G.E.D. or driver's license, or of protecting her daughter. Diagnosis and treatment of these concerns affecting the parents, as representative of many similarly situated, was based on emerging technologies presented at the 2015 World Medical Innovation Forum: . Yes, in real life, like in my story, patients have been hooked up to computer technology for medial diagnosis and treatment. Additional exciting research was presented at that Forum and may one day may revolutionize psychiatric treatment. Most relevant to my story were: (1) smart brain prosthetics, wireless devises being tested for potential to relieve depression, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder…neural engineering to manipulate brain signals; (2) sophisticated imaging systems that are minimally invasive to brain circuitry for diagnosis (3) and, healing the brain with neuromodulation and electroceuticals to treat depression and schizophrenia.

Q. How do you select the names of your characters?

A. Typically, I pick names that fit a culture for stories. While I love fantasy, I've found long and unusual first names for characters annoying, thereby sometimes leading to head hopping as I've read the stories. I try to avoid this practice. For example, I recently read a short story involving sisters with unusual but very similar first names. I kept getting the characters mixed up, complicated by their similar voices. The subculture for Rarity from the Hollow is Appalachian, a place where the use of first and middle names is common when addressing the individual, such as Billy Bob, or Robert Thomas. Lacy Dawn was addressed by her first and middle name in the story as a show of love and respect, while the other characters were addressed by their first names only as a sign that their parents did not hold their existences in high regard. As a back story, when pregnant, Lacy Dawn's mother realized that she would not be able to give her daughter beautiful things in life, so she decided to give her a very beautiful name at birth.  

Q. List your top 5 favorite authors or books.

A. Gosh, this is an impossible to answer question. I'm a mood reader, so my favorite books at one time may be entirely different than at another time. Right now: Vonnegut’s anger in Breakfast of Champions helped me stay strong as a children’s advocate and as a writer, and how to experiment with my writing style. Watership Down by R. Adams was such a sweet adventure that some of this element just is a necessary ingredient of even the scariest or saddest story. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is probably on a lot of lists of favorite books. If I feel nostalgic, like now, Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins pushed me into the wilder side of writing regardless of censorship with views on religion and other topics. Last, The Color Purple by Alice Walker remains a role model for using colloquialism to reach mainstream readers. 

Q. What book/s are you reading at present?

A. I'm going to have to pass on this question. I'm reading a second novel by an unknown author and am so disappointed that I don't want to name it. I respected her debut novel and expected this one to be even better. It isn't. When this one was posted on a blog for 99¢ I grabbed a Kindle version. Don't misunderstand. I don't subscribe to the Goodreads rating system based on whether I "liked" a novel or not. If I'm considering writing a review of a novel I would never let my personal taste control such an important task -- my likes are irrelevant to whether a book is great or awful -- so are my comfort zones -- irrelevant. So far, this book has holes in the plot, is so mainstream that it could have been written by a computer program, and was poorly edited. There seems to be no message, but I'm hopeful that the author some how pulls it all together in the last third of the novel. I don't need to like a novel to give it a good rating, but I do have to respect it. Did the story fulfill its mission? It this novel does improve you may see my review on Amazon or Goodreads and you will get my answer to your question if you notice. If the novel does not improve, I may just skip writing a review. The impact of reviews can be so powerful that I wouldn't want to influence the behavior of an author who, based on the debut, has potential but released on perhaps prematurely. If this author was well known, making lots of money, I would have no problem blasting this piece of crap that I'm reading.

Q. What's next for you? What are you working on now?

A. I've been stuck in self-promotion mode for so long that I've neglected the next Lacy Dawn Adventure -- Ivy. I've submitted a couple of short stories to magazines recently but no bites. It seems to me that many magazines either stick very close to the Young Adult genre or are so extreme that my writing seems to have a hard time fitting into content. I don't want to change what I write just to achieve publication, so I'm trying to explore other alternatives. I'm working on a satirical essay, and a couple of poems. One of my poems won first place in an international competition last year, so I have a little name recognition because of that. Ivy, full of metaphors and allegory, is the story of an alien invasion of Earth based in an almost forgotten town. I live in West Virginia, the U.S. state with the highest rate of heroin overdose deaths in the nation. My familiarity with what is happening to my neighbors because of addiction prompted me to ask: how far will a child go to save a parent from addiction? I hope to achieve a similar finding when answering this serious question as I did with Rarity from the Hollow: “…a hillbilly version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, only instead of the earth being destroyed to make way for a hyperspace bypass, Lacy Dawn must…The author has managed to do what I would have thought impossible; taken serious subjects like poverty, ignorance, abuse, and written about them with tongue-in-cheek humor without trivializing them…Eggleton sucks you into the Hollow, dunks you in the creek, rolls you in the mud, and splays you in the sun to dry off. Tucked between the folds of humor are some profound observations on human nature and modern society that you have to read to appreciate…it’s a funny book that most sci-fi fans will thoroughly enjoy.” I'll let you know when it is released.

Q.  What advice do you have for writers?

A. I don’t feel competent to give advice to other writers, but I will share a little common sense based on my observations of this marketplace. Don’t expect to be discovered overnight like you were Elvis singing on the front stoop of an apartment located in a low-income neighborhood. Before you publish, make sure that your work as been professionally edited, or as close to it as your finances will allow – not by a friend or anybody with whom you have a personal relationship. If published, to the extent possible, prevent generic one line reviews from being posted on Amazon – they always look like they were written by your friends and detract from other reviews that appear more legitimate. Commit to the long haul by keeping in mind that the majority of those entering the world of books stay there briefly and then drop out never to be heard from again. And, last, never buy a book review and don’t invest more than you can afford in anything. I’ve heard of aspiring authors placing themselves and their families at financial risk by becoming over-committed to a book that they had written. Hard work pays off, but working smart has better outcomes.   

Thank You So Much Robert Eggleton For Your Time & Interview.

R. Thank you for the opportunity to tell your readers a little about myself and my debut novel, Rarity from the Hollow.

          Combating Poverty - an Overview of the Africa-China Think-Tank Forum in Addis Ababa   
[Daily News] There was a very interesting and thought provoking meeting of intellectuals joined by media men and women from thirty countries in Africa held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa last week.
          GST impact on housing: Prices will decline, says Venkaiah Naidu   
"GST plus Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Act (RERA) will definitely bring big relief to house owners. There is no scope for evading anything in the GST. Input credit will also be transferred," Union Minister for Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M Venkaiah Naidu said.
          M: Hitler, il partito nazista e la storia di Herbert Hentsch   

Herbert Hentsch

La seconda puntata di M si apre con le parole di Adolf Hitler e la sua concezione del partito: "All'inizio il mio partito contava solo sette membri, ma ognuno pensava di essere il leader. Rischiavamo di perderci in sterili lotte interne. Così quando fui nominato Presidente stabilii che ogni cosa dovesse essere ricondotta a me. Io affidavo gli incarichi. Io li revocavo. Chi non ha obiettivi veramente alti non può capirlo, ma chi ha una meta da raggiungere sa che il partito deve essere uno soltanto, e che uno deve essere il suo capo politico E che a lui la cieca obbedienza della moltitudine attribuirà una forza immensa. E se qualcuno cerca di ostacolare il capo nel suo cammino deve essere considerato un peso morto, e i pesi morti vanno espulsi".
Su queste parole che evocano la violenza entra in scena Katarina, madre di Herbert Hentsch.

Chi è Herbert Hentsch

Katarina è la madre di Herbert, giovane recluta del partito nazionalsocialista di Dreda che scomparve nella notte del 4 novembre 1933. Katarina lancia un'invettiva contro Hitler, accusandolo per la morte del figlio: "Povero Herbert, povero figlio mio. Le squadracce l’hanno ucciso a bastonate come un cane. Gridavano “Heil Hitler!” Era scomparso. Sono andata a chiedere spiegazioni al partito, ma la risposta era sempre la stessa: “Il camerata Hentsch è impegnato in una missione speciale”. Lo trovarono in un sacco, sul fondo di un lago, con delle pietre legate al collo. Lo avevano fatto a pezzi, e quei pezzi erano pieni di lividi.

L'articolo M: Hitler, il partito nazista e la storia di Herbert Hentsch proviene da Servizio Pubblico.

          Controversial Book Explores “Christianity without God”   

Maguire's approach to the Hebrew Bible is literary, seeing, for example, in the Exodus myth a poetic rendering of a moral and political exodus from the one percent rule of Egypt to the sharing, poverty ending, peace-pursuing model of Sinai.  According to Maguire, it was intellectual integrity that urged him to write this book. The guiding maxim of his intellectual journey, from being a Catholic priest and still teaching in a Catholic university, has been to follow the truth wherever it bec...

Read the full story at

          Where Should Foundations Put Their Money? - The Atlantic   
Where Should Foundations Put Their Money? - The Atlantic:

Charitable Giving Is Only a Small Part of What Foundations Do With Their Money
Most of their capital doesn’t wind up in grants, but in investments. Is the latter the key to maximum impact?

Foundations make up a big part—about a sixth—of all the charitable giving that happens in the U.S. But some would argue that their biggest impact comes not from the money they give away, but from the far larger pile of assets they hold.
Most of the attention foundations receive is for the grants they make. U.S. law requires most foundations to pay out at least five percent of their net assets to charitable causes every year. That often leaves 95 percent of their holdings: a collection of assets that attracts much less attention. In 2012, a little over $300 billion was given away in total in the U.S.—that’s everything from foundation grants to money people gave at church. That year, foundations reported more than $700 billion in assets.
Typically, that heap of assets is managed like any other, to maximize its financial value. One set of people in a foundation would manage it, and another set would manage the grant-funded programs the foundation oversees. But a growing number of foundations are exploring impact investing with their portfolios—seeking not just financial returns, but social benefits.
Few foundations have gone further in this direction than the F.B. Heron Foundation, which aims to alleviate poverty and is based in New York. A few years ago, Heron announced that it was going to stop thinking of its capital in two parts—assets and programs. Instead, wrote Clara Miller, Heron’s president, “Our fundamental question for deployment of all capital will be, ‘What is the highest and best use of this asset for furthering our mission?’ Financial returns to our own portfolio will be a necessary part of answering that question, but so will returns toWhere Should Foundations Put Their Money? - The Atlantic: 

           Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great + Legislature to Pass Budget Today - Seattle Schools Community Forum   
Seattle Schools Community Forum: Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great:

Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great

Image result for Deleting data animated gif

From Education Week:

Bradley Shear is a lawyer who focuses on digital privacy and social media. 
He's also the father of two elementary-aged children who attend the public schools in Maryland's Montgomery County. 

A little over a year ago, Shear says, the focus of his professional life became an intensely personal concern, as well.

"I got a phone call from my son's teacher, who said he had performed an internet search for inappropriate content on a school-issued Chromebook," Shear said in an interview. "It got me thinking about all the data being collected about kids, and whether it will ever be deleted.
From Shear's blog, Shear on Social Media Law:

Every time our kids may be admonished for talking out of turn or texting in class they may receive a permanent demerit in Class Dojo.  In the near future, classrooms may be filled with cameras and other tracking technologies that also analyze our kids every interaction with their teachers and class mates. This is not some type of crazy prediction; in China, this Orwellian future is already a reality.

Multiple companies in the educational technology space have intentionally misled students, parents, teachers, administrators, and lawmakers about how they are using the personal data they are collecting about our kids in school. For example, Google was caught intentionally scanning student emails for advertising and other troubling purposes despite prior promises it was not.  ConnectEDU tried to sell personal student data for profit when it went bankrupt despite promising not to do so.* Edmodo, another educational technology company, was recently caught surreptitiously tracking students online to monetize their web surfing habits despite promises to the contrary.

As a parent and privacy advocate, I have come to the realization that more 
Seattle Schools Community Forum: Student Data Deletion Day - Wouldn't That Be Great:

Legislature to Pass Budget Today

 I was actually going to give you all kinds of links and updates but here's all you really need to know - the Dems caved, schools will not be fully-funded and property-rich areas will pay for most of the increases. 

Schools will get $7.3B more over the next four years.  This is not enough and is likely to not pass judicial muster for fully funding schools.  After this budget is passed, the Supreme Court will review the part that addresses McCleary and allow the plaintiffs to give their thoughts.  Any ruling on this issue would probably come at the end of the summer.

Robert Cruinkshank
Last year, McCleary plaintiffs said $5.6 billion needed just for next school year. $7.3b over 4 years won't cut it 

- Property taxes will go up in Seattle/King County - by a lot. 
Joe O'Sullivan
Rough numbers, Seattle will see $440/yr increase in property taxes for average house, Ranker says
-There will be a cap on the per dollar amount that local levies can ask for.

From Representative Zack Hutchins:
Initiative 1351
Staffing enrichments provided in the prototypical funding formula under Initiative 1351 are recodified in a different chapter of the RCWs. If additional staffing units are funded in future operating budgets, those units will then become a part of basic education.

By 2019-20, school districts must provide separate accounting of state and local revenues and expenditures data. The State Auditor must conduct regular financial audits to ensure districts are using local revenues in compliance with this act. 

Categorical programs
·         Career and Technical Education and Skills Center Programs’ class sizes reduced
·         Highly Capable Program allocation increased from 2.314 to 5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Additional Learning Assistance Program allocation for high poverty schools
·         Special Education allocation increased from 12.7 to 13.5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Increased Transitional Bilingual Program instruction in middle and high schools by two hours

Joe O'Sullivan
Another tax change in deal: B&O tax rate for all manufacturing comes down to Boeing's preferential rate, Ranker says. 

Because much of the McCleary plan doesn't kick in for some time, Billig said lawmakers can tweak things if problems w/ plan.

On the public not being able to weigh in or even see the real actual budget in a timely manner:

Melissa Santos
 Lawmakers June Robinson and Dan Kristiansen are telling me public has had time to vet much of budget through past proposals

Tim Eyman
Mega-victories on the final budget deal - what's NOT in it is our biggest success
No income tax. No new capital gains tax.  No new carbon tax.  No increases in business taxes. 
Legislature to Pass Budget Today

          The delusion that things can’t get any worse   

That’s it really. You probably know exactly what I am thinking. So get commenting.

My thoughts along these lines were provoked by a comment on this piece in The Sun by Iain Martin, who is prophesying Corbynite doom, in the event of a Corbynite victory.

The comment, in response to what Martin and the first few commenters all say, went thus:

But standards of living are falling and poverty is increasing while those that rule over us get richer and this is happening under a Tory government, so how is this any better than the nightmare scenario that you portray.
...continue The delusion that things can’t get any worse

          Custodians of SDG Land Indicator 1.4.2 Facilitate Methodology Discussions   
The Global Donor Working Group on Land has published a policy brief discussing progress on incorporating Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) indicator 1.4.2 on land tenure security into the formal SDG monitoring process. The report stresses that the systematic measurement of tenure security is critical for informed policy making, especially "given the inextricable link between securing property rights and ending poverty and inequality". Additional steps that need to be taken before 1.4.2 "can get over the hurdle" include agreeing on the administrative data that national land agencies will need to supply to satisfy the "legal documentation" component of the indicator.
          UN Agencies, World Bank Urge Preparation for Drought, Climate Change   
FAO warned of the serious impacts of drought on food security and poverty, which will hamper achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). FAO and the WMO signed an agreement to cooperate on improving the provision of weather-related information to farmers to enable better planning and preparation for droughts. FAO research has proposed a technique for collecting water in degraded drylands, and has considered how the use of "unconventional water resources," such as recycled wastewater, can return water to the landscape.
          These drivers will also manual    
Lack of transfer is one of the biggest hurdle race faced by old Americans at earth. With the exclusion of New York City, Chicago, Boston, and a few remaining blown-up cities here and there, general population facility for seniors is consistently awkward or non-existent. Not self able to go where we want, when we poorness is one of the greatest financial loss we fighting as we age in America.If your older lives in an municipality next to favourable unexclusive transportation, one of the premiere raw materials you will impoverishment to delve into is whether in attendance is a door-to-door employ for the elderly and disabled. If your older is establishment to "need a teeny help," he or she is likely not going to be able to bearing half a stat mi to a bus inhibit in the summertime heat, winter cold, or dynamical rainfall. Carrying groceries or separate items to and from a bus is simply not possible.Call the in the public eye installation division where your sr. lives and intercommunicate roughly speaking whether such a resource exists, and give or take a few the enrolment action. Because ancestors do lean to try to pocket lead of door-to-door installation services, a number of cities will need corroboration from a physician, or even an interrogation.Post ads:espionnage nouvelles technologies / surveillance your car / signs of cheating wife at work / do get over cheating spouse / call recorders for cell phones / cheating culture google books / wireless surveillance installationPublic transportation, even door-to-door service, is not e'er favourable because it normally essential be arranged as far as 48 to 72 work time in advance.
          To preserve going fur the    
It is particularly casual for being who of necessity to lose weight to become up to my neck near the up-to-the-minute and top fad diets. It is perhaps even easier for citizens to get caught up with any of the much "traditional" diet strategy. (For lack of a more word) While lots of these programs offer wonderful benefits and will in information assistance you to lose the weight that you poverty to get rid of, hugely few of them will carry out in the end unless you jumble your new fare with a small indefinite amount of agreed sense, decent exert and the fitness to continue near your policy. This is mega honorable when you first start your pains to lose weight."Slow and footsure wins the contest." While this cliché may be fitting that, it also holds honorable in several way. All too often, family will get slickly thwarted and distribute up even when they are production progress. For example, a soul who has a demand or a ache to suffer those added cardinal or threescore pounds may not see much point when they are merely losing two or cardinal pounds a hebdomad. If they started their fare about the New Year when so umpteen population menachem begin these programs, that pocketable two or cardinal pounds of fat all week would add up to the full 50 or threescore pounds by the occurrence swimming costume time period came around. Whether you are staminate or female, personal expression is one of the original reasons that umpteen society crack to suffer weight.Once the in demand magnitude of weight has been lost, it can be slickly kept off by enjoying your existence more. "How is that?" you ask? Quite simply, the bigger you get the impression active yourself, the more than likely you are to have an moving common duration. Even if you are the proverbial wallflower, you can frozen get out and savour go. Nobody is expecting you to rapidly change state the Belle of the Ball or the big name field general. Make a austere force to get out and relish your life span sometimes. If you have the chutzpah to do it, try saltation one nighttime a period of time. One nighttime a hebdomad may not be enough to get you ready for the Boston Marathon but it indisputably beats seated on the seat and swing all of that weight spinal column on. Besides, if you can digest something you savor near a flyspeck bit of biological activity, you really can put in the wrong place weight and keep hold of it off simply by enjoying your go.Post ads:taping telephone conversations new york / android phone monitor connection / hidden dns record / spy phone software freeware / buy spy listening devices / new technology gadgets nursing / free mobile phone bugging downloadSome people however, are simply not as social group as others are. In fact, several populace who have been plump for a grave length of time will have precise few friends, assist in precise few communal affairs and oft discern embarrassed out next to people. So does that niggardly they cannot reclaim their beingness by enjoying it? Not at all! Even if you have exhausted your entire life filling one matrimonial never venturing out for thing other than the out-and-out necessities, you can static insight things that you can relish doing whether you do them next to everyone else or not. If you are one of those populace who have previously mislaid your weight, try going out for down-to-earth walks. Walks in the park can be relaxing and oblige placate mental state and improve difficulty. Walking to the stores fairly than impulsive can likewise be different way to assistance you stay on in form minus doing thing out of the trivial.
          Approaching up consequently you have    
Providing a FAQ pageWhen creating a website that provides gen or instructions, an related to FAQ leaf is commonly incorporated. FAQ is an acronym that stand for repetitively asked questions. Over circumstance it is basic to tidings your holiday camp and add the answers to the FAQs to your jovial so they can be separate from the catalogue. If the aforesaid questions support approaching up, consequently you have not provided plenty intelligence or pellucidity and this set-up wants to be resolved. The first tread of creating a FAQ folio is to setup a way for your people to bestow you natural process. This can travel from emails or a aside comprise you put on your land site. Remember that the FAQ page is sole a passing discoloration for questions and past answered, entail to be enforced into your mundane satisfied. A perfect procedure is to move up near the people that originally display the inquiry to bill of exchange that the statement single-minded any hitches they may well have had. Grouping your FAQs by accumulation sort will oblige company brainwave their answers faster. People impoverishment answers and they privation them in haste.Giving natural process to your visitorsPost ads:surveillance video of woman set on fire / phone calls record iphone / how to spy on someone using iphone / affair married woman korean / he cheating just busy / virginia law taping phone conversations / hidden cell phone finder / cell phone spy using computer / spy gear surveillance equipmentYou created your website to persuade people so you could miss on content. One of the world-class way to change your locality so you can inveigle more associates is to integrated a activity silhouette. This gives your visitant the facility to interact beside your place and you as fit. A feedback signifier will provide you the skill to comprehend what your people think, brainwave out if location are potentially any errors in your contented or only to say hi. After a traveler has bursting out your word form and sent the feedback, kind firm to convey them to a give thanks you folio. By doing this, you will ensure that their entry was victorious. Your website people are the finest critics of the on cloud nine you are providing. The natural process you acquire from them can be one of your leaders possessions. The culture who come to your website may have planning to facilitate meliorate or form upon your present placid. One of the top-grade reserves you can have are the people who are well-educated beside the happy you are providing and are volitional to allotment their endure to help with your hard work. There is a side to giving people the preference of causing natural action. Sometimes you will get destructive notes and these should be understood in pace. Rather than debility drive responding to them, labour on small indefinite amount the relatives who have attested problems that involve answers. Always hold a professional cognition and keep alive to grant purposeful delighted and guidance. People who are likely to displace observations can potentially tell others something like your piece of land and support accumulate aggregation.
          That by the circumstance numerous    
Do you privation to generate quite a few redundant notes in need doing noticeably work? Then fetching online surveys may be for you. You won't change state a rich person or generate a fortune, but you can clear numerous auxiliary currency doing it. Of course, you may have seen websites claiming that you can trade name $500 per day inessential questionnaires, surveys etc. This is not typical and it's rather dubious too. Very few companies, if any, would be glad to pay that more for this form of pursue. Even if you pack out online surveys from opposite companies it's rather frozen to realise that untold because at hand are so many an society doing the aforementioned thing. Very fine profitable surveys dear fundamentally straightaway online.How do paid online surveys work?Many hundreds of flea market research firms and other companies are disposed to pay populace to proceeds surveys and william tell them what they guess going on for solid issues, products and employment. They use this figures to develop and meliorate products and services.Post ads:Woman Designer Briefcase Business Bag Handbag off White / Laptop Skin Shop 17 inch Laptop Sleeve Bag Carrying Case / Laptop Skin Shop 17 inch Laptop Sleeve Bag Carrying Case / Perry Mackin Zoey Diaper Bag / Black Signature Patchwork Rhinestone Flower Tote Handbag / High Sierra Exec Sport Wh Duffel w/ Drop Bottom / Shoulder Cushion, No-Slip, Fits 1 Wide Strap, Black / OGIO - Crunch Duffel. BLACK 108085. / Dakine Amp BackPack 18 Liter / SmackTom 2 in 1 Rubberized Hard Case Skin for Macbook Air / Sanrio Hello Kitty Large Backpack with Hello Kitty / Transformer - 150 Watt (Japan electronics used in USA ) / Fabrique Francine Collection London Carrying Case for / Three Cheers Striped Sleepover Duffle Bag / Dakine Division Pack / Zuca Sport Mobile Wheeled Luggage Complete Set - Quilted / Stylish Portable Comfort Black Backpacks (Five Styles) / Chrome Soyuz Laptop Pack Black/Black, One Size / Frankford Clear Bubble Umbrella - Pink TrimHere's a truncated inventory of quite a lot of of the holding that folks get prepaid for:
          Add it to your loan    
Lender enforced engulf insurance is an dynamic for umpteen Texas homeowners. When a hole is placed in an section of enhanced stake for flooding, the national policy tells lenders to demand deluge guarantee.When you buy a household next to a security interest it is standardised custom for the loaner to get a "flood certificate" which tells if you are requisite to get snow under amount of money. A determination of difficult jeopardy of overflowing will consequence in your realtor or lender ratting you of the condition for a deluge set of guidelines.FEMA is continuously in work on maps to set areas at stake of flooding. When they alter a map for a consistent area, several homes will be fresh rated as needing deluge amount. (And one homes that were antecedently rated as needing deluge amount of money will be re-rated as not needing it.)Post ads:Babylegs Baby-Girls Infant Ringmaster Leg Warmer / Darice VL3067 Mother of The Groom Embossed Handkerchief / Soft Faux Leather Classic Eyeglass Slip Case - Set of 4 / Tumi Alpha Double Billfold / Zan Headgear Spider Web Neoprene Cold Weather Half Face / Gucci GG 4202/S WPOAE Black Gold Grey Gradient 60mm / New Era New York Jets Weather Advisory Cuffed Knit Beanie / Niebla French Anglobasque Mid-Range Waterproof Wool Beret / Amicale Women's 100% Cashmere Leopard-Print Scarf / Diamond Supply Co O.G Logo Snap Back - Men's / New Guess Leather & Canvas Signature Logo Billfold Slim / Hurley - One & Only Blk Flxfit Boys Hat / DeLux Grey Raccoon Wool Animal Mittens / Zutano Print Cap / Arnette Pilfer Sunglasses - Polarized / Metal Gear FOX HOUND Black Ops Special Force PATCH / Womens Chic Corduroy Style Double Grommet Fashion Belt / Lesportsac Lily Wallet / Anarchy Men's Signal Aviator SunglassesIf your investor requires a inundation logical argument and they breakthrough you don't have one you will get a good-natured reminder about that. It will in all likelihood say that you have so abundant life to get amount or they will buy it for you and add it to your loan. You DO NOT poverty them to buy violent flow amount for you! In many an cases it will be far much pricey when the investor buys it.
          The Affordability of Birmingham   

When it comes to the complex relationship between rent and poverty, how does our city stack up?

The post The Affordability of Birmingham appeared first on Weld: Birmingham's Newspaper.

          AEE 243: How a New York Painter Reached the Top and How You Can Too   

How do you persist in learning English?

Do you expect it to ever get easier?

Today, learn how a New York-based painter went from poverty to riches by sticking with it, and how you can achieve success by following his example!

Come back to our site for more tips

          Comment on Davido Hints At Sponsoring Kid Who Sang His Song by Davido Builds House For The Six-Year-old Boy Who Sang His 'IF'   
[…] in May, a video went viral of a young lad who was sang Davido’s hit track “IF”, despite being from an impoverished […]
          Il seguente e' la mia ennesima lettera d'amore a Boo. Vi conviene saltare a pie' pari . Niente da vedere, circolare, circolare.   
Questa cosa fara' molto 2006, ma ieri abbiamo visto Boo e tutto e' perfetto nel mondo.

Performava come ospite al cabaret al Landor di questo suo amico (mai sentito prima) con cui era in Out of this world a Chichester (o qualcosa del genere, non stavo prestando particolare attenzione, visto che il tizio non e' nemmeno un granche'..)

La prima cosa che mi ha detto che e' stata quanto mi stavano bene i capelli. Cosi', di sua sponte. Dopodiche' non ci ho capito piu' niente.

Ad un certo punto io e Kieran (il suo bf) ci stavamo piegando in due a dirci quanto eravamo impediti senza Google Maps (perche' la casa a East Finchley l'hanno venduta e a quanto pare stanno comprando casa in un posto al nord [dove, mi dice la regia, vive anche Kerry Ellis] e io ho fatto un faccia come a dire ENDOCAZZOSTA' e Kieran si e' spanciato =_=) e quanto ci hanno messo a venire giu' da North London per via dei lavori sulle strade, con conseguente disgressione sui prezzi delle case e che con lo stesso prezzo del flat che avevano prima adesso si prendono un'intera casa, e come dovremmo andarecene anche noi fuori Londra per avere prezzi piu' affordabili...(povero fesso, se sapesse a quanto ammontano le nostre finanze..a quel prezzo ci prendiamo il potting shed per il giardino. Poi non avremmo un giardino dove metterlo, ma vabbe'' dettagli..)

Clare era tutta dolorante e mezza raffreddata e nel mezzo delle prove di C4U (LOL) e quando le abbiamo detto ci vediamo alla prima preview ha cominciato a fare NO NO NO VI PREGO NON VENITE ALLA PRIMA DATEMI UN PO' DI GIORNI NO NO NO e noi eravamo tipo..ehrm..too late, abbiamo gia' prenotato, oops..e lei ha fatto un facepalm epico.
Al che noi abbiamo cercato di buttarla sul ridere, ma dai, su, siamo solo noi, perche' mai dovresti essere cosi' preoccupata?? e lei, senza nemmeno pensarci su, senza perdere una battuta, ha detto: "perche' voi siete oneste con me".
E io sono morta un po' dentro.

Ma soprattutto..quando mai? Abbiamo visto le peggio merde solo per vederla performare..
Forse e' solo perche' le facciamo uno smembramento certosino di ogni sua performance ogni volta, invece del solito 'brava' che ti dice la gente che non ha mai visto uno show in vita sua..

Abbiamo anche fatto, come al nostro solito, la Danza degli Arrivederci, che consiste nel dirsi ciao per mezz'ora e poi trovare sempre qualcosa da dire, il che porta ad un altro giro di abbracci e baci e arrivederci, per poi ricordarsi una cosa all'ultimo secondo, e cosi' via, ad lib.

Ad un certo punto mentre era sul punto di andare fa MA OMG IO NON VI VEDO DA OLEANNA, COSA CAZZO AVEVO DA FARE CHE NON VI HO BECCATE e si e' scervellata per 5 minuti sulla dinamica del nostro mancato incontro mentre noi le dicevamo ma guarda che e' ok, eh..non fa niente..e lei ad insistere che c'era qualcosa di wrong quel giorno, era successo qualcosa, era andata dal dottore in macchina. Vabbe' tesoro, it's ok..

Cmq, boh, ci siamo abbracciate a morte e lei e' sempre uno scricciolino che mi sparisce tra le braccia e non abbiamo piu' quella psicosi da fangirls ululanti ma riusciamo addirittura a fare discorsi da adulti e parlare come esseri umani e tra una settimana e' tipo i suo compleanno e siamo trentunenni tutte e due e omg siamo cosi' cresciute.

Chi l'avrebbe mai detto, 5 anni fa, che saremmo arrivate a questo punto?
          2011, siamo nemmeno a Pasqua e sto gia' stressata.   
Questo backlog e' ormai diventato uno scherzo.
Fisso il monitor leggermente perplimuta.
Immaginatemi come Carrie Bradshow, di fronte al suo laptop aperto su una pagina di word processor, che si fa il voice over da sola, scatole da scarpe sparse per le stanza e un bicchiere di Pinot Grigio vicino alla tastiera.
Non sarebbe la verita', ma vabbe', questo passa il convento, accontentatevi.

THE 39 STEPS (07.01.11)
Cominciamo l'anno nuovo con la scoppiettante visita della Valex, e ci fiondiamo subito, con ancora la valigia dietro, a vedere Dianne per un'ultima volta prima del cast change.
Madonna le risate idiote che ci facciamo co' sto show. A non finire.
La aspettiamo per farle un saluto e OMG. Oh. Em. Gi. Quanto era che non parlavamo con Dianne senza un fottio di infoiate urlanti intorno? MILIONI DI ANNI. Mi ero scordata com'e' ciccia. Siamo tutti un po' in lutto perche' Marky non e' riuscito a vederla prima della sua ultima, e noi shippiamo sempre un po' soprattutto quando lei ne parla come se il fatto che non si siano incrociati fosse la delusione piu' grande della sua vita adulta. Bless her. Ci vuole un pochino bene, dai. Finiamo a parlare del marito, del tour che sta facendo con la sua band, di come lei ora e' senza lavoro e finira' a fare la groupie, e si palesa il fatto che Dianne non conosce la differenza tra l'Italia e la Svizzera. Vabbe', non si puo' volere tutto.

Ma veniamo al vero motivo per la venuta di donna Valex: SHERIDAN SE NE VA. TRAGGGGGEDIA.
No seriously. TRAGGGEDIA.
Alla matinee ci siamo spanciati, al solito. Ne hanno fatte di tutti i colori. Sheridan non ha smesso un attimo di piangere. Persino Bambacione Duncan si e' presentato a sorpresa mimetizzandosi col cast, e anche il tizio che dopo di lui ha fatto Warner, quell'altro fessacchiotto allampanato, mi sfugge il nome..tutti sul palco a farle prendere i colpi. Mettiamoci anche un bacio a sorpresa tra Elle e Enid, tanto per capire che tipo di show hanno fatto sti scemi.
Alla sera ha retto meglio, ma verso la fine era il devasto mio dio, tutti in lacrime, madoh.
Poi aspettiamo, aspettiamo, aspettiamo. E finalmente quando esce e viene aggredita dalle solite teste di cazzo che devono per forza romperle le palle per farsi la foto (MA DICO IO PROPRIO ADESSO) siamo riuscite a farci notare, ed e' stato un attimo, un OMG IT'S YOU di sollievo nel vedere una faccia nota, un abbraccio veloce nel marasma di SHERIDAN ONE MORE PICTURE SHERIDAN SHERIDAN ONE MORE, un 'you guys were brilliant' sussurrato nell'orecchio mentre mi si appende al collo. Ma non io a lei, e' LEI che l'ha detto a noi. E' matta. Completamente. Dovreste sentire lo squeal che ha fatto quando ha visto che Valex le aveva portato i biscotti delle Dolomiti. Si e' cappottata. Matta vi dico.
La fine di un'era. Tristenji.

Donna Valex riparte alla volta di casa, e anche io mi concedo una breve pausa Italiana, a suon di piatti cucinati da mamma e giri intorno alla citta' trascinata da mia cugina che come sente la parola SALDI si butta giu' dalle scale per la fretta di arrivare al primo negozio.

Ritorno in tempo per vedere l'ultima impresa di Paoletto lo Speziale al Garrick:

Solito giovane compositore che ci delizia con le sue canzonette, gia' performate con Paoletto e Julie al Lincoln Centre di NYC. Un paio carine, un paio da ribaltarsi, un paio da dimenticare. Non terribile, di certo meglio di Scott Alan che veramente guarda, nemmeno regalato. In confronto Lance e' un genio.
Andiamo fondamentalmente perche' Paoletto ha portato come al solito la sua intera rubrica telefonica: Julie, la Wad, CJ, Alan Cumming, Graham Norton, Meow Meow, Emma Williams, Alex Silber, Norm Lewis. Gli ultimi stronzi arrivati, insomma.
Abbiamo riso parecchio, piu' che altro perche' sono un gran banda di cazzoni, Wad inclusa (che ha cantanto una canzone che ha aperto le cateratte del Nilo e ridotto il teatro ad una valle di lacrime).

Il mitico Beverly Leslie di Will & Grace fa un one man show, andiamo a vedere di che si tratta.
Praticamente il nano piu' gay di tutta Hollywood e dintorni ci racconta la sua infanzia, i suoi inizi nel mondo della tv, gli aneddoti dei suoi co-protagonisti (Fay Dunaway, George Clooney, Mark Harmon), la sua famiglia, il suo coming out, il suo self-omofobismo autodistruttivo, l'alcolismo e la dipendenza da droghe varie.
Onesto e brutale e da sentirsi male dal ridere.

SONO TORNATI OMFGAJKDHAKJS!!!!!111!!!ONEELEVENTYONE!!ONE!! Ci buttiamo a capofitto in una nuova avventura improvvisata, 60 minuti di delirio puro. Stavolta vediamo PIRAHNARAMA - THE MUSICAL, il delirio di due cantanti d'opera lirica che tentano di salvare la misteriosa foresta amazzonica con l'aiuto di uno sciamano, due immigrati messicani e un albero magico in mezzo a un lago infestato di pirahnas. AKJSDAFKLSDH.
Non ci sono parole. Ci siamo spisciati. Peccato solo che gli Scoobies se lo siano perso :( (ah tra l'altro i due protagonisti erano di nuovo i due di Going Down, e GODDAMNIT LI SHIPPOOOOOOO XDDDD)

Facciamo anche questa cosa super hipster, ovvero comprare biglietti per un film che finche' non ti presenti li' non sai che film e'.
Ti dicono come vestirti (late anni '40 in questo caso) e la localita' e l'ora segreta (Wapping Station, 6.15pm) e tu ti presenti e ci sono un fottio di attori in costume che ti immergono nel film, letterlamente. Ti prendono dalla stazione e in carovana ti portano al luogo della proiezione (The Tobacco Dock, in questo caso, un ex magazzino per tabacco dell'800 che viene ora utilizzato come centro convegni o per party aziendali) dove sei improvvisamente a Covent Garden, intorno all'Opera House, l'anno e' il 1947, gli studenti e gli artisti vibrano intorno agli stands di popcorns al caramello e fish & chips nel cartoccio arrotolato, c'e' da fare e vedere ed esplorare ed ecco che arriva il Signor Lermontov, del Ballet Lermontov, con il suo seguito di segretarie e portaborse e ballerine, e finalmente mi si accende una lampadina nel cervello e capisco che stiamo per vedere Scarpette Rosse. ASKLJFHALKDH. Gioia, gaudio e tripudio. ADDDORO Scarpette Rosse.
Gli attori, sempre in parte, kinda mettono in scena scene del film, c'e' un'esibizione finale e poi ti guidano alla sala assegnata (nominata come un teatro del West End) e, tra gli applausi e i popcorn nel sacchetto a righine come in Dumbo, ti gusti questo spettacolo di film in tutta la sua gloria rimasterizzata e restaurata.

Piango calde lacrime da cinefila incallita. Questo e' solo uno della serie di film che hanno fatto sinora, tra i quali Blade Runner a Canary Wharf, Bugsy Malone al Troxy, Ghostbusters al Lawrence Hall, Qualcuno volo' sul nido del cuculo in un vero manicomio, e un bellissimo Lawrence D'Arabia ad Alexandra Palace.
Se siete in giro quando ne fanno uno, buttateci un occhio, potete registrarvi QUI e vi fanno sapere quando ne cominciano ad organizzare uno nuovo, in ogni caso tendono a farlo ogni 3/4 mesi. Ne vale la pena.

THE WIZARD OF OZ (18.02.11)
Andiamo con TUTTO il booth a vedere l'ennesima zozzeria del Lord. Non si faceva una carovana di colleghi cosi' dai tempi di Paint Never Dries, e sappiamo come e' andata a finire quella volta. Non ho seguito molto devo essere onesta, perche' Wayne poco prima del sipario mi sussurra 'guarda chi c'e' seduto a 4 sedili di distanza?' e KAJLSFHLADHSKJDHA E' JOSEFINA. Col moroso e una ragazzina quattordicenne che sembra essere parente di lui (una figlia? una nipote? Oibo', era abbastanza una scassacazzi..), aveva i capelli stirati come Aeryn Sun e maglia aderente e jeans superskinny e tacco 12 TUTTO NERO OMFG. Non ci ho capito piu' un cazzo, mi dovete perdonare.
La produzione mi e' sembrata costosa e caciarona, come tutto quello che fa il Lord. Danielle un po' una delusione, dopo aver tifato forsennatamente per lei per tutto il povero cane strattonato a destra e a manca che si mangiava pezzi di set era piu' entertaining del pagliaccio che faceva lo Spaventapasseri. E Hannah. OH, HANNAH. WTF.
Hanno tentato talmente tanto di diversificarsi dalle precedenti versioni di questo show, dal film e da Wicked, che i vestiti di Glinda e Elphaba (LOL, mi rifiuto di chiamarla in qualunque altro modo..) sono uan vomitata di glitter e taffetta'. Glinda figuratevela come un ricciolo di panna montata spruzzata dalla lattina, ma invece di essere bianca, era blu scuro glitteroso. Elphaba era..boh. Einstein in gonna e colorato di verde? Seriously. Nemmeno il cappello a punta, i capelli sono arricciati a punta nel primo atto e sparati in tutte le direzioni nel secondo. MAH. Ovviamente la Wad ha piu' personalita' di tutti gli altri messi assieme, quindi da sola regge l'intero show, viene appesa ai cavi costantemente (oscillando anche un po', non vi dico le risate..) e la sua canzone non faceva schifo..
Ah, e Michael Crowford. LULZ.
Sti cazzi. Io uscendo mi sono fatta tre gloriosi gradini gomito a gomito con Josefina, cosa altro cazzo volete che mi ricordi.
Un paio di minuti di chiaccherata con la Wad che come al solito ci mette na vita a cambiarsi, na vita e mezza a togliersi il verde, e' assediata di cacciatori di autografi, attempati signori americani e OMFG KAJSA HAMMARLUND CHE DI TUTTE LE SERE CHE POTEVA TROVARSI A PASSARE, PROPRIO QUELLA SERA, 'TACCI SUA.
Vabbe', tanto non parliamo mai di cose relative allo show, manco mi ricordo che abbiamo detto. O meglio delirato. Si e' fatta una nuova borsa di Mischa Barton. Interessa a qualcuno oltre che a me? No? I didn't think so.

FLARE PATH (07.03.11)
E finalmente di nuovo Shezza! Allora parto dicendo che mi aspettavo un polpettone di guerra tragico che non finisce mai, e invece ci siamo ammazzati dal ridere. E finisce anche super bene. Ellamado'! Troppa grazia sant'antonio! Sheridan come al solito si porta lo show da sola sulle tenere spallucce, non proietta bene la voce quindi si fatica a sentirla, ma da sola (lei e il tizio che fa il marito nello show) si prendono tante di quelle risate di cuore che ho smesso di contarle. E piange, povera stella. Piange a fiumi e tu piangi con lei, piccola cucciola. DIO ME LA MANGEREI.
Tentiamo di vederla dopo, siamo io e Sabrina, e se vi dico che siamo state quasi travolte da l'orda di paparazzi quando e' uscita Sienna Miller, credetemi non esagero. Siamo vive per puro culo. Sienna sale in macchina e se li porta tutti dietro, mi giro verso la stage door e Sheridan e' appesa alla finestra, con solo gli occhi che spuntano, e' terrorizzata, mi guarda sgranando gli occhi e ci facciamo ciao con la manina.
Mi ha spezzato il cuore vederla cosi'.
Aspettiamo che Wyn (SI. LUI. IL GROSSO GRASSO UOMO PELATO DI WICKED) la vada a recuperare dentro la stage door, aspettiamo l'assalto dei fans weird e dei paparazzi (che accecano lei, noi, Wyn, l'autista della sua macchina, chiunque, non gli importa un cazzo) e ci abbracciamo forte. E come fa sempre, mi dice tutto quello che mi deve dire quando mi sta ancora ancorata al collo (in punta di piedi, perche' sono tipo due teste piu' alta di lei, cicciola..). Parliamo brevemente, scopro anche che non sta bene, ha un po' di raffreddore (non l'avrei mai detto vedendola in scena, ma si vede che e' stanca), ci salutiamo in fretta e la lasciamo andare a riposarsi.
Faccio in tempo ad arrivare a casa rimuginando col mio esprit de l'escalier, le cose non dette e perche' diavolo mi sono presentata a mani vuote manco du' Abbracci o du' Pan di Stelle che diamine! che guardo il cellulare e SCOPRO CHE SHERIDAN MI HA TWITTATO. Per dirmi che mannaggia che sia stato cosi' breve, and it was lovely to see me. E si e' scusata. AKLSJDHKLFHA GESU, GIUSEPPE, MARIA E IL CAMMELLO. Vi giuro mi e' venuto da piangere. Le voglio un bene non quantificabile.

E domenica scorsa si e' portata a casa un bel capoccione di Sir Lawrence Olivier con la sua palandranina bronzea da Richard V, con sotto scritto 'Best Actress in a Musical: SHERIDAN SMITH'.

Fuck yeah.
          Ricominciamo Parte II   
Il letargo estivo e' finito e si ricomincia al galoppo forzato. Forza che c'ho un fracco e mezzo di robbbba da sputtanare.

Cominciamo con Settembre, va..

INTO THE WOODS (09.09.10)
Ultima passeggiata nel bosco, stavolta dall'ultimissima fila. Senza lamentarci perche' a) si vede benissimo anzi meglio che dalla seconda fila, e b) non piove a dirotto.
Tutti bravi, tutti belli. (tranne la Dalli che e' pessima e dovrebbe tornare in Australia al piu' presto possibile..)
Salutiamo finalmente Hannah che ci spupazza un po', ci dice sempre troppo della sua vita privata (le ho chiesto come stava il fidanzato, mi ha risposto che si sono lasciati e il perche' e il per come e di chi era la colpa e delle magagne sotterranee del loro rapporto. Really? REALLY?! Non poteva solo dire 'bene, grazie', come tutte le persone normali? Tanto mica e' amico mio, e non l'avrei certo letto su OK Magazine, perche' mi ha dovuto imbastire sto ambaradan?), racconta delle lusinghe del Maestro Sondheim (che pare le abbia detto 'Sei perfetta, non cambiare niente della tua Strega'..) e sfolgora di bellezza e dorkaggine allo stesso tempo. Bless.

Andiamo tutti a vedere questa simil panto giusto per dire 'io c'ero'.
Piattaforma del fu Eurostar a Waterloo trasformata nella sperduta campagna inglese. La ricca famigliola che sembra uscita da Mary Poppins cade in disgrazia causa capofamiglia accusato di spionaggio (come no, a chi non capita?), e si trasferisce momentaneamente in culandia per risparimare qualche soldo (ma con la governante, perche' non sia mai che la signora Banks o whatshername si tiri su le maniche e actually lavi o cucini..poveri si, ma con dignita', eccheddiamine!) e i tre ragazzini si accozzano alla locale stazione ferroviaria, scassando la minchia a destra e a manca e combinando casini a mazzi.
Il gran clamore suscitato dall' ZOMG C'E' UNA VERA LOCOMOTIVA IN SCENA e' abbastanza ingiustificato quando sei nel mezzo di una platform a Waterloo, in verita'..
Fa piu' impressione quando il treno immaginario arriva di corsa senza rallentare e l'illusione viene creata con un semplice audio assordante e un carrello spargifumo che corre lungo la piattaforma. Il treno non esiste, ma per te e' passata una locomotiva enorme di gran carriera e giureresti di averla vista davvero.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (Matinee, 17.09.10)
Prima tappa nella ridente Bolton (se fa' pe' di'..) per vedere Boo.
Che botta allo stomaco a digiuno. Suckerpunch dritto al plesso solare. Che brutta roba. Cioe' splendido, ma terribile.
A rendere tutto ancora piu' difficile c'e' il fatto che Boo e' di una bellezza sconvolgente, non l'ho mai vista piu' bella...e Kieran fa Stanley quasi umano, quasi lo capisci, quasi gli vuoi bene..ed e' so fucking WRONG poi vedergli fare quello che fa e dover sopportare la scena dello stupro (quasi under played, a dir la verita', poteva andare peggio..)
E poi Blanche da di matto e viene portata via, e Clare ha il suo giacchino "blu Della Robbia" e i capelli sciolti in una marea di onde e riccioli ginger e va via con la sua solita grazia innata e il suo passo lieve.
E a me si spezza il cuore in duemila pezzetti.
La faccia che fa quando ci vede e gli abbracci e le strizzate che ci da valgono sempre la pena.
I genitori di Kieran erano molto impressed dal fatto stesso che fossimo venute apposta a vedere lo show. Psh, roba di ordinaria amministrazione per noi.
Ma poi anche sti cazzi dello show, diciamocelo. Io sono venuta per farmi stritolare dalla mia bellissima Boo, e basta. E se il prezzo da pagare e' rimanere incastrata a parlare per dieci minuti con Kieran delle differenze tra questa produzione e quella della Donmar, che ben venga.
E mentre stiamo li' che chiacchieriamo, e ci facciamo i cazzi suoi e lei si fa i nostri, e le dico di mangiare perche' e' sempre magra (ma non come prima, sta meglio ora..) e le tiro su il bavero della giacca perche' tira un vento disumano, la Moglie le butta li' che stiamo aspettando di sapere se l'hanno promossa a manager e se le danno il suo own negozio.
Boo si spertica in scongiuri e macumbe e incrocia l'incrociabile, ci salutiamo ventimila volte parlandoci sopra l'un l'altra come ogni volta. Facciamo in tempo ad arrivare al Costa che la Moglie riceve l'agognata news e viene ufficialmente promossa.
Va senza dire che siamo tornate al teatro ad intercettare Boo al ritorno dalla pausa pranzo per dirglielo. Ah, com'e' ciccia. Non c'e' nessuno ciccio come lei. Era cosi' contenta..
Un altro paio di strizzatine e abbraccioni e via alla volta di Londra, con quel magone dolceamaro post-visita che ci attanaglia quando l'adrenalina smette di pompare in corpo e sei solo tu su un treno Manchester-Londra a piangere nel cappuccino come se avessi detto addio al piu' grande amore della mia vita. (ma moltiplicatelo per due, perche' siamo due deficenti che si innamorano perdutamente della stessa persona)
          Letargo estivo.   
Come ogni estate, rallentiamo clamorosamente il nostro ritmo teatresco (teatrico? Teatrante? Teatrillare.), come un letargo invertito.
Il caldo nei teatri e' insopportabile e francamente non c'e' un cavolo in giro, quindi il battito cardiaco del West End si addormenta per tornare in settembre piu' grande e piu' bello che pria! ("BRAVO!" Grazie!)

Un paio di uscite, magari in tarda serata che fa piu' fresco, ce le concediamo:

Andiamo (con Emily e le solite facce note che bazzicano il West End) a vedere il lancio del nuovo album di Julie, che anzi se volete accattarlo e' QUI al Dress Circle.
A parte volevo soffermarmi un attimo su quanto GNOCCA e' diventata.
Per una che noi amorevolmente abbiamo sempre chiamato Cozzetta ((c)Alberto), e' un bel passo avanti.
Ha perso un fracco di chili, si e' sbiondata e ha comprato sex appeal in svendita da qualcuno, evidentemente.
Mischia Tori Amos, Skunk Anansie e Sondheim, canta qualunque cosa le capiti a tiro, probabilmente renderebbe credibile anche il jingle della pubblicita' dei cereali.
Dopo un'ora che si spacca i polmoni pero', gia' non ce la fa piu'. Mi sa che l'assenza dai palcoscenici non le sta facendo bene, perche' si stava giocando la voce come una novellina, invece che come professionista che fa 8 show a settimana.
Passiamo a salutare prima Julie, che salta fuori ci stalka su Twitter, e poi Paoletto lo Speziale (ariLOL), regista & organizzatore della serata, del CD e dell'intera carriera di Julie, e tra una smanceria e l'altra se ne esce fuori con un: '.ah si, che poi sto seguendo la vostra relazione su Twitter, ah ah..'
Cioe', pure lui si fa senza pudore i cazzi nostri. Devo stare attenta a quello che scrivo.
Il giorno dopo anzi fa una pulizia generale della sua f-list, affermando che seguendo gente a random 'non riusciva piu' a seguire i suoi amici'.
A me e alla Moglie non ci ha cancellato. Permettetemi di gongolare un attimo.
Paoletto e' attualmente, con Zio Martin e Sheridan, la mia persona preferita del WE.

Ci infiliamo un Blonde tra capo e collo perche' stanno registrando il CD live e abbiamo vinto i biglietti con il concorsone su Feisbuc. Ole'.
Ed e' anche l'ultima volta che vediamo Duncan, povero.
Inguardabile e incapace, (non si sa come ma e' anche peggiorato da 6 mesi fa) ma oh se mi manchera', questo pirla stratosferico..*sigh*
Comunque. Ci becchiamo anche Lucy come Serena (che io ADDDDORO), Emma come Margot (che trovo un tantinello da pantomima, ma vabbe'..) e Jane come Stenographer/Gabby (e Jane vince SEMPRE.)
Finalmente riesco anche a dare a Sheridan la pasta a forma di cazzetti comprata ad Amalfi (non chiedete, e' una lunga storia), che lei ha apprezzato molto al grido di 'OMG I LOVE THEM!!!', al contrario delle predizioni di mia mamma che non aveva approvato l'acquisto.
Io ho sempre ragione, mamma.
Adesso e' appena stato il suo compleanno, vediamo quanti altri mesi ci metto a portarle il regalo.
In tempo per Natale, immagino.

Nel frattempo ci vengono a trovare in rapida sequenza (e accavallandosi anche un po') Mischa dalla Svezia con furore e Kat di passaggio da Ginevra.
Mischa lo abbiamo ospitato sul divano e non l'abbiamo visto quasi per niente, usciva all'alba per fare le day queue ai teatri e tornava intorno a mezzanotte, e Kat l'ho vista una mezz'ora con Vicky e Sabrina a prendere un frozen yogurt da Snog prima del loro Hair serale.

Acchiappiamo la YB e andiamo a Bromley a vedere Simon, che non si sa grazie a quale santo nel paradiso del casting, si e' beccato Galahad in Spamalot Tour.
Il set e i costumi da pantomima, in uno show che vuole essere cheesy e trasandato apposta, non funzionano benissimo, sembrava di guardare una produzione parrocchiale.
Il King Arthur sembrava capitato li' per caso, piu' che il re sembrava il giullare, anche se aveva delle belle uscite da Chandler Bing.
Patsy e Bedevere (non piu' flautolento) senza personalita' alcuna.
Il corpo di ballo costituito da ben 4 persone, due ragazzi e due ragazze.
I costumi sono stati tutti cambiati da 'Crociati' a una cosa piu' Tudor, tutte righine e frangie penzolanti.
Il wooden rabbit disegnato di spalle (WHY?!) e il castello dei francesi era talmente di cartoncino bristol che ho temuto venisse giu' durante il taunting.
Simon, devo dire, fa ridere. E stranamente non usa la voce da Nicky di Avenue Q, come invece fa sempre. Ottimo anche il suo Black Knight.
E omg surprise! Il Lancelot era il nostro ex Galahad!! Rapato a zero e con un ghigno quasi scary, irriconoscibile. Un Lancelot degno, ma lo preferivo come Galahad.
Al Robin e' stata cambiata la canzone, adesso non gli serve piu' un ebreo, ma gli serve una star da stunt castare.
Qualche joke eliminato, qualche joke aggiornato (soprattutto di scherno verso l'Inghilterra eliminata ai Mondiali).
E Jodie.
Oh, Jodie.
Overacta, si dimena, si diverte, e si canta via i polmoni.
Non e' manco paragonabile ad Hannah, ma e' talmente paciarottona che le vuoi istintivamente bene appena entra.
E alla fine tutti insieme a cantare Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life col sing-a-long, e company bows.

A proposito di Hannah, abbiamo prenotato una data a random in Agosto per vedere Into The Woods all'Open Air, ma visto le ottime previsioni del tempo ho il terrore che non troveremo sconti piu' in la' e finiremo col vederlo una volta sola. Gasp. NON SIA MAI!

Nel frattempo c'e' gia' stato anche il Gay Pride e io me lo sono perso per il terzo anno di fila. Bad gay, bad, BAD gay.
          Recenti nefandezze.   
Torna il genio comico dal sopracciglio indipendente!

Julie, Daniel Boys, gli scimuniti (ora disoccupati) di Hairspray, Nikki s/b Elphaba etc, nulla possono contro la sciagurata Miranda.
In bocca ha il vetriolo e sulle labbra venti kg di rossetto, vanta numerosi tentativi di imitazione ma ci vogliono due palle quadre fumanti grosse cosi' per essere Miranda Sings.
Ad un certo punto ha fatto cantare Fine Fine Line a Julie usando uno dei suoi calzini come puppet e me la stavo quasi a fa' sotto dalle risate.
Alla fine, uscendo passo a salutare Paoletto lo Speziale (LOL) che mi bacia contento e sorridente.
La sera stessa ci manda un TWEET dicendo che ci vuole bene e ci chiama "my M & C".
Aww, era 'mbriaco de sicuro..

Ennesimo late night gig di Hannah.
Mi sta uccidendo.
Beadle, per chi non lo sapesse, e' il direttore d'orchestra di Hair. Esso ha scritto varie canzoni e un par de musical.
La famiglia di Beadle ci era seduta davanti, erano 'mbriachi e esaltati e ci hanno interrotto mentre ci facevamo le foto perche' ce le volevano fare a tutti i costi loro. Vabbe'.
Nella seconda ora ci propina una 10ina di sue creazioni, cantate da amici vari ed ex compagni di sventure lavorative westendesche, tra cui Ashleigh Grey (ergo: mandria di Wicked fangirls under-18 al bar).
Ma noi siamo andate per la prima ora: Hannah e Woodsie in un reading del musical di Beadle. Manco mi ricordo come se chiama, ma non e' importante.
Perche' si supera sempre, perche' l'attimo che la inquadri e sai che aspettarti lei arriva e ti sventra l'anima cosi'?? PERCHE'???
Praticamente: Woodsie si deve sposare uno (un deficente, mai visto ma una bella voce, non particolarmente brillante come attore..), e questo 'uno' odia la propria mamma, perche' beve, perche non gli ha mai detto chi e' suo padre e perche' e' una scassa cazzi che ha fatto scappare a gambe levate ben due fiancee del figlio (ma in realta' e' stato lui ad abbandonarle all'altare).
Woodsie, nella frenesia prematrimonio, sconsideratamente invita la suddetta mamma alle nozze, scatenando la tragedia.
Lo sposo spala merda a palate sulla genitrice, che a dirla tutta e' un pelino scassamaroni, ma e' HANNAH SANTO CIELO. E' awesome. La vorrei io, una madre cosi'.
Prima ha una song della madonna (in cui eravamo praticamente piegati in due sul pavimento con la milza esplosa) dove spiega tutte le cose che non sopporta (ovvero tutto), e dopo ti sgancia un destro dritto alla bocca dello stomaco quando scopri che non ha mai detto al figlio chi e' suo padre perche' non lo sa, e' stata violentata da ragazza e non ne ha mai piu' parlato.
Siamo rimasti tutti pietrificati per un lunghissimo istante.
Anche se vocalmente non era al suo meglio, ha ammazzato tutti con la mera forza del suo talento.
Ha rubato lo show, e non sono mai stata piu' orgogliosa di lei.
Alla fine 'la madre' muore in un incidente stradale, il figlio rimpiange tutto quello che ha fatto/detto, Woodsie lo consola e se lo sposa lo stesso, il matrimonio s'ha da fare e si fa con lo spettro di mamma' dietro che ruba la scena anche da morta.
Non ho ancora capito se lo show mi e' piaciuto o se Hannah e le sue incredibili capacita' vocali/recitative mi farebbero piacere qualunque cosa.

Chiacchieriamo un po' all'intervallo, dove ci presenta la sua amica Lindsey (origine della tipa non specificata) e alla fine dello show, dove finiamo nel solito delirio mezzo in italiano mezzo in inglese che vi giuro, non ci ho capito un cazzo.
Innanzi tutto i complimenti per come eravamo acchittate, che non sono usuali. Meritano una menzione *gongola*
Al solito volevamo salutarla per un attimo prima di andare via e si e' trasformato in una conversazione surreale da 10 minuti.
Siamo finite a parlare di me e la Moglie, da quanto ci conosciamo, da quanto stiamo insieme, da quanto siamo sposate, e l'Open Air e quanto si sta gia' stressando che se piove col cazzo che va in scena (LOL) e Jamie, i cabarets e le prove per i cabarets, e twitter e la sua avversione per i pc (SEMPRE GLI STESSI DISCORSI TECHNOFOBICI CRISTO) e OMG un altro po' e ci prendevamo a male parole perche' Manu ha osato dire che non possiamo andarla a vedere presentare i Sondheim Awards perche' abbiamo il cabaret di Julie quella sera ('Come osate! Come si dice evil eye in italiano?? Malocchio? Vi faccio il malocchioooo!!' XDDD).
E la tipa di origine non specificata che si preoccupa 'ma non le trattare cosi', povere..' e Hannah fa spallucce ed esclama: 'ma non devo essere nice con loro, posso essere come sono..'. LOL.
Era decisamente allegrotta. Ma in una nice way. Alla fine mi ha inghiottita in un abbraccio a orso (e' talmente alta che quando ti stringe le braccia al collo le sparisci nelle tette e ne esci che sai di Eau de Wad per due giorni) e siamo riuscite ad andare a dormire alle 2:30 AM, che e' una specie di record.

Poi c'e' stata GaGa.
Due volte, domenica e lunedi'.
E' inutile tentare di convincere gli scettici, giustificare la marea di soldi spesi per vederla o predicare ai convertiti.
GaGa o la capisci o via dalle balle.
O sei un Little Monster, o non lo sei.

Fatto sta che la mia vita adesso verra' ricordata PdG e DdG, Prima di GaGa e Dopo di GaGa.

Non sono nemmeno una grandissima fan della sua musica, ma nulla e' paragonabile al talento nudo e crudo di questa ragazzina, qualunque cosa canti. La possono associare a Madonna, a Bowie, a Bjork, a gesuccristo o chi vi pare a voi.

Ma niente e' quite come lei.

Se vi capita, fateci un salto, al suo Monster Ball. Per due ore sarete completamente liberi, e non saprete piu' tornare alla vostra vita normale.

(il video e' il mio, fin tanto che il Tubo non me lo tira giu' io continuo a spacciarlo in giro. Fa bene all'anima.)

Storiella scema di due padri vicini di casa che decidono di far sposare i propri figli adolescenti con un bel trucco di reverse psychology: li separano con un muro e gli fanno credere che le due famiglie sono in lotta. I due cretini ci cascano e si innamorano perche' e' proibito. I padri (uno dei due era Fenner in Bad dei due cretini (lui era l'u/s, il nostro Muto in Betwixt che ci piaceva tanto, lei sembra Gabrielle di Xena) chiedono aiuto ad un mago/cialtrone per far risolvere il tutto e farli sposare senza rivelare l'inganno, e il cialtrone prima lo fa, ma siccome si sente che e' tutto finto li vuole testare sadicamente fino al limite della tortura: manda lui in viaggio a vedere il mondo e invece lo fa derubare, picchiare e quasi affogare, mentre a lei la seduce e la abbandona. Quando i due imbecilli si ritrovano alla fine sono sicuri di amarsi davvero e finisce tutto a tarallucci e vino.
Una manica di cretini.
Il tutto condito da un mimo che getta incessantementi coriandoli a destra e a manca e due attori sfigati che aiutano il cialtrone nel suo imbroglio, e che sono la cosa piu' figa dello show.
Per uno show che e' stato 50 anni di seguito off-Broadway mi aspettavo un tantinello di piu', ma c'e' un tot di charm e qualche canzoncina orecchiabile, e un cast non da buttare al cesso. Immagino che vada visto con occhi puri e non da cinica theatregoer come me..
Da vedere una volta, ma niente da strapparsi i capelli. Inutile anche aggiungere che ha gia' postato la closing notice..

E adesso abbiamo Julie domenica, speriamo bene..magari viene Boo, che ne sai..
          Sunshine over morning water   
Che noia, che barba, che noia.

THE NIGHT OF 1000 VOICES (02.05.10)
Riproviamo, dopo la famosa volta di Boo nel lontano 2007 (se non contiamo Chess..).
Devo dire che dai posti in platea e' tutta un'altra cosa.
Solo che mi aspettavo una celebrazione del compleanno congiunto Andrew Lloyd Webber/Sondheim, e invece c'e' stato un gigantesco 'nelle puntate precedenti' perche', apparentemente, la scusa vera erano i 10 anni della Night of 1000 Voices.
Noi siamo andate per Kerry.
Minchia, Kerry.
Lasciamo perdere i vestiti (primo: Barbie Anita Ekberg, secondo: struzzo nero spennato raccattato probabilmente di seconda mano da Lea Michele, terzo: ragazza dell'Essex in discoteca), ma UNF. UNF UNF UNF. Minchia.
Tre apparizioni, come la Madonna di Lourdes: ci sfodera una Nobody's Side da paura (AH! Idina chi?? L'avevo detto Kerry for Florence, dannazione..), un Don't Cry for me Argentina (come parte del medley ALW) che era SLDGAJKAJASKLJDAKL e conclude con No One But You, and she sang the shit out of it (detto con la voce di Hunter Bell in [title of show]).
Katie era una delle soliste, bless her. Era li', looking pretty, con i suoi bei vestitini da sera e la frangettona e OMG ha cantato Nine. Yay. Precisamente Unusual Way. GAHHHH. A volte mi scordo quanto e' brava (te credo, se deve sempre fa' parti del cazzo con note del io non lo so, glielo vogliamo dare un ruolo come si deve a sta pischella??)
Debbie Kurup un po' sottotono, una Buenos Aires mediocre e il balletto di Kiss of the Spider Woman, un po' meh. I'm over her.
C'era Tiffany, che invece di cantare ha ballato una coreografia buttata li' di The Rhythm of Life, che come promozione di Charity era un po' loffia ma lei e' una gran brava ballerina.
Adam Pascal, nonostante non sia uno per cui mi strappo i capelli, fa il suo porco effetto quando lo vedi cantare One Song Glory.
Ci ripropone anche lui Chess, sembra un po' spaesato, un po' humble. Strano, per l'arrogante Mr Lady Pants Ce L'Ho Solo Io E Anche D'Oro Massiccio..
Ricardo, che come mi fa notare giustamente la Moglie, ha tirato su una valanga di muscoli da quando ha lasciato Rock You, ci delizia con le sue note inumane da sborone qual e'.
Nel corpo di ballo c'e' anche una baby Strallen, quella col nome da cogliona. Mi pare sia Zizi, ma potrebbe essere Sequoia o Gabinetto, o qualche altra cazzata. Dentro sta famiglia so' tutti strani.
Philip Quast ha cantato Stars da Les Miserables (un'altra cosa che non capita tutti giorni, no?) commuovendosi un po', e si e fatto un bell'Anthem da Chess. Doppio YAY.
Ah, e poi Brian May, che spunta a sorpresa (not really) non dalla solita botola ma da stage left.
Ad un certo punto ci dev'essere stato un medley di roba di Sondheim ma manco mi ricordo. Kerry era pretty. Guh. Noi eravamo in decima fila. Ari guh.
Nel pubblico, noi 10-20 theatregoers hardcore (ci conosciamo tutti almeno di vista, passi il pre show e l'intervallo a salutare gente con la mano che sembri la Regina Elisabetta il giorno dell'incoronazione..), 200 Kerry fangirls infoiate e 3800 vecchiacci sull'orlo dell'attacco di cuore. C'erano certi pezzi da museo..ho temuto uno svenimento collettivo durente Time Warp. Nessun morto o ferito, pero'.
Well done.
Alla stage door non ci siamo nemmeno avvicinate. Abbiamo imparato, ormai. *pacche sulla schiena*

EDIT: mi si dice dalla regia che ho scordato Jesse Buckley. No, l'ho proprio rimossa. Jesse Buckley, per la cronaca, ha cantato la peggior You Must Love Me mai sentita, interpretandola (!!! AHAHAHHAHA!!!) come una affetta da Parkinson o da Huntington, ma aveva un vestito rosso da paura. That is all.

LIAR'S MARKET (04/05/10)
Avevamo promesso a Jamie & Hannah che saremmo andati a vederlo, e detto fatto.
Le Waddingham Girls (piu' Vicky), altre 5 persone e Maureen Lipman. Questo l'audience al completo del minuscolo Union Theatre (maro' che fastidio quando passano i treni per Waterloo sopra la tua testa..).
La play e' tutta about lies. Bugie di qui e di li', 4 vite miserabili nello Yorkshire del dopoguerra. Jamie fa il pappone. E alla fine ammazza tutti.
Hannah non e' potuta venire perche' era alla opening night di Sweet Charity, ma ci bacia tramite Jamie. Aw.
Quindi lui si acchiappa una birra e ce la scialiamo al bar, dove parte l'ennesima discussione tecnological-comunicativa che abbiamo sempre, di cui il succo era: Hannah deve 'mpara' a usa' er computer. Jamie, pensace te. Punto.
No veramente, sta cosa e' imperativa. Siamo nel 2010, che diamine.

POI. Non siamo riuscite ad andare a vedere Julie Andrews. Un po' perche' lavoravamo (Sheridan ci ha offerto due biglietti perche' la mamma non poteva andare, poi mi sono ricordata che lavoravo fino alle 7, dannazione..), un po' perche' OTTANTA STERLE A CRANIO + DODICI DI PROGRAMMA so' tante...
Mi ritornano i sopravvissuti con racconti dell'orrore.
Molti se ne sono andati a meta' show, tanta amarezza e tanto disappunto.
Il succo e': le hanno rovinato la voce, c'era davvero bisogno di quest'umiliazione pubblica? Si tratta cosi', una Dame? Un tesoro nazionale?
Non ce la fa', e' andata da 4 ottave a 1 scarsa, ormai parla invece di cantare, come Rex Harrison..meta' show e' lei che legge il suo libro per bambini e l'altra meta' sono clips di suoi vecchi film. Ha cantato, in totale una canzone e mezza.
Si vabbe', e' un mito e va idolatrato, ma a sto punto le si faceva una bella statua da Madame Tusseaud's e via.
Senza ironia, solo un self indulgent sguardo al passato che non c'e' piu', con tanto di sing-along di Do Re Mi.
Era davvero necessaria sta pagliacciata?

C'e' qualcun altro che invece ha la verve, l'ironia, il cinismo (e vorrei anche dire le palle quadrate) per uno show divertente anche se la voce non e' piu' quella di una volta.
E risponde al nome di Mary Frances Reynolds, in arte Debbie. ('Mary era blando, Frances era il nome di un mulo, non andava bene..')
E' immensa. Tra l'atroce senso dell'umorismo (con tanto di 'ba dum bam ksh' della batteria a ogni punchline) e l'altroce fashion style, le imitazioni di Barbra Straisand e le frecciate a Liz Taylor che le ha rubato il marito, stava per esplodermi la milza.

Debbie e' una che piglia un povero sfigato dalla prima fila (tale Oliver, poraccio) e lo tartassa tutta la serata. Avrei dato un braccio per essere Oliver, quella sera. E mi sa che pure Oliver, a giudicare dal sorriso estasiato, era bello contento di essere Oliver, quella sera..
Debbie e' una che, quando scende il megaschermo e partono i clips dei suoi film piu' famosi, non sta li' a guardarli con aria commossa come fa Dame Julie, no. Ti ci fa il commentario sopra. Stavo in lacrime.(al secondo tempo hanno proprio proiettato i bloopers dei film. Vedere Ronald Reagan che si incastra la zip dei pantaloni per 20 volte fa sempre molto ridere)
Debbie e' una che comincia dicendo 'Scommetto che vi siete tutti detti "Andiamo a vedere Debbie prima che schiatta", eh?'.
Ma non bitter, MAI bitter. Sempre lieve, un po' scimunita, con la mano drammaticamente appoggiata alla fronte mentre spiega che una volta questa roba qui si chiamava 'vaudeville', e adesso si chiama 'IN CONCERT' *mano sulla fronte*.
Certo, la voce non c'e' piu'.
E si, ci vuol far credere che e' svampita e mezza matta, ma credetemi, e' tutto un personaggio, lo fa apposta. E' per quello che e' un genio.
Ogni tanto si controlla le pulsazioni per vedere se e' ancora viva, racconta aneddoti assurdi aprendo duemila parentesi, rappa come un gansta (giuro su dio).
Parte per tangenti, ma se le tangenti sono Clark Gable e i suoi baffetti, Spencer Tracy che le dice di prendere lezioni di recitazione per essere real (e lei il giorno dopo incontra Ethel Merman: 'Cosi' invece di imparare ad essere real, ho imparato ad essere loud..' *cue Gypsy cantata a squarciagola*), Gene Kelly che le insegna a ballare, Marlene e la sua camminata', son gran belle tangenti.
Ah, e poi la sua amica Judy. Come, 'Judy chi'?
Judy FUCKING Garland.
E racconta di Judy, e di quando Debbie andava a casa sua la sera, Liza e Carrie erano piccole, e le mettevano a letto e poi lei e Judy, riuscite ad immaginarlo, Debbie Reynolds e Judy Garland? si mettevano in salone a farsi un goccetto e ascoltare dischi ('quelli col buco in mezzo, ve li ricordate? Oliver te li ricordi? Oliver, ma che ne sai tu, sei troppo giovane, poi ti spiego..')
Canzoni lievi, un cambio di costume, un pianoforte e una batteria (entrambi i musicisti con lei da tipo 30 anni).
Ci tiene a precisare che gira in tour per 42 settimane all'anno.
E' piccola e ha un ridicolo vestito di lame' d'oro e una parrucca praticamente rosa, ma non ho mai voluto cosi' essere parente di qualcuno in vita mia.

E ora, via con la zozzeria! SIGLA!

No ma aspetta, ve la dovete davvero vedere la sigla, e' di un orrore mai visto, nemmeno su Planet Unicorn resisterebbero a una cosa tanto camp..

Anche solo per le facce del Lord, vi prego..*si sente male*

L'avete vista? Siete sopravvissuti? Bene, proseguiamo. E non dimenticate il simpatico drinking game: ogni volta che dico competition, voi bevete! Risate assicurate!

Ci sono state ben TRE eliminazioni in 2 settimane. Ebbene si. Con una botta di reni, la competition si fa truculenta e dopo Stephanie-con-la-lispa che a sorpresa ci lascia (poereta..), ecco che sta settimana ne sfanculano due, una sabato e una domenica.
Avevo sbagliato di poco, e dopo l'ennesima prova disastrosa (stavolta con il potenziale Toto, che non l'ha cagata di striscio e un altro po' la insultava anche..) Jenny-con-l'acne se la combatte con Lauren (AHAHAH, really? Not a chance.) e va a casa subito dopo Stephanie.
Mi stava troppo sul culo, a prescindere dalla voce, quindi YAY. Il panel dice qualche stronzata a caso, Partridge farnetica ed e' ormai di un colore indefinito tendente al bordeaux, Sheila da' consigli vaghi al limite dell'impossibile ('cerca di essere piu' subtle, ma cerca di proiettare'..poteva anche dire 'cerca di volare, ma senza staccare i piedi da terra', visto che c'era..) e Charlotte sembra essersi invaghita di Lauren.
Ah, e ospite a sorpresa Tamsin Outhwaite che ci delizia (ma anche no) con una If My Friends Could See Me Now da Sweet Charity.

Arriviamo a domenica stremati, e GASP! Danielle e Jessica-facce-buffe nelle Ultime Due Stronze In Fondo! OHNOES!
E invece si.
Cantano, e il Lord manda a casa la povera Jessica, che ce l'ha messa tutta,
Lei la prende con molta classe, ma tutta la classe del mondo non ti salva quando te ne devi andare cantando in calzini su una luna di cartone argentato che vola per lo studio.

Adesso sono rimaste in 4 a fare mapi' mapo': pretty Lauren (la voce migliore della competition, forse non la Dorothy migliore, ma decisamente destinata a grandi cose), la rossa Sophie (pretty e sweet, ma credo la prossima ad andare a casa..), la nana Steph (che io continuo a rimuovere dalla mente, la scordo l'attimo dopo che smettono di inquadrarla..) e la brava Danielle (che rischia di vincere, ma ha lo sguardo un po' sconfitto/afflitto ultimamente, che stia crackando sotto il peso della competition?)

Chi vincera'? (come dite? 'Sti cazzi'? Ma no, dai..non cogliete lo spirito della zozzeria..)

Nel frattempo ci sono state le elezioni (non mi chiedete chi ha vinto, non me ne frega un cazzo. Non posso votare, ergo il risultato elettorale mi e' indifferente. Come si dice dalle mie parti, il piu' pulito c'ha la rogna, non vedo che differenza faccia se ad incularmi sono i LibDem o i Labouristi. Ecco.)

Il cast di Hair e' andato a Parigi per il week end, da bravi americani in gita-tutto-pagato.

Cassandrina PrettyPretty si e' rotta il gomito (povera cucciola) ma dovrebbe tornare a Wicked in tempo per quando andiamo noi.

Jenna e' finita a cantare nel tour di Strictly Come Dancing (I know, non me ne parlate, sono affranta..)

Jon Robyns e John Owen Jones sono andati al concerto dei Kiss a Glasgow. Si son divertiti. Bless.

Partita la stagione dei cabarets, tutti si improvvisano showmen/women e ci deliziano con inopportune scalette di canzoni semisconosciute.

A proposito di partire, io gradirei partire per Roma, ad un certo punto.
Cioe' tra due giorni.
La signora Nuvola di Cenere e' pregata di andarsene affanculo prima di subito, che non ho intenzione di rimanere bloccata li', perche' come tutti sanno e' piu' facile andare dalla Contea a Mordor e ritorno (con l'Anello di Sauron e inseguiti da Uruk Hai incazzati), che farsi Roma-Londra in Eurostar.
          Awesome is a state of mind   
Riassunto della zozzeria! SIGLA!
*chissa' perche' quando dico SIGLA, nella mia testa parte lo stacchetto de Il Pranzo e' Servito...I don't even know..*

E dopo la paura per Danielle finita nelle 'Due Ultime Stronze In Fondo' (le chiamano 'Bottom Two', ma a me piace piu' la mia versione..) per qualche inspiegabile motivo, e la conseguente eliminazione di Dani-con-le-fossette, ecco un'altra sfida al cardiopalma (AHAHAHAH!) a colpi di musicals e canzonette pop.

Non c'e' mai uno straccio di tema: una canta in mutande con un ensamble di aitanti maschi (!!) dietro, un'altra canta appollaiata sulle scale in vestito da Bond Girl e capelli cotonati, un'altra e' in Converse e canta Pink, un'altra ancora in tailleur e tacco 12 fa scempio di Maybe This Time. Non si capisce chi cazzo decide la scaletta/coreografia/costumi/parrucche, ma evidentemente uno che di testa non ci sta tanto.

Il risultato e' che il Panel fa commenti del tutto a caso, che variano di molto poco. C'e' sempre la 'best performance yet', il 'you didn't sell it', il 'you're still in this competition', il temuto 'you could've connected more with the audience/the panel/the camera/gesuccristo/il vicino del piano di sopra/il geranio fuori al balcone della signora di Glasgow che guarda dal salotto di casa sua' e l'ambito 'you can definitely be Maria Nancy Dorothy'
Partridge e' la versione Lidl di Barrowman, Sheila trova tutto amusing e giustamente ride in faccia a tutti, e Charlotte e' pretty e smoking hot e tanto basta.
Il Lord sta seduto sul trono, ha l'aria annoiata e a fine puntata dice sempre 'Questa e' la decisione piu' difficile che abbia mai dovuto prendere.'
Ogni. Santa. Volta.

Insomma le 'Ultime Due Stronze' sono la rossa Sophie e la sfigata Emilie-col-buco-nei-denti.

Indovinate? C'e' bisogno che lo dica? L'avevo chiamata DUE SETTIMANE FA, in tempi non sospetti, e anche nell'ordine di eliminazione.
Insomma si, esce Emilie. Che ci canta per la prima e ultima volta Over The Rainbow sulla luna di cartone e stecca clamorosamente sull'ultima nota, squotendo anche lei la testa con un'espressione che dice 'che cazzo ho tentato di fare?'.
Ah, non si sa tesoro, se non lo so sai tu..
Io, sospiro di sollievo.

Quindi se domenica prossima esce Jenny significa che ne ho azzeccate tre su tre e anche nell'ordine giusto. (anzi veramente 4 perche' avevo azzeccato anche che la prima ad annassene a casa sarebbe stata Amy, ma non l'ho scritto quindi non ho le prove. Sono una corretta, io, che vi credete.)
So' soddisfazioni, lo so, non e' da tutti..Sono troppo awesome.

A proposito di awesome. Doppietta di awesomeness! SIGLA!
(Come dite? Non c'e' la sigla qui? Ah. Peccato. Ci stava bene. Pensavo una cosa tipo una coreografia di Ninjas con le katane e dietro un'esplosione di fiamme con sotto una roba come All Along the Watchtower fatta da Jimi eh?)

SWEET CHARITY (26.04.10)
Charity trasferisce dopo il successo a casa Menier, quindi godiamoci una piccola run westendesca. Piu' grande, piu' bello, piu' tutto.
Quasi tutto il cast integro (quindi praticamente mezzo Hello Dolly), Tamzin e Tiffany e tutto il cucuzzaro..
E poi lei, la mia Jo. <3 Oh, Josefina, in quanti modi t'amo, lascia che conti:
1: l'accento italiano. LOL.
2: lo stacco di coscia.
3: il vestitino verde di lame'.
4: la parrucca cotonata.
5: gli occhi blu che si vedono anche dal circle.
6: l'accento del Queens. ARI LOL.
7: dio quando balla..DIO.
8: la sigaretta mezza accesa poggiata tra le labbra.
9: i tempi comici perfetti.
10: la risata sguaiata.
11: l'aria da imperatrice anche quando fa la piu' coatta delle coatte.
12: il fatto che e' in mutande per 90% dello show.
13: c'ha il fisico di una 18enne, porca vacca..
14: quando si strucca in scena con aria sfatta e lo sguardo fisso nel vuoto, ed e' piu' nuda cosi' che se si fosse tolta i vestiti..

Potrei andare avanti per ore, ma mi fermo qui.
Lei balla con Tamzin e Tiffany e io non vedo altro che lei. Le altre due potrebbero anche sparire in una nuvola arcobaleno.
L'unico difetto di questa produzione e' che un sacco di battute e situazioni funzionavano quando era in un teatro da 9 file, ma ora all'Haymarket si perde un po'. Io ero nel mezzo del Royal e l'ho sentito un po' distante. Visuale perfetta, eh?
Ma l'attimo in cui Nickie capisce che Oscar non sposera' davvero Charity, l'attimo in cui glielo legge negli occhi, quel momento terrificante quando capisce e le cascano letteralmente le braccia, sta praticamente affidando la sua migliore amica all'ennesimo stronzo che le spezzera' il cuore e non c'e' niente che nessuno possa fare per impedirglielo perche' life is shit, devi essere tosta se vuoi sopravvivere..
Be', si perde nel mare dei 4 livelli dell'Haymarket..

OLIVER! (27.04.10)
E il giorno dopo andiamo a trovare la nostra biondina preferita.
Lo show e' ancora una gran caciara di ragazzini scalmanati, ma se passi tutta la parte delle sfighe di Oliver e arrivi indenne al covo di Fagin, in finale ti diverti.
Poi arriva lei (ho contato: un'ora buona dopo l'inizio dello show. Comodo.), con la sua risata da bimba, e il corsetto strizzatette, e le sottovesti che volano ogni volta che si muove..e noi sospiriamo emanando cuoricini rosa dalle orecchie.
Poi viene sbattuta un po' a destra e a manca, si canta le sue belle 4 canzoni, si spupazza i bambini, esagera l'accento cockney (che fa sempre molto ridere), fa i pugnetti con le manine sante ringhiando come un chihuahua, si becca due cazzotti e poi Bill la ammazza a randellate sul London Bridge. Allegria.

Al solito, lei e' una dea, la Moglie e' cute, e io sembro una malata terminale.
Poveri noi.
Ma e' cosa buona e giusta, e' l'ordine naturale delle cose.

EDIT: Simon si e' beccato Galahad, mi dicono dalla regia. HOW?! Sembra uno zingaro, come cazzo fa a fare Galahad?? Mah.

EDIT 2: Chiudono Sister Act a fine anno, cosi' fanno spazio alla nefandezza al Mago di Oz. Povera Katie, a spasso senza un lavoro, in periodo di grossa crisi come questo..*sigh*

EDIT 3: c'era un meme che girava su Feisbuc, una roba tipo il tuo musical preferito, il tuo performer preferito..
Ero sull'orlo di farlo, quando sono arrivata all'ultima domanda: Quanti musicals hai visto?

Mi rifiuto. Non riuscirete a convincermi. Ci perderei una vita e mezzo e non ho tempo da perdere cosi'. No.
Ho detto no, non insistete.

Alle zozzerie non c'e' mai fine, come ben sappiamo.

Cominciamo con quelle televisive! SIGLA!

Ebbene si, altre sfide a colpi di canzoni improbabili, macellazione plurima di successi intramontabili e abuso premeditato di showtunes.
Ci mancano schizzi di sangue e saturazione dei colori e sembra di guardare una puntata di "Spartacus: Blood & Sand".
Invece no, e' solo il Lord che sceglie (rigorosamente a caso, ricordiamoci..) la pulzella che sta settimana non va a casa.

Povere. Loro si sono gia' affezionate, sono gia' BFF&ever, si amano alla follia, sono ormai come sorelle..*notate il mio tono incredulo/sarcastico?*

Fatto sta che, come predetto, la fossette-dotata Dani va a casa perche' diciamocelo, si muove come un facocero ubriaco, la vogliamo davvero mettere nel West End?
No, vero?
Ecco, a casa a calci. (assomiglia anche vagamente a Jesse Buckley grassa, e sappiamo tutti quanto io ami Jesse..BLEURGH..)
Mi sorprende solo che la sua sfidante fosse Danielle, che io do come favorita.
E non la do per favorita perche' conosco la sua insegnante di recitazione Helen (che ha avuto anche il suo stacchettino televisivo! Invece di far vedere la mamma, o che ne so, la famiglia a casa con le magliette fatte a mano che dicono "Danielle for Dorothy" o qualcosa di altrettanto! Danielle ha lo stacchettino strappalacrime-casoumano della sua insegnante di recitazione SLASH mentore SLASH mamma chioccia! Se non e' ammmore questo..), la do per favorita perche' effettivamente e' la piu' brava la' dentro.
E non ti fa venire voglia di prenderla a schiaffi, che e' gia' un bel passo avanti.

L'altra volta con le Nancy, Jodie vinse per via della sua personalita' ciociara ed esuberante, vagamente pasticciona e terra terra.
Probabilmente non era la piu' adatta al ruolo, probabilmente non era quella con piu' talento, la sua performance e' obiettivamente piena di cheese e way over the top.
Ma aveva talmente tanta personalita' da traboccare e il pubblico a casa, che di talento non ci capisce un beneamato cazzo ma ha come minimo 6 telefonini dentro casa, vota perche' gli stai simpa. Non perche' hai talento. Basta che sei simpa. Uh, e Jodie era simpa assai.

Qui, a sto giro? Personalita' poca.
E quella che c'e' la vorresti sopprimere a badilate forti.
Quindi spingiamo sul talento e chissa', che sia la volta buona che vince qualcuno che sa VERAMENTE fare il lavoro per cui verra' pagata? (sempre 6 show a settimana, perche' figurati! Il Lord prende gente che non ha la stamina ne' il training e poi va in giro affermando che le sue leading ladies "non si devono rovinare la voce con 8 show a settimana", quindi fanno solo 6 show. Salvo poi farne fare 8 a gente come Kerry Ellis, che pora stronza, ha fatto anche la drama school e anni di gavetta. Se lo poteva evitare, no? visto che basta andare in tv per diventare una 'leading lady'..*sentite il mio tono polemico?*)

Quindi aspettiamo sabato/domenica per vederne fatta fuori un'altra, probabilmente una delle altre due che mi sta sul culo, o Emilie-col-buco-tra-i-denti o Jenny-con-l'acne, di rado sbaglio predizioni..

Nel frattempo, settimana un po' loffia..

Direttamente dallo show televisivo (e direttamente dal tour nazionale), presentiamo: le Vecchie Brontolone!
Ovvero, tre donne che si lamentano. Di tutto. Non e' che si lamentano, a dirla tutta. Dicono la verita'. E gli uomini in sala non si vogliono sentir dire la verita'.
Non vogliono sapere di menopausa, cicli sballati, ansie da pulizie di casa, rapporti col vicinato/coi figli/con le amiche/col sesso.
Due ore di lamentele serrate. Niente che vostra mamma non faccia quando vi bracca sul divano, mentre lei lava i piatti e voi tentate invano di guardare Gilmore Girls..
A noi donne non sembra altro che l'esposizione della realta' come la conosciamo, solo in a very funny way.
Io mi sono squartata. Sono grumpy old woman anche io sa, che vi credete? 30 anni e' piu' che sufficente per diventarlo.
Nel cast la abrasiva Jenny Eclair, che ne dice di tutti i colori e poi ghigna come i bambini che dicono le barzellette sporche di Pierino, la overacting Wendi Peters che fa solo facce brutte e ammazza un po' il testo..e lei, Suzie "Madame Morrible" Blake, adorabile, funny, multitalented e simpatica senza sforzo, si becca le risate piu' grosse per il semplice modo con cui dice le battute, e se le merita.
Punto vero e proprio della serata e' ridare agli uomini la loro spina dorsale, ai britannici la loro britishness e alle donne il loro meritato ruolo da imperatrici del mondo.
Probabilmente non ci riusciranno, ma nel frattempo ci fanno fare un sacco di risate.

Dunque, c'era un tizio di nome David Essex (che mi dicono sia un cantante famoso, io non l'ho mai sentito nemmeno di striscio..), che aveva una giostra itinerante..e c'era suo figlio, un coattello senza talento, e un paio di ensemble inutili dietro, ok? Poi c'era Nicola Brazil (ex ensamble Wicked, ex penosa Sandy in Grease) col vestito rosa da Glinda e le extensions tipo gatto morto in testa, che faceva la figlia del ricco mafioso che si innamora del figlio di David Essex, ok? OK.
Dunque. Poi..Ah si, c'era lo scagnozzo del mafioso che mette a soqquadro la fiera perche'..perche'..boh non mi ricordo, ma deve avere a che fare con la figlia del mafioso col gatto morto in testa..(in testa alla figlia, non al mafioso. Il mafioso era pelato.) C'era una chiaroveggente con un accento molesto e sua figlia (con accento ancora piu' molesto) innamorate rispettivamente del padre/David Essex e del figlio coatto.
Ah, e poi c'e' Shona "gambetta di legno" White, o meglio la tizia che si e' ingoiata Shona, perche' e' diventata il doppio di quello che era..Da standby Elphaba e' finita a vendere i palloncini sullo sfondo, in jeans a dir poco unflattering per una che di culo e' gia' sulla via della richiesta di condono edilizio. Poraccia.
Ogni tanto calano dal soffitto cavalli da carosello e entrano in scena macchine a scontro traballanti (cioe' un triciclo con sopra la scocca di una macchina a scontro) che girano in tondo perche' voglio dire, e' il Garrick eh? Dove cazzo le vuoi far andare..
Insomma partono le canzoni, finiscono le canzoni, ripartono altre canzoni...
Mai sentite. Ma nemmeno per sbaglio. Non so cosa c'entrassero.
Dialoghi..mah, lasciamo perdere.
Poi finisce il primo tempo, noi colleghi ci guardiamo inorriditi e mormorando un 'goodness, would you look at the time? Meglio che vada, c'ho il gatto sul fuoco..' ce la filiamo alla chetichella.
Non sapremo mai come va a finire.
E pensare che hanno osato chiudere un capolavoro come Zorro. Tsk.

Mamma mia che zozzeria.

Che altro?

La Roma e' prima in classifica.

Idina e' apparsa in Glee, come la madonna, ancora un po' pienotta dalla gravidanza.

Sta nuvola del piffero se ne sta sfanculando verso il Mare del Nord, quindi possiamo tornare alle nostre vite..c'ho un amico bloccato in Cina che forse rientra tra due giorni, i Whingers sono bloccati a NYC (poracci, ve'?), John Owen Jones e' ormai di casa a Sharm El Sheik e non ha fatto in tempo a tornare per la apertura del Tour di Les Mis a Edinburgo (aggiungerei: LOL), Paul e' quasi gia' in volo per la Florida per il matrimonio di cui e' Testimone e per cui stava sclerando da una settimana..e io mi faccio un quattro giorni a Roma di meritato riposo, e vaffanculo. Ma non voglio fare niente di niente di niente di NIENTE. Voglio mangiare i piatti di mamma, voglio dormire, farmi comprare roba dai parenti e prendere un po' di sole.

Non mi dovrei lamentare, siamo stati graziati da un paio di settimane di sole e cielo limpido, ma fa un cazzo di freddo, eccheddiamine..Ho messo via guanti e sciarpe, mi rifiuto di tirarle fuori di nuovo, ecco. *e fu cosi', bambini, che mi beccai la polmonite..*

Siamo ancora un po' nervosetti, direi che un po' di vacanza fa bene a tutti.
          I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth..   
Prima sventagliata di shows aggratis.

MAMMA MIA! (14.04.10)
Mi raccomando, con il punto esclamativo.
Io lo ribattezzerei in MAMMA MIA CHEMMERDA!, but that's just me.
Da non-fan degli Abba che sa tutte le canzoni a memoria (HOW?!), potete anche immaginare perche' finora ho evitato questo show come si evita un appuntamento dal dentista. (sono due, questo e Blood Brothers, che non vedrei nemmeno trascinata di peso..)
Ebbene si, sono stata trascinata di peso. I biglietti gratis sono sempre un gran incentivo.
Nemmeno la soddisfazione di vedere Linzi Hateley, che ha pensato bene di andare in vacanza. La tizia che abbiamo visto come Donna mi pare si chiami Sara West, non era impressive, soprattutto dopo che hai sentito Carolee Carmello che ha due polmoni d'acciaio inossidabile e questo ruolo se lo mangia a colazione, ma se mai trasferiscono In The Heights, OMG e' tipo perfetta per Abuela Claudia.

La nostra Sophie e' la bellina Jesse May (che ha un nome da boondocks, ma e' biondina e bellina assai..), che ci rende difficile il connettere che Julie, una volta, faceva questo ruolo. OMG. (e Paul era u/s Skye nel Tour internazionale, ma vabbe', meglio lasciar perdere le mie opinioni su Paul in un qualunque ruolo etero..)

Zio Martin faceva uno dei tre papa', non mi ricordo nemmeno quale, ma ringrazio solo il cielo che non lo conoscevamo all'epoca. Anzi, ringraziamo il cielo che non conosciamo nessuno in questo cast, nemmeno di striscio. (si c'e' una di Zorro che riconosco in quanto somiglia a Zooey Deschanel, ma chi ci ha mai parlato..)

Rosie e Tanya dimenticabili, Ali e Lisa peggio ancora, le canzoni spinte dentro a forza come in un macina carne anche quando non c'entrano un'emerita mazza, ad un ritmo di tre battute/canzone/due battute/canzone. Alcune sono veramente WTF, tipo Name of the Game, che da una normale situazione lei/lui diventa forzatamente figlia/padre e oddio e' di un incestuoso da far venire la pelle d'oca..

Menzione speciale a Skye, che in quanto a personaggio e' piu' inutile di Fiyero (ed e' dire tanto), non fa un cazzo e ha, letteralmente, mezza canzone da cantare.

Lo show, dopo gags deprimenti e un po' di parolacce buttate li' a caso, finisce con un plot twist matrimoniale e una luna gigantesca che spunta dal monte dal mare.
Non ho fatto in tempo a dirmi 'meh, che finale mesto per uno show cosi'..' che, bieco trucco per mandare le masse a casa felici, parte un assordante megamix.
No, nemmeno un megamix, ma semplicemente tre canzoni degli ABBA a caso, mi pare Super Trouper, Waterloo e Mamma Mia. I turisti escono ballando e canticchiando, quindi missione compiuta.
Io barcollo fuori dal Prince of Wales piuttosto provata, e mi congratulo del fatto che non sono le 3 di notte e gli ushers non ci stanno spintonando fuori, come succede di solito quando andiamo ai cabaret dei Hannah alla Delfont Room.

Questo show ha anche un fottio di produzioni in giro allo stesso momento. C'e' Londra, New York, Oslo e Mexico City..e poi il Tour Americano, il Tour internazionale, il Tour Australiano, il Tour Spagnolo, il Tour Olandese..
Non oso immaginare il volume di soldi che generano.
Immagino una roba tipo Benny e Björn che sguazzano nei soldi nel loro forziere a Goflurbändefråppa, o dove cazzo abitano..

HAIR (15.04.10)
Il giorno dopo ci invitano a ballare con la Tribu', e noi andiamo.
Non c'e' modo di spiegare Hair, non ha plot, forse nemmeno un senso.
La maggior parte dello show sono loro, i personaggi, che ti raccontano chi sono, in cosa credono, cosa li fa incazzare, e cosa sognano, e dove vanno quando si fanno un viaggio con l'LSD.
E poi c'e' Claude, che non vuole morire in Viet Nam ma non sa come chi/cosa/dove e' e come uscirne fuori. Vuole restare a New York ad aspettare la neve. Vuole restare e amare Sheila e Berger e i suoi brothers & sisters.
Claude vuole solo essere invisibile.

La Tribu' scende in sala e ti viene a parlare, a toccare, a baciare, a rubare la coca cola, a sederti vicino, ad abbracciarti, a portarti margherite bianche, a salire sui sedili in bilico sui braccioli.
Si spogliano completamente, letteralmente e metaforicamente. Si denudano su quel palco perche' tu li veda, perche' their eyes are open e vogliono che lo siano anche i tuoi.
E dopo aver conosciutoamatoadorato la Tribu', lo show finisce.
E tu rimani con questa energia dentro, con questo fuoco che ti hanno accesso, ti ribolle dentro, la standing ovation alla fine non e' abbastanza, vuoi di piu', devi liberarla ora, subito.

Ed e' li' che la Tribu' ti chiama sul palco.
Vai su, 200 persone controllate dagli ushers coi clickers, non di piu' senno' la health & safety se ne va a farsi benedire.
E a te non te ne importa un cazzo della H&S e dei corrimano messi su all'ultimo secondo, perche' Allison Case con un sorriso a 35mila denti ti sta aiutando su per i gradini e ti accoglie sfiorandoti lieve e c'e' da cantare Let the Sun Shine In tutti insieme, e dove mi giro trovo gente che conosco, Charlotte e Perry che non vedo da una vita OMG che cazzo ci fate qui e Sabrina e Jon che si dimenano e tutto il Gielgud che ti guarda e i riflettori ti accecano e fa un caldo pazzesco e tutti ondeggiano e lasciano entrare il sole e dietro ho Megan Reinking che mi canta nell'orecchio e quando mi giro a fine canzone (minchia che bella che e'..) ci battiamo il cinque (anzi il dieci) e tutti ti sfiorano le braccia e tu che gli dici well done e loro che ti ringraziano per essere venuta, e scendi giu' con le gambe che ti tremano, maledicendo la poca prontezza di riflessi nell'agguantare una macchinetta fotografica prima di salire.
Due giorni dopo e sono ancora drogata di flower power.

Il cast e' stato trasferito in blocco da Broadway, e si vede che si stanno godendo l'attimo. Sono giovani e belli e in gita scolastica tutto pagato, che je frega..
Per una botta di culo pazzesca abbiamo avuto Phyre Hawkins come Dionne (che si e' cantata the shit out of it) e Holly (ex Dynamite di Hairspray) come swing, unica rappresentate UK on stage, oh yeah.
Will Swenson e' uno schizzato e confuso Berger, ma e' incredibilmente gentile e pacato di persona, mi aspettavo un cazzone sciupafemmine e invece e' educato come un principino.
Gavin Creel ha uno status da semidio da queste parti, quindi vabbe'..un po' cafone di persona, troppo occupato al telefono per firmare autografi ai poveri derelitti alla stage door, apparentemente..(io non me lo cago comunque, ho altri interessi..)
Le ragazze mi hanno conquistata. Caissie Levy e' una splendida SheilaFranklynsecondsemesterNYU, Megan Reinking e' rossa e sexy da morire e molto alla mano, Kacie Sheik (Jeanie) e' incredibile e sembra una persona interessantissima..
Ma la mia preferita e' Allison. D'uh, aggiungerei.
E' adorabile, e' brava, e' rossa ed e' gay (tipo l'unica lesbica out in tutta broadway, se non sbaglio..). Ci manca solo che abbia la pelle al gusto di fragola, poi e' perfetta.
Ci siamo coccolate un po', fatte una foto scema, discusso su quanto fossi orrenda nella foto ('Sembro un'idiota!', 'Ma noo, non e' vero..', 'Ma si guarda, sembro un'idiota!', 'Ma noooo..'), arrivata a casa la aggiungo su Feisbuk, lei mi riaggiunge dopo un minuto e mi va a commentare la nostra foto insieme, che come tag ha 'Sembro un'idiota', con un: 'Ma no che non sembri un'idiota!'.
STRALOL. La amo.

Giudicate voi, sembro decisamente un'idiota..

AVENUE Q (17.04.10)
Ultimo giorno utile per vedere Rachel come Kate/Lucy che sostituisce CJ in vacanza, quindi andiamo anche se sono stanchissima. Vengono anche Cath e Sarah, tanto per.
Quanto e' bellina. Non hot, ma bellina. Mi ricorda sempre Gabrielle di Xena. E' come una goccia di sole, sorridente e adorabile. Egualmente forti sia la sua Kate che la sua Lucy.
Paul mi piace ancora molto, Princeton e' ok, ma il suo Rod e' la mia anima gemella. Lo voglio sposare.
E' tornata Jacqui-col-porro-in-fronte a coprire provvisoriamente la track di Clare, Alan Pearson copre Tom malato come Trekkie/Nicky, e Sion lavora bene con Jacqueline nella coppia Brian/Christmas Eve.
Alla fine andiamo a salutare Paul, che l'unica volta che non l'abbiamo fatto ci ha detto parole, e tra una ciaccola e l'altra trovo le palle per chiedergli di Clare.

La prima cosa che ha detto e' stata 'Si, non sta passando un bel periodo..', spezzandomi il cuore. Dice che ci passano tutti, che sta un po' giu'. Dice che sta facendo una cosa al Sadler's Wells di domenica, una riesumazione di musical sconosciuti, e pensa che le fara' sicuramente piacere vederci.
Tornate a casa ci rendiamo conto che e' sold out, ovviamente, ma tenteremo il tutto per tutto.
Meglio essere venuta a saperlo da lui in tempo, che tra due o tre mesi quando il cazzo di Google Alert si decide a funzionare.

In leggero stato di panico, mi appresto ad affrontare la prossima sventagliata di show.

Ho anche guai a lavoro, se non mi viene un'ulcera sta botta, non so davvero quando.

PS: Simon, non si sa grazie a quale santo, si e' beccato il Tour di Spamalot. Non sappiamo in che ruolo. Ci tocchera' fare di nuovo un giretto a Bromley st'estate, me sa..
          Cosi' tante zozzerie, so little time..   
Ma aspettate un momento!

Ci siamo persi la zozzeria teatral/televisivo piu' zozzeria della stagione! Come ho potuto dimenticare!

Ebbene si, con orgoglio (immotivato) la BBC presenta: OVER THE RAINBOW *inguardabile sigla camp!*

Lord Vader Lloyd Webber torna all'attacco con l'ennesimo reality show per trovare la Dorothy (e il Toto) della sua nuova produzione di The Wizard of Oz.

Dodici squinzie (waaaaay younger delle Marie e delle Nancy) si combattono a colpi di scarpette di rubino per l'ambito ruolo nel West End, al solito condito di lacrime, scene di isteria, crolli nervosi e baci a mamma che guarda da casa.

Presenta il solito Graham Norton, che ormai ride da solo delle stronzate che dice, come i matti.
Nel panel, dopo le defezioni della Van Outen che e' in dolce attesa e Barrowman che e' in America a vaneggiare in Desperate Housewives, ci sono Sheila Hancock, che non sa cantare manco se la pregano in turco, ma di recitazione ne sa a pacchi e in bocca ha il vetriolo, John Partridge (si, quello di Cats, che ogni tanto si fa possedere dal fantasma di Barrowman. Per il resto, dice stronzate.) e Charlotte Church, che non piange come la Van Outen e da giudizi estremamente tecnici sul canto, si e' fatta una gnocca pazzesca e vorrei spenderci due parole. No davvero, ha un sex appeal niente male. Ha avuto non so quanti figli? Guai con la droga, qualcosa del genere? Non ho un'idea precisa, ma devo aggiornare il file nella mia testa che associa questo nome a una bambina innocente. Alla Charlotte di adesso di innocente non e' rimasta nemmeno l'unghia del mignolo. *ahem*

La tarantella dell'eliminazione e' come per le Marie, le Nancy e i Joseph: tutte si esibiscono il sabato, si vota da casa e la domenica le due con meno voti si smezzano una canzone con cui cercano di convincere il Lord a tenerle. Il Lord, con una sola espressione annoiata, non sa che scuse inventarsi e ne sceglie una da salvare (completamente a casaccio, secondo me..).

La eliminata dunque esprime il suo ultimo pensiero in tv nazionale e canta la sua prima (e ultima) Over the Rainbow, ma non prima che le altre miracolate le diano l'addio 'in their own special way' (e qui by 'special' intendiamo 'ritardato', e' chiaro..).

Quindi la miracolata salvata dal Lord toglie le scarpine argentate alla eliminata (giuro), le porge al Lord (che le sniffera', che ne so, avra' un qualche feticcio..) e la povera tapina, gia' provata e snervata, si appollaia come un kakatua su una mezza luna di cartonato argentato (GIURO) e tenta di cantare Over The Rainbow mentre la mezza luna attraversa traballante lo studio, sulle teste degli spettatori basiti. In calzini, chiaramente, perche' le hanno tolto le scarpe.

Gia' ne hanno mandate a casa due, la inespressiva Amy (che poteva sembrare giusto la zia zitella e scosciata, di Dorothy, piu' che Dorothy..) e la cucciolona Bronte (sorpresona, era una favorita del panel, coi dentoni da coniglio e la faccia simpatica).

Ve lo giuro su dio, non sto scherzando, me possino ceca'.

Guarda, c'ho anche le prove fotografiche:

(Sailor Moon Bronte vola via sulla Luna. Ma tranquilli, ce la ritroveremo presto come seconda o terza understudy in qualche altro show, vedrete..anzi, la chiamo: o Sandy in Grease, o la prossima Meat. Eccalla', l'ho detta.)

E nel frattempo Jodie, reduce da Oliver e in attesa di cominciare Spamalot in Tour, si occupa di trovare Toto tra i miliardi di cani che si sono presentati alle audizioni, tra cui mastini, alani e pastori tedeschi.
Auguri a prova' a mettece n'alano ner cestino di Dorothy, eh? No no, auguri piu' sentiti..

Vabbe', per ora le mie preferite sono Lauren (gia' definita 'arrogante', non so in base a cosa..) che ha voce e looks, Stephanie e Jessica, che hanno personalita' in abbondanza per rimediare a qualunque pecca tecnica, e la rossa Sophie, che e' pretty e non ci dispiace vocalmente. Brava anche la piccola Steph, che ha una voce della madonna ma non ce la fara' mai, gia' lo so.
Per adesso, cosi' a pelle, mi sento che vince Danielle, che e' pretty, spigliata, talentuosa, umile e piace un sacco al panel. (Dani, Emilie e Jenny le mandiamo invece a casa senza passare dal Via, che gia' mi stanno sul culo..)

Sta cosa e' di un camp e di un cheese mai visto, e ne siamo drogate.

Rimanete sintonizzati per aggiornamenti su questa 'competition' mozafiato! (/sarcasm)
          Scoobie Week, Easter 2010 Edition   
FELLOW OZIANS! It's true, the Wicked Witch of West, nella forma di Alexia 'Psychonefandezza' Khadime, is dead!

Minchia, il cast change piu' sofferto della storia. Solo per Dianne avremmo potuto sopportare uno show del genere..

Ma non corriamo. Prima dell'arrivo degli Scoobies io, la Moglie e la YellowBadIdeaBear ci siamo fatti una gitarella fuori porta nella ridente (pe' modo de di'..) Bromley, per sciacquarci le orecchie dalle nefandezze di Love Never Dies (qui ribattezzato Paint Never Dries, perche' guardare quello show e' come guardare la vernice che asciuga..) con un Lloyd Webber d'annata:

EVITA UK TOUR (25.03.10)
Ahhhh, ci voleva.
Stesso tour che abbiamo visto a Cambridge, ma senza Woodsie. 'Che' nemmeno paragonabile a Matt 'Paraculo' Rowle, ma onesto e voce solida, Peron era lo stesso di maggio scorso (lol, aggiungerei, ormai va in giro con la casa sulle spalle, come un paguro bernardo, questo e' un anno che non torna a casa sua?), e la Eva, certa Abigail Jaye, ha una faccia strana ma una voce invidiabile, e si e' fatta gli ultimi 15 minuti a piangere come 'na disperata, diciamo da You Must Love Me fino alla fine, sempre cantando. Li mortacci.
Mi ha fatto passare lo shock di realizzare che Buenos Aires e' in playback. E, mi si dice dalla regia, che in tour e' sempre in playback. WHUT. No seriously, WTF?? MA COME E' IN PLAYBACK!? *e' ancora allibita*
Comunque ci voleva. *Evita = delizioso magone allo stomaco*

And now, for something completely different, parliamo dell'orrore Khadime:

E meno male che non siamo andati alla matinee! DUE PALLE COSI'.
Come cazzo fai a cantare di naso, di petto e a tentare di riffare nella stessa frase? E' chiaro che ti incarti. Povera idiota.
Va in giro dicendo che ha otto ottave di estensione vocale.
Glielo devono spiegare che tentare di usarle tutte nella stessa frase non e' proprio consigliabile, se non vuoi che i tuoi spettatori si scompiscino dalle risate ogni volta che apri bocca, come e' successo a noi.
Vi giuro, come diceva Valex, l'intera fila stava tremando perche' noi 5 stavamo praticamente in lacrime a forza di ridere.
Un psst psst internettiano (e un applauso/boato all'intervallo) ci fanno capire che c'e' Kerry negli stalls, bella de casa..
La povera Dianne ha dato il 120%, ma da sola non basta a farci stare seri, quando la protagonista e' sul palco in preda a crisi isteriche per 3 ore. Senza motivazione alcuna. Sembrerebbe che a drama school, alla signorina Khadime sia stato detto che per dare carattere al personaggio la devi fare schizzata, isterica, antipatica e soprattutto buttare note a caso, aprire bocca e sperare per il meglio.
Dopo Defying Gravity abbiamo avuto bisogno di 10 minuti per riprenderci dall'ilarita' generata dalla peggior Elphaba ever. (meno male che si e' fatta praticamente due show a settimana per mesi, costringendo Ashleigh a stare sempre on. Ash si sara' sfrantecata i maroni, ma almeno abbiamo salvato un sacco di povere orecchie di innocenti theatregoers..)
Prima e ultima volta anche per la Nessa, che non faceva schifo, ma anche sti cazzi..Dimenticabile, se non fosse per la sedia che non e' partita durante l'incantesimo, che e' stato un bel momento WTF..
Oli, il nostro caro bambacione ci lascia con un ultimo riff ferma-show durante ALAYM, a livello di isteria estrogena collettiva. Ma a noi piace ricordarlo cosi', vestito da Triste Mietitore ad Hallowe'en, o con la maglietta di Superman a farsi le foto imbambolato ed espressivo come una sagoma cartonata..
Mega discorsone di Ernie alla fine (ci sono voluti tipo 20 minuti per dire addio ai 27 che mollavano..), con i mazzi di fiori giganti, una menzione speciale alla sua BFF Ashleigh (in vestito da gala mozzafiato), abbracci, baci e una parola gentile per tutti gli altri, e la voce che si spezza alla fine mentre dice grazie, grazie a tutti..Awww, Ernie..*tanti cuoricini anche ad Ernie, che rimane sola mentre gli altri se ne vanno..awww <3 <3 <3*
Insomma, sopravvissuti per miracolo (sara' anche che, tra noi 7, avremmo avuto si e no 6 ore di sonno cumulative, la notte prima..), breve e intensa stage door, Dianne andava come un razzo ma l'importante e' che ci abbia visto e abbia salutato il suo grande amore, Marky (lol). E' sempre tanto caruccia con noi, bless her..
E ora appuntamento al Criterion tra un mesetto, dove continuera' la loro storia avversa dal destino e dalle stelle.. *noi shippiamo Marky/Dianne..che verrebbe tipo Maianne? Darky? OMG DARKY VINCE*

Avevamo prenotato il giorno prima che Sheridan ci confermasse le sue vacanze, quindi siamo andati allo show vagamente elettrizati dall'idea di vedere Amy come Elle.
La ragazza e' perfetta, forse troppo.
Si e' tenuta un po', forse perche' non voleva strafare..Buona voce, buona recitazione, personalita' pochina, guardaroba da rifare di sana pianta (non le stava bene praticamente niente, i vestiti sembravano copie dell'originale che un cosplayer farebbe a casa con la Singer, imbarazzante soprattutto il suit 'navy is my new pink', ora diventato nero con le righe rosse, e il vestito del processo, sformato e con una cravatta da uomo a mo' di cintura...), coreografie ogni tanto inventate dal niente (si sara' scordata cosa doveva fare? Ha voluto fare la creativa? Si e' messa a pensare alla lista della spesa e si e' distratta?)
Tutti gli altri in gran forma, tutti bumpati up di uno (Amy al posto di Sheridan, quindi Emma come Margot al posto di Amy, Lucy come Stenographer al posto di Emma, e YAY Jane al posto di Tamara come Delta Nu/Avvocato dell'accusa)
Piccolo disastro tecnico, Amy ha tenuto la bottiglia dello 'shampoo due in uno' a testa in giu', che giustamente si e' aperto colando GarnierLOrealdeParis su tutto il palco. Brava tontolona.
Abbiamo fatto una proper stagedoor, ma di quelle dei bei vecchi tempi, in cui sbrodi complimenti su tutti, loro ti danno la risposta standard, e chiedi la foto con fare imbarazzato come a dire 'sai, io di solito non faccio queste cose, scusa eh?'. *false come Giuda*
Manu ha placcato Amy per darle una iniezione di self confidence (a cui Amy ha risposto con un "Awww, thank you!') Valex e Marky hanno placcato Alex (e lui ha risposto, indovinate un po'? 'Awwww, thank you!'), in gruppo abbiamo agguantato Caroline, che ha protestato al grido 'OMG, struccata e con le buste della spesa NOOOOO!', noi: 'ma nooo, sei bellissima' e lei? 'Awwwww, thank you..' *rolleyes*, e per non farci mancare niente abbiamo fermato anche una a dir poco luminosa Susan (che ha squadrato Mark, ha sorriso dolce dolce e gli ha detto 'ti ho visto in seconda fila, che avevi il papillon!' LOL megagalattico, adesso Marky ci andra' anche a dormire, con quel papillon..) e, ATTENZIONE ATTENZIONE, anche Aoife! Che era una gnocca pazzesca. Ah, si. E lo dico senza vergogna. Una gnocca. Sisi. Cuoricini sparsi, a Aoife <3 <3 <3. Le abbiamo detto quanto ci piace e lei? All together now: 'Awwww, thank you!'
Io e Manu ci siamo fatti un 15 minuti di chiacchiera con Jane, che e' scozzese, friendly e praticamente la conosciamo da 4 anni senza averci mai parlato (era compagna di stanza di Fem, e' stata in tutti i tour in cui c'era Simon e in praticamente qualunque show abbiamo visto negli ultimi 3 anni..), e alla fine mi fa 'ma aggiungimi su Feisbuc!' se praticamente ti sto parlando adesso per la prima volta?
Arrivata a casa l'ho aggiunta e lei mi ha aggiunta back nel giro di TRENTA SECONDI. Loser. Lol.

OLIVER! (29.03.10)
E ora bambini, parliamo di Kerry a Oliver! (con il punto esclamativo, mi raccomando..)
Ci perdiamo il nuovo cast a Wicked, ma la balda Valex e la balda YB vanno al nostro posto come rappresentanza Scoobie, un altro gruppo occupa il territorio Sister Act (Marky deve salutare Katie), e BhMh va di nuovo a Blonde per coprire tutte le basi.
Sembra che stamo a gioca' a Risiko.
Come moccioso abbiamo avuto Gwion, che ha tentato di tutto per non parlare gallese, dio lo benedica..
Kerry. OH, KERRY.
Ci mancava solo Kerry con le tette strizzate nel corsetto, e adesso stiamo appppposto.
Non so che accento stesse tentando di fare, ma diciamo che non e' proprio la piu' chav dei chav, nemmeno se si impegna (mi domando che cazzo faceva a My Fair Lady..oibo'..)
Sono ancora freakata out dalla parrucca marroncina ricciolina, e' stato un sollievo vederla alla stage door con la bionda chioma fluente..<3 ammmore della casa, che bellina che e', anche con le braccia sporche di fuligine e il vestito lercio..
E' inutile che sto qui a dire quanto e' ciccia Kerry coi bambini in scena, quasi quasi li odio perche' se li e' stretti tutti al petto, maledetti mocciosi..
Ed e' inutile e superfluo che vi stia qui a dire che ha fatto una As Long As He Needs Me (piu' Reprise) da spianare i muri..
E poi, come dice Baz, muore.
Ma muore con una grazia deliziosa...*is biased and shamelessly so*
Quando la stage door sara' piu' calma e Kerry sara' di nuovo avvicinabile (perche' adesso come adesso avvicinarla significa rischiare la vita, con tutte le fangirl infoiate..) dovro' chiederle se si mette le ginocchiere, perche' l'amabile Bill Sykes la sbatte a faccia avanti due o tre volte, e non voglio che si rovini le belle rotuline, senno' poi st'estate come facciamo quando facciamo il mega picnic con il Queen Symphonic? (a proposito Valex, preparati gia' la valigia che si rifa' st'anno, ghghghghgh..)
Due file dietro di me, The Hairy King of Rock, Mr Brian May, che figurati se si perdere una prima di Kerry *rolleyes*, e meno male, perche' se ce l'avevamo seduto davanti non vedevamo un cazzo.
Alla fine standing ovation come un sol uomo quando e' uscita al curtain call, il Drury Lane era pieno di fangirls in ogni ordine di posti..Tanto, tanto amore per Kerry, ma proprio tanto.
Comunque pensavo non avrei retto, e invece mi sento di affermare che posso sopportare di rivederlo (anche perche' andiamo tipo tra 20 giorni..) senza mettermi a ronfare a meta' show..

WICKED (30.03.10)
E per finire in bellezza, Laura e le sue amiche, in camping forzato sui gradini del Victoria, ci offrono di prenderci due biglietti, e chi siamo noi per rifiutare?
Prima di tutto, OMG erano tipo due anni che non sedevo in prima fila centrarle, quasi al mio posto! Il 23, invece che il 24, ma siamo li. WHOA. Weird all'ennesima potenza. I sedili sono sempre stati cosi' scomodi? La chitarra elettrica si e' sempre sentita cosi' forte? C'e' sempre stato l'usher impalato a stage left?
Tucker. TUCKER. TUCKERRRRR che cosa non ti farei..
E poi e' tanto pretty tutta verde...<3 (lasciamo perdere l'accento, secondo me e' meglio se rinuncia e fa direttamente Elphaba nordirlandese..XD sai che tajo?)
Il Gelphie is back, signori e signore, Louise Dearman e Rachel Tucker hanno una chemistry pazzesca, ma devo dire che Tucker ha chemistry anche con le scimmie volanti..
Si rimbalzano bene, si vede che si divertono a lavorare insieme, sono molto affiatate, soprattutto durante WITF (Tucker FTW) e Popular (lol a Louise che per scendere dal letto scavalca Rachel calpestandola come un elefante), ma anche For Good e' stata ottima, non me l'aspettavo soprattutto al loro secondo show ever.
Louise ha una voce della madonna. Spazza via qualunque Glinda mai apparsa a Londra finora. Perfetta, in controllo, va da belt a soprano senza il minimo sforzo e non so, a un modo di cantare diverso, preciso, pieno, come se si sentisse meglio, come se avessero pulito le casse degli altoparlanti. Cristallina. Il suo toss-toss ha una risata aggiunta alla fine che non aveva mai fatto nessuno, ma funziona bene per ora, soprattutto in Popular. Sperando che non strafaccia piu' in la' come tendono a fare tutti..
Ma torniamo a Tucker. (non LA Tucker, solo Tucker. Perche' she's THAT cool..)
Tucker ha persino un pochino di chemistry con Lewis, che e' un bambacione biondastro secco come un fuscello e la personalita' di un bradipo stanco (scommetto che con Lee fara' scintille, ghghgh, shippo gia' da ora..).
Rachel bacia benissimo, e ad ALAYM gli ha stampato un bacio vero e proprio, non quella solita pressione di labbra serrate che si (intra)vede di solito in quella nebbiolina gelata sul quel palco (maledetta macchina per il fumo, coff coff), lasciandogli la bocca e la punta del naso coperta di verde. Mega LOL.
Rachel + Cassie PrettyPretty. Oh, CASSANDRINA. Quanto sei pretty? E quanto sei fierce?
PrimoAtto!Nessa dolcissima e affiatata con la sorellona, tenerine tutte e due..SecondoAtto!Nessa incazzata e feroce come 'na iena a digiuno.
Madonna che bella.
Con quelle labbra quando dice le L, che mi distrae sempre un sacco, e quella voce purissima che le esce senza sforzo alcuno..*happysigh*
Rachel + Dr Dillamond = AMO. Dillamond e' diverso da tutti gli altri Dillamond, lo fa serio e paterno e senza difetti di pronuncia (tranne per la Ga Di Galinda, ovviamente..), e mentre spiega in classe Tucker lo guarda rapita e con un megasorriso stampato in faccia mentre prende appunti.
Tucker primo atto e' adorabile all'ennesima potenza, si tormenta le mani, guarda tutti dritto negli occhi senza paura e sorride timida quando cominciano a craccare il suo guscio esterno, recita a mille ogni singolo minuto..AMO AMO AMO.
Tucker secondo atto e' piu' tormentata che arrabbiata. E' sola, e' stanca, e' triste.
La sua NGD e' disperata, dritta dallo stomaco. LOL, ha detto alla stage door che era rimasta senza fiato e per questo ha tipo barcollato ad un certo punto, ma era talmente ben costruito che sembrava totalmente pianificato. E non perde mai il controllo della voce, nonostante la nota finale, i fari sparati in faccia, e tutti che guardano solo te perche' durante NGD c'e' solo Elphaba sul palco, non e' che li puoi distrarre, e se sai che ti sta per finire il fiato..minchia.
Dev'essere terrorizzante. Eppure? Dritta come un treno, solida e costante, nota finale da urlo e pubblico in delirio.
Cosi' si fa, Alexia del caxxo. Prendi appunti, che poi ti interrogo.
La Morrible e' allampanata, sembra un po' un corvo, anche lei con la sua bella parrucca nuova, ed e' abbastanza scary...
Mia piccola ovazione personale: nuove parrucche, eeeeeeee!!! Riccioli perfetti per Glinda, scintillanti onde corvine per Elphie, persino Mamma Thropp ha una perfetta parrucca rosso fuoco perfettamente in ordine.
Lo so, e' una cazzata e dureranno poco, ma mi esalto. E' una nuova era per Wicked, in tutti i sensi, anche al reparto Wigs. Yay.

E mentre eravamo li' a cazzeggiare durante l'intervallo, l'orchestra improvvisava riff rock e noi ce la scialavamo alla grande sorridendo beate, Manu torna dal bagno e mi dice che c'e' Twinnie Lee, l'ha incrociata al bagno e si sono salutate. E infatti, eccola, coi capelli solito Rosso Improbabile, e una maglietta a righine molto nautica, si aggira parlando al telefono. OMG. Non la vedevo da Maggio..

E quindi si, sono troppo su di giri perche' ho riavuto indietro il mio Wicked. Quasi mi commuovo.
E tutte le fangirls che adesso odieranno questo cast?
Haters to the left, thank you very much. Sparite dall'Apollo Vic e non tornare mai piu', perche' se c'e' un dio Alexia non verra' castata mai piu' in niente e questo show rimarra' intonso il piu' a lungo possibile.

Peccato solo che la Scoobie week sia gia' finita. Tutti a casa, e noi sole solette, a tornare all'ingrato lavoro. Stanotte ho dormito 3 ore. Non mangio niente da ieri sera, a parte due caffe'. Con la testa ho un ritornello che fa 'devoandareaWicked, devoandareaBlonde, OMGKerryKerryKerry' e non riesco a spegnermi, sto gia' col pensiero alla prossima Scoobievacanza, alla prossima theatre week, alla prossima..

Oddio, abbattetemi.
          DE SCR34   
This concurrent resolution commends the Food Bank of Delaware for its contributions towards ending hunger and resolving the root causes of poverty in the State of Delaware through its increased statewide impact.

2017/06/20 Introduced in Senate
          Legislators should scrap idea of 'basic income' and just lower taxes   

The idea of a so-called guaranteed national income or "universal basic income" has become fashionable as a way to address concerns about everything from wealth inequality to a future in which technology has run amok. It has the appealing simplicity of a bumper sticker: Everyone in society should be paid a cash grant from the government, enough to prevent any person from living in poverty.

          Just Kids – Patti Smith   
Patti Smith’s National Book Award-winning memoir of her twinship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids, is many things. It is a primer on how to follow an inchoate longing and become an artist out of nothing and nowhere. It is a testament to a bond so unbreakable it survived gut-wrenching poverty, sexual ambivalence, homelessness, hunger, and […]
          The 64th Sydney Film Festival Awards On Body and Soul (Berlin winner)   


The 64th Sydney Film Festival tonight awarded On Body and Soul, directed by Ildikó Enyedi, the prestigious 10th anniversary Sydney Film Prize, out of a selection of 12 Official Competition films. 

The $60,000 cash prize for 'audacious, cutting-edge and courageous' film was awarded to Enyedi at the Festival’s Closing Night Gala awards ceremony and event at the State Theatre, ahead of the Australian premiere screening of Bong Joon-ho's Okja. 

Accepting the award, Enyedi said, “It was such an amazingly strong competition. It’s marvellous that such a film can move so many people, it gives me so much hope in cinema and in human communication.”

Sydney filmmakers Sascha Ettinger Epstein and Claire Haywood were awarded the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary’s $10,000 cash prize for The Pink House, about the last brothel in old mining town Kalgoorlie.

The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films saw the $7000 cash prize for the Dendy Live Action Short Award going to Adele, directed by Mirene Igwabi.  Sunday Emerson Gullifer was Highly Commended for her short film Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.  And Daniel Agdag's animation Lost Property Office took out both the $7000 Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director and the $5000 Yoram Gross Animation Award.

The Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award, a $5,000 prize for the best short screenwriting, was awarded to Michael Cusack, the writer and director of stop motion animation After All.  And the writers of Screenability short film The Milky Pop Kid, Johanna Garvin and Emily Dash, were Highly Commended. 

The $10,000 Sydney-UNESCO City of Film Award, bestowed by Create NSW to a trail-blazing NSW-based screen practitioner, went to Indigenous Australian actor, director and writer Leah Purcell.

Chris Freeland announced he will step down as Sydney Film Festival Chair while remaining on the Board.   Freeland, a Partner of Baker McKenzie and a member of its Asia Pacific Regional Council, chaired the organisation for eight years.  He led an era of expansion as well as industry and public popularity, seeing attendances almost double.

Festival Board Director Deanne Weir was welcomed to the position of Chair. Weir has over 25 years’ experience in media and communications and is Foxtel’s Managing Director, Content Aggregation and Wholesale.  She is also a renowned television producer and philanthropist whose passion is to support the advancement of women in the community.

Sydney Film Festival CEO Leigh Small said, “This year again, the Festival exceeded previous attendance figures – a continuing ten-year trend. There was an average of 72% capacity across all sessions with almost 185,000 attendances. This result marks a fitting end to Chris Freeland’s eight year tenure during which the number of people attending the Sydney Film Festival almost doubled.”

Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said: “2017 has been a significant year for film and filmmakers.   As the world looks for ways to understand and interpret the momentous events and challenges facing humanity, filmmakers across the globe have risen to the challenge.

“From refugees and the horrors of war, to the state of the world’s oceans,  this program of films - screened to Australian audiences for the first time at the 64th Sydney Film Festival - has provided an opportunity to debate and discuss some of the most pressing and contentious issues of our time.

“With a spotlight on questions of equality in race, sexuality, wealth, accessibility, and many other global conversations, these 12 days have provided a wealth of stories from diverse viewpoints and a moment in time to take stock of who, what and where we are today.

“I congratulate all the winners and all of the finalists, as well as the hundreds of filmmakers who have joined us at the Festival to present their ideas and opinions in films, talks and discussions,” he said.


On awarding the Sydney Film Prize to Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi’s On Body and Soul, Jury President Margaret Pomeranz said:

"Over the past 12 days we’ve experienced a most extraordinary cinematic journey curated by Sydney Film Festival.

"We’ve seen films about women struggling to find a space for themselves in a world that seems to want to keep them in their place; there have been films about transgressions, from youthful murder to child abuse.

"We’ve seen films about the many faces of sexual desire; we’ve been invited into worlds of wonder we have never experienced and we’ve been exposed to the ugly side of ourselves, through racism, poverty, cruelty and displacement.  And we’ve also been invited into the world of human compassion.

"And that element of compassion is very present in the film we’ve chosen to award the Sydney Film Prize.  It’s a film that shows us that even in this divided world we are capable of sharing the same dreams, that amongst the ugliness of a slaughterhouse, kindness, gentleness can be found," she said.

"So the Sydney Film Prize goes to the graceful, measured and ever so compassionate On Body and Soul from Hungarian filmmaker Ildikó Enyedi."

Winner of the Berlinale Golden Bear, On Body and Soul is Enyedi’s visually ravishing return to filmmaking after an 18-year break.  The film is about the unconventional romance between two co-workers who discover that each night they have exactly the same dreams.

The Festival jury was comprised of Australian film critic Margaret Pomeranz, critically acclaimed Nepali director Deepak Rauniyar, former senior film executive of South Korean powerhouse CJ Entertainment Kini Kim, independent Asian-Canadian animator Ann Marie Fleming, and Australian film producer Rosemary Blight of smash-hit The Sapphires and acclaimed television series Cleverman.

Previous winners include: Aquarius (2016), Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The competition is endorsed by FIAPF, the regulating body for international film festivals, and is judged by a jury of five international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals.

The selection of films in Competition for the SFF 2017 Sydney Film Prize are listed HERE.


The Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary was awarded to The Pink House from filmmakers Sascha Ettinger Epstein and Claire Haywood. The Jury comprising award-winning Asian-American filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz, CEO of the Documentary Australia Foundation Dr Mitzi Goldman and Australian based Iranian filmmaker Amin Palangi in a joint statement said:

"Amongst ten noteworthy films, one film enthralled us with its blend of nuanced characters and narrative depth. 

“In classic cinema verite fashion, the filmmaker introduces us to two singular women who give her unfettered access to their constantly changing lives, revealing a profound trust between filmmaker and subject that renders this film deeply personal and intimate.

“Through the unflinching gaze of her lens, this filmmaker immerses us in a world that, in less disciplined hands, could very well have been voyeuristic.  Instead we are treated to a film that is handled with affection and grace.”

“We the Jury give the Australian documentary prize to Sasha Ettinger Epstein and Claire Haywood for The Pink House.” 

2017 marks the fourth year the prize has been supported by the Foundation.

Previous winners include: In the Shadow of the Hill (2016); Only the Dead (2015); 35 Letters (2014); Buckskin (2013); Killing Anna (2012); Life in Movement (2011); and The Snowman (2010). In 2009 the inaugural prize was shared between Contact and A Good Man, and each film received a $10,000 cash prize.

The 10 finalists for the 2017 Sydney Film Festival Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary are listed HERE.


The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films were awarded to Mirene Igwabi for Adele (Dendy Live Action Short Award), Sunday Emerson Gullifer for Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow (Highly Commended), and Daniel Agdag for Lost Property Office (Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director and Yoram Gross Animation Award). The Jury comprised Canadian filmmaker Kirsten Carthew, former Vice President of Paramount Pictures Mike Selwyn, and Australian film producer Kath Shelper. In a joint statement, the Jury said:

"This year’s Jury was particularly excited by the exceptional talent that continues to emerge from Australia’s animation sector.

“We were captivated by the original and diverse stories and variety of animation techniques presented in both the Dendy Awards and in the rest of the Festival.

“Lost Property Office stood out for its direction, storytelling and exquisite visuals that could only have been realised through animation, which was the perfect choice of medium to tell this story.”

The Festival’s short-film competition is now in the 48th year; and has been sponsored by Dendy Cinemas for 29 years. Winners of the Best Live Action Short Film award and the Yoram Gross Animation award, sponsored by Yoram Gross Films, are Academy Award-eligible, opening new pathways for many Australian filmmakers.

These ground-breaking awards have kick-started the careers of many prominent filmmakers, with past competitors Warwick Thornton, Ariel Kleiman, Cate Shortland, Jane Campion, Phillip Noyce and Ivan Sen among Dendy Awards alumni.   

The 10 finalists for the 2017 Dendy Award for Australian Short Film are listed HERE.


A jury comprising Canadian filmmaker Kirsten Carthew, former Vice President of Paramount Pictures Mike Selwyn, and Australian film producer Kath Shelper awarded the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award to Michael Cusack, the writer and director of stop motion animation After All. Highly Commended the writers of Screenability short film The Milky Pop Kid, Johanna Garvin and Emily Dash.

Sponsored by Event Cinemas, Anthony Kierann, Area General Manager, Event Cinemas said:

“Event Cinemas is proud to once again sponsor The Event Cinema’s Australian Short Screenplay award.  Events acknowledges and supports the idea, concept and vision of a short film as penned by the writers in this exciting category.

“To be able to participate and support an outstanding written script by an Australian at this iconic film festival, we hope to encourage and support the writer towards inspiring development and achievements in the film landscape. We applaud all the short films within the category as stand out short films from the writers.”

The Australian short films eligible for the 2017 Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award are listed HERE.

Winners of all Sydney Film Festival awards are presented with the Festival’s signature mesmeric swirl award, designed and handmade in Sydney by Festival partners Dinosaur Designs.

The UNESCO Sydney City Of Film Award

The $10,000 Sydney-UNESCO City of Film Award, bestowed by Create NSW to a trail-blazing NSW-based screen practitioner, went to Indigenous Australian actor, director and writer Leah Purcell.


From Wednesday 7 June to Sunday 18 June 2017, the 64th Sydney Film Festival offers Sydneysiders another exciting season of cinema amidst a whirlwind of premieres, red-carpet openings, in-depth discussions, international guests and more.

Sydney Film Festival also presents an Official Competition of 12 films that vie for the Sydney Film Prize, a highly respected honour that awards a $60,000 cash prize based on the decision of a jury of international and Australian filmmakers and industry professionals. Previous Sydney Film Prize winners: Aquarius (2016); Arabian Nights (2015); Two Days, One Night (2014); Only God Forgives (2013); Alps (2012); A Separation (2011); Heartbeats (2010); Bronson (2009); and Hunger (2008).

The Festival takes place across Greater Sydney: at the State Theatre, Event Cinemas George Street, Dendy Opera Quays, Dendy Newtown, Skyline Drive-In Blacktown, Art Gallery of NSW, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace Cremorne, Randwick Ritz, Casula Powerhouse, the Festival Hub at Sydney Town Hall and SFF Outdoor Screen in Pitt Street Mall.

The Festival is a major event on the New South Wales cultural calendar and is one of the world’s longest-running film festivals. For more information visit:

The 64th Sydney Film Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Screen NSW and Destination NSW, the Federal Government through Screen Australia and the City of Sydney. The Festival’s Strategic Partner is the NSW Government through Destination NSW.



          South Africa’s transport network   

South Africa has a modern and well-developed transport infrastructure. The air
and rail networks are the largest on the continent, and the roads well maintained.
The country's ports provide a natural stopover for shipping to and from Europe,
the Americas, Asia, Australasia and both coasts of Africa.

The post South Africa’s transport network appeared first on Brand South Africa.

          Auto parts manufacturer taps N.C. over Indiana, Mexico for jobs   
An automotive manufacturer whose parts wind up in Hondas, Fords and Fiats has picked one of North Carolina’s most impoverished counties for an expansion. FCC, a Japanese manufacturer of friction material and clutch and transmission parts, tapped Scotland County for 28 new jobs and $826,500 in investments over three years. The payroll impact is expected to be nearly $780,000 each year to the local economy, according to an announcement from the state. And it’s particularly big news as Scotland…

          [wanabidii] New content updates   

Dear Wanabidii Africa Mashariki,

The following new content has been been added to our website:

Press Releases

30/06/2017 - Du 3 mai au 30 juin 2017, le Partenariat Souk At-tanmia que la Banque africaine de développement (BAD) a lancé avec d'autres partenaires et qu'elle pilote, a organisé 42 ateliers de formation sur tout le territoire tunisien, au profit de 250 jeunes entrepreneurs et de 200 représentants de structures publiques et de la société civile opérant dans le domaine de l'entrepreneuriat en Tunisie. Ces formations s'inscrivent dans le cadre de la 3e édition de Souk At-tanmia, lancée en mars 2017. Objectifs : stimuler l'esprit d'initiative et renforcer l'écosystème entrepreneurial en Tunisie.

Categories: Tunisia, Private Sector, Youth, Poverty Reduction, Partnerships, Human Capital Development


Position title Publication date Closing date
Chief global client management expert 30/06/2017 13/07/2017
Archivist 30/06/2017 13/07/2017
Division manager strategy and transaction support 30/06/2017 13/07/2017
Advisor to vice president 30/06/2017 13/07/2017

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          [wanabidii] New content updates   

Dear Wanabidii Africa Mashariki,

The following new content has been been added to our website:

Press Releases

30/06/2017 - Countries from the Indian Ocean Islands and East Africa have come together to develop strategies to tackle illegal fishing and increase accountability in fisheries practices.

For two days, representatives from the fishing industry, civil society, governments and fishing administrations from Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique, met on Mahe Island, Seychelles, to discuss the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), a global initiative to tackle illegal fishing.

Categories: Seychelles, Partnerships, African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), Food Production, Employment, Human Capital Development, Agriculture & Agro-industries, Youth, Poverty Reduction, Economic & Financial Governance, African Natural Resources Center (ANRC)

You have received this email because you subscribed to content updates of the African Development Bank.

Manage my account

African Development Bank Group
Immeuble du Centre de commerce International d'Abidjan CCIA
Avenue Jean-Paul II
01 BP 1387
Abidjan 01, Côte d'Ivoire
Phone: +225 2026 3900

This is an automated message, please do not respond. For all enquiries please contact

© African Development Bank Group - All rights reserved

          New comment on Item for Geeklist "Trying to Buy a Car US-Only Shipping Auction (with local pick-up in Madison, WI) -- Ends 6/30"    

by epoverb1

Related Item: The Castles of Burgundy


marlnobor wrote:


          Superu report: Incomes and housing crucial to community   
The findings of the latest Superu Families and Whānau status report, provide clear evidence that addressing one issue at a time will not significantly improve the situation for many children who are living with the effects of income poverty, says Child Poverty ...
          «Аж язык отняло»: Дочка Дарьи Поверенновой поразила естественной красотой (фото)   

Известная актриса театра и кино Дарья Повереннова и ее дочка Полина очень похожи! В этом смогли убедиться подписчики Instagram актрисы, передают Новости в Мире Повереннова поделилась с поклонниками коллажем из двух снимков, на которых изображены Полина и Дарья соответственно. «Яблочко и яблонька)», — так забавно актриса подписала фото. Подписчики нашли, что мама и дочка очень […]

Запись «Аж язык отняло»: Дочка Дарьи Поверенновой поразила естественной красотой (фото) впервые появилась Новости в Мире.

          Nutrition & Hygiene Promoter Assistants at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale   

COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale, is a humanitarian, non-confessional and independent organization founded in 1965 in Milan, Italy. For more than 50 years we have been dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and to supporting populations affected by wars, socio-economic crises or natural disasters in their path to recovery and sustainable development, by making use of […]

The post Nutrition & Hygiene Promoter Assistants at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale appeared first on Career Hob.

          Entry-level Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale   

COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale, is a humanitarian, non-confessional and independent organization founded in 1965 in Milan, Italy. For more than 50 years we have been dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and to supporting populations affected by wars, socio-economic crises or natural disasters in their path to recovery and sustainable development, by making use of […]

The post Entry-level Monitoring and Evaluation Officer at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale appeared first on Career Hob.

          Entry-level Field Officer at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale   

COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale, is a humanitarian, non-confessional and independent organization founded in 1965 in Milan, Italy. For more than 50 years we have been dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty and to supporting populations affected by wars, socio-economic crises or natural disasters in their path to recovery and sustainable development, by making use of […]

The post Entry-level Field Officer at COOPI Cooperazione Internazionale appeared first on Career Hob.

          Assistant Country Director (ACD) at CARE Nigeria   

At CARE, we seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live with dignity and security. This has been our vision since 1945, when we were founded to send lifesaving CARE Packages® to survivors of World War II. Today, CARE is a global leader in the movement […]

The post Assistant Country Director (ACD) at CARE Nigeria appeared first on Career Hob.

          Sous Chef at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)   

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is one of the worlds leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. Its award-winning research-for-development (R4D) approach addresses the development needs of tropical countries. IITA works with partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture. […]

The post Sous Chef at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) appeared first on Career Hob.

          IPEP Funds Not For Per Diem – Minister   
District assemblies that are to be the main anchors of the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP), have been cautioned to avoid using the IPEP funds for the payment of per diem and organizing of conferences. Mavis Hawa Koomson, Minister for Special Development Initiatives (MSDI), advised the assemblies to rather invest the funds ...
          Comment on Why the working class have become the biggest opponents of less work by Ben   
"If all workers got together and withheld their labor beyond 30 hours, it would have the exact opposite result of what would happen if a single worker did this. This is because the withholding of labor beyond 30 hours by all workers would have the effect of reducing the total hours of labor supplied in the market for capitalist production. To make up for this reduced supply of labor time, the capitalists would have to hire additional workers and thus drive wages up. Reducing aggregate hours of labor supplied has very different result from reducing individual hours of labor supplied. While poverty of an individual worker cannot be fixed by working less, the poverty of the entire class can be fixed if they all work less." This is a really great and clear paragraph. Just my 2 cents, but I think this is an example of a very effective way to argue the case. I imagine most people on some level ask themselves "How would this impact my wage, how would this impact the price of food and goods, how would this impact the price of renting/housing." Keep up the good work
          Their Library: Ulrika Spacek   
Ulrika Spacek
Exploring the London group's literary inspirations...

Ulrika Spacek's curious evolution takes another step forward on new album 'Modern English Decoration'.

Making full use of their expansive five musician line up, the band inject an artful air of the unexpected into the psychedelic format.

Sidestepping expectations in the process, Ulrika Spacek toasted the release with a flurry of inspired live shows.

Set to hit the road once more in Autumn, the group will play a series of headline dates before supporting Ride.

Ahead of this, Ulrika Spacek's Rhys E spoke to Clash about his literary influences and the contents of his book shelf...

- - -

What is your favourite book and why?
Down And Out In Paris & London by Orwell. It was the first book I read after moving to London. It's the first full length written by Orwell, a memoir about his time living in both cities in poverty. I found it very poignant and could relate to his descriptions of working in kitchens/hospitality. I can't wait to read it again a few years down the line.

What authors do you like?
Orwell, Hemingway, Bukowski.

What draws you to certain books?
I'm really interested in titles, guess it comes from a similar place to titling albums or songs. I would also say that the reputation of certain books draws me to them.

What are you reading at the moment?
Just finished The Outsider by Camus. It had been recommended to me by Ben in the band. The first half I was thinking that it was an overrated book then the last third really showed itself why it's so highly regarded. I will definitely read more of him.

What is the first book you remember reading as a child?
It was a book called Dig. I found it in my school library and every page just said Dig next to various illustrations of JCB Diggers, I remember being disappointed but finished it quick at least.

Do your literary influences have a direct impact on your songwriting?
To be honest I wish I read more as I do think it opens doors for songwriting, especially lyrics. As my girlfriend lives in Stockholm I fly quite regularly, and for me this is the time I read, it's probably not a coincidence that this is also a time when I often end up writing quite a lot of lyrics. I would say usually it's more of an indirect influence but it definitely allows you to see a canvas of words, this can be very effective in sparking things lyrically. That said, the final lyric of our second record is based on the very last line of Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

Have you ever identified with a character in a book? Which one and why?
Of course, I think relating to the protagonist is one of the main reasons why people feel that there is something of them inside that book. I really liked Winston in 1984. That said, it is possible to enjoy a book without personally identifying with the main character, for instance for most of The Outsider I didn't particularly feel anything for Meursault, that perceived coldness and nonchalance was captivating however.

Have you ever started a book you simply could not finish?
Plenty, a friend of mine lives by the adage that if you are not into it after 100 pages put it down.

Do you read book reviews?
No, but I definitely listen to friends recommendations. Word of mouth is a beautiful thing.

Would you ever re-read the same book?
I haven't but I will. Reading a book locks it with a memory of a certain time. I am looking forward to using books in the future to unlock some sort of nostalgia. I think I am going to reread the S.C.U.M. manifesto again very soon, I read it first time around in a bath, might do that again actually.

Do you read one book at a time, or more than one?
Always one at a time, that can be annoying though. I want to read Infinite Jest but fore well know that will be to the detriment of reading anything else for a long time.

- - -

Catch Ulrika Spacek at the following shows:

6 Nottingham The Angel
7 Dublin The Workmans Club
9 Glasgow Hug and Pint
10 Manchester The Soup Kitchen
11 Bristol Louisiana
12 London Oslo
13 Brighton Sticky Mike's Frog Bar

7 London O2 Forum Kentish Town*
8 Birmingham O2 Institute*
9 Bristol SWX *
10 Leeds Beckett University*
12 Liverpool O2 Academy 1*
13 Newcastle Boiler Shop*
14 Edinburgh The Queens Hall *

* - supporting Ride

Buy Clash Magazine

          Arcivescovo Crepaldi. L’orrenda invenzione ideologica della morte di Stato   
La mobilitazione mediatica e il coraggio dei genitori di Charlie non sono rimasti completamente senza esito, nonostante gli assordanti silenzi illustri. E vogliamo non pensare alle innumerevoli preghiere che salgono incessantemente al Cielo?
Oggi abbiamo letto sul Dailymail : "His parents are believed to be Catholic and their unwell son was photographed recently clutching a St Jude pendant - the patron saint of lost causes. As a result his plight has had mass press coverage in Italy and even reached the Vatican where Pope Francis was asked to pray for Charlie". "Si ritiene che i suoi genitori siano cattolici, il loro figlio malato è stato recentemente fotografato mentre stringeva uno scapolare di S. Giuda, il Patrono delle cause perse. Pertanto, la sua situazione disperata ha avuto grandissima pubblicità sulla stampa italiana, raggiungendo persino il Vaticano, dove si è chiesto a Papa Francesco di pregare per lui". Dopo il convenzionale e deludente comunicato della Pontificia Accademia per la vita, finalmente una voce davvero cristiana che dice ciò che andava gridato da subito, chiamando le cose col loro nome.
Leggo ora anche il vibrante appello del Card. Caffarra che riporto dopo quello di Mons. Crepaldi. 

Sul caso di  Charlie Gard dichiarazione dell’Arcivescovo Giampaolo Crepaldi
vescovo di Trieste e Presidente dell’Osservatorio Cardinale Van Thuân

La vicenda del piccolo Charlie Gard e dei suoi genitori colpisce la nostra pietà umana e cristiana, ma va considerata anche alla luce della ragione e della dottrina della fede. Esso, infatti, ci pone davanti a principi e valori fondamentali per l’uomo e la convivenza civile. Mi riferisco ai principi del totale rispetto dovuto alla vita umana, del primato dei genitori nella gestione coraggiosa e prudente di queste tragiche situazioni, della inammissibilità che sia lo Stato, o un giudice, o una Corte di giustizia a stabilire chi deve vivere e chi deve morire.
I genitori del bambino volevano tentare una nuova terapia, per la quale avevano anche raccolto le risorse necessarie. Era loro diritto farlo.
Nel caso del piccolo Charlie si vuole di fatto applicare un trattamento eutanasico, e questo non può essere accettato. Il caso è dirompente perché l’attuazione della sentenza minerebbe i fondamenti stessi dell’umanesimo cristiano e si aprirebbe un radicale percorso di esodo dalla nostra civiltà. Charlie Gard ha bisogno dell’effetto dei suoi genitori, dell’impegno dei medici per assisterlo e della preghiera dei cristiani. Non di sentenze che ne decretano a morte. La morte di Stato è un’orrenda invenzione ideologica.

* * *
Interviene anche il Card. Caffarra
"Siamo arrivati al capolinea della cultura della morte. Sono le istituzioni pubbliche, i tribunali, a decidere se un bambino ha o non ha il diritto di vivere. Anche contro la volontà dei genitori. Abbiamo toccato il fondo delle barbarie", aggiunge Caffarra, che continua: "Siamo figli delle istituzioni, e dobbiamo la vita ad esse? Povero Occidente: ha rifiutato Dio e la sua paternità e si ritrova affidato alla burocrazia! L' angelo di Charlie vede sempre il volto del Padre. Fermatevi, in nome di Dio. Altrimenti vi dico con Gesù: " Sarebbe meglio che vi legaste al collo una macina da mulino e vi gettaste nel più profondo del mare".
Parole dure, quelle del cardinal Caffarra, che contribuiscono assieme ad altre dichiarazioni alla rottura del silenzio sul caso da parte della Chiesa. Altri, invece, continuano a ritenere utile, forse decisiva, una presa di posizione di Bergoglio sulla vicenda. Il mondo dei cattolici tradizionalisti, però, sta alzando il tiro sul tema e non sembra disposta a lasciar passare neppure un secondo per continuare ad operare un tentativo di rimettere la decisione sulle sorti di Charlie nelle mani dei genitori. [Fonte]

          Custos, quid de nocte?   
'Diritti umani' (o umanitari) riservati piuttosto ad un cane...

Guardate cosa titola il Corriere proprio nei giorni in cui si consuma la tragedia del piccolo Charlie e dei suoi genitori. Mi risulta che molti siano stati gli appelli perché il cane venisse risparmiato, compresi quelli di svariati nomi illustri.... A me onestamente ripugna questo genere di protagonismo e l'impegno di politici e magistrati che non è mancato. 
Non ci sono commenti, se non un senso di accorato affidamento, al Signore e alla Sua e nostra Madre, di noi tutti e di questa povera umanità allo sbando.

          Ricchi e Poveri in due, la prima esibizione a I Migliori Anni (VIDEO)   
La prima esibizione dei Ricchi e Poveri senza Franco Gatti è stata ospitata da I Migliori Anni di Carlo Conti che ha sancito, così, la 'nuova' formazione della gruppo genovese, nato nel 1968 con due...
          Top 10 science anniversaries of 2017    

It’s time to celebrate pulsars, planets, Einstein, more Einstein and the laws of robotics

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

This year marks the semicentennial of the discovery of pulsars, first observed by Jocelyn Bell Burnell, shown here in 1968 at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge, England.

Second of two parts

Every year science offers a diverse menu of anniversaries to celebrate. Births (or deaths) of famous scientists, landmark discoveries or scientific papers — significant events of all sorts qualify for celebratory consideration, as long as the number of years gone by is some worthy number, like 25, 50, 75 or 100. Or simple multiples thereof with polysyllabic names.

2017 has more than enough such anniversaries for a Top 10 list, so some worthwhile events don’t even make the cut, such as the births of Stephen Hawking (1942) and Arthur C. Clarke (1917). The sesquicentennial of Michael Faraday’s death (1867) almost made the list, but was bumped at the last minute by a book. Namely:

10. On Growth and Form, centennial (1917)

A true magnum opus, by the Scottish biologist D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson, On Growth and Form has inspired many biologists with its mathematical analysis of physical and structural forces underlying the diversity of shapes and forms in the biological world. Nobel laureate biologist Sir Peter Medawar praised Thompson’s book as “beyond comparison the finest work of literature in all the annals of science that have been recorded in the English tongue.”

9. Birth of Abraham de Moivre, semiseptcentennial (1667).

Born in France on May 26, 1667, de Moivre moved as a young man to London where he did his best work, earning election to the Royal Society. Despite exceptional mathematical skill, though, he attained no academic position and earned a meager living as a tutor. He is most famous for his book The Doctrine of Chances, which was in essence an 18th century version of Gambling for Dummies. It contained major advances in probability theory and in later editions introduced the concept of the famous bell curve. Isaac Newton was impressed; the legend goes that when anyone asked him about probability, Newton said to go talk to de Moivre.

8. Exoplanets, quadranscentennial (1992)

It seems like exoplanets have been around almost forever (and probably actually were), but the first confirmed by Earthbound astronomers were reported just a quarter century ago. Three planets showed up orbiting not an ordinary star, but a pulsar, a rapidly spinning neutron star left behind by a supernova.

Astrophysicists Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail found a sign of the planets, first detected with the Arecibo radio telescope, in irregularities in the radio pulses from the millisecond pulsar PSR1257+12. Some luck was involved. In 1990, the Arecibo telescope was being repaired and couldn’t pivot to point at a specific target; instead it constantly watched just one region of the sky. PSR1257+12 just happened to float by.

7. Birth of Marie Curie, sesquicentennial (1867)

No doubt the most famous Polish-born scientist since Copernicus, Curie was born in Warsaw on November 7, 1867, as Maria Sklodowska. Challenged by poverty, family tragedies and poor health, she nevertheless excelled as a high school student. But she then worked as a governess, while continuing as much science education as possible, until her married sister invited her to Paris. There she completed her physics education with honors and met and married another young physicist, Pierre Curie.

Together they tackled the mystery of the newly discovered radioactivity, winning the physics Nobel in 1903 along with radioactivity’s discoverer, Henri Becquerel. Marie continued the work after her husband’s tragic death in 1906; she became the first person to win a second Nobel, awarded in chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of the new radioactive elements polonium and radium.

6. Laws of Robotics, semisesquicentennial (1942)

One of science fiction’s greatest contributions to modern technological philosophy was Isaac Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, which first appeared in a short story in the March 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. Later, those laws formed the motif of his many robot novels and appeared in his famous Foundation Trilogy (and subsequent sequels and prequels). They were:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Much later Asimov added a “zeroth law,” requiring robots to protect all of humankind even if that meant violating the other three laws. Artificial intelligence researchers all know about Asimov’s laws, but somehow have not managed to enforce them on social media. Incidentally, this year is also the quadranscentennial of Asimov’s death in 1992.

5. First sustained nuclear fission chain reaction, semisesquicentennial (1942)

Enrico Fermi, the Italian Nobel laureate, escaped fascist Italy to come to the United States shortly after nuclear fission’s discovery in Germany. Fermi directed construction of the “atomic pile,” or nuclear reactor, on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s football stadium. Fermi and his collaborators showed that neutrons emitted from fissioning uranium nuclei could induce more fission, creating a chain reaction capable of releasing enormous amounts of energy. Which it later did.

4. Discovery of pulsars, semicentennial (1967)

Science’s awareness of the existence of pulsars turns 50 this year, thanks to the diligence of Irish astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She spent many late-night hours examining the data recordings from the radio telescope she helped to build that first spotted a signal from a pulsar. She recognized that the signal was something special even though others thought it was just a glitch in the apparatus. But she was a graduate student so her supervisor got the Nobel Prize instead of her

3. Einstein’s theory of lasers, centennial (1917)

Albert Einstein did not actually invent the laser, but he developed the mathematical understanding that made lasers possible. By 1917, physicists knew that quantum physics played a part in the working of atoms, but the details were fuzzy. Niels Bohr had shown in 1913 that an atom’s electrons occupy different energy levels, and that falling from a high energy level to a lower one emits radiation.

Einstein worked out the math describing this process when many atoms have electrons in high-energy states and emit radiation. His analysis of matter-radiation interaction indicated that it would be possible to prepare many atoms in the same high-energy state and then stimulate them to emit radiation all at once. Properly done, all the atoms would emit radiation of identical wavelength with the waves in phase. A few decades later other physicists figured out how to build such a device for use as a powerful weapon or to read bar codes at grocery stores.

2. Qubits, quadranscentennial (1992)

An even better quantum anniversary than lasers is the presentation to the world of the concept of quantum bits of information. Physicist Ben Schumacher of Kenyon College in Ohio unveiled the idea at a conference in Dallas in 1992 (I was there). A “quantum bit” of information, or qubit, represents the information contained in a quantum particle, which can exist in multiple states at once. A photon, for instance, might simultaneously be in a state of horizontal or vertical polarization. Or an electron’s spin could be up and down at the same time.

Such states differ from classical bits of information in a computer, recorded as either a 0 or 1; a quantum bit is both 0 and 1 at the same time. It becomes one or the other only when observed, much like a flipped coin is nether heads nor tails until somebody catches it, or it lands on the 50 yard line. Schumacher’s idea did not get a lot of attention at first, but it eventually became the foundational idea for quantum information theory, a field now booming with efforts to construct a quantum computer based on the manipulation of qubits.

1. Birth of modern cosmology, centennial (1917)

It might seem unfair that Einstein gets two Top 10 anniversaries in 2017, but 1917 was a good year for him. Before publishing his laser paper, Einstein tweaked the equations of his brand-new general theory of relativity in order to better explain the universe (details in Part 1). Weirdly, Einstein didn’t understand the universe, and he later thought the term he added to his equations was a mistake. But it turns out that today’s understanding of the universe’s behavior — expanding at an accelerating rate — seems to require the term that Einstein thought he had added erroneously. But you can’t expect Einstein to have foreseen everything. He probably had no idea that lasers would revolutionize grocery shopping either.

Follow me on Twitter: @tom_siegfried

          Tom Wolfe’s denial of language evolution stumbles over his own words    

New book attacking Darwin, Chomsky substitutes smugness for substance

two babies chatting

Babies are born with the ability to learn and use language, a feature of human behavior that, like other behavioral capabilities, emerged from eons of biological evolution — a scientific explanation that author Tom Wolfe rejects in his new book, The Kingdom of Speech

Language is a tricky thing to write about. You’re using it while dissecting it. That sort of recursion can trip you up. As a philosopher friend of mine once said, a zoologist studying tigers, while riding on the back of a tiger, should be very careful.

Of all the writers who’ve ever taken on the task of writing about language, nobody of any consequence has ever tripped himself up quite so much as Tom Wolfe. His new book, The Kingdom of Speech, has been widely denigrated (deservedly) by scientists who have encountered it. Wolfe has taken it upon himself to explain various aspects of science — having to do with biological evolution, linguistics, psychology and cognitive neuroscience — to scientists, in the process disparaging titans in their fields such as Charles Darwin and Noam Chomsky. It’s kind of like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie trashing George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Wolfe pontificates about language without realizing that he’s riding on the back of a linguistic tiger.

It’s difficult to criticize him, though, without lapsing into the same sort of abominable adhominemism with which he assaults Darwin and Chomsky. It’s not enough just to assert disagreement with Darwin’s views on how language evolves or Chomsky’s theory that evolution endowed all human babies with a built-in hardwired “universal grammar.” Wolfe attacks their character.

He presents Chomsky as a demon, a bully, a knave. When criticizing another’s research, Chomsky “pulls out a boning knife and goes to work,” Wolfe writes; he refers to Chomsky’s “audacity” and accuses him of “double talk.” He calls him “an angry god raining fire and brimstone.” He lambastes Chomsky for attacking his critics as liars, charlatans and frauds. In short, Wolfe attacks Chomsky for using against others the same linguistic strategy that Wolfe uses against Chomsky. Riding on a tiger.

Wolfe gives the impression of being jealous of Chomsky’s fame, which seems odd for a writer so famous himself. As for Darwin, Wolfe presents the greatest biologist in history as a petty thief who stole credit for the theory of evolution by natural selection from Alfred Russell Wallace, who was (Wolfe alleges) screwed over by the British gentlemen’s club conspirators who rigged the system to give Darwin credit for priority. And then Wolfe ridicules Darwin for reporting observations on the behavior of his dog.

But the poverty of Wolfe’s intellectual rhetoric does not cement the case against him. Just as belittling Darwin and Chomsky personally does not really rebut their science, condemning Wolfe’s rhetorical juvenility does not confront the substance of his thesis — that humans invented speech (and subsequent forms of language derived from it) — and that evolution had nothing to do with it. And that speech, and speech virtually alone, makes humans superior to other animals.

Somehow Wolfe manages to claim that he and he alone has figured out what no one else (at least, “no licensed savant”) ever thought of, that speech is the “cardinal distinction between man and animal.” It did not evolve. “Man, man unaided, created language,” Wolfe says. Language is a system of mnemonics, based on sounds that represent meaning, enabling people to remember, think and plan. And humans invented that system. Yes, invented it!!! (That’s how Wolfe writes: his rhetoric would collapse if denied the use of italics and exclamation points.) In any case, the question is not whether Wolfe dismisses Darwin and Chomsky unfairly, but rather whether he marshals sufficient factual evidence to support his central claim.

But facts are not Wolfe’s strong suit. On page 5, for instance, he announces that Watson and Crick discovered DNA. How unfair to Friedrich Mieschler, who discovered the molecule deoxyribonucleic acid in 1869. Watson and Crick discovered its double helix structure. Given such a weak grasp of such an elementary fact, Wolfe’s subsequent assertions on subtle points of evolutionary theory warrant suspicion.

There’s more. In one of his book’s most tweeted passages, he asserts that evolution fails all the tests of what makes “science”:

“Had anyone observed the phenomenon…? Could other scientists replicate it? Could any of them come up with a set of facts that, if true, would contradict the theory (Karl Popper’s ‘falsifiability’ test)? Could scientists make predictions based on it? Did it illuminate hitherto unknown or baffling areas of science?”
To which questions Wolfe answers “no … no … no … no … and no.” But to which any long-time reader of Science News would have responded “yes, yes, yes, yes and yes” (as would any knowledgeable scientist, as biologist Jerry Coyne, among others, has pointed out).

Wolfe’s citing of Popper is especially lame; although in early writings Popper criticized natural selection, in his later years he assented that natural selection could be posed in testable terms (he even thought that it failed the test under certain circumstances).

Nonetheless it is true that ideas about the evolutionary origin of language are difficult to test. Wolfe, in fact, anchors his argument with two recent papers (2014), each with Chomsky as a coauthor, asserting that “the most fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of our linguistic capacity remain as mysterious as ever.” Evidence on this issue is either “inconclusive or irrelevant,” Chomsky and colleagues wrote in Frontiers in Psychology. Evidence of Neandertal ability to produce speech does not help trace the beginnings of language, he and collaborators wrote in PLOS Biology. Speech ability “is undoubtedly a necessary condition for the expression of vocally externalized language,” but “is not a sufficient one, and … is evidently no silver bullet for determining when human language originated.”

Others would disagree on how well the evidence illuminates language’s origins, just as some experts in linguistics have disagreements with Chomsky on many other points. But even if you acknowledge a lack of “conclusive” evidence, that’s not the same thing as saying there is “no evidence” — as Wolfe repeatedly alleges.

Of course, both papers clearly state that language did, in fact, evolve — it’s just that science can not yet say exactly how. And it’s true that the origin of speech is among the most stubborn of mysteries. So are the origin of the universe, the origin of life and the origin of baseball. Science has not yet fully understood the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, either (and certainly has found no cure); the logical conclusion is not that man just decided to get Alzheimer’s disease. Research continues on the premise that its biological basis might yet be discovered.

Boiled down to its essentials, Wolfe’s case amounts to a fairly sparse syllogism: Science has not been able to establish how human language originated and evolved. Therefore, it did not evolve. And furthermore, I (Wolfe) know how it originated. Humans invented it.

Wolfe apparently doesn’t seem to care that his major premise is based on two papers that assert that language did in fact evolve. Or that his argument against language evolution hinges on a lack of testable evidence, while he declares that he knows how language originated — without any testable evidence. Tigers.

And Wolfe certainly missed the irony of one sentence in the paper in PLOS Biology he cites. “Evolutionary analysis of language is often plagued by popular, naïve, or antiquated conceptions of how evolution proceeds,” Chomsky and collaborators wrote. As in Wolfe’s book.

Follow me on Twitter: @tom_siegfried

          This Week in Science   
1. Growing Years Cut Short For Toddlers From Poor FamiliesContinuous poverty during toddler years can curb the height of children by the time they reach kindergarten, even in industrialized countries, according to new research from the Université de...

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          The World Is Now $217,000,000,000,000 In Debt And The Global Elite Like It That Way   

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The borrower is the servant of the lender, and through the mechanism of government debt virtually the entire planet has become the servants of the global money changers.  Politicians love to borrow money, but over time government debt slowly but surely impoverishes a nation.  As the elite get governments around the globe in increasing amounts of debt, those governments must raise taxes in order to keep servicing those debts.  In the end, it is all about taking money from us and transferring it into government pockets, and then taking money from government pockets and transferring it into the hands of the elite.  It is a game that has been going on for generations, and it is time for humanity to say that enough is enough.

According to the Institute of International Finance, global debt has now reached a new all-time record high of 217 trillion dollars

Global debt levels have surged to a record $217 trillion in the first quarter of the year. This is 327 percent of the world’s annual economic output (GDP), reports the Institute of International Finance (IIF).


The surging debt was driven by emerging economies, which have increased borrowing by $3 trillion to $56 trillion. This amounts to 218 percent of their combined economic output, five percentage points greater year on year.

Never before in human history has our world been so saturated with debt.

And what all of this debt does is that it funnels wealth to the very top of the global wealth pyramid.  In other words, it makes global wealth inequality far worse because this system is designed to make the rich even richer and the poor even poorer.

Every year the gap between the wealthy and the poor grows, and it has gotten to the point that eight men have as much wealth as the poorest 3.6 billion people on this planet combined

Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity, according to a new report published by Oxfam today to mark the annual meeting of political and business leaders in Davos.

This didn’t happen by accident.  Sadly, most people don’t even understand that this is literally what our system was designed to do.

Today, more than 99 percent of the population of the planet lives in a country that has a central bank.  And debt-based central banking is designed to get national governments trapped in endless debt spirals from which they can never possibly escape.

For example, just consider the Federal Reserve.  During the four decades before the Federal Reserve was created, our country enjoyed the best period of economic growth in U.S. history.  But since the Fed was established in 1913, the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by approximately 98 percent and the size of our national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger.

It isn’t an accident that we are 20 trillion dollars in debt.  The truth is that the debt-based Federal Reserve is doing exactly what it was originally designed to do.  And no matter what politicians will tell you, we will never have a permanent solution to our debt problem until we get rid of the Federal Reserve.

In 2017, interest on the national debt will be nearly half a trillion dollars.

That means that close to 500 billion of our tax dollars will go out the door before our government spends a single penny on the military, on roads, on health care or on anything else.

And we continue to pile up debt at a rate of more than 100 million dollars an hour.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the federal government will add more than a trillion dollars to the national debt once again in 2018…

Unless current laws are changed, federal individual income tax collections will increase by 9.5 percent in fiscal 2018, which begins on Oct. 1, according to data released today by the Congressional Budget Office.


At the same time, however, the federal debt will increase by more than $1 trillion.

We shouldn’t be doing this, but we just can’t seem to stop.

Let me try to put this into perspective.  If you could somehow borrow a million dollars today and obligate your children to pay it off for you, would you do it?

Maybe if you really hate your children you would, but most loving parents would never do such a thing.

But that is precisely what we are doing on a national level.

Thomas Jefferson was strongly against government debt because he believed that it was a way for one generation to steal from another generation.  And he actually wished that he could have added another amendment to the U.S. Constitution which would have banned government borrowing…

“I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.”

And the really big secret that none of us are supposed to know is that governments don’t actually have to borrow money.

But if we start saying that too loudly the people that are making trillions of dollars from the current system are going to get very, very upset with us.

Today, we are living in the terminal phase of the biggest debt bubble in the history of the planet.  Every debt bubble eventually ends tragically, and this one will too.

Bill Gross recently noted that “our highly levered financial system is like a truckload of nitro glycerin on a bumpy road”.  One wrong move and the whole thing could blow sky high.

When everything comes crashing down and a great crisis happens, we are going to have a choice.

We could try to rebuild the fundamentally flawed old system, or we could scrap it and start over with something much better.

My hope is that we will finally learn our lesson and discard the debt-based central banking model for good.

The reason why I am writing about this so much ahead of time is so that people will actually understand why the coming crisis is happening as it unfolds.

If we can get everyone to understand how we are being systematically robbed and cheated, perhaps people will finally get mad enough to do something about it.

          Gateway to Frayser   
New development promises economic boost to North Memphis.

Once the site of a department store, a near-20-acre lot on Hollywood has sat vacant and blighted for over two decades. Now, Frayser Gateway, a grocery-anchored shopping center — the area's first project of its kind in the past 30 years — is in the works to transform the space.

In addition to a proposed 35,000-square-foot grocery store, Frayser Gateway will host other retail establishments, restaurants, and a hotel.

Total investment in the shopping center would equal a little over $16 million, with construction set to begin in 2018 and wrapping up sometime in 2020.

Known for his work on the retail side of the new Crosstown Concourse and the Binghampton Gateway development, Shawn Massey with the Shopping Center Group is working in collaboration with G2 Ventures, the group that currently owns the property, to develop the 97,000-square-foot space.

Massey says one of the goals of the project is to eliminate the huge source of blight that the abandoned lot, now used as a dumping ground and illegal parking lot for 18-wheelers, has created.

"It sets a bad example for what the Frayser community is perceived as and not really what exists in the community today," Massey said.

Another goal of the development is to address long-term poverty in Frayser by bringing economic development to the area, while providing access to food and jobs to the surrounding residents.

Introducing a grocery store to the area would provide relief to neighborhoods near the proposed project, which are certified USDA food deserts, with transportation-challenged residents lacking access to healthy foods.

Additionally, Frayser Gateway is expected to bring the equivalent of 136 part-time jobs with an average annual wage of $24,294 to South Frayser, which currently has unemployment rates between 15 and 30 percent.

Leaders in the Frayser community welcome the new shopping center, acknowledging the neighborhood's need for more businesses and avenues of revenue.

"The Frayser Gateway project would be a much needed shot in the arm for the community," said Steve Lockwood, executive director of the Frayser Community Development Corporation. "I believe it could spur other developments in Frayser, particularly in the nearby Watkins gateway area."

The Frayser Gateway project is made possible by a 15-year Community Builder pay-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive awarded to the group by the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County (EDGE) last week.

EDGE board chairman Al Bright Jr. said the shopping center will prove to bring economic growth to Frayser and put money back into the community, as the Frayser Gateway group is expected to produce a little over $100,000 in taxes during the PILOT and over $400,000 post-PILOT.

The incentive gives the group a temporary abatement of taxes in return for spending $3.2 million of construction-related costs with city or county-certified minority or women-owned enterprises (MWBE).

Previously, terms of the PILOT required contracting only with locally owned small businesses, but after the EDGE board voted to amend its local participation policy last week, PILOT recipients must spend 25 percent of spending to contract with MWBE.

          The Stories We Tell Our Children   

As I contemplate the world on this Memorial day, I am thinking about the father I never had a chance to know, and thinking deeply about the stories we tell on these holidays, as well as the cracks in between. This was one of the only photos I had of my father while growing up. As a young impressionable male, I wanted to join the military, fill my void with service and days spent fighting “the enemy”–a fire that was stoked daily by the adults in my life. After hearing the 6:00 news, from the radio out in the shop, and around the dining room table, my friends and I would spend our weekends at the river, running military exercises to prepare us for when the Russians invaded–WOLVERINES!!!!

The adults around me would tell us stories, purchase us backpacks, guns, and knives, all fueled by their own fears–completely unaware of what this was doing to us. I now hear these same adults telling stories about how Russia has a strong leader, and we should be afraid of those brown people over there, that we should go to war with them, and that we should not let them into our country. They are letting their fears be stoked, be used (yet again) to make the world a more hostile place, and ensuring that the next generation will be just afraid of the world as they are, and where societal and financial collapse becomes the only hope you have (you spend your days waiting, hoping for the next collapse, all the data points to it being October 5th)–this becomes the light at the end of the tunnel.

On this day I think about what my life would have been like if I had not got that hit of album cover acid at the Dylan & The Dead concert in 1987 and found my own way out. I found my own way out of rural poverty (thumb on the freeway), away from the stories of fear that were rooted in generations of racism and isolation. I’m thankful that I was able to break the cycle of stories that are told in rural parts this country, where boys do not know their fathers, they worship their guns, fear brown people, and never trust those people over there in the city, or in that other country I have never actually ever been to.

          Why this priest isn't afraid of Christianity's waning influence   

New York City, N.Y., Jun 30, 2017 / 03:02 am (CNA).- With Catholic proposals to literally head for the hills in response to Christianity's ever-lessening influence in secular culture, the leader of a global ecclesial movement has a provocative statement:

This is actually a great time for the Church.

“As a matter of fact,” says Father Julian Carron, “it is a precious occasion to verify the validity of the Christian proposal.”

Already garnering some notable attention since its release, a new book by Fr. Carron called “Disarming Beauty” takes on the question of the Church's relevance amid modern society's most pressing challenges. From terrorism to consumerism, “rights” culture to marriage and family, the book examines the plight of our current world and invites Christians to respond – not from a place of fear, but from the joy of their original encounter with the living person of Christ.

“The fact that the Church is no longer a moral majority is liberating; it allows us to rediscover the heart of the Christian event,” he told CNA. “The Church will survive and thrive only through Her witness.”

Fr. Carron heads Communion and Liberation, which originated in the 1950s with Italian priest Msgr. Luigi Giussani. The international movement focuses on the actualization of man's faith by living the Christian presence within community.

Please read below for our full interview with Fr. Carron:

Why 'Disarming Beauty'? What does the title mean to you?

The book speaks of the beauty of Christian faith, of its power and its attraction. When God takes on flesh, He strips Himself of His own power, entering into the history and poverty of the human condition, revealing to everyone the truth of His power. This is how Christianity, the greatest revolution of all time, began. Christ is the exemplar of a way of communicating truth that needs no other means beyond the beauty of truth itself. The book speaks primarily of this beauty, which is not just an aesthetic or sentimental one. Like all beautiful things, Christianity needs no other defense, other then its own beauty, to be communicated. With the expression “disarming beauty” I wanted to say: “We Christians, do we believe in the fascination that the disarming beauty of the faith can exercise?” With the phrase “disarming beauty,” I propose a Christian presence that would be sufficiently attractive so as to make life more interesting for everyone.

What exactly does beauty 'disarm' us of? How does it do that?

Beauty disarms us from our narrow way of looking at ourselves and at reality; it opens our minds and our eyes to the totality of reality, of the real. The attractiveness of beauty moves us affectively, so much so that it allows reason to become truly opened to all the factors of reality. We discover this openness in Christ’s gaze on reality; we are surprised by the way Jesus looks at the publicans, at Zacchaeus or Matthew, or at the crowd. How is his gaze different from the one of the Pharisees, which reduces the person to his ability or his ethical performance? Jesus' gaze at Zacchaeus helps him discover himself, awakening his self-awareness, something none of the Pharisees’ reproaches could do. We can say the same about the Samaritan woman, or the tenth leper. We understand the shock that His presence provoked: “We never saw anything like this.”

What do you perceive as the single greatest threat in modern society?

I think it is feeling adrift, destabilized, alone, and uncertain. Most propose to fight these emotions with walls, or changes in the system at the institutional level (as depicted by T.S. Eliot). Men and women today wait for, perhaps unconsciously, the experience of an encounter with people for whom life is “solid” in the midst of change. What will wake people up today is a human impact, an event that echoes the initial event that occurred when Jesus raised His eyes and said, “Zacchaeus, hurry down. I want to stay at your house today.” I believe that the present era is a great opportunity to witness to the disarming beauty of Christianity, and to verify the fascination of the Christian event, which does not require a context to protect it.

Why is education so important? Why do you say it's the greatest challenge the Church faces?

We see so many students and teachers passive, skeptical, and even bored. Since we don't know what to do, we manage the symptoms. Yet, we must face the challenge. The challenge for the educator is to reawaken desire, to experience the restlessness which St. Augustine speaks about. To do so, we must introduce students to a relationship with reality in its totality, with all of its beauty and meaning.

For this reason, it is necessary to put the person at the center, to teach students to look at the world with their own eyes, to think with their own heads, thus developing a critical spirit that makes their “I” more of a protagonist and less a spectator, more a leader and less a follower, more a citizen and less a subject.

This dynamic is only possible when a teacher is a witness to this relationship with reality, not as one who imposes herself or her way of seeing things upon others, in an authoritarian way, but someone who challenges the other by her own way of living.

What changes must the Church make not only to survive, but thrive in today's modern culture?

Christians are faced with an unprecedented challenge. Yet, we are not afraid of wide-ranging dialogue, without any privileges. As a matter of fact, it is a precious occasion to verify the validity of the Christian proposal. The fact that the Church is no longer a moral majority is liberating; it allows us to rediscover the heart of the Christian event. The Church will survive and thrive only through Her witness.

Arguably, though, there are a lot of Catholics who do not find it “liberating” that the Church is no longer the moral majority. Many are actually afraid of this phenomenon, and feel as though Catholics either have to isolate from culture or hold even more tightly to the tenets of Christianity as an increasingly extreme counter-witness. What do you say to this?

That the Church is no longer the moral majority is a fact. It's useless to complain. The fact that many Catholics are afraid of this situation shows the lack of certainty in the unarmed beauty of faith, causing them to either isolate themselves from the culture to 'preserve' the faith, or to see their presence in society as a counter-reaction. To describe what kind of presence is needed today, this observation may be useful:

When we have to defend something in the context of a debate, in order to make our response stronger, we almost unconsciously accept the way the other frames the issue. In doing so, we allow our position to be determined by its opposition. It is reactive instead of being an original position, that is, a position that comes from our experience of faith. This leads to further reducing Christianity, or its testimony, to the mere repetition of a doctrine, of some values or ethics. (Disarming Beauty, pp. 70-71).    

Christian faith was born in a pluralistic society in Palestine and spread throughout a multicultural Roman empire. The first Christians based the communication of their faith only in their own witness. Their free and joyful position sprang from the core of their faith, not from fear of the world. “Man today expects, perhaps unconsciously, the experience of an encounter with people for whom the fact of Christ is such a present reality that their life is changed. What will shake up men and women today is a human impact; an event that echoes the initial event, when Jesus raised His eyes and said, 'Zacchaeus, hurry down. I mean to stay at your house today.'” (Luigi Giussani to the Synod on the Laity, 1987).

You reference the malaise of “lethargy and existential boredom.” How do modern men and women regain a sense of wonder and desire in front of their lives? In your view, what is the first step, and what is Church's role in this?

The first step is to encounter somebody who reawakens us from our lethargy and boredom. Regardless of the human situation, something unforeseen is always possible, something unexpected, which makes us regain the sense of ourselves. The Church has a unique possibility to offer a big contribution to the modern situation if she rediscovers the real nature of Christianity as an event, an event that reawakens the person, just as we see in the Gospels.

How do you encounter someone who awakens you? Is there a danger of moral subjectivity, here? Does one just follow anything that attracts?   

You can see this when you meet someone who awakens you in your own experience like when you fall in love with someone. You don’t need anybody else assuring you that it is that particular person who has awakened you from your apathy, or your meaningless life. It's something objective, something that comes out of you. We can use the same method looking at the origin of Christian faith. As then-Cardinal Ratzinger said in 1993: “we can recognize only something that raises a correspondence in us.” Anybody can recognize Christ “because he corresponds to the nature of man…the longing for the infinite which is alive and unquenchable within man.” In the opening lines of Deus Caritas Est, he brought this to everyone's attention: “Being Christian is not an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person who gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” The person of Jesus is such a great and precious good, as He alone fully corresponds to the human thirst for happiness. And, the exceptional correspondence He brings about in those who meet him makes them capable of being in relationship with reality in an absolutely gratuitous way.

You speak of dialogue in the book a lot. How is this possible and why is it essential?

Dialogue is crucial because it is the possibility for a person to enter into a relationship with the other's experience. Sharing our own experiences with others, welcoming the experiences of others, is the only way to enrich our life.

Freedom in dialogue comes from the esteem one has for the experience of the other. This esteem permits one to enter into relationship with the richness of the experience of another person – in order to enrich one's own perspective. We can say with Terence: “Nothing human is foreign to us.” And when one has this certainty, he or she has no problem entering into a dialogue.

Why is it important for Christians to defend religious freedom?

Because of the relationship between truth and freedom. The Second Vatican Council enables us see that there is no other way to communicate truth than through freedom. Reason is the nature of truth, and truth needs only its own beauty to communicate itself. “The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth.”

Christian faith requires the use of reason and freedom. Without these two, Christianity isn't the least bit interesting. Today, therefore, only in a free environment will Christian faith be able to interest people, because for modern men and women (and in this the Enlightenment has played a foundational role), there is no greater good than freedom. No one today would think of proposing or imposing something that goes against freedom.

With the collapse of what was at one time evident (family, marriage, work, relative peace in our cities), where do we begin again?

The same way they did 2000 years ago, with a witness. Jesus introduced such a newness in history that people who met Him remained speechless, even to the point to saying: “We have never have seen anything like it.” There is no way to challenge human reason and freedom other then a life – the more fascinating life of a witness. People need to see and touch again, in a tangible way, the values that today are in crisis.

          State Single Payer And Medicaid Buy-In: A Look At California, New York, And Nevada   

An illustration of the US map

Rising insurance premiums, lack of access, uncertainty, and commotion around Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal, have all contributed to the growing discontent and unease surrounding health care reform. Pressure to act continues to mount. Insurance titans Humana, United Healthcare, and Aetna have all rolled-back participation on the ACA Marketplaces. Anthem recently announced that it would exit the Ohio health insurance Marketplace, potentially leaving at least 18 counties without an exchange plan next year. Missouri and Washington State are also facing similar Marketplace participation issues. States such as Alabama, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee have seen individual market exchange premiums increase more than 45 percent since 2016. Furthermore, participating exchange plans are asking for steep rate increases for next year—averaging between 11.1 percent and 44.7 percent.

These events have contributed to an economic and political climate ripe for disruptive legislation. While Congress and the current administration pursue solutions to address premium and access issues, more states are inserting themselves in the conversation. More than a dozen states have explored options to leverage federal 1332 and 1115 waivers, which would provide flexibility to develop market stabilizing programs and regulatory changes to their respective individual and Medicaid markets. More recently, a few state legislatures have leap-frogged one-off programs such as reinsurance or high-risk pools, and sought to create a truly different market structure. Three states’ legislatures, California, New York, and Nevada, have developed high-profile state-driven solutions to address consumer access and price-related concerns. While state-led waiver initiatives such as those from Alaska and Oklahoma are meant to provide an incremental stabilizing force to their respective markets, the models that California, New York, and Nevada legislatures proposed could fundamentally reshape the framework of state health markets more akin to what Massachusetts did 11 years ago.

State Models

These state legislative developments are essentially falling into two camps, termed “state single payer” and “Medicaid buy-in.” State single payer describes almost any system that creates a single coverage mechanism for health care that is administered through a centralized authority. California and New York fall into this first bucket. The Medicaid buy-in proposal that the Nevada legislature approved did not expand the Medicaid program to everyone, but it attempted to leverage the structure and negotiated rates of the Medicaid program to enable commercial insurance carriers to replicate these features in the private market.


On June 1, 2017, the California State Senate passed SB 562 23-to-14, creating what is known as “Healthy California”—a program intent on eliminating the segmentation of the health insurance market into different coverage types such as Medicare, Medicaid, employer-sponsored, and individual insurance. Instead, there would be a single health care market for everyone. The benefits would be simplified as individuals would not be subject to premiums, copayments, or deductibles. Medical, pharmaceutical, dental, vision, and long-term care would be provided to all residents—including undocumented immigrants—free of charge. The state would seek to pay providers Medicare rates, and a nine-person panel would administer the program.

Experts estimate the program would cost approximately $400 billion per year—double California’s current budget. California could cover about $200 billion from current federal and state spending—including Medicaid and Medicare. An additional $100 to $150 billion would come from what employers are already spending. The additional funding needed could involve a 15.0 percent payroll tax, a 2.3 percent sales tax, and/or a business tax increase.

On Friday, June 23, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon decided to hold the bill within the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice. While Rendon’s actions did not entirely kill the bill, it will not be revived until next year. The bill may have a stronger prospect for passage next year if more thoughtful attempts to address financing, care delivery, and cost controls emerge.

New York

On Tuesday, May 16, the New York State Assembly passed a bill (A.5062) that resembles California’s in several core ways. Universal statewide coverage would be provided throughout the state, and enrollees would no longer be subject to out-of-pocket costs or network restrictions. This is the fourth time in recent history that the State Assembly has passed a similar bill.

The savings or costs—depending on who you talk to—range anywhere from $45 billion in savings to a need for $225 billion in tax increases. A hike of approximately $90 billion in annual new tax revenue appears to be the consensus estimate. Identified funding sources would be progressive payroll taxes and/or non-earned income tax increases.


Nevada’s State Assembly and Senate recently passed a bill that was unique in its own merits but not quite as transformative. AB374—known as “Sprinkle care”—after its namesake State Rep. Mike Sprinkle (D) who introduced the bill—focused reforms solely on the individual insurance market and directed the state to contract with insurers to offer a commercial health plan based on the state’s Medicaid coverage. Employer-sponsored insurance and Medicare would have been maintained, but a commercial insurance product resembling the state’s Medicaid coverage would have provided consumers a new option. The plan would have offered a different benefit structure and leveraged the state’s lower Medicaid reimbursement rates.

On June 17, Nevada’s Republican Governor, Brian Sandoval, vetoed the bill hours before it would have become law. The bill’s failure may speak more to its hasty drafting than its potential to serve as a roadmap for future legislation. While Gov. Sandoval expressed concerns of moving too fast too soon without solid factual foundations, a more thoughtful version of Nevada’s plan could serve as a model for future legislation within Nevada or other states.

Exhibit 1 below outlines and distinguishes the three models.

Exhibit 1: Distinctions Among the State Models

 CaliforniaNevadaNew York
Cost$400 billion per year; $200 billion outside current state and federal spendingUnclear$90 billion in annual new tax revenue
Proposed funding source15.0% payroll tax; 2.3% sales tax; business tax increasePossible use of federal income tax creditsProgressive payroll tax; non-earned income taxes, for example capital gains
Administration of benefitsStatePrivate sectorState
Employer-sponsored insurance continuesNoYesNo
Medicare and Medicaid continue as separate programsNoYesNo
Reimbursement ratesMedicarePossibly MedicaidMedicare
1332 waiver neededYesYesYes
1115 waiver neededYesUnclearYes

Possible Implementation Scenarios

First off, it’s important to note that any single-payer model proposed by California and New York are likely years away from implementation as significant market restructuring and government infrastructure would need to be in place to enact such a drastic shift. Nevada proposed its solution be implemented in 2019, which was aggressive given that much of the plan’s details were not fully developed (the original bill is only four pages).

We foresee three potential scenarios playing out across the state legislative movements: limited adoption, a Massachusetts-like scenario in which the federal government uses a state’s plan as a blueprint for national reform, or nothing happens at all.

Under the limited adoption model, a state such as California passes a single-payer model, and other like-minded and potentially neighboring states adopt similar models over time. For example, one could envision California passing a bill that Oregon and Washington later adopted and tweaked according to the needs of their specific populations. Further adoption would be limited, however, given many states’ reticence to increase taxes, adversely affect their labor markets, and abandon private-sector solutions.

In a Massachusetts-like scenario, a state such as New York, California, or some other state adopts a single-payer model that serves as a template for a federal single-payer approach. Just as Massachusetts provided a roadmap for the ACA’s enactment, a trailblazer state could provide a workable model for an expanded federal government single-payer program.

A final scenario assumes that states either do not pass single-payer or other disruptive models given consumer and business community pushback or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services does not grant federal waivers necessary to implement the programs. As to the latter point, there will be a host of regulatory hurdles and waiver applications necessary under any of these models, and getting approval could be challenging despite the prospect of increased waiver flexibility within the current administration.

Let us consider Nevada, given that it was likely the least disruptive of the three proposals. The designation of a commercialized Medicaid policy as a Qualified Health Plan and the potential application of federal tax credits toward such a product may have required the use of Section 1332 to apply for a State Innovation Waiver. Alternatively, current federal law prohibits a state from using federally matched Medicaid funding to reimburse a health care provider for services provided to a person who earns more than 138 percent of the federal poverty level or for other expenses that are unrelated to the administration of Medicaid. To the extent that the Nevada Care Plan relied on state or federal Medicaid dollars, the state may have also needed to consider applying for a Section 1115 or similarly oriented Medicaid waiver. These waivers were never crafted, and it’s unknown if the current administration would have been receptive to these changes.

At least for the short run, the “nothing happens” scenario has a high probability of playing out. Other states have tried and failed to create single-payer systems in the past. For example, consider the original Washington State effort in the early 1990s, Vermont’s attempt a couple years ago, and Colorado’s failed ballot measure last year.

Potential Local And National Impact

What would happen to markets if states passed legislation resembling any of these models? The answer depends on the model. In the California and New York scenarios, private insurance companies and brokers would cease to operate within the state. If a single-payer model spread to other states and/or the federal government, then the insurance and brokerage markets would be decimated. It is beyond this post’s scope to discuss in meaningful detail consumer implications associated with the various models. One thing is certain, consumer premium, coinsurance, and copayment responsibilities would either drop completely or be heavily reduced. Accessibility would improve in the sense that more people would have coverage, but it would also depend on agreed reimbursement rates and the percentage of providers who would be willing to accept new patients. Even if a state passed legislation, implementation could eventually become unworkable as was the case in Vermont.

In a Nevada-like scenario, private payers would continue to compete for Medicaid insurance lives as the state leverages aspects of the Medicaid program to reform commercial markets. Brokers would continue to sell group and individual market plans. Employers would continue to offer insurance, although fewer would likely offer over time given the tax advantages associated with qualified small employer health reimbursement arrangements.

Regardless of what scenario occurs, the broader industry trend of states engaging in thoughtful attempts to innovate amid difficult market conditions is one that will likely have broader impacts across the country. While the US health insurance system is unique in its reliance on the private market to facilitate and manage health care coverage, much of the regulatory construct of the market is still shaped by the federal government. As more states seek to develop their own unique systems and solutions, we appear to be in a time where states are truly the laboratories of health care policy.

          Democratic Ideas On ACA Improvements; More From CBO On BCRA Medicaid Cuts   

On June 28, 2017, the New York Times reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, facing difficulty in corralling 50 Republican Senators to unite behind a version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, has suggested he might turn to the Democrats for help in shoring up the deteriorating situation under the ACA if he cannot get Republicans in line. If he does so, he may find that Democrats have both a proposed diagnosis and cure for the most immediately pressing problems facing the individual insurance market.

On June 28, 2017, the Democratic staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions released a joint report entitled “A Manufactured Crisis: Trump Administration and Republican Sabotage of the Health Care System.” The report details how individual market stability is being undermined by the uncertainty created by President Trump’s repeated threats to withhold reimbursement from insurers that are legally required to reduce cost sharing for 7.1 million exchange enrollees, coupled with his ambivalence regarding the enforcement of the individual mandate. The report includes numerous quotes from insurance regulators and insurers from nearly 20 states and nationwide warning that uncertainty regarding cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments and individual mandate enforcement is causing insurers to raise premiums and exit individual insurance markets.

Also on June 28, 2017, Senator Jean Shaheen, joined by 20 Democratic Senators, introduced the Market Certainty Act. (text) This bill would clarify that funds were permanently appropriated to fund the Affordable Care Act’s cost-sharing reductions. It would also expand eligibility for the CSRs, making them available to individuals with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. It would increase the amount of cost-sharing reductions so that individuals with incomes between 100 and 200 percent of FPL would be responsible for only 5 percent of cost sharing on average; individuals with incomes between 200 and 300 percent of FPL for 10 percent, and individuals with incomes between 300 percent and 400 percent of FPL for 15 percent.

Under current law, individuals between 100 and 150 percent of FPL must pay 6 percent of costs on average; individuals between 150 and 200 percent of FPL, 13 percent; individuals between 200 and 250, 27 percent; and individuals above 250 percent of FPL, 30 percent.

Under the Republican Better Care Act, cost sharing reductions would be funded at current levels through 2019 and then repealed. After that, consumers would be responsible for 42 percent of health care costs on average under plans that could be purchased with premium tax credits available to individuals with incomes below 350 percent of FPL. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the deductible for an individual at 75 percent of FPL under the Better Care Act would be half of annual income, and that few low-income individuals would purchase coverage with such little value.

Senator Shaheen’s proposal, coupled with reinsurance legislation offered by Senator Shaheen and other Democrats earlier in June, could go far toward stabilizing individual insurance markets, luring insurers back into markets they have abandoned and lowering premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and out-of-pocket limits for insured Americans.

As noted in the Democratic staff report (and by others), the uncertainty regarding the commitment of the Trump administration to continuing cost sharing reduction payments is a major factor contributing to destabilization of individual insurance markets. (Anthem has apparently announced it is leaving 14 counties in Nevada, leaving 61 bare counties in Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, and Nevada for 2018.) Given this situation, a frequently asked question posted at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid website on June 28, 2017, strikes a note of irony. The FAQ describes in detail procedures that insurers must follow to address discrepancies in their cost-sharing reduction payment reconciliation data for 2016. CMS will notify insurers regarding overpayment or underpayment of CSRs for 2016 on June 30, 2017. Insurers have until August 11 to notify CMS of data discrepancies. It is all very technical, but illustrates again that while at the policy level storms are raging in the individual insurance market, at the technical level the engines keep chugging along.

CBO Projects Medicaid Cuts In Senate GOP Bill Would Reach 35 Percent By 2036

On June 28, 2017, the CBO released a supplement to its June 26 Better Care Reconciliation Act cost estimate. The supplement was requested by the Democratic ranking members of the Budget Committee and Finance Committee. It addresses the effects of the BCRA on Medicaid spending beyond 2026. The CBO recognizes the limits to its ability to make very long-term spending projections but does predict how the BCRA would affect spending through 2036.

The BCRA imposes a per-capita cap on federal Medicaid funding growth for some groups of enrollees beginning in 2020, and reduces the cap as of 2025 so that federal funding growth rates for all groups would be pegged to the consumer price index for all urban consumers. CBO had earlier estimated that BCRA’s Medicaid provisions would reduce federal Medicaid spending by 26 percent as of 2026—a $160 billion cut in spending for that year—compared to spending under current growth rates.

The CBO projects that the gap between federal Medicaid spending under the BCRA and under current law would widen to 35 percent by 2036. The CBO projects that Medicaid costs to maintain current services will grow at an annual rate of 0.7 percent above GDP growth in 2027, which will rise to a 0.9 percent annual excess growth rate above GDP growth by 2036. General increases in cost in the health care system attributable in part to new technologies will drive the cost of services higher while Medicaid programs will have to replace federal spending by state spending, cut provider payment rates, reduce benefits, restrict eligibility, or find some way to provide services more efficiently.

CBO believes that dollar projections 20 years out are misleading and thus gives its spending projections in terms of percent of GDP. In the absence of the BCRA, Medicaid spending would account for 2 percent of GDP for 2017 and 2.4 percent by 2036. CBO projects that under BCRA, Medicaid spending will account for 1.6 percent of GDP in 2036, a 35 percent cut. Medicaid would be a very different program in 2036 than it is now.

          What Makes Covering Maternity Care Different?   

The United States has a higher maternal mortality rate than any other developed country, but federal policy makers are considering reducing access to insurance coverage for pregnancy care. Last week, the US Senate released the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, following the passage of the American Health Care Act in the US House of Representatives. Both pieces of legislation would allow states to waive out of the requirement that insurance plans in the individual market cover maternity and newborn care, as part of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA requires that all individual market health insurance plans cover 10 essential health benefits, including maternity and newborn care. Ever since the passage of the ACA, some people have objected to the maternity requirement, claiming it is unfair to men and some women who do not expect to become pregnant. The maternity requirement seems to be targeted more publicly than other essential health benefits, such as pediatric services, mental health and substance use services, and prescription drug coverage. This raises the question: Is maternity care different than other medical services?

Maternity care is different.

When a woman receives maternity care, the health care services are provided to the woman, but lasting benefits of maternity care affect both the woman and the child. The importance of maternity coverage in improving child health has long been recognized in our public health programs. The oldest federal-state partnership, the Maternal and Child Health Services Block Grant Program, has aimed to improve the health of mothers and children since 1935, in part by providing access to comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care. Medicaid has had a special category covering pregnant women up to a higher-income level than other adults for 30 years, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides affordable coverage to pregnant women up to a minimum of 185 percent of the federal poverty level. CHIP coverage for pregnant women technically covers the “unborn child” and not the woman. This is an important distinction because it is a reminder that the intent of the coverage is to improve health outcomes for children. Reducing infant mortality and improving health outcomes for children is an important public health goal that is extended through the ACA by requiring insurance coverage of maternity and newborn care, but it should not be the only goal of maternity coverage.

We cannot ignore the importance of maternity care for the health of women, in addition to the health of children. Routine prenatal care improves health outcomes for women by identifying treatable complications such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and ectopic pregnancies. Postnatal care screens for postpartum depression and infection. If a woman does not have health coverage for her pregnancy, she may forgo prenatal and postnatal care that could identify risks and help her and her provider take steps to prevent life-threatening complications.

Yet, just as the policy discussion to eliminate access to insurance coverage for pregnancy services occurs, women are dying from preventable complications of childbirth in the United States. A recent study by the CDC Foundation found that 60 percent of maternal mortality deaths are preventable. There are numerous factors besides health coverage that result in the high maternal mortality rate in our country. However, taking away access to affordable coverage for pregnancy care will no doubt place women’s health at risk.

We do not need to imagine what the future of maternity coverage would be without a benefit requirement. Less than 10 years ago, because there was no federal maternity requirement in the individual insurance market, women in three-quarters of the states were often unable to find or afford maternity coverage. At the time, only 12 states imposed a requirement on individual market insurers to cover maternity benefits.

In many states, the only way to purchase maternity coverage on the individual market was by purchasing a rider in addition to a health insurance plan. A rider is supplementary insurance, available for an additional premium cost that provides coverage for benefits not otherwise covered in the base policy. Riders varied but generally cost thousands of dollars a year, sometimes more than the base premium. For example, under a rider offered in Topeka, Kansas, a woman would have paid $9,682 between the annual cost of premiums just for the maternity rider and the deductible for her maternity rider and care. In addition, riders often covered only a small proportion of pregnancy related costs, with annual maximums as low as $2,000.

In its analysis of the House bill, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that maternity riders will cost more than $1,000 a month if states waive out of the maternity coverage requirement. The CBO also estimated that the cost of pregnancy care and delivery will be $17,000 for women covered by private insurance. The actual health care charges, which a woman without insurance might be billed, may be almost double—in 2010, the average billed costs of prenatal care alone was about $6,200. Women could face similar bills for a stillbirth or later-term miscarriage. Without maternity coverage, children start their life in a family in economic hardship because they are born into families facing thousands of dollars of medical debt.

For three years now, women have had options to purchase comprehensive insurance with maternity care outside of employer-based coverage. Many women purchasing this coverage are also eligible for tax subsidies that reduce their premium and cost sharing, making both the coverage and care more affordable. We have moved forward toward ensuring that all women in the United States have access to affordable prenatal, perinatal, and postnatal services. Eliminating the requirement for health insurance plans to cover maternity would place the health of women and children at risk and place financial hardship on families welcoming a new child.

          Minneapolis Just Adopted a $15 Minimum Wage in a Landslide Vote   
City council members credit the hard work of grassroots labor organizations.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a law Friday making it the first Midwestern city to adopt a $15 minimum wage, increasing the salaries of 71,000 workers by 2024. 

With the historic vote, Minneapolis joins a growing wave of progressive U.S. cities like San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C., where the Fight for $15 movement and other grassroots organizations have scored major labor victories.

Before the vote, which passed 12-1, Minneapolis city council members credited activists and organizers from Fight for $15 and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha for pushing the bill forward. 

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted a video of himself singing "Money (That's What I Want)" in celebration of the news. 

“Keep it up. We’re going to fight here in Washington, you guys are fighting there in Minneapolis, we’re fighting all over the country so the American people can get a raise,” Ellison said. 

In May, Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, alongside Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate introduced a $15 minimum wage bill that has little chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress. 

In the face of austerity and social safety net cuts in the federal government, grassroots organizers and activists are looking more and more to local and state arenas to implement policies that combat poverty and inequality. 


Related Stories

          World: Missing Out on Small is Beautiful: The EU’s failure to deliver on policy commitments to support smallholder agriculture in developing countries (Briefing paper)   
Source: Oxfam
Country: Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, World, Yemen

With the world on the brink of an unprecedented four famines, donor countries must urgently step up efforts to tackle the structural causes of hunger and poverty. Food security and sustainable agriculture are among the European Union’s key priorities for development cooperation. The EU is committed to longterm solutions, including empowering smallholders, in particular women, and supporting environmentally sustainable approaches in agriculture. In practice, however, its development aid to the agricultural sector does not live up to its commitments. An Oxfam analysis of more than 7,500 EU-funded projects reveals a significant lack of transparency in reporting, casting doubt on the accountability of the EU’s aid. Based on the reported data, only a small portion of the EU’s agricultural development aid complies with the aim of targeting small-scale producers and women. Funding is also biased towards industrial and export crops and countries of strategic interest, at the expense of smallholders and countries most in need.


In 2017, less than 10 years after the 2007–08 food price crisis, the world stands on the brink of an unprecedented four famines. Famine has already been declared in South Sudan, while Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia are also facing the risk of mass starvation.

These are just four of the dozens of countries confronting acute and widespread food insecurity.1 Globally, an estimated 795 million people – one in nine worldwide – are still going hungry.2 The reasons for this are many, including high food prices, low agricultural productivity, abnormal weather patterns and conflict. Yet the scale of food insecurity points to deeper problems in the global food system that have never been adequately tackled. Social and economic exclusion, structural poverty, lack of access to productive resources such as land, and imbalances in power are consigning millions of people to hunger.

There is significant agreement on the need for greater commitment to address the longterm structural causes of food insecurity – and solutions are known. Empowering smallholders and supporting their efficient and environmentally sustainable approaches to agriculture is a proven long-term solution to reducing hunger and poverty and tackling power imbalances and inequalities. At least 475 million small-scale farms worldwide support around two billion people, and investing in the sector is known to have immense potential for reducing poverty. Women play a potentially transformative role in agricultural development, but they continue to face social, cultural and economic constraints that limit their potential in the sector.

European Union policy makers are aware of both the challenges and the solutions. The role of agriculture was recognized as being crucial for poverty reduction in the 2005 European Consensus on Development. Responding to some of the most severe global food price crises from 2007 onwards, the EU launched the €1bn Food Facility, with a specific focus on small-scale producers, in 2009 and the Food Security Policy Framework (FSPF) in 2010. Through the FSPF, the EU committed to a rights-based approach to support small-scale food producers, gender mainstreaming and ecologically sustainable approaches. Since then, it has made further policy commitments to reinforce priorities established in 2010; an Implementation Plan has been produced, and the European Commission has compiled consolidated EU-wide biennial progress reports since 2014. The new European Consensus on Development, adopted in May 2017, reiterates the central importance of smallholder farmers.

However, Oxfam’s analysis of the EU’s official development assistance (ODA) for agriculture reveals that its investments do not match its policy priorities. On average, the EU’s financial support for the three priority areas of smallholders, gender equality in agriculture and ecological sustainability is strikingly low. An analysis of preimplementation project data shows that less than one-quarter of EU aid for agriculture explicitly targets small-scale producers. Only 2–3 percent of EU funding promotes gender equality in agriculture, while ecological sustainability is largely missed out in planning documents altogether. Furthermore, with the exception of just one year, EU ODA has consistently supported industrial and export crops with significantly higher budgets than food crops.

Finally, Oxfam’s analysis of EU development funding for agriculture suggests that ODA is being instrumentalized to support EU foreign policy goals instead of responding to the actual needs of the most marginalized people. There is a clear bias towards supporting potential candidates for EU membership and the European neighbourhood regions, to the detriment of poorer regions elsewhere. For instance, the EU spends 3.6 times as much agricultural development aid in Europe as in sub-Sahara Africa.

          VIŠE OD ISTINE – Prvi odjeci   
Moja knjiga razgovora sa Đorđem Kadijevićem, pod naslovom Više od istine koju je nedavno objavio Orfelin, doživela je svoju prvu veliku premijeru pred publikom u beogradskoj Kinoteci, 20. juna.

Prijatno sam iznenađen brojem ljudi koji su svojim prisustvom uveličali ovo veče, tj. koji su došli da pogledaju Kadijine ređe prikazivane filmove PRAZNIK i POHOD, a naročito (još većim) brojem onih koji su hteli da čuju šta o ovoj knjizi imaju da kažu njen autor (ja), njena glavna „zvezda“ (Kadija) i kritičar Ivan Velisavljević.

U sali u Kosovskoj okupilo se pedesetak posvećenika dobrog filma i dobre knjige te poštovalaca Kadijinog lika i dela – a što je najlepše, kako se pokazalo, to nisu bili samo pasivni obožavaoci, nego ljudi koji su imali šta i da pitaju potom. Najzad, bio sam zatečen brojem onih koji su na licu mesta hteli da kupe ovu knjigu i da tu dobiju i Kadijin potpis i posvetu.
Na slikama možete videti samo jedan deo reda – ovo su „samo“ oni koji su ostali posle filma POHOD kako bi dobili potpis – bar još toliko ga je dobilo odmah posle promocije, ali nije bilo vremena za sve jer je trebalo da ubrzo krene i film...
Knjiga je, kako i dolikuje, već izazvala interesovanje medija i ozbiljnih proučavalaca. Večernje novosti su objavile opširnu najavu o knjizi i promociji, a RTS je došao i snimio prilog za Kulturni dnevnik, koji je bio emitovan iste te večeri (20. juna). Taj prilog, u trajanju od dva minuta, sa vrlo prikladnim naslovom VIŠE OD KNJIGE, možete videti OVDE.

Mene i Đorđa ste već dovoljno slušali (na blogu možete naći audio zapise brojnih naših zajedničkih tribina; ko želi neka ih potraži) pa neću sada kačiti ceo snimak; uostalom, biće još promocija i prilika da nas vidite i čujete. Za ovu prigodu ću sa promocije samo izdvojiti izlaganje o Kadiji koje je imaoIvan Velisavljević – taj audio odlomak (10 minuta) možete čuti ako skinete fajl OVDE. 

Takođe, ovom prilikom imam zadovoljstvo da vam predstavim prvi ozbiljan KRITIČKI OSVRT koji je ova knjiga dobila. Autor je Vladimir Kolarić a izvorno je objavljen na forumu sajta Pouke. S njegovim dopuštenjem sada ovaj tekst prenosim i ovde.

Filmski duh Đorđa Kadijevića u ljubavi i istini

Vladimir Kolarić
Izuzetno je malo srpskih filmskih autora koji su se, makar i implicitno, doticali religijske tematike, a o predstavljanju hrišćanskog duhovnog, pogotovo crkvenog, iskustva da ne govorimo. Đorđe Kadijević (1933) je jedan od retkih čije filmsko svedočenje u egzistencijalnom iskustvu čoveka nesumnjivo poseduje na samo filosofske ili uopšteno „duhovne“, već i nesporno religijske, čak konkretno hrišćanske, konotacije. Takođe, Kadijević je svoje estetičke principe motivisao u prvom redu mogućnostima filma da na jedinstven način svedoči o onome što je on nazvao transcendencijom.
Ovo potvrđuje i nedavno objavljena knjiga razgovora, „Više od istine: Kadijević o Kadijeviću“ (Orfelin, Novi Sad, 2017), koje je sa ovim rediteljem vodio teoretičar književnosti i filma Dejan Ognjanović.
Ovaj reditelj, široj publici najpoznatiji po televizijskom filmu „Leptirica“ i seriji „Vuk Karadžić“, o sebi govori kao o „religijski zainteresovanom“ čoveku i umetniku, koji nije „religiozan u pravom smislu reči“ i „ima averziju prema konfesijama“, ali nije ni ateista, jer „ateista je zagrižen čovek koji tvrdi kako boga (u knjizi napisano malim početnim slovom - prim. V. K.) nema“.
Kadijević sopstveni odnos prema životu, definisan teškim ratnim i poratnim iskustvom, određuje nedostatkom „poverenja u život kao nešto što je zagarantovano“, objašnjavajući: „Ja sam shvatio da sam zrno na vetru i da visim na dlaci, i da je to život u stvari. Da je život jedno stalno izbegavanje smrti“.
I Pinki Zelić je video Tita-Kadiju

Ovakav doživljaj prolaznosti i konačnosti života kod njega je izgradio jedan trajan senzibilitet „preziranja razlike između života i smrti, sreće i nesreće, dobra i zla“, ali koji se, vidimo, nije razvio u odricanje od stvaralaštva ili moralni relativizam, već u osoben „životni“ i umetnički etos ljubavi, solidarnosti i stvaralaštva.
Iako „ne zna da li postoji bog“, Kadijević svakako zna „da se i pored svega može voleti, i da postoji ljubav“, koja je „jača od svega“: „I u tom smislu je Sveti Pavle bio u pravu kada je rekao ‘Velika je vera, ali veća od vere je - ljubav’. To je ostalo u meni i to je moje jedino bogatstvo. Niko u meni nije ubio ljubav, ničim.“
Pored negativnog određenja svog životnog vjeruju, Kadijević u knjizi daje i jedno, uslovno rečeno, pozitivno: „Ljudi su bića kratkoročna, ugrožena sa svih strana, spolja i iznutra, i baš zato što su konačna, što imaju samo jedan život, i samo jednu šansu da u tom životu budu srećni ili nesrećni, onoliko koliko je to moguće, naročito kada je sreća u pitanju, najnormalnije ponašanje je solidarnost: znači, uzajamno pomaganje i potiskivanje zla koje je svuda oko nas.“
Mi, prema Kadijeviću, „živimo u jednom tuđem svetu u koji smo bačeni“, dok „naš, ljudski svet“ nosimo „samo u sebi, i to kao veliku iluziju, kao motiv egzistencijalne nostalgije, kao jedan san“. Ali, „umesto uzajamne solidarnosti, bratimljenja i onoga čemu nas je Hrist učio, ljubavi jednih prema drugima, umesto jednakosti i bratstva u zloj sudbini u čije šake smo ubačeni, mi imamo tu situaciju uzajamnog sukobljavanja i pospešivanja efikasnosti zla“, što govori „da je čovek na neki način nedovršeno biće, kome fali jedna greda u glavi da bi shvatilo pre svega sebe a zatim i drugog“. Stoga, sve što ljudi rade, „podrazumevajući i umetnost, jeste pokušaj da prevaziđu to žalosno iskustvo neporazuma“.
Okruženi neprijateljskim svetom smrti, „sve što dotaknemo je mrtvo, i svaka trunka života je tako čudna, neočekivana, kratkotrajna i bespomoćna u trenutku dok traje“. Ali, umesto da budemo „dirnuti time i da te iskre života „podržimo koliko je moguće“, mi „toliko radimo na tome da se pridružimo svemu drugom što uništava život i svaki smisao bitisanja“.
Kadijević svoje opredeljenje za umetnost i stvaralaštvo objašnjava upravo ovakvom zapitanošću o smislu života i postojanja: „Ja, suočen za bezizglednošću takve situacije, ne nasedam ni na kakvu nadu, ali moram da priznam da je moje bavljenje umetnošću u stvari pokušaj izbavljenja“, koje se sastoji u borbi protiv takve egzistencijalne bezizglednosti, „jer ne želim da svojim delanjem u životu doprinesem tom haosu u kojem jesmo“. Umetnost može biti sredstvo borbe protiv samouništavajućeg univerzalnog sistema agresivnosti i represije, koje nema korene samo u ovim ili onim ideološkim pretpostavkama, već u samoj, u osnovi smrtnoj, prirodi sveta u kom živimo.
Ni ovde se Kadijević ne ograničava samo „negativnim“ objašnjenjem svoje motivacije da se bavi umetnošću i, još konkretnije, filmom. Film za njega ima moć da obuhvati „totalitet pojma čoveka kao bića“. On ima sposobnost da realnost oslobodi „tereta prozaičnosti i trivijalnosti“, da „oslobodi bivstvo tog tereta i pretvori ga u nešto tako božantveno da to postaje sakralno, sveto“.
Najviše što umetnost može da učini jeste da nekom promeni život, ali ne u smislu promene „stvarnosti u životu jednog čoveka“, poput društvene stvarnosti i političkog uređenja, već stupanjem u „područje transendencije“. Umetničko delo je samo ono koje sadrži u sebi „elemente trancendencije“, što se postiže „odstupanjem od merljive stvarnosti, od svega što je rečima izrazivo“, prevazilaženjem „notorne zbilje“ i „nadilaženjem svake iskustvenosti“, u „nešto što je više od istine“.
Prema tome, precizira Kadijević, u ravni mističnog realizma jednog Dostojevskog, „transcendencija je moć nadilaženja onoga što je iskustveno i vezano isključivo za objektivnost, za fenomen egzaktne izvesnosti do koje možemo doći“.
Delo, kao i reči Đorđa Kadijevića izrečene u knjizi „Više od istine“, duboko su i ubedljivo svedočanstvo o palosti sveta, ali i mogućnosti ljubavi i solidarnosti u tom i takvom svetu, u čemu veliku ulogu može da ima celokupno ljudsko stvaralaštvo, a posebno umetnost. Ova obimna i odlično strukturisana knjiga je stoga nezaobilazno štivo ne samo za one zainteresovane za film i umetnost, nego i za temeljna pitanja smisla.


Knjiga Više od istine tek započinje svoj život: sledi joj veoma iscrpan kritički osvrt (na više od pola strane) u „Kulturnom dodatku“ Politike, u broju ili za 1. ili za 8. jul iz pera Igora Stanojevića, a ubrzo zatim doživeće i svoju premijeru u inostranstvu, u Sloveniji, na festivalu Grosman (11-15. jula), gde ćemo je Kadija i ja predstaviti poštovaocima njegovog dela. Njih pouzdano znamo da i tamo ima, jer su ovog autora već toplo primili pre tri godine, kada je na Grosmanu dobio i nagradu za životno delo.
Ako do sada još niste nabavili ovu izuzetnu knjigu, ne čekajte previše – ovo je mnogo više od knjige o nekom reditelju i o nekim filmovima: misli i mudrosti koje ona sadrži univerzalne su, što znači – stalno aktuelne. Možete joj se vraćati kako radi opštih životnih mudrosti tako i povodom brojnih dnevnopolitičkih zbitija u balkanskom cirkusu: ova knjiga je nešto kao Ji Đing, Knjiga Zakona i Biblija crnila, ali i prkošenja crnilu: otud joj pohvale stižu i od vernika i od nevernika...

          Comments: Скидка на шуруповерт Lomvum LV - 8612S 12V 29.99$   
исправте в названии- здесь 1 акк! нет смысла, когда на месте:
1990, и фирма, таки. вступите в клуб- еще дешевле

а с 2 аками, с чемоданом, сверлами и битами брал здесь эа 2300 :))
Читать далее
          Comments: Скидка на шуруповерт Lomvum LV - 8612S 12V 29.99$   
искал по внешнему виду в основном, ну чтоб аккум был размером с ручку а не привычная большая штуковина снизу.
Li-ion аккум? Ввел и такой фильтр.
Всё же из-за 1000руб экономии я бы точно не стал заморачиваться с покупкой на али или гирбесте и прочих, купил бы за 3000р схожий (12V, 1300оборотов, аккум в ручке) здесь и с нормальной местной гарантией.
2600руб, 2800руб, 2800руб
Но это я.
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          Comments: Скидка на шуруповерт Lomvum LV - 8612S 12V 29.99$   
В Украине, кстати, есть варианты на 18В и по 20$+гарантия

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          Wyden questions contact between Medicaid director and Arkansas   
Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is raising questions about talks between Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dennis Smith, a Medicaid advisor to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Verma had a private consulting firm that did work for Arkansas. Under an agreement entered when she took the federal Medicaid job last year, she was banned from speaking to Arkansas health officials without a written waiver from Health Secretary Tom Price. Press reports said she was supposed to speak with Smith in mid-March.

UPDATE: Arkansas Department of Human Services takes exception to Wyden's characterization. Spokeswoman Amy Webb said Verma "was not a consultant to the state and did not have a contract with us. I believe she did some consulting work for HPE, which is one of our contractors."

Her ethics disclousre form says she received income  fro "Hewlett Packard Arkansas Medicaid" and her agreement on seeking waivers for work with related partieis said:

“I provided consulting services to the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and-Virginia through SVC Inc. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(d), I will seek a written authorization to participate personally and substantially in particular matters involving specific parties in which I know the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia are a party or represents a party.”

Wyden distributed a letter and news release:

“I am growing increasingly concerned that the Department of Health and Human Services is not effectively implementing its process to enforce Administrator Verma's ethics agreement and the standards of ethical conduct,” Wyden wrote in the letter to Elizabeth Fischmann, the Designated Agency Ethics Official for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Arkansas is listed repeatedly in Administrator Verma's ethics materials as a state with which she has a covered relationship, and yet there does not appear to be any authorization for her participation in the March 17 call based upon the approved waivers released to and by OGE in response to its data call.”

This letter is the fourth that Sen. Wyden has sent to HHS regarding Verma’s compliance with ethical standards. To date, HHS has not supplied any substantive responses to these requests. This most recent letter was sent at a time when the Senate is considering close to $800 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program that Verma oversees.
Wyden noted that a call to Smith appeared on Verma's calendar. Smith was hired under a deal where he was made a faculty member at UAMS, but would be spending most of his time advising on Medicaid issues. Smith, who came to Arkansas following a controversial period in Wisconsin, is paid $294,000 by Arkansas.

Wyden said Verma got a waiver to speak with another Arkansas official three days before the March 17 call and she obtained a waiver for a later call as well, but none is reflected for the scheduled call with Smith.

Wyden has asked a series of questions about the communications, including why a waiver should be granted for Verma to speak with Arkansas officials.

Arkansas has an interest in winning approval from the CMS for a number of changes in the operation of the Medicaid expansion program. At the core of Wyden's letter: Should Arkansas be discussing such issues with someone it once employed (or had an arrangement with someone it employed)?

Verma was based in Indiana and had close ties to Mike Pence,, former Indiana governor.

PS: Coincidentally, Arkansas today submitted to CMS the waivers it needs to throw 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion rolls by lowering the income qualification to 100 percent of poverty and imposing a work requirement.

          Gov. Hutchinson says major change needed in Senate health legislation   
Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined four major changes he'd like to see in Republican-backed health legislation pending in the Senate.

In short, he said — if in more diplomatic words — the bill as written would be devastating to Arkansas. Hutchinson chose to put it more kindly. He said the Senate was moving in "the right direction" and said "the status quo is not acceptable."

But he added: "There have to be significant changes in the current draft in order to give states like Arkansas options for the future and to continue coverage and not have a $500 million per year gap in our economy."

He said he'd spoken to Arkansas's senators about this, but referred questions about their reaction to them. To date, Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman have resisted saying much of anything about the legislation, though Cotton was one of 13 white male Republicans who participated in the secret drafting.

The shortcomings have been self-evident for some time in states like Arkansas that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion provided through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. House-passed and Senate-proposed legislation would obliterate the Medicaid expansion and also severely restrict traditional Medicaid coverage for the elderly and disabled by going to per capita distributions to states. Both changes would devastate Arkansas, with a large traditional Medicaid population and more than 300,000 people now covered by the Medicaid expansion. Hutchinson said the state was already making changes to reduce costs and state cooperation should be a goal of congressional action. Some 60,000 would lose coverage by reducing coverage for those making 138 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent and by instituting work rules.

Hutchinson suggested these changes in what's under consideration:

* Exempt those elderly, blind and disabled covered by traditional Medicaid from the per capita cap on spending. Otherwise, the cost would be shifted to the state, he said. (He said later it was OK to put children's coverage, Arkids, under a per capital program because they were generally lower cost.)

* If the federal government moves to block grant funding for Medicaid, Hutchinson said the funding should include in the figuring the Medicaid expansion population. Some states didn't take the money. If the pot is redivided to cover all states equally, those who expanded will lose and those who didn't will gain. "This puts us in a difficult position to manage and maintain coverage," Hutchinson said. If the population is considered, he said, "the state can assume the risk and create savings and ensure coverage of the working poor."

* Senate legislation must "redesign" the tax credits, or subsidies, for those covered in the health insurance marketplace. Hutchinson echoed critics of the Senate legislation who say the subsidies are so small as to be worthless.  "If the subsidy is not sufficient, an individual will decide they can't afford it." He said "there have to be sufficient subsidies to make it work."

* The states must be given "flexibility" on how they spend money received under per capita reimbursements. He didn't specify some examples of what he had in mind. In some states, though, flexibility has meant not providing certain services (birth coverage for example) and measures co-pays, work, drug testing and other sometimes controversial ideas.

Hutchinson acknowledged that the Medicaid expansion, now known as Arkansas Works, by law must end if federal support is reduced. That's not an immediate concern because actual reductions won't occur for several years into the plan now outlined in Senate legislation. "They've given us a long glide path," he said.

Timing noted: Hutchinson finally weighed in with criticisms that have been voiced for weeks by many others following a week in which the Senate leadership's plan for a quick vote on the GOP fill apart because of he couldn't keep all Republican senators on board.

Noted too: Hutchinson refused to talk taxes — either those to pay for his expanded vision of health coverage and the windfall for the wealthy envisioned in the pending bill.

Just yesterday, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families gave some idea of the blow the Senate bill would deliver to rural health care.

          Artissima 2017 preview!    

Riconosciuta a livello internazionale per la sua attenzione alle pratiche sperimentali e per la capacità di innovarsi ad ogni edizione, nel 2017 la fiera introduce una serie di novità che investono trasversalmente il suo programma e la sua composizione: oltre alla nuova sezione Disegni, ai rinnovati team di curatori e all’innovativa piattaforma digitale annunciati di recente, Artissima si arricchisce infatti di nuove idee e iniziative specifiche: uno speciale progetto espositivo, il “Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente”, un innovativo palinsesto di talk, una nuova firma al progetto di allestimento del padiglione fieristico a cura dello studio Vudafieri Saverino Partners di Milano.

“Il 2017 – nelle parole di Ilaria Bonacossa – segna i cinquant’anni dall’inaugurazione di iniziative seminali per la genesi dell’Arte Povera. Artissima vuole rintracciare, in alcune delle esperienze più irregolari di quegli anni, le fondamenta che hanno reso Torino la capitale italiana dell’arte contemporanea. Artissima indagherà, attraverso la ricostruzione temporanea di contesti iconici come il Deposito d’Arte Presente (1967–68) o la discoteca Piper (1966–69), le relazioni tra pratiche artistiche, mercato, collezionismo e tempo libero, evocando queste esperienze per la loro visionaria capacità di reinventare i ruoli e di attivare contaminazioni tra diverse discipline."


Il nuovo progetto espositivo
Curato da Ilaria Bonacossa e Vittoria Martini, il “Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente” è il nuovo progetto espositivo e culturale di Artissima dedicato all’arte italiana. Il Deposito ospiterà prestigiosi prestiti dalle istituzioni piemontesi e opere provenienti dalle collezioni private del territorio, insieme ad alcuni lavori delle gallerie presenti in fiera, riconoscendo loro il ruolo di spicco che hanno avuto e hanno nella produzione della storia dell’arte contemporanea nel nostro paese.
Per questo nuovo progetto, Artissima si è ispirata ad una delle esperienze espositive più innovative della Torino degli anni Sessanta, in un momento di grande vitalità artistica: il Deposito d’Arte Presente (1967–68) – “una raccolta estemporanea, non permanente… uno spazio per il presente, per un tipo di arte connessa all’hic et nunc e spogliata di qualsiasi sacralità”.
Con il “Deposito d’Arte Italiana Presente”, Artissima riprende quel format, traslandolo all’oggi e utilizzandolo come cornice concettuale per un progetto che ne assorbe la modalità operativa. Il Deposito non è una mostra, ma uno spazio dinamico di esposizione e di approfondimento dal quale iniziare una narrazione dell’arte italiana degli ultimi 20 anni per fotografarla oggi e capirne gli sviluppi futuri.

Il programma incontri

Per l’edizione 2017, Artissima ripensa il programma di incontri, immaginando un nuovo spazio ispirato al Piper di Torino in cui raccontare l’arte contemporanea, ascoltare, partecipare e lavorare al fianco di artisti e curatori.
Il progetto, a cura di Paola Nicolin, seguirà la metodologia di “theclassroom”, un centro di arte e educazione nato nel 2016 a Milano che invita artisti a svolgere un corso in storia delle arti in un’aula progettata per l’occasione, trasformando lo spazio di apprendimento in un luogo di produzione artistica.
In questa prospettiva, Artissima ospiterà una classe aperta dove un artista invitato, con gli studenti e gli ospiti del programma di conversazioni, costruirà un palinsesto di lezioni, interviste, dialoghi e film screening per tutta la durata della manifestazione.

Artissima Collector’s Talks e Walkie Talkies

Artissima lancerà un nuovo programma di Collectors’ Talks coordinato dalla curatrice internazionale Abaseh Mirvali. Incentrate su come il collezionismo stia trasformando il mondo dell’arte, presenteranno la visione di collezionisti, artisti, critici, galleristi e direttori museali. Queste talk saranno arricchite da un esclusivo programma di visite guidate alla fiera: le Walkie Talkies, una serie di brevi conversazioni tra coppie di curatori e collezionisti internazionali, nate con l’obiettivo di creare un contatto stretto e personale tra i relatori e il pubblico. Queste conversazioni, itineranti, si trasformano in sorprendenti visite guidate alla fiera, permettendo ai relatori di sviluppare percorsi unici e originali attraverso i lavori presentati dalle gallerie.

La piattaforma digitale

La piattaforma digitale di Artissima accompagnerà il pubblico durante tutto l’anno, con momenti di approfondimento e anticipazioni attraverso diversi social media. Come primo step, Artissima ha lanciato #ArtissimaRewind, un programma di appuntamenti virtuali dedicati all’esplorazione della scorsa edizione della fiera: performance, interviste, conversazioni e visite guidate vengono riproposte ogni giovedì sui suoi social network.

Inoltre, il catalogo 2017 da cartaceo diventerà digitale attraverso una piattaforma che consentirà alle gallerie di entrare in contatto con un pubblico più vasto di appassionati.

Vi invitiamo a Torino per un’esperienza indimenticabile!

3-5 Novembre 2017
Oval, Torino

          Loose Feathers #602   
Northern Harrier chicks / Photo by Tom Koerner/USFWS
Birds and birding news
Science and nature blogging
Environment and biodiversity
  • An Iranian city may have tied the record for the world's hottest recorded temperature as the Persian Gulf region remains stuck in an intense heat wave.
  • Meanwhile the climate action plan for the G20 summit has been weakened to mollify Donald Trump, though the Trump administration seems likely to reject or ignore the agreement anyway.
  • In the U.S., the economic effects of climate change are likely to be worse in the southeast than elsewhere in the country.
  • Even though greenhouse gas emissions have stabilized, carbon in the atmosphere is still rising, which raises the question of whether natural carbon sinks will continue to respond as we expect.
  • Budget cuts threaten progress in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay. 
  • The public can now comment on the review of national marine monuments and sanctuaries. Leave comments here.
  • While marginal agricultural land offers the best opportunity for restoring butterfly populations (especially the Monarch), planting native plants is necessary in all landscape types, including suburban and urban ones.
  • After part of a coastal cliff collapsed in southwestern England in the 19th century, a remaining piece became an isolated haven for rare plants.
  • An intensive logging campaign is destroying the Białowieża forest in Poland, which has long been recognized as a key biodiversity hotspot.
  • The PennEast pipeline project, which would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania through western New Jersey, is stalled after its parent company did not submit required information for its application.
  • More Humpback Whales will be in New Jersey and New York waters this summer because of the rise in Atlantic Menhaden close to shore.

          Julio Boltvinik: Economía Moral   
Los pasajes de El desarrollo del capitalismo en Rusia, de Lenin, que analicé en las entregas del 16 y 23 de junio, fortalecen mi teoría sobre la estacionalidad agrícola como elemento explicativo central de la pobreza y la persistencia campesina, porque: 1) Dichos pasajes confirman la simbiosis entre la agricultura capitalista (AC) y los campesinos pobres y no la desaparición de los campesinos: éstos, que Lenin etiqueta como proletarios, proporcionan mano de obra estacional barata a la AC. Lenin no da ningún argumento del por qué esta simbiosis sería inestable y tendería a ser desplazada por relaciones capitalistas puras. 2) La teoría de Danielson sobre la “liberación del tiempo de invierno”, basada en Marx, es aceptada a regañadientes y parcialmente por Lenin, quien concede que “empeora la posición” del trabajador agrícola. La descripción de Lenin muestra también que el acceso de los campesinos a la tierra lo otorgan (al menos algunas veces) voluntariamente los agricultores ricos para garantizar su provisión de fuerza de trabajo. Esto desacredita posiciones (como la de Enrique Leff) de que la pobreza de los campesinos se explica como consecuencia del despojo de sus tierras. La historia muestra que des-posesión y re-posesión son con frecuencia secuenciales. (Esto, y lo que sigue, se basa en el capítulo 12, de mi autoría, de Peasant Poverty and Persistence in the 21st Century, Zed Books, Londres, 2016).
          The health of a hospital   
The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.

When Arkansas expanded Medicaid in 2014, Mike Haynes signed up for health insurance for the first time in his adult life. "Before that, I really couldn't afford it," he said. "One income in the state of Arkansas is very tough when you're raising two children. I did it, but I couldn't afford fringe benefits, so to speak. I had to feed my kids and put clothes on them."

Haynes, 63, is a real estate agent in Mountain Home. His children are grown now, but things remain tight. "We're eating bologna, not steak," he said. His wife has multiple sclerosis and can no longer work (she qualifies for the traditional Medicaid program through her disability benefits), and Haynes' income fluctuates dramatically with the housing market. In 2014, "paychecks were few and far between," he said, and he signed up for coverage under the state's Medicaid expansion, which offers coverage to Arkansans who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level (that's $16,400 for an individual or $33,600 for a family of four).

A year later, his wife encouraged him to go in for a routine physical, and he ended up being diagnosed with prostate cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma. "It was an eye-opener, extremely scary," Haynes said. "All of a sudden your whole world changes."

The doctor told him that if he hadn't come in, he had two years left to live. Now, he's in remission after a dozen sessions of chemotherapy. "I can't stress enough how much it meant to me to have coverage," Haynes said. "I knew I wasn't going to lose my house and everything else." Before getting coverage, Haynes had always avoided going to the doctor because he assumed he wouldn't be able to pay the medical bills, and he said he would never have gone in the first place without health insurance.

"Two things saved my life: Obamacare and my wife," Haynes said. "That's the truth."

Haynes has been able to get his treatment at Mountain Home's Baxter Regional Medical Center, recently named one of the top 100 rural and community hospitals in the nation by the National Rural Health Association.

The Medicaid expansion has been just as vital to Arkansas's rural hospitals as it has been to patients like Haynes, said Ron Peterson, Baxter Regional's CEO. The reduction in uncompensated care has led to a $4.2 million annual positive impact for the hospital, Peterson said. "The expansion meant the difference between us running in the red vs. running in the black," he said.

Arkansas is one of 31 states — few in the South — that expanded Medicaid eligibility to low-income adults like Haynes as part of the Affordable Care Act. The state used a unique approach known as the private option — later rebranded "Arkansas Works" — which uses Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for the newly eligible population. The federal government pays for most of the costs through funds made available by the ACA.

The ACA's crafters essentially made a deal with hospitals: The ACA cut Medicare reimbursements, but the reduction in uncompensated care through the Medicaid expansion helped offset some of those cuts. Without that offsetting boost, some of the state's smaller rural hospitals might not be able to survive. A hospital like Baxter — the fifth most Medicare-reliant hospital in the nation, according to Moody's, thanks to the community's significant proportion of retirees — would be forced to make dramatic cuts in services without the Medicaid offset. "The expansion of Medicaid through Arkansas Works is one of the key components that's been able to help us through the change in the ACA," Peterson said. "Not just Baxter, but it helps all of rural Arkansas."

The political future of the Medicaid expansion, however, remains dicey. State Sen. Scott Flippo, a Republican who represents the area, campaigned on ending the program and has voted multiple times for unsuccessful attempts to defund it in the Arkansas legislature. Meanwhile, the American Health Care Act, the bill backed by President Trump and passed by the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, would end the ACA's enhanced funding for new and returning enrollees beginning in 2020, effectively ending the Medicaid expansion program. Trump won Baxter County with 74 percent of the vote.

Peterson said that he was hopeful that the AHCA proposal would be amended further, but as it stands, the phase-out of the Medicaid expansion "would be devastating to our hospital, and I think it would be extremely bad news for all rural hospitals."

It can be a challenge to explain the value of Medicaid expansion amid the always thorny politics of the national health care debate, Peterson said. "I think that people in Mountain Home really appreciate the hospital and appreciate the services that are provided here," he said, pointing to significant giving from the community to the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation and the more than 500 volunteers who give more than 80,000 hours of their time every year. "They want to see this hospital succeed. I just don't think they see the tie and the connection with the Medicaid expansion."

Baxter Regional is by far the largest employer in the community, employing 1,600 individuals; its payroll is more than $70 million. Outside of the hospital, opportunities for professionals are few and far between, Dan Greer, a network analyst at Baxter Regional, said. Greer has worked at Baxter Regional for nine years; before that, he worked at the Baxter Bulletin, but lost that job after the newspaper was downsized. "If it wasn't for the hospital being here, I would have been gone," he said.

If the Medicaid expansion ended, Peterson said, "You're looking at easily 200-300 jobs eliminated out of the community. That may not sound dramatic, but it's dramatic in a community of our size."

Baxter Regional's mission is to remain independent and as comprehensive as possible, Peterson said, both of which would also be threatened if the hospital took a financial hit from the elimination of Medicaid expansion. "We believe that having that local input and that local control helps us be more community-driven and make sure we're meeting the needs of the community," he said. "And we try to provide urban medicine in a rural setting. Just because you live in a rural area should not mean you should not have access to quality care."

Baxter Regional offers cardiac surgery, comprehensive oncology services and 30 different specialties; this summer, the hospital will start offering neurosurgery. As a Level III trauma center, the hospital has the resources to provide care for most traumatic injuries.

"You can't measure the value on that," said Dr. Brad Shultz, a physician in the emergency room, where the hospital sees 30,000 patients a year. "The sick, aged population we have, if we didn't have the specialists, we couldn't buy enough ambulances to keep them all transferred."

That transport itself can be a dangerous part of medical care. "Every time they're exposed to a new health care setting, it's adding risk to their situation," Gerald Cantrell, the hospital's paramedic director, said. In nonemergency situations, meanwhile, a multiple-hour drive may discourage patients from seeking the care they need.

"We're fairly isolated," Peterson said. "The next hospital that has all the types of services that we have is at least two hours away."

The hospital has invested in technology to deliver high-quality care to its isolated community. In its intensive care unit, the hospital has an "electronic ICU" that provides 24-7 access to intensive care specialists in St. Louis. Its radiology department was one of the first in the state to use 3D tomosynthesis for mammography, which is more accurate and leads to fewer call backs, and the first in the nation to develop a mobile 3D tomosynthesis unit in a custom-made RV that offers screenings in the community. "It allows us to take the mammography out to where the patient is, and helps us get to even more remote areas than Mountain Home," Peterson said. "We're going to the rural community and bringing that technology to them."

The STEMI program (STEMI is the medical shorthand for a severe heart attack) has a coordinated system in place to communicate between paramedics and the hospital to deliver care as quickly as possible — and crucially, Baxter Regional has the cath labs (diagnostic imaging equipment necessary for the optimal treatment of a heart attack) and specialists to provide an immediate intervention.

"A lot of your smaller rural hospitals won't have cath labs," Peterson said; they can offer only less effective clot-busting drugs. "If we weren't the size hospital that we are and started cutting back, you could see people having a heart attack, getting a drug, and being shipped off and not getting that intervention for three to five hours when they need to be getting it right away."

"Arkansas has the highest mortality rates nationwide for death from heart attack," Dr. Kim Foxworthy, the STEMI coordinator, said. "Our statewide mortality rates would definitely be higher if we did not have the technology and facility here. People are just not going to make it."

Just as important, Peterson said, was the hospital's commitment to outreach. He cited the community paramedic program, which offers direct services to high-needs patients in their homes, and four on-site Community Health Education and Support Houses, which offer services for patients and their families for diabetes, cancer, aging and women's health.

Without the Medicaid expansion, Peterson said, the hospital would be forced to make difficult — and potentially life-threatening — choices about what services to cut. That would impact everyone who relies on Baxter Regional, not just those covered by the Medicaid expansion. Servicing a remote community in the Ozarks with a population that isn't growing, it's unclear how the hospital would make up the funding gap if expansion goes away.

"The numbers do not add up," Peterson said. "Unless you want to abandon people who live in rural America."

Haynes, the cancer survivor who got coverage thanks to the Medicaid expansion, said he remembers years ago having to drive more than two hours to Springfield, Mo., to get to a hospital with an incubator when his daughter was born. "That's a thing of the past," he said. "I received outstanding care here. It's a tremendous service to the community."

Haynes voted in the presidential race for the first time last November and, like most of his neighbors, he voted for Trump. "I felt like we were going to be in the same position no matter what Hillary did, we needed some improvements, and I really just wanted a guy that wasn't involved in politics," Haynes said. He said he has been watching the progress of the AHCA with concern, particularly when the Congressional Budget Office found in March that an earlier version of the bill would lead to 24 million fewer people being covered (the CBO is set to issue a new score for the amended version of the AHCA this week).

"I guess I was naive because when he spoke 'change,' in my mind, I thought 'even better,' " he said. "And then as it moved along and 24 million people weren't going to get coverage, I thought, 'What's going on? Am I one of the 24 million?' "

After he wasn't able to work for a year and half because of the cancer, Haynes has just started back at his job. "It'll get better — the economy is getting better, I'm getting better, so I'm very positive about the future," he said.

Haynes said he's still grateful for President Obama. "I'd vote for the man tomorrow," Haynes said. "I don't play politics. But the man did a lot for me, period. Without Obamacare, I wouldn't be sitting here. How would you feel?"

This story was supported by the nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project, part of an initiative to foster journalism about inequality in the South and the Heartland, and is also courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.

          Health care policy FAQ   
What proposed state and federal changes mean for the future of health care policy in Arkansas.

Health care policy impacts millions of Americans, including the more than 300,000 Arkansans currently covered by the state's Medicaid expansion program. The details, however, can get confusing quickly. It's hard enough to keep track of all the names — private option, Arkansas Works, Medicaid expansion, Obamacare, ACA, AHCA. On top of that, it seems like every month lawmakers propose to shift the policy ground beneath our feet. The Arkansas legislature met in a special session earlier this month to approve Governor Hutchinson's plan to alter the state's Medicaid expansion, adding work requirements and cutting eligibility. That plan now awaits approval from the federal government. The same day the governor signed that bill into law, the U.S. House passed the American Health Care Act, which would completely undercut the governor's proposal and threaten the very existence of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas. It's now in the Senate, awaiting a vote.

The Medicaid expansion helped cut the state's uninsured rate in half. What would the proposed changes coming from the governor and Republicans in Congress mean for those who rely on that coverage? Let's take a look.

What is the Medicaid expansion? What is Arkansas Works?

The Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) provided funding to cover low-income adults under the Medicaid program. This expansion of Medicaid covers people who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level — that's $16,400 for an individual or $33,600 for a family of four. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that states could choose whether or not they wanted to accept the Medicaid expansion. Arkansas decided to move forward, but with a twist: The state obtained a special waiver from the federal government to use Medicaid funds to purchase private health insurance for the Medicaid expansion population, a policy that became known as the private option. Later, when Hutchinson became governor and continued the policy, he re-branded it as Arkansas Works. Whatever name it goes by — Medicaid expansion, private option, Arkansas Works — the program covers more than 300,000 Arkansans, with most of the costs covered by the federal government through the ACA.

How will Hutchinson's proposed alterations to the Medicaid expansion change who is eligible?

Hutchinson, with the legislature's backing, is seeking permission from the federal government to limit eligibility for Arkansas Works to households at or below the federal poverty line (that's $11,880 for an individual or $24,300 for a family of four). That would mean that current beneficiaries who make between 100-138 percent of the FPL — more than 60,000 of the state's working poor — would be removed from the program.

Assuming the ACA remains in place, what options will those cut from coverage under the governor's plan have for health insurance?

Most of the 60,000 people who would lose Arkansas Works coverage would be eligible for the ACA's Health Insurance Marketplace, often called the exchange, where they can buy subsidized health insurance. The ACA provides income-based premium tax credits and cost-sharing reduction subsidies that keep premiums, co-pays and deductibles relatively low.

Others will not be able to get subsidized coverage on the exchange, because their employer offers them health insurance (the state Department of Human Services estimates this applies to 20 percent of the beneficiaries in the 100-138 FPL group). If that employer-sponsored insurance (ESI) meets two tests — it's considered "affordable" under the law and meets a "minimum value" standard in terms of coverage — then they are barred from getting the premium credits and cost-sharing reductions that would make coverage on the exchange affordable for them. Those who fall into this category would typically face higher costs and receive less generous coverage if they switch to ESI.

Will the working poor have to pay more under the governor's plan?

The governor has claimed that the 60,000 people being removed from the Medicaid rolls "will not lose access to coverage" and would get "the same level of financial support that they have now." In fact, those beneficiaries will pay more than they do today — sometimes much more — and coverage will be skimpier for many.

Under the terms of its Arkansas Works agreement with the federal government, the state is allowed to charge beneficiaries who make between 100-138 percent of the FPL premiums up to 2 percent of their household income. However, currently, the state charges a flat rate of $13 per month.

On the exchange, premiums for plans equivalent to Arkansas Works are designed to be equal to 2 percent of household income (because of the federal subsidies, that's what this group will have to pay for premiums regardless of whether the unsubsidized premium that insurance companies charge for the plan goes up or down). That's significantly more than $13 per month. An individual right at the poverty line would have to pay up to $20 a month in premiums. An individual who makes 138 percent of the FPL would have to pay up to $27 per month. Meanwhile, larger family sizes will have larger incomes in order to fall in the 100-138 FPL range. So a single mother of three, for example, who is right at the poverty line, would be on the hook for $40 per month premiums on the exchange; if she was at 138 percent of the FPL, she would be on the hook for $56 per month premiums.

For those who have to move to ESI plans, the premium increase will be even more dramatic. For an ESI plan to be deemed affordable, premiums cannot exceed 9.69 percent of household income. That means that a plan could have premiums nearly five times what someone was paying under the 2 percent max allowable under Arkansas Works (and even more than that compared to the flat $13 premiums that the program is imposing this year). Under the Medicaid rules in the Arkansas Works waiver, an individual living at the poverty line could be charged no more than $20 monthly; the most that a single mother of three could be charged is $40. But if those same beneficiaries get insurance through a plan at work, they could face employee-contribution premiums of up to $95 or $195, respectively, and would then not be allowed to shop on the exchange. They would have to find a way to pay those premiums or go without health insurance.

What happens if people don't pay premiums?

If people are unable to pay their premiums under Arkansas Works, they don't lose their coverage; they incur a debt to the state, which likely isn't collectible unless the individual has a state tax refund from which to withhold. On the other hand, if people are unable to pay their premiums on the exchange, they'll be booted off of coverage and become uninsured for the remainder of the year. These premiums are relatively small, but this is a population with almost no disposable income. Forty dollars a month may not sound like a lot, but for a family of four at the poverty line, that could be the difference in getting enough groceries to go around. Currently, only 25 percent of these beneficiaries are paying the $13 premiums each month. If they struggle to keep up with premiums on the exchange, they'll end up without coverage.

Will the working poor get the same level of coverage under the governor's plan?

Those who are sent to the exchange will get plans that have a similar amount of coverage to the plans on Arkansas Works, though that coverage may take different forms (for example, they might have deductibles, whereas Arkansas Works only has co-pays). However, there is one key difference, which will lead to many having to pay more out of pocket on the exchange plans. Under Arkansas Works, Medicaid rules impose a strict limit on the total amount that beneficiaries can be charged between premiums and cost-sharing (it cannot exceed 5 percent of monthly or quarterly income). There is no such rule on the exchange, and while there are out-of-pocket limits, the total amount that beneficiaries have to pay could exceed 5 percent of income.

For example, consider an individual who makes $12,500 a year: If she was being charged premiums at 2 percent of her income, the most that she could be charged in cost-sharing under Arkansas Works on a monthly basis is $35. Over the course of the year, that would work out to $360. If that same individual was on the exchange, the available plans average nearly twice that, $660.94, as an out-of-pocket maximum — and that's only over the course of the year, with no protections for monthly/quarterly charges.

Things look much worse for those who are routed to ESI plans instead of the exchange. For a work-sponsored plan to meet the "minimum value" test, it only has to cover 60 percent of average expected costs, as opposed to 94 percent under Arkansas Works. That could mean $5,000 deductibles or $7,000 out-of-pocket maximums, expenses that many people in this population could not realistically afford to pay.

Will the governor's plan increase the uninsured rate in the state?

Almost certainly, yes. Many will not be able to afford the premiums or the cost-sharing and will have no choice but to go without coverage. Others may struggle to successfully navigate the system and find their way to coverage alternatives in the first place. Moving this population from Medicaid to other coverage is not as easy as flipping a switch. Sixty thousand people will receive a sudden letter that their coverage has been canceled; many of them have no experience purchasing private health insurance. The transition would require a massive outreach and education effort and excellent communication. The Hutchinson administration has often faced criticism for its failures at such outreach, including a botched eligibility renewal process in 2015 that led to tens of thousands of eligible beneficiaries losing coverage. In similar transitions in other states, even with much more extensive outreach efforts than Arkansas has ever done, attrition was significant as people inevitably got lost in the shuffle and ended up with gaps in coverage.

"Our greatest concern is that tens of thousands of Arkansans will become uninsured because they are no longer eligible for Arkansas Works, unable to afford other coverage, or simply fall through the cracks because of the constant policy changes," Marquita Little, of Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families, said. (Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families have provided donations to the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.)

What happens if Donald Trump and the Republican Congress repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA)?

The AHCA would completely unravel Arkansas Works, as well as Hutchinson's plan for Arkansas Works 2.0.

The Medicaid expansion would be completely phased out, eliminating the enhanced federal funding for new and returning enrollees starting in 2020. Without that funding, Arkansas could not realistically continue to offer Medicaid coverage for the population of low-income Arkansans reliant on Arkansas Works under current law, now numbering more than 300,000 beneficiaries. Forget about Arkansas Works 2.0; Arkansas Works itself would be dead.

Hutchinson said that he hopes the enhanced match rate for Medicaid expansion will be saved now that the AHCA is in the Senate. But even if it is, the AHCA would still completely undermine Hutchinson's plan for the 100-138 FPL population because of the way it changes the subsidies on the exchanges. Hutchinson's plan presupposes that the 100-138 FPL population can rely on those subsidies. The ACA offers tax credits that ensure that the amount people are charged for premiums on the exchange will not exceed 2 percent of income; the AHCA has no such limit and its tax credits aren't based on income. The Arkansas Works beneficiaries that Hutchinson aims to send to the exchange would find themselves faced with premiums that most of them could not possibly afford if the AHCA passed in its current form. Premiums would be even higher for older people in this population because the AHCA would also allow insurance companies to charge higher amounts based on age than the ACA does. Under the AHCA, regardless of how poor the consumer was, the Congressional Budget Office found that the average monthly premium faced by an individual who is 21 years old would be $120; at 40 years old, $200; at 64 years old, $1,216.

Hutchinson acknowledged this problem. "The governor would like to see the AHCA's tax credits increase for the lower income populations to account for this issue and ensure there are affordable coverage options available outside of Medicaid," his spokesman J.R. Davis said.

In addition to drastically lowering the premium tax credits available to poorer and older Arkansans, the AHCA would also altogether eliminate the ACA's cost-sharing reductions, which offer cost protections from co-pays and deductibles to low-income consumers. Under current law, people in the 100-138 FPL range can sign up for plans that cover 94 percent of the average cost of medical expenses; under the AHCA, those same plans would only cover 70 percent. Under the ACA, someone who was sent to the exchange as part of Hutchinson's plan would face an average deductible across eligible plans of $246 and an average out-of-pocket maximum of $661. Under the AHCA, cost-sharing would skyrocket, with deductibles for those same plans ranging from around $1,500 to $3,500 and the out-of-pocket maximum ranging from around $3,600 to $7,150.

What other impacts would the AHCA have on Arkansas health care?

In addition to eliminating the Medicaid expansion and increasing costs on the exchange for poorer, sicker and older Arkansans, the AHCA would also enact hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to the state's traditional Medicaid program (the program that existed before the ACA's expansion), covering the elderly in nursing homes, low-income children, very poor parents, the blind, the disabled and other vulnerable populations. Such cuts would put additional burdens on the state budget or force the state to cut services or eligibility for traditional Medicaid.

Work requirements

In addition to cutting eligibility, the governor's proposal would institute work requirements for Arkansas Works beneficiaries. The Obama administration did not allow work requirements for Medicaid because it said such requirements were not consistent with the purpose of the program, which is to increase access to health care. The Trump administration has signaled that it is receptive to the idea of work requirements, so Hutchinson is trying again with the request.

The details of the work-requirement program still need to be worked out between the state's Department of Human Services and the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but here is the outline of the governor's plan, according to DHS:

In order to continue receiving coverage, beneficiaries must work 20 hours per week or 80 hours per month. If they are not working, they have to participate in job training programs (or potentially certain approved volunteer activities).

Beneficiaries must be in compliance for nine months out of the year. Otherwise, they will be kicked off of coverage and locked out of the program for the remainder of the year.

People aged 18-49 will be subject to the work requirement, and those older than 50 will be exempt. The following groups will also be eligible for exemptions:

Those deemed "medically frail" — the 10 percent of Arkansas Works beneficiaries who have the most intensive medical needs.

Those caring for an incapacitated person.

Those caring for dependent children in the home.

People receiving unemployment benefits.

Those participating in a drug or alcohol addiction treatment program.

Full-time students.

Pregnant women.

DHS projects that around half of Arkansas Works beneficiaries would be eligible for an exemption.

This analysis is courtesy of the Arkansas Nonprofit News Network, an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.

          2017 Arkansas Times Academic All-Star Team   
Meet the best and brightest high school students in the state.

The class of 2017, our 23rd, is made up of athletes, coders, budding politicians and brain experts. There's rarely a B on the transcripts of these students — in not just this, their senior year, but in any year of their high school careers.

Back in 1995, we created the Academic All-Star Team to honor what we then called "the silent majority — the kids who go to school, do their homework (most of it, anyway), graduate and go on to be contributing members of society." Too often, we argued then, all Arkansans heard about young people was how poorly they were faring. Or, when students did get positive attention, it came for athletic achievement.

As you read profiles of this year's All-Stars, it should be abundantly clear that good things are happening in Arkansas schools and there are many academic achievers who deserve to be celebrated. You should get a good idea, as well, of how these stellar students are busy outside school, with extracurricular activities, volunteer work, mission activities and more.

They'll be honored this week at a ceremony at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with plaques and $250 cash awards.

Many college plans listed here are not set in stone, as students await information on scholarships and acceptances.

Age: 17
Hometown: North Little Rock
High School: Mount St. Mary Academy
Parents: (guardian) Dennis Chudy
College plans: Duke University

Caroline Coplin-Chudy has a 4.4 grade point average — high enough to rank second in her class at Mount St. Mary Academy — and lost her mother to leukemia during her sophomore year, something she told us came to be a source of inspiration and drive during her academic development. "It was a big adjustment. After my mom passed away, it was just my stepdad. It's a weird realization coming to the idea that both of your parents are gone, and it's just you. ... I still think of her every single day. She motivates me to do well in everything, because my whole life I wanted to make her proud." Caroline is president of Mount St. Mary's Investment Club and of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions). She's also been a regular volunteer for several years at the Little Rock Compassion Center, whose recovery branch provides meals and health resources to people suffering from addiction. Caroline said she found healing from her own grief in the friendships she forged there. As the recipient of a Questbridge scholarship, described by Caroline's guidance counselor and nominator Amy Perkins as a program where lower-income students qualify for tuition to schools with which they "match" via an early decision process, Caroline will attend Duke University on a full scholarship. "I'm going to study biology and psych, with a minor in Spanish. My plan is to work at the Duke Center for Addiction [Science and Technology] helping people with drug addictions overcome that sort of thing. It's something that I've had experience with, watching my family go through things like that."

Age: 17
Hometown: Pine Bluff
High School: Subiaco Academy
Parents: Sixte Ntamatungiro and Sylvana Niciteretse
College plans: Rice University, neuroscience

Axel Ntamatungiro grew up among books and maps dispersed throughout his home that "paint[ed] the walls with nuanced shades of knowledge." It shows. Not often can a high school senior explain, as Axel does, his love for studying the brain so easily. "Neuroscience is basically a neuron turning on and off," he said. "The fact that you have billions of these combinations that lead to consciousness, that's unbelievable." To continue learning about the mind, Axel is headed to Rice University on a full ride as a QuestBridge scholar. Maybe medical school or graduate school after that. Axel said his parents taught him a "humble intellectualism" that helped him understand "the irrationality of life." They always told him: "Work hard, but you need to realize you don't always get what you deserve." And life has been, at times, irrational and difficult for his family. Axel was the only member of his family born in the United States — in Little Rock in 1999. The rest migrated from Burundi in the early 1990s. They stayed here as the Rwandan genocide inflicted incredible damage in the area. That past was never hidden from Axel. "Instead of avoiding my questions, my parents level-headedly answered [them], telling me about Belgian colonialism, Hutu-Tutsi tension and the systematic poverty afflicting Burundi," he said. Maybe that is why Axel has never been afraid to ask big questions. He said it also helped to have a diverse group of friends who taught him new things. At his cafeteria table for lunch are kids from all over: Nigeria, Fort Smith, Japan, Bentonville and Russia. Everyone's small stories add to a global perspective, something bigger from something small, kind of like those neurons.

Age: 18
Hometown: Springdale
High School: Haas Hall Academy (Fayetteville)
Parents: Brenan and Tiffany DeSpain
College plans: U.S. Naval Academy, nuclear engineering

For Jade DeSpain, the question, "Where's your hometown?" isn't necessarily as straightforward as it seems. The National Merit semifinalist, swimming star and Quiz Bowler spent much of her childhood in Beijing, where her parents — both fluent in Mandarin — taught her Chinese concurrently with English (and where, she notes, she acquired an "incredible prowess with chopsticks.") "We've moved around so much that I don't really have a 'hometown,' but Springdale is the closest I've ever gotten," she said. She's made her impact there, too, tutoring students free of charge through her volunteer work with the M&N Augustine Foundation and putting in time at the Arkansas Council for the Blind and the Springdale Animal Shelter. Jade is ranked second in her class, and her high school transcript is full of aced courses in trigonometry, physics and calculus. She's also the co-founder of Haas Hall Academy's coding club, so a career in nuclear energy development — Jade's field of choice — isn't just an aspiration; it's the plan. "I have a deep appreciation for nature," she told us, citing Devil's Den State Park as a spot to which she feels closely connected, and stressing the importance of preserving natural spaces and developing more long-term options for sustainable energy. On Christmas Day 2016, Jade checked her email to find that she'd attained something she'd wanted as early as age 12: acceptance to the U.S. Naval Academy. There, she'll major in nuclear engineering and complete her five mandatory post-Academy years in the Navy, after which she hopes to acquire a Ph.D. in the field.

Age: 18
Hometown: Cabot
High school: Cabot High School
Parents: Dan and Melissa Elliott
College plans: University of Arkansas, medicine

Though many of our All-Stars seem destined from birth for academic greatness, there is the occasional inspiring All-Star who has had to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. One of those is Cabot High School's Avery Elliott, who was born with nystagmus, a condition that causes involuntary eye movements that can make it hard for sufferers to concentrate and learn. Though it's hard to imagine it now, when she was in elementary school Avery found herself falling further and further behind her classmates in reading because of her condition. "That was difficult," she said. "I was behind schedule until about third or fourth grade. I would have to go home and really work with my parents to keep up with the rest of the class." Even though she struggled early on, Avery said that, in a way, the nystagmus contributed to her success and gave her a direction to follow. "I had to learn to really study even outside of school," she said. "I learned some very good study habits. But I think it also really affected where I wanted to go as far as my career. ... I really learned that a medical team can not only dispense medicine, but can really affect someone's life." A National Merit finalist who has volunteered extensively with Special Olympics and already completed 43 hours of college-level coursework, Avery has been awarded the University of Arkansas Fellowship. She plans to study medicine at UAMS after completing her undergrad degree, then practice in Arkansas. That goal has always pushed her to succeed academically. "I wanted to go into the medical field from an early age," she said, "so I knew starting out in high school that I needed to make very good grades in order to get where I needed to. I had to really learn the material, rather than just trying to ace a test."

Age: 17
Hometown: Cabot
High school: Cabot High School
Parents: Dan and LeAnne Gilliam
College plans: University of Arkansas, engineering

When most young people say they want to change the world, it's easy to believe that's just pie-in-the-sky thinking by someone who hasn't yet been through the Academy of Hard Knocks. When Jared Gilliam says he wants to change the world, however, there's a good chance he might actually pull it off. Jared even has a plan: He'll change the world through engineering. A National Merit finalist and AP scholar with a GPA of 4.18 and a perfect score of 36 on the ACT, Jared is well placed to do just that. A musician who plays percussion with the Cabot High Marching Band, Jared said his favorite subject in school is math. "I think I'm mostly interested in engineering because I've always been sort of a problem-solver," he said. "I've enjoyed math and science, working through things and finding solutions to everyday problems. This year, I've been in robotics, so we've spent time working on a robot to perform various tasks. I've enjoyed that a lot. I think engineering is where my ability would best be used." He'll attend the University of Arkansas, which has offered him the Honors College Fellowship. He said the drive to excel academically has always been a part of his life. "I've grown up being encouraged to do well, and I guess I have my parents to thank for that and all my teachers," he said. "I think knowing that I have the ability to do all of this, I feel compelled to do what I can to make a difference. I think life would be pretty boring if I didn't go out there and do all the things I do. I don't think I could settle for not being successful."

Age: 18
Hometown: Fort Smith
High School: Southside High School
Parents: Drs. Bill and Janice Keating
College plans: Undecided

If you were looking for a ringing endorsement of Ben Keating's character, you'd need to look no further than Amy Slater, the guidance counselor who nominated him for our Academic All-Stars roster and who said of Ben, "He is all the things I hope my son turns out to be. ... He really thinks about things, and he practices the trumpet and piano for hours a day. It's crazy, his dedication." Ben probably had something to prove here; he admits to some skepticism on the part of his mother when he announced he'd be pursuing a career in music. He's certainly proved his mettle; Ben is band president at Southside, was a principal trumpet for the 2017 National Youth Honor Orchestra, first chair for Southside's Wind Symphony and for the All-State Jazz Band and was ranked in the top-tier bands for All-State Band and All-State Orchestra each year from 2014-16. The accolades go on and on: Ben has received a Young Artist Award from the International Trumpet Guild, a Gold Medal from the National Piano Guild and superior ratings from the National Federation of Music Clubs competitions for over a decade. He plays for the Arkansas Symphony Youth Orchestra and as a volunteer musician for the Fort Smith Community Band. Ben is still deciding where to attend college, but wherever he goes, he hopes to continue playing with an orchestra. Eventually, he wants to teach at the university level. "Ultimately," he wrote, "I want to use my passion to unite people of all different races, backgrounds and cultures. In today's society that is politically and culturally divided, it is more important than ever to share the universal language of music."

Age: 17
Hometown: Hindsville
High School: Huntsville High School
Parents: Shannon Hahn
College plans: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, biochemical engineering

Katherine Hahn is ranked first in her class at Huntsville High School, which she attends because her hometown of Hindsville is too small to support its own school system. The population of Hindsville is "about 75 people," she told us. At Huntsville High, Katherine plays bass drum in the marching band and marimba/xylophone in the concert band and runs with the Huntsville cross-country team. Her real passion, though, is science. "I think I've always wanted to go to a college that was science-based and research-based," she told us. Her high school principal, Roxanne Enix, noted her own surprise when Katherine announced that she'd take 10 credits her senior year, instead of the recommended eight. "I thought she had lost her mind," Enix stated. Those credits, over half of which are in AP classes, are what Katherine hopes have prepared her for the rigorous workload at MIT. Aiming for a career in pharmaceutical development, Katherine plans to study biochemical engineering, something she said resonated personally with her as a result of her mother's struggle with skin cancer. "Biology helps me understand why medicine does the things it does," Katherine told us. "Whenever I first started out, I wanted to do environmental stuff," she said, but turned her attention to drug delivery systems after observing so many friends and loved ones battling cancer. "I want to help stop people from being scared of losing people," she explained. Katherine, a native of Tahlequah, Okla., who moved to Arkansas around fifth grade, has served on the Madison County Health Coalition as Youth Leader and was named Student of the Year in 2017 by the Huntsville Chamber of Commerce and Huntsville High School.

Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock
High school: Little Rock Christian Academy
Parents: Bob and Ann Burnside
College plans: Stanford University, biology and public policy

When this reporter mentioned to friends at UAMS that she'd just spoken to an amazingly poised, optimistic and intelligent young woman with a spinal cord injury, they said in unison, "You mean Georgiana Burnside." Her reputation as a teenager who at 16 was paralyzed from the waist down in a snow skiing accident but who considers the event a "blessing" no doubt goes further than UAMS, all the way to Denver's Craig Hospital, where she spent "the most memorable two months in my life," she said, and where she returns to continue her rehabilitation. What is a spinal cord injury? She answers that it is a) a life changed in a split second, b) finding out that a bad attitude is the true disability, c) a time to show off wheelchair tricks, and d) spontaneous moments of unfortunate incontinence. In her essay for the Arkansas Times, Georgiana writes, "my physical brokenness has developed wholeness in my heart about the capacity life holds for individuals regardless of their disabilities." In a phone interview, Georgiana, once a figure skater, talked about her work with Easter Seals, fundraisers for Craig Hospital, and giving talks and testimony about her faith. Georgiana has regained the ability to walk with hiking sticks and leg braces, thanks to the strength in her quads. And, thanks to support from the High Fives Foundation in Truckee, Calif., which sponsors athletes with injuries and which has paid for some of her rehabilitation, Georgiana returned to the slopes over spring break, skiing upright with the aid of long forearm equipment. At Stanford, she'll study to be a doctor, with a goal to return to Craig Hospital as a physician who'll treat other injured youths who, though they may have, like Georgiana, at first believed their life was over, will learn they have "a unique role ... enabling the advancement of society."

Age: 17
Hometown: North Little Rock
High School: North Little Rock High School
Parents: David and Susan Harvey
College plans: Likely Mississippi State University, chemical engineering

Mitchell Harvey is a big fan of the periodic table. "The elements are amazing little things," he wrote in his Academic All-Star essay. "They make up everything, yet we hardly see them in their pure form in everyday life." Mitchell decided they needed more exposure, so he started collecting examples of the elements and taking them to school for his peers and teachers to see. He extracted helium from an abandoned tank on the side of the road. He found zinc in wheel weights, grew crystals of copper with electrolysis and made bromine, which he describes as "a blood-red liquid that fumes profusely," from a "crude" homemade distillation setup and pool chemicals. Though you can buy sodium readily, Mitchell made his by melting drain cleaner (sodium hydroxide) with a blowtorch and then passing a current through it, separating the mixture into sodium metal, oxygen and water. His parents were OK with the procedure, he says, because he wore a Tyvek suit, three pairs of gloves, safety goggles and a face shield. While on a college visit in California last summer, Mitchell toured Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles and was impressed by the large periodic table display exhibit there. So he decided to build one for North Little Rock High. He got money from the school's alumni group, the Wildcat Foundation, to pay for the supplies necessary to construct the 9-foot-by-6-foot display. He hopes to have it completed in the next two weeks and fill it with examples of elements he has collected, though he may need additional funding to pay for other elements. No. 1 in a class of 687, Mitchell scored a perfect 36 on the ACT. He's also an Eagle Scout, and led a project to plant 800 native hardwood seedlings at Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park. After college, Mitchell said, he might start his own waste remediation business. "The business model I would be going for would be taking some byproduct that's hazardous and turning it into something useful."

Age: 18
Hometown: Mabelvale
High school: Bryant High SCHOOL
Parents: Kevin and Ruby Molder
College plans: University of Arkansas

Not everybody plays the mellophone and likes to draw up better interstate exchanges, but Carson Molder does both. The University of Arkansas Honors College-bound student, No. 1 in his class, likes to create three-dimensional schemes in his head, and has been creating road designs since he was young. But as a musician who plays the French horn in his school's orchestra and the mellophone in the Legacy of Bryant marching band, and who has won a band scholarship in addition to his Honors College reward to the UA, he said that one day he may be an audio engineer. "I'm going to put things together and see what sticks," he said of his future. Meanwhile, Carson said the internet has been his Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, taking him to new places that he otherwise could not get to. "I can count on my hands the number of times I have set foot outside Arkansas," Carson wrote in an essay for the Arkansas Times. But with the internet, "I can gaze into the redwood forests of California and the skyscrapers of New York City without leaving my desk." Without the internet, he said in a phone interview, "I would not be at the top of my class." Carson added, "It's not going to replace going out and visiting these things, but if you're a kid and don't have the money to go out, you can visit Yellowstone." Carson, who describes himself as "really ambitious," is looking forward to studying with Dr. Alan Mantooth, the director of the UA National Center for Reliable Electric Power Transmission. The UA, he said, "will provide me the tools" he'll need to succeed in graduate school, which he hopes will be Stanford University.

Age: 18
Hometown: Jonesboro
High school: Brookland High School
Parents: Kelly Webb and Jonathan Langer
College plans: University of California, Santa Barbara, chemistry

You might think that a student who is No. 1 in her class and a National Merit finalist with nary a B on her high school transcript might not consider one of her greatest achievements her selection as her high school's drum major three years in a row. But here's the thing: Schoolwork comes easy to Olivia Langer. "I never had to work hard," she told us. In fact, her style of learning is "conversation-based," she said; she enjoys "debate without argument." But music was different: "I struggled at points, and had to put in extra work to be good." Her selection as drum major was "something I know I've worked for," she said, and she has enjoyed the responsibilities that come with it. "I like to take care of people. The band calls me band mom," she added. Beside numerous academic awards, Olivia also earned a 2017 state Horatio Alger scholarship for students who have overcome great obstacles. Hers, Olivia said, was financial: She's always had a place to stay and food to eat, but she hasn't been able to afford academic programs. "Honestly, I wasn't able to visit any of the colleges I applied to," she said. So she will see the UC Santa Barbara campus for the first time when she arrives this fall. She's considering a double major in chemistry and anthropology; she's interested in the evolutionary side of anthropology, and plans to seek graduate and post-graduate degrees.

Age: 18
Hometown: Alma
High School: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts
Parents: Eileen and Rick Parham
College plans: University of Arkansas or Hendrix College

On a visit to Hanamaki, Japan, with her school, Rebecca Parham noticed that once a month all the citizens would clean the front of their homes and shops. Folks would give each other gifts, too. "It was clear people tended to think for the whole," she said. "I thought that was really nice." An avid chemist, Rebecca did not just improve her Japanese on the trip, she brought those lessons of helping the community back to Arkansas. Her work has been at the intersection of heady science and community impact. In her robotics club, she noticed that girls were less likely to participate. "I decided that was not OK," she said. So, she designed a day with LEGO kits to encourage women to pursue STEM education. That desire to make an impact goes beyond school, too. For her senior project, Rebecca designed a test for homebuyers to see if meth had been cooked on their property (yes, meth). Her parents, on hearing of this project choice, asked her to "please explain a little bit further ... ." Here's the gist: The method of meth production in rural areas has shifted to something called the Birch reduction; older testing kits would no longer work. But Rebecca thought she could produce one that could. She designed a flame test. It finds lithium compounds left behind. The process of invention was "definitely frustrating," Rebecca said, but you "learn things you never thought of before." Rebecca did not plan to spend senior year in her dorm late at night "searching online" how to identify meth production, but she has a driving curiosity toward science and how it "connects to the world." She hopes to work in renewable energy — to be part of the global community, from Japan to Arkansas — making the world a nice place in which to live.

Age: 18
Hometown: Searcy
High school: Searcy High School
Parents: Eric and Lisa Robinson College plans: University of Arkansas

Grant Robinson's father is a cardiologist, and Grant long figured he would follow in his dad's footsteps. But now he's not so sure. Last summer, he was selected, among thousands of applicants from around the world, to participate in a Stanford University summer engineering program. He got to experience a taste of college life, to take advantage of Stanford's decked-out labs and to tour the area to see results of civil engineering. The most memorable part of the program? Grant's small group built a Rube Goldberg machine — a complicated gadget that performs a simple task in a convoluted way — that, by Grant's estimation, was "the most complex and aesthetically pleasing" in the program. It included an electromagnet the group handmade and chemical reactions triggered by the machine. Grant's academic achievements are the byproduct of a natural curiosity. He said he spends what little free time he has exploring YouTube, trying to figure out the way the world works. Another influence: His father, who pulled himself out of poverty to become a doctor, has always instilled in him the importance of hard work. The message clearly stuck. Grant is second in his class of 263, with a 4.27 GPA. He scored a 35 on the ACT. He's a Presidential Scholar. His classmates voted him most likely to receive the Nobel Prize. He also participated in Project Unify (now known as Unified Champion Schools), an effort by the Special Olympics to get young people with and without special needs to come together for activities. Grant helped plan a basketball tournament as part of the project. In the fall, he'll be rooting on the Razorbacks at the University of Arkansas.  

Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock
High school: Little Rock Christian Academy
Parents: Jill and Steve Snyder
College plans: Cornell University, industrial and labor relations

Whatever you were doing by your senior year in high school, chances are you probably hadn't already authored a book, much less a book on the complicated intersection of taxation and politics. John Snyder has, though. His book, "The Politics of Fiscal Policy," explores the political aspects of economics, including the pros and cons of various governmental tax schemes and their effect on government spending. It's for sale on Amazon right now. "It's pretty concise," John said, "but I wanted a way to express all my ideas in economic terms. That was a great way to do that." A history buff who serves as vice president of his class, John has a stunning 4.49 GPA and is ranked first in his class of 129. Though he wanted to be a lawyer when he was younger, his plan now is to go into investment banking. "Ultimately I want to have my own hedge fund — this thing called an activist hedge fund — and eventually I want to be actively involved in politics, whether that's in the midst of my business career or after ... . I'd love to run for public office one day." At Cornell University, John will be studying industrial and labor relations, a field that marries his love of multiple subjects. "Basically it ties in business, law, economics and history all into sort of one degree," he said. "You can do limitless things [with the degree]. Some people go into law school, some go into banking, some go to politics. That's why I chose that degree." John said his philosophy is that we have only a limited amount of time on earth, and so we should try to make the most of our lives. "I think there are a lot of things I can do to change the way things currently are in society, whether it's related to business or in academia or public policy," he said. "If I don't play a role in that and I'm not striving to do my best, I would feel like I'm wasting my potential."

Age: 18
Hometown: Benton
High school: Benton High School
Parents: Haley Hicks and Brec Stone
College plans: University of Arkansas, pre-med

Benton High School's Big Man on Campus — No. 1 in his class, captain of the football team, an AP Scholar, straight As — can add to his resume the fact that he helped build his home. Preston, his two brothers and his mother bounced around a bit after her divorce, from Texas to Arkansas, living with grandparents and friends, Preston said. Then the family was selected by Habitat for Humanity, and he and his brothers pitched in to build their house. "It was the first place I could truly call home and it allowed me the stability I needed to grow into the kind of student I am today," he wrote in his essay for the Arkansas Times. Preston, who also helped build a school outreach group called SERVE to help new or struggling students, also credits sports for giving him purpose. He recently volunteered to trade in the pigskin for a basketball, joining a team that played boys at the Alexander Juvenile Detention Center. "It was an awesome experience," Preston said in a phone interview. "We were a little bit nervous at first" at the detention center, he said, but the team enjoyed the game — even though they lost to the Alexander team, formed to reward inmates with good behavior. "They practice every day," Preston said. Preston has received a $70,000 Honors College scholarship at Fayetteville. He won't be playing football with the Razorbacks. Instead he is thinking of following a pre-med track that will lead him to sports medicine. He plans to go Greek, as well.

Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock
High school: Central High School
Parents: Amy Yu and Shawn Bao
College plans: undecided

Karina Bao embraces complexity. The Central High School valedictorian (in a class of 636) is a member of the school's back-to-back state champion Ethics Bowl Team, for which she said she spent hours "researching, discussing and sometimes even arguing" case studies. Unlike debate, she said Ethics Bowl is "really about the back-and-forth and considering different caveats and nuances and considerations" in issues ranging from local food to gender identity. As president of the school's Brain Club, she leads discussions on brain diseases, disorders and anatomy. It's a role for which she's more than qualified: She placed first in the U.S. Brain Bee, a youth neuroscience competition in which contestants answer questions about anatomy and make diagnoses based on patient actors. Placing No. 1 in the U.S. competition landed Karina a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark, to the International Brain Bee, which happened to coincide with a Federation of International Neuroscientists conference, where Karina got to talk to scientists from all over the world about their groundbreaking research. She placed fifth in the international competition. A perennial outstanding delegate winner at Model United Nations competitions, Karina said Model U.N. has helped her to "not be scared of the complexity and interconnectedness of pressing issues we face today." In her spare time, Karina volunteers on the oncology wing of Baptist Hospital. "You don't get to do much," she said. "But at least we get to talk to people and help them with whatever they need and be there to listen." In her Academic All-Stars essay, Karina echoed the same drive for understanding: "The stories other people share with me become not my own when I retell them, but a part of humanity's collective spirit to understand each other. We grow from hours of listening and crying, to empathize, to have the strength and openness to pop each successive layer of the protective bubble that keeps us from seeing the very world in which we reside."

Age: 19
Hometown: Greenwood
High school: Greenwood High School
Parents: Mike and Robin Cohea
College plans: University of Tulsa or Vanderbilt university, biology

Though he grew up landlocked, far from the deep blue sea, Greenwood High School standout Bryce Cohea knew from an early age that he wanted to be a marine biologist. To reach that goal, Bryce had to start early. "In the ninth grade," he wrote in his Academic All-Stars essay, "I began planning out all my classes for the next four years. I wanted to graduate top of my class, and in order to do that I would need to take every advanced placement class and get an A in every class." That's exactly what he did, too, making nothing less than a perfect grade in every class for his entire high school career. With a 4.25 GPA and a rank of No. 1 in his class of 275, Bryce has volunteered extensively with the Salvation Army and collected shoes for the homeless; he helps unload trucks and stock shelves at the food bank at his church. A National Merit semifinalist, he also has the distinction of having scored the first perfect ACT score of 36 in Greenwood High School history. "I've honestly been a good test-taker," he said. "The first time I took it, I got a 34. After that, I got the test back and I worked on whatever I missed. After a few more tries, I got a 36." Bryce was still deciding on which university to attend when we spoke to him, but he definitely plans to study science. The subject has always interested him, he said. "I'm planning on majoring in biology and then specializing after that," he said.

Age: 16
Hometown: Rogers
Parents: James and Hyesun Gosserand

College plans: University of Southern California, Harvey Mudd College or Columbia University, computer science or environmental science

Imani Gosserand has a journal in which she organizes the many moving parts of her life — competitive gymnastics, AP classes, computer science, Young Democrats, volunteering — into lists. Personal stuff is in there, too: bucket lists, remembrances. The journal combines the creative and the organized; it is problem-solving with an artful flare, which is how Imani operates. "I really like being able to create something of my own," she said of computer science. At a camp at Stanford University, in California, her team won the competition to program a car. Imani, not surprisingly, is good at math: She learned multiplication at age 4 and went on to skip two grades. Imani thinks schoolwork is fun. "We had a huge packet of homework problems we had to do over one of our breaks," she said. "And no one else was excited about it except for me. I was like 'Oh, I'm so excited to do all these problems!' " She brings that enthusiasm for problem-solving to bigger issues, as well. "I feel like there are so many opportunities for me because our world relies on technology, so I think I could go into any field," she said. She's excited to explore and see where she can help. "I want to meet people from around the world and hear different perspectives."

Age: 18
Hometown: Little Rock
High School: Central High School
Parents: Bobbi and Dustin McDaniel and Chris and Kim Fowler
College plans: Yale University

C.J. Fowler has long been around Democratic politics. His stepfather is former Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. But C.J. said he decided to become more politically involved himself after he came out as gay. "The situation that I'm in is not great," he said. "People are not always accepting. But it's on me if I want to try to change that and make it better for the people who come after me. I have to make sure that my community and all marginalized communities have a seat at the table, because far too often a bunch of old gray white guys are making policies that hurt everyone else." The student body president of Central High, C.J. said he's tried to move the student council, a glorified dance committee, toward advocacy and activism for students throughout the district, whose future is being decided by those "people sitting in dark rooms." He said students too often get left out of the conversation about the district "because we're too young to have opinions. But we're not; we're living it every day." C.J. has been a fixture at Little Rock School District public comment periods. Though he can't point to any policy victories, he said at least LRSD Superintendent Mike Poore knows who he is and that he disagrees with him. C.J., who is also the executive director of Young Democrats of Arkansas, sees the backlash against President Trump as encouraging. "We're realizing that, if we're going to go all in for progressive values, we need to go all in." Rather than join the chorus of progressives in the Northeast after he finishes at Yale, C.J. says he wants to come back to Arkansas and possibly continue in politics. He admires state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) and says he hopes if he ever holds office that he can follow her example.

Age: 18
Hometown: Fort Smith
High School: Southside High
Parents: Claire Price and Scott Price
College plans: Vanderbilt University, political science

"Growing up, I would always argue with everybody," Sophie Price said. Sometimes it was just to play devil's advocate, but mostly, it was because Sophie wants to find the capital-t Truth. Some of this digging for truth is class: seven AP course just this year and 12 during her time in high school. But, some of it is also talking with people, discussing issues. "The best way to improve your argument is to hear the counters, to hear the other side," Sophie said, and often she is willing to be convinced. She wants to do the right thing; she believes in justice. Which is why after college at Vanderbilt on a full scholarship, she wants to field arguments as a judge. "My whole life I've followed this ideal that you have to do what's right," Sophie said. "I want to be a judge so I can kind of decide that." Vanderbilt was the only school to which Sophie applied. She knew it was the right one for her. She arrived in Nashville on a rainy day in January, but through the gloom, she knew. "Something about the beautiful campus and the intelligent people and these varying perspectives just sold me immediately," she said. In a few months she was back at Vanderbilt for a camp where she studied law, and it cemented the deal. "There was something so exhilarating about being able to have this case and have the facts and kind of create your own narrative and really advocate for someone that drew me in," she said. Watch out, because "everything I do, I want to give it a 120 percent," Sophie said.

Age: 17
Hometown: Fayetteville
High School: Fayetteville High School
Parents: Anjanette Olsen
College plans: University of Arkansas Honors College, chemical engineering

Fayetteville High School’s top student, with a perfect ACT score of 36, a 4.2 gradepoint average and the co-author of a paper on fractal self-assembly, is not just a bookworm. She’s a leader, her counselor Cindy Alley says, who shows “grit, motivation to succeed and a desire to help others.” She is also, Alley says, “a pure joy to be around.” In her essay for the Arkansas Times, Meagan talked about how she came to understand “ternary counters,” a base-3 method of counting in which only the digits 0, 1 and 2 are used. (Binary counters of 0 and 1 make up our computer’s “thinking,” as people with 10 fingers, we use base 10 to count.) Meagan, trying to make a “self-assembling ternary counter,” said she banged her head against “endless walls” for weeks. Then just after 1 a.m., she woke up with the answer. It’s a wise child who gives credit where credit is due: “I understood,” she wrote, “my mother’s advice about taking a break whenever I was upset.” Meagan’s paper on fractal self-assembly was published in the 22nd International Conference on DNBA Computing and Molecular Programing. She no longer lets frustration prevent her from solving a problem; sometimes, she’ll just sleep on it. Meagan told the Times she plans to attend a small conference this summer and then take some needed down time. She plans to use her degree from Fayetteville to pursue biomedical research.
          Report: Trump preparing order requiring food aid be transported on American ships   
President Donald Trump is preparing an executive order to require all U.S. food aid to foreign nations be shipped on American ships. The move, touted as part of Trump's "America First" agenda, is expected to face resistance in both parties. Critics told Reuters that it would result in aid being unable to reach many in need. "Millions of people could be denied the food aid they need to survive if the cargo preference requirement is doubled," Tom Hart, North America executive director at the anti-poverty nonprofit One Campaign, told Reuters.
          What a drag it is getting old   
La primavera insiste la mattina
dalla mia cucina vedo il mondo tondo,
sempre diverso, sempre ogni mattina,
sin dal giorno prima,
dal giorno prima
con in bocca un gusto amaro che fa
schifo chissà cosa è stato, quello che ho bevuto,
m'alzo dal letto e penso al mio povero,
fegato, fegato spappolato,
fegato, fegato, spappolato

          Venite pure avanti   
Venite pure avanti voi, con il naso corto
signori imbellettati, io più non vi sopporto
Infilerò la penna ben dentro al vostro orgoglio
perché con questa spada vi uccido quando voglio

Venite pure avanti, poeti sgangherati
inutili cantanti di giorni sciagurati
buffoni che campate di versi senza forza
avrete soldi e gloria, ma non avete scorza
Godetevi il successo, godete finchè dura
che il pubblico è ammaestrato e non vi fa paura
e andate chissà dove per non pagar le tasse
col ghigno e l’ignoranza dei primi della classe
Io sono solo un povero cadetto di Guascogna
però non la sopporto la gente che non sogna
gli orpelli, l’arrivismo, all’amo non abbocco
e al fin della licenza io non perdono e tocco
io non perdono, non perdono e tocco

Facciamola finita, venite tutti avanti
nuovi protagonisti, politici rampanti
venite portaborse, ruffiani, mezzecalze
feroci conduttori di trasmissione false
Che avete spesso fatto del qualunquismo un’arte
coraggio liberisti, buttate giù le carte
tanto ci sarà sempre chi pagherà le spese
in questo benedetto, assurdo belpaese
Non me ne frega niente se anche io sono sbagliato
spiacere è il mio piacere, io amo essere odiato
coi furbi e prepotenti da sempre mi balocco
e al fin della licenza io non perdono e tocco
io non perdono, non perdono e tocco

Ma quando sono solo, con questo naso al piede
e almeno di mezz’ora da sempre mi precede
si spegne la mia rabbia, ricordo con dolore
che a me è quasi proibito il sogno di un amore
Non so quante ne ho amate, non so quante ne ho avute
per colpa o per destino, le donne le ho perdute
e quando sento il peso d’essere sempre solo
mi chiudo in casa e scrivo, e scrivendo mi consolo
Ma dentro di me sento che il grande amore esiste
amo senza peccato, amo ma sono triste
perché Rossana è bella, siamo così diversi
a parlarle non riesco, le scriverò dei versi
e parlerò coi versi

Venite gente vuota, facciamola finita
voi preti che vendete a tutti un’altra vita
se c’è come voi dite un Dio nell’infinito
guardatevi nel cuore, l’avete già tradito
E voi materialisti col vostro chiodo fisso
che Dio è morto e l’uomo è solo in questo abisso
le verità cercate per terra da maiali
tenetevi le ghiande, lasciatemi le ali
Tornate a casa nani, levatevi davanti
per la mia rabbia enorme mi servono giganti
ai dogmi e pregiudizi da sempre non abbocco
e al fin della licenza io non perdono e tocco
io non perdono, non perdono e tocco

Io tocco i miei nemici col naso e con la spada
ma in questa vita, oggi, non trovo più la strada
non voglio rassegnarmi ad essere cattivo
tu sola puoi salvarmi, tu sola e te lo scrivo
Deve esserci lo sento, in terra, in cielo un posto
dove non soffriremo e tutto sarà giusto
non ridere, ti prego, di queste mie parole
io sono solo un'ombra e tu Rossana il sole
Ma tu lo so non ridi, dolcissima signora
Ed io non mi nascondo sotto la tua dimora
perchè oramai lo sento, non ho sofferto invano
se mi ami come sono, per sempre tuo
per sempre tuo, per sempre tuo Cyrano”

          Sneaky Guy Enter Into Sisters Bedroom and Fucked Her Sexy Best Friend On Sleepover   
Watch Sneaky Guy Enter Into Sisters Bedroom and Fucked Her Sexy Best Friend On Sleepover at free fuck and porn video site
          Maybe DART can't offer free rides, but it mustn't drive poor riders deeper into poverty   
          The Hokusai Manga   
aka Edo Porn
Japan, 1981

Director: Kaneto Shindô
Starring: Ken Ogata, Toshiyuki Nishida, Yûko Tanaka, Kanako Higuchi
IMDB: 7.1

Katsushika Hokusai was an Ukiyo-e (woodblock) artist in Japan's Edo period, most well known for his 36 Views of Mt Fuji, especially the iconic Great Wave off Kanagawa (shown below). In Japan this film is known as The Hokusai Manga, as the film is basically a historical drama about the artist's life and work.

If you're wondering how a historical drama fits under the auspices of this blog, note also that Hokusai is widely believed to be the originator of Tentacle Porn. And indeed, in the West the film is known as Edo Porn - which I guess neatly enfolds its key aspects, if somewhat simplistically. While Hokusai was known for much more than his erotic art, its the Tentacles that earn it a place here.

As a young man, unable to make a living for himself through his painting, Hokusai (Ken Ogata) envies the success of contemporaries who are painting erotic pictures. One evening he comes across a beautiful young woman, Onao (Kanako Higuchi), and brings her back to his house to pose naked for him.

In an example of the film's minimal exposition, its never explained why she so willingly, and wordlessly accompanies him. Even less so, why she happily complies when he gives her to his father as a gift! Her oddly accommodating nature, sexual availability, and a habit of noisily chewing a local fruit makes for a beguiling and enigmatic character, more than befitting the woman who was the artist's muse.

Nevertheless, Onao mysteriously disappears, and both Hokusai and his father are distraught. Especially Hokusai who spends the rest of his life yearning for her. Over the coming years, he returns to painting landscapes and enjoys great success, even being asked to paint for the Shogun. But by his twilight years is living in relative poverty with his daughter Oei (Yuko Tanaka).

One day, being a thoughtful and devoted daughter, she brings a young woman back to the house, also named Onao, to be a new model for her father. She's a dead-ringer for her namesake, and it seems has the same free-wheeling sexuality. With a new muse to inspire him, Hokusai resumes painting with renewed enthusiasm.

This brings about my favorite part of the film, a live-action re-enactment of his famous work The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife, which features his model in a highly erotic ménage à trois with two Octopi ¹. The original is shown below, along with its cinematic representation. Now there's something you're not likely to see at your local multiplex!

In the film, Hokusai makes it clear that his work does not represent Octopi violating a woman, but rather the woman fondling Octopi. Ie: This was not a rape scene as might commonly be imagined, but depicts a woman's sexual fantasy, a theme that Hokusai enjoyed exploring.

Let's just say that if there were an Academy Award for Best Live-Action Tentacle Porn Sequence, then this film would surely own it. Although I can't profess to have seen much in this sub-genre, it certainly has way higher artistic validity than the tentacle-themed La Blue Girl series. But if any readers out there want to suggest another contender, please leave a comment.

For those interested in Japanese art and culture, this biopic gives an interesting account of the artist's life, and the times that he lived in. Although slow and ponderous when judged by modern sensibilities, the film is thematically rich, covering themes such as aging, lost love, and the artistic impulse. It is also beautifully filmed.

It was nominated in multiple categories at the Japanese Academy Awards, winning one. Perhaps the only instance of an Academy-Award winning film featuring Tentacle Porn!

Rating: 7/10

Unfortunately this is not an easy film to get hold of, however an R3 DVD has been released by Panorama in Hong Kong, and can be found at most online Asian DVD specialists.

¹ ref: the correct plural of Octopus

A few more screenshots

The first two are Yuko Tanaka, who won a Japanese Academy Award (Best supporting actress) for this film. The 3rd pic is Kanako Higuchi (who didn't - despite her valiant Octopi entanglement.)


Japanese Movie Poster:

Preferring to accentuate the titillation over the art, this 1981 film poster is certainly a product of its time. Featured is Academy-Award-winning actress Kanako Higuchi who went on to feature in such films as Zatoichi, Casshern, Kagero and many others. Click here to see a larger version.

          Chapter 1: Angry Jesus Pops Saddam Hussein   
Before dawn Juanito Gonzales bounced into the elegant high school boardroom with his magical laptop computer clutched in his hand. He was the smallest senior and the tenor in Shepherd's Vale School's Gospel Quartet, whose performances had made Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Juanito famous throughout south Florida. . . . Among Godley's twelve disciples, little Juanito could instantly lift the big man's spirits. The lad wasn't a native Floridian. The seventeen-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, had transferred to Shepherd's Vale for his junior year. His classic 1949 Studebaker's upkeep and credit cards were covered by his hometown patron's political connections. Only Godley knew that the same powerful Congressman, Tom DeLay, had arranged the boy's parents' documented immigrant status. The principal understood that Juanito's charm flowed from an ambition to lift his family out of poverty. Chapter 2 also online.
          Stopover in Rio de Janeiro   
Rio de Janeiro ist eine Stadt der Gegensätze. Auf der einen Seite eine Dichte an Sehenswürdigkeiten wie den Zuckerhut, die weltbekannte Jesusstatue und den einzigartigen Stadtstrand Copacabana, dazu das pulsierende Leben in allen möglichen Ausführungen. Auf der anderen Seite ist es für Touristen nicht immer leicht sich in der Stadt zu bewegen, denn weit verbreitete […]
           How Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor made their fortune    
Mayweather, who has earned more than £600m, grew up amid poverty and drugs in Michigan. McGregor, meanwhile, was still collecting welfare payments in his native Dublin as late as 2013.
          Israel pursuing a strategy that is placing its long-term future at risk   
I came across the following article, written by the Israeli Ambassador to Singapore, in today's edition of TODAY.

Following the Israeli Ambassador's article is an essay by John J. Mearsheimer, professor of political science at the University of Chicago and co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. I've read the book which he co-authored with Stephen M. Walt, professor of international affairs at JFK School of Government at Harvard University. The controversial book, published in 2007, started out as a controversial essay in 2006 published in the London Review of Books. (At the end of this post is a video of a 2007 documentary on the Israel Lobby in America)

Read also Stephen M. Walt's essay The myth of Israel's strategic genius and Avi Shlaim's essay How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
Lasting peace in the Middle East...

Accepting the existenceof a Jewish state there, and abandoning the dream of destroying it, is the answer

Thursday • January 22, 2009

Ilan Ben-Dov
Israeli Ambassador to Singapore

THREE weeks of fighting in Gaza have once again put the Middle East at the focal point of the international media.

Now, after another round of violence has ended, we have to ask ourselves again, what is the real root of the problem? What is the key which will lead us to peace in the Middle East?

The basic Arab argument is that the root of the problem is occupation. The Arab world accuses Israel of controlling occupied Arab territories and claims that this is the main issue which prevents peace in the Middle East.

This argument is utterly baseless. The Israelis believe that the root of the problem is the very fact that a large fraction of the Arab-Islamic world still rejects Israel’s right to exist, and rejects the basic right of Jews to live in their independent state of Israel.

Israel has shown in the past that in order to achieve peace, it is ready for territorial concessions, exactly as it did when it signed a peace treaty with its neighbour in the south, Egypt, and its neighbour in the east, Jordan. In both these cases, the dispute over territory was not an obstacle to peace.

Moreover, Israel endorses the establishment of a Palestinian independent state that will live in peace next to it.

In the last two military confrontations in the Middle East — the one with the Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the one with Hamas in Gaza — Israel had to defend itself from radical Muslim terrorist organisations which are motivated by extreme religious, Jihadistic ideology that calls for the destruction of Israel.

It is time to reveal these facts loud and clear: Both Hamas and Hezbollah are heavily and directly influenced by Iran. It is the same Iran whose President is calling for the annihilation of Israel, the same Iran which does everything possible to sabotage and to harm any attempt of a dialogue and reconciliation between the Palestinians and Israel.

Iran does not only supply the ideological basis for Hezbollah and Hamas, it supplies them with huge amounts of weapons, ammunition and money.

It is also important to answer the question of what exactly do Hamas and Hezbollah mean by speaking about “occupied territories”? For them, the whole of Israel is considered a so-called “occupied territory”. They do not distinguish between Gaza and Tel-Aviv, between the West Bank and the city of Haifa. For the Iranian President who supports them, Israel must be “wiped out of the map”.

Should this lead us to despair? Of course not.

The Middle East is nowadays divided into two parts. The first is the radical, fundamentalistic-jihadistic part that dreams of the disappearance of Israel from the region. Whoever dreams these dreams is doomed to lead the Palestinians to a deadlock and to many more years of wars, suffering, poverty and hopelessness.

On the other hand, we find the moderate and pragmatic Arab world which aspires to find a peaceful solution based on mutual recognition, justice for both sides and a territorial compromise. Such a solution will pave the way for all people in this region — and especially for the Palestinian people, who have suffered so much in recent years — to a better future.

The key to a lasting solution of the Middle Eastern conflict is therefore not a question of occupied territories. For this question, we can find a compromise.

The real key to a solution is the willingness of the Arab and the Muslim countries to recognise the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East and to abandon the dream of destroying it.
Another War, Another Defeat
by John J. Mearsheimer
Published in the Jan 26, 2009 edition of The American Conservative

The Gaza offensive has succeeded in punishing the Palestinians but not in making Israel more secure.

Israelis and their American supporters claim that Israel learned its lessons well from the disastrous 2006 Lebanon war and has devised a winning strategy for the present war against Hamas. Of course, when a ceasefire comes, Israel will declare victory. Don’t believe it. Israel has foolishly started another war it cannot win.

The campaign in Gaza is said to have two objectives: 1) to put an end to the rockets and mortars that Palestinians have been firing into southern Israel since it withdrew from Gaza in August 2005; 2) to restore Israel’s deterrent, which was said to be diminished by the Lebanon fiasco, by Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and by its inability to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

But these are not the real goals of Operation Cast Lead. The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Let’s begin with Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005. The conventional wisdom is that Israel was serious about making peace with the Palestinians and that its leaders hoped the exit from Gaza would be a major step toward creating a viable Palestinian state. According to the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, Israel was giving the Palestinians an opportunity to “build a decent mini-state there—a Dubai on the Mediterranean,” and if they did so, it would “fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.”

This is pure fiction. Even before Hamas came to power, the Israelis intended to create an open-air prison for the Palestinians in Gaza and inflict great pain on them until they complied with Israel’s wishes. Dov Weisglass, Ariel Sharon’s closest adviser at the time, candidly stated that the disengagement from Gaza was aimed at halting the peace process, not encouraging it. He described the disengagement as “formaldehyde that’s necessary so that there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” Moreover, he emphasized that the withdrawal “places the Palestinians under tremendous pressure. It forces them into a corner where they hate to be.”

Arnon Soffer, a prominent Israeli demographer who also advised Sharon, elaborated on what that pressure would look like. “When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastrophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist Islam. The pressure at the border will be awful. It’s going to be a terrible war. So, if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill. All day, every day.”

In January 2006, five months after the Israelis pulled their settlers out of Gaza, Hamas won a decisive victory over Fatah in the Palestinian legislative elections. This meant trouble for Israel’s strategy because Hamas was democratically elected, well organized, not corrupt like Fatah, and unwilling to accept Israel’s existence. Israel responded by ratcheting up economic pressure on the Palestinians, but it did not work. In fact, the situation took another turn for the worse in March 2007, when Fatah and Hamas came together to form a national unity government. Hamas’s stature and political power were growing, and Israel’s divide-and-conquer strategy was unraveling.

To make matters worse, the national unity government began pushing for a long-term ceasefire. The Palestinians would end all missile attacks on Israel if the Israelis would stop arresting and assassinating Palestinians and end their economic stranglehold, opening the border crossings into Gaza.

Israel rejected that offer and with American backing set out to foment a civil war between Fatah and Hamas that would wreck the national unity government and put Fatah in charge. The plan backfired when Hamas drove Fatah out of Gaza, leaving Hamas in charge there and the more pliant Fatah in control of the West Bank. Israel then tightened the screws on the blockade around Gaza, causing even greater hardship and suffering among the Palestinians living there.

Hamas responded by continuing to fire rockets and mortars into Israel, while emphasizing that they still sought a long-term ceasefire, perhaps lasting ten years or more. This was not a noble gesture on Hamas’s part: they sought a ceasefire because the balance of power heavily favored Israel. The Israelis had no interest in a ceasefire and merely intensified the economic pressure on Gaza. But in the late spring of 2008, pressure from Israelis living under the rocket attacks led the government to agree to a six-month ceasefire starting on June 19. That agreement, which formally ended on Dec. 19, immediately preceded the present war, which began on Dec. 27.

The official Israeli position blames Hamas for undermining the ceasefire. This view is widely accepted in the United States, but it is not true. Israeli leaders disliked the ceasefire from the start, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the IDF to begin preparing for the present war while the ceasefire was being negotiated in June 2008. Furthermore, Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, reports that Jerusalem began to prepare the propaganda campaign to sell the present war months before the conflict began. For its part, Hamas drastically reduced the number of missile attacks during the first five months of the ceasefire. A total of two rockets were fired into Israel during September and October, none by Hamas.

How did Israel behave during this same period? It continued arresting and assassinating Palestinians on the West Bank, and it continued the deadly blockade that was slowly strangling Gaza. Then on Nov. 4, as Americans voted for a new president, Israel attacked a tunnel inside Gaza and killed six Palestinians. It was the first major violation of the ceasefire, and the Palestinians—who had been “careful to maintain the ceasefire,” according to Israel’s Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center—responded by resuming rocket attacks. The calm that had prevailed since June vanished as Israel ratcheted up the blockade and its attacks into Gaza and the Palestinians hurled more rockets at Israel. It is worth noting that not a single Israeli was killed by Palestinian missiles between Nov. 4 and the launching of the war on Dec. 27.

As the violence increased, Hamas made clear that it had no interest in extending the ceasefire beyond Dec. 19, which is hardly surprising, since it had not worked as intended. In mid-December, however, Hamas informed Israel that it was still willing to negotiate a long-term ceasefire if it included an end to the arrests and assassinations as well as the lifting of the blockade. But the Israelis, having used the ceasefire to prepare for war against Hamas, rejected this overture. The bombing of Gaza commenced eight days after the failed ceasefire formally ended.

If Israel wanted to stop missile attacks from Gaza, it could have done so by arranging a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. And if Israel were genuinely interested in creating a viable Palestinian state, it could have worked with the national unity government to implement a meaningful ceasefire and change Hamas’s thinking about a two-state solution. But Israel has a different agenda: it is determined to employ the Iron Wall strategy to get the Palestinians in Gaza to accept their fate as hapless subjects of a Greater Israel.

This brutal policy is clearly reflected in Israel’s conduct of the Gaza War. Israel and its supporters claim that the IDF is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties, in some cases taking risks that put Israeli soldiers in jeopardy. Hardly. One reason to doubt these claims is that Israel refuses to allow reporters into the war zone: it does not want the world to see what its soldiers and bombs are doing inside Gaza. At the same time, Israel has launched a massive propaganda campaign to put a positive spin on the horror stories that do emerge.

The best evidence, however, that Israel is deliberately seeking to punish the broader population in Gaza is the death and destruction the IDF has wrought on that small piece of real estate. Israel has killed over 1,000 Palestinians and wounded more than 4,000. Over half of the casualties are civilians, and many are children. The IDF’s opening salvo on Dec. 27 took place as children were leaving school, and one of its primary targets that day was a large group of graduating police cadets, who hardly qualified as terrorists. In what Ehud Barak called “an all-out war against Hamas,” Israel has targeted a university, schools, mosques, homes, apartment buildings, government offices, and even ambulances. A senior Israeli military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, explained the logic behind Israel’s expansive target set: “There are many aspects of Hamas, and we are trying to hit the whole spectrum, because everything is connected and everything supports terrorism against Israel.” In other words, everyone is a terrorist and everything is a legitimate target.

Israelis tend to be blunt, and they occasionally say what they are really doing. After the IDF killed 40 Palestinian civilians in a UN school on Jan. 6, Ha’aretz reported that “senior officers admit that the IDF has been using enormous firepower.” One officer explained, “For us, being cautious means being aggressive. From the minute we entered, we’ve acted like we’re at war. That creates enormous damage on the ground … I just hope those who have fled the area of Gaza City in which we are operating will describe the shock.”

One might accept that Israel is waging “a cruel, all-out war against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians,” as Ha’aretz put it in an editorial, but argue that it will eventually achieve its war aims and the rest of the world will quickly forget the horrors inflicted on the people of Gaza.

This is wishful thinking. For starters, Israel is unlikely to stop the rocket fire for any appreciable period of time unless it agrees to open Gaza’s borders and stop arresting and killing Palestinians. Israelis talk about cutting off the supply of rockets and mortars into Gaza, but weapons will continue to come in via secret tunnels and ships that sneak through Israel’s naval blockade. It will also be impossible to police all of the goods sent into Gaza through legitimate channels.

Israel could try to conquer all of Gaza and lock the place down. That would probably stop the rocket attacks if Israel deployed a large enough force. But then the IDF would be bogged down in a costly occupation against a deeply hostile population. They would eventually have to leave, and the rocket fire would resume. And if Israel fails to stop the rocket fire and keep it stopped, as seems likely, its deterrent will be diminished, not strengthened.

More importantly, there is little reason to think that the Israelis can beat Hamas into submission and get the Palestinians to live quietly in a handful of Bantustans inside Greater Israel. Israel has been humiliating, torturing, and killing Palestinians in the Occupied Territories since 1967 and has not come close to cowing them. Indeed, Hamas’s reaction to Israel’s brutality seems to lend credence to Nietzsche’s remark that what does not kill you makes you stronger.

But even if the unexpected happens and the Palestinians cave, Israel would still lose because it will become an apartheid state. As Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently said, Israel will “face a South African-style struggle” if the Palestinians do not get a viable state of their own. “As soon as that happens,” he argued, “the state of Israel is finished.” Yet Olmert has done nothing to stop settlement expansion and create a viable Palestinian state, relying instead on the Iron Wall strategy to deal with the Palestinians.

There is also little chance that people around the world who follow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will soon forget the appalling punishment that Israel is meting out in Gaza. The destruction is just too obvious to miss, and too many people—especially in the Arab and Islamic world—care about the Palestinians’ fate. Moreover, discourse about this longstanding conflict has undergone a sea change in the West in recent years, and many of us who were once wholly sympathetic to Israel now see that the Israelis are the victimizers and the Palestinians are the victims. What is happening in Gaza will accelerate that changing picture of the conflict and long be seen as a dark stain on Israel’s reputation.

The bottom line is that no matter what happens on the battlefield, Israel cannot win its war in Gaza. In fact, it is pursuing a strategy—with lots of help from its so-called friends in the Diaspora—that is placing its long-term future at risk.

          Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath: How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe   
How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
Avi Shlaim, The Guardian, 7 Jan 2009

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions

The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel's vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration's complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza's prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

In August 2005 a Likud government headed by Ariel Sharon staged a unilateral Israeli pullout from Gaza, withdrawing all 8,000 settlers and destroying the houses and farms they had left behind. Hamas, the Islamic resistance movement, conducted an effective campaign to drive the Israelis out of Gaza. The withdrawal was a humiliation for the Israeli Defence Forces. To the world, Sharon presented the withdrawal from Gaza as a contribution to peace based on a two-state solution. But in the year after, another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank, further reducing the scope for an independent Palestinian state. Land-grabbing and peace-making are simply incompatible. Israel had a choice and it chose land over peace.

The real purpose behind the move was to redraw unilaterally the borders of Greater Israel by incorporating the main settlement blocs on the West Bank to the state of Israel. Withdrawal from Gaza was thus not a prelude to a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority but a prelude to further Zionist expansion on the West Bank. It was a unilateral Israeli move undertaken in what was seen, mistakenly in my view, as an Israeli national interest. Anchored in a fundamental rejection of the Palestinian national identity, the withdrawal from Gaza was part of a long-term effort to deny the Palestinian people any independent political existence on their land.

Israel's settlers were withdrawn but Israeli soldiers continued to control all access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air. Gaza was converted overnight into an open-air prison. From this point on, the Israeli air force enjoyed unrestricted freedom to drop bombs, to make sonic booms by flying low and breaking the sound barrier, and to terrorise the hapless inhabitants of this prison.

Israel likes to portray itself as an island of democracy in a sea of authoritarianism. Yet Israel has never in its entire history done anything to promote democracy on the Arab side and has done a great deal to undermine it. Israel has a long history of secret collaboration with reactionary Arab regimes to suppress Palestinian nationalism. Despite all the handicaps, the Palestinian people succeeded in building the only genuine democracy in the Arab world with the possible exception of Lebanon. In January 2006, free and fair elections for the Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority brought to power a Hamas-led government. Israel, however, refused to recognise the democratically elected government, claiming that Hamas is purely and simply a terrorist organisation.

America and the EU shamelessly joined Israel in ostracising and demonising the Hamas government and in trying to bring it down by withholding tax revenues and foreign aid. A surreal situation thus developed with a significant part of the international community imposing economic sanctions not against the occupier but against the occupied, not against the oppressor but against the oppressed.

As so often in the tragic history of Palestine, the victims were blamed for their own misfortunes. Israel's propaganda machine persistently purveyed the notion that the Palestinians are terrorists, that they reject coexistence with the Jewish state, that their nationalism is little more than antisemitism, that Hamas is just a bunch of religious fanatics and that Islam is incompatible with democracy. But the simple truth is that the Palestinian people are a normal people with normal aspirations. They are no better but they are no worse than any other national group. What they aspire to, above all, is a piece of land to call their own on which to live in freedom and dignity.

Like other radical movements, Hamas began to moderate its political programme following its rise to power. From the ideological rejectionism of its charter, it began to move towards pragmatic accommodation of a two-state solution. In March 2007, Hamas and Fatah formed a national unity government that was ready to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with Israel. Israel, however, refused to negotiate with a government that included Hamas.

It continued to play the old game of divide and rule between rival Palestinian factions. In the late 1980s, Israel had supported the nascent Hamas in order to weaken Fatah, the secular nationalist movement led by Yasser Arafat. Now Israel began to encourage the corrupt and pliant Fatah leaders to overthrow their religious political rivals and recapture power. Aggressive American neoconservatives participated in the sinister plot to instigate a Palestinian civil war. Their meddling was a major factor in the collapse of the national unity government and in driving Hamas to seize power in Gaza in June 2007 to pre-empt a Fatah coup.

The war unleashed by Israel on Gaza on 27 December was the culmination of a series of clashes and confrontations with the Hamas government. In a broader sense, however, it is a war between Israel and the Palestinian people, because the people had elected the party to power. The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood.

The timing of the war was determined by political expediency. A general election is scheduled for 10 February and, in the lead-up to the election, all the main contenders are looking for an opportunity to prove their toughness. The army top brass had been champing at the bit to deliver a crushing blow to Hamas in order to remove the stain left on their reputation by the failure of the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July 2006. Israel's cynical leaders could also count on apathy and impotence of the pro-western Arab regimes and on blind support from President Bush in the twilight of his term in the White House. Bush readily obliged by putting all the blame for the crisis on Hamas, vetoing proposals at the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire and issuing Israel with a free pass to mount a ground invasion of Gaza.

As always, mighty Israel claims to be the victim of Palestinian aggression but the sheer asymmetry of power between the two sides leaves little room for doubt as to who is the real victim. This is indeed a conflict between David and Goliath but the Biblical image has been inverted - a small and defenceless Palestinian David faces a heavily armed, merciless and overbearing Israeli Goliath. The resort to brute military force is accompanied, as always, by the shrill rhetoric of victimhood and a farrago of self-pity overlaid with self-righteousness. In Hebrew this is known as the syndrome of bokhim ve-yorim, "crying and shooting".

To be sure, Hamas is not an entirely innocent party in this conflict. Denied the fruit of its electoral victory and confronted with an unscrupulous adversary, it has resorted to the weapon of the weak - terror. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad kept launching Qassam rocket attacks against Israeli settlements near the border with Gaza until Egypt brokered a six-month ceasefire last June. The damage caused by these primitive rockets is minimal but the psychological impact is immense, prompting the public to demand protection from its government. Under the circumstances, Israel had the right to act in self-defence but its response to the pinpricks of rocket attacks was totally disproportionate. The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children.

Whatever the numbers, killing civilians is wrong. This rule applies to Israel as much as it does to Hamas, but Israel's entire record is one of unbridled and unremitting brutality towards the inhabitants of Gaza. Israel also maintained the blockade of Gaza after the ceasefire came into force which, in the view of the Hamas leaders, amounted to a violation of the agreement. During the ceasefire, Israel prevented any exports from leaving the strip in clear violation of a 2005 accord, leading to a sharp drop in employment opportunities. Officially, 49.1% of the population is unemployed. At the same time, Israel restricted drastically the number of trucks carrying food, fuel, cooking-gas canisters, spare parts for water and sanitation plants, and medical supplies to Gaza. It is difficult to see how starving and freezing the civilians of Gaza could protect the people on the Israeli side of the border. But even if it did, it would still be immoral, a form of collective punishment that is strictly forbidden by international humanitarian law.

The brutality of Israel's soldiers is fully matched by the mendacity of its spokesmen. Eight months before launching the current war on Gaza, Israel established a National Information Directorate. The core messages of this directorate to the media are that Hamas broke the ceasefire agreements; that Israel's objective is the defence of its population; and that Israel's forces are taking the utmost care not to hurt innocent civilians. Israel's spin doctors have been remarkably successful in getting this message across. But, in essence, their propaganda is a pack of lies.

A wide gap separates the reality of Israel's actions from the rhetoric of its spokesmen. It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It di d so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men. Israel's objective is not just the defence of its population but the eventual overthrow of the Hamas government in Gaza by turning the people against their rulers. And far from taking care to spare civilians, Israel is guilty of indiscriminate bombing and of a three-year-old blockade that has brought the inhabitants of Gaza, now 1.5 million, to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Biblical injunction of an eye for an eye is savage enough. But Israel's insane offensive against Gaza seems to follow the logic of an eye for an eyelash. After eight days of bombing, with a death toll of more than 400 Palestinians and four Israelis, the gung-ho cabinet ordered a land invasion of Gaza the consequences of which are incalculable.

No amount of military escalation can buy Israel immunity from rocket attacks from the military wing of Hamas. Despite all the death and destruction that Israel has inflicted on them, they kept up their resistance and they kept firing their rockets. This is a movement that glorifies victimhood and martyrdom. There is simply no military solution to the conflict between the two communities. The problem with Israel's concept of security is that it denies even the most elementary security to the other community. The only way for Israel to achieve security is not through shooting but through talks with Hamas, which has repeatedly declared its readiness to negotiate a long-term ceasefire with the Jewish state within its pre-1967 borders for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Israel has rejected this offer for the same reason it spurned the Arab League peace plan of 2002, which is still on the table: it involves concessions and compromises.

This brief review of Israel's record over the past four decades makes it difficult to resist the conclusion that it has become a rogue state with "an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders". A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria; the cap fits and it must wear it. Israel's real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination. It keeps compounding the mistakes of the past with new and more disastrous ones. Politicians, like everyone else, are of course free to repeat the lies and mistakes of the past. But it is not mandatory to do so.

Avi Shlaim is a professor of international relations at the University of Oxford and the author of The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World and of Lion of Jordan: King Hussein's Life in War and Peace.
          China's Charter 08   
China's Charter 08
New York Review of Books
Volume 56, Number 1 · January 15, 2009

Translated from the Chinese by Perry Link

The document below, signed by more than two thousand Chinese citizens, was conceived and written in conscious admiration of the founding of Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, where, in January 1977, more than two hundred Czech and Slovak intellectuals formed a
loose, informal, and open association of people...united by the will to strive individually and collectively for respect for human and civil rights in our country and throughout the world.
The Chinese document calls not for ameliorative reform of the current political system but for an end to some of its essential features, including one-party rule, and their replacement with a system based on human rights and democracy.

The prominent citizens who have signed the document are from both outside and inside the government, and include not only well-known dissidents and intellectuals, but also middle-level officials and rural leaders. They chose December 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as the day on which to express their political ideas and to outline their vision of a constitutional, democratic China. They want Charter 08 to serve as a blueprint for fundamental political change in China in the years to come. The signers of the document will form an informal group, open-ended in size but united by a determination to promote democratization and protection of human rights in China and beyond.

Following the text is a postscript describing some of the regime's recent reactions to it.

—Perry Link

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China's first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of the Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China's signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values.

By departing from these values, the Chinese government's approach to "modernization" has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the twenty-first century? Will it continue with "modernization" under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the mainstream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.

The shock of the Western impact upon China in the nineteenth century laid bare a decadent authoritarian system and marked the beginning of what is often called "the greatest changes in thousands of years" for China. A "self-strengthening movement" followed, but this aimed simply at appropriating the technology to build gunboats and other Western material objects. China's humiliating naval defeat at the hands of Japan in 1895 only confirmed the obsolescence of China's system of government. The first attempts at modern political change came with the ill-fated summer of reforms in 1898, but these were cruelly crushed by ultraconservatives at China's imperial court. With the revolution of 1911, which inaugurated Asia's first republic, the authoritarian imperial system that had lasted for centuries was finally supposed to have been laid to rest. But social conflict inside our country and external pressures were to prevent it; China fell into a patchwork of warlord fiefdoms and the new republic became a fleeting dream.

The failure of both "self- strengthening" and political renovation caused many of our forebears to reflect deeply on whether a "cultural illness" was afflicting our country. This mood gave rise, during the May Fourth Movement of the late 1910s, to the championing of "science and democracy." Yet that effort, too, foundered as warlord chaos persisted and the Japanese invasion [beginning in Manchuria in 1931] brought national crisis.

Victory over Japan in 1945 offered one more chance for China to move toward modern government, but the Communist defeat of the Nationalists in the civil war thrust the nation into the abyss of totalitarianism. The "new China" that emerged in 1949 proclaimed that "the people are sovereign" but in fact set up a system in which "the Party is all-powerful." The Communist Party of China seized control of all organs of the state and all political, economic, and social resources, and, using these, has produced a long trail of human rights disasters, including, among many others, the Anti-Rightist Campaign (1957), the Great Leap Forward (1958–1960), the Cultural Revolution (1966–1969), the June Fourth [Tiananmen Square] Massacre (1989), and the current repression of all unauthorized religions and the suppression of the weiquan rights movement [a movement that aims to defend citizens' rights promulgated in the Chinese Constitution and to fight for human rights recognized by international conventions that the Chinese government has signed]. During all this, the Chinese people have paid a gargantuan price. Tens of millions have lost their lives, and several generations have seen their freedom, their happiness, and their human dignity cruelly trampled.

During the last two decades of the twentieth century the government policy of "Reform and Opening" gave the Chinese people relief from the pervasive poverty and totalitarianism of the Mao Zedong era, and brought substantial increases in the wealth and living standards of many Chinese as well as a partial restoration of economic freedom and economic rights. Civil society began to grow, and popular calls for more rights and more political freedom have grown apace. As the ruling elite itself moved toward private ownership and the market economy, it began to shift from an outright rejection of "rights" to a partial acknowledgment of them.

In 1998 the Chinese government signed two important international human rights conventions; in 2004 it amended its constitution to include the phrase "respect and protect human rights"; and this year, 2008, it has promised to promote a "national human rights action plan." Unfortunately most of this political progress has extended no further than the paper on which it is written. The political reality, which is plain for anyone to see, is that China has many laws but no rule of law; it has a constitution but no constitutional government. The ruling elite continues to cling to its authoritarian power and fights off any move toward political change.

The stultifying results are endemic official corruption, an undermining of the rule of law, weak human rights, decay in public ethics, crony capitalism, growing inequality between the wealthy and the poor, pillage of the natural environment as well as of the human and historical environments, and the exacerbation of a long list of social conflicts, especially, in recent times, a sharpening animosity between officials and ordinary people.

As these conflicts and crises grow ever more intense, and as the ruling elite continues with impunity to crush and to strip away the rights of citizens to freedom, to property, and to the pursuit of happiness, we see the powerless in our society—the vulnerable groups, the people who have been suppressed and monitored, who have suffered cruelty and even torture, and who have had no adequate avenues for their protests, no courts to hear their pleas—becoming more militant and raising the possibility of a violent conflict of disastrous proportions. The decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional.


This is a historic moment for China, and our future hangs in the balance. In reviewing the political modernization process of the past hundred years or more, we reiterate and endorse basic universal values as follows:

Freedom. Freedom is at the core of universal human values. Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, freedom in where to live, and the freedoms to strike, to demonstrate, and to protest, among others, are the forms that freedom takes. Without freedom, China will always remain far from civilized ideals.

Human rights. Human rights are not bestowed by a state. Every person is born with inherent rights to dignity and freedom. The government exists for the protection of the human rights of its citizens. The exercise of state power must be authorized by the people. The succession of political disasters in China's recent history is a direct consequence of the ruling regime's disregard for human rights.

Equality. The integrity, dignity, and freedom of every person—regardless of social station, occupation, sex, economic condition, ethnicity, skin color, religion, or political belief—are the same as those of any other. Principles of equality before the law and equality of social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights must be upheld.

Republicanism. Republicanism, which holds that power should be balanced among different branches of government and competing interests should be served, resembles the traditional Chinese political ideal of "fairness in all under heaven." It allows different interest groups and social assemblies, and people with a variety of cultures and beliefs, to exercise democratic self-government and to deliberate in order to reach peaceful resolution of public questions on a basis of equal access to government and free and fair competition.

Democracy. The most fundamental principles of democracy are that the people are sovereign and the people select their government. Democracy has these characteristics: (1) Political power begins with the people and the legitimacy of a regime derives from the people. (2) Political power is exercised through choices that the people make. (3) The holders of major official posts in government at all levels are determined through periodic competitive elections. (4) While honoring the will of the majority, the fundamental dignity, freedom, and human rights of minorities are protected. In short, democracy is a modern means for achieving government truly "of the people, by the people, and for the people."

Constitutional rule. Constitutional rule is rule through a legal system and legal regulations to implement principles that are spelled out in a constitution. It means protecting the freedom and the rights of citizens, limiting and defining the scope of legitimate government power, and providing the administrative apparatus necessary to serve these ends.


Authoritarianism is in general decline throughout the world; in China, too, the era of emperors and overlords is on the way out. The time is arriving everywhere for citizens to be masters of states. For China the path that leads out of our current predicament is to divest ourselves of the authoritarian notion of reliance on an "enlightened overlord" or an "honest official" and to turn instead toward a system of liberties, democracy, and the rule of law, and toward fostering the consciousness of modern citizens who see rights as fundamental and participation as a duty. Accordingly, and in a spirit of this duty as responsible and constructive citizens, we offer the following recommendations on national governance, citizens' rights, and social development:

1. A New Constitution. We should recast our present constitution, rescinding its provisions that contradict the principle that sovereignty resides with the people and turning it into a document that genuinely guarantees human rights, authorizes the exercise of public power, and serves as the legal underpinning of China's democratization. The constitution must be the highest law in the land, beyond violation by any individual, group, or political party.

2. Separation of Powers. We should construct a modern government in which the separation of legislative, judicial, and executive power is guaranteed. We need an Administrative Law that defines the scope of government responsibility and prevents abuse of administrative power. Government should be responsible to taxpayers. Division of power between provincial governments and the central government should adhere to the principle that central powers are only those specifically granted by the constitution and all other powers belong to the local governments.

3. Legislative Democracy. Members of legislative bodies at all levels should be chosen by direct election, and legislative democracy should observe just and impartial principles.

4. An Independent Judiciary. The rule of law must be above the interests of any particular political party and judges must be independent. We need to establish a constitutional supreme court and institute procedures for constitutional review. As soon as possible, we should abolish all of the Committees on Political and Legal Affairs that now allow Communist Party officials at every level to decide politically sensitive cases in advance and out of court. We should strictly forbid the use of public offices for private purposes.

5. Public Control of Public Servants. The military should be made answerable to the national government, not to a political party, and should be made more professional. Military personnel should swear allegiance to the constitution and remain nonpartisan. Political party organizations must be prohibited in the military. All public officials including police should serve as nonpartisans, and the current practice of favoring one political party in the hiring of public servants must end.

6. Guarantee of Human Rights. There must be strict guarantees of human rights and respect for human dignity. There should be a Human Rights Committee, responsible to the highest legislative body, that will prevent the government from abusing public power in violation of human rights. A democratic and constitutional China especially must guarantee the personal freedom of citizens. No one should suffer illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment. The system of "Reeducation through Labor" must be abolished.

7. Election of Public Officials. There should be a comprehensive system of democratic elections based on "one person, one vote." The direct election of administrative heads at the levels of county, city, province, and nation should be systematically implemented. The rights to hold periodic free elections and to participate in them as a citizen are inalienable.

8. Rural–Urban Equality. The two-tier household registry system must be abolished. This system favors urban residents and harms rural residents. We should establish instead a system that gives every citizen the same constitutional rights and the same freedom to choose where to live.

9. Freedom to Form Groups. The right of citizens to form groups must be guaranteed. The current system for registering nongovernment groups, which requires a group to be "approved," should be replaced by a system in which a group simply registers itself. The formation of political parties should be governed by the constitution and the laws, which means that we must abolish the special privilege of one party to monopolize power and must guarantee principles of free and fair competition among political parties.

10. Freedom to Assemble. The constitution provides that peaceful assembly, demonstration, protest, and freedom of expression are fundamental rights of a citizen. The ruling party and the government must not be permitted to subject these to illegal interference or unconstitutional obstruction.

11. Freedom of Expression. We should make freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and academic freedom universal, thereby guaranteeing that citizens can be informed and can exercise their right of political supervision. These freedoms should be upheld by a Press Law that abolishes political restrictions on the press. The provision in the current Criminal Law that refers to "the crime of incitement to subvert state power" must be abolished. We should end the practice of viewing words as crimes.

12. Freedom of Religion. We must guarantee freedom of religion and belief, and institute a separation of religion and state. There must be no governmental interference in peaceful religious activities. We should abolish any laws, regulations, or local rules that limit or suppress the religious freedom of citizens. We should abolish the current system that requires religious groups (and their places of worship) to get official approval in advance and substitute for it a system in which registry is optional and, for those who choose to register, automatic.

13. Civic Education. In our schools we should abolish political curriculums and examinations that are designed to indoctrinate students in state ideology and to instill support for the rule of one party. We should replace them with civic education that advances universal values and citizens' rights, fosters civic consciousness, and promotes civic virtues that serve society.

14. Protection of Private Property. We should establish and protect the right to private property and promote an economic system of free and fair markets. We should do away with government monopolies in commerce and industry and guarantee the freedom to start new enterprises. We should establish a Committee on State-Owned Property, reporting to the national legislature, that will monitor the transfer of state-owned enterprises to private ownership in a fair, competitive, and orderly manner. We should institute a land reform that promotes private ownership of land, guarantees the right to buy and sell land, and allows the true value of private property to be adequately reflected in the market.

15. Financial and Tax Reform. We should establish a democratically regulated and accountable system of public finance that ensures the protection of taxpayer rights and that operates through legal procedures. We need a system by which public revenues that belong to a certain level of government—central, provincial, county or local—are controlled at that level. We need major tax reform that will abolish any unfair taxes, simplify the tax system, and spread the tax burden fairly. Government officials should not be able to raise taxes, or institute new ones, without public deliberation and the approval of a democratic assembly. We should reform the ownership system in order to encourage competition among a wider variety of market participants.

16. Social Security. We should establish a fair and adequate social security system that covers all citizens and ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment.

17. Protection of the Environment. We need to protect the natural environment and to promote development in a way that is sustainable and responsible to our descendants and to the rest of humanity. This means insisting that the state and its officials at all levels not only do what they must do to achieve these goals, but also accept the supervision and participation of nongovernmental organizations.

18. A Federated Republic. A democratic China should seek to act as a responsible major power contributing toward peace and development in the Asian Pacific region by approaching others in a spirit of equality and fairness. In Hong Kong and Macao, we should support the freedoms that already exist. With respect to Taiwan, we should declare our commitment to the principles of freedom and democracy and then, negotiating as equals and ready to compromise, seek a formula for peaceful unification. We should approach disputes in the national-minority areas of China with an open mind, seeking ways to find a workable framework within which all ethnic and religious groups can flourish. We should aim ultimately at a federation of democratic communities of China.

19. Truth in Reconciliation. We should restore the reputations of all people, including their family members, who suffered political stigma in the political campaigns of the past or who have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith. The state should pay reparations to these people. All political prisoners and prisoners of conscience must be released. There should be a Truth Investigation Commission charged with finding the facts about past injustices and atrocities, determining responsibility for them, upholding justice, and, on these bases, seeking social reconciliation.

China, as a major nation of the world, as one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and as a member of the UN Council on Human Rights, should be contributing to peace for humankind and progress toward human rights. Unfortunately, we stand today as the only country among the major nations that remains mired in authoritarian politics. Our political system continues to produce human rights disasters and social crises, thereby not only constricting China's own development but also limiting the progress of all of human civilization. This must change, truly it must. The democratization of Chinese politics can be put off no longer.

Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status, will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this citizens' movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.

The planning and drafting of Charter 08 began in the late spring of 2008, but Chinese authorities were apparently unaware of it or unconcerned by it until several days before it was announced on December 10. On December 6, Wen Kejian, a writer who signed the charter, was detained in the city of Hangzhou in eastern China and questioned for about an hour. Police told Wen that Charter 08 was "different" from earlier dissident statements, and "a fairly grave matter." They said there would be a coordinated investigation in all cities and provinces to "root out the organizers," and they advised Wen to remove his name from the charter. Wen declined, telling the authorities that he saw the charter as a fundamental turning point in history.

Meanwhile, on December 8, in Shenzhen in the far south of China, police called on Zhao Dagong, a writer and signer of the charter, for a "chat." They told Zhao that the central authorities were concerned about the charter and asked if he was the organizer in the Shenzhen area.

Later on December 8, at 11 PM in Beijing, about twenty police entered the home of Zhang Zuhua, one of the charter's main drafters. A few of the police took Zhang with them to the local police station while the rest stayed and, as Zhang's wife watched, searched the home and confiscated books, notebooks, Zhang's passport, all four of the family's computers, and all of their cash and credit cards. (Later Zhang learned that his family's bank accounts, including those of both his and his wife's parents, had been emptied.) Meanwhile, at the police station, Zhang was detained for twelve hours, where he was questioned in detail about Charter 08 and the group Chinese Human Rights Defenders in which he is active.

It was also late on December 8 that another of the charter's signers, the literary critic and prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo, was taken away by police. His telephone in Beijing went unanswered, as did e-mail and Skype messages sent to him. As of the present writing, he's believed to be in police custody, although the details of his detention are not known.

On the morning of December 9, Beijing lawyer Pu Zhiqiang was called in for a police "chat," and in the evening the physicist and philosopher Jiang Qisheng was called in as well. Both had signed the charter and were friends of the drafters. On December 10—the day the charter was formally announced—the Hangzhou police returned to the home of Wen Kejian, the writer they had questioned four days earlier. This time they were more threatening. They told Wen he would face severe punishment if he wrote about the charter or about Liu Xiaobo's detention. "Do you want three years in prison?" they asked. "Or four?"

On December 11 the journalist Gao Yu and the writer Liu Di, both well-known in Beijing, were interrogated about their signing of the Charter. The rights lawyer, Teng Biao, was approached by the police but declined, on principle, to meet with them. On December 12 and 13 there were reports of interrogations in many provinces—Shaanxi, Hunan, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, and others—of people who had seen the charter on the Internet, found that they agreed with it, and signed. With these people the police focused on two questions: "How did you get involved?" and "What do you know about the drafters and organizers?"

The Chinese authorities seem unaware of the irony of their actions. Their efforts to quash Charter 08 only serve to underscore China's failure to uphold the very principles that the charter advances. The charter calls for "free expression" but the regime says, by its actions, that it has once again denied such expression. The charter calls for freedom to form groups, but the nationwide police actions that have accompanied the charter's release have specifically aimed at blocking the formation of a group. The charter says "we should end the practice of viewing words as crimes," and the regime says (literally, to Wen Kejian) "we can send you to prison for these words." The charter calls for the rule of law and the regime sends police in the middle of the night to act outside the law; the charter says "police should serve as nonpartisans," and here the police are plainly partisan.

Charter 08 is signed only by citizens of the People's Republic of China who are living inside China. But Chinese living outside China are signing a letter of strong support for the charter. The eminent historian Yu Ying-shih, the astrophysicist Fang Lizhi, writers Ha Jin and Zheng Yi, and more than 160 others have so far signed.

On December 12, the Dalai Lama issued his own letter in support of the charter, writing that "a harmonious society can only come into being when there is trust among the people, freedom from fear, freedom of expression, rule of law, justice, and equality." He called on the Chinese government to release prisoners "who have been detained for exercising their freedom of expression."

—Perry Link, December 18, 2008
          Facebook Announces Goal to Take Role of Church   


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg just rightly identified a major problem with the Church today: people aren't going. And instead of wanting to reverse that, he wants to capitalize on it. At Facebook's first summit focusing solely on building communities, Zuckerberg said: 

"It's so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter," Zuckerberg said, as LifeSiteNews reports. "That's a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else."

Understanding the human capital of faith-based groups, Zuckerberg told the group of community leaders: "People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity, not just because they're religious but because they're part of a community."


Zuckerberg shared his huge goal with the leaders: he wants to take the current number of people, which is 100 million, involved in a "meaningful community" (one that gives a sense of purpose) to one billion. In fact, he said, "We're going to change Facebook's whole mission to take this on." 

"In the next generation, our greatest opportunities and challenges we can only take on together,” Zuckerberg said, “ending poverty, curing disease, stopping climate change, spreading freedom and tolerance, stopping terrorism."

"A church doesn't just come together,” said Zuckerberg. “It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter. A little league team has a coach who motivates the kids and helps them hit better. Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us."

Zuckerberg is understanding that the current growing religion of this generation are the causes he listed above: social issues like poverty, the environment, and tolerance. As a non-Christian, you can't really fault him for identifying the growing trend away from church and shrewdly wanting to fill the void.

But Zuckerberg's remarks and revamped mission statement should be a wakeup call to the Church. We need to find a way to revitalize our community and our faith. Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the Comments! Thank you!

          Conservative Group Sues After Internet Giant Labels Them a ‘Hate Group’   


When you’re wanting to donate to a charity or nonprofit group, it’s a good idea to do a little research to make sure they’re legitimate and don’t support causes that you oppose. That’s why GuideStar exists, and they’ve become the internet’s largest compendium of data on charities, giving potential donors information on 2,000 different charities, according to the Associated Press.

But then they did something really bizarre. Early in June, they allowed the left-leaning Southern Poverty Law Center to attach a “hate group” label to any nonprofit they didn’t like.

It was akin to giving a rambunctious child a brush full of paint and leaving them alone in a white-walled room for an hour.


The SPLC went to work, labeling 46 groups as “hate groups.” Some of them included conservative and Christian groups like the conservative Christian Family Research Council, the fundamentalist Christian American Family Association, the conservative Christian Alliance Defending Freedom, and the evangelical Christian Liberty Counsel.

The SPLC’s label sat prominently near the top of every flagged group’s page, warning potential donors to stay away. GuideStar defended their decision to let the SPLC run wild.

Not surprisingly, 41 of the “hate groups” wrote a letter to GuideStar to complain, according to Life Site News. That’s when GuideStar decided to remove the “hate group” label from those 41 groups’ pages, but they made it clear the SPLC’s information on each of those nonprofits would remain readily available upon request.

Now one of those conservative Christian Groups is suing GuideStar for defamation. Florida-based Liberty Counsel uses litigation to defend the rights of Christians in America, and now they’re using their legal muscle to defend what they do. The case is called “Liberty Counsel vs. GuideStar USA, Inc.”

Liberty Counsel chairman Mat Staver claims, "GuideStar’s CEO, Jacob Harold, is using GuideStar as a weapon to defame, harm, and promote his liberal agenda by using the SPLC to falsely label good nonprofit organizations as ‘hate groups.”

"GuideStar has not retracted its ‘hate group’ label and continues to provide false, defamatory and harmful information it pushes as fact to the public. The damage by GuideStar is far reaching because this false and defamatory labeling has been spread through scores of media sources and the internet. It also appears on the GuideStar Wikipedia page,” he continued.

As of Thursday, the Wikipedia pages for most of the targeted groups mentioned above now prominently feature the SPLC’s designation of them as hate groups, making the attack widespread indeed.

What do you think about this? Comment, react to, or share this on Facebook.

          Beautiful Ebony Teen Fucks Sisters Boyfriend At Sleepover   
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          AI Is a Game-Changer in the Fight Against Hunger and Poverty. Here's Why   
Scientists around the world are harnessing AI's data-mining ability in the fight against poverty.
          Seattle Finds Raising the Minimum Wage Was a Mistake   

For the second time this year, a city has found that there are no quick fixes to addressing poverty and raising wages. Recently, the city of Seattle funded a study on the impact its minimum wage increase was having and concluded that it was having a negative impact on the city’s economy. As is surprising to no one who has been paying attention to the effects of the minimum wage over the past few years, it has reduced employment, economic growth, and works hours.

In 2014, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to raise the minimum wage to $15 with Mayor Ed Murray signing it after making it the top issue in his 2013 bid for the office. The minimum wage increase was supposed to be phased in over the next several years, depending on the industry. The study performed by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) focused on the minimum wage after it was raised to $13 in 2016.

Ironically, the minimum wage increase seems to have hit the people it was supposed help the hardest. The average low skilled worker saw their hours cut by about 9 percent across the board. Overall, that is a reduction in 3.5 million hours per quarter for all workers in total.

In addition, wages in these fields have actually seen a slight increase wage of about 3 percent. However, because of the hour decrease, the average person in these fields lost $125 per month, with employees of single-location Seattle businesses losing $120 million collectively that year. The raise was actually supposed to increase the amount of money the average person took in, but it instead did the exact opposite.

This is only the most recent study in a growing body of evidence that the Seattle minimum wage hike was a mistake. Another study highlighted by the Washington Post last year found that the minimum wage increase had no positive impact on people already working and actually brought up points similar to the more recent NBER study. Another study meanwhile found that the employment in the low-wage sector had decreased by 1 percent, meaning the unemployed are being hurt the most.

The NBER study comes only confirms what other studies have said about the minimum wage for the past several months; that the minimum does not help those it is supposed to and in fact only hurts them. This does not even go into the impact it is having on business (as restaurants in the city face decline and higher prices) so there is still much that could be addressed.

However, the important thing is to remember that this study was in part funded by the city itself so this is a complete admittance by the city government that the policies instituted did not have the desired improvements.

This year, the city is facing a mayoral election and the incumbent is not pursuing reelection so it may be a good idea to pick someone who can take the city in an entirely different direction if it does want to improve business and employment.

          Vatican tells UN “population bomb” is not the cause of poverty Charles Collins April 6, 2017 MANAGING EDITOR Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations. (Credit: Gregory A. Shemitz/CNS.) The Vatican’s representative to the United Nations said “corruption, protracted conflicts and other man-made disasters” are the … Continue reading
          So It Is Written, So It Is Done   
I seldom write about my state, Mississippi……basically nothing of interest happens too often….but I do like their politics.  A Bible Belt conservative state that elects those people that do the most damage to the state……in essence a cultural wasteland. My state has about 21.6% poverty……is 49th on the health index…..49th on the best educated index…..I … Continue reading So It Is Written, So It Is Done
          6/30/2017: Friday Books: A portrait of poverty in bombed out Britain   

ON A cold night in South Yorkshire in 1934, an 11-year-old boy called Derek Happs peered anxiously out of his front door as three men carried his semi-conscious older brother, Dennis, down the cobbled street from the mine. ‘It were a rock fall, a real...
          Monk seal gives birth on Hawaiian resort beach. So much for those vows of celibacy and poverty [Spiffy]   
Spiffy [link] [13 comments]

          Wyden questions contact between Medicaid director and Arkansas   
Sen. Ron Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, is raising questions about talks between Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Dennis Smith, a Medicaid advisor to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Verma had a private consulting firm that did work for Arkansas. Under an agreement entered when she took the federal Medicaid job last year, she was banned from speaking to Arkansas health officials without a written waiver from Health Secretary Tom Price. Press reports said she was supposed to speak with Smith in mid-March.

UPDATE: Arkansas Department of Human Services takes exception to Wyden's characterization. Spokeswoman Amy Webb said Verma "was not a consultant to the state and did not have a contract with us. I believe she did some consulting work for HPE, which is one of our contractors."

Her ethics disclousre form says she received income  fro "Hewlett Packard Arkansas Medicaid" and her agreement on seeking waivers for work with related partieis said:

“I provided consulting services to the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and-Virginia through SVC Inc. Pursuant to 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502(d), I will seek a written authorization to participate personally and substantially in particular matters involving specific parties in which I know the States of Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, and Virginia are a party or represents a party.”

Wyden distributed a letter and news release:

“I am growing increasingly concerned that the Department of Health and Human Services is not effectively implementing its process to enforce Administrator Verma's ethics agreement and the standards of ethical conduct,” Wyden wrote in the letter to Elizabeth Fischmann, the Designated Agency Ethics Official for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “Arkansas is listed repeatedly in Administrator Verma's ethics materials as a state with which she has a covered relationship, and yet there does not appear to be any authorization for her participation in the March 17 call based upon the approved waivers released to and by OGE in response to its data call.”

This letter is the fourth that Sen. Wyden has sent to HHS regarding Verma’s compliance with ethical standards. To date, HHS has not supplied any substantive responses to these requests. This most recent letter was sent at a time when the Senate is considering close to $800 billion in cuts to the Medicaid program that Verma oversees.
Wyden noted that a call to Smith appeared on Verma's calendar. Smith was hired under a deal where he was made a faculty member at UAMS, but would be spending most of his time advising on Medicaid issues. Smith, who came to Arkansas following a controversial period in Wisconsin, is paid $294,000 by Arkansas.

Wyden said Verma got a waiver to speak with another Arkansas official three days before the March 17 call and she obtained a waiver for a later call as well, but none is reflected for the scheduled call with Smith.

Wyden has asked a series of questions about the communications, including why a waiver should be granted for Verma to speak with Arkansas officials.

Arkansas has an interest in winning approval from the CMS for a number of changes in the operation of the Medicaid expansion program. At the core of Wyden's letter: Should Arkansas be discussing such issues with someone it once employed (or had an arrangement with someone it employed)?

Verma was based in Indiana and had close ties to Mike Pence,, former Indiana governor.

PS: Coincidentally, Arkansas today submitted to CMS the waivers it needs to throw 60,000 people off the Medicaid expansion rolls by lowering the income qualification to 100 percent of poverty and imposing a work requirement.

          Gov. Hutchinson says major change needed in Senate health legislation   
Gov. Asa Hutchinson outlined four major changes he'd like to see in Republican-backed health legislation pending in the Senate.

In short, he said — if in more diplomatic words — the bill as written would be devastating to Arkansas. Hutchinson chose to put it more kindly. He said the Senate was moving in "the right direction" and said "the status quo is not acceptable."

But he added: "There have to be significant changes in the current draft in order to give states like Arkansas options for the future and to continue coverage and not have a $500 million per year gap in our economy."

He said he'd spoken to Arkansas's senators about this, but referred questions about their reaction to them. To date, Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman have resisted saying much of anything about the legislation, though Cotton was one of 13 white male Republicans who participated in the secret drafting.

The shortcomings have been self-evident for some time in states like Arkansas that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion provided through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. House-passed and Senate-proposed legislation would obliterate the Medicaid expansion and also severely restrict traditional Medicaid coverage for the elderly and disabled by going to per capita distributions to states. Both changes would devastate Arkansas, with a large traditional Medicaid population and more than 300,000 people now covered by the Medicaid expansion. Hutchinson said the state was already making changes to reduce costs and state cooperation should be a goal of congressional action. Some 60,000 would lose coverage by reducing coverage for those making 138 percent of the poverty level to 100 percent and by instituting work rules.

Hutchinson suggested these changes in what's under consideration:

* Exempt those elderly, blind and disabled covered by traditional Medicaid from the per capita cap on spending. Otherwise, the cost would be shifted to the state, he said. (He said later it was OK to put children's coverage, Arkids, under a per capital program because they were generally lower cost.)

* If the federal government moves to block grant funding for Medicaid, Hutchinson said the funding should include in the figuring the Medicaid expansion population. Some states didn't take the money. If the pot is redivided to cover all states equally, those who expanded will lose and those who didn't will gain. "This puts us in a difficult position to manage and maintain coverage," Hutchinson said. If the population is considered, he said, "the state can assume the risk and create savings and ensure coverage of the working poor."

* Senate legislation must "redesign" the tax credits, or subsidies, for those covered in the health insurance marketplace. Hutchinson echoed critics of the Senate legislation who say the subsidies are so small as to be worthless.  "If the subsidy is not sufficient, an individual will decide they can't afford it." He said "there have to be sufficient subsidies to make it work."

* The states must be given "flexibility" on how they spend money received under per capita reimbursements. He didn't specify some examples of what he had in mind. In some states, though, flexibility has meant not providing certain services (birth coverage for example) and measures co-pays, work, drug testing and other sometimes controversial ideas.

Hutchinson acknowledged that the Medicaid expansion, now known as Arkansas Works, by law must end if federal support is reduced. That's not an immediate concern because actual reductions won't occur for several years into the plan now outlined in Senate legislation. "They've given us a long glide path," he said.

Timing noted: Hutchinson finally weighed in with criticisms that have been voiced for weeks by many others following a week in which the Senate leadership's plan for a quick vote on the GOP fill apart because of he couldn't keep all Republican senators on board.

Noted too: Hutchinson refused to talk taxes — either those to pay for his expanded vision of health coverage and the windfall for the wealthy envisioned in the pending bill.

Just yesterday, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families gave some idea of the blow the Senate bill would deliver to rural health care.

          Tanzania: President Magufuli, Ban Sexual Violence, Not Teenage Mothers From School   
[Fahamu] By punishing pregnant girls and denying them their education, the government is penalizing them on the basis of gender and is curtailing their futures so they are likely to remain trapped in a cycle of poverty. Around one in four females in Tanzania is illiterate.
          "Così il riscaldamento globale impoverirà gli Stati Uniti"   
Uno studio pubblicato su Science simula gli effetti del cambiamento climatico. "Se non si porranno rimedi assisteremo al più colossale trasferimento di...
          Neon Deion Sanders, Koch brothers, Snoop Dogg – odd bedfellows, indeed   

Deion Sanders, a star of both the Atlanta Braves and Falcons in the early 1990s, has partnered with the politically conservative Koch brothers to fight poverty in Dallas. An “unlikely partnership” is how a reporter with the Associated Press characterized the relation.

The post Neon Deion Sanders, Koch brothers, Snoop Dogg – odd bedfellows, indeed appeared first on SaportaReport.

          Sleepy Boy Assaulted By Friends Mother On Sleepover   
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          Yes, Islamic Terrorism Really Is Islamic   
Robert Spencer writes in PJMediaIt is a symptom of the denial and willful ignorance that blankets the present age that this book even had to be written, and that Ibn Warraq, a historian and social theorist of preeminent insight and wisdom, should have had to devote his considerable talents to it.Nonetheless, we can be grateful that he has given us The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology, as this book is breathtakingly comprehensive despite its quite manageable length, and is, quite simply, irrefutable. If there remains in the world anyone who holds that Islam is a Religion of Peace and yet has sufficient intellectual honesty and acumen to consider these arguments on their merits, this is the book to give.First there is the necessary work of clearing away the nonsense. Ibn Warraq takes up each of the major excuses that are commonly given for Islamic jihad violence that it is all about Israel, or all about U.S. foreign policy, or all about povert...
          5 Home style tips to borrow from India   
5 Home style tips to borrow from India

India is as diverse as it is big. With more than 1.2 billion people calling India home, the variation of housing and the disparity in living conditions is profound. Essentially, housing is dependent on region and socioeconomic status; from multi-million dollar mansion to poverty struck slums, there is a clear dichotomy in the Indian way of living.

While 22% of the population still live below the poverty line, India’s burgeoning middle class has grown exponentially over the past 15 years. The growth of the middle class has seen a boost in the Indian economy and a shift, albeit slight, in the standard of living for many Indians. Even so, as a result of the extreme contrast in living conditions still ever present across the nation , it can be said there isn’t a ‘fundamental’ Indian home. Instead, aspects of tradition, religion, culture and Western influence shape what we know as Indian homes today.

Here are 5 common interior trends that can bring a little Indian style into the home.

Indian home style 

1. Add bright colours

Colour plays a huge role in not just interior design in India, but in every aspect of their culture. While there may be a profound contrast in living conditions depending on region, wealth and population, it is the universality of the meaning of colour that connects India as a community. Colours are associated with emotion, status, religion, politics, festivals and celebrations; so it’s understandable why it plays a huge role in the home too.

Popular for their positive connotations and deep-rooted meanings, colours such as blue, green, deep red, and gold are all ideal palette choices for decoration in Indian homes. Blue is associated with one of the most favoured Gods in India, Lord Krishna and is therefore well liked and commonly used around the home. Green symbolises happiness, harvest and new beginnings, particularly because of India’s rich agricultural economy. In a general sense, Indians believe green is a symbol of nature and therefore an expression of God himself. On the other hand, deep reds and golds are symbols of great wealth and grandeur. Symbolising affluence and prosperity, gold is a favoured choice of colour for those Indians who are of higher socioeconomic status.  

Typically, Indians use colours in the home to represent particular feelings, certain beliefs and desired prophetic outcomes. While in the western world colour is usually selected based on personal preference and particular taste, in India colours are steeped in tradition and history, playing a role that extends far beyond aesthetic appeal.

Add bright colours 

2. Incorporate wooden furniture

Many furnishings found in the Indian home are made from a vast range of woods. Wood is favoured for its longevity, timelessness and strength. In India, there are five different types of traditional woods. For items such as chests of drawers and shoe racks, Marandi wood is the material of choice. It’s commonly known as cedar wood and is not only durable, but aesthetically pleasing too.

For bedroom and kitchen cabinets, sofa sets, dining sets and even flooring, Sheesham or Indian Rosewood is one of the most sought-after materials on the market. Sheesham is a hardwood popular for its versatility and ability to withstand fluctuating temperatures.  

Sal Wood is common for the structures in Indians homes, such as door frames, beams and window frames. It’s one of the most durable wood options and has the ability to endure the effects of water and underground conditions. Satin Wood can be found in many decorative pieces of furniture in Indian homes. This type of wood can be sourced from both central and southern India. While it is a durable, it is difficult to upkeep.  

And the most commonly used wood for furniture in India is Teak Wood. Locally produced as well as imported from Ghana and Burma, Teak Wood is a good all-rounder option, ideal for door frames, cabinets, tables, decorative items and many other common furnishings found in an Indian home.

 using wood in indian style

3. Use muslin and different materials

Indian has many different materials locally grown and easily available that are used around the home. One of the most popular materials in India is Muslin. Originating in Bangladesh, muslin is finely woven, breathable fabric perfect for Indian’s unwavering heat. Commonly used to make garments of clothing, muslin is popular for its durability, natural fibres and ability to soften over time. Muslin is also used around the house, particularly in the kitchen.   

Silk is also a very popular material in India. Known as a material of luxury, silk possess a natural lustre and shine and is a premium material compared to others, like cotton. Similar to Muslin, silk is commonly used for clothing, but has also made its way into the home as a decorative item.

Different materials - Indian style 

4. Marigold and lotus flowers

There are around 15,000 flowering plant species in India. Different areas of India produce specific flowers, making some flora more popular in certain areas than others. The Lotus flower is the national flower of India and has a strong tie to religion. The Lotus flower is rich in meaning, symbolising divinity, fertility, wealth and knowledge. The Lotus is an aquatic plant with broad floating leaves and a pink flower. For those who have a pond in the garden, it’s typical for Lotus flowers to decorate the space.

Native to India, the Marigold flower is grown all throughout the nation year-round. Not only are they visually appealing, flowering in a bright orange and yellow, they also omit a strong perfume perfect for keeping bugs away. Marigold is the perfect flower for those who live in crop areas, as they repel any mosquitoes from coming close to the harvest.

Flower in the home 

5. Adopt a little Vastu shastra

Religion plays an integral role in the Indian way of living. Many cultural practices in India are shaped by religion, particularly Hinduism, which is the one of the four major religions found in India. Vastu shastra is a traditional Hindu system of architecture, which translates in a literal sense to the “science of architecture”. Essentially, it is an ancient Indian science of harmony and prosperous living. It encourages individuals to rid their life of any negativity and increase the level of positive energy, in particular energy found in the home. Indians believe that because people spend a lot of time inside, whether it is at work or at home, it’s imperative that there is positive energy within these places of confinement. Vastu shastra links buildings with mother-nature so that those who occupy a particular space live balanced, happy and harmonious lives.  

As such, Vastu shastra is a commonly adopted practice in many Indian homes. It is a philosophy dependent on different energies originating from the atmosphere, such as solar energy from the sun, lunar energy from the moon, as well as thermal, magnetic, light and wind energy too. The way Vastu shastra is achieved is through, for instance, the way the home is decorated, the correct placement of furniture, the direction in which one sleeps, how objects sit in relation to each other, what certain elements of the home are made from, the height of doors, the number of doors, the level of lighting, the size of the windows, and so on. While the criteria of a home deemed Vastu shastra may seem extensive, when executed correctly, the home will be a place of balance, contentment, peace and harmony.

Consult a hipages interior decorator on how to bring more Indian style into your home. 

           Renzi, non mi tolgo da testa Charlie    
ROMA - "Non riesco a togliermi dalla testa il pensiero del piccolo Charlie. Mi fanno paura i social quando diventano curve da tifoseria con persone che sparano certezze e urlano, non cerco facili like. Ma condivido uno stato d'animo, pi&#249; che uno status: il dolore di quei genitori e di quel bambino mi rimbomba in testa continuamente. Mi sembra insopportabile per noi, figuriamoci per quella povera famiglia che vive queste ore cos&#236;. Perch&#233; la Corte Europea dei diritti umani (diritti?) non ha concesso la cura sperimentale in America? Perch&#233; non consentire alla scienza un ultimo tentativo? Facciamo proteste ovunque per qualsiasi cucciolo, e facciamo bene. E un piccolo cucciolo d'uomo non valeva un'attenzione diversa delle autorit&#224; europee? Per una volta ho pi&#249; domande che risposte...". Lo scrive su Facebook il segretario del Pd Matteo Renzi.
          Deputy Shop Manager (Stafford) (TRD1400)   
Region: Shop Operations, Division: Trading, Job Type: Open ended
Nationwide Part Time Opportunities at either 12 or 18 hours per week.

£5,273 (12hr) or £ 7,909.50 (18hr)

London Weighting or Hotspot Allowance pro rata where applicable


Additional information:


Please bring to the interview your Proof of Right to Work in the UK, such as your passport, or Birth Certificate with the names of at least one of your parents on, together with a document with your NI number on it.


We are a retailer with a real difference; can you help us grow our sales and end extreme poverty for good?

We are looking for someone with excellent communication and customer service skills and a real ability to engage with people.

          Deputy Shop Manager (Macclesfield) (TRD1399)   
Region: Shop Operations, Division: Trading, Job Type: Open ended
Nationwide Part Time Opportunities at either 12 or 18 hours per week.

£5,273 (12hr) or £ 7,909.50 (18hr)

London Weighting or Hotspot Allowance pro rata where applicable


Additional information:


Please bring to the interview your Proof of Right to Work in the UK, such as your passport, or Birth Certificate with the names of at least one of your parents on, together with a document with your NI number on it.


We are a retailer with a real difference; can you help us grow our sales and end extreme poverty for good?

We are looking for someone with excellent communication and customer service skills and a real ability to engage with people.

          Deputy Shop Manager (Sandbach) (TRD1398)   
Region: Shop Operations, Division: Trading, Job Type: Open ended
Nationwide Part Time Opportunities at either 12 or 18 hours per week.

£5,273 (12hr) or £ 7,909.50 (18hr)

London Weighting or Hotspot Allowance pro rata where applicable


Additional information:


Please bring to the interview your Proof of Right to Work in the UK, such as your passport, or Birth Certificate with the names of at least one of your parents on, together with a document with your NI number on it.


We are a retailer with a real difference; can you help us grow our sales and end extreme poverty for good?

We are looking for someone with excellent communication and customer service skills and a real ability to engage with people.

          Deputy Shop Manager (Moortown Leeds) (TRD1397)   
Region: Shop Operations, Division: Trading, Job Type: Open ended
Nationwide Part Time Opportunities at either 12 or 18 hours per week.

£5,273 (12hr) or £ 7,909.50 (18hr)

London Weighting or Hotspot Allowance pro rata where applicable


Additional information:


Please bring to the interview your Proof of Right to Work in the UK, such as your passport, or Birth Certificate with the names of at least one of your parents on, together with a document with your NI number on it.


We are a retailer with a real difference; can you help us grow our sales and end extreme poverty for good?

We are looking for someone with excellent communication and customer service skills and a real ability to engage with people.

          Infrastructure Specialist - Office 365 (FIN0307)   
Region: Finance & Info Systems, Division: Finance & IS, Job Type: Fixed Term
Are you an experienced Infrastructure Specialist looking for an opportunity to demonstrate your talent?


Do you have a track record of migrations to an Office 365 platform?


And perhaps most important of all, do you want to be part of a movement of millions of people, all working towards one goal - an end to poverty for everyone?


If so, come and join us.


We are looking for an experienced Infrastructure Specialist with a proven track record of Office 365 migrations, to assist with the migration and onboarding activities to an Office365 platform from a Lotus Notes environment.


This role will also include the delivery of day to day operations within...

          Brothers Friend On A Sleepover Ripping His Teen Sisters Ass In The Morning   
Watch Brothers Friend On A Sleepover Ripping His Teen Sisters Ass In The Morning at free fuck and porn video site
          Developing Pasighat is an Ambitious Project of Pema Khandu: Kaling Moyong   


“Developing Pasighat is an ambitious project of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu,” stated Parliamentary Secretary for Disaster Management Kaling Moyong on Friday. He was addressing the officers and councilors of Pasighat Municipal Council at the DC’s conference hall while taking part in a consultative meeting in connection with Pasighat Smart City Celebration having being included in the Centre’s Smart City Mission.

The upcoming project will improve life of people in or around Pasighat improving basic necessities like power, water, sanitation, health etc. and will surely reduce travel time within thin the city with smart road network and traffic management, ensuring clean environment and hi-tech services to the denizens in a planned way. It will uplift life of our people, provide affordable housing and job opportunities, asserted the MLA. He extended his gratitude to PM Narendra Modi, Union Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Venkaiah Naidu, Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union MoS KirenRijiju, Loksabha MP Ninong Ering, Chief Secretary Sakuntala Gamlin, principal secretary (home), East Siang DC Tamiyo Tatak, Chief Councilor Kaling Doruk, MEO A Koyu, Consultant of Voyant Solutions and all their associates for their tireless efforts and also NGOs, senior citizens and one and all members of the society for their esteemed contributions and for coordinating all related efforts in achieving Pasighat as Smart City.

Earlier, MP Ering while congratulating the people lauded the efforts made by the PMC in achieving the distinction. The concept of Smart City was very vague to our understanding in the beginning. As time went by and as we immersed deeper into the mission activities with respect to mission guidelines it became more clear and Pasighat could finally put together a proposal that was hard to ignore if not well appreciated. Our city finally make place in global smart city map, he said. While appreciating the Smart City team, Ering also remembered the contributions of the earlier MEO Deepak Shinde (Present DC Roing) and the then CC(PMC) Denong Tamuk.

DC Tamiyo Tatak informed that the project is taking aspirations of the people into consideration within the ambit of mission guidelines. He also discussed various issues related to the upcoming celebration. After threadbare discussion, it was resolved that date of celebration will be finalized shortly and unanimously suggested that CM Khandu will be invited as Chief Guest and Rao Indrajit Singh, Union MoS Urban Development as Guest of Honour.

Director Urban Development, A. Morang while briefing on key features of the mission informed that area based housing, walkable localities with low congestion and air pollution free localities, preserving and developing open spaces, promotion of variety transport options, providing citizen friendly and cost effective governance, providing identity to the city and providing smart solutions to the urban challenges in providing infrastructure and services in area based development and with the sole objective of providing quality life, economic development, employment generation etc will be take care.

MEO Ainstein Koyu and Core Committee Member Dr. Narmi Darang focused on three major components i.e. Redevelopment in “High-Region area”, Retrofitting in “End of High-Region area to Siang River” and Pan-City initiative. The other important components are affordable housing for urban poor, slum up-gradation, central command and control system, sustainable public spaces, development of Siang Riverfront, tertiary health care, revamping the education sector and skill development centers, the due added.
The meeting was attended by the ADC (Hq) TaddoBorang, HoDs, Dy. CC(PMC) Kaling Darang and all councilors.

The post Developing Pasighat is an Ambitious Project of Pema Khandu: Kaling Moyong appeared first on Northeast Today.

          Naughty Teen Fucks Brothers Friend at Sleepover   
Watch Naughty Teen Fucks Brothers Friend at Sleepover at free fuck and porn video site
          Spurgeon on Winter and Suffering   
I am reposting something Lauren Chandler posted on her blog this morning – it is particularly relevant for them as they struggle through this difficult news of Matt’s tumor, discovered when he had a seizure and fell in his home on Thanksgiving day.

But it is relevant for all of us as we struggle through various seasons of pain, loss, frustration. Sometimes it is a death in our extended or close family. Perhaps it is frustration with a job search or with career growth. Or other issues.

This was encouraging to me, and I hope will be to you at all. Spurgeon seems to be saying that God uses these winter seasons not only to kill off disease or germs in our own life (to further refine and grow us in a later season), that God is sovereign and not out of control, but also that God is a present and living presence that we can count on as we go through difficult times and seasons.

Morning + Evening by C.H. Spurgeon--December 1, Morning:

"Thou hast made summer and winter."
--Psalm 74:17

My soul begin this wintry month with thy God. The cold snows and the piercing winds all remind thee that He keeps His covenant with day and night, and tend to assure thee that He will also keep that glorious covenant which He has made with thee in the person of Christ Jesus. He who is true to His Word in the revolutions of the seasons of this poor sin-polluted world, will not prove unfaithful in His dealings with His own well-beloved Son.

Winter in the soul is by no means a comfortable season, and if it be upon thee just now it will be very painful to thee: but there is this comfort, namely, that the Lord makes it. He sends the sharp blasts of adversity to nip the buds of expectation: He scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes over the once verdant meadows of our joy: He casteth forth His ice like morsels freezing the streams of our delight. He does it all, He is the great Winter King, and rules in the realms of frost, and therefore thou canst not murmur. Losses, crosses, heaviness, sickness, poverty, and a thousand other ills, are of the Lord's sending, and come to us with wise design. Frosts kill noxious insects, and put a bound to raging diseases; they break up the clods, and sweeten the soul. O that such good results would always follow our winters of affliction!

How we prize the fire just now! how pleasant is its cheerful glow! Let us in the same manner prize our Lord, who is the constant source of warmth and comfort in every time of trouble. Let us draw nigh to Him, and in Him find joy and peace in believing. Let us wrap ourselves in the warm garments of His promises, and go forth to labours which befit the season, for it were ill to be as the sluggard who will not plough by reason of the cold; for he shall beg in summer and have nothing.

          Child Poverty and California’s High Cost of Living   

A quarter of young children in California live in poverty, yet the local variation in poverty rates is dramatic.

The post Child Poverty and California’s High Cost of Living appeared first on PPIC.

          Video: Reaching Children in Poverty   
Cute Little Girl Resting On Her Mother’s Should

Understanding how child poverty varies geographically can help address this challenge. At a PPIC event, local service providers describe their approaches.

The post Video: Reaching Children in Poverty appeared first on PPIC.

          Geography of Child Poverty in California   
022317Child Poverty

The post Geography of Child Poverty in California appeared first on PPIC.

          Geography of Child Poverty in California   
Cute Little Girl Resting On Her Mother’s Should

Despite strong economic growth, California continues to struggle with high rates of child poverty. Adverse circumstances faced by young children can have long-term physical, social, and behavioral consequences—negatively affecting their future education and economic well-being. A nuanced understanding of how child poverty varies across the state would help address this challenge. In this report, we examine regional and local differences in the economic circumstances of poor families with young children age 0–5. We find that:

  • One-quarter of young children in California live in poverty. Regionally, child poverty ranges from around 20 percent in the Bay Area, Sacramento area, and Northern region to nearly 30 percent in the Central Coast and Los Angeles County. Statewide, Latino children and children with immigrant, young, or single parents are much more likely to be poor. Interventions that target one or more of these groups hold promise for reaching more young children in poverty.
  • Most poor families with young children have at least one working adult. Parents in higher-cost regions are more likely to be working—not surprising, since these regions tend to offer more work opportunities and higher wages. In the Bay Area, Central Coast, and Orange County, between 79 and 81 percent of young children in poverty have at least one parent working full- or part-time, compared to around 60 percent in the Central Valley and Sierra. Reducing poverty in inland regions requires attention to improving employment readiness and job opportunities.
  • Coping with housing costs while maintaining access to work is difficult in higher-cost regions. Despite higher earnings, poor families with young children in the Bay Area, Orange County, and San Diego County are more likely to be housing burdened, that is, to have housing costs that exceed half of total family resources. They are also more likely than those in inland and northern regions to live in overcrowded housing. Efforts to increase access to affordable housing—through more construction and more housing subsidies—will help.
  • Safety net programs reduce child poverty, with more of an impact in lower-cost regions. Without the safety net, poverty rates among young children would be 24 percentage points higher in the Central Valley and Sierra, compared to 8–9 points higher in the Bay Area and Orange County. Poor families in higher-cost regions are less likely to be eligible for safety net programs, which usually do not account for variation in the cost of living. In the long term, adjusting eligibility and benefits to accommodate differences in cost of living may deserve further consideration, but in the short term, there is room for improvement to broaden the reach of these programs, even without expanding their scope.

We also find that local variation in economic circumstances can overwhelm broader regional differences. For example, in Los Angeles, the poverty rate among young children ranges from 4 percent to 68 percent between southwestern and southcentral parts of the county—the lowest and highest rates in California. This report accompanies an online interactive tool that allows for in-depth exploration of the complexity of child poverty across the state.

Child poverty can be tackled in multiple ways, and policy responses may need to take different forms in various parts of California. Accounting for geographic differences can lead to more tailored approaches for alleviating child poverty and, in turn, help provide economic security for more young children.

The post Geography of Child Poverty in California appeared first on PPIC.

          Statement: Hill Briefing to Discuss Rise of Hate Groups, Hate Crimes & Formulating a Response   


Media Advisory:


Contact: Jennifer Salan / 202-429-9210 


Hill Briefing to Discuss Rise of Hate Groups, Hate Crimes & Formulating a Response

[Washington, DC] The Arab American Institute will hold a briefing for congressional staff on the increase in hate groups and hate crimes on Tuesday, June 27 at 10AM.

The Southern Poverty Law Center found 867 incidents of hate in the first 10 days following the November election, including more than 300 where the target was Muslim or immigrant. The SPLC also found an increase in the number of hate groups in 2016, with 917 considered active, up from 892 in 2015.

Experts will address the scope of the problem and suggest policy options for stemming the tide of hate.


Michael German: Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice

A fellow with the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, German previously served as the policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union and was as a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for sixteen years, where he specialized in domestic terrorism and covert operations.

Nadia Aziz: Director, Stop Hate Project & Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

As Program Manager of the Stop Hate Project, Aziz works to ensure individuals and organizations targeted by hate have the resources they need to combat it in their communities. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee in 2017, Aziz worked at the AAI as Director of Government Relations. She has previously served as a legal fellow with America Votes and Compliance Manager of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee. 

Johnathan Smith: Legal Director, Muslim Advocates

Prior to joining Muslim Advocates Smith served as senior counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, where he helped manage the department’s work on religious discrimination, LGBT rights, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, and appellate matters.  

Maya Berry: Executive Director, Arab American Institute

Currently steering the Institute's policy agenda as Executive Director, Berry also established AAI’s first Government Relations department in 1996. After building that department for five years, Berry joined House Minority Whip David Bonior as his Legislative Director where she developed policies on international relations, human rights, trade, and immigration. Berry is also the founder of MidAmr Group, a private consulting firm dedicated to enhancing US-Arab economic, political, and cultural cooperation.

WHAT: Hill briefing for congressional staff discussing the rise of hate groups, hate crimes and potential policy responses

WHEN: Tuesday, June 27, 10AM

WHERE: Longworth House Office Building (Room 1732)

RSVP: Please RSVP to as space is limited. 

# # #

Founded in 1985, the Arab American Institute (AAI) is a nonprofit organization committed to the civic and political empowerment of Americans of Arab descent.  AAI provides policy, research and public affairs services to support a broad range of community activities. For more information please visit

          Republican budget being held hostage by Republicans demanding to cut safety net to shreds   

Republicans have not been shy in recent years about wanting to cut the safety net to ribbons, slashing programs like food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and Medicaid and Medicare and heating assistance and unemployment and basically everything else that keeps struggling families afloat. But now even that eagerness to hurt poor people may not be enough. The far-far-right House Freedom Caucus is taking its own party’s budget hostage to demand more and deeper cuts. They have a long list of ways to keep people from getting the help they need, like making work requirements harder to fulfill—currently an able-bodied adult without dependents has to work about 20 hours a week to be eligible for SNAP and the Freedom Caucus would increase that—among other ways of cutting the safety net out from under people. They have a trade-off in mind: less assistance for poor people in the form of food, more assistance for rich people in the form of giant tax breaks.

It’s hard to avoid this point, as the Freedom Caucus is literally proposing to tie welfare reform to tax reform. Jordan himself has hinted at it, calling it “reverse-engineering”: whatever you can “save” from cutting these programs can be reallocated to other party priorities. Ideally, he doesn’t want to stop at SNAP and TANF.

“There are tons of different means-tested welfare entitlement programs that we can work at achieving savings in. Obviously Medicaid work requirements — expanding what’s already in the health care bill. There’s real money there,” Jordan told Vox in mid-June, in a revealing moment about how conservatives are approaching poverty-related policy. And this is one of the only ways conservatives will sign on to the budget resolution.

In public, Jordan and his Freedom Caucus buddies like to pretend that they wouldn’t be hurting people.

          Open thread for night owls: Sen. Duckworth puts hold on notorious torture advocate's nomination   

Lindsay Maizland at Vox writes—Steven Bradbury wrote the memos authorizing torture. Trump wants him back in government. Bradbury, who was acting assistant attorney general during the George W. Bush administration, has been nominated to be general counsel in the Transportation Department. But a pissed-off veteran of the Iraq war had something to say about that:

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) placed a hold on Bradbury’s nomination after members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee questioned Bradbury during a preliminary nomination hearing on Wednesday.

During the hearing, Duckworth led the charge against his nomination, drawing on her own experience working as an Army National Guard helicopter pilot in Iraq. In 2004, her helicopter was shot down and she lost both of her legs.

“When you’re stuck bleeding in a helicopter behind enemy lines like I was, you hope and pray that if the enemy finds you first, they treat you humanely,” she said. “Mr. Bradbury lacked moral conviction in the Bush White House, and I don’t think he can be trusted to stand up for the values I fought to defend, especially not in a Trump presidency.”

Duckworth went on to say that Bradbury placed American troops in danger by writing what became known as the torture memos. “The actions you helped justify put our troops in harm’s way, put our diplomats deployed overseas in harm’s way, and you compromised our nation’s very values,” she said.

Wanna see Duckworth take Bradbury down? Here ya go:



“This disposition to admire, and almost to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean condition, though necessary both to establish and to maintain the distinction of ranks and the order of society, is, at the same time, the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments. That wealth and greatness are often regarded with the respect and admiration which are due only to wisdom and virtue; and that the contempt, of which vice and folly are the only proper objects, is often most unjustly bestowed upon poverty and weakness, has been the complaint of moralists in all ages.”
Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments1759




At  Daily Kos on this date in 2005Agreement Signed to Build Nuclear Fusion Reactor: 

The existing crop of nuclear power plants all rely on fission, a somewhat messy process which yields some rather unpleasant radioactive waste products behind. So it's heartening to see that an international consortium has agreed to try to build a fusion reactor:

Science's quest to find a cheap and inexhaustible way to meet global energy needs took a major step forward on Tuesday when a 30-nation consortium chose France to host the world's first nuclear fusion reactor.

After months of wrangling, France defeated a bid from Japan and signed a deal to site the 10-billion-euroexperimental reactor in Cadarache, near Marseille.

The project will seek to turn seawater into fuel by mimicking the way the sun produces energy. It would be cleaner than current nuclear reactors, would not rely on enriched uranium fuel or produce plutonium.

It may be many, many years before this project yields any positive results, if it ever does. But given the twin problems of fossil fuel shortages and pollution that our current system faces, I think this is the kind of bold experiment we need to undertake.

On today’s Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin says work continues on the Gop’s Medicaid repeal bill, as leaders look for ways to bribe holdouts back into the fold. Trump’s tweets embarrass America, again. Nikki Haley seems happy about cutting UN peacekeeping. GunFAIL still dumb.

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          Politics of Low Cost Schooling and Low Teacher Salary   
Politics of Low Cost Schooling and Low Teacher Salary
Manish Jain
Sadhana Saxena

We have been following with interest and concern the debates generated by the writings of Jain and Dholakia in (2009; 2010). For some of us, it may be difficult to engage in a meaningful dialogue with the authors as the world views seem to be fundamentally different. For instance, in Jain and Dholakia’s world view most important concerns are ‘cost effectiveness’ and ‘efficiency’ as understood in the context of market. For them, education means achieving competencies in mathematics and language. Crucial though they are, learning of social and physical sciences or the larger aims of education like issues of equality and justice are not their concerns. More importantly, from the paradigm within which proposals are made it is clear that the authors are not interested in questioning the new economic order. On the contrary, economic order is considered as given or may be desirable or inevitable and the readers are being persuaded, through mathematical maneuvering, to fit in education with in this blatantly unjust order. The order in which priorities are decided by the demands of the market, the education of the marginalized has to be squeezed in through rampant privatization and the state facilitates handing over of the public resources to the private bodies in the name of PPP. Disturbingly PPP shamelessly proposes myriads ways of entering into contracts, a system where the private contractor can get away with exploitative conditions as the state ceases to be the employer. In fact, HRD minister has made it clear that what private schools pay to the teachers is not his concern.

To understand the proposals and arguments of these writings, following questions need to be asked: From what location in contemporary politics of education and the emerging research and funding networks, do they launch these economic reflections and gain legitimacy? What are the historical and theoretical roots of these proposals and economic choices? How do they visualize education, teaching and teacher and what are their silences? What are the ramifications of their suggestions?

Parental choice, promotion of private budget schools, PPP, cost effectiveness, and thus reform of public schooling along managerial lines form key issues in global educational policy discourse and research supported by multilateral agencies like WB. International management consultants, education businesses, researchers and research networks, policy think tanks, advocacy groups, partnerships between local and global actors, corporate philanthropic and charity foundations together form a strong interest group promoting these reforms (Nambissan and Ball: forthcoming). Thus, locating this intermeshing of agencies and their policy prescriptions is critical to understand the embeddedness and circulation of the emerging ‘research’ and advocacy networks. Nambissan and Ball (forthcoming) have shown that James Tooley with a firm grounding in think tanks in USA and UK and financial support from rightwing foundations supporting the philosophy of free market and even World Bank, has been able to operate in/with a complex network of research, advocacy and funding involved in promoting discourse of parental choice and advocating private schooling. Thus, use and defense of Tooley’s work by Jain and Dholakia is not simply a matter of learning from each other. That Jain was the World Bank’s nominee in the most recent Joint Review Mission of SSA reveals more about convergence of ideas and location.

Resource crunch?
Jain and Dholakia argue that even if allocation to education in budget is raised to 6% GDP, hiring ‘permanent regular school teachers’ in government schools and paying them salary recommended by the 6th pay commission would be ‘insufficient to ensure universal school education’. Paying such salaries is possible only if budget has a fiscal deficit of 22-23% or to ‘increase the tax revenues by more than double’. Shouldn’t we be asking, even if sounds clichéd: why not tax the rich and finance school education and pay decent salaries to the qualified teachers instead of promoting budget schools run by poorly paid and unqualified teachers, and largely funded by the deprived sections ?

The budgetary calculations, economic decisions and policy choices are not neutral but political in nature. Defining and redefining the poverty line and hairsplitting debates on APL and BPL depending on the way minimum nutritional requirements for different segments of the society are defined, is a good example of statistical jugglery. To answer the repeatedly asked question- from where to generate the funds, it would be instructive to look at some of the budget figures.

In the year 2008 and 2009, the adjusted revenues foregone in the central budgets were Rs. 2,85, 052 crores and Rs. 4,18,095 crores respectively and constituted 48.16% and 68.95% of aggregate tax collected (Chandra 2010: 46). In the recent budget, ‘over Rs. 500,000 crore in write-offs, direct and indirect’ have been gifted to the corporate. In last three budgets, direct tax concessions to corporate tax payers has been of the order of Rs. 2,08,000 crores (Sainath 2010). In 2005 the Ministry of Finance estimated a loss of central taxes due to SEZs ‘at Rs. 1,02, 600 crore in the next 4-5 years against the projected investment of Rs. 1,00,000 crore’ (Chandra 2010: 46). In Tamil Nadu ‘together with subsidized land (and direct VAT reimbursements), government is estimated to have paid Nokia Rs. 645.4 crore’ (Dutta 2009). Compare this tax relief granted to the rich and powerful with Rs. 1,71,000 crores, the total estimated amount required in next five years for the implementation of the Right to Education Act (Tilak 2010).

Thus, by questioning the studied silence of the authors about the large concessions granted to the richer sections and the corporate world and calculating these since 1991 may put the arguments made by Jain and Dholakia about budget deficit and increasing tax revenues in perspective.

History, politics and location of the proposals
Jain and Dholakia propose that ‘the only remaining alternative’ is ‘public-private partnership (PPP) in which low cost providers of school education, who pay much lower salary, cover a significant part of school education’ (2009: 41, 2010: 80). They argue that private sector, NGOs and hiring of para-teachers under different programmes like the Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS), Shiksha Karmi and Alternative School/Centres under SSA have shown viability of this option.

Not just recognition but celebration of the policy of hiring teachers at low costs to justify its intensification by the duo itself indicates their agreement with the neoliberal policies pursued in education since 1990s. Decentralization of appointment of teachers and contract appointments were seen as an effective way of dealing with the teacher’s collective opposition to the reform process (Govinda and Josephine: 2005). Weakening of government school system and increasing privatization of education happened simultaneously in these reform years. Drawing from human capital and public choice theories, WB tried to promote an integrated world economy that operates by rules of market (World Bank 1995).

In the neoliberal ethos, deregulation of education and imposition of market discipline were seen as necessary to discipline the unjustifiably privileged middle class professionals like teachers and contain or reduce the educational expenditure. Concern about privileging the state employees and the high ‘compensation paid to civil servants’ was also expressed by World Bank (2003). It calculated that the ‘wages for selected categories of staff are consistently higher than they could expect to make in the private sector’. In comparison to 39 Asian countries where teacher’s salaries were 1.7 to 1 with reference to per capita GDP, in India it was 5 to 1 (World Bank 2003: 36). It was argued that ‘more emphasis needs to go to local market comparators’ (ibid: 37). Jain and Dholakia also argue that ‘the salary of a school- teacher in the private sector is almost 25% to 35% of the cost of government salary’ (2009: 41). They also calculate that primary teacher salaries in India exceed per capita GDP by seven times (2010: 79). If the GDP/teacher salary ratio in all other cited countries is taken as a norm, then the primary teacher’s monthly salary in India must range from Rs. 2129 to Rs. 4344.

In this perspective, paying this salary without benefits of security of job, pension and health related facility is not seen as exploitation but introduction of market discipline in the period of globalization. Clearly, different set of market rules apply to the CEOs of the India inc and fresh management graduates as instead of inviting concern for increasing the economic divide, their fat salary packages and raises are glorified by the media. Salaries of the upper echelons of bureaucracy also do not cause any alarm. One needs to ask when nearly 80% of the workforce in the unorganized sector earns less than Rs. 20 per day or less, who can afford the fee of Rs. 300/pm in private schools that may ‘outdo’ government schools (Jain and Dholakia 2010: 79). Clearly, free and compulsory education is not the agenda of the authors.

Education, Teachers and Teaching
Jain and Dholakia (2010: 78-79) admit Sarangapani’s (2009) criticism that Gyanshala is a model of non-formal education for three hours but stay shy of answering if such model fits well with continuation of child labour. Instead they assert that better performance of children, adherence to state/national norms of curriculum, learning environment and development opportunities result in delivery of good education ‘even with non-formal teachers’. To understand the Gyanshala model and its defence, we need to ask what connects these untrained teachers, better learning and supervision together.

With globalization, human capital theory and efficiency became predominant models to decide and evaluate the purpose, (economic) worth, processes and outcomes of education. Efficiency translated as cost effectiveness and ‘measurable student achievement’ became a key marker to define education and educational outcomes to plan, predict, measure and compare the role of education in enhancing the economic growth of different national economies. Deeper engagement in education for creating new types of citizens, for justice and equality, and education as human right are deemed economically irrelevant and thus unimportant to policy makers. Both state and non-state agencies began to measure, publish and circulate student achievements in reading and numeracy to compare private and public schools. Public choice theory and efficiency doctrine views teachers as merely a rent-seeking agent. With large labour and unemployed surplus, teachers are seen as an easily available human resource, a replaceable cog, as one input among many whose purpose is defined with reference ‘to quantifiable outputs, namely the learning achievement of students’ leading to greater workplace productivity (Welmond 2002: 41-42).

The management model of education adopted by Gyanshala treats teachers as workers in the education assembly line who perform the teaching/learning tasks decided by the management. In it, teacher lacks any training and agency to deliberate on curriculum, to conceive, plan and design teaching and learning strategies for specific groups and individuals. The curriculum supervisors break the ‘complex jobs into specified actions with specified results’. The ‘management controls both pace of work and skill’ of teachers to attain specified learning goals set for students (Apple 1995: 128-133). Thus, an attempt to look for any possibility of the personal, intellectual or professional growth of the teacher in this model that exploits teachers is bound to cause disappointment. This economic and management model and discourse inspired by neoliberal ethos has no space to conceive teacher and teaching in a holistic manner where it is not just the salaries, but also the autonomy, academic excellence/support, intellectually stimulating environment and recognition of the work that sustains interest in education and ensures quality teaching.

Gyanshala model may achieve greater success with its students in problem solving tasks, in producing citizens who are technically skilled and accept the existing social and political structure but whether it can lead to classroom discussions based on critical theories of education and pedagogy that question the neoliberal path of development remains doubtful. Art, music, drama, sports and other co-curricular activities have no space in its conception of learning tasks in three hours of education. One wonders if this minimal education to the children of the marginalized qualifies as adherence to state/national curriculum, as claimed by Jain and Dholakia.

Given the needs of first generation school goers, there is even greater need and urgency to appoint qualified teachers in government schools for reasons of equity, justice, rights and democratic citizenship. This would require intensive training inputs; rethinking on the existing models of pre-service and in-service teacher trainings; creation of work environment where teachers are part of wider deliberations on meaning and functions of education in an inegalitarian society. But would a teacher who is unskilled and low on pay as recommended by Jain and Dholakia, have the necessary qualification, confidence, self-image and motivation to undertake such effort? To paraphrase Erich Fromm, can a servile and docile teacher create independent learners. The economics of justifying state support for privatization and NGOisation of education indulged by Jain and Dholakia has serious political ramifications.
Apple, Michael W. (1995). Education and Power. New York: Routledge.
Chandra, Nirmal Kumar (2010). ‘Inclusive Growth in Neoliberal India: A Façade?’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 45, No. 8, February 20, pp: 43-56.
Dutta, Madhumita (2009). ‘Nokia SEZ: Public Price of Success’, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 44, No. 40, October 3, pp: 23-25.
Govinda, R. and Josephine, Y. (2005). ‘Para-teachers in India: A Review’, Contemporary Education Dialogue, Vol. 2, No. 2, Spring, pp: 193-224.
Jain, Pankaj S. and Dholakia, Ravindra H. (2009). ‘Feasibility of Implementation of Right to Education Act’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 44, No 25, 20th June, pp: 38-43.
Jain, Pankaj S. and Dholakia, Ravindra H. (2010). ‘Right to Education Act and Public-Private Partnership’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 45, No. 8, February 20, pp: 78-80.
Nambissan, Geetha and Ball, Stephen J. (Forthcoming). Advocacy Networks, Choice, and Schooling of the Poor in India.
Sainath, P. (2010). ‘And Yet another Pro-farmer Budget’, The Hindu, 1 March.
Sarangapani, Padma (2009). ‘Quality, Feasibility and Desirability of Low Cost Private Schooling: What is the Evidence?’, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol. 44, No. 43, 24 October, pp: 67-69.
Tilak, Jandhyala B.G. (2010). ‘Education in the Union Budget’. The Hindu. March 6.
Welmond, Michel (2002). ‘Globalization Viewed from the Periphery: the Dynamics of Teachers Identity in the Republic of Benin’, Comparative Education Review, Vol. 46, No. 1, February, pp: 37-65.
World Bank (1995). Priorities and Strategies for Education: A World Bank Review. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.
World Bank (2003). India: Sustaining Reform, Reducing Poverty. Delhi: OUP.
          Right to Education Debate on Arktiect India   
Practical Stuff: For those who are not private school owners/publicists:

"India’s education sector currently offers an estimated US$40 billion market. This spans the kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) segment (US$20 billion) (905 billion INR), private professional colleges (US$7 billion) and tutoring (US$5 billion), vocational training (US$1.4 billion), test preparation (US$1.7 billion), and preschools (US$1 billion)."

This quote is from a market analysts's article.

School education budgets have been hiked to 31,036 crores. A whole range of private interests like the one below see this public fund as one more source of private income. The ready-made, publicly available criticisms of government schools come in handy to create a market buzz. Private education managements bar all public scrutiny so we don't really know (unless it is first-hand as children) what goes on inside a low-cost private school. Here are some trends:
1. Parents have reported a 160% hike in fees over an 8 year period, with High Court notices being slapped against schools for such increases.
2. Teachers and school employees are not passed on these benefits, with the real profits going to school owners.

While there is no doubt that there are certain private schools upholding the highest values of quality teaching, transparency and commitment to children's best interests at low costs, the value of government schools which are free, publicly managed, and come with midday meals is irreplaceable.

Why 'low price' when Education is free, like the Right to Life?

I end with a lesson from someone who has become a star footballer. Till a few years ago, she was a child labourer. She joined a school and fought bullying there to reach State levels in football (Yes, all is not well with schools, whether they are government or not). The point? The school she went to was a government school. Ergo: It was free. Because if it was paid, it would simply mean stars like Shakti would never be allowed an education.
I thought that your questions were already answered, but let me make another try. Please see answers in parenthesis, following each of your question.

Warm regards.
Hi Mr. Jain,
Couldn't help notice that you have uploaded a ppt about your position and chosen to ignore some critical questions on WHY the GoI should fund private schools to meet India's education needs. Your ppt makes your position very clear so am selecting some key points to raise here. Am re-articulating my questions of my earlier email in simple terms:
1. How does paying taxpayer's money to private schools ensure quality education? {Tax paper's money for education is meant to give education to children. Who ever provides this education better deserves to get this. Private schools are also manned by Indian citizens. Tax payer's money is not to give salary to only Govt. employees, but to meet national social goals.}
2. On what grounds are teachers replaceable by para-teachers? How would you justify poor quality teaching? {The payment to schools are to be linked to measurement of learning outcome tested by an agency appointed by the Govt., so the quality of education better than those of Govt. schools is ensured.}
3. How does making public schools weaker by channeling the public's money to private schools justify India's long-term eductaion goals? {India's long term goal is not served by dependence on public sector alone. More efficient private/ NGO/ Coop sector are better for citizen than public sector for long term benefit of Indian citizen. The examples of AMUL in dairy sector, telecommunication, airlines, sectors prove this.}
4. Are you really saying that parents and children's rights should be curtailed further by putting the responsibility of eductaion in private hands? Private schools have no democratic school management committees. {Children are empowered by having freedom and choice and not dependence on unresponsive bureaucracy of Govt. schools.}
5. If private schools are the answer, why hasn't UK stopped funding its public schools? Why won't the UK public and its MPs allow it? {Slowly, most western countries are now introducing private/ charter school in preference to Govt. schools, and this might happen in UK too. Anyhow, we need our own solutions, not blind copying of UK.}
Many education activists have argued/ held that Government is not spending enough on school education and paying less attention to school education.

In this regard, it is useful to know the following uncontested facts:

1. Official salary level of school teachers in India is highest in the world, in comparison to their country's per capita income. Most countries pay to teachers between 1.2 to 2 times their average per capita income, but under the latest Pay Commission, this has been pegged above 7 of per capita income in India.
2. The teacher qualification standards, mostly graduation+B.Ed. is again amongst the highest in the world, as in most countries, teacher qualification is pursued after school, not graduation.
3. The provision of on the job continuous training of 20 days/ yr. under SSA is highest in the world.
4. The structure of academic support to school teachers, in the form of DIET, BRC/CRCs is most elaborate and extensive in the world.
5. Provision of free text books, which are periodically revised by the concerned SCERT, is one of the most liberal in the world.
6. The current cost of school education as per official salary level is so high that covering all children in Govt. funded school facility, a right under RTI, will require an education budget equal to more than 20% GDP, (See a paper by Jain & Dholkia in EPW, June 20, 2009) while all countries in the world have ensured universal govt. funded school education at merely 3.5 (China & Singapore) to 6% of GDP as education budget.

All these measures are already existent and funded in the state and central budgets.

You can decide if the poor performance of school system is because Govt. spends less money or pays less attention, or because Govt. run school have become essentially platforms for Govt. education department employees to obtain high salaries without Govt. schools doing their basic task..

It seems that the only practical way for the nation to honor RTI commitments is to rely in low cost private schools, and link any payment to them with their performance in ensuring required learning levels among children, specifically those from poor and backward communities/ groups. If only 25% of education budget is devoted to this, by leaving 75% to non-performing inefficient govt. schools, India could still obtain universal govt. funded and regulated school education for all its children.

Pankaj Jain
The "Uncontested facts" on the Indian Government's expenditure on school Education, as produced by Mr Jain, appear fallacious and at times, just poor assertions.
As a rule, numbers/figures should be read cautiously as they can be interpreted in several ways; each interpretation will have specific political meaning/s. Mr Jain may want to consider the following queries, for instance:
- what is the significance of linking up salary with per capita income? what sense will it have if a substantial percentage of Indians is forced to survive on less than half a dollar/day?
- what will change if we went by the Gross Domestic Product numbers?
- and, what will happen if we bring in the, so called, Growth Rate to determine the salary structure? Should we not?
- The Teacher Qualification Standard (B.Ed), let's assume, is among the best in the world, but the fact is that over 6 million teachers in this country are under-paid, contractual, and severely lack in skills and training.
- Some say that today the country needs over 1.2 million teachers, the number will go up if 1:30 teacher-pupil ratio is enforced. How many teacher training institutes are there? 450. Of which, over 150 should be closed straight away, so poor is their standard, as per the admission of the NCERT itself. So, the 300 TTIs will give us the number we need?
- Why do you need 20% of the GDP today to ensure universalization of education? Why does China need 3.5% only of its GDP? The answer rests in your desire to look into comparative investments patterns of these countries since 1952.

As far as the overall performance of the Indian State is concerned, it has more than met its target in the field of education: It has ensured education to 10-15% of the populace that matters to it; the rest struggles to get basic numeracy & literacy.

Partnership with Private bodies to secure universalization of Education can be considered, of course. The same goes to Health and Food as well. There is just one condition, however: People should not be forced to pay taxes to a National government, for there won't be either a Nation or its moral legitimacy to collect taxes. Isn't it? This is what will happen if Fundamental Rights are conflated with Market Rights, after all. One should then be allowed to lease out defense, finances, laws as well. Say, some arms producing American company... his CEO as your Defense Minister! That would be some departure! It may be a good way to dismantle the nation state and to realize the true Global Village,don't you think?

Arun Kumar

In all critical responses to our paper, our facts/ computations have never not been contested. You too are not giving any information to establish that the fact outlined by me are fallacious, as you have branded them to be, but are rightfully demanding reasonable explanations. So, let me try to provide some.

1. Per capita income comparison is the only way to make fair economic comparison of policies related to relative income in different countries.
2. Changing GNP with GDP as the comparative base would not materially affect the ratios. 3. The EPW paper already gives detailed consideration to the annual growth in income and its impact.
4. You would need 20% of GDP to cover all children because the main cost of a school program is staff/ teacher salary, which in India is 3-4 times the international trends, when seen in respect to those countries' per capita GDP. That is the reason other countries could cover all children with roughly 1/3rd of budget required in India as % of GDP.
5. The current salary of teachers in China has nothing to do with their historical attainment of universal literacy. It has to do only with China's (and most other countryies') current policy to pay its teachers what can be justified by its current income and its current goal to provide universal school education to all its children.

I share many of your concerns about the distortions in the overall political priorities of the country and the government, but school education policy should be only to educate the children, not to balance/ correct/ compensate the imbalances/ injustices elsewhere.

Let us fight political battles separately, and use education policy and budget only to educate children. Let us not use the money which rightfully should be spent on children's education to correct the implication of India's poverty on one of its section, i.e. teachers.

I would also share your concern that involvement of private-public partnership in education delivery should be guided by the social goal of ensuring quality education to all children from poor families, not only a small section that might get 25% seats in a few elte private schools, which are discussed in our TV/ media debates

Warm regards.

Pankaj Jain

Hi Mr. Jain,
I was wondering where the conclusion of supporting low-cost private schools is coming from. Has your paper explored in what ways are low-cost private schools that
- pay their teachers meager salaries
- charge money for fees from parents
- offer very poor quality of teaching and
- retain the profits as unaudited accounts, by the school management,

The other conclusion, missing from your paper, of improving the quality of government schools.

Is the solution for mismanagement of funds by GoI's schools, private schools? I wouldn't jump to that conclusion, without an emperical data of the kind you quote on how these schools are superior. Because in a country where purchasing power is as low as ours (38% BPL according to the limited re-definition of India's BPL by the Suresh Tendulkar Committee), expecting parents to bear the cost of school education (which happens to be a RIGHT - not a 'product' to be purchased) is just plain illogical and wrong.

Would request you to rethink your argument form the point of view of children. Couldn't agree more with you when you say, keep politics (and vested interests) out, just bring in the children's point of view: Should a child be expected to pay for what should come free to her?


I feel compelled and drawn to this discussion as the issues raised are important. The idea of nation State and its role is not an uncontested one and so is not the role of education. Even in a domocracy, education and educational thought can not be left to the purview of the Government. It is important to distinguish between the Government and the State. There is often this confusion as we still live in times where the State was feudal and therefore the relationship of people to the State was that of a subject being governed by the State. The king and and the king's key officers decided who would be a part of the decision maker and how things would proceed. They also decided many other things including the rights people would have. Inspite of the fact that we are not a democracy in practice and have not given up our feudal governance sensibilities there is an alternative conception that has been formulated by the constitution that governs us. We need to think of the State in the context of what we pledged in the preamble and then think about what the State includes and what it would leave out to limit the notion of the State to the Government may not be sufficiently explanatory?

When I look at the arguments of Mr Arun Kumar I am stuck by his sympathy with the people in the education system but perhaps he is not saying that. I may have missed the point and he maybe saying that all this is an irrelevant discussion. I maybe misreading his letter as an concern about quality. (Problem with satires is that dumb like me fail to grasp the full meaning. I will ask forgiveness and continue) I am also impressed by the argument that people should not live below the half a dollar expense that they are able to make now and that they should have more. The point is that the gross domestic product is a number that gives you an idea of the amount of exchange in the economy and that would indicate what would be available to the entire population in the country. ( I am dimly aware that this is not strictly correct but the figures would not be different by a large amount, please excuse this as i am not an economist) So if you have a large segment of the available resources distributed to a specific section, namely the govt employees or the corporate employees here then it is obvious that unless these lead to a proportionately higher increase in the economy the available resources for the rest would decline. Therefore there is an argument in relating the expense to the GDP. In health and in education the expenditure is said to be critically important as it would lead to more completeness in life but perhaps there is expectation that it would also lead to economic growth as the people are healthier and more capable.

So where does that lead us, we live in a country that claims that it wants to be moving towards democratic equality of opportunity and choice. (Nice words) and we have a large space that we want to be available for the initiative of the people. We are not a State that is autocratic or a State that is totalitarian. I think the RTE and some of the implications of it and the rules that are being formulated for it need to be looked at in that context. they have also to be looked at in the context of the Governance mechanisms available and the how rules are implemented. To me there is a lot of sense in including people's concerns in education and as in the time of independence struggle encourage those interested in providing liberal education within the norms of Indian constitutional framework to run their educational institutions. There is exploitation all around, clerks are exploited, workers are exploited and there is wide spread disparity of compensation for apparently similar roles. The reason for being so concerned about the salaries of only Govt employees and of teachers in private schools seem to be disproportionate to their numbers and the extent of exploitation. A daily wage worker is not even confident of a useful role and not confident of regular employment is not the matter of same concern as the teacher is. The budget in the economy is a sharing of resources and to say 20% of that should go to education and that we do not care where it comes from is denying the role as a responsible democratic citizen in my view.

I of course do not know the answer but do know that closing private schools or forcing them to cheat and issue false salary slips in connivance with the monitoring mechanisms would further compound the problem. There are private schools that get poor children and where the teachers are paid low are part of the family. they fulfill the needs of people who send their children to them then there are also social interveners who may not be substantial but are significant. They are also creators of ideas and extend education. Their existence and survival, thought, autonomy and innovative spirit has been critical to development of educational ideas in the country in many ways. It is not clear why we want to close down the options for all these citizens initiatives and close down open schools that provided opportunity to those who the schools could not bring in.

The RTE discussions and the arguments of its promoters have in them a ring of the touching faith in the system that they criticize voiciferously. There is no comment on Governance and how it would allow space and autonomy. There is on the other hand further monitoring proposed by a system that has not functioned. The system for its faliures has held the teachers and the community responsible and the present formulations are in the same direction. We can only see theMore later 'identical boxes' production syndrome that RTE seems to push towards. The only points about Governance are a demand for more budget, more centralization and stronger monitoring. It is almost assumed that only those who would be in bureaucracy or formulating rules for them and with them know what is to be done and are responsible and quality conscious. The fact that education is a dialogue and no monitoring can ensure that the dialogue be meaningful as the meaningfulness of that would also have to be determined in the context of children and the community as well as the teacher does not seem to be reflected in the design. Forming rules that take away initiative, flexibility and explorations can not improve education, which is a process of releasing human thought.

Yes we need to strengthen and improve the Govt system but not by forcing the alternatives to close. You can not prove your line longer by erasing the other persons line. How do we enlarge the quality line of the Govt schools is something we need to address and that is an issue of governance. we need to read the NCF 2005 that the RTE endorses and the spaces that NCF wants to encourage and increase and the path that of openness, autonomy and multiple explorations that it proposes.

More later. Ready for the brick bats

1. There is some/ considerable evidence of low cost privately managed schools delivering better than Govt. school education. Some is cited in my paper, but much more exists. There is almost no evidence that average Govt. school is doing better than a private school whose cost is more than Rs. 200-300/- per child / month.

2. I do not support private schooling provision where poor parents have to pay. I argue for the Govt. contracting out delivery of service to privately managed but publicly regulated low cost schools that can be held accountable to meet socially preferred goals, so that children get their due, which they are not getting from very expensive Govt. managed schools. Many NGO schools are examples of this. Currently, Govt. would have to spend more than 8000-9000/- per child per year in its schools if it pays 6th Pay Commission salary to all its teachers. By paying Rs. 3500/- to privately managed schools, the same Govt. could ensure much better education to children, by linking payment to school with exam results.

3. I do not have reliable remedies to improve govt. schools, this task must be undertaken by those who support Govt. managed schools and payment of salary to teachers in these schools at the rate prescribed by the 6th Pay Commission.

Warm regards.

Just responding to the points raised:
1. There is considerable evidence that govt school education is doing very well: you only have to see the Navodaya schools, Kendriya Vidyalayas, Sainik Schools. If the problem is mismanagement of funds, i can see the point about bringing accountability - still cannot see how this makes a case for paying teachers less.

Many other government employees fall under the 6th Pay Commission raise. How will paying them lesser help?

Also I wouldn't agree that low-cost teachers are all India's children deserve and you really need to look at the motivation behind such a thought. All children deserve fully trained, qualified teachers because the work of teachers is serious and they need to be equipped to handle this, like any other profession.

Isn't the answer creating accountability among teachers? And talking about those lakhs of schools where a government teacher teaches diligently, often balancing 3-4 classes, due to personnel shortages?

2. The crux of the argument is that education is the state's business because it is a RIGHT, one it cannot outsource to private parties, by either footing the bill of private school fees or by expecting private schools to reserve 25%. If the state gives up this responsibility by quoting the poor state of teaching, it might as well start giving up its other responsibilities too - notably security (nobody will agree to that!).

Why are we arguing about cost-saving in something as basic as schools? Countries that do spend on public education are the UK and France - countries where the level of civic awareness is relatively high. Spending on public services ups the ante as far the overall level of the citizens go - and no one can deny education is among the most fundamental of public services. And the people in charge of something as fundamental as education need just pay.

3. In summary, there is no alternative for working on improving accountability. If we dissolve public schools, we hand over public accountability permanently to private players. If by international standards India is paying its teachers well that is something to uphold, not dilute, by arguing that we can get teaching 'cheaper'.

(Have you considered puchasing power parity in your analysis -
What people get paid and what it affords them are two different stories)

I only have a small comment on the costing. The provision suggests not more than 30 children per teacher. This implies a cost that would be more than the Rs 8000-9000 cost worked out by Mr Jain. I am not sure if he accounted for the text books and the learning materials, teacher development & support and administeration and the monitoring.
I also do not see the advantage of linking payment with exam results that is suggested by Mr Jain.
I wish to make four points.
First Point:
It looks logical that allocations will depend on the size of the pot.
And yet we are drawing different conclusions.
The economy of a country may or may not reflect the nature of its investment priorities. This is so because priorities are often determined by political expediencies. Consider Bangladesh, for instance, a poorer economy that has far greater investment in education, compared to India. How much is okay to shell out for education may be a viable economic decision only in the long run – which governments invariably choose to ignore. A State must not.
An economic argument is also a political concern (and the other way). My queries were emanating from this location.
I assign Mr. Hardy’s following supposition to precisely this location: “The budget in the economy is a sharing of resources and to say 20% of that should go to education and that we do not care where it comes from is denying the role as a responsible democratic citizen in my view”. The responsible citizenry would also ask why the requirement has become 20% today. The Universalization of Education is at least a five decade old promise to the people. School buildings, provisions, teachers, teacher training institutes, etc, are not suddenly-arrived emergencies. In the post-1990 Structural Adjustment show, the World Bank and its functionaries, nation states included, came up with MDG and how we all have begun pushing for EFA has actually become part of modern folklore.
Second Point:
Holding the State responsible for what is ensured as Rights by the Constitution is not to make the State the sole arbiter in deciding what education is or should be. Bidisha makes this point clearly. There can’t be disagreement with Mr. Hardy’s following remark - Even in a democracy, education and educational thought can not be left to the purview of the Government. [I would go a step further and say that it must not be left even to the purview of the State]. What is being underlined is that the responsibility to provide infrastructure, system and mechanism belongs to the State. The public sphere should and will continue to play a role in challenging, sharpening, researching, innovating issues related to education, its meaning and content.
This brings me to my third point.
In several write-ups of late, one senses a slip up between non-government and market, between people and private. This linguistic corruption, for the lack of a better term, if what I feel has any substance, is the marker of how market has invaded our senses. Of course, private schools too are about people, so often also about poor people, students and teachers, and their ideas and thoughts. The moot question, however, is: are all of them there because the government schools can’t function properly? Should the question of poor functioning of government institutions be addressed by market solutions? Is there a difference between Public-Private Partnership and Government-Market tie up? Is the market today becoming all-powerful institution because the State is weak? Or, is the State actually facilitating the stronger role for the market? There is neither need nor feasibility to shut all private schools. But, while saying this we must make it clear that we are not advocating privatization of school/education. Else, there always will be a follow-up question: why not privatize the nation-state itself. And, this is not a polemical point or satirical statement.
Just for the record, asking for greater budgetary provisions for Education, I hope, does not necessarily make one a supporter of the current Right to Education Act.
Finally, the question about bringing up other concerns, issues, struggles to the field of Education and budget. If I got it right, I do not quite know how else to address it. For me and many others, they are not separate. The specifics of Education may belong to educationists, but the political-economy of Education is everybody’s concern. A mazdoor woman who survives on 20 rupees/a day is also the one who didn’t get quality education. Nor are her children likely to get it.

Arkitect India
New Delhi
          CASA Festival Joins Forces with Southwark Playhouse and Arcola Theatre   

For its tenth anniversary year, CASA Festival joins forces with two of London's leading off-West End theatres Southwark Playhouse and Arcola Theatre to offer London audiences eight weeks of brilliant Latin American theatre and culture.

The festival kicks off at Arcola with Sergio Blanco's highly-acclaimed Thebes Land returning for a five-week run, ahead of a five-week season of four acclaimed international shows and three exciting new works by UK-based Latin American artists at Southwark Playhouse. Completing the programme are: a new verbatim piece about violence against Brazilian women and girls who live in the UK, a new theatre show about Peru and its food, and an eight-week festival of play readings of Latin America's most exciting contemporary voices.

Daniel Goldman, Artistic Director of CASA, comments, I founded CASA in 2007 to build bridges between two incredible theatre cultures. The importance of international festivals that push our cultural boundaries has never been greater... We are delighted that we are celebrating our 10th year anniversary CASA 2017 at two of London's finest Off West End theatres and we can't wait to share this outstanding theatre programme with our existing audiences and new faces.

Highlights for CASA 2017 include:

Thebes Land by Sergio Blanco, Uruguay (6th September - 7th October)

The smash-hit, critically-acclaimed Thebes Land - winner of Best Production at the 2016 Off West End awards - returns to Arcola for 5 weeks only. In this exhilarating multiple-reality drama, a playwright struggles to stage the incredible story of Martin Santos, a young man serving a life sentence for killing his father with a fork. As their interviews progress and opening night approaches, both of their worlds begin to unravel with shocking consequences. Will the truth be found, and can it be told? Trevor White and Alex Austin reprise their celebrated performances in Daniel Goldman's funny, ingenious production, performed inside a giant steel cage.

Otelo by Viajeinmóvi, Chile (26th - 30th September)

This fast, darkly funny and politically-charged puppetry reimagining of Shakespeare's classic tragedy focuses on Desdemona's murder to explore Latin America's horrific record of femicide. Taking the beginning of Act 4 of Shakespeare's play as its starting point, Iago and Emilia join forces and minds to manipulate full-size mannequins, disembodied heads and Othello's jealous heart with terrifying results. This is a masterclass in object theatre and making classics relevant today by Chile's leading puppetry company who return to CASA after their critically-acclaimed performances of Chef in 2011. Performed in Spanish with English surtitles.

Osmo by Movicena, Brazil (3rd - 7th October)

Based on a short story by one of Brazil's leading female writers Hilda Hilst, this is the tale of Osmo, a serial killer with literary pretensions. While he is sitting at home in the bath trying yet again to write his memoirs, he receives a phone call from a friend inviting him to a dance. As he prepares for another night that will end in sex and murder, Osmo tells his remarkable story and muses with glorious irony on the aesthetic power of horror. Directed by acclaimed Susan Damsceno, Osmo features a masterful performance by Donozeti Mazonas who delivers the show fully naked in an open aquarium. This hilarious and deliciously macabre show, described by the company as anti-stand-up, has shocked and rocked audiences across Brazil. Performed in Portuguese with English surtitles.

UK Week (10th - 14th October, Southwark Playhouse)

Discover three brand new full-length works by three of the UK's most exciting artists of Latin American heritage. The artists are still being selected so watch this space to find out who will be sharing their talents for audiences to discover for the first time. Previous UK artists include Vicky Araico Casas (UK/Mexico) who won a deserved Fringe First for her show Juana in a Million and Tamsin Clarke (UK/Venezuela) whose brilliant Manuelita won a Three Weeks Editors Award. Explore this year's UK Week to see what the next generation is up to.

The only thing a great actress needs is a great play and the desire to succeed by Vaca 35, Mexico (18th - 21st October)

Inspired by Genet's The Maids, two Mexican servants get ready for the day ahead. They cook breakfast, wash, dance and tell stories in a sharp and revelatory piece that shines a light on marginalisation, stereotyping and those who live in poverty with no hope of escaping their circumstances. Visceral, minimalist and beautifully performed, the production explores the fine line between humility and vanity, violence and vanity, while offering up the sacrifice of two very different female bodies to the audience gaze. Performed in Spanish with English surtitles

Mendoza by Los Colochos, Mexico (24th - 28th October)

An earthy, radical reimagining of Shakespeare's Macbeth set during Mexico's War of Independence in the early 19th Century. General Mendoza is returning to camp when he stumbles across an old witch who prophesises that he will come to lead the army. Convinced into action by his wife, he begins a chain of grisly murders that will come to seem endless. Inspired by Juan Rulfo and Elena Garro and deeply connected to the Mexican soil, this thrilling fast-paced and blood-soaked ensemble production exposes Mexico's downward spiral into the gruesome violence that exploded into the world's consciousness with the massacre of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa. Performed in Spanish with English surtitles.

CASA is supported by an Arts Council England Grant for the Arts.

          Legislature to Pass Budget Today   
I was actually going to give you all kinds of links and updates but here's all you really need to know - the Dems caved, schools will not be fully-funded and property-rich areas will pay for most of the increases.

Schools will get $7.3B more over the next four years.  This is not enough and is likely to not pass judicial muster for fully funding schools.  After this budget is passed, the Supreme Court will review the part that addresses McCleary and allow the plaintiffs to give their thoughts.  Any ruling on this issue would probably come at the end of the summer.

Robert Cruinkshank
Last year, McCleary plaintiffs said $5.6 billion needed just for next school year. $7.3b over 4 years won't cut it

- Property taxes will go up in Seattle/King County - by a lot.

Joe O'Sullivan
Rough numbers, Seattle will see $440/yr increase in property taxes for average house, Ranker says
-There will be a cap on the per dollar amount that local levies can ask for.

From Representative Zack Hutchins:

Initiative 1351
Staffing enrichments provided in the prototypical funding formula under Initiative 1351 are recodified in a different chapter of the RCWs. If additional staffing units are funded in future operating budgets, those units will then become a part of basic education.

By 2019-20, school districts must provide separate accounting of state and local revenues and expenditures data. The State Auditor must conduct regular financial audits to ensure districts are using local revenues in compliance with this act. 

Categorical programs
·         Career and Technical Education and Skills Center Programs’ class sizes reduced
·         Highly Capable Program allocation increased from 2.314 to 5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Additional Learning Assistance Program allocation for high poverty schools
·         Special Education allocation increased from 12.7 to 13.5 percent of a district’s enrollment
·         Increased Transitional Bilingual Program instruction in middle and high schools by two hours

Joe O'Sullivan
Another tax change in deal: B&O tax rate for all manufacturing comes down to Boeing's preferential rate, Ranker says.

Because much of the McCleary plan doesn't kick in for some time, Billig said lawmakers can tweak things if problems w/ plan.

On the public not being able to weigh in or even see the real actual budget in a timely manner:

Melissa Santos
 Lawmakers June Robinson and Dan Kristiansen are telling me public has had time to vet much of budget through past proposals

Tim Eyman
Mega-victories on the final budget deal - what's NOT in it is our biggest success
No income tax. No new capital gains tax.  No new carbon tax.  No increases in business taxes. 


While the legislature's proposed education funding plan includes a significant increase in funding for our public schools, it falls well short of what is required by the courts and the constitution. 

This deal runs a serious risk of failing to meet those requirements, failing to meet the pressing needs in classrooms across the state, and relies on unstable funding sources. If this deal passes, it may not mean the end of the McCleary case - this year, this decade, or this generation.

In 2016 Washington's Paramount Duty estimated the cost of fully funding public education - specifically, the basic education promised by the legislature in 2009 in bills ESSB 2261 and 2776 - to be about $8 billion a biennium. Legal counsel for the McCleary plaintiffs estimated the sum was $10 billion a biennium, with at least $5.6 billion needed just for the next school year alone in order to meet requirements for materials and operations, teacher salaries, and smaller class sizes.

The deal legislators reached this week would provide an extra $7.3 billion over the next four years. This is less than half the money required to fulfill the constitutional and court-enforced right to a fully and amply funded education.

This deal also undermines the voter-approved initiative to reduce class sizes, providing that smaller class sizes would only become part of a basic education requirement if the legislature chooses to fund it. This is circular logic, and flies in the face of evidence and common sense that students learn better and have all their needs met when teachers can provide more attention to them in a classroom with fewer students.

We have already heard from parents and teachers across the state who are concerned that the sweeping changes to teacher pay would make it even more difficult to attract and retain good teachers in our schools. Capping teacher pay at $90,000, as well as the elimination of the "staff mix" model and limits on bargaining, combine to limit the ability of teachers to make a living and remain as residents of our own communities.

The McCleary case was never about reforms to the way teachers are paid. We see no reason for these risky changes to be made, certainly not with so much haste and so little public scrutiny.

We are also troubled by the methods used to pay for this half measure. The Supreme Court held that education funding must be regular and dependable. A property tax increase does not meet that standard, especially when the legislature maintains a 1% cap in future years on property taxes. This has the effect of eroding the property tax revenues that go to schools, meaning it's no longer regular or dependable.

The legislature's decision to limit local levies is another risky move. If the legislature fails to adequately fund basic education, or if districts' costs rise above what legislators are willing to pay, those districts will be facing significant cuts, undermining the intent of the McCleary decision.

More importantly, using the property tax to fund schools is regressive and hurts the poor and the working families for whom a public education is particularly important. Many families will be unable to pay these costs, especially at a time when housing costs in many Washington cities are rising fast.

Washington State is home to some of the world's richest individuals - and yet we have the most regressive tax system in the United States. The legislature's decision to make poor people pay without asking the rich or big businesses to pay more is unconscionable, particularly when the same budget deal opens millions in new tax breaks for business.

We understand that legislators are worried about a government shutdown. We are too. On the other hand, it is hard to believe that avoiding a shutdown now is worth the price of continuing to underfund our schools and make poor people pay more in housing costs for years to come.

Students across Washington State are asked to attend schools that don't have heat in the winter, that don't have new textbooks, that don't have a full-time nurse on duty, that don't have librarians or new books, or counselors to help guide them to college or a career. It's not clear that this deal will fully address these and other urgent needs, particularly since there are no provisions for capital expenditures in this budget. We urge the legislature to urgently address capital requirements for schools by passing a bill that provides the $2 billion necessary to ensure children across Washington attend schools that are safe, secure and have the capacity to accommodate the lower class sizes that voters have voted for and that we know provide a better learning environment for all students. 

Legislators may be exhausted and tired after a few weeks of work. But parents are exhausted and tired after years of unpaid work to plug the gaps in funding for our underfunded public schools caused by legislators’ dereliction of their duty. We call on legislators to reject this deal and fix it to address the issues we have identified above. If they pass this education funding plan, we will have no choice but to urge the Supreme Court to reject it and order the legislature to do better.

          President Magufuli, ban sexual violence, not teenage mothers from school   

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is facing widespread criticism from human rights organizations following comments he made last Thursday at a public rally that girls who become pregnant should not be allowed to return to school.

President Magufuli was quoted as saying:

"In my administration, as long as I am president ... no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school. We cannot allow this immoral behaviour to permeate our primary and secondary schools ... never.”

"After calculating some few mathematics she’d be asking the teacher in the classroom ‘let me go out and breastfeed my crying baby’... After getting pregnant, you are done! 

“If we were to allow the girls back to school, one day we would find all girls in Standard One going home to nurse their babies.”

These worrying statements were backed up this week by Tanzania’s Home Affairs Minister, Mr Mwigulu Nchemba, who warned civil society organisations advocating for teenage mothers’ education that they would be deregistered if they continued campaigning on this issue.

Tanzania's ban on pregnant girls attending state primary and secondary schools dates back to 1961, and according to a 2013 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), more than 55,000 schoolgirls have been expelled from school over the last decade for being pregnant.

Although some more affluent families have been able to pay for their daughters to attend private school, the majority of girls have had to miss out on the rest of their education.

Civil society organizations including Equality Now argue that denying girls who have become mothers access to education is a violation of their human rights, and is a form of discrimination as highlighted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in their recent report: Realization of the equal enjoyment of the right to education by every girl.

The right to education plays a pivotal role in development, both of the individual and society. It opens up access to information on protection, opportunities and other fundamental rights, and is highly linked to personal, social and economic empowerment.

Barring teenage mothers from education not only perpetuates discriminatory gender norms, but is also an indication of government failures to address the root cause of widespread sexual violence against adolescent girls.

Efforts to eradicate violence against girls and women in Tanzania need to be increased, and laws against perpetrators of sexual violence have to be better enforced. More needs to be done also to alleviate the stigma and discrimination endured by pregnant girls and survivors of sexual violence and exploitation.

Girls’ human rights to health, life and right to equality and non-discrimination must be guaranteed by providing them with quality education, and to sexual and reproductive health care information, services and goods. 

The Tanzanian government and President John Magufuli should ensure that all school settings across the country are free from sexual violence and that holistic programming is in place to prevent and address sexual violence as outlined in the Global Guidance to Address School Related Gender Based Violence.

Description: is key to eliminating poverty and denial of education is counter to any proposals aiming to improve society. Around one in four females in Tanzania are illiterate and the country’s illiteracy rate rose by one per cent to reach 23 per cent in 2015. By only punishing pregnant girls and denying them their education, the government is penalizing them on the basis of gender and is curtailing their futures so they are likely to remain trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Providing access to child care for girls who become mothers should be a state priority, as should the provision of other vital support services so that they can return to school.  Of particular urgency is guaranteeing girls’ right to access post-rape healthcare information and services including those necessary to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as ante-natal care.

President Magufuli’s comments go against the Tanzanian government's own policy and contradict the 2015 General Election campaign pledge of the ruling political party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi. They are also directly at odds with the commitments that Tanzania has already made by signing up to various regional and international pieces of legislation. These include the Maputo Protocol, which guarantees the rights of women and girls in Africa including their rights to education and training, and the Convention on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which clearly states that girls who get pregnant should be given an opportunity to access education.

People wanting to join the conversation on social media can use the hashtags #ArudiShule and #StopMagufuli, which are trending since last week. Many are urging President Magufuli to withdraw his damaging statements, lift the ban on teenage mothers accessing schools, and take all necessary steps to ensure the wellbeing and future prospects of all girls across Tanzania.


Notes to Editor: For media enquiries and interview requests please contact Equality Now Media Relations Manager Tara Carey at; +44 (0)20 7304 6902; +44 (0)7971 556 340.

About Equality Now:

Equality Now is an international human rights organization that works to protect and promote the rights of women and girls around the world by combining grassroots activism with international, regional and national legal advocacy. Our international network of lawyers, activists, and supporters achieve legal and systemic change by holding governments responsible for enacting and enforcing laws and policies that end legal inequality, sex trafficking, sexual violence, and harmful practices such as child marriage and FGM. Equality Now is dedicated to creating a more just world where women and girls have equal rights under the law and full enjoyment of those rights. For details of our current campaigns, please visit

To follow and engage with us online go to: Twitter: @equalitynow. Facebook: Instagram:

Christa Stewart is Program Manager, End Sexual Violence, and Justice for Girls. She is a lawyer experienced in working with adolescent girls and on issues of human trafficking, sexual assault and immigration. Twiiter @c_stewart_esq



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          CARICOM deals a blow to US plans for regime change in Venezuela    

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, recently tweeted that the “US State Department deployed its ambassadors in the region to attack Venezuela. We come with renewed vigor to defeat them at the OAS.”

So said, so done. The US Ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, spewed the US false narrative regarding Venezuela in our local newspapers. US ambassadors in a number of other Caribbean countries did the same. It was a coordinated attempt to mislead the people of Guyana and the region about what is really happening in Venezuela, and to apply pressure on members of CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and the OAS (Organization of American States) to succumb to US calls for intervention, with the aim of overthrowing the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

US diplomats in Guyana, and for that matter throughout the Global South, are not diplomats in the strict sense of the word, and can be better described as political activists. They are constantly meddling in the internal affairs of the country they are stationed in, giving directives to the compliant neo-colonial regimes and actively undermining and destabilizing independent and anti-imperialist governments, such as the government in Venezuela.

This latest US psych-ops came just after the May 31st meeting of the OAS in Washington DC and just prior to the June 19th OAS meeting in Cancun, Mexico, where CARICOM member states took a firm and united anti-interventionist position in relation to the current situation in Venezuela, delivering a resounding defeat to the interventionist approach advocated by the US, Mexico, Peru and Panama,

Following the June 19th OAS meeting, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister, Delcy Rodriguez, said: “Today we come with the strength of our people who took to the streets to denounce the interventionism of the Organization of American States, we come with the force of the rain of our commander Hugo Chavez. Independence and sovereignty triumphed today over the United States of America, with its brutal pressure, with its gross extortion, with its maneuvers…”

She added that the call for intervention encourages the “most violent, anti-democratic factions in our country,” and she thanked the Caribbean nations for their “deeply principled stand.”
In his letter and articles, US ambassador, Perry Holloway, had the temerity to lecture Guyana and other member-states of the OAS about their obligation to democracy and human rights. He stated that: “The diverse family of nations in the Americas recognizes democracy is a part of our collective DNA. Sixteen years ago in Peru, we underscored this principle with the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, affirming the right of the peoples of the Americas to democracy and obligating our governments to defend that right.”

I suggest that before US diplomats in the Caribbean and the Americas offer any criticism or advice to Venezuela or any member-state of the OAS on issues of democracy and human rights, they should first examine the behavior of their own government in relation to their undemocratic practices and policies, both internally and around the world, and their endless list of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Trump lays bare sham democracy

The only positive aspect of Trump’s presidency is that it is exposing, once and for all, the sham that parades as US democracy and concern for human rights. The entirely undemocratic nature of US internal and foreign policy is clear to all in 2017. Even that minority of citizens on this planet who still held out some hope that the US resembled anything close to a democracy, have now seen through the façade. American political philosopher, Sheldon S. Wolin, in his brilliant work, Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, renders a devastating critique of US democracy and is a vital read for anyone who wishes to understand the latent fascism that underpins the politics of this Empire.

Former US Attorney-General, Ramsay Clark, had this to say: “We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy, a government by the wealthy.” He compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, and is on record as saying at the outset of the US invasion of Iraq, that it “will be genocide again,” adding that “the greatest crime since World War Two has been US foreign policy.”

As I watch the hue and cry over Trump’s actions, it reminds me of Adolph Hitler’s response to Europe’s criticism of his policies. He told them: “I am only doing out in the open what you have been doing behind closed doors for centuries.”

A meme that was circulated at the end of Obama’s presidency said it best: “Only in shallow, self-absorbed, privileged America could a leader drop 26,000 bombs on seven countries in a single year, and have citizens mourn the end of his term because he looked and sounded classy while doing it.”

The illusion highlighted in this meme picks up on the public relations stunt that has become a hallmark of the US establishment, and which Sheldon Wolin identifies as a major feature of the “inverted totalitarianism” that exists in the US today. He describes “inverted totalitarianism” as a state of affairs where a small ruling elite (the 1%) have established an authoritarian society which benefits them exclusively. In this society, corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy, and natural resources and labor are seen as mere commodities to be exploited for huge profits.

This status quo is maintained by a sophisticated propaganda machine that lulls the majority of people into apathy. Central to reinforcing this hegemon is a tightly controlled corporatized media, a mouthpiece for the establishment, that is constantly spinning fake news and false narratives, and emphasizing rabid consumerism, individualism and the politics of personality and sensationalism. Wolin, like Clark, compares modern day USA to Nazi Germany, pointing out that the form is different but the essence, that is, fascism, is the same.

Friendly fascism

Tirty-seven years ago, political scientist, Bertram Gross, coined the term “friendly fascism” and predicted the Orwellian reality we are witnessing today in the US. His thesis converges with the conclusions reached by Wolin, Clark and others.

In his farewell address at the end of his presidency in 1961, Republican Dwight Eisenhower, warned the American people about the dangers of the “Military Industrial Complex”, the control it exerted and its ability to, in his words, “weaken or destroy the very institutions and principles it was designed to protect.” This has surely come to pass.

So, before US diplomats such as Perry Holloway attempt to discredit the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, initiated by one of the most revered freedom fighters in the Americas, the late Hugo Chavez, and led today by President Nicolas Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela with the support of the majority of the people of Venezuela, they would do well to take a long and hard look at the crisis of democracy in their own country.

Let Mr. Holloway explain to Guyanese and the citizenry of all member-states of the OAS why, in 2017, Africans in the US continue to be gunned down in the streets on a regular basis.
Let him explain to us why the US has the largest number of persons imprisoned per capita in the world, and why the prisoners are disproportionately made up of Africans, Indigenous and other people of color, before he points the finger at a revolution that has lifted African and Indigenous Venezuelans out of debilitating discrimination and poverty.

Let Mr. Holloway address the situation of US political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal, Jamil Al-Amin (formerly Rap Brown), Leonard Peltier and so many others who are languishing in US prisons before he speaks of Venezuela’s human rights record.

Let the US Ambassador focus on the shocking poverty and illiteracy statistics emerging from his own country, before he points the finger at the Bolivarian revolution which has made unprecedented gains in eradicating poverty and illiteracy amongst the masses of Venezuela’s poor. Anyone who visited oil rich Venezuela prior to the Bolivarian revolution can testify to the abhorrent conditions and the repressive measures used to subjugate the majority of Venezuelans, and in particular, African and Indigenous Venezuelans.

Does the Ambassador truly believe that his letters and articles, full of the usual delusional and empty rhetoric, would convince any of us that his government is concerned about democracy and human rights in Venezuela, or anywhere in the world for that matter, after we have witnessed the apocalyptic events in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the list goes on?

Does Mr. Holloway think we have forgotten our own history in the Americas and the Caribbean, including the US orchestrated coups that overthrew the democratically elected governments of President Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, President Salvador Allende in Chile, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop in Grenada, President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and the constitutional coup against President Dilma Rousseff in Brazil? What about the removal at gunpoint of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by US military personnel in Haiti?

There is not the space in a single article to even list the US crimes in our region. Just to chronicle them warrants a book. If we were to list US crimes against the whole of humanity, we are looking at a library of books. The US Empire and the British, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch Empires that preceded it, have been without doubt the worst examples of terrorism in all of human history.

In his letter and article, Mr. Holloway advises that “when a government breaks with democracy, we must act in solidarity with its people, not through intervention or interference, but with diplomacy and mediation among all parties to help find a peaceful, democratic, and comprehensive solution.” Tell us Mr. Holloway: Are the examples listed above your idea of diplomacy and mediation?

These governments were not removed because of their lack of democracy or abuse of human rights. They were removed, like countless others throughout the Global South, because they were attempting to free their country from the clutches of the Empire, and liberate their wealth and resources so that they might benefit the masses of their people. Our own founding fathers in Guyana, Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham, were subjected to the same destabilization tactics at the hands of the US government and its CIA.

Empire loses its grip

The US and its diplomats need to understand that with the advent of the internet and the availability of information in this day and age, the Empire has lost all credibility. There is no one left on earth who can be misled by their hollow and hypocritical rhetoric. Do not be fooled by those who dare not speak openly -- they are afraid of losing their visas and even worse reprisals. Regardless of their cowardice and silence, everyone knows that the Emperor is naked. Behind closed doors, even those satraps who publicly profess their allegiance, such as the Saudis, snigger and jeer at the hideous state of affairs in the United States of America.

As the US Empire crumbles, its vampires, who have sucked the blood of the sufferers for so long, are in panic mode because, despite their descent into blatant authoritarianism and fascism, they continue to lose their grip on the terrifying world they have created, as it spins more and more out of control. The ugly death squads such as Al Qaeda and ISIS, the very Frankensteins of their own making, are turning right back on them. As Malcom X observed so long ago, the chickens must come home to roost. One cannot keep up with the number of attacks in the US and Europe.

One of the vampires, largely credited with creating Al Qaeda, a former US National Security Advisor, and founder of the Rockefeller-controlled Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brzezinski, in a speech to British elites at Chatham House in 2008, spoke volumes when he said:

“…new and old major powers face still yet another novel reality, in some respects unprecedented, and it is that while the lethality of their power is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at an historical low…I once put it rather pungently, and I was flattered that the British Foreign Secretary repeated this… namely, in earlier times, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today, it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against US plans for regime change in Venezuela.”
The current US administration, like its predecessors, whether Democrat or Republican, is involved in just that, killing millions of people all over the world in its bid to control, and trying desperately to convince us of the absurd notion that that they are doing this in the name of democracy and human rights. Trouble is, no one is buying it? The majority of CARICOM countries are governed by neo-colonial political outfits and even they voted against US plans for regime change in Venezuela. The playbook is old and tired. Donald Trump just tied up an arms deal worth 350 billion US dollars with the corrupt and entirely undemocratic regime of Saudi Arabia, a regime that is without doubt the main proliferator of the ideology of Wahhabism and the movements intent on imposing this ideology worldwide, such as Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Nusra Front and ISIS. All these weapons to a government that is funding terrorism worldwide and committing genocide in Yemen.

And, when the power struggle between the Saudis and the Qataris surfaced, Trump paid lip service to the manufactured war on terror by publicly condemning Qatar’s support for terrorism, and days later sold the Qataris US military hardware worth 12 billion dollars. In light of this hypocrisy and blatant disregard for the victims of these rogue states and their global terrorist network, can you really expect us to believe that your concern with Venezuela is about lack of democracy and human rights?

No shame
Finally, to Mr. Holloway and his cohorts throughout the region, your expressed shock and horror about the so-called spillover from Venezuela’s current predicament was perhaps the most shameful part of your missive: “The spillover effects from Venezuela’s crisis are serious and growing, whether it is irregular migrant flows to countries in our region or the increasing flow of arms and criminal activity that affect the Caribbean in particular.”

This is rich coming from the people who illegally invaded Libya, murdered the Libyan leader and freedom fighter, Muammar Qaddafi in the street, and in so doing, destroyed the most prosperous and democratic nation on the African continent, causing a migration crisis of a magnitude never seen before. Your government handed over the nation of Libya to a conglomerate of thugs, criminals, terrorists and reactionary warlords, and this spillover continues to wreak havoc throughout Africa and the Arab Region six years on. Before you concern yourself with any spillover in the Caribbean, please deal with the spillover from your criminal invasion of Libya, a spillover that only this month reached Manchester, England.

In Guyana, the Americas and throughout the Global South, the masses of people are sick and tired of the same old playbook -- the one that is in fact the cause of the current situation in Venezuela. But then, that is part of the devil’s own script, cause the problem and then come to us as savior, with a solution. It plays like this: the US, through its infamous web of security agencies, NGOs, Aid Agencies, think-tanks and other Trojan horses, destabilize, sow confusion and do everything in their power to overthrow any government and subjugate any people that refuse to obey Empire. Recently, more than 300,000 Venezuelans took to the streets in support of President Nicolas Maduro and the Bolivarian Revolution.

The opposition held a demonstration that attracted 50,000. Of course, in your United States, the corporate media is reporting just the opposite. By the admission of your own president they are the purveyors of fake news and this is just another example of your country’s lack of democracy. The bottom line is this Mr. Holloway: your country and its government is no way fit to point the finger at anyone when it comes to infringement of democracy, democratic values and human rights.

In your letters and articles you ask: “If these things were happening in our own countries, would we not want the rest of our American family of nations to speak out, and reach out, to help restore fundamental democratic freedoms and respect for constitutional institutions?”

In your own words you proclaim that: “The Organization of American States has for decades provided a forum to discuss our greatest challenges and take action together to address them. The challenge before us today is the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela.”

What you say in the two quotes above is correct except for one thing, the challenge before us today is not the death spiral of democracy in Venezuela, it is the death spiral of democracy in the United States and an evil Empire spinning out of control.

You are right -- the OAS should take immediate action to prevent further terrorism and turmoil because the spillover worldwide from the crisis in the United States is serious and growing.

* GERALD A. PERREIRA is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP) and an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network in Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fatah Revolution, and was an executive member of the World Mathaba based in Libya. This article previously appeared in Black Agenda Report.



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          Inga 3 Dam risks plunging DRC deeper into debt   
New report finds that DRC likely to suffer financial losses, continuing energy poverty if hydropower project advances

Tuesday, June 27, 2017: Today, International Rivers is releasing the first in-depth economic study of the proposed Inga 3 hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Authored by noted British economist Tim Jones, “In Debt and In The Dark” exposes glaring flaws in the assumptions about the dam’s likely performance. The report finds that Inga 3 will likely plunge DRC deeper into debt, exporting needed power and delivering little, if any, to Congolese citizens while allowing international investors to reap the benefits.

“Claims about the benefits of Inga 3 are wildly overstated,” says Jones. “In fact, the dam would be a huge financial burden for the government and the Congolese people and provide little if any electricity.”

From the outset, Inga 3 has been plagued by dangerously optimistic assumptions about the dam’s performance, including power output well above the world’s most efficient plants, zero cost overruns, and unrealistically low transmission losses.

Using empirical evidence from the performance of similar hydropower projects in Africa and globally, Jones tested proponents’ claims regarding Inga 3’s socioeconomic benefits. He then forecasted the dam’s potential performance across a range of scenarios.

His findings highlight the serious financial risks associated with the Inga 3 hydropower project, and should be deeply concerning to the DRC government, potential investors, and the Congolese people.

“The DRC is one of the most resource-rich countries in the world, but suffers from massive energy poverty,” says Freddy Kasongo of Observatoire d’Etudes et d’Appui à la Responsabilité Sociale et Environnementale (OEARSE).

Emmanuel Musuyu of Coalition des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Suivi des Réformes et de l’Action Publique (CORAP), adds, Unfortunately, this study shows that the Inga 3 Dam will further impoverish the DRC without delivering the energy that we need.”

The analysis shows that in the most likely scenarios, the DRC government will lose money on Inga 3. Even with fairly conservative estimates of cost overruns and generous assumptions of power generated, electricity prices, and low interest rates, DRC would stand to lose $618 million per year on the project, or nearly $22 billion over the project’s 35-year lifespan.

These financial losses could run as high as $1.5 billion to $2 billion per year under unfavorable conditions – up to $70 billion over the project’s lifespan – ballooning DRC’s debt levels and harming its long-term economic health.

“Not only will Inga 3 bring in no revenue, it will likely increase DRC’s debt burden,” says Rudo Sanyanga, International Rivers’ Africa Program Director. “And it won’t bring much-needed electricity access to the Congolese people. This would be a disastrous investment for the DRC.”

The project will sell most of its electricity to South Africa and to mines in eastern DRC. The report finds that losses along what would be the world’s longest transmission line to South Africa could leave very little power available to the mines, and the Congolese people would receive little benefit in increased electricity. Under the most likely scenario, 88% of the power would be sold to South Africa, leaving just 90 MW for Kinshasa, rather than the 1000 MW claimed. Under the worst-case scenario, no power at all would be available for sale to consumers in Kinshasha.

International Rivers’ study shows that the DRC could achieve greater energy access for its population if it used the funds intended for Inga 3 on micro-hydropower and solar energy. Such investment would support the DRC to generate enough electricity to increase access by an estimated 2.7 million people throughout the country.

Kate Horner, Executive Director of International Rivers, says, “If the DRC wants to become a true economic leader that sets a model for energy access in Africa, it should press the pause button on the Inga 3 Dam and instead explore energy solutions that can make a lasting difference for the Congolese people.”

International Rivers is a global NGO with offices on four continents. It protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them.


Rudo Sanyanga, Africa Program Director, International Rivers | | +27 76 842 3874

Josh Klemm, Policy Director, International Rivers | | +1 202 492 8904

Emmanuel Musuyu, Technical Secretary, CORAP | | +00 24 38 1169 7699

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Voice of Renewables

          Some notes on white monopoly capital: Definition, use and denial   

“The theoretical conclusions of the Communists are in no way based on ideas or principles that have been invented, or discovered, by this or that would-be universal reformer. They merely express, in general terms, actual relations springing from an existing class struggle, from a historical movement going on under our very eyes” - Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848.

“Today, the main task of the working class is to abolish the white monopoly of power, to carry out the national democratic revolution for the liberation of African and other oppressed people”- Augmented Meeting of the Central Committee of the South African Communist Party, 1970.

“We have in the past defined the forces which the NDR sought to defeat as the white ruling class, represented by monopoly capitalism and including other class and social strata within the white community, all whom had an objective interest in the continuation of white minority rule”, ANC Discussion Document, Umrabulo 8, 2000.

1. Context

A narrative is now gaining momentum that the concept “white monopoly capital” is an invention of some public relations firm called Bell Pottinger, which was founded in 1987, and that it does not exist in the literature of the national liberation movement.

Some have continued to maintain that “white monopoly capital” does not exist, while others acknowledge that it exists but, fearing for their positions in white monopoly establishments, their deals and careers, they say it is harmful to investment to keep on referring to “white monopoly capital”.

But, is it really true that the concept, “white monopoly capital”, does not exist in the annals of the South African revolution?

In his recent Open Letter, Justice Pitso says something very profound, “…where the fundamental principles of our scientific revolutionary theory of Marxism-Leninism are concerned, the question of who is right or wrong cannot be judged necessarily on the basis of the view of the majority”.

In these notes, we show that the claim that the concept “white monopoly capital” cannot be found in the literature of the national liberation movement is not true. As we have said before in our input titled: “Concerning the Current Situation”, which appeared on 7 April 2017, this narrative which seeks to deny the existence of white monopoly capital, or white monopolisation of South Africa, is aimed at ideologically confusing black people in general, Africans in particular.

This is done so as to hide the real class force that wields power in South African society, the class force which is responsible for much of the poverty, starvation and suppression of talent that is experienced by black people.

Others have decided to give up on the real situation and lurch on to idealism. We are now informed that we should suppress the facts and ignore the national character of monopoly capital in South Africa. All of a sudden, monopoly capital has turned colourless as pure water. This is revisionism.

Writing in the New Age, Nelson Mandela had this to say: “The system of white supremacy has its roots in the cheap labour need of the major economic groups in the country. South Africa’s economy is dominated by giant monopolies in the gold mining industry linked with big financial and farming interests whose tentacles reach also into secondary industry. These groups have been responsible for the reserve system, migratory labour, the low wage policy. These groups own and control the national wealth of our country and determine the basic structure of the South African state ...”

Mandela continued to say: “If tomorrow every discriminatory law on the statute book were repealed, but the mineral wealth, monopoly industry and financial empires were not transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole, the system of white superiority would in its basic essentials be perpetuated for many generations.”

We are exactly where Nelson Mandela warned us we would be, if we did not transfer the basic wealth to the ownership of the people as a whole. As Mzwakhe said, “the people’s patience is not endless”!

Needless to say, the concept “white monopoly capital” is an invention of the South African Communist Party. It emerged in revolutionary literature for the first time in the SACP 1962 programme, The Road to South African Freedom. That was way before the founding of Bell Pottinger.

2. The motive forces: some critical thoughts on the National Democratic Revolution

Some time ago, in 2002, I wrote a paper titled “The motive forces: Some critical thoughts on the NDR”, which was published in Umrabulo Number 14, inspired by the SACP 1962. In that paper, I attempted to scientifically outline the alignment of class forces in the NDR. I sought to define what the class forces of the national democratic revolution are and the forces of the enemy.

At that time in 2002, as it is now, there was confusion on the issue that was peddled by the neoliberals in the ANC. The neoliberals, worked hard to empty the ANC of its revolutionary theory. There was a dominant tendency, as it is to this day, that made the ANC to rapidly depart from a consistent class analysis in the formulation of the Strategy and Tactics document.

When the question “who is the enemy of the NDR?” kept on being asked by ANC activists, we were constantly told that “the enemy of the NDR is poverty, unemployment and inequality”. When we responded by saying that the ANC has defined the enemy to be “white monopoly capital”, we were told, “that was in the past”, now we have to “fight poverty, unemployment and inequality”.

This was obviously unsatisfactory. As young people in the ANC-led movement, we started searching for answers; we felt as though our elders were hiding a “family secret”, because the answer they gave did not make sense.

Another reason that set me off to write that paper was what I perceived to be an error that some of the comrades were committing. They postured in a way that meant the black bourgeoisie as a whole was not part of the motive forces. They ridiculed and rejected the concept of a “patriotic bourgeoisie”. I still think it is wrong to reject this concept.

The issues that were at stake then are still at stake today. In a way, one could argue that, substantially at the theoretical level, the ANC has come full circle to the old debate which we hoped would animate theoretical discussion and change the contents of subsequent Strategy and Tactics documents. Alas, the paper failed to catch the attention of comrades.

In that paper, I stated that: “South Africa's social formation was characterised in the historical papers of the movement as a colonialism of a special type (CST). Because the concept of colonialism does not specify the nature of class relations it was important to move beyond the form of the social formation to its content. Colonialism of a special type was found to be perpetrated by a capitalist class. This class came to be known as "white monopoly capital".

I continued to assert that, “The movement characterised the principal contradiction in SA as between apartheid colonialism led by white monopoly capital on one side, and national liberation led by the black working class on the other side”.

In fact the whole paper is replete with the concept “white monopoly capital”. That was in 2002. My confession is that I had no idea that I was pushing a Bell Pottinger concept which was invented more than ten years later, after 2012!

  1. White monopoly capital: Definition

One of the most disturbing tendencies to emerge from the debate about white monopoly capital is that some contenders claim that white monopoly capital has not been defined. These contenders express their ignorance.

Here we begin with how the national liberation movement defined the main opponent of the South African revolution and the idea of “white monopolisation” of South Africa.

3.1 The South African Communist Party

3.1.1 Extracts from “The Road to South African Freedom, 1962”

“The three million Whites hold a monopoly of political rights and economic opportunities. They alone can vote for and be elected to Parliament and other governing bodies. They are fortified behind a wall of privilege in the civil service, in jobs and professions, in educational opportunities and a hundred other fields. 87 per cent of the land is reserved for White ownership, and White capitalists own and control the mines, factories and banks and most of commerce. Their government inculcates a lying and insulting doctrine of race superiority”.

“Effective economic domination in South Africa is thus exercised by an alliance of local White monopoly interests in mining, industry and agriculture, together with foreign imperialists and representatives of state monopoly capitalism. These interests have conflicts among themselves, which are reflected in the main White political parties and groupings. But they find common ground in the perpetuation of the colonial-type subjugation of the non-White population”.

“In fact, however, real power is in the hands of the monopolists who own and control the mines, the banks and finance houses, and most of the farms and major industries. The gold and diamond mines are owned by seven mining-financial corporations and controlled by a handful of powerful financiers. These seven corporations are closely linked with British and American imperialist interests. They control capital investment in mining alone of R490 million, and employ almost 500,000 workers. In addition, they dominate large sections of manufacturing industries. They are linked with the main banks, two of which control assets of over R2,000 million, mainly in the form of loans to industry, commerce and estate.

They own vast tracts of arable land and mining rights in almost every part of the country. In agriculture, too, monopoly dominates. 4 per cent of the farms make up an area amounting to almost four-tenths of the total White-owned farmland. Thus, in mining, industry, commerce and farming, monopolists dominate the country’s economy. They are also closely linked with state monopoly capital ventures, such as Iscor (Iron and Steel), Escom (Electricity) and Sasol (Petrol).

These monopolists are the real power in South Africa. The special type of colonialism in South Africa serves, in the first place, their interests”.

“All positions of economic strength and influence are held as the jealously guarded monopoly of members of the White group alone”.

Whites have a monopoly of the best paid jobs, and of entry into skilled trades”.

“The once powerful Labour Party is dead. The White trade unions — with a few honourable exceptions — collaborated in the implementation of apartheid in industry and job reservation. In fact, most of these unions have become little more than societies to preserve a White monopoly of skilled jobs. For the most part, the White workers of this country support their capitalist rulers and exploiters in the maintenance of White supremacy and colonialism”.

3.1.2 Extracts from the African National Congress

Extracts from the Green Book, 1979

“The  principal  enemy of our revolution  is   the South   African ruling   class, which  is  distinguished  by  a  combination  of  several  key             characteristics. Like     its counterparts in other    capitalist countries, its power  is  rooted, in the first instance,  in         its        ownership       and      control of         the basic    means  of  production.  But  in South Africa, the  system  of  economic  exploitation  is  reinforced  and  deepened  by the national oppression of the black majority.  Thus, capitalist exploitation and racial oppression operate together and reinforce one another”.

To  maintain this system and safeguard         its        control, the       ruling   class    operates through         a            state    apparatus        whose  political           institutions      and instruments   of repression  -  the army,   police force,   civil            service,  judiciary etc.      -  protect            the existing      relations of         production                  and,     at  the  same            time, the race      rule      which excludes all who     are       not       within  the white   minority group   from    political    rights and        civil     liberties           in         the       land     of  their  birth.  Real  liberation  is  inconceivable without  the overthrow  of  the  economic  and  political   power  of this      class    and      the total destruction of its state apparatus.                                       

Extracts from “The Nature of the South African Ruling Class, 1985”

“But the war had also defined the future relationship of Britain and South Africa: economically, South Africa would be a satellite of British imperialism, an outlet for the export of capital and a source of raw materials; politically, the local ruling class would be allowed autonomy and could even be granted sovereignty. By the terms of Vereeniging, Milnerian policy and finally the terms of Union, this ruling class was to be exclusively white. Thus the `small group which owns South Africa`s wealth` is drawn from one racial community, the whites”.

“The ruling class does not rule on its own, since it is a minority within the white minority. In order to secure its position, it has had to come to terms with other class forces; make deals and reach compromises with class forces and fractions whose interests temporarily intersect with its own. From such alliances has emerged what we can refer to as a bloc led by the ruling class, which wields power. The matrix that holds this bloc together is the ideology of white supremacy which projects the particular interest of the ruling capitalist class as the general interest of all whites”.

“This type of democratic state we envisage is spelt out in the ten clauses of the Freedom Charter. Though we place equal weight on the separate clauses, the first five, setting out the most pressing political, economic and social reforms a democratic state will have to embark on, can be said to be its core. The enactment of these measures will place political power in the hands of the black masses and transform South Africa from a country belonging to and exploited by a small class of white capitalists and their imperialist [backers], into a country belonging to all who live in it, black and white”.

Extracts from “Apartheid South Africa: Colonialism of a Special Type, 1987”.

“This is why the ANC has always considered the two economic clauses of the Freedom Charter: "The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth" and "The Land Shall Be Shared Among Those Who Work It" to be the very core of its programme. These clauses envisage the seizure of economic assets, presently owned and controlled either by individual capitalists or capitalist companies drawn exclusively from the white minority or trans-national corporations”.

“This hierarchy of oppression was devised as a tool of divide-and-rule, as an expression of the warped minds of the white racist ruling clique and as a tactic to buttress the forces which would have a stake in the system of apartheid to defend”.

Extracts from “Strategy and Tactics, 1997”

“Over time, the policies of government and the tactical sensibilities of some white monopolists, have precipitated a situation in which some of the black propertied classes are expanding their positions within important sectors of the economy”.

“However, the improvement in Black and female ownership and control of wealth and access to management and many professions is still limited, with overall proportions which are inversely related to the country`s demographics. This is more starkly reflected in terms of land ownership. As such, while progressive forces have attained political power, economic power remains largely in the hands of the white minority.”

4. White monopoly capital: Use

In this part of the notes, we show the use of the concept as such. The point to demonstrate is that those who say the concept “white monopoly capital” does not exist in the documents of the national liberation movement are wrong.

4.1.1 Extracts from the South African Communist Party

“At the same time, in order to guarantee the abolition of racial oppression and White minority domination, the Freedom Charter necessarily and realistically calls for profound economic changes: drastic agrarian reform to restore the land to the people; widespread nationalisation of key industries to break the grip of White monopoly capital on the main centres of the country’s economy; radical improvements in the conditions and standards of living for the working people”- The Road to South African Freedom, 1962. [This is the first time the phrase “white monopoly capital”, appears in the literature of the national liberation movement].

“The form of domination developed by the Union of South Africa also perpetuated the racialised economic structures of the pre-Union period. There was a white monopoly of capitalist means of mining, industrial and agricultural production and of distribution. There was also a virtual white monopoly of skilled and supervisory jobs in the division of labour”- Path to Power, 1989.

“The struggle for national democracy is also an expression of the class contradiction between the black and democratic forces on the one hand, and the monopoly capitalists on the other. The stranglehold of a small number of white monopoly capitalists over the great bulk of our country`s wealth and resources is based on colonial dispossession and promotes racial oppression. This concentration of wealth and power perpetuates the super-exploitation of millions of black workers. It perpetuates the desperate plight of millions of the landless rural poor. And it blocks the advance of black business and other sectors of the oppressed. This reality, therefore, forms the basis of the antimonopoly content of the national democratic programme”-Path to Power, 1989.

“This is not to argue that the economic dominance enjoyed by white-dominated monopoly capital with its strong international links should be ignored. The SACP, in evaluating the first decade of our democracy, came to the conclusion that in economic terms white-dominated monopoly capital was the single biggest beneficiary, at the direct expense of the working class, which experienced casualisation, a job loss bloodbath and outsourcing. Therefore the first decade of our democracy, in economic terms, became the decade of the white-dominated bourgeoisie, joined by a small black elite”-The South African Road to Socialism.

“White monopoly capital in South Africa has, in fact, been the principal beneficiary of the post-1994 period. There is stabilisation and restored profitability, and many of our major corporations have used the period to trans-nationalise, some locating their head-quarters outside of South Africa, others re-locating major share-listings to foreign stock exchanges”. (Two steps forward…two steps back…SACP perspectives on the ANC’s draft Strategy and Tactics 2007, Bua Komanisi Volume 6 - Issue 1, May 2007).

“This central tenet is quite distinct from the core perspective of what we might call the “1988 class project” – we are referring to the strategic agenda of white monopoly capital that evolved primarily in the late 1980s”. (Seeing Double, SACP contribution to the debate on the ANC’s “Economic Transformation for a National Democratic Society” discussion paper).

“By the second half of the 1980s, the apartheid-colonial state and its deepening crisis had, however, indeed become an impediment to sustained growth for white monopoly capital”.

“The continued presence of this 1988 white monopoly class project within our own thinking is visible in parts of the current ANC policy discussion document”.

“Leaving aside the passing reference to a “democratic and redistributive state” which has its own problems and to which we will return below, it is obvious that, in the key concepts it evokes, this paragraph is located within the “liberate the market from apartheid constraints” paradigm of the 1988 white monopoly class project”.

“Clearly in the very last years of apartheid, white monopoly capital experienced regional and global mobility challenges – and, while removing mobility constraints on capital may or may not be one of our tasks, it can hardly be the central strategic task of the NDR to help white monopoly capital to recover its regional and global mobility”.

“But to rise to the challenge of that vision we will have to finally banish the ghost of the 1988 (white monopoly capital) class project from our imaginations, from our practice and…from our discussion papers!”

 “This impact has been deepened by the assiduous cultivation by white monopoly capital of a tiny stratum of ANC-linked black shareholders and board-members in the name of “black economic empowerment”.

“The two allies resolved to stand shoulder-to-shoulder, together with the ANC, in the struggle to deepen our national democratic revolution, to end the national oppression of the majority, the super-exploitation of workers by white monopoly capitalism and the triple oppression faced by women, in order to create a new non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa” (SACP-COSATU Bilateral, 3 April 2012).

We can thus see that the concept “white monopoly capital” is integral to the revolutionary theory of the national liberation movement. It originated from the classic SACP 1962 programme, and has since been used in various versions to explain the nature of South African society.

5. Leaders who used the concept

Several leaders of the national liberation movement emphasised white monopolisation and the dominance of white monopoly capital in the South African economy. In this part of the notes, we highlight a few instances where white monopoly and white monopoly capital were used explicitly. Here we just highlight a few instances to demonstrate the point.

Nelson Mandela 1990

“Our discussion on Strategy and Tactics began by recognising that the ANC and the De Klerk government approach the issue of negotiations with opposed agendas. The government`s aim is to reform the apartheid system out of existence while carrying over into the future the accumulated privileges and advantages the white monopoly on power” ( Speech by Nelson Mandela at an ANC rally after the close of the National Consultative Conference, 16 December 1990).

Joe Slovo 1988

“The immediate primacy of the struggle against race tyranny flows from the concrete realities of our existing situation. The concept of national domination is not a mystification to divert us from class approaches; it infects every level of class exploitation. Indeed, it divides our working class into colour compartments. Therefore, unusual categories such as 'white working class' and 'black working class' are not 'unscientific' but simply describe the facts.

We will come back to the need for immediate steps to be taken in the post-apartheid period to break the economic stranglehold of the monopolies and to transform a major portion of wealth from private into social property. Suffice it to say that such measures will, of necessity, result in an immediate sizeable contraction of the private sector. Ninety nine per cent of this sector is presently owned and controlled by white capitalists; a race monopoly which constitutes the key instrument of national domination.

In the world as a whole, capitalist exploitation does not necessarily involve race domination. But the historically-evolved connection between capitalist exploitation and race domination in South Africa creates a link between national liberation and social emancipation. In our conditions you don't have to be a doctrinaire Marxist to conclude that a liberation which deals only with a rearrangement of the voting system and leaves undisturbed the race monopoly of 99% of our wealth, is no liberation at all” (Joe Slovo, The South African Working Class and the National Democratic Revolution, 1988).

Blade Nzimande

“The call for only organised workers to make sacrifices, without calling for the same from white monopoly capital, is essentially a reactionary call for the maintenance of the super-exploitation of the black working class.” (Blade Nzimande, Address to COSATU Congress, September 18, 1997)

“The single biggest obstacle to the development of the SME and co-operative sector is the lack of finance. In the South African context we have a financial sector that is structured and geared towards supporting white monopoly capital”, (Blade Nzimande, Address to NAFCOC AGM, 4 October 2007 - Durban International Convention Centre).

“The above might appear to be just skirmishes, but in essence they are a reflection of the dominant and suffocating power of the monopolistic white finance capital in the South African economy, and the extent to which our own government is unwilling to confront this power”, (Blade Nzimande, The financial sector charter is on the brink of collapse, Umsebenzi Volume 6, No. 21, 21 November 2007).

“One thread that runs through all the groupings that have broken away or engaged in factionalist activity in our liberation movement is their anti-communism and anti-worker attitude, often expressing itself in exactly the same way as that of the apartheid regime and white monopoly capital”, (Blade Nzimande, The good boys and girls, the boss-class instruments’: The 2008 dissidents in their historical context, Umsebenzi Online 5 November 2008).

Jeremy Cronin

“In 1979 SASOL was privatised by the apartheid regime, with shares being sold at a discount to (white) monopoly capital, particularly in the mining sector” (Jeremy Cronin, Address to the SACTWU 12th Congress, 22 August 2013).

Sdumo Dlamini

“As COSATU, we are now moving forward to build unity of the federation on the ground through activities which takes us closer to the members and position us to heighten our battle against employers and white monopoly capital which is our primary enemy”, (Sdumo Dlamini, COSATU President, Address to the COSATU Gauteng Provincial Congress, 4 August 2015).

Mbhazima Shilowa

“As I  have  indicated  in  the past,  we  need to send     a clear message  that   the time for  white  monopoly  capital  to  pay  lip service to economic transformation and empowerment,  especially      for  women,  is  past     and      will  not  be rewarded  in Gauteng” (Mbhazima Shilowa, Address by Premier Mbhazima Shilowa at the Gauteng BBBEE Strategy launch, 18 April 2006).

Zwelinzima Vavi

“Economic power is still in the hands of white monopoly capital. The aspirant and vocal black bourgeoisie remains numerically small and depends heavily on the state and white business for its survival”, Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary at the SACP Special Congress, 08 April 2005).

Fikile “Slovo” Majola

“Using the superficial banner of our Constitution, the strategic opponent of the NDR – white monopoly capital which includes bourgeois monopoly media houses and its global imperialist connections – is increasingly setting itself on a political collision course with the ANC as part of this wider anti-majoritarian offensive” (Fikile “Slovo” Majola, Joe Slovo Memorial Lecture in North West, 27th January 2013).

Jacob Mamabolo

“But we also said at that Special National Congress that the momentum, pace and character of the NDR is deeply and severely constrained by the pain inflicted on the working class by the persistent and reproduced legacy of the Colonialism of a Special type. The working class in our country continues to suffer the pain inflicted by the many years of the crisis of white monopoly capital and its private accumulation of wealth. (Jacob Mamabolo, Acting Gauteng SACP Provincial Secretary, Message of Support to the 11th Gauteng Provincial Conference, 6-8 May 2010).

We can therefore see that this concept is standard in the language of the national liberation movement. Our own submission is that the concept of white monopoly capital simultaneously implies colonialism of a special type. The two concepts are theoretically inter-twined, one cannot exist without the other. To fail to mention the racial character of monopoly capital is to fail to acknowledge the colonial character of South Africa and the special nature of that colonialism.

6. White monopoly capital: Denials

It is to Hillary Joffe’s credit, in her article “Share ownership can be force for change”, published in the Business Day on 22 March 2017, to note that “We’re told UK’s public relations agency Bell Pottinger crafted the white monopoly capital narrative. Whoever did so seems sadly unfamiliar with Marxist texts from which the notion of monopoly capital comes”. We agree!

However Joffe then makes an unwarranted statement: “…in its original form monopoly capital could not, strictly speaking, have been white, black or any other colour. It was, rather, a particular stage of capitalism, and who owned the means of production didn’t have much to do with it”.

Now this is the problem of failing to express actual relations which arise from the historical movement going under our very eyes.

As Pitso correctly mentions in his Open Letter, it was Lenin who first elaborated in detail the idea of monopoly capitalism as a stage in the development of capitalism. However Lenin’s approach was concrete and historical, in that he understood the importance of identifying who owns the means of production in this stage because he was not just interested in interpreting the world, he wanted to change it.

That is why to us to specify who owns and controls monopoly capital, because our lived experiences, under our very eyes, dictate to us who is responsible for poverty, starvation and marginalisation, so that we can devise proper strategy and tactics to change this situation. Baran and Sweezy as well, did not elaborate the concept of “monopoly capital” in purely abstract terms, they in fact based their study on the concrete history of the United States, and they hinted that some of their conclusions may in fact apply in South Africa.

Baran and Sweezy’s concrete and historical articulation of the concept of monopoly capital leads them to dedicate a whole chapter (Chapter 9), on monopoly capital and race relations, which makes them also mention South Africa. In this chapter they show that “all the forces we have been discussing…are deeply rooted in monopoly capitalism and together are strong enough to account for the fact that Negroes have been unable to rise out of the lower depths of American society”.

Who owns and controls the means of production under monopoly capitalism mattered to Baran and Sweezy, because they would not have dedicated a chapter specifically dealing with the suppression and marginalisation of the Negroes, if the demographic composition of American monopoly capital was non-racial.

Furthermore, the fact that Baran and Sweezy criticise American monopoly capital on the “Negro question”, does not mean that they posit “Negro monopoly capital” as a solution to the “Negro problem”, as some of our intellectually dishonest detractors like to do. In other words, when we criticise white monopoly capital, we do not posit black monopoly capital as a solution. Instead, we posit democratic state monopoly of the strategic sectors under working class leadership as the solution.

But then, despite this repeated clarification, our detractors continue to deny the concept. For instance Jeremy Cronin, First Deputy General Secretary of the SACP, now claims:

“There is a world at play in the slippage between a consistent Marxist perspective and the illusions that arise from adding one small word "white" to "monopoly capital". And it is in this small slippage that you will find the ideological bed on which the Polokwane "marriage of convenience" was consecrated. When the "new tendency" and its demagogic vanguard rail against "white monopoly capital" what they are hearing is "white" and what they are thinking is "it`s our turn now". And while populist demagogues might scream about "imperialism" and "monopoly capital" – the threats to carry out nationalization and expropriation simply increase (as they are meant to) the length of the queues of wealthy supplicants outside their office doors, the numbers of sponsorships, the gifts of whisky and helicopter trips they are offered from the very monopoly capital they are threatening!” (Thinking about class - Part One: What were they doing in BUSA in the first place?, Bua Komanisi Volume 10 Number 15, 20 July 2011).

Thus to Cronin this concept derives its ideological basis from the “Polokwane marriage of convenience”, which was in 2007. But we all know that there was no “Polokwane marriage” in 1962!

In his response to Fikile Mbalula, Trevor Manuel writes:

“If you also took the trouble to read the Economics Resolutions of each ANC Conference since the 49th in 1994, you will not find the language of 'White Monopoly Capital' in any of them. This is because WMC is not part of the lexicon of terms used in ANC policy. It was conjured up as a red herring to obscure the misdeeds of the Guptas and those who benefit from their patronage network” (Fikile, do you remember the tears you shared over the Guptas? Daily Maverick, 09 June 2015).

This statement is very revealing. We can only underline the words “each ANC Conference since the 49th in 1994”. What about the ANC before 1994? What is it about the year 1994 which made the concept “white monopoly capital” to disappear?

Then Manuel makes the claim:

“I stand by what I said at the Nelson Mandela Foundation: the term "White Monopoly Capital" was conjured up by Bell Pottinger on behalf of the Guptas, and filtered into the political discourse to serve their agenda” (Fikile, do you remember the tears you shared over the Guptas? Daily Maverick, 09 June 2015).

In his rebuttal, Fikile Mbalula quoted the article I wrote, which he incorrectly attributes to the ANC. But the point he makes nevertheless remains valid, the concept was there long before the current talk about Bell Pottinger; it was not conjured up by Bell Pottinger.

Trevor Manuel has yet to sustain his argument.

As we have noted, a variation of the concept appears to have mistakenly slipped through into the 1997 ANC Strategy and Tactics, where the ANC spoke about “white monopolists”, or in 2000, where the ANC spoke about “the white ruling class, represented by monopoly capital and including other class and social strata within the white community”.

In his address to the SACP Imbizo held in 2017, the Secretary General of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe said:

“There is an attempt to vulgarise monopoly capital debate; today vocabulary talks about white monopoly capital. It is vulgarisation of the revolution. We then use that vulgarised terminology to deal with each other”.

We all know that the SACP 1962 programme was not a vulgar programme and neither was the SACP 1989 programme vulgar Marxism.

The General Secretary of the SACP, in his address to the COSATU Central Committee in 2017, claimed:

“There is a new phrase that we do not have by the way…white monopoly capital. It’s not anywhere in the documents of the movement. I am challenging you to go. This thing is Gupta-inspired by this public relations company Bell Pottinger by the way, that is now in the emails that are being spoken about…”

But on several occasions he used the concept.

The SACP created this concept in its programme of 1962.

* CHRISTOPHER MALIKANE is Associate Professor of Economics, Wits University.



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Fred Chartrand

          Tyehimba Jess, Colson Whitehead Win Pulitzer Prizes   
Tyehimba Jess
CONGRATULATIONS to poet and friend Tyehimba Jess, who was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his new collection Olio (Wave Press)! Winner of numerous awards, including a Whiting Foundation fellowship, Jess is a fellow NYU graduate and graduate fellow of Cave Canem. He is an associate professor at the CUNY College of Staten Island. His collection, for which he developed a new poetic form, the syncopated sonnet, explores the lives of a cavalcade of key 19th century African American artists and performers, many clustered around the minstrel tradition. The title, "Olio," is in fact a term for the variety acts in a minstrel show, a component of such performances that carried over into Vaudeville and burlesque. Jess's collection manages to be both formally and visually innovative, and historically and culturally humanizing, and underlines his standing as one of the major poets writing today.

Congratulations also to fiction writer Colson Whitehead, who received this year's Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for his novel The Underground Railroad (Doubleday), which I am teaching this spring in my undergraduate literature class on history and myth in contemporary African Diasporic fiction. Whitehead's novel takes the concept of the Underground Railroad and transforms it, using the speculative mode, into a narrative that manages both to capture the essence of the fugitive system and  signify on a range of ideological nodes in US history, including state-sanctioned white supremacy, Progressive-era eugenicism, and precarious liberalism's inability to safeguard black life. Throughout Whitehead's skill, at every level of his prose, gleams, and his protagonist, Cora, as well as numerous minor figures, are not easily forgotten.

Colson Whitehead
Other winners this year in the arts and letters category include Lynn Nottage in the Drama category for her play Sweat; Heather Ann Thompson in the history category for her study Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy (Pantheon); Hisham Matar in the Biography category for The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between (Random House); Matthew Desmond, in the General Nonfiction category, for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Crown); and composer Yu Dun, in the music category, for Angel's Bone, a multimedia opera. In the news category, Hilton Als received a Pulitzer in Criticism for his reviews in The New Yorker.

Lynn Nottage
I may be wrong, but I believe this is the most Black--4!--Pulitzer Prize winners ever, and the most ever received by authors and journalists of color. I guess we'll see if this is but a temporary shift or a harbinger of the future. (One of the oddest selections, though, was Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan's former speechwriter and spinner of tissues of fantasy, in the Commentary selection. Perhaps this was supposed to reflect balance of some sort, but having read several of Noonan's columns this past year, I remain no less baffled than when I first heard the news.)

Noonan included, congratulations again to all this year's recipients, and please go out and buy of a copy of Olio, The Underground Railroad, and any of Als's books, and, before it closes and if you're in New York, catch Sweat! (I still have to myself.)

          June Little Things   
Here are a few of the small things that made our June so fun!  More posts to come on the end of the school year, Finley's dance recital, her first t-ball game, All Stars, and probably other things that I am forgetting.  Ha!

June began with Field Day for these four.  They are best friends!  Reesie and her friend on the right were in the same morning Kindergarten class last year, and her two friends on left had the same teacher in the afternoon.  They were inseparable this year.

In February, Reesie came home in tears because her best friend, Hunter, told her she was moving to South Carolina this summer.  There were literally MONTHS of tears from her because of it.  I told her she needed to make sure that the last few months were the best, and she did!

Reesie decided that she needed to up her skin care routine this summer.  Long sleeved rash guard, large straw hat, check!  #redhairdocare
In case anyone is looking for a great summer drink...this is my fave!  The WalMart Clear American waters mixed with Moscato are the best.  I like to mix in peach or strawberry.

We set up the pool in the backyard and they had a picnic on the deck.

Pony pictures were taken in May, but we got them back in June.  I can't believe how much bigger Hudson looks in a year's time.  Ah!  He's going to Kindergarten in the fall!

This podcast is my new favorite.  I LOVE The West Wing, but no one was talking about it when I watched it.  Now watching an episode a week on Netflix and listening is awesome, especially since I've now seen every episode too many times to count.

Poor Jeter was stuck in his crate for the entire day while we were at Sand Soccer.  He was ready to dole out some love when we got home!

Hudson's class celebrated the final week of school (and their Dr. Seuss unit) with a Wacky Wednesday.

Which gave me flashbacks to two years ago when Reesie had her Wacky Wednesday in Ms. Cathy's class, too!

We had a pizza party/trophy night for the baseball team, and then the moms went out for a bit!

I had to get a picture of Hudson with his buddies on the last day of school.  He has had the best year and the greatest group of friends in his class since he started preschool.

He and Mason have been together since the very beginning and they have been best buddies.  I am so sad that they are going to different schools this fall!  They will still be friends, though.  Baseball buddies, too!

I believe Finley's exact words in this situation were "Reese, you've been bad, and I'm going to need to tell your Mom about this."

After a long day at the baseball fields, it obviously makes sense to come home and run more catching drills, right?

She had her going away party for Hunter at the same time as one of Wyatt's games.  I dropped her off to play, and when we came home we sat on the porch and talked for awhile.

FQB was excited to see "Finding Dory" in the movie theater.  

They found a nest in the  backyard, and lined up to check for eggs.  Wyatt was ready to tell us exactly which kind of bird was living in the nest.

One last sleepover before Hunter moved!  

We made frames for their rooms with pictures from Field Day.

And the next morning she left our house and moved to South Carolina!

I ended up with an extra kid at my house one night after baseball practice.  And there's no escaping baseball with this group.

          Illinois misses deadline to pass budget, consequences hover   
(AP) — A $36.5 billion plan to rebuild Illinois' crumbling finances passed a critical test on Friday, but a powerful legislative leader said no deal would be reached before a midnight deadline — meaning Illinois will enter its third consecutive fiscal year without a budget. [...] it means entering dangerous territory: The state comptroller will be unable to cover basic services ordered by courts, road construction and Powerball ticket sales could halt, and the state's credit rating could be downgraded to "junk." Revenue details have yet to appear in the legislation, but lawmakers weary of the two-year standoff with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner approved the spending outline on 90-25 preliminary vote. House Speaker Michael Madigan, who called Friday's vote a "good step forward, a step we can build upon," said lawmakers would return to the Capitol on Saturday to continue spending-and-revenue work, but also to negotiate pet issues demanded for two years by the first-term governor, such as freezing local property taxes. Along with a property tax freeze, the Republican wants to restrict costs in programs for injured workers and state-employee pensions. Madigan also has demands, including that Rauner rescind a promised veto of legislation to boost state funding to impoverished schools, require rate regulation of companies selling workers' compensation insurance and require an open bidding process for a planned $9 billion contract for managed health care. Few places in Illinois have been hit harder by the financial mess than the capital city, where state bills owed to the city, hospitals and other vendors have topped $300 million, said Springfield Republican Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez.
          The Need to Promote Sexual Health in America: A New Vision for Public Health Action.   
Sexual health is considered to be a state of wellness with physical, emotional, mental, and social dimensions. Sexual health can contribute to our overall well-being in each of these dimensions. However, despite the intrinsic importance and positive aspects of sexuality in our lives, the United States presently faces significant challenges related to the sexual health of its citizens, including human immunodeficiency virus, other sexually transmitted infections, viral hepatitis, unintended pregnancies, sexual violence, sexual dysfunction, and cancers in reproductive tracts with serious disparities among the populations affected. In particular, high rates of poverty, income inequality, low educational attainment, stigma, racism, sexism, and homophobia can make it more difficult for some individuals and communities to protect their sexual health. Given that many pressing public health issues in the United States are related to sexual health and that sexual health has been increasingly recognized as an important national health priority, now is the time to energize and focus our efforts toward optimal sexual health of the population. In this paper, we outline the rationale for addressing sexual health as a means to better promote overall health and address sexuality related morbidities. In addition, we present a logic model outlining an approach for advancing sexual health in the United States, as well as a range of action steps for consideration by public health practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. (C) Copyright 2017 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association
          Secretary of Commerce Names Interim Census Leadership   

Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the interim leadership of the U.S. Census Bureau under the Vacancies Reform Act, effective upon the retirement of Census Bureau Director John Thompson on June 30.  Ron Jarmin will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Director.  Enrique Lamas will perform the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Deputy Director of the Census.

“Both Mr. Jarmin and Mr. Lamas have had long, distinguished careers at Census, and the Bureau will be well served by their leadership.” said Secretary Ross “The Census Bureau, along with the 2020 Census, are in good hands with these two men at the helm until the Senate confirms new leadership.”

Ron Jarmin currently serves as the Associate Director for Economic Programs at the U.S. Census Bureau, leading the team for the 2017 Economic Census, which provides the foundation for other key measures of economic performance including the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.  Starting his Census Bureau tenure in 1992, Mr. Jarmin has also performed the roles of Assistant Director for Economic Studies.

“I am honored to serve in this role at the Census Bureau and am grateful to Secretary Ross for entrusting me with this position.” said Jarmin. “I look forward to working with Enrique and Secretary Ross as we continue to advance the Bureau’s mission, providing timely and accurate data to the American public.”

Enrique Lamas currently serves as the Associate Director for Demographic Programs, overseeing the Demographic Programs Directorate which provides accurate information on the size, distribution, and characteristics of the nation’s population. Beginning his career in 1980 in the Census’ Population Division, Mr. Lamas previously served as Chief of the Population Division, Assistant Division Chief in the Demographic Surveys Division, Chief of the Poverty and Wealth Statistics Branch, and Chief of the Labor Force and Transfer Programs Statistics Branch.

“After 37 years at the Census Bureau, I could not be more pleased at this chance to serve in this leadership role,” said Lamas. “I would like thank Secretary Ross for giving me this opportunity.” 

In the Vacancies Reform Act only individuals designated by the President and authorized first assistants can serve in an acting capacity for Presidentially Appointed, Senate-confirmed positions such as Director of the Census. Furthermore, the Secretary of Commerce has the ability to direct eligible employees to perform the role of the Senate-confirmed position when the position is currently vacant. Since the Deputy Director of the Census is not a Senate-confirmed position, the Secretary has the power to designate an employee to serve in that role until one is named.

Mr. Jarmin will remain in authority unless rescinded by Secretary Ross, the President directs an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of the Director in an acting capacity, or until a Director or Deputy Director of the Census is appointed. Mr. Lamas will remain in authority unless rescinded by Secretary Ross or until a Deputy Director of the Census is appointed.

          Sneaky Girl Slipped Into Best Friends Brother Bedroom On Sleepover   
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          By 2100, Refugees Would Be the Most Populous Country on Earth   
Poverty and deadly wars are the major drivers of displacement.

The UN Refugee Agency has announced the new figures for the world’s displaced: 65.9 million. That means that 65.9 million human beings live as refugees, asylum seekers or as internally displaced people. If the refugees formed a country, it would be the 21st largest state in the world, just after Thailand (68.2 million) and just ahead of the United Kingdom (65.5 million). But unlike these other states, refugees have few political rights and no real representation in the institutions of the world.

The head of the UN Refugee Agency, Filippo Grandi, recently said that most of the displacement comes as a result of war. "The world seems to have become unable to make peace," Grandi said. "So you see old conflicts that continue to linger, and new conflicts erupting, and both produce displacement. Forced displacement is a symbol of wars that never end."

Few continents are immune from the harsh reality of war. But the epicenter of war and displacement is along the axis of the Western-driven global war on terror and resource wars. The line of displacement runs from Afghanistan to South Sudan with Syria in between. Eyes are on Syria, where the war remains hot and the tensions over escalation intensify daily. But there is as deadly a civil war in South Sudan, driven in large part by a ferocious desire to control the country’s oil. Last year, 340,000 people fled South Sudan for refugee camps in neighboring Uganda. This is a larger displacement than from Syria.

Poverty is a major driver of displacement. It is what moves hundreds of thousands of people to try and cross the Sahara Desert and then the Mediterranean Sea for European pastures. But most who try this journey meet a deadly fate. Both the Sahara and the Mediterranean are dangerous. This week, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Niger rescued 600 migrants from the Sahara, although 52 did not survive.

A 22-year-old woman from Nigeria was among those rescued. She was on a pick-up truck with 50 people. They left Agadez for Libya. ‘We were in the desert for ten days,’ she says. "After five days, the driver abandoned us. He left us with all of our belongings, saying he was going to pick us up in a couple of hours. But he never did." Forty-four of the migrants died. The six who remained struggled to safety. ‘We had to drink our own pee to survive,’ she said.

Getting to Libya is hard enough. But being in Libya is perilous. Violence against vulnerable migrants inside Libya continues to occur. The IOM reports the presence in Libya of ‘slave markets.’ Migrants who make it across the Sahara into Libya have told investigators that they find themselves in these slave markets where they are bought to be taken to private prisons and put to work or else sold back to their families if they can raise the high ransom payments. UNICEF reports incidents of rape and violence against women and children in these private prisons. One 15-year-old boy said of his time in a private prison, "Here they treat us like chickens. They beat us, they do not give us good water and good food. They harass us. So many people are dying here, dying from disease, freezing to death."

Danger lurks on the sea as well. This year already IOM reports least 2,108 deaths in the sea between Libya and Italy. This is the fourth year in a row that IOM has counted over 2,000 deaths by mid-year. Over the past five years, this averages out to about 10 deaths a day. Libya, broken by NATO’s war in 2011, remains a gateway for the vulnerable from various parts of Africa, countries damaged by IMF policies and by warfare. There is no expectation that the numbers of those on the march will decrease.

In a recent paper in The Lancet (June 2017), Paul Spiegel, formerly of the UN Refugee Agency suggests that the "humanitarian system was not designed to address the types of conflicts that are happening at present." With over 65 million people displaced, the various institutions of the UN and of the NGO world are simply not capable of managing the crisis.

"It is not simply overstretched," Spiegel wrote of the humanitarian system, "it is no longer fit for purpose."

These are shattering words. One problem Spiegel identifies is the assumption that refugee flows are temporary, since wars will end at some point. What happens when wars and occupations are permanent? People either have to live for generations in refugee camps or they will seek, through dangerous passages, flight to the West. He gives the example of Iran, which absorbed over a million Afghan refugees without using the camp strategy. They simply allowed the Afghans into Iranian society and absorbed them by putting money into their various social schemes (such as education and health). Spiegel also points out that refugees must be part of the designing the process for humanitarian aid. These are good suggestions, but they are not going to be possible with the limited funds available for refugees and with the crisis level of activity that detains the humanitarian agencies.

Spiegel does not deal with one of the great problems for humanitarianism: the persistence of war and the theory that more war—or the current euphemism, security—is the answer to humanitarian crises. This January, over 1,000 people tried to scale the large barrier that divides Morocco from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Looking at that barrier, one is reminded of the idea that walls will somehow prevent migration, a view driven by President Donald Trump. Violence met the migrants, a mirror of the violence that was visited among migrants along the spinal cord of Eastern Europe last year. Walls, police forces and military interventions are all seductive to an imagination that forgets why people migrate and that they are human beings on the run with few other options. There is a view that security barriers and security forces will raise the price of migrant and deter future migrants. This is a silly illusion. Migration is dangerous already. That has not stopped anyone. More humane thinking is necessary.

It is important therefore that the UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed told a meeting on the Sahel on June 28 that the world leaders need to "avoid a disproportionate emphasis on security" when dealing with the multiple crises in the Sahara region and north of it. "No purely military solution" can work against transnational organized crime, violent extremism and terrorism, nor against poverty and hopelessness. Underlying causes are not being addressed, and indeed the surface reactions—to bomb more—only create more problems, not less.

In the July issue of Land Use Policy, professors Charles Geisler and Ben Currens estimate that by 2100 there will be 2 billion refugees as a result of climate change. These numbers are staggering. They are an inevitable future. By then, refugees will be the largest country on earth—nomads, seeking shelter from destruction of climate and capitalism, from rising seas and wars of greed.


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The right to education, health, safety and equity.  They’re all things that all children should be entitled to. But for at risk youth getting them is not a guarantee. We caught up with the Executive Director of Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Samantha Levine, and one of the scholars who has beaten the odds, Elphram Chowdhury. Chasing the Dream: Poverty and […]

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          June 30, 2017: MENTORING TO END POVERTY   

Meet the organization using an age old approach to overcome poverty and help young people chase their dreams. We sit down with Susan L. Taylor, the former Editor–in-Chief of “Essence Magazine” and the Founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement program.

The post June 30, 2017: MENTORING TO END POVERTY appeared first on MetroFocus.

          June 30, 2017: FROM POVERTY TO THE BIG SCREEN   

He grew up in a life of poverty, drugs and jail, but chased his dreams to become a voice for his community.  MetroFocus sits down with award-winning actor, writer, community arts activist, and most recently the star, co-writer, and producer of the film, “Chapter and Verse,” Daniel Beaty. Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America is a multi-platform public […]

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          War Child Canada: Jam   
A powerful PSA for War Child Canada, an organization that "provides the education, opportunity and justice that children in areas of conflict need to break the cycle of poverty and violence." WarChildCanada | Via
          Kenyans turn to drought-tolerant maize variety to fight poverty   
          Social Security Generates Nearly $1.4 Trillion in Economic Activity   
Social Security Generates Nearly $1.4 Trillion in Economic Activity, Supports More Than Nine Million Jobs

A new study from AARP’s Public Policy Institute calculates that each dollar paid to Social Security beneficiaries generates nearly two dollars in spending by individuals and businesses, adding about $1.4 trillion in total economic output to the U.S. economy in 2012. 

Social Security Generates Nearly $1.4 Trillion in Economic Activity

The report also finds the $762 billion paid in Social Security benefits in 2012 helped Americans keep or find more than nine million jobs.

Social Security’s Impact on the National Economy details the powerful multiplier effect created when Social Security recipients spend their benefits and the companies which receive those dollars spend their profits and pay their employees, who in turn spend their wages. The report provides both national and state-level data.

AARP volunteers and staff are visiting Capitol Hill offices today to deliver the report to their Members of Congress and voice their concerns about the chained CPI, a change proposed in budget negotiations that would cut Social Security benefits.

“This report tells us that any adjustments Washington makes to Social Security will have a profound effect on individuals of all ages, businesses and our economy as a whole,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “That’s why AARP is fighting the chained CPI and calling for a national conversation about the future of Social Security – so those who paid into the system can have a voice in the debate and so future generations get the benefits they’ve earned.”

Social Security benefit payments in 2012 supported more than $370 billion in salaries, wages and compensation for workers. Of the more than nine million jobs supported by Social Security spending, about four million were in just ten industries. Nationally, the largest employment impacts were seen in the food services, real estate, health care and retail industries.

In addition to illustrating Social Security’s vital role in supporting national and local economies, jobs and workers’ incomes, this report reiterates the importance of Social Security as a vital source of income for millions of Americans. Social Security benefits keep 22 million people out of poverty, including more than 15 million older Americans, and serve as the foundation of a secure retirement for millions more.

Social Security’s Impact on the National Economy uses an economic modeling system known as IMPLAN to calculate the multiplier effect and trace the impact of Social Security spending through the national and state economies. View the full report and details on methodology here:

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of more than 37 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. Learn more at

+Bob DeMarco  is a citizen journalist and twenty year Wall Street veteran.

          Blic: Tragična igra sudbine: Letnja oluja ubila samohranu majku troje dece “Ne možemo da verujemo da je tako stradala”   
Porodica nastradale Anđelke zanemela je od šoka i ne mogu da poveruju da je usred oluje njihova majka, ćerka, sestričina, tragično preminula. Kako za "Blic" priča Anđelkina strina, stradala žena je bila samohrana majka, iza sebe je ostavila troje dece. - Svi smo u šoku. Ne znamo kako je došlo do [...]
          Pervert Guy Is So Happy When Wifes 18 year Old Sister To Come To Sleepover   
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          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Scott S   
Argentina Orange You said <blockquote> Underpants Gnomes. </blockquote> What does this mean? You also said <blockquote> However, if you are able to get such obvious nonsense as "beliefs cause harm to others" established as legal fact, it is a good first step in getting beliefs criminalized.</blockquote> Wow. This is a stupid response to what I have been posting, but I want to respond first to your second point. I have never said or even implied that my point about people's shitty beliefs should be established as a legal fact and I would fight to the death any attempt to criminalize other people's beliefs. But you're flat wrong to call my my notion that shitty beliefs cause harm as nonsense. To me it is so obvious that it doesn't require defending. People are very guided by things they believe to guide them in the decisions they make. On often those beliefs guide them to decisions that harm people. This happens ALL.THE.TIME. Terrorists flying planes into buildings. Parents not taking their sick child to the hospital because its against their religion. Refusing blood transfusions becasue it's against their religion. Parents kicking their gay teenagere out of the house into a life of prostitution and homelessness because they're gay. Making black people sit in the back of the bus because of beliefs in white-supremacy. Approving of chattel slavery because of white supremacy. Harming young adult sexuality by glorifying virginity and teaching abstinence until marriage. All of these are shitty beliefs that cause real harm to people. I could go on and on. Why do you think beliefs DON'T cause harm? So I depend on the SPLC to teach me about people and groups and their shitty beliefs that cause them to engage in actions that harm people.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by James   
the twitter exchange from that footnote had me in stitches
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Nobody   
<blockquote>Does Antifa proudly support these actions, or does it condemn them?</blockquote> Proudly supports and encourages.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Cromulent Bloviator   
My father, who was a protester in the 1960s, always told me that the Civil Rights Movement succeeded because a bunch of young southern Christians realized the Truth of the matter, led primarily by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and they did the work to defend the legal progress that had been made and to at least partially convert it into the real change we have. Given the current rise of White Supremacy disguised as Nationalism, I just assume people who hate the SPLC are part of this modern "debate" over those same laws.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Tarrou   
As a legal matter, I'm in agreement with our blog host. As a tactical matter, it might behoove the Right to use whatever levers they can find to incentivize the Left to resort to defending the 1st Amendment. If the First is a partisan matter, it is never more than an election away from obsolescence. As a broader observation, you can tell a lot about who holds power in society by who is appealing to free speech.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Sol   
@Horkthane: Are you genuinely this ignorant of history, or do you just think everyone else is? <blockquote>And it's taken a generational shift in the right for them to begin to attempt the same behavior.</blockquote> No, it really hasn't. To use your own rather tortured metaphor, it's like you have two muggers, and one of them puts on a big white sheet (with optional hood) and goes 'look, I'm a pacifist! Support me against that mean mugger!' (Although even more accurately, *both* muggers are yelling about how pacifist they are, and because both are actually a massive conglomerate of people, with pacifists and muggers on both sides, you make an emotional decision about which one you like more, ignore all the muggers on that side, ignore all the pacifists on the other side, and then go 'look at all these pacifists on one side, and all these muggers on the other.') ... getting away from that now very dead metaphor, and speaking nice and clearly. The 'right wing', as an overall movement, and the post-Southern-Strategy Republican party in particular, <strong>have never been</strong> pro- free speech for absolutely everyone. They have always been pro-free speech for them, anti-free speech for those evil corrupting liberals. After all, <strong>they</strong> are just telling God's plain truth, and they're only opposed to liberal lies and propaganda. Right? Fox News, America's largest cable ne- sorry, <em>entertainment</em> channel, was launched over twenty years ago. Rush Limbaugh began his show in 1984, and had five million listeners by 1990. 'Shout down and silence your opponents and demand that they be punished for their opinions' has been a major part of the right wing playbook for... well, far earlier than that, really. For about as long as it's been part of the left wing playbook, i.e. all of history. We could pick Hoover and COINTELPRO as an arbitrary starting point of the "modern" concept of attacking your opponents for their political beliefs, if you like, but I'm sure plenty of earlier examples exist. This has taken far too long already for me to try and make any attempt at determining the 'first'.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Tom Scharf   
@Steve Losing 0.5% of the population would be worth paying attention to, that is an extraordinarily bad argument. Most people do overestimate the threat and frequency of <strong>current</strong> terrorism. What cannot be dismissed is the threat of <strong>future</strong> terrorism, as in black swan events as demonstrated by 9/11. One cannot assume that future terrorism losses will fall in line with past trends in the same way auto deaths are very predictable year to year. The threat of an international terror actor acquiring a rogue nuclear weapon, bioweapon, or nuclear material for a dirty bomb is non-zero. This is a legitimate fear, Obama, 2014: <blockquote>I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan</blockquote> ISIS would gladly do this if it had the means. Auto deaths, furniture deaths, or cancer deaths will not suddenly spike 1000x year to year. It cannot be ignored, but how much emphasis to place on its prevention is a debate worth having.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Wick   
@Michael Heaney. Personally, I agree with you that FRC is a hate group. Whether or not FRC is a hate group is an opinion; and, therefore, can not be libelous.
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by william the stout   
@ GuestPoster - Fair points I suppose, although if actions like we're discussing happen EVERY TIME the Antifa becomes involved somewhere, then at what point does it become a core goal? And your definition of hate group is way too tight - by your definition ISIS is not a hate group. After all, they bomb, shoot, and behead people who have different religious beliefs than them, something that the victims could choose to change. @rsteinmets - No. BLM is nowhere near a hate group. Is that a serious question?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by rsteinmetz70112   
Is BLM a hate group?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by Michael Heaney   
I'd like to provide an example to work with. The Family Research Council is an aggressively anti-homosexual group which has repeatedly spread objectively demonstrable misinformation in order to attempt to promote discrimination against homosexuals, including attempts to enshrine and institutionalize such in law. Now if you're actually going to say that it's impossible to accurately categorize them as a, "hate group," that to even attempt it is no different than calling someone an SJW or cuck, then at this point you're just flat out lying, and if you're just going to lie to your readers about shit like this then you might as well bring Clarkhat back. I'm not sure what your grudge with the SPLC is, in no small part since you never bother to provide any concrete reasons or arguments for why this essay's B-plot is practically a hit piece on them, but dishonesty isn't the way to promote the idea. Hell, if you can't figure out what a hate group is then why even bother lauding them back when they opposed the KKK or Nazis? How would you even be able to tell the difference, or decry either group as, "bad?"
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by GuestPoster   
@the Stout, I suppose the answer to your question is a question: is it a central tenet of Antifa operating procedure to run around setting fires and hitting people one disagrees with in the head with a bike lock? Is that what members are expected to do? Or is that the action of some small number of people who happen to identify themselves as Antifa? Does Antifa proudly support these actions, or does it condemn them? And, critically: are you able to see how the answers to these questions change the answer to your own question? Do you understand the difference between an organization whose goal (or which has as *a* major goal) is to promote hatred of some group of people based on their immutable characteristics, and an organization that does NOT promote such hatred, but happens to have some horribly violent people associate with it? Do you happen to see how these two things are not the same?
          Comment on How the Southern Poverty Law Center Enraged Nominal Conservatives Into Betraying Free Speech Values by william the stout   
Is the Atifa a hate group? Running around setting fires and hitting people you disagree with in the head with bike locks seems....hateful. Or do they get the RightThink Exception?
          The Indolence of the Filipinos   
English translation by Charles Derbyshire. The article by José Rizal, originally written in Spanish, was published in La Solidaridad in five installments,from July 15 to September 15, 1890.

PART ONE: Doctor Sanciano, in his Progreso de Filipinas, has taken up this question, agitated, as he calls it, and relying upon facts and reports furnished by the very same Spanish authorities that ruled the Philippines has demonstrated that such indolence does not exist, and that all said about it does not deserve a reply or even passing choice.

Nevertheless as discussion of it has been continued, not only by government employees who make it responsible for their own shortcomings, not only by the friars who regard it as necessary in order that they may continue to represent themselves as indispensable, but also by serious and disinterested persons: and as evidence of greater or less weight may be adduced in opposition to that which Dr. Sanciano cites, it seems expedient to us to study this question thoroughly, without superciliousness or sensitiveness, without prejudice, without pessimism. As as we can only serve our country by telling the truth, however, bitter it be, just as flagrant and skillful negation cannot refute a real and positive fact, in spite of the brilliance of the arguments; as mere affirmation is not sufficient to create something possible, let us calmly examine the facts, using on our part all the impartiality of which a man is capable who is convinced that there is no redemption except upon solid bases of virtue.

The word indolence has been greatly misused in the sense of little love for work and lack of energy, while ridicule has concealed the misuse. This much-discussed question has met with the same fate as certain panaceas and specifics of the quacks who by ascribing to them impossible virtues have discredited them. In the Middle Ages, and even in some Catholic countries now, the devil is blamed for everything that superstitious folk cannot understand or the perversity of mankind is loath to confess. In the Philippines one's and another's faults, the shortcomings of one, the misdeeds of another, are attributed to indolence. And just as in the Middle Ages he who sought the explanation of phenomena outside of infernal influences was persecuted, so in the Philippines worse happens to him who seeks the origin of the trouble outside of accepted beliefs.

The consequence of this misuse is that there are some who are interested in stating it as a dogma and others in combating it as a ridiculous superstition, if not a punishable delusion. Yet it is not to be inferred from the misuse of a thing that it does not exist.

We think that there must be something behind all this outcry, for it is incredible that so many should err, among whom we have said there are a lot of serious and disinterested persons. Some act in bad faith, though levity, through levity, through want of sound judgment, through limitation in reasoning power, ignorance of the past, or other cause. Some repeat what they have heard, without examination or reflection; others speak through pessimism or are impelled by that human characteristic which paints as perfect everything that belongs to oneself and defective whatever belongs to another. But it cannot be denied that there are some who worship truth, or if not truth itself at least the semblance thereof which is truth in the mind of the crowd.

Examining well, then, all scenes and all the men that we have known from childhood; and the life of our country, we believe that indolence does exist there. The Filipinos, who can measure up with the most active peoples in the world, will doubtless not repudiate his admission, for it is true there one works and struggles against the climate, against nature and against men. But we must not take the exception for the general rule, and should rather seek the good of our country by stating what we believe to be true. We must confess that indolence does actually and positively exist there, only that, instead of holding it to be the cause of the backwardness and the trouble, we regard it as the effect of the trouble and the backwardness, by fostering the development of a lamentable predisposition.

Those who have as yet treated of indolence, with the exception of Dr. Sancianco, have been content to deny or affirm it. We know of no one who has studied its causes. Nevertheless, those who admit its existence and exaggerate it more or less have not therefore failed to advise remedies taken from here and there, from Java, from India, from other English or Dutch colonies, like the quack who saw a fever cured with a dozen sardines and afterwards always prescribed these fish at every rise in temperature that he discovered in his patient.

We shall proceed otherwise. Before proposing a remedy we shall examine the causes, and even though strictly speaking a predisposition is not a cause, let us, however, study at its true value this predisposition due to nature.

The predisposition exists? Why shouldn't it?

A hot climate requires of the individual quiet and rest, just as cold incites to labor and action. For this reason the Spaniard is more indolent than the Frenchman; the Frenchman more so than the German. The Europeans themselves who reproach the residents of the colonies so much (and I am not now speaking of the Spaniards but of the Germans and English themselves), how do they live in tropical countries? Surrounded by a numerous train of servants, never-going afoot but riding in a carriage, needing servants not only to take off their shoes for them but even to them! And yet they live and eat better, they work for themselves to get rich, with the hope of a future, free and respected, while the poor colonist, the indolent colonist, is badly nourished, has no hope, toils for others, and works under force and compulsion! Perhaps the reply to this will be that white men are not made to stand the severity of the climate. A mistake! A man can live in any climate, if he will only adapt himself to its requirements and conditions. What kills the European in hot countries is the abuse of liquors, the attempt to live according to the nature of his own country under another sky and another sun. We inhabitants of hot countries live will in northern Europe whenever we take the precautions of the people there do. Europeans can also stand the torrid zone, if only they would get rid of their prejudices.

The fact is that in tropical countries violent work is not a good thing as it is in cold countries, there it is death, destruction, annihilation. Nature knows this and like a just mother has therefore made the earth more fertile, more productive, as a compensation. An hour's work under that burning sun, in the midst of pernicious influences springing from nature in activity, is equal to a day's work in a temperate climate; it is, then, just that the earth yields a hundred fold! Moreover, do we not see the active European, who feels the fresh blood of spring boil in his veins, do we not see him abandon his labors, during the few days of his variable summer, close his office -- where the work is not violent and amounts for many to talking and gesticulating in the shade beside a lunch stand -- flee to watering places, sit in the cafes or stroll about. What wonder then that the inhabitant of tropical countries, worn out and with his blood thinned by the continuous and excessive heat is reduced to inaction? Who is the indolent one in the Manila offices? Is it the poor clerk who comes in at eight in the morning and leaves at one in the afternoon with only his parasol, who copies and writes and works for himself and for his chief, or is it the chief, who comes in a carriage at ten o'clock, leaves before twelve, reads his newspaper while smoking and with his feet cocked up on a chair or a table, or gossiping about all his friends? What is indolent, the native coadjutor, poorly paid and badly treated, who has to visit all the indigent sick living in the country, or the friar curate who gets fabulously rich, goes about in a carriage, eats and drinks well, and does not put himself to any trouble without collecting an excessive fee?

Without speaking further of the Europeans in what violent labor does the Chinaman engage in tropical countries, the industrious Chinaman, who flees from his own country driven by hunger and whose whole ambition is to amass a small fortune? With the exception of some porters, an occupation that the natives also follow, he nearly always engages in the trade, in commerce; so rarely does he take up agriculture that we do not know of a single case. The Chinaman who in other colonies cultivates the soil does so only for a certain number of years and then retires.

We find, then, the tendency to indolence very natural, and have to admit and bless it, for we cannot alter natural laws, and without it the race would have disappeared. l Man is not a brute, he is not a machine, his object is not merely to produce, in spite of the pretensions of some Christian whites who would make of the colored Christian a kind of motive power somewhat more intelligent and less costly than steam. Man's object is not to satisfy the passions of another man, his object is to seek happiness for himself and his kind by traveling along the road of progress and perfection.

The evil is not that indolence exists more or less latently but that it is fostered and magnified. Among men, as well as among nations, there exist no only, aptitudes but also tendencies good and evil. To foster the good ones and aid them, as well as correct the evil and repress them, would be the duty of society and government, if less noble thoughts did not occupy their attention. The evil is that the indolence in the Philippines is a magnified indolence, an indolence of the snowball type, if we may be permitted the expression, an evil that increases in direct proportion to the periods of time, and effect of misgovernment and of backwardness, as we have said, and not a cause thereof. Others will hold the contrary opinion, especially those who have a hand in the misgovernment, but we do not care; we have made an assertion and are going to prove it.

PART TWO: When in consequence of a long chronic illness the condition of the patient is examined, the question may arise whether the weakening of the fibers and the debility of the organs are the cause of the malady's continuing or the effect of the bad treatment that prolongs its action. The attending physician attributes the entire failure of his skill to the poor constitution of the patient, to the climate, to the surroundings, and so on. On the other hand, the patient attributes the aggravation of the evil to the system of treatment followed. Only the common crowd, the inquisitive populace, shakes its head and cannot reach a decision.

Something like this happens in the case of the Philippines. Instead of a physician, read government, that is friars, employees, etc. Instead of patient, Philippines; instead of malady, indolence.

And just as happens in similar cases when the patient gets worse, everybody loses his head, each one dodges the responsibility to place it upon somebody else, and instead of seeking the causes in order to combat the evil in them, devotes himself at best to attacking the symptoms; here a blood-letting, a tax; there a plaster, forced labor, further on a sedative, a trifling reform. Every new arrival proposes a new remedy; one, seasons of prayer, the relics of a saint, the viaticum, the friars; another shower-bath; still another, with pretensions to modern ideas, a transfusion of blood. "It's nothing, only the patient has eight million indolent red corpuscles; some few white corpuscles in the form of an agricultural colony will get us out of the trouble."

So, on all sides there are groans, gnawing of lips, clenching of fists, many hollow words, great ignorance, a deal of talk, a lot of fear. The patient is near his finish!

Yes, transfusion of blood, transfusion of blood! New life, new vitality! Yes, new white corpuscles that you are going to inject into its veins, the new white corpuscles that were a cancer in another organism will withstand all the depravity of the system, will have more stamina than all the degeneration, all the trouble in the principal organs. Be thankful if they do not become coagulations and produce gangrene, be thankful if they do not reproduce the cancer!

While the patient breathes, we must not lose hope, and however late we may be, a judicious examination is never superfluous; at least the cause of death may be known. We are not trying to put all the blame on the physician, and still less on the patient, for we have already spoken of a predisposition, in the absence of which the race would disappear, sacrificed to excessive labor in a tropical country.

Indolence in the Philippines is a chronic malady, but not a heredity one. The Filipinos have not always been what they are, witnesses whereto are all the historians of the first years after the discovery of the Islands.

Before the arrival of the Europeans, the Malayan Filipinos carried on an active trade, no only among themselves but also with all the neighboring countries. A Chinese manuscript of the 13th century, translated by Dr. Hirth (Globus, September, 1889), which we will take up at another time, speaks of China's relations with the islands, relations purely commercial, which mention is made of the activity and honesty of the traders of Luzon, who took the Chinese products and distributed them throughout all the islands, for the merchandise that the Chinaman did not remember to have given them. The products which they in exchange exported from the islands were crude wax, cotton, pearls, tortoise shell, betel-nuts, dry goods, etc.

The first thing noticed by Pigafetta who came with Magellan in 1521, on arriving at the first island of the Philippines, Samar, was the courtesy and kindness of the inhabitants and their commerce. "To honor our captain," he says, "they conducted him to their boats where they had their merchandise, which consisted of cloves, cinnamon, pepper, nutmegs, mace, gold and other things; and they made us understand by gestures that such articles were to be found in the islands to which we were going."

Further on he speaks of the vessels and utensils of solid gold that he found in Butuan where the people worked in mines. He describes the silk dresses, the daggers with long gold hilts and scabbards of carved wood, the gold sets of teeth, etc. Among cereals and fruits he mentions rice, millet, oranges, lemons, panicum, etc.

That the islands maintained relations with neighboring countries and even with distant ones is proven by the ships from Siam, laden with gold and slaves, that Magellan found in Cebu. These ships paid certain duties to the king of the island. In the same year, 1521, the survivors of Magellan's expedition met the son of the Rajah of Luzon, who, as captain-general of the Sultan of Borneo and admiral of his fleet, had conquered for him the great city of Lave (Sarawak ?). Might this captain, who was greatly feared by all his foes, have been the Rajah Matanda whom the Spaniards afterwards encountered in Tondo in 1570?

In 1539 the warriors of Luzon took part in the formidable contests of Sumatra, and under the orders of Angi Sity Timor, Rajah of Batta, conquered and overthrew the terrible Alzadin, Sultan of Atchin, renowned in the historical annals of the Far East. (Marseen, History of Sumatra, chapter 20)

At that time, that sea where float the islands like a set of emeralds on a paten of bright glass, that sea was everywhere traversed by junks, paraus, barangays, vintas, vessels swift as shuttles so large that they could maintain a hundred rowers on a side (Morga); that sea bore everywhere commerce, industry, agriculture, by the force of the oars moved to the sound of warlike songs of the genealogies and achievements of the Philippine divinities. (Colin, Chapter 15)

Wealth abounded in the islands. Pigafetta tells us of the abundance of foodstuffs in Pragua and of its inhabitants, who nearly all tilled their own fields. At this island the survivors of Magellan's expedition were well received and provisioned. A little later, these same survivors captured a vessel, plundered and sacked it and took prisoner in it the chief of the Island of Paragua with his son and brother.

In this same vessel they captured bronze lombards, and this is the first mention of artillery of the Filipino, for these lombards were useful to the chief of Paragua against the savages of the interior.

They let him ransom himself within seven days, demanding 400 measures (cavanes ?) of rice, 20 pigs, 20 goats, and 450 chickens. This is the first act of piracy recorded in Philippine history. The chief of Paragua paid everything, and moreover, voluntarily added coconuts, bananas, and sugar-cane jars filled with palm wine. When Caesar was taken prisoner by the corsairs and required to pay twenty-five talents ransom, he replied, "I'll give you fifty, but later I'll have you crucified!" The chief of Paragua was more generous: he forgot. His conduct, while it may reveal weakness, also demonstrates that the islands ere abundantly provisioned. This chief was named Tuan Mahamud; his brother, Guantil, and his son, Tuan Mahamud. (Martin Mendez, Purser of the ship Victoria: Archivo de Indias.)

A very extraordinary thing, and one that shows the facility with which the natives learned Spanish, is that fifty years before the arrival of the Spaniards in Luzon, in that very year 1521, when they first came to the islands, there were already natives of Luzon who understood Castilian. In the treaties of peace that the survivors of Magellan's expedition made with the chief of Paragua, when the servant-interpreter died they communicated with one another through a Moro who had been captured in the island of the King of Luzon and who understood some Spanish (Martin Mendez; op cit.) Where did this extemporaneous interpreter learn Castilian? In the Moluccas? In Malacca, with the Portuguese? Spaniards did not reach Luzon until 1571.

Legazpi's expedition met in Butuan various traders of Luzon with their boats laden with iron, cloths, porcelain, etc. (Gaspar de San Agustin) plenty of provisions, activity, trade, movement in all the southern islands.

They arrived at the Island of Cebu, "abounding in provisions, with mines and washings of gold, and peopled with natives, "as Morga says: "very populous, and at a port frequented by many ships that came from the islands and kingdoms near India," as Colin says: and even though they were peacefully received discord soon arose. The city was taken by force and burned. The first destroyed the food supplies and naturally famine broke out in that town of a hundred thousand people, as the historians say, and among the members of the expedition, but the neighboring islands quickly relieved the need, thanks to the abundance they enjoyed.

All the histories of those first years, in short, abound in long accounts about the industry and agriculture of the natives; mines, gold-washings, looms, farms, barter, naval construction, raising of poultry and stock, weaving of silk and cotton, distilleries, manufactures of arms, pearl fisheries, the civet industry, the horn and hide industry, etc., are things encountered at every step, and considering the time and the conditions in the islands, prove that there was life, there was activity, there was movement.

And if this, which is deduction, does not convince any minds imbued with unfair prejudices perhaps, of some avail may be the testimony of the oft-quoted Dr. Morga, who was Lieutenant-Governor of Manila for seven years and after rendering great service in the Archipelago was appointed criminal judge of the Audiencia of Mexico and Counselor of the Inquisition. His testimony, we say, is highly credible, not only because all his contemporaries have spoken of him in terms that border on veneration but also because his work, from which we take these citations, is written with great circumspection and care, as well with reference to the authorities in the Philippines as to the errors they committed. "The natives," says Morga, in Chapter Seven, speaking of the occupations of the Chinese, "are very far from exercising those trade and have forgotten much about farming, raising poultry, stock and cotton, and weaving cloth. As they used to do in their Paganism and for a long time after the country was conquered."

The whole Chapter 8 of his work deals with this moribund activity, this much forgotten industry, and yet in spite of that, how long is his eighth chapter!

And not only Morga, not also Chirinco, Colin, Argensola, Gaspar de San Agustin and others agree to this matter, but modern travelers, after two hundred and fifty years, examining the decadence and misery, assert the same thing. Dr. Hans Meyer, when he saw the tribes not subdued cultivating beautiful fields and working energetically, asked if they would not become indolent when they in turn should accept Christianity and a paternal government.

Accordingly, the Filipinos in spite of the climate, in spite of their few needs (they were less then than now), were not the indolent creatures of our time, and, as we shall see later on, their ethics and their mode of life were not what is not complacently attributed to them.

How then, and in what way, was that active and enterprising infidel native of ancient times converted into the lazy and indolent Christian, as our contemporary writers say?

We have already spoken of the more or less latent predisposition which exists in the Philippines toward indolence, and which must exist everywhere, in the whole world, in all men, because we all hate work more or less, as it may be more or less hard, more ore less unproductive. The dolce far niente of the Italian, the rascarse la barriga of the Spaniard, the supreme aspiration of the bourgeois to live on his income in peace and tranquility, attest this.

What causes operated to awake this terrible predisposition from its lethargy? How is it that the Filipino people, so fond of its customs as to border on routine, has given up its ancient habits of work, of trade, of navigation, etc., even to the extent of completely forgetting its past?

PART THREE: A fatal combination of circumstances, some independent of the will in spite of men's efforts, others in offspring of stupidity and ignorance, others the inevitable corollaries of false principles, and still others the result of more or less base passions, has induced the decline of labor, an evil which instead of being remedies by prudence, mature reflection and recognition of the mistakes made, through a deplorable policy, through regrettable blindness and obstinacy, has gone from bad to worse until it has reached the condition in which we now see it.

First came the wars, the internal disorders which the new change of affairs naturally brought with it. It was necessary to subject the people either by cajolery or force; there were fights, there was slaughter; those who had submitted peacefully seemed to repent of it; insurrections were suspected, and some occurred; naturally there were executions, and many capable laborers perished. Add to this condition of disorder the invasion of Li-Mahong; add continual wars into which the inhabitants of the Philippines were pledged to maintain the honor of Spain, to extend the sway of her flag in Borneo, in the Moluccas and in Indo-China; to repel the Dutch foe; costly wars, fruitless expeditions, in which each time thousands and thousands of native archers and rowers were recorded to have embarked, but whether they returned to their homes was never stated. Like the tribute that once upon a time Greece sent to the Minotaur of Crete, the Philippine youth embarked for the expedition, saying goodbye to their country forever; on their horizon were the stormy sea, the interminable wars, the rash expeditions. Wherefore, Gaspar de San Agustin says: "Although anciently there were in this town of Dumangas many people, in the course of time they have very greatly diminished because the natives are the best sailors and most skillful rowers on the whole coast, and so the governors in the port of Iloilo take most of the people from this town for the ships that they send abroad . . . When the Spaniards reached this island (Panay) it is said that there were on it more than fifty thousand families; but these diminished greatly . . . and at present they may amount to some fourteen thousand tributaries." From fifty thousand families to fourteen thousand tributaries in little over half a century!

We would never get through, had we to quote all the evidence of the authors regarding the frightful diminution of the inhabitants of the Philippines in the first years after the discovery. In the time of their first bishop, that is, ten years after Legazpi. Philip II said that they had been reduced to less than two-thirds.

Add to these fatal expeditions that wasted all the moral and material energies of the country, the frightful inroads of the terrible pirates from the south, instigated and encouraged by the government, first in order to get a complaint and afterwards disarm the islands subjected to it, inroads that reached the very shores of Manila, even Malate itself, and during which were sen to set out for captivity and slavery, in the baleful glow of burning villages, strings of wretches who had been unable to defend themselves, leaving behind them the ashes of their homes and the corpses of their parents and children. Morga, who recounts the first piratical invasion, says: "The boldness of these people of Mindanao did great damage to the Visayan Island, as much by what they did in them as by the fear and fright which the native acquired, because the latter were in the power of the Spaniards who held them subject and tributary and unarmed, in such manner that they did not protect them from their enemies or leave the means with which to defend themselves, AS THEY DID WHEN THERE WERE NO SPANIARDS IN THE COUNTRY." These piratical attacks continually reduce the number of the inhabitants of the Philippines, since the independent Malays were especially notorious for their atrocities and murders, sometimes because they believed that to preserve their independence it was necessary to weaken the Spaniard by reducing the number of his subjects, sometimes because a greater hatred and a deeper resentment inspired them against the Christian Filipino who, being of their own race, served the stranger in order to deprive them of their precious liberty. These expeditions lasted about three centuries, being repeated five and ten times a year, and each expedition cost the island over eight hundred prisoners.

"With the invasions of the pirates from Sulu and Mindanao," says Padre Gaspar de San Agustin, (the island of Bantayan, near Cebu) "has greatly reduced, because they easily captured the people there, since the latter had no place to fortify themselves and were far from help from Cebu. The hostile Sulus did great damage in this island in 1608, leaving it almost depopulated." (Page 380)

These rough attacks, coming from without, produced a counter effect in the interior, which, carried out medical comparisons was like a purge or diet in an individual who has just lost a great deal of blood. In order to make headway against so many calamities, to secure their sovereignty and take the offensive in these disastrous contests, to isolate the warlike Sulus from their neighbors in the south, to care for the needs of the empire of the Indies (for one of the reasons why the Philippines were kept, as contemporary documents prove, ws their strategic position between New Spain and the Indies), to wrest from the Dutch their growing colonies of the Molluccas and get red of some troublesome neighbors, to maintain, in short, the trade of China and New Spain, it was necessary to construct new and large ships which, as we have seen, costly as they were to the country for their equipment and the rowers they required, were not less so because of the manner in which they were constructed. Padre Fernando de lost Rios Coronel, who fought in these wards and later turned priest, speaking of these King's ships, said, "As they were so large, the timber needed was scarcely to be found in the forests (of the Philippines?), and thus it was necessary to seek it with great difficulty in the most remote of them, where, once found, in order to haul and convey it to the shipyard the towns of the surrounding country had to be depopulated of natives, who get it out with immense labor, damage, and cost to them. The natives furnished the masts for a galleon, according to the assertion of the Franciscans, and I heard the governor of the province where they were cut, which is Laguna de Bay, say that to haul them seven leagues over very broken mountains 6,000 natives were engaged three months, without furnishing them food, which the wretched native had to seek for himself!"

And Gaspar de San Agustin says: "In these times (1690), Bacolor has not the people that it had in the past because of the uprising in that province when Don Sabiniano Manrique de Lara was Governor of these islands and because of the continual labor of cutting timber for his Majesty's shipyards, which hinders them from cultivating the very fertile plain they have.

If this is not sufficient to explain the depopulation of the islands and the abandonment of industry, agriculture and commerce, then add "the natives who were executed, those who left their wives and children and fled in disgust to the mountains, those who were sold into slavery to pay the taxes levied upon them," as Fernando de los Rios Coronel says; add to all this what Philip II said in reprimanding Bishop Salazar about "natives sold to some encomenderos to others, those flogged to death, the women who are crushed to death by their heavy burdens, those who sleep in the fields and bear and nurse their children and die bitten by poisonous vermin, the many who are executed and left to die of hunger and those who eat poisonous herbs . . . and the mothers who kill their children in bearing them," and you will understand how in less than thirty years the population of the Philippines was reduced one-third. We are not saying this: it was said by Gaspar de San Agustin, the preeminently anti-Filipino Augustinian, and he confirms it throughout the rest of his work by speaking every moment of the state of neglect in which lay the farms and field once so flourishing and so well cultivated, the town thinned that had formerly been inhabited by many leading families!

How is it strange, then, that discouragement may have been infused into the spirit of the inhabitants of the Philippines, when in the midst of so many calamities they did not know whether they would see sprout the seed they were planting, whether their field was going to be their grave or their crop would go to feed their executioner? What is there strange in it, when we see the pious but impotent friars of that time trying to free their poor parishioners from the tyranny of the encomenderos by advising them to stop work in the mines, to abandon their commerce, to break up their looms, pointing out to them heaven for their whole hope, preparing them for death as their only consolation?

Man works for an object. Remove the object and you reduce him to inaction. The most active man in the world will fold his arms from the instant he understands that it is madness to bestir himself, that this work will be the cause of his trouble, that for him it will be the cause of vexations at home and of the pirate's greed abroad. It seems that these thoughts have never entered the minds of those who cry out against the indolence of the Filipinos.

Even were the Filipino not a man like the rest, even were we to suppose that zeal in him for work was as essential as the movement of a wheel caught in the gearing of others in motion; even were we to deny him foresight and the judgment that the past and present form, there would still be left us another reason to explain the attack of the evil. The abandonment of the fields by their cultivators, whom the wars and piratical attacks dragged from their homes was sufficient to reduce to nothing the hard labor of so many generations. In the Philippines abandon for a year the land most beautifully tended and you will see how you will have to begin all over again: the rain will wipe out the furrows, the floods will drown the seeds, pants and bushes will grow up everywhere, and on seeing so much useless labor the hand will drop the hoe, the laborer will desert his plow. Isn't there left the fine life of the pirate?

Thus is understood that sad discouragement which we find in the friar writers of the 17th century, speaking of once very fertile plains submerged, of provinces and towns depopulate, of leading families exterminated. These pages resemble a sad and monotonous scene in the night after a lively day. Of Cagayan, Padre Agustin speaks with mournful brevity: "A great deal of cotton, of which they made good cloth that the Chinese and Japanese every year bought and carried away." In the historian's time, the industry and the trade had come to an end.

It seems that there are causes more than sufficient to breed indolence in the midst of a beehive. Thus is explained why, after thirty-two years of the system, the circumspect and prudent Morga said that the natives have forgotten much about farming, raising poultry, stock and cotton and weaving cloth, as they used to do in their paganism and for a long time after the country had been conquered!"

Still they struggled a long time against indolence, yes: but their enemies were so numerous that at last they gave up!

PART FOUR: We recognize the causes that awoke the predisposition and provoked the evil: now let us see what foster and sustain it. In this connection government and governed have to bow our heads and say: "We deserve our fate."

We have already truly said that when a house becomes disturbed and disordered, we should not accuse the youngest child or the servants, but the head of it, especially if his authority is unlimited. He who does not act freely is not responsible for his actions; and the Filipino people, not being master of its liberty, is not responsible for either its misfortunes or its woes. We say this, it is true, but, as well as seen later on, we also have a large part in the continuation of such a disorder.

The following other causes contributed to foster the evil and aggravate it; the constantly lessening encouragement that labor has met with in the Philippines. Fearing to have the Filipinos deal frequently with other individuals of their own race, who were free and independent, as the Borneans, the Siamese, the Cambodians, and the Japanese, people who in their customs and feeling differ greatly from the Chinese, the government acted toward these others with great mistrust and great severity, as Morga testifies in the last pages of his work, until they finally ceased to come to the country. In fact, it seems that once an uprising planned by he Borneans was suspected: we say; suspected, for there was not even an attempt, although there were many executions. And as thse nations wee the very ones that consumed Philippine products, when all communication with them had been cut off, consumption of these products also ceased. The only two countries with which the Philippines continued to have relations were China and Mexico, or New Spain, and from this trade only China and a few private individuals in Manila got any benefit. In fact, the Celestial Empire sent her junks laden with merchandise, that merchandise which shut down the factories of Seville and ruined the Spanish industry, and returned laden in exchange with the silver that was every year sent from Mexico. Nothing from the Philippines at that time went to China, not even gold, for in those years the Chinese trades would accept no payment but silver coin. To Mexico went a little more: some cloth and dry goods which the encomenderos took by force or bought from the natives at a paltry; price, wax, amber, gold, civet, etc; but nothing more, and not even in great quantity, as is stated by Admiral Don Jeronimo de Benelos y Carrilo, when he begged the King that "the inhabitants of the Manilas be permitted (1) to load as many ships as they could with native products, such as wax, gold, perfumes, ivory, cotton cloths, which they would have to buy from the natives of the country. . . Thus friendship of these peoples would be gained, they would furnish New Spain with their merchandise and the money that is brought to Manila would not leave this place."

The coastwise trade, so active in other times, had to die out, thanks to the piratical attacks of the Malays of the south; and trade in the interior of the islands almost entirely disappeared, owing to restrictions, passports and other administrative requirements.

Of no little importance were the hindrance and obstacles that from the beginning were thrown in the farmer's way by the rules, who were influenced by childish fear and saw everywhere signs of conspiracies and uprisings. The natives were not allowed to go to their labors, that is, their farms, without permission of the governor, or of his agents and officers, and even of the priests as Morga says. Those who know the administrative slackness and confusion in a country where the officials work scarcely two hours a day; those who know the cost of going to and returning form the capital to the little tyrants will well understand how with this crude arrangement it is possible to have the most absurd agriculture. True it is that for sometime this absurdity which would be ludicrous had it not been so serious, had disappeared; but even if the words have gone out of use other facts and other provisions have replaced them. The Moro pirate has disappeared but there remains the outlaw who infests the fields and waylays the farmer to hold him for ransom. Now then, the government, which has a constant fear of the people, denies to the farmers even the use of a shotgun, or if it does allow it does so very grudgingly and withdraws it at pleasure; whence it results with the laborer, who, thanks to his means of defense, plants his crops and invests his meager fortune in the furrows that he has so laboriously opened, that when his crop matures it occurs to the government, which is impotent to suppress brigandage, to deprive him of his weapon; and then, without defense and without security, he is reduced to inaction and abandons his field, his work, and takes to gambling as the best means of securing a livelihood. The green cloth is under the protection of the government, it is safer! A mournful counselor is fear, for it not only causes weakness but also in casting aside the weapons, strengthens the very persecutor!

The sordid return the native gets from his work has the effect of discouraging him. We know from history that the encomenderos, after reducing many to slavery and forcing them to work for their benefit, made others give up their merchandise for a trife or nothing at all, or cheated them with the measures.

Speaking of Ipion, in Panay, Padre Gaspar de San Agustin says: "It was in ancient times very rich in gold . . . but provoked by he annoyances they suffered from some governors they have ceased to get it out, preferring to live in poverty than to suffer such hardships." (page 378) Further on, speaking of other towns, he says: "Boaded by ill treatment of the encomenderos who in administering justice have treated the natives as thier slaves and not as their children, and have only looked after their own interests at the expense of the wretched fortunes and lives of their charges. . . (Page 422) Further on, "In Leyte, they tried to kill an encomendero of the town of Dagami on account of the great hardships he made them suffer by exacting tribute of wax from them with a steelyard which he had made twice as long as others. . ."

This state of affairs lasted a long time and still lasts, in spite of the fact that the breed of encomenderos has become extinct. A term passes away but the evil and the passions engendered do not pass away so long as reforms are devoted solely to changing the names.

The wars with the Dutch, the inroads and piratical attacks of the people of Sulu land Mindanao disappeared; the people have been transformed; new towns have grown up while others have become impoverished; but the frauds subsisted as much as or worse than they did in those early years. We will not cite our own experiences for aside from the fact that we do not know which to select, critical persons may reproach us with partiality; neither will we cite those of other Filipinos who write in the newspapers, but we shall confine ourselves to translating the words of a modern French traveler who as in the Philippines for a long time.

"The good curate," he says with reference to the rosy picture a friar had given him of the Philippines, "had not told me about the governor, the foremost official of the district, who was too much taken up with the ideal of getting rich to have time to tyrannize over his docile subjects; the governor, charged with ruling the country and collecting the various taxes in the government's name, devoted himself almost wholly to trade; in his hands the high and noble functions he performs are nothing more than instruments of gain. He monopolizes all the business and instead of developing on his part the love of work, instead of stimulating the too natural indolence of the natives, he with abuse of his powers thinks only of destroying all competition that may trouble him or attempts to participate in his profits. It maters little to him that the country is impoverished, without cultivation, without commerce, without industry, just so the governor is quickly enriched."

Yet the traveler has been unfair in picking out the governor especially. Why only the governor?

We do not cite passages from other authors, because we have not their works at hand and do not wish to quote from memory.

The great difficulty that every enterprise encountered with the administration contributed not a little to kill off all commercial and industrial movement. All the Filipinos, as well as all those who have tried to engage in business in the Philippines, know how many documents, what comings, how many stamped papers, how much patience is needed to secure from the government a permit for an enterprise. One must count upon the good will of this one, on the influence of that one, on a good bribe to another in order that the application be not pigeon-holed, a present to the one further on so that it may pass it on to his chief; one must pray to God to give him good humor and time to see and examine it; to another, talent to recognize its expediency; to one further on sufficient stupidity not to scent behind the enterprise an insurrectionary purpose land that they may not all spend the time taking baths, hunting or playing cards with the reverend friars in their convents or country houses. And above all, great patience, great knowledge of how to get along, plenty of money, a great deal of politics, many salutations, great influence, plenty of presents and complete resignation! How is it strange that the Philippines remain poor in spite of the fertile soil, when history tells us that the countries now the most flourishing date their development from the day of their liberty and civil rights? The most commercial and most industrious countries have been the freest countries. France, England and the United States prove this. Hong Kong, which is not worth the most insignificant of the Philippines, has more commercial movement than all the islands together, because it is free and is well governed.

The trade with China, which was the whole occupation of the colonizers of the Philippines, was not only prejudicial to Spain but also the life of her colonies; in fact, when the officials and private persons in Manila found an easy method of getting rich they neglected everything. They paid no attention either to cultivating the soil or to fostering industry; and wherefore? China furnished the trade, and they had only to take advantage of it and pick up the gold that dropped out on its way from Mexico toward the interior of China, the gulf whence it never returned. The pernicious example of the dominators in surrounding themselves with servants and despising manual or corporal labor as a thing unbecoming the nobility and chivalrous pride of the heroes of so many centuries; those lordly airs, which the natives have translated into tila ka castila, and the desire of the dominated to be the equal of the dominators, if not essentially, at least in their manners; all this had naturally to produce aversion to activity and fear or hatred of work.

Moreover, "Why work?" asked the natives. The curate says that the rich man will not go to heaven. The rich man on earth is liable to all kinds of trouble, to be appointed a cabeza de barangay, to be deported if an uprising occurs, to be forced banker of the military chief of the town, who to reward him for favors received seizes his laborers and his stock in order to force him to beg money and thus easily pays up. Why be rich? So that all the officers of justice may have a lynx eye on your actions, so that at the least slip enemies may be raised up against you, you may be indicted, a whole complicated and labyrinthine story may be concocted against you, for which you can only get away, not by the tread of Ariadme but by Dane's shower of gold, and still give thanks that you are not kept in reserve for some needy occasion. The native, whom they pretend to regard as an imbecile, is not so much so that he does not understand that it is ridiculous to work himself to death to become worse off. A proverb of his says the pig is cooked in its own lard, and as among his bad qualities he has the good one of applying to himself all the criticisms and censures he refers to live miserable and indolent rather than play the part of the wretched beast of burden.

Add to this the introduction of gambling. We do not mean to say that before the coming of the Spaniards the natives did not gamble: the passion for gambling is innate in adventuresome and excitable races, and such is the Malay, Pigafetta tells us of cockfights and of bets in the Island of Paragua. Cock-fighting must also have existed in Luzon and in all the islands, for in the terminology of the game are two Tagalog words: sabong and tari (cockpit and gaff). But there is not the least doubt that the fostering of this game is due to the government, as well as the perfecting of it. Although Pigafetta tells us of it, he mentions it only in Paragua, and ot in Cebu nor in any other island of the south, where he stayed a long time. Morga does not speak of it, in spite of his having spent seven years in Manila, and yet he does describe the kinds of fowl, the jungle hens and cocks. Neither does Morga speak of gambling, when he talks about vices and other defects, more or lest concealed, more or less insignificant. Moreover excepting the two Tagalog words sabong and tari, the others are of Spanish origan as soltada (setting the cocks to fight, then the fight itself), pusta (apusta, bet), logro (winning), pago (payment), etc. We say the same about gamblilng; the word sugal (jugar, to gamble), like kumpistal (confesar, to confess to a priest), indicates that gambling was unknown in the Philippines before the Spaniards. The word laro (Tagalog: to play) is not the equivalent of the word sugal. The word play (baraja, playing card) proves that the introduction of playing cards was not due to the Chinese, who have a kind of playing cards also, because in that case they would have taken the Chinese name. l Is nto this enough? The word taya (tallar, to bet), paris-paris (Spanish, pares, pairs of cards), politana (napolitana a winning sequence of cards), sapote (to stack the cards), kapote (to slam), monte, and so on, all prove the foreign origin of this terrible plant, which only produces vice and which has found in the character of the native a fit soil, cultivated circumstances.

Along with gambling, which breeds dislike for steady and difficult toil by its promise of sudden wealth and its appeal to the emotions, with the lotteries, with the prodigality and hospitality of the Filipinos, went also, to swell the train of misfortunes, the religious functions, the great number of fiestas, the long masses for the women to spend their mornings and the novenaries to spend their afternoons, and the nights for the processions and rosaries. Remember, that lack of capital and absence of means paralyze all movement, and you will see how the native was perforce to be indolent for if any money might remain to him from the trials, imposts and exactions, he would have to give it to the curate for bulls, scapularies, candles, novenaries, etc. And if this does not suffice to form an indolent character, if the climate and nature are not enough in themselves to daze him and deprive him of all energy, recall then that the doctrine of his religion teach him to irrigate his fields in the dry season, not by means of canals but with amasses and prayers; to preserve his stock during an epidemic with holy water, exorcisms and benedictions that cost five dollars an animal, to drive away the locusts by a procession with the image of St. Augustine, etc. It is well, undoubtedly, to trust greatly in God; but it is better to do what one can not trouble the Creator every moment, even when these appeals redound to the benefit of His ministers. We have noticed that the countries which believe most in miracles are the laziest, just as spoiled children are the most ill-mannered. Whether they believe in miracles to palliate their laziness or they are lazy because they believe in miracles, we cannot say; but he fact is the Filipinos were much less lazy before the word miracle was introduced into their language.

The facility with which individual liberty is curtailed, that continual alarm of all from the knowledge that they are liable to a secret report, a governmental ukase, and to the accusation of rebel or suspect, an accusation which, to be effective, does not need proof or the production of the accuser. With the lack of confidence in the future, that uncertainty of reaping the reward of labor, as in a city stricken with plague, everybody yields to fate, shuts himself in his house or goes about amusing himself in an attempt to spend the few days that remain to him in the least disagreeable way possible.

The apathy of the government itself toward everything in commerce and agriculture contributes not a little to foster indolence. Three is no encouragement at all for the manufacturer or for the farmer, the government furnishes no aid either when a poor crop comers, when the locusts sweep over the fields, or when cyclone destroys in its passage the wealth of the soil; nor does it take any trouble to seek a market for the products of its colonies. Why should it do so when these same products are burdened with taxes and imposts and have no free entry into the ports of the mother country, nor is their consumption there encouraged? While we see all the walls of London covered with advertisements of the products of its colonies, while the English make heroic efforts to substitute Ceylon for Chinese tea, beginning with the sacrifice of their taste and their stomach, in Spain, with the exception of tobacco, nothing from the Philippines is known; neither its sugar, coffee, hemp, fine cloths, nor its Ilocano blankets. The name of Manila is known only from those cloths of China or Indo-China which at one time reached Spain by way of Manila, heavy silk shawls, fantastically but coarsely embroidered, which no one has thought of imitating in Manila since they are so easily made; but the government has other cares, and the Filipinos do not know that such objects are more highly esteemed in the Peninsula than their delicate piña embroideries and their vey fine jusi fabrics. Thus disappeared our trade in indigo, thanks to the trickery of the Chinese, which the government could not guard against, occupied as it was with other thoughts; thus die now the other industries, the fine manufacturers of the Visayas are gradually disappearing from trade and even from use; the people, continually getting poorer, cannot afford the costly cloths, and have to be contented with calico or the imitations of the Germans, who produce imitations even of the work of our silversmiths.

The fact that the best plantations, the best tracts of land in some provinces, those that from their easy access are more profitable than others, are in the hands of the religious corporations, whose desideratum is ignorance and condition of semi-starvation of the native, so that they may, continue to govern him and make themselves necessary to his wretched existence, is one of the reasons why many tows do not progress in spite of the efforts of their inhabitants. We will be met with the objection, as an argument on the other side, that the towns which belong to the friars are comparatively richer than those which do not belong to them. They surely are! just as their brethren in Europe, in founding their convents, knew how to select the best valleys, the best uplands for the cultivation of the vine or the production of beer, so also the Philippine monks have known how to selecte the best towns, the beautiful plains, the well-watered fields, to make of them rich plantations. For some time the friars have deceived many by making them believe that if these plantations were prospering, it was because they were under their care, and the indolence of the natives was thus emphasized; but they forget that in some provinces