Ten 2018 Extinction Awards

January 21st, 2019

by Bill Quigley


PHOTO/Skender/Flickr /Mother Nature Network

Given the way people are transforming the earth into a place where the human species cannot survive, it is only right and just that we honor achievement in the race to extinction.

Without further ado, here are the top eight Extinction Awards of 2018.

2018 Extinction Global Person of the Year Award: Donald J. Trump         

One person did more in 2018 to advance the extinction of the human race than any other.  While space makes it impossible to list all the ways he acted to damage the earth, a look at just a few of the highlights from 2018 gives a clear snapshot.  In 2018, he made it easier for coal plants to pollute, made it easier for industry to engage in hazardous air pollution, announced the US will be pulling out of a twenty year old nuclear weapons treaty, started to rollback vehicle mileage standards, opened up oil and gas drilling on millions of acres of protected public lands, vigorously opposed the rights of children in the US to challenge the federal government for its role in global warming, and is making it easier for oil and gas companies to drill in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge. The world cannot forget that in 2017 he displayed his dedication to extinction when he boldly withdrew the US from the Paris climate agreement.

2018 Extinction Award for Country: United States

Worldwide, the United States produces the most oil, consumes the most oil, consumes the most natural gas, produces the most solid waste, and eats the most meat per capita (264 pounds per person).   The US is second in the world in fuel emissions, second in carbon dioxide emissions, and third in consumption of coal.  The US has over 6500 nuclear weapons putting it a close second to Russia which has 6550 and is planning to build many more.  The US has over 850 vehicles per 1000 people, far and away number one in the world.  Three out of every four new vehicles sold in the US are gas guzzling trucks or SUVs.  The fact that the US is led by the Extinction Global Person of the Year suggests it is well positioned to hold onto the leading role in next year’s awards as well.

2018 Extinction Award for Country, Runner Up: China 

In recent years, China has been surging in the extinction sweepstakes.  China now produces the most carbon dioxide emissions, has the most fossil fuel emissions, consumes the most coal, and leads the world in mismanaging plastic waste.  China is second in the world in solid waste, second in oil consumption, and third in use of natural gas.  Three of China’s biggest cities are among the ten most polluted in the world.  But China has some work to do to catch up with the US in key areas.  It has only 280 nuclear weapons, about 5 percent of what the US possesses.  Its population owns 104 vehicles per 1000 people, only about 12 percent of the US rate.  Given all the country has achieved lately, the US dare not stay too comfortable.

CounterPunch for more

Tears on the bench

January 21st, 2019

by BETHANY SCHNEIDER

In 2001 I got a great job. Young and freshly minted, I landed a tenure track professorship at Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college – a “Seven Sister” – outside of Philadelphia. I have no memories of my first day of teaching. On the second day I walked across the turreted and gargoyled campus to teach a freshman seminar in a fieldstone mansion set among gigantic trees. My class was waiting for me, and we began to play, babies together, at professor-and-students. Then a colleague appeared at the door. “You all need to come with me,” she said. The date was 9/11, and the first tower had been struck . . . Two vast and trunkless legs of stone . . . My colleague ushered us into a packed classroom and we watched as that smoking monument, soon joined in flames by its twin, fell. I grew up as a teacher that day. My colleagues and I collectively invented a new, non-game: “how to be fully present for young women, some in their first days away from home, many of them from New York City, on 9/11.” I did a lot of things before the sun set. But I didn’t cry.

I can’t read Walt Whitman’s “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field Last Night” without wanting to cry. I teach the poem in an upper-level seminar called “Dead Presidents,” a class about the cult of Founding Fathers. The class looks at the years between the funerals of George Washington in 1799, and Abraham Lincoln in 1865. We read all sorts of great stuff, like Hawthorne’s House of the 7 Gablesand Douglass’ “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July” and Apess’ “Eulogy on King Philip.” We end with a deep dive into Whitman, especially his Lincoln poems, but we spend a lot of time with Drum Taps and especially “Vigil Strange.” . . . Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading. . . I read it out loud to my students, every time. I’m sure my voice quavers. But I’ve never actually shed a tear.

****

Here’s a little lesson about crying – historical crying – from another class I teach, “Literatures of American Indian Removal.” Once upon a time, the State of New Hampshire tried to claim Dartmouth College as its state university. In 1818, the case went to the Supreme Court, where John Marshall, as chief justice, presided. Dartmouth was represented by Daniel Webster. . . . It is, Sir, as I have said, a small college, and yet, there are those who love it . . . In an impassioned speech, Webster cited love as the private passion that draws a fairy circle of protection around the small college, keeping away publics that cannot possibly feel correctly. Webster’s oratory was so moving that the great judge wept openly on the bench. John Marshall, who shaped the Supreme Court into the powerful third arm of government that we now rely on it to be, was moved to tears.

Avidly for more

Is 2019 the year you should finally quit Facebook?

January 21st, 2019

by ARWA MAHDAWI

IMAGE/Wealthy Affiliate

‘Time and time again Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it is a morally bankrupt company that is never going to change unless it is forced to.’ Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Deleting your Facebook account isn’t a bad New Year resolution – the company has proven yet again it violated public trust

Prepare yourself for an overwhelming sense of deja vu: another Facebook privacy “scandal” is upon us.

A New York Times investigation has found that Facebook gave Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages. The Times investigation, based on hundreds of pages of internal Facebook documents, also found that Facebook gave 150 partners more access to user data than previously disclosed. Microsoft, Sony and Amazon, for example, could obtain the contact information of their users’ friends.

Netflix, Spotify and RBC have all denied doing anything nefarious with your private messages. Netflix tweeted that it never asked for the ability to look at them; Spotify says it had no idea it had that sort of access; RBC disputes it even had the ability to see users’ messages. Whether they accessed your information or not, however, is not the point. The point is that Facebook should never have given them this ability without getting your explicit permission to do so.

In a tone-deaf response to the Times investigation, the tech giant explained: “None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.” Perhaps not, but they did violate public trust. 1:00 Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook year in review (it’s not been the best) – video

The Times’ new report caps off a very bad year for Facebook when it comes to public trust. Let’s just recap a few of the bigger stories, shall we?

  • March: The Observer reveals that Cambridge Analytica harvested the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent for political purposes. It is also revealed that Facebook had been keeping records of Android users’ phone calls and texts.
  • April: It was revealed that Facebook was in secret talks with hospitals to get them to share patients’ private medical data.
  • September: Hackers gained access to around 30m Facebook accounts.
  • November: Facebook acknowledges it didn’t do enough to stop its platform being as a tool to incite genocidal violence in Myanmar. A New York Times report reveals the company hired a PR firm to try and discredit critics by claiming they were agents of George Soros.
  • December: Facebook admitted it exposed private photos from 68 million users to apps that weren’t authorized to view your photos. (You can check if you were affected via this Facebook link.)

If you’re still on Facebook after everything has happened this year, you need to ask yourself why. Is the value you get from the platform really worth giving up all your data for? More broadly, are you comfortable being part of the reason that Facebook is becoming so dangerously powerful? Are you comfortable being on a platform that has, among other things, helped incite genocide in Myanmar?

Facebook has made it very clear that it thinks it can get away with anything because its users are idiots

In March, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook put out print ads stating: “We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.” I think they’ve proved by now that they don’t deserve it. Time and time again Facebook has made it abundantly clear that it is a morally bankrupt company that is never going to change unless it is forced to. What’s more, Facebook has made it very clear that it thinks it can get away with anything because its users are idiots. Zuckerberg famously called the first Facebook users “dumb fucks” for handing their personal information over to him; his disdain for the people whose data he deals with doesn’t appear to have lessened over time.

The Guardian for more

Weekend Edition

January 18th, 2019

GaNd lagi …

January 18th, 2019

by B. R. GOWANI

Navjot Singh Sidhu (left), a minister in India’s State of Punjab shaking hands with
General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff
PHOTO/Geo TV/Duck Duck Go

since Pakistan’s birth

its army has played a dominant role

four of its generals took power and ruled the country

and when not in power it treats civilian rulers as puppets

.

the military commands foreign policy and national security

civilian governments can’t befriend a country it considers an enemy

especially, India out of which Pakistan was carved out

.

civilian governments tried to better relations with India

their efforts were halted by military supported terrorists

but now it wants good relations with India, Afghanistan, and others

.

why this u turn of heart
.

two main reasons:

the civilian government is headed by their supporter

who was supported by the military to win election last July

also … Trump has stopped military aid

he thinks Pakistan is getting free lunch from the US

as usual, he’s wrong – but only half-wrong

.

Pakistan has suffered a lot – senseless deaths and internal terrorism

unveil: the reason military extending friendly hand to neighbor

there is a Hindi/Urdu phrase:

GaNd lagi phatne

to khairAt lagi batne

literally

when the ass gets burst (with fear)

the charity begins getting distributed

.

B. R. Gowani can be reached at brgowani@hotmail.com

How Nowruz is celebrated around the world

January 18th, 2019

by ALEX SHAMS

Newroz festivities in the Iranian Kurdish town of Palangan. PHOTO/Tehran Times.

Nowruz is an ancient festival marking the arrival of Spring that is celebrated in parts of the Middle East, Central Asia, South Asia, the Balkans, and East Africa. It dates back at least 3,000 years, and it was adopted and spread by the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism, which the holiday is today often linked with. The Zoroastrian calendar was based on the passage of seasons, and Nowruz – which means “New Day” in Persian – is followed by the festival of Tirgan in summer, Mehregan in fall, and Yalda in winter.

Nowruz is a celebration of rebirth and renewal, of the end of winter and the flowering of the Earth that warm weather portends.

In this article, we’ll be taking a tour of Nowruz around the world to see some of the many ways its marked and the meanings it has taken on. We start by discussing the history of Nowruz, before proceeding country by country: Iran, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Central Asia, Kurdistan, the Balkans and Turkey, and finally, Tanzania.

Nowruz is often called the Persian New Year and is closely associated with Iran. But Nowruz is marked across many different countries, including in Afghanistan and Central and Southern Asia, among Kurds across the Middle East, and even in parts of the Balkans and on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar (more on that soon!).

Even though Nowruz has ancient roots, the holiday has changed significantly over the thousands of years that it has been celebrated. Different regions have preserved or developed different traditions, and new ones have been added to the old ones. The beautiful thing about Nowruz is that it has taken different shapes everywhere it has reached, but it always marks the original message of rebirth and renewal.

The spread of Nowruz can be traced back to three primary historical factors. Firstly, the ancient influence of Persian imperial culture across much of Central and Western Asia, where Persian and Turkic communities have celebrated it for many centuries.

Secondly, Nowruz is linked to the adoption of Persian culture and poetry by medieval Islamic empires, like the Ottomans and the Mughals, who spread the holiday to Turkey, the Balkans and South Asia. The Mughal court officially celebrated Nowruz in India, while the Bektashi Sufi order, which was influential in the Ottoman realm, spread the holiday into Southeastern Europe.

A mural shows Safavid Shah Tahmasp and Humayun celebrating together.

In the past, Nowruz was much more widespread then it is now; for example the Islamic Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties are believed to have celebrated in the Arab world. The third factor in Nowruz’s spread is that migrants from Iran took the holiday with them as they traveled, including to places like Zanzibar where it was eventually adopted by locals as well.

Ajam Media Collective for more

How I quit Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Amazon

January 18th, 2019
IMAGE/Cathryn Virginia/Motherboard

Plus: a how-to guide if you want to quit the biggest companies in tech.

SLAUGHTERHOUSE BIG FIVE:
EVERYTHING WAS UGLY AND NOTHING WORKED

It was just before closing time at a Verizon store in Bushwick, New York last May when I burst through the door, sweaty and exasperated. I had just sprinted—okay I walked, but briskly—from another Verizon outlet a few blocks away in the hopes I’d make it before they closed shop for the night. I was looking for a SIM card that would fit a refurbished 2012 Samsung Galaxy S3 that I had recently purchased on eBay, but the previous three Verizon stores I visited didn’t have any chips that would fit such an old model. Advertisement

When I explained my predicament to the salesperson, he laughed in my face.

“You want to switch from you current phone to an… S3?” he asked incredulously.

I explained my situation. I was about to embark on a month without intentionally using any services or products produced by the so-called “Big Five” tech companies: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. At that point I had found adequate, open source replacements for most of the services offered by these companies, but ditching the Android OS, which is developed by Google, was proving difficult.

Most of the tech I use on a day-to-day basis is pretty utilitarian. At the time I was using a cheap ASUS laptop at work and a homebrew PC at my apartment. My phone was a Verizon-specific version of the Samsung Galaxy J3, a 2016 model that cost a little over $100 new. They weren’t fancy, but they’ve reliably met most of my needs for years.

For the past week and a half I had spent most of my evenings trying to port an independent mobile OS called Sailfish onto my phone without any luck. As it turned out, Verizon had locked the bootloader on my phone model, which is so obscure that no one in the vibrant Android hacking community had dedicated much time to figuring out a workaround. If I wanted to use Sailfish, I was going to have to get a different phone.

I remembered using a Galaxy S3 while living in India a few years ago and liking it well enough. I ultimately decided to go with that model after finding extensive documentation online from others who had had success porting unofficial operating systems onto their phones. So two days and $20-plus-shipping later, I was in possession of a surprisingly new-looking Verizon Galaxy S3. The only thing that remained to do before loading Sailfish onto the device was to find a SIM card that fit. SIM cards come in three different sizes—standard, micro, and nano—and my nano SIM wouldn’t fit in the S3’s micro SIM port. Advertisement

By the time I explained all this to the Verizon employee, he had found a SIM card that would work. As he navigated the Android setup menu he asked me if I wanted him to link my Google account to the phone. “Oh that’s right,” he said, looking up from the phone and laughing. “Sorry, it’s just a habit.”

I could hardly blame him for the slipup. I’m probably the only person who has ever come into the store who didn’t want to synchronize the Google services they use with their phone. It’d be senseless to resist that kind of convenience and Google knows this, which is why Android prompts you to enter your Google credentials before you’ve even reached the phone’s dashboard for the first time. But what I wanted to know is whether there was another way.

By now, it’s common knowledge that Google, Facebook, and Amazon are harvesting as much of our personal data as they can get their hands on to feed us targeted ads, train artificial intelligence, and sell us things before we know we need them. The results of this ruthless data-driven hypercapitalism speak for themselves: Today, the Big Five tech companies are worth a combined total of $3 trillion dollars. When I started my month without the Big Five in May, Google’s parent company Alphabet, Amazon, and Apple were racing to be the first company in history with stock worth $1 trillion. In August, Apple became the first to reach this milestone and just a few weeks later Amazon’s market cap also briefly passed $1 trillion.

Vice for more

Why Saudi Arabia is waging a war on Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

January 17th, 2019

by MOHAMMAD H. FADEL

The record number of Americans who turned out to vote in the midterm elections last November delivered a sweeping repudiation of President Donald Trump, the Republican Party and the racist xenophobia that is constitutive of Trumpism.

Political commentators spoke of a “blue wave” – blue being the color of the Democratic Party – that swept away Republicans all over the country, except in the most rural parts of the United States.

Tip of the iceberg

Two Muslim-American women rode this blue wave to Congress, Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, and Ilhan Omar, a Somali refugee. The success of Tlaib and Omar, meanwhile, were only the tip of the iceberg of what was an unprecedented political mobilisation of Muslim-Americans and Arab-Americans in the 2018 election season.  

The vast majority of these new candidates ran explicitly against Trump, presenting themselves as perfect exemplars of what America could be, simply by being everything that Trump hates: Persons of colour, non-Christian, and immigrants or their descendants.

The electoral victories of Tlaib and Omar were widely celebrated in the US as evidence that there continued to be a strong current of American political life that refused to abandon America’s promise as a pluralistic democracy

The electoral victories of Tlaib and Omar were widely celebrated in the US as evidence that there continued to be a strong, even dominant, current of American political life that refused to abandon America’s promise as a pluralistic democracy in which all citizens, regardless or race, religion or ethnicity, are equal.  

But, in the midst of all this joy, some voices of fear and resentment could be heard. A Christian pastor, who was a Trump supporter, claimed that Congress would now take the appearance of an Islamic republic. Most shockingly, however, were the Trump-supporting voices in the Arab world who joined in with right-wing Islamophobes to decry the electoral success of Muslim-Americans in 2018.

Muslim Brothers and Democrats?

Even before the election results were complete, an Egyptian columnist in the pro-government daily al-Ahram was warning of an alliance between the “Muslim Brotherhood International” and the Democratic Party to bring down Trump.  

Pressing claims that even the far right website Breitbart would be ashamed to make, the columnist stated that the Muslim Brotherhood already controlled several American states, including:“Florida, California, Texas, Chicago [sic], and Michigan”, and allocated $50bn to support the election campaign of its allies in the US.

About a month after the historical election results, another journalist published a piece in Al Arabiya English with the priceless headline: “Details of Calls to Attack Trump by ‘US Muslim Sisters’ allied to Brotherhood.” Like al-Ahram’s piece, it is the work of a fabulist, promoting international conspiracies to explain the success of anti-Trump Arab-American and Muslim-American politicians.

Once again, our President proves that you can’t buy a moral compass.

And Saudi Arabia proves that you can, on the other hand, buy a President. https://t.co/NC3X7umsGG

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 20, 2018

So shocked were Americans over the fact that elements of the Arab press were despondent over the success of Arab-American and Muslim-American politicians, that Newsweek published a piece by the unsuccessful Egyptian-American progressive Democratic candidate for governor of Michigan, Abdul El-Sayed. In his piece, El-Sayed attempted to explain to the American public why parts of the Arab press would be echoing the most crude Islamophobic lies of the American right.  

The open embrace of American Islamophobia by anti-democratic Arab political elites reveals their deep affinities with the authoritarian right’s suspicion of anything that smacks of “globalism”. Of course, the reactionary nature of these Arab elites is light-years beyond their Islamophobic compatriots in the West, who after all do endorse democracy for the privileged members of their societies.  

The day of reckoning

But the anti-democratic Arab elites surpass their western allies in the vice of consistency: Just as they despise universal values, whether in the form of Islam or liberalism, they are also consistent in their rejection of any kind of democracy for their own people.

Instead, they dismiss claims for democratisation as itself evidence of the wicked alliance between the twin globalisms that must be resisted at all costs – liberal democracy, symbolised by the Democratic Party and its most recent leader, President Barack Obama, and political Islam, symbolised by the Muslim Brotherhood.

That states like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are hitching their fates to Trump displays a shocking ignorance of the realities of American politics, and the depth of Trump’s toxicity

Accordingly, every democratic movement, every democratic aspiration, every democratic demand, no matter how trivial or unthreatening, must be fought as a manifestation of these evil globalisms. It is no surprise, therefore, that the autocratic elites of the Arab world are the natural allies of Trump and see in Trumpism the savior for their wobbly regimes.

That states like the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are hitching their fates to Trump displays a shocking ignorance of the realities of American politics, and the depth of Trump’s toxicity. Unless they move quickly to shed their relationship with Trump, they will very soon be permanently branded with that same toxicity. 

Middle East Eye for more

Mahmood Mamdani on Marxist intellectual Samir Amin

January 17th, 2019

by MAHMOOD MAMDANI

Samir Amin IMAGE via Fraktion Die Linke Flickr

Samir Amin’s life resembled that of Karl Marx: a man without a homeland, but one whose home was a chosen commitment to a historical project.

In June 2010, Mahmood Mamdani was appointed Director of the Makerere Institute for Social Research (MISR) in Kampala, Uganda, which he since developed into what is arguably the premier center for graduate education in the social sciences and the humanities on the continent. On December 1, 2018, at the Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association in Atlanta, Georgia, Mamdani delivered the Hormood Lecture. His theme was “Decolonization and higher education: the experience of Makerere Institute of Social Research.” Parts—on the history of intellectual debates over the nature of the African university—of Mamdani’s lecture have appeared in this London Review of Books article. A major influence on Mamdani’s mission for MISR was the late Samir Amin, the Egyptian intellectual who passed away in August 12, 2018. Soon after Amin passed, we published a post by Max Ajl on Amin’s contributions to historical social science—and revolutionary theory. Ajl concluded that Amin’s contributions span an almost mind-boggling breadth. After hearing Mamdani remembering Amin, I approached him about publishing that section of his remarks on Africa is a country. He obliged. – Sean Jacobs.

Another source of inspiration for the post-doctoral program at MISR was CODESRIA. The Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa, was established in 1973. Its first director was Samir Amin. Samir died a few weeks ago. There has been an ongoing discussion of his life and work in CODESRIA circles, but none so far as I can see at the African Studies Association. The reason I think points to an important difference between ASA and CODESRIA. I will offer a few thoughts on this. Since I have been an active member of CODESRIA since 1975, and since CODESRIA was an important influence on MISR, I would like to say a few words in appreciation of its founder, Samir Amin. I will confine myself to his intellectual work.

Samir’s doctoral thesis, the multi-volume Accumulation on a World Scale, was written on a vast canvass. It presented an ambitious outline agenda, one that Samir spent a life time filling and fulfilling. Samir was hugely prolific. Among his writings, there were two which came closest to taking up the challenge formulated in his doctoral thesis. The first was Eurocentrism and the second Unequal Development.

I have taught Eurocentrism at least ten times over the past two decades. Every time, I am amazed at the world historical grasp that informed its author. Samir was more a man of history than a man who we could identify with a particular place. The places that most come to mind are Cairo, Dakar and Paris. Even if Samir moved between them, he was a moving target, a man of no fixed abode. His life resembled that of Marx, a man without a homeland, but one whose home was a chosen commitment to a historical project. Like Marx, Samir was a man of a fixed time, the modern. I remember being struck by Samir’s critique of Edward Said’s politically important work, Orientalism. Samir objected to what he considered a trans-historical critique. He argued that rather than present us with an ahistorical discourse of Western culture, as if it were timeless, Edward should have given us a critique of the modern Western discourse on the Orient. I believe Samir was the first to formulate this critique, which has since been repeated over and again by many others.

Even though he thought of his own writing as grounded in Marxism, Samir is best known for his works on dependency theory. He introduced an entire generation of young scholars, myself included, to think of under-development in historical terms. The work I found truly compelling was Unequal Development, and its companion volume, De-connexion. One gave a historical account of the present, the other charted a way forward.

As Marx never tired of repeating, the test of theory lies in practice. I recall Samir telling us of when he received a call from Thomas Sankara asking him to travel urgently to Burkina Faso to discuss a challenge. On arrival, Samir was told by Sankara: “You have told us that we must have the courage to de-connect. Before we could gather that courage, the French have taken the lead and de-connected us. What shall we do?” Samir was flummoxed. He admitted to us: “I had not imagined that the question of de-connection would first arise in a country as poor as Burkina Faso.” It seemed to illustrate a practical dilemma: whereas prescriptive formulas—as short and succinct as “de-connexion”—seemed to apply to one and all without discrimination or difference, each case is in practice different and so are the consequences of the application. It seemed to raise a problem similar to that faced by the Russian Revolution: how was one to achieve “socialism in a single country,” in this case “de-connexion of a single country”?

Africa is a country for more

Climbing the last moutain

January 17th, 2019

by JAVED JABBAR

At New York University, mid-2017, with the retrieved cans: (Left to right) the writer, archivists Marie Lascu, Bonnie Sauer, Ben Moskowitz PHOTO/Jawed Jabbar

About 42 years ago, in 1976, a film made by this writer screened in the country and at overseas film festivals. The English version of the film was named Beyond the Last Mountain (BTLM). An Urdu version was called Musafir. The film, which had shunned offers of financing from the state-owned National Film Development Corporation (Nafdec, then led by an exceptionally cultured managing director, Khawaja Shahid Hussain) in order to avoid any possible official control of content, and from commercial financiers only interested in profits, managed to complete a combined 25-week Silver Jubilee run in cinemas.

Majeed Ahmed, now deceased, my immensely gifted partner-art director in our advertising firm, MNJ Communications, had sportingly agreed to co-invest in the film with me. Our goal in making the film, was to score several “firsts.” BTLM was the first Pakistani film in which talented women from diverse disciplines, who had never previously acted in a film, essayed the lead roles. The mode was low-key and realistic instead of the melodramatic, high-pitched norm. Spectacular action in some scenes, requiring complex logistics in production, was also effectively achieved.

Distinctive background music included the first-ever use in a Pakistani film of a harpsichord specially imported for the film from London. Of three musical sequences, Urdu lyrics were lip-synched on screen in only one to celebrate a pre-wedding mehndi. Filmed entirely on location, BTLM was able to reflect the look and feel of Pakistan in the mid-1970s with the introduction of a new cast of gifted actors and dozens of lay citizens rather than professional extras in group scenes. Other firsts included a young new crew behind the camera, some innovative features in filming techniques and promotion, portraying some social, cultural practices no longer publicly seen in the country.

However, over the past four decades, almost all of the celluloid prints of the film have either been lost or damaged. This was primarily due to my own indefensible negligence, and some other reasons better left unnamed. Only about 75 percent of the film was transferred on to video tape for preservation.

A small number of American volunteers are striving to preserve, restore and digitize the only complete print of the English version of Beyond The Last Mountain

But in 2018, a small number of American citizens, who have no prior association with Pakistan or this filmmaker, are voluntarily striving to preserve, restore and digitize what is possibly the only complete print of the English version, which has survived intact. They personify some of the finest virtues of the vast majority of the American people — warm, friendly, helpful.

How this has come about is a story in itself.

Found in the vaults

In January 2017, shortly after being appointed to her present position, Bonnie Marie Sauer, Director, Archives and Records Management of the Lincoln Centre for the Performing Arts (LCPA), New York asked intern Becca Bender, an NYU film graduate, to examine all the stored material. 

Dawn for more