Weekend Edition

May 26th, 2017

Arab-Islamic-American Summit was BS

May 26th, 2017

by B. R. GOWANI

PHOTO/Dawn (front row, from right to left) Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, United States President Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi (UAE) Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia PHOTO/Reuters

President Trump

The United States President Donald Trump‘s hatred for Muslims has been openly displayed. Yet, his problems are numerous. This is partly due to his unfiltered language and the refusal of the Democratic Party, liberal news media, and talk-show hosts (Bill Maher, Steven Colbert, and others) to accept Trump’s unfair victory, by blaming it on the Russian interference in the 2016 US election. Trump and his associates may be corrupt and may have benefited financially from Russia; but no solid proof has yet been uncovered of Russia’s meddling in the election. (Many whites, including Trump, have never accepted Obama as their president.)

Prince Mohammed

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud suffers from Alzheimer’s disease so the kingdom is controlled by Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, one of King’s sons; he’s also the Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince.

Prince Mohammed has been known for his “impulsiveness, aggression and poor judgement,” and, like Trump, he refuses to learn from his blunders. He accelerated the Saudi plan to overthrow Syria’s Bashar al Asaad and began a war against Yemen which is still going on with tragic consequences for Yemenis. Prince Mohammed is now yearning for a war with Iran. (Saudi Arabia is comprised of a Sunni Muslim majority and Iran of Shia Muslims. The Sunni/Shia divide occurred right after Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 CE. Worldwide, less than 15% of the Muslims are Shias and the rest are Sunnis.)

In an early May interview on Saudi TV channels, Prince Mohammed threatened his intention:

“We will not wait until the fight is inside Saudi Arabia and we will work so that the battle is on their side, inside Iran, not in Saudi Arabia.”

The Saudi ruling class’ hatred of Shias and their strict interpretation of Islam goes back to mid eighteenth century. Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab (1703-1792) wanted to rid Islam of all foreign influences and considered all non-Sunni Muslims including all sects of Shia and some Sunnis like then Caliph, who was also Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, as “heretics.” Wahhab favored execution of criminals in public places, stoning to death of adulterers, cutting off of hands of thieves, and other barbaric punishments. His ideas annoyed people and so he had to leave his city, Uyayna. In 1744, Wahhab formed an union with “notorious bandit-emir” of Deraiya named Saud ibn Muhammad (d. 1765). They conquered other cities and towns (parts of today’s Saudi Arabia); Wahhab was to handle the religious side and Saud would take care of the political/military business. Wahhab’s idea of purifying Islam from outside influences was to be implemented and thus cage Muslims within the prison of Wahhabism. Their relations strengthened further when Wahhab’s daughter married Abdul Aziz, son of Saud. In April 1802, during Saud’s son Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad‘s reign, Iraqi cities, Karbala and Najf were attacked, 5,000 Shias were murdered, property was looted, and the shrine of Shia Imam al-Husayn b. Ali (d. 680) was destroyed because the Wahhabis are fanatically against people praying at shrines. (Husayn was Prophet’s daughter Fatima’s son.) The present day Saudi Arabia is ruled by the successors of Wahhab and Saud.

Arab-Islamic-American Summit

The Global Caliph wanted to save his ass and wanted to show that he could create jobs so he changed his tune on Saudi Arabia and traveled about 7,000 miles to sell arms. The Muslim Caliph wanted to save asses (King’s, his own, and of other princes’. Also, Prince Mohammed can bark but can’t bite Iran without the help of the US. So the “two most dangerous men in the world” Patrick Cockburn’s observation, met. The US will sell over $380 billion worth of arms sales over a period of time to Saudi Arabia. And thus the Arab-Islamic-American Summit. (Of course, the institute of Islamic Caliphate ended in Turkey in 1920s.) Saudi Arabia also invited heads of other Muslim-majority and non-Muslim majority presidents or premiers or ministers. Altogether 55 countries were represented; 9 of them (including the United States) were non-Muslim majority countries.

It is Saudi Arabia’s oil, petrodollars, its control of Kaaba, and its habit of hosting of ousted government leaders allows it to exert undue influence over other governments. That’s why so many leaders showed up at the the Summit. Just two examples of Saudi Arabia’s immense hold over other countries will give the reader an idea:

During his second tenure in the late 1990s, current Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif was overthrown in a military coup. He went into exile to Saudi Arabia. His third tenure began in 2013. (Uganda’s Idi Amin, among many others, also spent his exile in Saudi Arabia.) When Saudis announced an alliance named the “Muslim NATO,” Pakistan’s name was included in that list without informing Pakistan. Pakistan had earlier refused to join Saudi war against Yemen because Pakistan didn’t want its Shia population (between 10-15%) to feel that it was siding with the Saudis against Iran. But Pakistan has joined the Muslim NATO; it’s correct name should be “Sunni Muslim NATO.”

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim majority country in the world. Since 1980, Wahhabism/Salafism is rapidly making inroads in that country via education, as Krithika Varagur points out. Higher education scholarships in Saudi Arabia and free education at the Saudi government funded Institute for the Study of Islam and Arabic (LIPIA) in Jakarta are offered. These are the “two main arms” of Saudi Arabia in indoctrinating Indonesians. Many of these students end up in public positions. Arabic language department head of LIPIA, Hammed al-Sultan, is ignorant of Pancasila, Indonesia’s “foundational philosophical theory,” which basically means a pluralistic society with democracy and social justice for all. At LIPIA, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesia’s official language) is totally absent; even the bathroom signs are in Arabic language – gradual imposition of Arabic language.

Talking to Varagur, the Saudi ambassador to Indonesia, Mohammad Abdullah Alshuaibi, boasted:

We have built mosques, hospitals, and schools there [in Aceh].” “And an Arabic language institute.”

It is in Aceh, the only one of 34 provinces where, alongside national criminal code, Muslim sharia legal code is used too. Just this week, outside a mosque, two men received 83 lashes for gay sex while a 2,500 strong crowd roared.

This is how Saudi money, mosques, and madrassas are changing the culture in Muslim countries and are creating intolerance towards humane values, minorities, women, LGBTQ community, secularism, and anything not to the taste of Wahhabis/Salafists. Recently, Basuki Purnama, Jakarta’s former governor, for running for a second term but was sentenced to two years prison term on charges of “blasphemy,” strongest of Islamists’ weapon. Purnama is President Joko Widodoinin’s friend but the President wouldn’t be able to do much against the barbaric forces fighting in the name of Allah, Muhammad, and Islam.

Hypocrisy

The ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Taliban are all Sunni terrorist groups and came into existence through the US, Saudi, and other Muslim countries’ imperial wars, direct/indirect funding, support, training, and encouragement. Many a time, their policies clash. Case is Pakistan’s support of Taliban/Al Qaeda which the US is fighting. Same is the situation with Jaish al-Fatah, or the Army of Conquest, who is opposed by the US but is supported by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Whenever it suits, the US too supports the Muslim terrorists. The batch WikiLeaks released in October 2016, clearly shows that the US administration was well aware of the Saudi and Qatari support of ISIS and al-Qaeda. And a 2009 cable by Hillary Clinton, then Secretary of State, released by Wikileaks read:

Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan].”

The fact to remember is that 15 of the 19 terrorists involved in 9/11 attack in the US were Saudi nationals. One has also to keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is a role model for Sunni terrorist groups as can be seen from the punishments, beheadings, and cruelties meted out to victims.

At the Summit, Trump’s address didn’t blame Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim countries for supporting terrorism; instead, in an Orwellian twist, his speech put blame on Iran:

“From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror.”

“Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.”

The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology was opened by Trump in the presence of Sunni Muslimfuckers.

Some meaningful change is not possible till the Saudi/US commercial links are intertwined.

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

Monks with guns

May 26th, 2017

by MICHAEL JERRYSON


Westerners think that Buddhism is about peace and non-violence. So how come Buddhist monks are in arms against Islam?

The recent violence in southern Thailand began on 4 January 2004, when Malay Muslim insurgents invaded a Thai Army depot in the southernmost province of Narathiwat. The next day, after the burning of 20 schools and several bomb attacks in a neighbouring province, the Thai government declared martial law over the three southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala, and Narathiwat. Shortly after, two Buddhist monks were killed during their morning alms, and a third injured. In these provinces, the majority population is Muslim, and Buddhists are a minority. By the summer, journalists and scholars had written articles about the insurgents and the role of Islam in the violence. But since Buddhism was associated with peace, no one thought to investigate the role of Buddhism. How could a Buddhist monk participate in the violence? Yet clearly, Buddhism was involved in the conflict.

In Pattani’s capital district, the My Gardens Hotel is popular with tourists. I had gone there to collect people’s opinions on the killing of Buddhist monks. On this day, the hotel was nearly vacant, the lobby empty, save for two police officers, who were devout Thai Buddhists. As I wanted to get their perspective on the ongoing violence, the three of us sat down together. They explained that they were periodically stationed at the My Gardens Hotel because insurgents had begun to bomb local businesses. Economics, they said, was an important factor behind the current violence. Poverty was creating a desperation that deepened the crisis.

But when I asked them about the attacks on Buddhist monks, their cool analysis changed to passionate outrage. They said that murdering a Buddhist monk was the very worst thing a person could do – and if they caught the perpetrators, they would kill them. The expression of such rage, and their justification for violence in response to an attack on Buddhist monks, was shocking. I, like many, had thought that Buddhists were peaceful and that their religion abhorred violence.

Such an association of Buddhism with peace is neither accidental nor unusual. The vast majority of introductory books on Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy do not mention Buddhist violence. Instead, they associate Buddhism with pacifism and non-violence. Think of the many books on Buddhist meditation, the 14th Dalai Lama and his advocacy of non-violence, and the peace work of Buddhist activists such as the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh (whom Martin Luther King Jr nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967). It’s no surprise that many Westerners think of Buddhism as a non-violent religion, dedicated to inner peace and harmony, not violent politics.

As a result, when travelling into the Thai conflict zone, one is prepared to encounter Buddhists working to quell the violence. Surely monks would be engaged in interfaith dialogue while Buddhist volunteers applied the principles of loving-kindness (metta-karuna) and compassion to heal their community’s fears and anger? But the police officers’ retaliatory rhetoric clashed with any such assumptions. And their view is not unique.

AEON for more

All power to the banks! The winners-take-all regime of Emmanuel Macron

May 26th, 2017

by DIANA JOHNSTONE

French President-elect Emmanuel Macron holds hands with his wife Brigitte during a victory celebration outside the Louvre museum in Paris, France PHOTO/Associated Press/Thibault Camus/Independent

A ghost of the past was the real winner of the French presidential election. Emmanuel Macron won only because a majority felt they had to vote against the ghost of “fascism” allegedly embodied by his opponent, Marine Le Pen. Whether out of panic or out of the need to feel respectable, the French voted two to one in favor of a man whose program most of them either ignored or disliked. Now they are stuck with him for five years.

If people had voted on the issues, the majority would never have elected a man representing the trans-Atlantic elite totally committed to “globalization”, using whatever is left of the power of national governments to weaken them still further, turning over decision-making to “the markets” – that is, to international capital, managed by the major banks and financial institutions, notably those located in the United States, such as Goldman-Sachs.

The significance of this election is so widely misrepresented that clarification requires a fairly thorough explanation, not only of the Macron project, but also of what the (impossible) election of Marine Le Pen would have meant.

From a Two Party to a Single Party System

Despite the multiparty nature of French elections, for the past generation France has been essentially ruled by a two-party system, with government power alternating between the Socialist Party, roughly the equivalent of the U.S. Democratic Party, and a party inherited from the Gaullist tradition which has gone through various name changes before recently settling on calling itself Les Républicains (LR), in obvious imitation of the United States. For decades, there has been nothing “socialist” about the Socialist Party and nothing Gaullist about The Republicans. In reality, both have adopted neoliberal economic policies, or more precisely, they have followed European Union directives requiring member states to adopt neoliberal economic policies. Especially since the adoption of the common currency, the euro, a little over fifteen years ago, those economic policies have become tangibly harmful to France, hastening its deindustrialization, the ruin of its farmers and the growing indebtedness of the State to private banks.

This has had inevitable political repercussions. The simplest reaction has been widespread reaction against both parties for continuing to pursue the same unpopular policies. The most thoughtful reaction has been to start realizing that it is the European Union itself that imposes this unpopular economic conformism.

Counter Punch for more

Global left vs. global right: From 1945 to today

May 25th, 2017

by IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN

The Uprising, by Diego Rivera, 1931

The period 1945 to the 1970s was one both of extremely high capital accumulation worldwide and the geopolitical hegemony of the United States. The geoculture was one in which centrist liberalism was at its acme as the governing ideology. Never did capitalism seem to be functioning as well. This was not to last.

The high level of capital accumulation, which particularly favored the institutions and people of the United States, reached the limits of its ability to guarantee the necessary quasi-monopoly of productive enterprises. The absence of a quasi-monopoly meant that capital accumulation everywhere began to stagnate and capitalists had to seek alternative modes of sustaining their income. The principal modes were to relocate productive enterprises to lower-cost zones and to engage in speculative transfer of existing capital, which we call financialization.

In 1945, the geopolitical quasi-monopoly of the United States was faced only with the challenge of the military power of the Soviet Union. In order to ensure its quasi-monopoly, the United States had to enter into a tacit but effective deal with the Soviet Union, nicknamed “Yalta.” This deal involved a division of world power, two-thirds to the United States and one-third to the Soviet Union. They mutually agreed not to challenge these boundaries, and not to interfere with each other’s economic operations within their sphere. They also entered into a “cold war,” whose function was not to overthrow the other (at least in a foreseeable future) but to maintain the unquestioned loyalty of their respective satellites. This quasi-monopoly also came to an end because of the growing challenge to its legitimacy from those who lost out by the status quo.

In addition, this period was also one in which the traditional antisystemic movements called the Old Left – Communists, Social-Democrats, and National Liberation Movements – came to state power in various regions of the world-system, something that had seemed highly improbable as late as 1945. One-third of the world was governed by Communist parties. One-third was governed by Social-Democratic parties (or their equivalent) in the pan-European zone (North America, western Europe, and Australasia). In this zone, power alternated between Social-Democratic parties that embraced the welfare state, and Conservative parties that also accepted the welfare state, only seeking to reduce its extent.

And in the last region, the so-called Third World, national liberation movements come to power by winning independence in most of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean, and promoting popular regimes in already independent Latin America.

Given the strength of the dominant powers and especially the United States, it might seem anomalous that antisystemic movements came to power in this period. In fact, it was the opposite. In seeking to resist the revolutionary impact of anti-colonial and anti-imperialist movements, the United States favored concessions with the hope and expectation that they would bring to power “moderate” forces in these countries that would be willing to operate within accepted norms of interstate behavior. This expectation turned out to be correct.

The turning point was the world-revolution of 1968, whose dramatic if short-lived upsurge of 1966-1970 had two major results. One was the end of the very long dominance of centrist liberalism (1848-1968) as the only legitimate ideology in the geoculture. Instead, both radical leftist ideology and rightist conservative ideology regained their autonomy and centrist liberalism was reduced to being only one of three competing ideologies.

Toward Freedom for more

Indonesia, a step toward political Islam

May 25th, 2017

by TYLER GATES

Jakarta’s former governor Basuki Purnama PHOTO/Wikipedia

The conviction of Jakarta’s former governor for “blasphemy” reshapes the 2019 presidential election’s political landscape.

The Basuki Purnama case serves as a warning. The former governor of Jakarta was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for “blasphemy”, an unprecedented verdict which yields to followers of a strict and political Islam. Originating from the Chinese Christian minority, Basuki Purnama condemned during his electoral campaign the employment by certain ulemas of a verse from the Quran which implies that Muslim citizens may not vote for non-Muslim representatives. An erroneous interpretation according to him, which provoked the ire of conservatives.

April 20th, after Basuki Purnama’s defeat at the elections, prosecutors ordered charges to be dropped requiring community service and one year probation. Tuesday, however, the judges considered that Basuki Purnama, because he had “harmed Muslims”, should have pleaded guilty. “The Ahok affair (surname Basuki Purnama – ED) is the most important case of blasphemy in the history of independent Indonesia; Ahok is the governor of the capital of Indonesia, and an ally of the President. If a man like him is sent to prison, what will happen to others?” asks Andreas Harsono, Indonesian branch of NGO Human Rights Watch.

This scene plays out against the backdrop of repeated attacks against pluralism and backlash against different minority groups at the heart of the most important Muslim country in the world with a population of 255 million, 90% of which are of Muslim faith. Credited with 70% of the vote before the election, the successor to President Joko Widodoinin in the office of governor of Jakarta was finally defeated by former Minister of Education Anies Baswedan (58%), classified as on the side of moderates, who has succeeded in rallying the Islamic Defenders Front. This election tests the political boundaries of the 2019 presidential election for which Baswedan fully intends to run.


L’Humanit
for more

Addressing the impossible

May 25th, 2017

by SLAVOJ ZIZEK

Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that ‘thought is the courage of hopelessness’ – an insight which is especially pertinent for our historical moment, when even the most pessimistic diagnostics as a rule finish with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us from thinking through to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction.

Which, then, are the taboos to be broken in imagining a future outside the constraints of the existing order? There are (at least) three. First, one should dismiss not only the two main forms of twentieth-century state socialism (the social democratic welfare state and the Stalinist party dictatorship) but also the very standard by means of which the radical Left usually measures the failure of the first two: the libertarian vision of communism as association, multitude, councils, and anti-representational direct democracy based on citizen’s permanent engagement. The second taboo to be broken concerns the problem of resentment. One should totally reject the predominant optimistic view according to which in communism envy will be left behind as a remainder of capitalist competition, to be replaced by solidary collaboration and pleasure in other’s pleasures. The third taboo concerns democracy. When Badiou claims that democracy is our fetish, this statement is to be taken literally – in the precise Freudian sense – not just in the vague sense that we elevate democracy into our untouchable Absolute. ‘Democracy’ is the last thing we see before confronting the ‘lack’ constitutive of the social field, the fact that ‘there is no class relationship’, the trauma of social antagonism. It is as if, when confronted with the reality of domination and exploitation, of brutal social struggles, we can always add: yes, but we have democracy which gives us hope to resolve or at least regulate struggles, preventing their destructive explosion.

Socialist Register for more

On the narcissism of small differences

May 24th, 2017

SUSAN GEORGE interview by NICK BUXTON

Political & social scientist/activist/writer Susan George PHOTO/Wikipedia

In an interview with the TNI’s Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

How do you feel after Macron’s victory?

Relieved. I was sick of the elections, I think the entire country was exhausted with the whole thing. I wasn’t afraid of a Le Pen victory as I had been earlier. The polls were unanimous that the gap was too big to cover for the far Right in a couple of weeks. However, this election has created huge divisions particularly on the Left and has revealed a very fragmented France. The Front National thankfully lost, but also scored a record vote in the sense that they doubled their vote.

What drove the record high support for Le Pen?

The reasons are similar to those driving Brexit, Trump and other events. This is what you get after 40 years of neoliberalism. Inequality has increased dramatically, unemployment is stuck at about 10 percent and people feel excluded, and are justifiably worried that their children will be worse off than they are.

Le Pen’s votes came from de-industrialised regions of the North, from rural areas feeling left out of French concerns and from people who have low and falling incomes and poor education.

And it’s true that these groups have been pretty much neglected by all governments for the last 30 years. In terms of rural areas, for example, French and European policies have favoured the Fédération Nationale des Syndicats d’Exploitants Agricoles (FNSEA), representing the biggest rich farmers who receive nearly all the subsidies under EU’s Common Agricultural Policy, while small farmers get little or nothing.

It’s ironic that the big issues in these neglected parts of the country target immigrants and terrorists, who barely can be found in these communities let alone threaten them, but sometimes these simplistic answers are easier than analysing what’s really happening in society, which has been a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich or the rural to the urban.

What did you think of the rise of Mélenchon, who was covered in international press as a surprise development in the election but ultimately failed to make the second round?

Well, from the outside he may have been an unknown figure, but inside France he’s been a prominent figure for the past ten years. He was a Socialist Party member but left in 2008, fed up with its conservatism. He participated as a left candidate in the last election (2012) and got an equal hearing but came across as an accusatory, loud, ‘angry’ candidate. He learned his lessons or mellowed with age – he’s now 65 – because this time he came across as amiable, smart and eloquent.

He is solidly left and has some very good ideas – in my view he is one of the few political leaders to have completely absorbed the theoretical and practical implications of putting the environment at the forefront and our need for a green transition. He has been an impressive speaker, charming crowds, particularly of young people, at mass events where he has spoken eloquently without notes and with the backup of a great tech team (appearing physically in one city and simultaneously in hologram in five others for example) and backed up by a sophisticated social media strategy.

Red Pepper for more

Viet Nam: A history from earliest times to the present

May 24th, 2017

BEN KIERNAN

Ethnic Khmer children at Wat Somrong, Vinh Long province PHOTO/Ben Kiernan, 1975

(Ben Kiernan introduces his new book published by Oxford University Press, 2017)

“The mountains are like the bones of the earth. Water is its blood,” wrote a Vietnamese geographer in 1820. Lowland Viet Nam is aquatic, but it is also multiregional and polyethnic. The country’s three historic lowland regions are bounded by extensive uplands, all linked by interrelated landscapes, economies, and cultures. Throughout the plains, water plays a key role in the economy and communications. In the north and south, the Red River and the Mekong River form wide deltas and flow into the South China Sea. Linking the two deltas is the central region, many hundreds of miles of curving coastline, broken every twenty miles or so by river mouths and port towns.

Central Viet Nam, once known as Champa, is a long, narrow coastal plain that Vietnamese often picture as a thin bamboo pole, at whose ends are suspended two bulky rice baskets, the northern and southern deltas of the Red River and the Mekong. In the past three millennia, these three lowland regions have nourished unique wet-rice civilizations, speaking primarily forms of the Vietnamese, Cham, and Cambodian languages, respectively. Overlooking the lowlands, and descending very close to the coast along the narrow central plain, forested ranges and hills (“the bones of the earth”) serve as the watersheds of the country’s many rivers, occupy three quarters of its territory, and are home to over fifty more ethnic minority groups speaking as many languages.

Thus the rich tapestry of Vietnamese history cannot be reduced to a national story, an unchanging ethnic identity, or an enduring ancient polity—any more than the country can be reduced to a singular twentieth-century war. What is known today as Vi?t Nam is a land shared and contested by many peoples and cultures for several thousand years.

Viet Nam: A History from Earliest Times to the Present treats the country over the millennia primarily as a place, a series of homelands that have become a shared territory, a changing land and common home rather than a continuous culture or a developing polity.

The book focuses not on the origins of Vietnamese nationhood or the persistence of a political identity but on documenting and narrating the experiences of the variety of peoples who have inhabited the country’s different regions since earliest recorded times, as well as their interactions with their natural environments and with neighboring countries. The focus is on much more than the political history of a geographical area defined by the modern state’s contemporary boundaries. Rather, a history of the different regions within those boundaries helps to integrate the multiethnic nature of its people’s histories and their cultural relationships with the lands where they have lived.

The Asia Pacific Journal/Japan Focus for more

Einstein, Hawking and Rees set to music, singing about virtual particles, tiny satellite will soon blast off

May 24th, 2017

By HAMISH JOHNSTON


Singing multiverse: the Salisbury Chamber Chorus PHOTO/Salisbury Chamber Chorus

“What I wanted to write was something about the universe and our place in it: from the Big Bang, through our insignificance in the vastness of it all, our need for exploration and where space travel will take us, to the nature of light or the make-up of electrons, and finally ideas about multiverses and infinity.”

That is the motivation behind the “secular oratorio” Space Time Matter Energy by Simon McEnery, which premieres at St Mary le Strand Church in London on 10 June. The piece melds the words of famous physicists such as Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees and Albert Einstein with music and song from the Salisbury Chamber Chorus, the percussion ensemble Beaten Track and the pianist Peter Toye. If you can’t be in London on the 10th, there is also a performance in Salisbury on 17 June.

Sticking with the musical theme, theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder’s career as a singer-songwriter looks set to take off with the release of three music videos in one month. Her latest song is about virtual particles and you can watch it above.

He may be just 15 years old, but India’s Rifath Shaarook has designed and built what is claimed to be the lightest satellite ever to be launched by rocket. Shaarook made the external shell of his 64 g satellite from 3D-printed carbon fibre. “It will have a new kind of onboard computer and eight indigenous built-in sensors to measure acceleration, rotation and the magnetosphere of the Earth,” he told the Daily Telegraph. The satellite was a winning entry in the Cubes in Space design competition and will be launched in June by NASA. The rocket will follow a non-orbiting parabolic trajectory before returning to Earth.

Physics World for more