A conversation with Helen Caldicott (interview)

June 14th, 2018

by DAN DROLLETTE JR.

For decades, anti-nuclear weapons campaigner Helen Caldicott (helencaldicott.com) has been educating people about the effects of nuclear weaponry and issuing rousing calls to action. A practicing pediatrician from Australia, Caldicott was the subject of an Oscar-winning short film, If You Love This Planet, and is the author of 12 books.

In this Skype interview from her home in Sydney, Australia, the 79-year-old Caldicott doesn’t pull punches. For nearly six decades, she has been taking on the powers that be, in joyously feisty terms: She has said that the US Defense Department should be re-named the Killing Department and characterized Barack Obama as an “intelligent, lovely man, who failed the world” when it came to eliminating nuclear weapons. She considers the movie Dr Strangelove more of a documentary than a satire, labeled arms manufacturers “wicked,” and called American politicians “corporate prostitutes.”

And of the current president, Caldicott said: “We’ve got a man in charge who I think has never read a book, and who knows nothing about global politics, or his own country’s politics. Who operates with his own kind of sordid intuition. And he’s putting people in every department committed to destroying that department. He’s absolutely destroying the infrastructure of America.”

Noting that it was International Women’s Month, Caldicott had one thing to say to young women: “We need to take over, because we’re on the short course to annihilation, and we need to say to men ‘Look, stand aside, you need your bottom smacked.’ ”

Yet for someone who has spent a lifetime fighting vigorously against the specter of nuclear annihilation, Caldicott reveals that she is remarkably pessimistic about humanity’s chances. Caldicott said that she wants her tombstone to read: “She tried.”

Editor’s note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Dan Drollette:

I’m glad we finally got in touch. As you know, I recently interviewed Ira Helfand, co-winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize and one of the founders of the modern Physicians for Social Responsibility (https://thebulletin.org/he-helped-found-two-groups-won-nobel-peace-prize-ira-helfand-psr11297) – and he mentioned you as a major influence.

Helen Caldicott:

Dear old Ira. We’re partners in crime, me and Ira.

You know, Ira was an intern at Cambridge City Hospital in the ‘70s, at a time when there was a referendum in Cambridge against all things nuclear. I told Ira that nuclear power and nuclear waste are medical problems – so someone should start a medical organization to fight those things. Later, we realized that the Physicians for Social Responsibility name was still registered in the state of Massachusetts; so with their permission, we just used the name, and Ira and I re-started it.

Dan Drollette:

That jumps straight into something I was curious about. I noticed there seem to be a lot of people in the anti-nuclear weapons movement with medical backgrounds.

Helen Caldicott:

It’s a medical problem. And explaining the medical dangers of nuclear war was a very good way to teach people what the danger is, and to bring it home to their city. That approach was – and is – very powerful. During the 1980s, when I was one of the leaders of the nuclear weapons freeze movement and one of the founding presidents of PSR, we at PSR held symposia on the medical effects of nuclear war at various universities, all around the country. It started at Harvard, where we had George Kistiakowsky, a physicist who had been in the Manhattan Project as an explosives expert (https://www.manhattanprojectvoices.org/oral-histories/george-kistiakowskys-interview). It was quite wonderful.

Although afterwards, some journalists did say: “What are doctors talking about this for, this is a political issue.” And we said no, it’s a medical issue, because it will create the final medical epidemic of the human race.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and Taylor & Francis Online for more

Underlying Maharashtra’s Dalit protests, a tangle of old caste struggles and new Hindutva assertion

June 14th, 2018

by SMRUTI KOPPIKAR

PHOTO/Puneet Paranjpe/AFP

Can Chief Minister Fadnavis rein in his ideological colleagues to stop polarisation in the state?

In less than 24 hours after January 1, Maharashtra’s Bhima Koregaon was transformed from a quiet village of historical significance mainly for Dalits into a national hashtag for all the wrong reasons. A momentous celebration by Dalits here had been turned into a conflagration claiming the life of Rahul Phatangale (28), injuring several people and leaving around 40 vehicles gutted.

Its embers then touched major cities across Maharashtra including Mumbai, pitted caste groups against each other and threatened to widen the rips in the state’s social fabric. By Tuesday evening, the police in Pimpri, on the outskirts of Pune, had registered cases against two men with strong right-wing links, Manohar alias Sambhaji Bhide “Guruji” (85) who leads the Shiv Prathisthan and Milind Ekbote (60) who heads the radical Hindu outfit Samasta Hindu Aghadi.

The Bhima Koregaon incident is the product of many entangled threads: consolidation among Dalits, competitive leadership among their leaders, the larger association between Dalits and Marathas, historical events and their symbolism in present times, the re-assertion of Dalit identity and mainstreaming of their history, the rise of competitive right-wing forces, and political mobilisation ahead of the 2019 national elections.

Somewhere in this action-reaction cycle, selectively amplified by the political class and sections of the media, it is easy to confuse the chronology of events. The violence did not begin on January 2. Enraged Dalits did not start the violence in Maharashtra’s cities, though the random acts of vandalism and muscle-flexing during the state-wide bandh on Wednesday have cost them the high moral ground there. It was they who faced the initial violence around Bhima Koregaon on January 1 and the attacks were rooted in a specific socio-historical context.

Every January 1, Dalits, mainly Mahars, congregate at Bhima Koregaon to pay respects at the Vjiay Stambh, or victory memorial, there. It is an article of faith for them. On this day in 1818, a few hundred Mahar soldiers in the British Army are said to have managed to inflict damage and force a retreat from Koregaon of the forces of the Peshwas, a regime infamous for its brutal oppression of the lower castes. The term often used in these parts for that event is “Peshwai gadhli”: the Peshwa regime has been buried. In 1927, BR Ambedkar paid tribute here to Mahar soldiers on New Year’s Day, and the practice has continued every year since.

On the 200th anniversary of the battle this year, several lakh Dalits were expected at Bhima-Koregaon. In fact, the celebrations began a day earlier with an event called the Elgar Parishad in Pune’s legendary Shaniwarwada, the seat of the erstwhile Peshwa empire. The organisers, the Bhima Koregaon Shourya Divas Abhiyan, invited Dalit activist-turned-MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani, Radhika Vemula (whose son Rohith Vemula became a national figure after his suicide in 2016), and Delhi-based student leader Umar Khalid to participate.

The Dalits’ dare

The very idea of Dalits taking over Shaniwarwada, if only for a few hours, was an affront to the descendants of the Peshwas and assorted Brahmin groups. Udaysinh Peshwa and the Akhil Bharatiya Brahmin Mahasangh, among others, urged the Pune police to deny permission for the event. They disputed the historical account that the British Army had won the battle of Bhima Koregaon and asserted that it was not proper to celebrate the British victory over an Indian force. The labelling of the Parishad and Bhima-Koregaon commemoration as “anti-national” began right here. Eventually, permission was given, but with several caveats.

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A letter from Gaza to Justin Trudeau

June 14th, 2018

by BASEM NAIMBY

Colleagues of Palestinian nurse Razan Al-Najjar cry at the news that she was killed during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border on June 1, 2018 PHOTO/Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2018 PHOTO/Haaretz

Dear Mr Prime Minister, why do you support Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza?

Dear Prime Minister,

We hope this letter finds you and the Canadian people well.

We have watched with great interest your political career since you assumed office in 2015. We have witnessed how your commitment to freedom and diversity were reflected in the composition of your government. We have also followed with enthusiasm many of your activities, especially those that reflect your humanity, openness, support for civil rights and the struggle against racism.

We have seen you engage with different communities – with Arabs, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, and others – during their holidays. We have also deeply appreciated Canada’s generous support for the Palestinian people, in particular, Palestinian refugees, through institutions such as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

However, it was with pain and sorrow that we found out that Canada voted against a resolution of the World Health Organization’s General Assembly seeking to send a team of investigators to Gaza and the West Bank to document the “health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory”.

Our disappointment grew even more when we saw several of your personal tweets, in which you lent support to Israel’s assaults on Gaza.

You are perhaps unaware of the tragic circumstances in which the people of Gaza have been trapped in. Already in 2003, distinguished Hebrew University professor Baruch Kimmerling described Gaza as “the largest concentration camp ever to exist”.

In 2006, a brutal blockade was imposed on Gaza after the Palestinian people, in elections that former US president Jimmy Carter praised as “completely honest, completely fair,” elected Hamas into power.

The consensus among humanitarian and human rights organisations is that Israel’s blockade constitutes a form of collective punishment and therefore is a flagrant violation of international law.

“I see this extraordinarily inhuman and unjust process of strangling gradually two million civilians in Gaza that really pose a threat to nobody,” UN humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, Robert Piper, observed last year. Echoing him, UN Human Rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein recently deplored the fact that Gazans have been “caged in a toxic slum from birth to death.”

Did you know, Mr Trudeau, that 95 percent of the water in Gaza is unfit for human consumption and 97 percent of the sea water is polluted? Did you know that Gazans get only four hours of electricity a day? Did you know that 50 percent of essential medicines are unavailable and most of our patients in need of urgent medical care are barred from travelling out of Gaza? Did you know that 70 percent of our population are refugees and half are children?

Al Jazeera for more

Spanish state: How and why the Rajoy government fell

June 13th, 2018

by DICK NICHOLS

Spain’s incoming Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez (left) shaking hand with the outgoing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

On June 1, the Spanish government of the ruling People’s Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fell to a no-confidence motion brought against it in the 350-seat Spanish congress by the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by its federal secretary Pedro Sánchez.

The vote was 180 to 169 with one abstention. This result installed Sánchez as the new prime minister of Spain. It was the first time since a multiparty-system replaced the Francisco Franco dictatorship 40 years ago that a no-confidence motion has succeeded.

Key to the final result was the decision of the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), governing the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi), to support the PSOE motion. Without its five votes the motion would have been lost because an absolute majority of 176 was needed for its adoption. Previously, the two Catalan nationalist parties with a presence in the Congress — the centre-left Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the conservative nationalist Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat) — had flagged their support.

The breakdown of the vote was: in favour, PSOE (84), Unidos Podemos and associated alliances in Galicia and Catalonia (67), ERC (9), PDECat (8), PNV (5), the Valencian regionalist force Compromís (4), the Basque left-nationalist alliance Bildu (2) and the Canary Islands regionalist grouping New Canaries (1).

Against were all the forces of the right: the PP (134), Citizens (32), the Union of the People of Navarra (2) and Forum Asturias (1), with the Canary Coalition the only abstention.

For the first time since the Rajoy government was formed on November 4, 2016, this parliamentary majority—the PSOE, Unidos Podemos and the alliances associated with it, plus the four Catalan and Basque nationalist parties—united in a decisive vote. Up until his removal, Rajoy had managed to survive by dividing and ruling this unstable bloc—chiefly by enlisting the PSOE against the Catalan right to self-determination and in favour of the repression of the October 1 Catalan referendum and the legal persecution of the Catalan leaders responsible for it.

The most recent example of Rajoy’s success in keeping the opposition parties divided had come only nine days earlier, on May 22, when he seduced the PNV into supporting his government’s 2018 budget and into breaking its promise not to do so while Catalan self-rule remained suspended under article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

The price of that seduction of the PNV was an increase in pension rates, their indexing to the consumer price index, a €540 million boost to infrastructure funding for Euskadi and a promise to conduct discussions with the new Catalan government led by president Quim Torra.

The Gürtel scandal bombshell

On May 24, Rajoy was wearing an expression of satisfaction in the Spanish congress. After the passing of his budget, Spain’s prime minister seemed to be facing two more years in office during which to hopefully counter the rise of the more-patriotic-than-thou Citizens and to wear down the Catalan independence challenge.

Less than 24 hours later the look on Rajoy’s face had turned into one of high irritation marked by flashes of panic. On the afternoon of his budget victory, the judges of the National High Court had released their decision in the Gürtel corruption case and by the next day the PSOE had lodged its no-confidence motion, based on the argument that the PP’s involvement in that corruption made it unfit to rule any longer. The congress’s speakership panel, with a PP and Citizens’ majority, immediately voted for the motion to be heard as quickly as possible, hoping in this way to give the PSOE minimum time to organise support.

Links for more

The modest problem of death: On Mark O’Connell’s “To Be a Machine”

June 13th, 2018

by NICOLE CLARK

Mark O’Connell’s To Be a Machine gives voice to the transhumanist movement, which is predicated on the belief that technology should be used to extend human life and eventually achieve immortality. Transhumanism may appear to approach the occult, but many of the innovations O’Connell writes about have already infiltrated our collective consciousness. Uber is crafting artificial intelligence capable of manning self-driving cars. Don Hertzfeldt’s The World of Tomorrow, an animated short about mind uploading, won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Film at Sundance. The Terminator series and its lead cyborg need no introduction. “Science is an almanac of unlikely victories,” O’Connell writes. These are the stories of the scientists who believe they can emerge victorious over death.

But cheating death is no simple undertaking. O’Connell’s scientists are weighed down by serious ethical questions, some of them conflicting. Can ascetic transhumanists be compared to Buddhists, insofar as they reject self-indulgence for the express purpose of living long enough to develop technology that makes them immortal? If you believe that the mind is separate from the body, and if you upload it into a robot body after you die, “would it be [you]?” Society embraces prostheses for the handicapped, but how much technological enhancement can be attached or implanted into the body before you are no longer human? Does our reliance on smartphones make us cyborgs already? Why would people believe so fiercely in the promises of transhumanism when the technology to attain it has not yet arrived?

Despite the heady subject matter, O’Connell never really attempts to “solve” these big philosophical questions. Instead, he positions himself as a spectator to the movement, a stand-in for any “non-transhumanist” so that he may draw parallels between his own beliefs and those of the scientists and entrepreneurs he is profiling. This means we are not taken aback by the severity of certain transhumanist doctrines. Take, for example, this anecdote that precedes O’Connell’s explanation of the transhumanist belief that humanity is plagued by “the tyranny of aging and death”:

Becoming a parent forces you to think about the nature of the problem — which is, in a lot of ways, the problem of nature […] the realities of aging and sickness and mortality become suddenly inescapable. […] [My wife] said something during that time I will never forget. “If I had known how much I was going to love him,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have had him.”

Though most of us don’t view death as expressly “tyrannical,” many of us will one day become parents and can, therefore, relate.

Each chapter of To Be a Machine follows a comforting pattern of anecdote, personal profile, and then elucidation of parallel between the transhumanist thought process and O’Connell’s own. We are eased into such bizarre subject matters as the economic impact of cryogenic freezing and the price difference in preserving your whole body as opposed to your “severed head” — a cephalon, technically speaking. All of this is done in the witty, and sometimes cheeky, language we’d expect from someone who included “solving the modest problem of death” in the title of his book:

Ask your doctor if immortality is right for you.

Ice crystals are high on the list of things that will seriously fuck up your post-resurrection quality-of-life prospects.

If you’re a neuro-patient, there is the matter of your decapitation to be attended to.

O’Connell ties his chapters together through an introspective meta-discourse — he not only depicts his thoughts as he observes transhumanists in real time, but also reflects on them from the perspective of a writer passing judgment on the subject months later.

Los Angeles Review of Books for more

Mexico July 1 elections: Organize to defend the will of the people and impose democracy

June 13th, 2018

SOCIALIST ORGANIZER

After the second presidential debate [on May 20 in Tijuana], it is clear that Andrés Manuel López Obrador (or AMLO, as he is commonly known) will receive the overwhelming vote of the Mexican workers and people. According to the polls, the massive AMLO vote is also likely to be transferred to Congress, where it is estimated that his coalition “Together We Will Make History” will obtain between 236 and 298 of the 500 contested Assembly seats, and between 51 and 128 of the contested Senate seats.

A massive vote that says, “Enough is Enough!”

This massive support for AMLO reflects the people’s anger and despair after more than 30 years of policies that have handed over the nation’s wealth and resources to a handful of billionaires and transnational corporations. These have been decades of wage cuts, unemployment, and loss of labor and social rights. They have been decades during which the country has been dislocated and torn apart by the so-called “war on drugs,” which has only fueled more violence and militarization, and more killings of women and disappearances.

The massive support for AMLO is a plebiscite against the corruption, grotesque opulence, and influence peddling that the politicians of the PRI, PAN and PRD have displayed over the past six years.

Many mainstream politicians and Big Business groups have read the writing on the wall; they have understood where the vote is going and have joined Morena, AMLO’s political organization, in their quest to retain their posts and privileges, in keeping with the maxim, “join the movement for change to ensure that nothing changes.”

There have been many complaints from political activists about how these people, some of whom are tied to the powerful “mafia elites,” have taken over a number of Morena’s slates, opportunistically riding the coattails of AMLO’s immense electoral support.

AMLO himself has changed his discourse and political platform with the intention of appearing as a “moderate” and as the “responsible” candidate, thus seeking to capture a wider number of votes from the “middle class” and “centrist” voters, so that no pretext can be found to tamper with the election and so that his expected victory is not overturned this coming July 1st.

An aspiration to change that is in contradiction with AMLO’s program

What is at the heart of the massive support for López Obrador is a will for change that is in open contradiction with the electoral program put forward by AMLO and Morena in this 2018 campaign. AMLO’s program today is far different from the one he put forward in 2006 and 2012, when he called to defend Mexico’s national oil corporation — with the slogan, “Pemex is not for sale, Pemex must be defended!” — and when he called to defend the public-power utilities, public education, and public health services —in short, when he called to resist the wholesale imperialist assault on Mexico’s national sovereignty.

Socialist organizer for more

Gandhi, Marx & the ideal of an ‘unalienated life’

June 12th, 2018

by JIPSON JOHN & JITHEESH P.M.

Akeel Bilgrami, philosopher of language/mind PHOTO/Ismaili Mail

Interview with Akeel Bilgrami.

Akeel Bilgrami is an Indian philosopher of international eminence and scholarship. He graduated from Elphinstone College, University of Bombay, in 1970 and went to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Thereafter, he moved to the United States and earned a PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 1983. He currently holds the Sidney Morgenbesser Chair in Philosophy at Columbia University. Bilgrami was the Chairman of the Department of Philosophy from 1994 to 1998. He was the Director of The Heyman Centre for the Humanities at Columbia University from 2004 to 2011 and the Director of the South Asia Institute at Columbia University from 2013 to 2016.

Professor Bilgrami’s main intellectual interests are in the philosophy of mind and language, and in political philosophy and moral psychology. His PhD thesis, titled “Meaning as invariance”, was on the subject of the indeterminacy of translation and issues concerning realism.

Among his books in the philosophy of language and mind are Belief and Meaning (1992) and Self-Knowledge and Resentment (2006). His writings in the other central area of his intellectual interests, political philosophy and moral psychology, have significantly influenced and continue to influence our public discourse on politics, ideology, religion, modernity, culture and history. Along with Marxist intellectuals such as Samir Amin, it is Bilgrami who has exposed and provided high-ranging criticism of liberalism and its limitations as a political ideology in our contemporary times.

According to Bilgrami, liberalism and liberal politics have their own limitations and cannot save us from the savagery of capital. In this way, he intellectually provokes us to go beyond liberalism and reimagine an alternative political vocabulary. His philosophy rejects the ideology of capitalism and envisions an alternative as the way forward for humanity. This alternative is, of course, Left-centric and socialistic in perspective, and Bilgrami sympathises with the Left politics in his home country and others.

His writings and philosophical ideas on the themes of secularism, modernity, Marxism and Gandhi have produced new perspectives on these and contributed significantly to our intellectual debates. His highly influential essay “Gandhi, the Philosopher” provides a fresh reading of Mahatma Gandhi. Bilgrami unearths the integrity in Gandhi’s ideas, contrary to the popular notion of inconsistency and fragmentation in Gandhi. As a philosopher, Bilgrami, despite being an atheist, does not completely reject the scope of religion having a critically instructive role in our time. As he says, “religion is not primarily a matter of belief and doctrine but about the sense of community and shared values that it can sometimes provide in contexts where other forms of solidarity—such as a strong labour movement—are missing, and it sometimes provides a moral perspective for a humane politic as it did in the liberation theology movement in Central America.”

Frontline for more

Out of space: John McCain, telescopes and the desecration of Mount Graham

June 12th, 2018

by JEFFREY ST. CLAIR

PHOTO/Mount Graham Coalition.

On Memorial Day weekend, a little reminder of who John McCain really is…

We waited for a night when the moon was obscured by clouds. It sounded like a silly plan here in the heart of the Arizona desert, where Oregonians stream each year to worship the unrelenting sun.

But the wait was only two days. Then the sky clouded up, just as the Apaches predicted. These weren’t rain clouds, just a smoke-blue skein, thin as morning fog, but dense enough to dull the moonlight and shield our passage across forbidden ground.

We were going to see the scopes. The mountain was under lockdown. Armed guards, rented by the University of Arizona, blocked passage up the new road and patrolled the alpine forest on the crest of Mount Graham. Only certified astronomers and construction workers were permitted entry. And university donors. And Vatican priests.

But not environmentalists. And not Apaches. Not at night, anyway. Not any more.

Yet, here we were, skulking through strange moss-draped stands of fir and spruce, displaced relics from a boreal world, our eyes peeled for white domes and trigger-happy cops.

It says something about the new nature of this mountain, this sky island, that we heard the telescopes before we saw them, a steady buzz like the whine of a table saw down the block.

The tail-lights of SUVs streamed through the trees, packing astronomers and their cohorts towards the giant machine eyes, on a road plastered over the secret middens of the mountain’s most famous native: the Mount Graham red squirrel.

The tiny squirrel was once thought be extinct. In 1966, federal biologists said that they had found no evidence of the squirrel in the Pinaleno Range (the strange mountains of which Mount Graham forms the largest peak) since 1958. Then five years later a biologist working in the shaggy forests at the tip of the mountain found evidence of at least four squirrels. A wider survey showed an isolated population on the mountain’s peak. In 1987, the squirrel was finally listed as a endangered species.

Still, the squirrel population fluctuates wildly from year to year, in cycles largely tied to the annual pine cone crop. But these days the population spikes rarely top 500 animals on the entire planet-which for them constitutes the upper flanks of Mount Graham, the same swath of forest claimed by the astronomers. But the trendlines for the squirrels all point down: down and out. And the astronomers just keep coming. And so do the clearcuts. The new campsites. The unnatural fires. Extinction looms.

We edged along the road, under the cover of a beauty-strip of fir trees, until we came to a fence, tipped with razored wire, and beyond it a clearing slashed into the forest. And there before us crouched one of the mechanical space-eyes, set within a white cube, sterile as a hospital. The structure is so cold and lifeless that it could have sprung from the pen of Richard Meier, the corporate architect responsible for the dreadful Getty Museum blasted onto the crest of the Santa Monica mountains outside LA.

Counterpunch for more

4G speed in India slowest in world

June 12th, 2018

by PANKAJ DOVAL

IMAGE/Kashmir Post

Highlights

  • 4G download speed in India is the slowest across 88 countries
  • On an average, the 4G speed in India has been measured at 6 mbps
  • Subscribers in neighbouring Pakistan enjoy internet at 14 mbps
  • India may be going digital, but high-speed internet on mobile phones still remains a challenge, even on 4G. Despite telecom companies announcing massive rollout of 4G services, the average network speed in India remains the slowest across countries+ having substantial telecom networks, lagging even Pakistan, Algeria, Kazakhstan and Tunisia.

    According to a list prepared by mobile analytics company OpenSignal, 4G download speed in India is the slowest across 88 countries spanning six continents. This is despite the fact that 4G has been expanding at a rapid pace across the country, and networks are being upgraded from slower 2G services.

    On an average, the 4G speed in India has been measured at 6 mbps (actual experience could be much lower), whereas subscribers in neighbouring Pakistan enjoy internet at a more than double speed of 14 mbps. Algeria is ranked second-last at 9 mbps.

    According to OpenSignal, subscribers in Singapore get the fastest downloads on 4G at 44 mbps, followed by the Netherlands at 42 mbps. In Norway, the 4G download speed is 41 mbps, while South Korea gets 40 mbps. OpenSignal analysed more than 5,000 crore measurements (collected between October 1 and December 29 of 2017) of speed from over 38 lakh smartphone and tablet users across six continents.

    Giving out reasons for a slower network speed in India despite a wider 4G reach, the study blamed capacity constraints on network. Though 4G is available for around 86% of the time people access the internet, “4G networks lack the capacity to deliver connection speed much faster than 3G”, it said.

    The telecom industry in India is staring at a financial nightmare, with most of the companies either deep in the red or just managing to stay profitable. The onslaught of fierce competition from 4G-only Reliance Jio saw Vodafone and Idea Cellular slip into losses, while Airtel saw profits shrink massively.

    Times of India for more

    The sound of madness: Can we treat psychosis by listening to the voices in our heads?

    June 11th, 2018

    by T. M. LUHRMANN

    Wormholes, 1919, by August Klett, who was a patient at the psychiatric clinic at the University of Heidelberg, in Germany. Under the alias August Klotz, he was one of the ten “schizophrenic masters” whose work was collected in the book Artistry of the Mentally Ill (1922). The book was compiled by Hans Prinzhorn, a psychiatrist and art historian, who recorded Klett as hearing voices that were obscene, accusatory, and threatening. PHOTO/© Prinzhorn Collection, University Hospital Heidelberg, Inv. No. 568

    Sarah was four years old when her spirit guide first appeared. One day, she woke up from a nap and saw him there beside her bed. He was short, with longish curly hair, like a cherub made of light. She couldn’t see his feet. They played a board game—she remembers pushing the pieces around—and then he melted away.

    After that, he came and went like any child’s imaginary friend. Sarah often sensed his presence when strange things happened—when forces of light and darkness took shape in the air around her or when photographs rippled as though shimmering in the heat. Sometimes Sarah had thoughts in her head that she knew were not her own. She would say things that upset her parents. “Cut it out,” her mother would warn. “This is what they put people in psychiatric hospitals for.”

    Sarah was the youngest of four siblings. Her father was a sales manager for a pharmaceutical company, and he traveled a lot while his wife stayed home with the kids. Sarah’s mother was a strict disciplinarian. She was determined to straighten out her children, whom she felt had been spoiled by the housekeeper they’d left behind when they moved to California. Sarah remembers one day, not long after she played the game with her spirit guide, when she and some neighborhood kids tried to set up a barbecue in the back yard. Her babysitter found them in the basement, burning strips of paper in the pilot light of the furnace. When Sarah’s mother came home, she held the girl’s fingers in the flame of a cigarette lighter as punishment.

    As Sarah grew up, she started to dislike the strange experiences she had, and she decided that they could not be real. Then she went to college and became a nurse, and she began to see the souls of dead patients leave their bodies. Sometimes what emerged was a transparent version of the corpse. Other times she saw what the patients must have looked like when they were young. A few would stand next to the bed. More floated up to the ceiling and looked down. They were usually startled to see their own bodies and horrified to witness the pummeling they took from doctors trying to keep them alive.

    Sarah found that the dead would speak to her. It sounded like they were really talking, as if she could hear them with her ears, although she quickly learned that no one else could hear them. They gave her messages to give to people they’d left behind, but mostly she helped them release their grip on life. That was her task, the reason they became visible to her. “Some people get very distraught,” she told me. “They’re terrified of the transition.” Most of the time, the souls would be visible only for a minute, but occasionally they stayed as long as an hour. Eventually they would dissipate, like mist into air.

    Harper’s Magazine for more