Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The truth about recent violence in Bosawas

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

by STEPHEN SEFTON

The mining camp, scene of the attack at Kiwakumbai PHOTO/Stephen Sefton

For several years now a common front in the relentless propaganda war by Western media and NGOs against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government has involved false accusations that the authorities damage or neglect the rights and well-being of the country’s Indigenous peoples.

In fact, the opposite is the case. Nicaragua’s Indigenous peoples enjoy the most progressive and advanced system of autonomous self-government in the hemisphere. But reporting by the Western human rights industry, in particular by US and European NGOs claiming to defend Indigenous peoples, consistently omits that fact to focus on sporadic incidents of violence, which they systematically misrepresent.

In general, North American and European anti-Sandinista propaganda published by corporate or billionaire-funded organizations like Global Witness or the Oakland Institute and international news media advance three main false claims

  • Nicaragua’s government permits and even encourages invasion by outsiders called “colonos” of Indigenous lands, in particular affecting the Biosphere Reserve of Bosawa
  • the government fails to investigate or remedy incidents of violence against the country’s Indigenous peoples’ communities
  • the Indigenous peoples concerned are invariably innocent victims whose interests are genuinely represented and defended by local foreign-funded NGOs

First-hand reporting over the last year has categorically demonstrated that every one of these propaganda claims is untrue.

Most recently, a team of reporters visited the site of a violent attack that took place in Kiwakumbai in the nucleus of the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve. Their reporting demonstrated that some members of local Indigenous communities themselves not only promoted illicit use of their people’s lands causing deforestation and contamination of water sources but also participated in murderous violence.

The incident at Kiwakumbai and a subsequent incident involving a nearby community called Palan cast new light on similar events in the community of Alal in January 2020.

All these events demonstrate:

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Good artists copy; great artists steal

Tuesday, January 18th, 2022

by GARSON O’TOOLE

Steve Jobs? Pablo Picasso? T. S. Eliot? W. H. Davenport Adams? Lionel Trilling? Igor Stravinsky? William Faulkner? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The gifted entrepreneur Steve Jobs made some controversial comments about innovation during his career. He expressed strong agreement with the following aphorism which he ascribed to the famous painter Pablo Picasso:

Good artists copy; great artists steal.

Did Picasso really make this remark? Are there other examples of similar statements?

Quote Investigator: An intriguing precursor appeared in an article titled “Imitators and Plagiarists” published in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1892. The author was W. H. Davenport Adams, and the terminology he used was transposed: “to imitate” was commendable, but “to steal” was unworthy. Adams extolled the works of the famed poet Alfred Tennyson, and presented several examples in which Tennyson constructed his verses using the efforts of his artistic antecedents as a resource. In the following passage Adams referred to his aphorism as a “canon”, and he placed it between quotation marks. Boldface has been added to some excerpts below: 1

Of Tennyson’s assimilative method, when he adopts an image or a suggestion from a predecessor, and works it up into his own glittering fabric, I shall give a few instances, offering as the result and summing up of the preceding inquiries a modest canon: “That great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.”

Note that Adams depicted poets who stole harshly, but the adage used by Jobs was accepting of the artist who copied or stole: one was good, and the other was great. Adams concluded his essay with additional praise for Tennyson and a condemnation of plagiarists. Oddly, the word “plagiarizes” was incorporated in later variants of the expression.

In 1920 the major poet T. S. Eliot published “The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism”, and he presented his own version of the maxim. Eliot interchanged the terminology used by Davenport by suggesting that: “to imitate” was shoddy, and “to steal” was praiseworthy. This change moved the expression closer to the modern incarnation employed by Steve Jobs: 2

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Debate erupts (again) over women’s libido drugs

Monday, January 17th, 2022

by TERESA CARR

Base image and background by DigitalVision Vectors and Moment IMAGE/Getty Images; ILLUSTRATION/Undark

A meta-analysis prompted calls for researchers to disentangle horniness from hype. But understanding desire isn’t easy.

In the fall of 2016, sex therapist and researcher Leonore Tiefer shuttered the New View Campaign, an organization she had founded to combat what she refers to as “the medicalization of sex” — essentially, the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to define variations in sexuality and sexual problems as medical issues requiring a drug fix.

For 16 years, the group had fought against industry’s involvement in sex research, including its push for a drug to boost women’s sex drives. New View hosted conferences and its members penned papers and testified before the United States Food and Drug Administration. The campaign was prominently featured in an 80-minute documentary called Orgasm Inc, and promoted a clever (if off-pitch) video advising women to “throw that pink pill away,” a reference to the female-libido drug flibanserin (Addyi), which was seeking FDA approval at the time.

New View counted some successes: The FDA didn’t approve an allegedly libido-boosting testosterone patch for women, on the grounds that the patch’s slim benefits didn’t outweigh its risks, and the FDA twice rejected flibanserin for the same reason. But in August 2015, the agency reversed itself and approved the so-called pink Viagra. “I felt we’d said everything we had to say,” said Tiefer of ending the campaign. Advocates predicted FDA approval would be sought for additional women’s libido drugs, but the group felt there was nothing they could do to stop it. “However many more drugs were going to come down the pike,” said Tiefer, “it was just going to be more of the same.”

Indeed, four years later all was quiet when the FDA approved bremelanotide (Vyleesi), a libido drug that women inject into their abdomen or thigh at least 45 minutes before sex. The study results had been decidedly unimpressive: Participants who received the drug didn’t report more satisfying sexual events than those getting a placebo shot, and they scored only slightly better on measures of desire. Further, four out of 10 women taking the drug reported that it made them nauseous.

“There really was no opposition in 2019,” said Tiefer, speaking for herself and others that had spoken out against flibanserin’s approval. “We all had pink Viagra fatigue of one sort or another.”

In March, the Journal of Sex Research published an analysis casting doubt on the methodology behind the two pivotal studies of bremelanotide. The study’s author, Glen Spielmans, a psychology professor at Metropolitan State University in Minnesota, accused industry-sponsored researchers of cherry-picking favorable findings. Reinvigorated by this new paper, Tiefer reached out to a few like-minded colleagues to “make a little noise.”

Everyone I talked to agrees that losing the spark that once kindled enjoyable sex is a real and distressing problem.

In explaining the rationale for approving female-libido drugs, the FDA often cites the “unmet medical need.” Yet researchers are fiercely divided over the question of just how many women lack libido and how best to help them. If you believe advertising for Vyleesi, American women suffer from an epidemic of insufficient horniness. More than 6 million premenopausal women — one in 10 — have low sexual desire, the website claims.

Research doesn’t support the notion that millions of women are sexually deficient, said Tiefer, whose long career includes more than three decades as an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. “There is no standard of what is ‘normal sexual desire,’” she said, noting that desire varies widely and depends heavily on a woman’s personal situation and culture. After all, she points out, in the 19th and early 20th centuries some doctors diagnosed nymphomania in women deemed to enjoy sex too much.

Everyone I talked to agrees that losing the spark that once kindled enjoyable sex is a real and distressing problem. Some doctors told me that they were glad to have drug options that might help enflame a woman’s lost desire. But Tiefer said in all 40 years as a sex therapist, she has never had a patient complaining of low libido who did not also have physical, emotional, or relationship issues. “If you want to have a better sex life, read some books, and ask some questions, and talk to knowledgeable people,” she said. Just don’t think that a pill or shot will fix it.

Undark for more

$285 billion tax cut for the rich is now 2nd most expensive piece of Build Back Better

Monday, January 17th, 2022

by JAKE JOHNSON

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) talk to reporters on June 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. PHOTO/Samuel Corum/Getty Images

“The whole initiative seems deliberately sculpted to hand the American right a weapon to bludgeon Democrats ahead of the election.”

A $285 billion tax cut that would predominantly flow to rich households is now the second most expensive component of the Build Back Better Act after corporate Democrats succeeded in slashing funding for a number of key progressive priorities—and removing other programs entirely.

“At a time of massive income inequality, we must increase taxes on the 1%, not give them huge tax breaks.”

With the House of Representatives preparing to vote later this week on the roughly $1.8 trillion reconciliation package, the Washington Post reported Tuesday that Democrats’ plan to raise the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions from $10,000 to $80,000 through 2026 would be “more costly than establishing a paid family and medical leave program, and nearly twice as expensive as funding home-medical services for the elderly and disabled.”

“Over the next five years, raising the SALT cap would provide a tax cut only to those who itemize their taxes and pay more than $10,000 in state and local taxes—a group overwhelmingly made up of the wealthy,” the Post noted. “A recent analysis from the Tax Policy Center says the tax cut will benefit primarily the top 10% of income earners, with almost nothing flowing to middle- and lower-income families.”

The only part of the Build Back Better package that’s currently larger than the proposed SALT cap increase is the legislation’s universal pre-K and affordable child care programs, both of which progressive critics warn are deeply flawed and have been pared back in recent weeks to appease right-wing Democrats.

“As the Build Back Better bill makes its way through Congress, significant changes are being made to the various proposals, generally for the worse,” Matt Bruenig of the People’s Policy Project noted last week. “Hollowed-out versions of older proposals are limping to the finish line and it’s a completely different bill at this point.”

The proposal to lift the SALT cap—which was created by the GOP’s 2017 tax law—was added to the reconciliation package largely at the behest of a small group of corporate Democrats who threatened to tank any bill that omitted an increase.

“No SALT, no deal,” Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) said in a recent statement, a message that other right-wing Democrats readily echoed.

Last month, after President Joe Biden privately floated leaving SALT changes out of the reconciliation package, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) reportedly intervened to rescue the tax break, which one analysis estimates will deliver an average tax cut of $16,760 to U.S. millionaires.

Outraged by the SALT proposal’s regressivity, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told reporters on Tuesday that he’s currently working on a compromise plan that would limit the provision’s benefits for the wealthy.

“I am working with some of my colleagues to make sure that we come up with a proposal that protects the middle class, but does not end up with an overall reconciliation bill in which millionaires are better off tax-wise than they were under [former President Donald] Trump,” said Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

Common Dreams for more

Pakistan lost the 1971 war, but its project of Islamist violence won the larger conflict

Monday, January 17th, 2022

by C. CHRISTINE FAIR

Lt Gen Niazi signing the Instrument of Surrender beside Lt Gen Aurora, Dhaka PHOTO/Commons

What did India gain from the 1971 victory? It now faces a country with an uncertain future in the East and a Pakistan that is ever more committed to using violence.

Fifty years ago, on 16 December 1971, Lieutenant-General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, the Commander of the Pakistan Eastern Command, signed the Instrument of Surrender at Ramna Race Course in Dacca, which was signed and accepted by Lieutenant General Jagjit Singh Aurora, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of India’s Eastern Command. Pakistan’s surrender terminated the military dimension of the conflict, also known as the India-Pakistan War of 1971. Oddly, while there are some biographical accounts, which are often blatantly self-serving, there are relatively few empirically robust accounts of this conflict, most of which focus upon the visible dimension of the war: between Pakistan and India. The moniker elides and even eclipses several distinct wars that culminated in Pakistan’s surrender.

These other battles continue to cast shadows over the region that are as long as—if not longer—than those of the 1971 conflict between Pakistan and India. Pakistan learned the most dangerous lessons of the war. It concluded that repressing and exploiting disgruntled minorities is a viable tool of domestic statecraft while proxy war is an effective tool of foreign policy. Bangladesh has not become a viable secular democracy and appears ever less likely to do so. And India, despite decisively defeating Pakistan, was never able to build upon that victory to impose a settlement of the Kashmir issue in line with Delhi’s equities while continuing to wrestle with fundamental questions about defence reforms and modernisation. In retrospect, while it may have lost that particular battle in December 1971, in many other ways, Pakistan and its project of Islamist violence seem to have won the larger and enduring war.

ThePrint for more

(Thanks to Razi Azmi)

Weekend Edition

Friday, January 14th, 2022

You can’t defile and damage a corrupt Congress

Friday, January 14th, 2022

by B. R. GOWANI

VIDEO/RT/Youtube

on January 6, 2021, white supremacist mob attacked the Capitol

this year same date, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi addressed the Congress

“One year ago, the Capitol and those who work within it were targeted in a violent insurrection that sought to undermine democracy.”

“insurrection” means using violence to take over government

this was not an insurrection in any sense of the word

they were abunch of unorganized thugs lacking any coordination

there was no leader – the incting leader Trump was in a safe place

Pelosi added, “this sacred space [i.e., Congress] … was defiled and damaged”

which is one of the biggest lies coming out of Pelosi’s corrupt mouth

there’s nothing sacred about Congress, the US legislative body

Pelosi was asked by reporters about lawmakers while they’re in office

whether they & their spouses should be prohibited from trading stocks

Pelosi’s response was a swift “no,” ” “this is a free market

“We are a free-market economy. They should be able to participate in that.”

Pelosi’s husband, a venture capitalist, holds stocks worth tens of millions

prior information on economy &/or new laws are used for insider trading

in June 2021, Apple’s Tim Cook had called Pelosi and other lawmakers

the calls were made to tell lawmakers to slow down the antitrust bills

the reasons Cook gave were that antitrust laws would hinder innovation

he said customers would be affected adversely — the usual bullshit & lies

Pelosi’s ney worth is $114.7 million plus

plus because in December she made plenty of money

Pelosi, a member of Hizb al-Shaitan, is a corrupt politician

her strategy has always been to not disturb the system

she had refused to impeach George W. Bush for his war crimes

she had whole-hardheartedly supported Bush’s wars, Bush is a Republican

it’s not just Pelosi who’s corrupt, most of the Congress persons are

Congress is a corrupt instituion — it is defiled and damaged

so there is no question of defiling and damaging

link for the above tweet

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

Lia Rodrigues: A Dance to the Wounds and Powerlessness of Brazilians

Friday, January 14th, 2022

by JULIA HITZ

La danse enchanteresse de la chorégraphe brésilienne Lia Rodrigues VIDEO/28/Youtube
Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues enchants and intrigues with ‘Encantado’ VIDEO/France 24/Youtube

With contorted faces and twitching bodies, dancers come together, push each other away, and sway while blood spurts. The movements appear like a mix of attack and defense, closeness and revulsion.

The excerpts from the dance piece Fúria by Brazilian choreographer Lia Rodrigues reveal the choreographer’s concern with strong colonial and racist distortions.

Like other countries of the so-called global south, Brazilian society is dealing with traumas resulting from colonial violence. And Rodrigues’ works taps into the ongoing pain, anger and powerlessness.

Wounds That Never Heal

“How can I show them, the realities of the insurmountable barriers of inequality?” the choreographer asks in a 2016 film clip. “They are like wounds that never heal. Open and full of pus.”

Racism, violence, power and powerlessness are not the only themes that Lia Rodrigues deals with in her pieces. She also makes a statement about breaking down barriers in dance through her choice of collaborators: people of the most diverse origins, genders, and body shapes work in her company.

Bringing Dance to the Slums

Lia Rodrigues was born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1956. After training in classical ballet, she danced with various companies in Brazil and France.

She founded the Lia Rodrigues Companhia de Danças in Rio de Janeiro in 1990. It was initially for classical dancers trained at the academies. But in 2004, she opened the company to talented dancers from the favelas, the Brazilian slums.

Right on the edge of the Favela da Maré in Rio de Janeiro, Rodriguez initiated the Centro de Artes da Maré and the Free School of Dance in 2009, where dancers have trained and rehearsed together ever since. She is also interested in giving young people — who otherwise would not have had the opportunity — access to the field of dance and a way off the streets.

Welcome Financial Support

Lia Rodrigues’ pieces have had an impact far beyond South America and have been staged many times in Europe. She has particularly close ties with France.

Brazzil for more

The most important battle for press freedom in our time

Friday, January 14th, 2022

by CHRIS HEDGES

Julian Assange in Belmarsh Prison in 2019 IMAGE/World Socialist Web Site

If he is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting.

For the past two days, I have been watching the extradition hearing for Julian Assange via video link from London. The United States is appealing a lower court ruling that denied the US request to extradite Assange not, unfortunately, because in the eyes of the court he is innocent of a crime, but because, as Judge Vanessa Baraitser in January concluded, Assange’s precarious psychological state would deteriorate given the “harsh conditions” of the inhumane US prison system, “causing him to commit suicide.” The United States has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of trying to hack into a government computer, charges that could see him imprisoned for 175 years. 

Assange, with long white hair, appeared on screen the first day from the video conference room in HM Prison Belmarsh. He was wearing a white shirt with an untied tie around his neck. He looked gaunt and tired. He did not appear in court, the judges explained, because he was receiving a “high dose of medication.” On the second day he was apparently not present in the prison’s video conference room.

Assange is being extradited because his organization WikiLeaks released the Iraq War Logs in October 2010, which documented numerous US war crimes — including video images of the gunning down of two Reuters journalists and 10 other unarmed civilians in the Collateral murder video, the routine torture of Iraqi prisoners, the covering up of thousands of civilian deaths and the killing of nearly 700 civilians that had approached too closely to US checkpoints. He is also being targeted by US authorities for other leaks, especially those that exposed  the hacking tools used by the CIA known as Vault 7, which enables the spy agency to compromise cars, smart TVs, web browsers and the operating systems of most smart phones, as well as operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux.  

If Assange is extradited and found guilty of publishing classified material, it will set a legal precedent that will effectively end national security reporting, allowing the government to use the Espionage Act to charge any reporter who possesses classified documents, and any whistleblower who leaks classified information.

If the appeal by the United States is accepted Assange will be retried in London. The ruling on the appeal is not expected until at least January.

Scheer Post for more

Europe’s shame: The horrific treatment of refugees on the Poland-Belarus border

Thursday, January 13th, 2022

by KEVIN OVENDEN

Belarus police. PHOTO/Homoatrox/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0, license linked at bottom of article

A humanitarian crisis is deepening on Europe’s borders as one country after another militarises itself against the movement of refugees and desperate people, writes Kevin Ovenden

For anyone with any sense of history, the most shocking aspect is the thousands of refugees facing sub-zero temperatures and hiding in the forested no-man’s land between Poland, in the European Union, and neighbouring Belarus, an EU bogeyman. Lithuania, which neighbours both, has announced a state of emergency and the fortification of its border.

What is happening to the refugees, who are from Middle Eastern and African countries devastated by war and economic depredations, is not (yet) genocidal killing. But it is still a murderous state policy. As of last Thursday at least eight refugees had died from hypothermia or exhaustion on the Polish border. And it is happening in the area where 80 years ago mass killing took place and Jewish people fled to similar forests to seek refuge.

That, alone, should sound an alarm of recognition and of urgency for the labour movements across Europe and in Britain.

Further, there are specifics over the crisis on the EU’s north-eastern border. But it is not unique. It is happening in Greece, Croatia and the Balkans. It is happening with British Home Secretary Priti Patel aiming to break any legal restraint or international obligation with a policy that will drown refugees and migrants in the Channel. It is happening from West to East in the Mediterranean as the EU franchises out its border policy to organised criminal militias and warlords in North Africa.

What is happening on the Poland-Belarus border? This excellent piece by Gavin Rae provides inportant background:

‘Thousands of refugees have arrived in Belarus in recent weeks, expecting that they could then travel to the European Union. Following the Polish government’s and European Union’s active support for the opposition movement in Belarus, the Belarussian authorities have responded by not preventing refugees from trying to cross the Polish border. The Polish government has accused them of engaging in a “hybrid war”’ with Poland and actively encouraging the refugees to attempt to enter Poland. If this is true, then the Polish government has played into the Belarussian government’s hands through its inhumane treatment of refugees, allowing them to portray Poland as a state that does not respect human rights.’

The government of Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus is authoritarian and is using the crisis for his own ends – to try to remove EU sanctions put in place on account of the repression of opposition forces. But the authoritarian Polish government which is refusing to allow refugees in is doing the same.

Counterfire for more