Sunday, June 10, 2018

Luis Alberto Urrea -- NPR Latino USA Interview

Listen to Maria Hinojosa's refreshing twenty-minute interview of Luis Alberto Urrea from NPR - Latino USA.
I don't know anything about this writer but I'm very impressed with this snapshot.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Tribute to Anthony Bourdain (1956-2018)

Yashar Ali 🐘‏Verified account @yashar

1. My heart is broken. Anthony Bourdain was so good to me and a big reason I'm still doing what I'm doing. In January I fell into a deep depression for the first time in my life. Having never dealt with it in the past, I was unprepared. Tony helped me save myself 1 text at a time.

2. Tony was such a righteous man. He loved @AsiaArgento so much..he was so happy that Weinstein had been taken down. But he wasn't satisfied with that. He wanted more justice for women who had been targeted by bad men and he wanted the survivors to feel supported.

3. For example, earlier this year when @rosemcgowan was being criticized publicly during her book tour he texted me at 3 AM and told me we needed to make sure she felt publicly supported "this is turning into a win for HW," he said.

4. While many people, including reporters, had moved on from the Weinstein saga he wanted to make sure there was justice. He texted me repeatedly with ideas and every time a Weinstein survivor was attacked he would let me know because he was determined to stop Harvey's machine.

5. When Tony got a tip that Harvey had been seen in Gstaad he told me I had to chase it down. It was an order and I was happy to accept the challenge. It turned out to be a bad tip but he wasn't going to let Harvey win. "That motherfucker is gonna skate.." he said to me.

6. One night in early February he was signaling me with restaurant suggestions and I told him I was dealing with depression for the first time and wanted to give up on work. "Maybe I'm not meant to do this," I said. What he said next I'm going to keep private but for the past

7. few months he has made me feel like a million bucks. He made me feel like I had an obligation to keep going..and when I shared some career news with him while I was still grappling with depression he was happier for me than I was for myself.

8. Tony hated bullshit and he hated the glitz and glamour of the media business (as many of you could tell by watching his show). When Vogue published a puff piece that I was deeply critical of he texted me and said...

9. "Good. They were loathsome to begin with. Just continuing a tradition of rape apologia & enabling." In my experience, there was no middle of the road with Tony - either he hated something or he absolutely loved it. He felt a serious sense of responsibility to expose the truth.

10. Forgive me for rambling...I'm trying to write this while I'm sitting outside crying and trying to catch my breath. Tony was so so proud of @AsiaArgento. Since Asia lives in Rome, I missed some of her press appearances and speeches..Anthony would always send them to me

11. And even though he knew I was friends with Asia and would do anything for her, he would still ask me every time to share what he had sent...he just wanted to be sure. He was so proud of her and as he mentioned in a piece just last week..he felt she was a peer.

12. Tony was also so proud of @RonanFarrow - almost every time Ronan was honored, Tony would signal me to share the Tony was a great friend..but if he didn't like you, you would know it. He was also determined, like Ronan, to expose the system that enabled Weinstein.

13. I'm so sad this morning..but I really get it now when people say things like "he would have wanted me to keep working." I have to keep working. A few weeks ago a friend told me they delete all their texts and emails. Not to keep things private - they just hate digital clutter

14. I told them I thought that was silly because I often go back to texts from friends and read them again. I'm so glad I have a treasure trove of texts from Tony. I can look at them when I'm having a hard day...I just sent him a text message even though he's gone on ahead of us.

15/15 "Thank you for everything you did for me and so many others. I will think of you always." iMessage says the text was delivered.

16. Thank you for always being so thoughtful Tony.

Who is Yashar? 

In an industry fascinated by unexpected newcomers, reporters and editors have been left wondering just who Yashar Ali — his middle, not last name — really is. 
Yashar says the pen name is meant to protect his family, but in practice, it also obscures his previous career: a major fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign and an aide to former San Francisco mayor and current California lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom. Now, he says, he is focusing on reporting — and says he didn’t vote in the 2016 election. Yashar is far from the first person to ditch politics for a media career, but the transition can be a fraught endeavor. 
Since the election, Yashar has broken all kinds of stories at the intersection of politics, media, and entertainment. For New York magazine, he reported per three sources present that George W. Bush remarked that Trump’s inaugural address was “some weird shit.” For HuffPost, he reported that Eric Bolling allegedly sent graphic pictures to female colleagues at Fox News. (Bolling has denied the claims and is suing Yashar.) In a detailed report earlier this month, Yashar and HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen dove into how NBC executives spiked Ronan Farrow’s Harvey Weinstein story, and he was the one who first interviewed Lauren Sivan, who alleged that Weinstein trapped her in the hallway of a restaurant, masturbated in front of her, and ejaculated into a potted plant. Yashar landed an interview with Kathy Griffin months after a photograph of her holding a faux Donald Trump head covered in fake blood ignited controversy. 
And he’s broken news on his Twitter feed, too, like when he tweeted, per a source in the Los Angeles FBI field office, that James Comey learned of his firing by seeing it on TV. (A New York Times reporter tweeted the same tidbit 14 minutes later.)
“Yashar gets a lot of benefit of the doubt from people who wouldn't give reporters the benefit of the doubt, and I think he still handles the information like a journalist,” said one political reporter who knows him. “Normally I object to people playing journalist, but I think he's taken the time. He gets it.”
People close to the 37-year-old describe him as a driven, wealthy Renaissance man who gets obsessed with various topics and finds a way to succeed at them — and they aren’t surprised that his new interest happens to be journalism. Other Democratic officials are dumbfounded by Yashar’s career change, and they wonder how someone could develop sources in the entertainment, media, and intelligence communities seemingly overnight (though Yashar’s reporting largely hasn’t been disputed). His background also hasn’t gone unnoticed by some conservative critics on Twitter, particularly given his reporting on Fox News.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Alaa Al-Aswani: "Is the law coming back from the holiday ..?!"

Alaa al-Aswani is a tireless advocate for 
democracy in Egypt. He speaks to all 
who seek more democratic alternatives 
to authoritarian systems.
Alaa Al-Aswany's latest column...
Date June 5, 2018
(Via Deutsche Welle, browser translation.)

Yesterday an Egyptian citizen complained to Facebook that her neighbor in the apartment opposite was receiving garbage bags in the street instead of putting her in the place assigned to her at the entrance to the building, which led to the breeding of insects and the resurgence of unpleasant odors, as well as the cats that change the garbage bags. The complainant spoke to her neighbor repeatedly but continued to take out the garbage in the same way. The complainant asked her followers to suggest how she would behave with her neighbor.

Of the 20 proposals submitted by the page's observers, there were only two suggestions that the complainant resort to the police or district administration. The majority of the proposals were violent punitive ideas. A follower suggested that the neighbor's door be stained with rubbish and suggested that the neighbor's door be smeared with tar and suggested another follow-up to smear the neighbor's apartment. The most violent suggestion was a follow-up proposal advising the complainant to dump the garbage bags with gasoline and then burn them daily in front of an apartment. The neighbor.

This Facebook incident shows first that Egyptians do not trust the ability of the authorities (or their will) to enforce the law as evidenced by the spread of violence in our daily lives. This excessive violence is reflected in our social behavior even in the way we drive cars that are no longer art or taste And not moral, but rather rely on the imposition of fait accompli and bullying.

Driving means taking a place in the middle of a car and bypassing it regardless of the rules and traffic lights. In the whole world when the driver of the car runs a side signal that the drivers understand behind him that he is about to turn away from him. In Egypt, once the drivers see the side sign, they will break into you so they can get past your car before you start.

The behavior of Egyptians is now more violent than ever before. The question here is: Does our behavior arise only from our own upbringing and moral values ​​or dictated by the social conditions in which we live? Our moral upbringing is undoubtedly our behavior, but the social conditions are capable of producing the best or worst of our actions.

We all recall the situation of tolerance and moderation that prevailed in Egypt after the victory of the January revolution and the overthrow of Mubarak. Then tens of thousands of young people came to Egypt to sweep and wash the streets themselves and re-paint the sidewalks at their expense. Their message was: We did not care about the cleanliness of Egypt because we never felt that it was our country, but now that we are prepared by the dictator, we will be the most careful people to clean it.

Achieving justice gives us reassurance and motivates us to deal with others in a positive and polite way. Justice in Egypt is now absent. The current system does not allow any different view and anybody who opposes Sisi is arrested and tried on fraudulent fake charges such as spreading false news and joining a banned group. This was the case with Hazem Abdel Azim, Shadi Ghazali Harb, Wael Abbas and thousands of peaceful opponents.

The Sisi regime considers all opponents to be traitors and agents whose aim is to overthrow the state. The Sisi himself is narrowed by any different view because he believes that God has created him to understand the causes of any problem in the world and to reach an immediate solution.

Since the military seized control of Egypt in 1952 and "the law on vacation," as one of the Free Officers once said. The law does not apply to everyone in Egypt, but it is used against people who are not in accordance with the system. We are all reminded of the security announcer who was sentenced to a final sentence of imprisonment but nevertheless traveled with Sisi to Germany. No one stopped him at the airport to execute the sentence while the opponents of Sisi were arrested and harassed as punishment for not being dazzled by the genius of the inspiring leader. President Sisi is the first to break the law, has not yet submitted for example, financial disclosure as stipulated by the Constitution. All the procedures of arresting opponents of the Sisi are contrary to the law and the constitution, but who dares to object and what is the best objection to a system that brings together all the authorities and practices against repressive people is definitely the worst in the history of modern Egypt.

All this injustice is covered by a huge amount of lies broadcast by a huge propaganda machine spent billions of pounds on the system to beautify his oppressive face, but no matter how distracted Egyptians in television series trivial and misleading political programs and football, they can not forget their daily suffering. Millions of the poor in Egypt have become difficult because of their high price and they are silent only because the grip of the system lurks to crush them at the slightest objection, as happened to those who object to the cost of the subway ticket.

Most Egyptians feel helpless and frustrated and know that the law is absent and that they have no value and no rights in the eyes of the regime and therefore they seek to wrest their rights in their hands as they could unload their energies of aggression in each other rather than uphold their legitimate right to peaceful protest.

The picture is really bleak in our country but it should not lead us to despair. History teaches us that the revolution is not a 90-minute football match, but it is a long stage of achievements and break-ups. It is certain that if the revolution takes place, it must continue because everything in society changes and never returns. The revolution may falter and its results may be delayed but never defeated. The revolution continues and will inevitably win even after a while.

Democracy is the solution

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Statue of Liberty & the End of Slavery

Even now, over a century later, few Americans know this history of our most famous national monument. The following text appears at the National Park Service link to the Statue of Liberty National Monument. Those chains at her foot are almost never discussed or shown in our history books. 
Last year I posted another collection of images and links to monuments recalling the history of slavery.

The Statue of Liberty was a symbol of democratic government and Enlightenment ideals as well as a celebration of the Union's victory in the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Edouard de Laboulaye, the French political thinker, U.S. Constitution expert, and abolitionist, who first proposed the idea of a great monument as a gift from France to the United States was a firm supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and his fight for abolition. Laboulaye saw abolition not only as a way to eliminate immorality, but also as a way to protest repressive tendencies in France.

As an abolitionist, Laboulaye was an honorary member of the Philadelphia branch (founded in 1862) of the Union League Club. The Union league Club was a group of people who were dedicated to the new Republican Party, the Union's cause in the Civil War, and the abolition of slavery. Additionally, Laboulaye was a cofounder and president of the French Anti-Slavery Society. This society was founded in 1865. In essence, it called upon all nations to abolish slavery. Additionally, the members also raised money that was then given to newly freed slaves in the United States.

With the abolition of slavery and the Union's victory in the Civil War in 1865, Laboulaye's wishes of freedom and democracy were turning into a reality in the United States. In order to honor these achievements, Laboulaye proposed that a gift be built for the United States on behalf of France. Laboulaye hoped that by calling attention to the recent achievements of the United States, the French people would be inspired to call for their own democracy in the face of a repressive monarchy.

When Laboulaye's Statue of "Liberty Enlightening the World" was completed, it not only represented democracy but also symbolized American independence and the end of all types of servitude and oppression. A broken shackle and chain lie at the Statue's right foot. The chain disappears beneath the draperies, only to reappear in front of her left foot, its end link broken. However, although the broken shackle is a powerful image, the meaning behind it was not yet a reality for African Americans in 1886.

After the Statue's dedication in 1886, the Black Press began to debunk romantic notions of the Statue of Liberty and American History. Racism and discrimination towards African Americans did not end after the Civil War or with the dedication of the Statue - it continued on for more than a century. As a result, the Statue was not a symbol of democratic government or Enlightenment ideals for African Americans but rather a source of pain. Instead of representing freedom and justice for all, the Statue emphasized the bitter ironies of America's professed identity as a just and free society for all people regardless of race. From the time of the Statue's dedication, attitudes towards the Statue in the African American community were ambivalent and uncertain.

As W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in his autobiography, The Autobiography of W.E.B. Du Bois: A Soliloquy on Viewing My Life From the Last Decade of Its First Century, he was unable to imagine the same sense of hope he assumed some immigrant arrivals had felt when he sailed past the Statue on a return trip from Europe. This hope did not pertain to his race. The fight for equality, liberty, and justice for all at this point in time had not been achieved, but rather disregarded after the Statue's completion and dedication. Therefore, African Americans rarely used the Statue as a relevant symbol for their struggle - they were reluctant to embrace the symbol of a nation which would not fully include them as citizens. The Statue of Liberty did not help them to gain equality and justice in the truest sense - it was only the beginning.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Alaa Al-Aswani: "Do we need the clergy?"

Alaa al-Aswani is a tireless advocate for 
democracy in Egypt. He speaks to all 
who seek more democratic alternatives 
to authoritarian systems.
Alaa Al-Aswany's latest column...
Date 29.05.2018
(Via Deutsche Welle, browser translation.)

Twenty years ago I was invited by a television program to discuss some social issues. I sat waiting for the registration and found a cleric next to me quarreling in a market with the author of the program because he was given a financial reward is not sufficient in his eyes did not calm the Sheikh until he raised the prepared value of the reward. This Sheikh is now offering a daily television program in which people teach piety and contentment.

I remembered this incident when Amr Khaled appeared recently in a television program in which he stressed that the right Muslim should eat from the chickens of a particular company until it is completed in the month of Ramadan. This is how religion is used in commercial advertising. This masquerade makes us wonder: Do Egyptians need clergy? .. Private and public television channels, all under full security control, devote to the clerics daily programs that take hours. What is the benefit to society from giving all this space to the clergy?

Some may say that clerics teach people virtuous morality, but man learns morality at home and at school, not on television. Does one need to watch the elders on television to know that lies and hypocrisy are bad deeds and that theft and murder are crimes? In addition, the morals of Egyptians are worse than ever. Egypt has become at the forefront of the world in terms of sexual harassment and cheating in the exams turned into a widespread and desirable phenomenon of students and their parents. The clerics did not help spread the virtue.

It may be said that the presence of clerics in the media is important because they explain to people the provisions of religion. This was true before the revolution of communications, but now you can sit on the computer and enter easily on the site of the House of Fatwa to know in detail the rule of religion in any matter you want.

It is said that clerics appear on television to convince extremists of Islam's tolerance and push them back from extremism. The truth is that extremists do not trust the official clerics at all and regard them as the hypocrites of the hypocrites. So why is the state keen to give the clergy all this media space?

The answer is that autocratic regimes always need a clergyman. Millions of people are sanctifying religion. Slowly this sanctification moves from religion to religion, and everything the cleric says is authenticated by people. The regime can then use the cleric to justify his repressive policies and tighten his grip on power.

With the exception of communist dictatorships, the dictator of power in the modern era did not take over without the help of clerics. The Catholic Church played an unfortunate role in supporting Argentina's military rule and covering up its crimes. In Italy, although Benito Mussolini was an atheist, he strengthened his relationship with the Catholic Church and used it to support his fascist regime. As for the clerics' support for tyranny in Egypt, nothing happened. Over the course of two centuries, many rulers punished Egypt, but the clerics' support for power did not change. There were always a few clerics who defended the rights of the people and sided with the people against the oppressive ruler, but the majority of clerics supported the tyrant and justified his crimes. Shaykh Muhammad Metwalli Al-Sharaawi (who angers his followers strongly if anyone criticizes him) stood in the People's Assembly on March 20, 1978 and addressed Anwar Sadat, saying:The first advantage of the clergy to the tyrannical regime is to separate the daily problems from the political conditions in the minds of the people. When you are unemployed, poor or sick you can not find the price of medicine. You have two ways to explain this: Either the corrupt failing regime is responsible for your problems, or you believe that our Lord Almighty punished you with sickness, poverty and unemployment because you did not keep praying and fasting. The goal of the cleric here is to keep your thinking away from condemning the regime and to convince you that your sufferings have resulted from your lack of faith and away from God.

"If I had something in my hand to judge this man (President Sadat) to raise to a summit, he would not ask what he was doing."

When the peace line sank in 2006 and popular anger erupted against the corrupt Mubarak regime that killed more than 1,300 people, Sheikh Shahir wanted to lessen the anger of Mubarak. He said on television he envied the victims because they were martyrs and all were in paradise. During the January 2011 revolution The famous sheikhs appeared on television and called on the revolutionaries to leave Tahrir Square and asserted that the revolution was a sedition and a Zionist conspiracy against Islam. In advanced societies, the clergymen are not in the minds. People think about their lives and make their own decisions and do not need instructions from anyone.

There is, of course, a difference between the clergy and religion. We are against the clergy and not against religion. All the religions were originally a revolution against injustice and a call for justice and freedom, but many clerics use religion as goods to sell and seize the price. The great thinker Abdurrahman Badawi (1917-2002) says: "I have read the history of the East and the West. Religion to a paid profession. I know that the owner is an imposter. "

Democracy is the solution