Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
In these dark days when terrorism has become a strategic asset, to bump off a superior practitioner like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has implications. Had he begun to serve the interests not of his original handlers but, possibly, their rivals? Has he been eliminated at all? Does his disappearance leave unprotected those oil wells, which his gang or his patrons profited from? Is the drama in murky light, a bait to drag President Trump back to the West Asian arena, which he is militarily withdrawing from? Death.
From the very beginning, Syria was at the heart of the conflict between Trump and the Deep State, which is now accepted even by the New York Times.
In fact, NYT’s Establishment columnist Thomas Friedman, while applauding the killing of the ISIS leader, reveals which side he is on in the Trump-Deep State conflict. He notes, satirically, how “effusive Trump was of the intelligence agencies who found and tracked al-Baghdadi to the lair in Syria where he blew himself up to avoid being captured.”
Friedman then gives vent to the bile he has accumulated against Trump for having been at cross purposes with the Deep State Friedman so obviously adores. “Well, Mr. President, those are the same intelligence agencies who told you that Russia intervened in our last election in an effort to tip the vote to you and against Hillary Clinton.” What does this line of reasoning mean?
When history is written, Trump will be faulted on a hundred counts, and severely. But it would be uncharitable not to note one truth about him: Trump is the only President in recent history who tried to end military conflicts the US was involved in and who did not start a conflict. There have been 13 military conflicts in recent decades costing $18 trillion, by some estimates.
The Baghdadi image did have its uses. The last time his photograph appeared on front pages of newspapers was after the Easter Sunday massacre in Colombo, Sri Lanka on April 21. On TV too, Baghdadi was shown claiming the massacre as a “revenge” for the attack on a mosque in New Zealand. French experts, among others, soon established that it was a fraudulent clip — a voice had been super imposed on his visage.
Which outfit would like to stir up a conflict between Sri Lanka’s two frail minorities — Muslims and Christians? New Delhi alerted Colombo as early as April 4, that a major terrorist attack can be expected. How did New Delhi know?
At this time, Sri Lanka was sharply divided between two camps: President Maithripala Sirisena had embraced China’s Road and Belt Initiative; Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was in convulsions to sign the (SOFA) Status of Forces Agreement with the US before the next general elections.
A puzzle remains. The island nation is at the centre of fierce competition between a rising China and a retreating US for influence in the Indian Ocean. Over 300 people are killed; 500 injured. Among those killed are Chinese Marine engineers. Hotels attacked have Chinese links. Whodunit?
There were stories about Saudis leaving because they had advance knowledge. Supposing the al-Baghdadi clip claiming the massacre had been borne out by facts, which direction would the needle of suspicion point to? Islamic terror? What purpose would that narrative serve?
Looking for simple answers would not help. A small island nation, just recovering from a vicious civil war, would be shaken up by the sheer scale of the massacre, warranting the appearance of intelligence agencies from everywhere — US, UK, Israel, Australia, India. An initial pooling in of intelligence would lead to a penetration of systems until the benefactors achieve their hallowed goal: place roadblocks in the way of the Road and Belt project.
That may or may not have been the plan but police sniffer dogs found something extraordinary while walking through the Jaic Hilton hotel. The dogs stopped in front of an apartment and would not stop barking.
The management cited some difficulties in opening that apartment, national security or no national security. After considerable time had lapsed, two persons claiming to be with the US Embassy turned up. In the room were two “explosive detectors”. The detectors, said the two men, were for their personal security. Just look at the cockiness of this stance. They ignored the obvious fact: dogs would only bark if the detectors had been in touch with explosives. These details are part of the investigations conducted by Dr. Michael Roberts of the University of Adelaide.
Those who tried to foist the tragedy on al-Baghdadi were obviously embarrassed. But, even a fraudulent use of the ISIS chief was possible when he was still theoretically alive. He may be missed. Even NYT’s Friedman, I have quoted earlier, had recommended that al-Baghdadi can be creatively used in the American interest. He advises Trump not to waste his time fighting the ISIS. He wants “Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable.” He continues, “Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbullah’s and Russia’s headache.”
Friedman has not cooked up the theory of terrorism as a strategic asset on his own. He has acquired this wisdom from leaders, including US Presidents like Barack Obama. In the course of a lengthy interview in August, 2015, he asked Obama a very pertinent question. When ISIS first reared its head in Mosul a year ago, why did the President not immediately bomb it out of existence?
Obama stated quite plainly: “We did not just start taking a bunch of air strikes all across Iraq because that would have taken the pressure off Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki.”
Obama’s priority was not the elimination of the founder of the Caliphate. His priority was to exert pressure on Nouri al Maliki to vacate the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office. Why? Because Maliki was “brazenly” pro-Shia and had refused to sign the Status of Forces Agreement with the US. Obama’s “one-two” (to use a term from boxing) worked. US pressure, and al Baghdadi’s menacing presence at the gates of Iraq’s capital, helped ease Maliki out. (IANS)
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television
One of India's leading private museums, the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP) Bengaluru, has released new primary research conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, on audience behaviour in India's cultural sector. While more than half of the respondents thought the arts and culture are essential, they rarely manage to make time for it. The majority (60.6 per cent), mostly young people under 30, felt Indian museums could present more engaging content, and most perceived culture as anthropological/ sociological. Of the diverse categories included, music emerged as the most popular cultural activity.
The report is based on a survey of 500 people, which included school and college students, professionals across sectors, homemakers and senior citizens. The first initiative of its kind in the cultural space, the report shares valuable insights into the behaviour and expectations of Indian audiences engaging with a broad range of cultural activities. As part of MAP's mission to foster meaningful connections between communities and the cultural sector globally, which includes its innovative digital programme Museums Without Borders, the report shares a wealth of insights that can help museums across the country understand their audiences better. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.
As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities. | Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Speaking on the recent report, Kamini Sawhney, Director, Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), said, "MAP is focused on changing the notion of a museum in India, by enabling more relevant and inclusive programming, both online and in our space in Bengaluru. The audience research commissioned by MAP, and conducted by the ReReeti Foundation, provides valuable, and actionable insights which we hope will help museums across the country better understand their consumer base, improve decision making and deepen social impact." As much as 62.3 per cent college students and 47.6 per cent professionals/homemakers perceive culture as anthropological and sociological. Music was the most popular cultural event likely to be attended, followed by heritage tours and plays/comedy shows for Indian audiences.
Over 70 per cent of college students visit museums with family and friends; working professionals, homemakers and senior citizens also predominantly visit with groups/ spouses (indicating a need to focus on increased group programming/facilitation). As much as 68 per cent of people were optimistic about going outdoors for activities and events in 2021. As much as 60.6 per cent said Indian museums are not experimental enough, and can do more to create engaging content that is also relevant to surrounding communities.(IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Art, Culture, India, Museum, Music
What is the best way to save Goa from deforestation?
Drinking feni, may well be the answer, says the secretary of the Goa Cashew Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association Hansel Vaz, who on Thursday said, that sipping the state's unique alcoholic drink and making it popular would directly aid the greening of Goa's hills and other barren landscapes.
"To get more cashews, we need to plant more trees. I always say, by drinking feni you will save Goa, because we will be planting more cashew trees and we will have greener hills. The beauty of cashew is you do not need fertile land. You can grow it on a hill which can provide no nutrition. We will be able to grow more trees, if we can sell feni properly," Vaz said. Vaz's comments come at a time when the hillsides of the coastal state have witnessed significant deforestation for real estate development and for infrastructure projects. Feni is manufactured by fermenting and double distilling juice from the cashew apple.
Best way to keep Goa green is to grab yourself a glass of feni. | IANS
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Vaz also said that the promotion of feni was also in sync with the Prime Minister's vision for India to go "vocal for local". "There is no conglomerate, multinational company owning the drink. So every time we sell feni, it is a direct cash injection into Goa. If you sell a feni cocktail in Calangute (a popular beach village), it makes a direct impact in Valpoi and Bicholim, because this money is going down there," the Association official said at a press conference in Panaji.
The Association held the media briefing to announce a road map ahead for the feni industry, especially vis a vis streamlining aspects related to production, standardisation and marketing of the brew to make it popular in other Indian states and abroad.
The efforts to streamline the state "heritage drink" comes a month after the Goa government notified a formal policy, 'Goa Feni Policy 2021', which covers 26 different varieties of feni distilled in the state. "There were many barriers related to feni, which the policy has now addressed," treasurer of the Association Tukaram Haldankar said. One such hurdle was the previous government classification, which described feni as "country liquor", which would deter tourists from purchasing the drink. The reclassification of feni as a state "heritage drink" has lent dignity to the brew which has been manufactured locally in Goa since the 16th century.
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. | Photo by Ishvani Hans on Unsplash
But there is more the government can do, along with the state's traditional distillers and manufacturers to promote feni, Haldankar said. "We request the government to allow the sale of feni in duty free stores in airports and cruise liner terminals. The government should also support us through the department of Tourism, so that feni can be promoted in its programmes. iIf you go to Scotland, they promote Scotch. Goa should promote its feni to Goa," Haldankar said, adding that traditional distillers should also be given subsidies and other measures should be taken to standardise feni, which he said, "would require further subsidies and financial assistance from the government".
"It should be a standard product like scotch, champagne," Haldankar said. "Like Mexico's tequila, Russian vodka and Japan's sake, we need to export our feni across the country and the world and the local distillers should also benefit economically," president of the Association Gurudutt Bhakta also said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: deforestation,cashew,distillers,association,government, goa, feni, India