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By Maria Wirth
“Í prefer Trump to Hillary”, I told a German friend in the run up to the US elections in 2016. There was a little pause and then she said, “You are the only person I know who says this openly.” I knew that my view was politically incorrect though I did not understand why German media was so virulently anti-Trump. It was as anti-Trump as it had been anti-Modi before the 2014 elections. At that time, German media called Modi a Hindu fundamentalist and racist, and predicted that Modi would be extremely bad for India. Modi won and turned out to be good for India, especially for the poor. Trump was portrayed as incompetent and misogynist, whom no self-respecting American could possibly vote for, yet he also won the elections in 2016.
But why is media now in 2020 again so virulently anti-Trump? Didn’t he prove himself by doing a lot of good things? Without him, ISIS might still be going strong in Syria, economy looked up before the Corona virus came from China, the situation in the Middle East improved tremendously, even with North Korea great strides were made, China was put in place to a certain extend. But all this does not seem to count.
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So what is his main fault?
It may have to do with “Islamic terrorism”. Donald Trump was the first major politician who put “Islamic” before terrorism in 2016, and the phrase “Islam is a religion of peace”, which was a favorite under Obama, went slowly out of use.
History is proof that Islam is not a religion of peace, except maybe in a futuristic scenario when only Muslims remain on earth and all others have been converted or killed. This scenario is indeed the goal of Islam. It’s hard to believe that people could actually pursue this goal, but brainwashing from childhood works. It works also for Christians who also are taught that the great Creator will accept only Christians in heaven.
When I came a few years ago across an old article in Spiegel online from 2005, I realized that the project of Islamization is not only planned, but is ,or was till recently at least, well on track. The title of the article was “The future of terrorism. What Al Quaeda really wants”. It is about the Jordanian journalist Fouad Hussein who had spent time in prison with al-Zarqawi and had managed to make contact with many of the network’s leaders. Based on correspondence with these sources, he brought out the book “al-Zarqawi – al-Qaida’s Second Generation”.
In it, he describes the terrorist network’s strategy for the next two decades from 2000 till 2020. The Spiegel wrote in 2005, “It is both frightening and absurd, a lunatic plan conceived by fanatics who live in their own world…”
What was this strategy?
Al Quaida had planned to establish an Islamic Caliphate in seven steps all over the world. When I read this article in 2017, I was shocked how closely they stuck to the program.
For example it was planned for the 4th phase between 2010 and 2013 that the Arab regimes will fall. How well they had timed it. Do you remember the euphoria among Western leftists about the Arab spring and fall of the regimes in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya? And the massive attempts to dislodge Azad in Syria?
The 5th phase from 2013 to 2016 predicted the establishment of the Caliphate. How could they plan ISIS and Baghdadi so correctly 15 years in advance? It almost seemed as if Obama’s election was also planned in advance.
The 6th phase from 2016 to 19 was meant to see total confrontation between believers and unbelievers and finally, in the 7th phase there was supposed to be a “definitive victory” in a maximum 2 year long war, where the rest of the world will be beaten down by the 1,5 billion Muslims.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: आयुष्मान ने अपनी फिल्म ‘बधाई हो’ को कहा दुर्लभ कहानी
In its article from 2005, the Spiegel wrote, “The 20-year plan is based mainly on religious ideas. It hardly has anything to do with reality — especially phases four to seven.”
But now, in retrospect, we can see that all went according to plan till 2016, when Trump unexpectedly arrived on the scene. Even India had helped their agenda till 2014, by trying to divorce Islam from terror and instead blaming Hindus for it. It was a mischievous agenda, which even tried to put the blame for the Mumbai terror attack of 2008 on Hindus. It almost succeeded, if not one of the terrorists had been caught alive thanks to the bravery of Constable Tukaram Omble, who sacrificed his life for it.
But since 2016 the plan got somewhat derailed. Was leftist media so virulently against Trump because he would not be collaborating with this agenda and would go against it?
Was Modi so badly demonised because he was the first Hindu at the helm in India who would not further the agenda which was going into the right direction (from the Islamists standpoint)? Even after Independence, Hindu tradition was denigrated and Hindus were apologetic about being Hindus. Islam and Christianity were presented as egalitarian and the better options compared to Hinduism with its “terrible caste system”. The vilification of Hindus and especially Brahmins was taken up worldwide with a feverish pitch. And though Modi still favoured Muslims for example in regard to scholarships, he also openly acknowledged his Hindu identity.
But there is one riddle: Why on earth would leftists want to further the Islamization of the world? Aren’t Leftists virulently opposed to religion and especially to the rigid, dogmatic Abrahamic ones?
I read an explanation, which made sense: after the collapse of the UDSSR, those so called intellectuals, academics and journalists, who had been groomed by UDSSR, were suddenly without patronage. Oil money came to their rescue. They still peddle their leftist agenda but are very soft on Islam and even work in tandem with them due to “gratefulness”.
Their agenda of creating chaos and fighting the “class enemy” fits the Islamic agenda. The radical left is ready to burn America or India if they are called out on the streets. So basically al Quaida’s program was still on track when it projected “total confrontation” for the years 2016 to 19. Right after Trump’s election victory, massive confrontation started, though not between believers and unbelievers, as there are still too few believers in the US, but with the explicit purpose of bringing Trump down, who did not view Islam favorable like his predecessor.
In India, too, confrontation increased ever since Modi came to power and non-issues were made into big, “controversial” issues, like CAA. The Delhi riots, too, were part of this “total confrontation”, and in India it was indeed between Muslims and Hindus, as Al Qaida had envisaged. The attempt to project Hindus as the instigators and perpetrators however failed due to too many proofs to the contrary, though media still peddled this fake narrative.
Since the claim of victimhood of Muslims has become less credible worldwide, ever since the West has direct experience of Islamists, the attempt is now to divide the Indian society on the basis of caste. Thanks to a Republic TV channel sting operation, the most recent plan to create bloody riots in Uttar Pradesh on the false claim of gang rape and murder of a Dalit girl by upper castes in Hathras was fortunately nipped in the bud. Yet western media, like German dw, prepared the ground for justifying riots against “caste oppression” in India through their biased, sensational reporting.
This recent attempt to create bloody riots failed, but in all likelihood it was not the last attempt. The program of Al Quaida will be pursued unless there is a change of heart of those who pursue and finance it.
It would mean radical Muslims too, realize that the great Creator of this billion years old universe with its unimaginably huge dimensions cannot possibly want that all humans follow the Quran or else they will be thrown for all eternity into hellfire. It would mean they realize that we humans have an inbuilt compass, our conscience, which points us to right behavior. This right behavior does not include killing your neighbor because he calls God by another name. (IANS)
Facebook says it plans to hire 10,000 workers in the European Union over the next five years to work on a new computing platform.
The company said in a blog post Sunday that those high-skilled workers will help build "the metaverse," a futuristic notion for connecting people online that encompasses augmented and virtual reality.
Facebook executives have been touting the metaverse as the next big thing after the mobile internet as they also contend with other matters such as antitrust crackdowns, the testimony of a whistleblowing former employee and concerns about how the company handles vaccine-related and political misinformation on its platform.
In a separate blog post Sunday, the company defended its approach to combating hate speech, in response to a Wall Street Journal article that examined the company's inability to detect and remove hateful and excessively violent posts. (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Facebook, Metaverse, Augmented and Virtual Reality
As children, singing the rhyme Rock A Bye Baby was a fun thing to do. It was a statement of thrill and adventure to imagine a child climbing to the top of a tree and rocking to sleep. Especially in the Indian context, rocking a baby to sleep by attaching the cradle to the tree is quite a common thing. But the origin of this rhyme, or lullaby, seems rooted in other histories.
The most popular notion associated with this lullaby is of women leaving their babies tied to tree branches, rocking to sleep with the wind. It is believed that at the time this lullaby was written, it was inspired by a coloniser who saw the Native American women tie their children in birch bark cradles to the trees. The babies went to sleep rocked by the gusts of wind while the parents went about their tasks.
A Native American wooden cradle Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Another interpretation of the rhyme is that it is an allegory to Betty Kenny, or Kenyon, as some versions record it. The Kenyons were a tree-dwelling family, and they used to live in a yew tree. They had carved the tree branches to fit their babies and allowed them to nestle there during the day. The part of the rhyme that talks about falling off the tree is a little scary in this context, but the speculation is that the tree branches were quite low.
The final interpretation of the lullaby has political allusions. King James II of England, was the last Catholic king. He had no heir and reportedly used another baby to impersonate his own. But he was found out and exiled in the Glorious Revolution that took place after he was deposed. The act of falling down from the cradle is a metaphor for those who make mistakes from being overconfident or proud.
The many versions that exist of the rhyme/lullaby make it confusing to really know why it was written in such a strange and morbid manner. Each version points to a different time in history where certain practices were prevalent. However, despite all the various interpretations available, the lullaby itself works wonders in rocking babies to sleep, and perhaps that is the only reason it has survived.
Keywords: Lullaby, Rhyme, King James II, Kenyons, Native Americans, Colonisers
As kids growing up in different states, Shoba Narayan and Michael Maliakel shared a love of one favorite film — "Aladdin." Both are of Indian descent, and in the animated movie, they saw people who looked like them.
That shared love has gone full-circle this month as Narayan and Maliakel lead the Broadway company of the musical "Aladdin" out of the pandemic, playing Princess Jasmine and the hero from the title, respectively.
"Growing up, there was such little South Asian and Middle Eastern representation in the American media, and Princess Jasmine was really all I had. She was a huge role model to me as someone who was intelligent and strong and independent and beautifully curious, and that's who I wanted to be," says Narayan, who grew up in Pennsylvania.
The pair arrived at "Aladdin" in very different ways. Maliakel is making his Broadway debut, but Narayan is a musical theater veteran, having made her Broadway debut in "Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812" and touring with "Hamilton" as Eliza Hamilton.
She was in "Wicked" as Nessarose when the pandemic shut down Broadway in March 2020. Her agent called in April with the prospect of auditioning for Jasmine. She sang "A Whole New World" over Zoom on gallery mode, pretending to be on a magic carpet. "It was a very unique experience," she says, laughing.
Disney producers flew her to New York to meet face-to-face and go through the material again. Narayan was asked to read with different Aladdin potential actors. She got the gig: "I went from a wicked witch to a Disney princess. Can't complain."
Maliakel, a native of New Jersey, came from the world of opera, a baritone who studied at Johns Hopkins University and the 2014 winner at the National Musical Theatre Competition. He trained his voice to be flexible, waiting for the right window to open.
"I didn't really see a lot of people doing what I wanted to do in the world," he says. "There just wasn't a whole lot of representation. So it's really hard to imagine yourself in those scenarios when you have no one to look up to as a role model or an example of how it could be done."
He played Porter and understudied Raoul in a national tour of "The Phantom of the Opera," which ended its run in Toronto just before the pandemic hit.
"I always dreamed that Broadway might happen someday," he says, laughing. "I'm just kind of dipping my toes into the waters in one of the biggest male roles in the business right now, and it's kind of surreal."
'Aladdin' featured as a Broadway Musical with a cast of Indian origin playing the main roles Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Broadway's "Aladdin" is a musical adaptation of the 1992 movie starring Robin Williams. The musical's story by Chad Beguelin hews close to the film: A street urchin finds a genie in a lamp and hopes to woo a princess while staying true to his values and away from palace intrigue.
Key Alan Menken songs from the film — including "Friend Like Me," ″Prince Ali" and "A Whole New World" — are used. The lyricists are the late Howard Ashman, Tim Rice and Beguelin.
The show — and it's two new leads — had a few performances to celebrate Broadway's return from the pandemic this fall before it was forced to close for several days when breakthrough COVID-19 cases were detected. The actors say the safety of the cast, crew and audience are paramount and closing was the smart move.
"This is how we keep theater going in the pandemic," Maliakel says. "The other option is to just not do it at all. And that's not an option. A week's worth of lost performances, when we look back on things in a year or so, I think will just be a little blip on the radar."
They both look back with heart-thumping appreciation at the early performances when they welcomed back theater-starved audiences, who gave the company 3-minute standing ovations just for singing "A Whole New World."
"It is every brown girl's dream to be singing that song on an actual flying carpet," says Narayan. "And the fact that I got to do it on Broadway in the full costume with the lights and the 32-piece orchestra beneath me — oh, my gosh, I really had to hold it together. It was emotional overload for me."
Maliakel recalls that he and his brothers wore out their VHS cassette version of "Aladdin." He remembers having lunchboxes, pajamas and bed sheets with the film's theme. Aladdin was "every little brown kid's prince." Now he is that prince.
"Now, finally, to get to get paid to do it on the world's largest stage — it's not lost on me how crazy that is," he says. "The responsibility of my position right now feels really great. This moment sort of feels bigger than me in some ways, and I don't take that lightly. I think it's a really exciting time." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Aladdin, Broadway, Musical, Indian Descendant cast,