The English Journal

 

Voices from India Special Report

Indian man’s connection to rape-murder victim


By Myriam Casana


Padman* is a 28-year-old young man from India. He moved to France in 1990 at the age of 15 and, after 11 years, settled in Glasgow, Scotland. The rape and the murder of Jyoti Singh Pandey affected him deeply because he and the 23-year-old woman had a lot in common.


“This girl and I came from the same part of India: Uttar Pradesh. She was poor and fought to study, as I did. We were practically the same age. We were both students in science,” said Padman, who's working on a doctorate in organic chemistry.


Indeed, Jyoti was studying physiotherapy in New Delhi. She symbolized India’s wave of modernism for its women. 

“India is torn between traditionalism and modernity. The rape of Jyoti put forward the problem for women in India. Rapes are more frequent in this country (30 registered per 100,000 residents) than in France (8 reported per 100,000) or Scotland (6 reported per 100,000),” he said.  “The corruption and laxity in the justice system left the rapes unprosecuted,” Padman continued.


The recent incident launched a very strong reaction in India as Jyoti became a symbol of the women violated in India.

“I hope the recent story is having a sufficient impact to reveal the problem. The judgment can’t equal the crimes of the rape and the murder. However, I think it will launch a test case.”

The United Nations called on the government of India to punish the crime of rape more stringently.              * not his real name

Italy 2013: Not shiny and new, but full of ‘sacrifices’


By Andrea Turci


(Cagliari, ITALY) - “New year, new life!” This is what people universally say to welcome a brand new year, full of hope and possibly somewhat different or better than the previous one. But economists predict incomes to drop by roughly $650 US dollars compared to the previous year for “La Dolce vita” style.

“I love my country, but I don’t see a future here,” said a 24-year-old year university student who regrets the plight in Italy.


While the Italian government keeps playing the “which party wing is better than the other” game, Confindustria, the general confederation of Italian industries, forecasted that Italy’s debt would meet its peak of 126% of GDP – making 2013 a gloomy year. In the meantime, more and more young people are running away from the country, looking for jobs or studying in developing countries such as India or China. The United States is still one of the favorite destinations.


Further, this raises the average age of the population, which very soon will bring  brand new problems to the whole peninsula.


Whether right or left movement, Italian politicians are only caring for their own business and votes, doing almost nothing for the population,” stated Alberto, a 61-year-old retiree.


Unfortunately, most middle-aged and young Italians feel let down by the reforms of Prime Minister Mario Monti's government, which replaced Silvio Berlusconi at the end of 2011. Mr. Monti’s strategy was to look at long term results, aiming to reduce the country’s deficit and contain its debts.


Asking the population to accept “upcoming sacrifices” was like annoying an already angry lion. The new housing tax, also as known as IMU, was a strike to family accounts in 2012. At the same time, salaries remained stagnant in the country's top economic sector, the manufacturing of high quality goods.

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American society under the supervision of drones


By Rodolphe Perrot


Within 5 years, more than 7,000 small drones, weighing about 8 ½ lbs. (4 kilos) and much less expensive than a helicopter or a satellite, will furrow the American sky. Mapmapping or spying? (See photo above)

 

“What are drones but flying smartphones, one app away from indispensable? We could see drones accompanying early morning joggers, taking sport, wildlife and other photography to a new level. The possibilities are endless,” blogged Ryan Calo, director of Privacy and Robotics at Stanford Law School.

 

They are in full expansion in energy, public security, specialized agriculture, and entertainment projects in the US. Civil drones will be allowed to fly in the American sky after 2015. They pose many questions about the borders of private life and the obstruction of the sky.


This eyeball in the sky can intercept Wifi messages, simultaneously follow 65 people, and identify a milk carton from more than 11 miles (17 km) of altitude. 

 

“Rules must be in place so that we can benefit from these new technologies without becoming a society under supervision,” according to text on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) website.


Drones as commercial enterprises will create of 100,000 jobs by 2025 and the injection of billions of dollars into the economy, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), a collective of drones producers.

 

About thirty American States have already worked on legislation to limit the use of the drones. Arkansas, Alabama, Wyoming are among them. 


But some drones uses do not cause worry. For example, drones measured the cracks on buildings in Italy after the earthquake in September 2012. Law enforcement has employed drones to locate illegal marijuana fields.

 

Starting October 2015, drones will be tested on 6 sites in the US.

New embrace of homosexuality by Pope, politicians


By Masaki Osaki


The number of countries approving same sex marriage increased to 16 in the last year, according to Freedom to Marry, an American organization. In 2013, Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand and

some states of the US

legalized same-sex

marriage. And, Catholic

society, headed by

Pope Francis, began

showing more tolerance

and acceptance

of LGBT people than

his predecessors.

 

‘‘Tell me, when God

looks at a gay person,

does he endorse the

existence of this person with love or reject and condemn this person? We must always consider the person," said Francis to La Civilta Cattolica.  "God in creation set us free; it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person."

 

Despite Pope Francis’ statements, it is not easy for Catholics to live within the LGBT society. Robert, an American Catholic who is gay, looked back at his past experience. ‘‘I noticed my sexual orientation when I was 20 years old and it was very difficult to accept it. I felt that I was sinner because they think that being gay is a choice and it’s a bad choice.’’


Robert talked about the reaction of his family when he came out. “My mother was a very strong Catholic so I was most concerned about my mother’s reaction. But she said to me that God loves me. She was trying to make me feel comfortable,” he said in an interview from Tokyo. “I’m not Catholic anymore, but I still believe in God. Now I think that if God created me, he didn’t make a mistake. He created gay people, too. So it’s ok.”


Despite the growing openness of the Catholic Church toward the gay community, a Catholic doctors' association in Germany believes it can cure sexual orientation with sugar pills. This homo-homeopathy has been criticized by members of its target community. Robert laughed at this association.


“I think that some groups closely connected with the Catholic church deeply think that being gay is a sickness. This group is crazy. Anyway, what I’m sure is that I should not take a sugar pill,’’ said Robert.

Photo: M. Osaki

Liberalizing rock’n’roll in Tehran


By Patty Beaumier


Can you imagine a life without rock’n’roll or your prefered music? Can you imagine a life in which you can be arrested for playing guitar? Fines, destruction of instruments, and occasionally jail sentences await people who challenge authorities over rock’n’roll in Iran. Since 1979 and the Islamic revolution, only traditional and religious music are permitted.


The situation seems to be easing with the new Iranian president, however. “Recently, censorship really changed. For example, before, a woman did not have the right to sing on her own but now, it is allowed,”  said Sarah,* a Teheran native living in Paris since 1985. She spent her first 16 years in Iran. 


Iranians never threw in the towel when it came to finding a way to listen to the music of their choice.


“I have a cousin who lives in America. When I was young, he used to send us some records so we were able to listen to Madona and Michael Jackson,” explained Sarah.


Last June, Iranian people elected Hassan Rohani. Will the end of Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad's term ease music censorship? Ali Janati, the new head of the culture department, declared his will to liberalize book editions in Iran. It might be a beginning before tackling the controversial issue of Iranian rock’n’roll and music, in general.


Late in 2013, an Iranian musician killed two brothers who were members of the Yellow Dogs Iranian rock band. They had expatriated to America, to New York. Broken destinies. They are not the only ones to leave their native country to recover the freedom to express their art.

“The ones who chose to go will never be authorized to go back to Iran. It is a hard decision to make because most of them really love their country. They just have political issues,” analyzed Sarah.


People who do not want to flee their beloved Iran – such as 68-year-old singer Kourosh Yaghmaei – organize in Tehran’s basements.  They hold private concerts, clandestine rehearsals and recording sessions in their    underground rebellion.


It is necessary for the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance to provide licenses to produce albums or hold concerts.  Neighbors turn in neighbors who play rock; police raid outlawed concerts. Police arrested over 200 fans at a heavy metal concert near Tehran in August -- despite organizers’ having the required permit.

Facebook: Friends with business benefits


By Guillaume Lefort


More than 1.3 billion people use it worldwide. Counting 130 million users in the US, thirty million in Great Britain, and twenty-six million in France, Facebook is the largest social network in the world. Most users, 81% of them, live outside the US, the birthplace of the conglomerate.


"Share, ping, comment, like, identify, locate, poke," these words are now part of the daily English vocabulary, though more than 70 languages are used on the site. Every day, 3.2 billion "like" clicks are recorded. Mark Zuckerberg, now 29-years-old, turned his student project into an empire.


In its recent twist, Facebook is promoting the business of friendship.

"The brands have very high expectations from Facebook. We will meet many business objectives," said Laurent Solly, CEO of Facebook France. "There are extremely frequent innovations. We will respond to their  requests. We are going to be a partner.  We will accompany them in their growth because Facebook is a great communication platform.”


Extend the possibilities


To fuel its growth the last ten years, Facebook acquired small and huge companies. The firm also innovated by acquiring patents (1,720 since 2004). In 2012, Facebook spent $800 million in research and development. In September 2012, the social network acquired picture-sharing app “Instagram” for $1 billion. Mr. Zuckerberg pursued Snapchat (another picture-sharing app which erases the pictures after 4 seconds) with a $3 billion offer, but the 23-year-old application creator declined.

Not enough Facebook?

More on Facebook

 

Mandela, mediator in South Africa’s immigration


By Aurelie Jeune


As the economic giant of its region, South Africa and its annual GDP of $595 billion draw emigrants from neighboring countries Botswana and Zimbabwe. By comparison, the output of the two countries is paltry, $34 billion and  $7.5 billion, respectively, according to figures in the CIA World Factbook.


Even during Nelson Mandela's presidency, some South African held xenophobic views, preferring to keep other out. Following Mr. Mandela’s death in December, some of South Africa's foreigners spoke out about the possibility of a return to  violence against them.


Nathan Ilunga, from Congo, explained: “The situation will be worse. I think the country will be more xenophobic and racist than ever” now that Mr. Mandela is gone.   As a student at the University of Technology, he lives in Cap Town, but he confides feels anxious.


As president from 1994 to 1999,  Mr. Mandela tried to steer the country in positive ways. However, a 1997 study for the Consultative Conference on the subject revealed high levels of  xenophobia. The study showed 25% of South Africans wanted a total prohibition of migration or immigration and 22% wanted the South African government to return all foreigners presently living there to their native countries.


Nathan insists that he saw Mr. Mandela as a protector for himself and others who arrived in hopes of a brighter future.  “Mandela was considered an international symbol of reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.  The foreigners will be sacked by the South Africans,” he said.


Indeed, many natives think the foreigners are blocking the labor market.

 

And this is precisely this point which causes reproach.  In 1997, the same year as the comprehensive study, Home Affairs Minister Buthelezi claimed in a speech to parliament that “illegal aliens cost South African taxpayers billions of rands each year.”

 

The most dangerous situation involves the emigrants in townships. They are poorer and disorganized – and more vulnerable. In 2008, it was the terrible days of May.  The name still resonates in the minds of the emigrants.


Deadly attacks with roots in xenophobia swept through Johannesburg's townships before spreading across the country.  This episode left 42 dead; all emigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa.

If this type of violence occurred despite Mr. Mandela's influence, understandably emigrants fear future attacks now that they lost the one they called “their friend.” 

Real hunger games:  Starvation as 'war weapon' in Syria


By Clotilde Penet, June 8, 2014


Three years ago, Yarmouk was a quiet neighborhood south of Damacus, the Syrian capital. About 150,000 people lived within its walls. Originally constructed as a life-saving temporary housing community, Yarmouk camp has now become a death trap.


“Gunfire was heard from inside Yarmouk, yet it did not impact the safety of beneficiaries or the distribution team,” shared Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.


People, especially the elderly and disabled, routinely face the challenge of picking up the rice, sugar, lentils, oil and powdered milk.  Amnesty International reports 128 deaths in the camp from starvation.


“Syrian forces are committing war crimes by using starvation of civilians (…). The harrowing accounts of families having to resort to eating cats and dogs, and civilians attacked by snipers as they forage for food, have become all too familiar details of the horror story that has materialized in Yarmouk,” confirmed Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director of Middle East and North Africa Program.


Palestinians had lived alongside Syrians, with access to employment and social services, since the creation of the camp in 1948.


Ahmad Naji, a 28-year-old Syrian refugee in France, left his country two years ago. “Medias should talk more about Syrian people. Syrian human beings, their rightful cause and other 'real' components of a revolution. People are fighting extremists and the regime at the  same time, but those reports are almost completely absent.”


Heavy fighting engulfed Yarmouk as far back as 2012.  It was on March 21, 2014, however, that the gun shots signaled the new level of danger. Relief workers say the situation descended into this deadly chaos after forces of Pres. Bashar al-Assad captured the area to dislodge rebel resistance.


The government's move trapped about 18,000 people inside, according to humanitarian workers.


The Syrian army uses hunger as a "war weapon," continued Mr. Gunness, from the UN's refugee relief program.


This unofficial camp in Syria offered refuge to Palestinian people during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.  Over time, it grew into a busy residential and commercial district of the Syrian capital.

Violence against emigrants in the township of Reiger Park, near Johannesburg in 2008 / AP

Struggles for the Shebabs

of Yarmouk/ Photo: Salvatori-Sinz

Obama’s free net vs. Republican push for pay service


By Louise Bernard


When US Pres. Barack Obama pledged to keep the internet «open» in what is called net neutrality, he might have handed his country’s presidential victory in 2016 to another Democrat. How and why? America’s next election - and future presidential elections - will be determined by the internet generation and those candidates who line up with him on the issue of free internet service are Democrats.

 

«An open internet is essential to the American economy and, increasingly,  to our very way of life. By lowering the cost of launching a new idea, igniting new political movements, and bringing communities closer together, it has been one of the most significant democratizing influences the world has ever known,” stated Mr. Obama, whose presidential campaign managed to get nearly 70 percent of the vote among Americans under age 25. 


If net neutrality goes away, so does equality, predict industry specialists. Across the political divide, most Republicans oppose free internet service for the future. They prefer a “premium” service, which would allow users to pay for faster service whether for business or personal entertainment.


«Net Neutrality is Obamacare for the internet; the internet should not operate at the speed of government,” tweeted US Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas.  Sen. Cruz does not want the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the internet as he explained in a 2-minute, on-line video. 


«Our free and open internet has made invaluable contributions to democracy both here in the United States and around the world. Whether you are rich, poor, young or old, the Internet allows all people to seek out information and communicate globally,” wrote US Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont  Independent who’s also considering a run for the highest office.  According to him, ending net neutrality would remove the ability of all net users to exchange their ideas on even terms. 


Added Hillary Clinton: “I think with all the issues around the internet, and there are many, about access, affordability, the big digital gap that exists, particularly between women and men, in developing and developed countries, it is absolutely clear to me that we have to keep the internet open.”


The internet played a vital part in 2008 during the presidential election and in the Democratic primary in which Mrs. Clinton finished second to Sen. Obama.

Battle of Masks - Anonymous uncovers KKK members following Ferguson battlelines


By Marina Fabre


Hacker organization Anonymous declared cyberwar on the Ku Klux Klan after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. In fact, the KKK, the white supremacist group

established in 1865, threatened to kill

the people who were protesting the

lack of an indictment of the shooter,

officer Darren Wilson. Anonymous

fought back in taking over the official

Twitter account of the Ku Klux Klan.

The triple K suffered, too, receiving a

succession of attacks on its websites. 


«We are continuing to read Anonymous

threats with much amusement. Still no

action taken,» the KKK tweeted on

Nov. 16, thus igniting the war of words. 


Anonymous answered: «You should’ve expected us. #OpKKK continues to be a success. Freedom will prevail.»


Later, Anonymous added: « Based on the direct messages sent from and to this account, we can confirm that this account was run by an official Klan member.» Then members of Anonymous published photos and names of KKK members for example, Gary B., a military veteran, police officers John and Tina K. from Saint Louis, and Dawn G., an education co-ordinator.


This latest action of Anonymous was criticized because it denied KKK members a chance to express themselves. The first aim of Anonymous is the defense of freedom of expression, according to www.anonymoushackers.org, the group’s website. 


But the hackers answered the accusations in a report published on the twitter account @KuKluxKlanUSA: "We are not attacking you because of what you believe in, as we fight for freedom of speech. We are attacking you because of your threats to use lethal attacks against us at the Ferguson protests… The Ku Klux Klan is a terrorist group. The blood of thousands of human beings are on the hands of the Klansmen.»


In a video posted on Youtube, members of Anonymous say "We are legion. We do not forget. We do not forgive. Ku Klux Klan, you should have expected us.»

«All KKK websites / accounts will

be SHUT DOWN.  You have provoked us. #HoodsOFF.»

Anonymous.

Bowie (1947-2016): “Ch-ch-changes” over his years on stage


By Cerise Robin, Feb. 26, 2016 


An alien from Mars — red, blue and rainbow-colored. His planet: Earth. David Bowie's influence will remain visible in the sky because the astronomical phenomenon of a Black Star can’t be extinguished; Bowie chose Blackstar as the  name for his final album. The YouTube generation ensures that Bowie, who died at 69 in New York, will live on in trance, dub, rock, and jazz.  


«David Bowie was a part of my daily life. He touched everybody one day in his life because he touched every art. And, art is a part of our life, isn’t it? David Bowie is still with us in a way… He covered

so many kinds of music that every-

body can take his songs over. If you

are musician, you can make a cover

because there are still basics. And

everybody knows Bowie because

everybody has heard one of his songs

on the radio or in a movie,” explains

Fred, 32 years old. 


Many covers of Bowie songs exist

on YouTube. Let’s Dance remixed

by InFiction collected 321,741 views

between June 2013 and January 2016.

In Dub, we have Space Oddity by

King Tubby VS Major Tom Dub.

The same song was covered by

Melodica Tribute.


During the Roots Rock Reggae concert

of Twinkle Brothers in Nantes, musicians

covered Space Oddity on January 15, 2016.

“It won over the crowd,” relates a witness. 


Bowie’s style remains because it talks to everybody. Everyday a young person finds himself in it.


“Teenagers create a character to move out, to exist in this strange world and you know David Bowie sang it. Space Oddity? A drug addicted vision and a vision of courage to leave the nest. The Thin White Duke is the unpopular child. Aladdin Sane is the reflection of his family. And Blackstar is not just a record. It’s his legacy. In it, he’s a preacher and a man with leprosy. 

« I think he knew that the flesh is mortal, though words are not,” explains Gabrielle, 28 years old. 


«Ashes to Ashes," from conventional to androgynous

 

David Robert Jones, alias David Bowie, changed as a chameleon does. Bending music, fashion, arts and modernity. A sort of salad bowl of every culture that he ever saw. 

«He was a Phoenix who was born and dies on every album,” explains a 50-year-old fan nicknamed David D. “Each time he created a new version of himself. David Bowie is already a reflection. But to him? Not enough! He had to slice arts. It was a cutting machine!”

As a 17-year-old with his band The Konrads, he dresses himself in a British schoolboy suit. He doesn’t behave himself too long. The Bristol child, who went through the garbage bins of Oxford with his friend Marc Bolan to find clothes, begins in 1969 his transformation into David Bowie. 


The 1966 safe look definitely ends. In woman’s attire for his The Man who sold the World album, he becomes Ziggy Stardust, an androgynous character with red crewcut hair. He flirts with fame at that time: 1971. It is the time of Glam Rock’s bisexual icon and his far-reaching effects on his followers. 

«I make my first and only homosexual experience because of David Bowie. You sleep with a same-sex person and you look at the stars!” remembers David D.

Bowie with wife Iman and baby Alexandria, born Aug. 2000/ BowieWonderland.com

Husband, father of 2; RIP David

Bowie/ fanpop