DN Jha’s ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’ examined facts, and its detractors didn’t like that.

It’s easy to see why the Right wanted this book about Indians’ beef-eating history to be banned

DN Jha’s ‘The Myth of the Holy Cow’ examined facts, and its detractors didn’t like that.

Right next to my school in Chennai, there used to be a hole-in-the-wall eatery that served as a rite of passage for most of us who’d hit high school. It resembled more a shotgun shack rather than a respectable dining establishment, the kitchen walls seemed covered in soot, so that you could hardly see what was going on in there. The only sensory stimuli was aural, provided by a furious wok and a spatula. The menu was limited, and everybody more or less ordered the same thing, a plate of beef fry along with a beef fried rice.

In retrospect, I don’t think it constituted a fine culinary experience, but there certainly was some subversive relish in the whole activity, and while beef isn’t as ubiquitous in Tamil Nadu as it is in Kerala, it wasn’t all that hard to come by in Chennai. By the time a few years had passed, I had been benumbed of the novelty of these clandestine beef runs and was wholly converted, eating the bovine ilk at any given opportunity.

It was at this juncture that I found myself in Delhi, hankering for beef in a city that offered few such oases. I was directed to a Malayali mess in Hauz Khas, one where the beef fry was the only item on the menu written in Malayalam. I proceeded to place my order in what I felt was an acceptable amplitude for a mess, only to be met with a circumspect stare from the waiter, who trotted off to the kitchen hastily and returned to drop it on my table with the gravitas of a Cold War era dead drop.

In 2010, when I was a university student in Bangalore, the Karnataka government threatened to pass a new law, enacted in “The Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010”, but this was eventually rejected by the former governor of the state HR Bhardwaj, who felt the Bill “adversely affects lakhs of people’s lives and lacks legislative competence.” It was around this time that I first heard the historian and academic DN Jha’s name in passing for the first time.

History, not hate

Jha’s Myth Of The Holy Cow was never intended to be provocative. It was merely an academic inquiry into the historical beef-eating dietary habits on the Subcontinent, one that was buttressed with ample evidence from ancient texts and sources. However, many publishers refused to take on the heat of brining it out, and after it was finally published in 2001 by Matrix Books, it was received with the usual symphony of death threats and brickbats from the fundamentalist Hindutva right.

The book promptly faced a court injunction, and would eventually resurface only in 2009, published this time by Navayana with a pop art cover whose appealing shelf presence would probably betray the sober, academic content of the book itself. Jha’s central premise is that the practice of eating beef is hardly a foreign concept brought to India by Islamic and Christian influences, and that people from the Vedic era not only ritually sacrificed the cow, but also relished its meat.

Jha meticulously brings this out by drawing our attention to various ancient texts – the Vedas, epics like the Ramayana, and Buddhist and Jain scriptures. Jha also charts out society’s transformation from a pastoralist, nomadic group to settled agriculturalists, where the the status of the cow was elevated to that a beast of burden.

However, the cow hadn’t yet become holy, with neither the Laws of Manu (which prohibit eating cows but condones their slaughter by Brahmins) nor the concept of ahimsa in Buddhist and Jain thought elevating the animal to a hallowed status. Beef-eating eventually became taboo in the medieval period among upper caste Hindus, but the cow was yet to be canonised, as this happened much later in the 19th century, when various cow protection groups galvanised themselves on this nebulous notion of a shared identity.

As Jha puts it “The holiness of the cow is elusive. For there has never been a cow goddess, nor any temple in her honour. Nevertheless the veneration of this animal has come to be viewed as a characteristic trait of modern day non-existent monolithic ‘Hinduism’ bandied about by the Hindutva forces.”

Unholy nexus

In the past couple of years, we have seen a Muslim man murdered on suspicion of storing beef in UP, two Muslim cattle herders lynched in public in Jharkhand, and Dalits flogged for carrying cow carcasses in Gujarat. To understand the morbid paranoia that has taken over the Hindu right, we must look to the words of one of its seers, a Chitpavan Brahmin and former sarsanghchalak of the RSS, MS Golwalkar: “The expression ‘communalism of the majority’ is totally wrong and misconceived. In a democracy the opinion of the majority has to hold sway in the day-to-day life of the people. As such it will be but proper to consider the practical conduct of the life of the majority as the actual life of the national entity.”

We’ve never come closer to reaching Golwalkar’s perverse ideal in the history of the Indian republic than now, but the seeds of this hysteria have always been around. To cite a small instance in the realm of art, take Girish Karnad’s masterful Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane, a film adaptation of SL Bhyrappa’s novel of the same name. Here we see an irate mob of villagers gathering around the feudal mansion of Kalinga Gowda, whose American wife Hilda orders the slaughter of the household cow and eventually eats it, which results in their being outcast by the community.

In direct opposition to Golwalkar’s parochial idea of the republic stands BR Ambedkar, whose insightful and highly readable essay, Untouchability and the Dead Cow, finds it way to the Navayana edition of Jha’s book. As the chief framer of the Indian Constitution, he managed to slip in the crucial Article 29 and 30 to counter such unsophisticated partisan instincts. It reads: “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

Ambedkar further elucidated this deliberate inclusion by saying, “It is also used to cover minorities which are not minorities in the technical sense, but which are nonetheless minorities in the cultural and linguistic sense…if there is a cultural minority which wants to preserve its language, its script and its culture, the State shall not by law impose upon it any other culture which may be either local or otherwise.”. Ultimately, the Malayali heading to the Kerala mess for a beef fry in Delhi is far more in line with the Constitution than the man stoking the tinderbox of cow protection in his community over what his neighbour is allegedly storing in the freezer.

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“ലജ്ജ കൊണ്ട് എന്റെ തലകുനിയുന്നു”: രാഷ്ട്രപതിയ്ക്കും പ്രധാനമന്ത്രിക്കും നാവികസേനാ മുന്‍മേധാവിയുടെ തുറന്ന കത്ത്

“ലജ്ജ കൊണ്ട് എന്റെ തലകുനിയുന്നു”: രാഷ്ട്രപതിയ്ക്കും പ്രധാനമന്ത്രിക്കും നാവികസേനാ മുന്‍മേധാവിയുടെ തുറന്ന കത്ത്

45 വര്‍ഷം ഞാന്‍ സേവനമനുഷ്ഠിച്ച നമ്മുടെ സായുധ സേന ഇന്ത്യയുടെ മതേതര ചിന്തകള്‍ക്ക് മാതൃകയാണ്. അത് കപ്പലിലായാലും മുങ്ങിക്കപ്പലിലായാലും, വിമാനത്തിലായാലും യുദ്ധരംഗത്തായാലും, മതത്തിന്റെയും ജാതിയുടെയും അടിസ്ഥാനത്തില്‍ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കിടയില്‍ വിവേചനങ്ങളുണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല ഞങ്ങള്‍ ഒരുമിച്ച് പരിശീലിക്കുകയും പോരാടുകയും ജീവിക്കുകയും തിന്നുകയും മരിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു.


 

Open-Letter

Admiral-Ramdas

അഡ്മിറല്‍ എല്‍. രാംദാസ്

രാജ്യത്തെ സമകാലീന രാഷ്ട്രീയാന്തരീക്ഷത്തില്‍ തനിക്കുള്ള ആശങ്കകളും നിരാശകളും പങ്കുവെച്ചുകൊണ്ട് മുന്‍ നാവികസേനാ മേധാവി അഡ്മിറല്‍ എല്‍. രാംദാസ് രാഷ്ട്രപതി പ്രണബ് മുഖര്‍ജിയ്ക്കും പ്രധാനമന്ത്രി നരേന്ദ്രമോദിയ്ക്കും എഴുതിയ തുറന്ന കത്ത്


ബഹുമാനപ്പെട്ട പ്രസിഡന്റ്, ബഹുമാനപ്പെട്ട പ്രധാനമന്ത്രി,

എന്റെ പ്രിയപ്പെട്ട രാജ്യവും അവിടുത്തെ ജനതയും ഗുരുതരമായ വെല്ലുവിളികള്‍ നേരിടുകയും നമ്മുടെ മഹത്തായ പാരമ്പര്യം വലിയ ഭീഷണികള്‍ നേരിടുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന സാഹചര്യത്തില്‍ ഹൃദയവേദനയോടു കൂടിയാണ് ഞാനീ തുറന്ന കത്ത് എഴുതുന്നത്.

ഞാന്‍ ഇന്ത്യന്‍ സായുധസേനയില്‍ സേവനമനുഷ്ഠിച്ചയാളാണ്. സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യം ലഭിച്ചയുടന്‍ 14ാം വയസില്‍ സേവനം തുടങ്ങിയ എന്റെ 45 വര്‍ഷത്തെ കരിയറിനിടെ ഇന്ത്യന്‍ നാവികസേനാ മേധാവിയുമായി (1990 മുതല്‍ 1993 വരെ). ഇതിനിടെ ഇന്ത്യയില്‍ പലമാറ്റങ്ങള്‍ക്കും സാക്ഷിയായി. 1947ലെ വിഭജകാല ഭീതി മുതല്‍ നാം ഇന്ന് കാണുന്ന ഡിജിറ്റള്‍ കക്ടിവിറ്റിയുടെ മറ്റൊരു ലോകം വരെ.

ഹിന്ദു വിശ്വാസപ്രകാരം വളര്‍ന്ന ഒരാളെന്ന നിലയില്‍ കൂടിയാണ് ഞാന്‍ ഈ എഴുത്ത് എഴുതുന്നത്. ഞാന്‍ മനസിലാക്കുകയും അനുഭവിക്കുകയും ചെയ്ത ഹിന്ദുയിസം മാന്യവും, അനന്യമായ ബഹുസ്വരത ഉള്‍ക്കൊള്ളുന്നതുമായിരുന്നു. സ്‌നേഹത്തിന്റെ മൂല്യവും എല്ലാ ജീവികളോടുമുള്ള ആദരവും എന്റെ മതം എന്നെ പഠിപ്പിച്ചു. ഇന്നത്തെ ‘ഹിന്ദുത്വ’ ബ്രാന്റ് പ്രതിനിധീകരിക്കുന്ന തരത്തില്‍ വിഭജനത്തിന് ആക്കം കൂട്ടുന്നതും രാജ്യത്ത് ഭീതി വളര്‍ത്തുന്നതുമായ ഹിംസയും അസഹിഷ്ണുതയും നിറഞ്ഞതല്ല എന്റെ ഹിന്ദുയിസം ബ്രാന്റ്.


2014 മെയില്‍ പുതിയ സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ അധികാരത്തില്‍ വന്നശേഷം എന്തുകൊണ്ടാണ് രാജ്യത്തെ ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കെതിരായ അതിക്രമങ്ങള്‍ വര്‍ധിക്കുന്നതായി നാം കാണുന്നത്? ചില പ്രത്യേക സമുദായങ്ങള്‍ പ്രത്യേക ശ്രദ്ധയോടെ താക്കീത് ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്നു ഉദാഹരണത്തിന്, മുസ്‌ലീങ്ങള്‍. ഇന്ന് ഒരു മുസ്‌ലീമിന് അവനായാലും അവളായാലും അവരുടെ ദേശഭക്തി തെളിയിക്കേണ്ടി വരുന്നു.


dADRI

ഇന്ന്, എന്റെ സഹജീവിതങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്, പ്രത്യേകിച്ച് ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കും ദളിതര്‍ക്കുമെതിരായ ആക്രമണങ്ങളുടെ ഒരു നിരതന്നെ കാണുമ്പോള്‍ എണ്‍പതുവയസിന്റെ അനുഭവസമ്പത്തുള്ള ഞാന്‍ ലജ്ജ കൊണ്ട് തലകുനിക്കേണ്ടി വന്നിരിക്കുകയാണ്. 45 വര്‍ഷം ഞാന്‍ സേവനമനുഷ്ഠിച്ച നമ്മുടെ സായുധ സേന ഇന്ത്യയുടെ മതേതര ചിന്തകള്‍ക്ക് മാതൃകയാണ്. അത് കപ്പലിലായാലും മുങ്ങിക്കപ്പലിലായാലും, വിമാനത്തിലായാലും യുദ്ധരംഗത്തായാലും, മതത്തിന്റെയും ജാതിയുടെയും അടിസ്ഥാനത്തില്‍ ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്കിടയില്‍ വിവേചനങ്ങളുണ്ടായിരുന്നില്ല ഞങ്ങള്‍ ഒരുമിച്ച് പരിശീലിക്കുകയും പോരാടുകയും ജീവിക്കുകയും തിന്നുകയും മരിക്കുകയും ചെയ്തു.

 

2014 മെയില്‍ പുതിയ സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ അധികാരത്തില്‍ വന്നശേഷം എന്തുകൊണ്ടാണ് രാജ്യത്തെ ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്കെതിരായ അതിക്രമങ്ങള്‍ വര്‍ധിക്കുന്നതായി നാം കാണുന്നത്? ചില പ്രത്യേക സമുദായങ്ങള്‍ പ്രത്യേക ശ്രദ്ധയോടെ താക്കീത് ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്നു ഉദാഹരണത്തിന്, മുസ്‌ലീങ്ങള്‍. ഇന്ന് ഒരു മുസ്‌ലീമിന് അവനായാലും അവളായാലും അവരുടെ ദേശഭക്തി തെളിയിക്കേണ്ടി വരുന്നു.


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അവരുടെ ആരാധനാലായങ്ങള്‍ ആക്രമിക്കപ്പെട്ടു, അവരുടെ ഭക്ഷണശീലങ്ങളും അടിസ്ഥാന സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യങ്ങളും ചോദ്യം ചെയ്യപ്പെടുന്നു. തീര്‍ത്തും അംഗീകരിക്കാനാവാത്ത ഏകപക്ഷമായ ജനക്കൂട്ട പെരുമാറ്റം കൊലപാതകത്തിലേക്ക് നയിക്കുന്നതും മുതിര്‍ന്ന നേതാക്കളുടെ പ്രകോപനപരമായ പരസ്യ പ്രതികരണങ്ങളും കൂടുകയും ആവര്‍ത്തിക്കുകയുമാണ്. യാതൊരു ശിക്ഷാ ഭയവുമില്ലാതെ ദളിതര്‍ക്കെതിരായ അതിക്രമങ്ങള്‍ വര്‍ധിച്ചുവരുന്നു.

ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്, പ്രത്യേകിച്ച് ഹിന്ദുക്കള്‍ക്കും ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികള്‍ക്കും, ദളിതര്‍ക്കും ആദിവാസികള്‍ക്കും ഇതികം തന്നെ വിവേചനങ്ങളും അരികുവത്കരിക്കപ്പെട്ടതായി തോന്നുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന സാഹചര്യത്തില്‍ നിങ്ങള്‍ തീകൊണ്ടാണ് കളിക്കുന്നതെന്ന് രാജ്യത്തിന്റെ മുന്‍നിര നേതാക്കളെ ഓര്‍മ്മപ്പെടുത്തേണ്ട കാര്യമില്ല.


hariyana

ഇന്ത്യയില്‍ ഹിന്ദു രാഷ്ട്രം സൃഷ്ടിക്കാനുള്ള ഭൂരിപക്ഷ അജണ്ട നടപ്പിലാക്കാനുള്ള വളരെ ആസൂത്രിതമായ ശ്രമം നടക്കുന്നുണ്ടെന്നാണ് തോന്നുന്നത്. ഇതുമാത്രം പറഞ്ഞുകൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്ന രാഷ്ട്രീയ സ്വയം സേവക് സംഘവും മറ്റ് ഹിന്ദുത്വശക്തികളുമാണിതിന് പിന്നില്‍. ഇത് വെറും പ്രചരണങ്ങളുടെ പേരില്‍ ഭീഷണിപ്പെടുത്തുന്നതും കൊലചെയ്യുന്നതുമുള്‍പ്പെടെ വളരെ അപകടകരമായ ഒരു ജനക്കൂട്ട പെരുമാറ്റത്തിന് വഴിവെച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ചുരുക്കി പറഞ്ഞാല്‍ നിലവിലുള്ള നിയമസംവിധാനത്തെ വകവെക്കാത്ത രീതി. നിയമം നടപ്പിലാക്കാന്‍ ഉത്തരവാദിത്തപ്പെട്ടവര്‍ പക്ഷപാതിത്വം പ്രകടമാക്കുകയാണ്.

രാജ്യഭരണത്തിന് ചുക്കാന്‍ പിടിക്കുന്നവര്‍ ഇത്തരം പ്രവര്‍ത്തനങ്ങളെ തുറന്ന് അപലപിക്കുന്നില്ല എന്നതാണ് ഇതിനേക്കാളേറെ ഞെട്ടലുണ്ടാക്കുന്ന കാര്യം. സര്‍ക്കാറിന്റെ പ്രതികരണം ഓരോ തവണയും ദയയില്ലാത്തതും അനാസ്ഥ വെളിവാക്കുന്നതുമാണ്. ഇത്തരം ആക്രമണങ്ങളുടെയും ആരോപണങ്ങളുടെയും ഗൗരവവും ഗുരുതരവുമായ സ്വഭാവത്തിന്റെ പ്രാധാന്യം കുറച്ചുകാണിക്കുന്ന തരത്തിലുള്ള പ്രതികരണമാണ് സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ സംവിധാനത്തില്‍ നിന്നുണ്ടാകുന്നത്.


നമ്മുടെ നാനാത്വത്തെ നമ്മുടെ ശക്തിയായി പരിഗണിക്കുന്നതിനു പകരം അന്താരാഷ്ട്ര സമൂഹത്തിനു മുന്നില്‍ നമ്മള്‍ വംശീയ, ഫാസിസ്റ്റ്, അസഹിഷ്ണു, സങ്കുചിതമായ ഒരു സമൂഹമായി മാറിയിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ചിലവിഭാഗങ്ങള്‍ക്കെതിരായ അക്രമം ഇന്ത്യ അപൂര്‍ണ ജനാധിപത്യമാണെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ സൃഷ്ടിച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്, എല്ലാതരത്തിലുളള അഭിപ്രായ ഭിന്നതകളെയും നിരുത്സാഹപ്പെടുത്തുകയും മനുഷ്യാവകാശ ലംഘനങ്ങളെ കണ്ടില്ലെന്നു നടിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന ഒരു രാഷ്ട്രമെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ.


kALBURGI-2

ഈ സമൂഹം ഇത്തരത്തിലുള്ള പെരുമാറ്റങ്ങള്‍ വെച്ചുപൊറുപ്പിക്കില്ലെന്ന് ഉറപ്പുവരുത്താനുള്ള പ്രതിഷേധങ്ങളും പ്രക്ഷോഭങ്ങളും നടക്കുമ്പോള്‍ അധികാരികള്‍ ഈ സംഭവങ്ങളെ വെറുതെ ‘വേദനാജനകം’ എന്നോ ‘ദൗര്‍ഭാഗ്യകരമെന്നോ’ വിശേഷിപ്പിക്കുന്നു. ഇത്തരം പ്രതികരണങ്ങളിലും നടപടികളിലും മുന്‍പന്തിയില്‍ എം.പിമാര്‍ മുതല്‍ മുഖ്യമന്ത്രിമാരും കേന്ദ്രമന്ത്രിമാരും വരെയുണ്ട്. ഭരിക്കുന്ന പാര്‍ട്ടിയും അതിന്റെ സംഘടനകളുമെല്ലാം ചേര്‍ന്നു നടത്തുന്ന ഒരു പദ്ധതിയാണെന്ന ധാരണ ഇത് ആളുകള്‍ക്കിടയില്‍ സൃഷ്ടിക്കുന്നു.

ന്യൂനപക്ഷങ്ങള്‍ക്ക്, പ്രത്യേകിച്ച് ഹിന്ദുക്കള്‍ക്കും ക്രിസ്ത്യാനികള്‍ക്കും, ദളിതര്‍ക്കും ആദിവാസികള്‍ക്കും ഇതികം തന്നെ വിവേചനങ്ങളും അരികുവത്കരിക്കപ്പെട്ടതായി തോന്നുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന സാഹചര്യത്തില്‍ നിങ്ങള്‍ തീകൊണ്ടാണ് കളിക്കുന്നതെന്ന് രാജ്യത്തിന്റെ മുന്‍നിര നേതാക്കളെ ഓര്‍മ്മപ്പെടുത്തേണ്ട കാര്യമില്ല.

നമ്മുടെ നാനാത്വത്തെ നമ്മുടെ ശക്തിയായി പരിഗണിക്കുന്നതിനു പകരം അന്താരാഷ്ട്ര സമൂഹത്തിനു മുന്നില്‍ നമ്മള്‍ വംശീയ, ഫാസിസ്റ്റ്, അസഹിഷ്ണു, സങ്കുചിതമായ ഒരു സമൂഹമായി മാറിയിരിക്കുകയാണ്. ചിലവിഭാഗങ്ങള്‍ക്കെതിരായ അക്രമം ഇന്ത്യ അപൂര്‍ണ ജനാധിപത്യമാണെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ സൃഷ്ടിച്ചിരിക്കുകയാണ്, എല്ലാതരത്തിലുളള അഭിപ്രായ ഭിന്നതകളെയും നിരുത്സാഹപ്പെടുത്തുകയും മനുഷ്യാവകാശ ലംഘനങ്ങളെ കണ്ടില്ലെന്നു നടിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന ഒരു രാഷ്ട്രമെന്ന പ്രതിച്ഛായ.5000ത്തിലേറെ വര്‍ഷങ്ങളുടെ സ്ഥിരമായ മാറ്റങ്ങളിലൂടെ രൂപപ്പെടുത്തിയെടുത്ത സംസ്‌കാരങ്ങളുടെ സംഗമമാണ് ഇന്ത്യ പ്രതിനിധീകരിക്കുന്നത്. ഈ വൈവിധ്യവും സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ പ്രത്യേക സ്വഭാവവും ഒരുപക്ഷേ ഭൂമിയിലൊടിത്തും ഉണ്ടാവില്ല. ഇക്കാരണം കൊണ്ടാണ് ഏകമത ഐഡന്റിറ്റി അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഏകസംസ്‌കാരം ഈ പരിഷ്‌കൃത പാരമ്പര്യത്തിന് അപമാനമായി തോന്നുന്നത്.

 


Rohith-Vemula

ഇന്ത്യന്‍ പ്രസിഡന്റാണ് പ്രധാനമന്ത്രിക്കും മറ്റ് മന്ത്രിമാര്‍ക്കും സത്യപ്രതിജ്ഞ ചൊല്ലി നല്‍കുന്നത്. ഇന്ത്യന്‍ ഭരണഘടനയെ അനുസൃതമായി പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കും എന്നാണ് അവര്‍ പ്രതിജ്ഞ ചെയ്യുന്നത്. അത് പാലിക്കുന്നതിലുള്ള അവരുടെ പരാജയമാണ് ഇതുവരെ കണ്ടത്. ഈ പരാജയം ദേശീയ സുരക്ഷയ്ക്കും അഖണ്ഡതയ്ക്കും നല്ലതല്ല. കേന്ദ്രസംസ്ഥാന സര്‍ക്കാര്‍ ദ്രുതഗതിയില്‍ നടപടിയെടുക്കുകയും ഇതുപോലുള്ള സംഭവങ്ങളെ തുറന്ന് അപലപിക്കുകയും നീതി നടപ്പിലാക്കുകയും കുറ്റക്കാരെ ശിക്ഷിക്കുകയും വേണം.


Don’t Miss: അഡ്മിറല്‍ രാം ദാസ് കള്ളനും രാജ്യദ്രോഹിയുമെന്ന് ബി.ജെ.പി നേതാവ്


അത്തരം നടപടികള്‍ എല്ലാത്തിനെയും പ്രതിരോധിക്കാന്‍ സഹായകമാകും. നമ്മുടെ പരമ്പരാഗത രീതകള്‍ക്കും വൈവിധ്യങ്ങളെ ഉള്‍ക്കൊള്ളുന്ന രാജ്യത്തെ സംസ്‌കാരത്തിനും ജനങ്ങള്‍ക്കുമെതിരെ സംസാരിക്കുകയും പ്രവര്‍ത്തിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നവരെ വെളിച്ചത്ത് കൊണ്ടുവരാന്‍ സാധിക്കും.

5000ത്തിലേറെ വര്‍ഷങ്ങളുടെ സ്ഥിരമായ മാറ്റങ്ങളിലൂടെ രൂപപ്പെടുത്തിയെടുത്ത സംസ്‌കാരങ്ങളുടെ സംഗമമാണ് ഇന്ത്യ പ്രതിനിധീകരിക്കുന്നത്. ഈ വൈവിധ്യവും സമൂഹത്തിന്റെ പ്രത്യേക സ്വഭാവവും ഒരുപക്ഷേ ഭൂമിയിലൊടിത്തും ഉണ്ടാവില്ല. ഇക്കാരണം കൊണ്ടാണ് ഏകമത ഐഡന്റിറ്റി അല്ലെങ്കില്‍ ഏകസംസ്‌കാരം ഈ പരിഷ്‌കൃത പാരമ്പര്യത്തിന് അപമാനമായി തോന്നുന്നത്.


നിങ്ങളെ പോലെ തന്നെ ഏറെ അനുഭവസമ്പത്തുള്ള മുന്‍ സേവകന്‍ എന്ന നിലയില്‍ ഇതേ ഭരണഘടനയെ ഉയര്‍ത്തിപ്പിടിക്കുമെന്ന് ഞാനും ഉറപ്പുനല്‍കിയിരുന്നു. ഭരണഘടനയുടെ അവതാരികയിലും ഡയറക്റ്റീവ് പ്രിന്‍സിപ്പളിലും പറഞ്ഞപോലെ ഈ മണ്ണിലെ ഓരോ പൗരന്മാരുടെയും അവകാശങ്ങളെ ബഹുമാനിക്കാന്‍ തെരഞ്ഞെടുക്കപ്പെട്ട ഭരണകൂടം ബാദ്ധ്യസ്ഥമാണ്.


ROHITH-VEMULA-1

ബഹുമാനപ്പെട്ട രാഷ്ട്രപതി, ബഹുമാനപ്പെട്ട പ്രധാനമന്ത്രി, നിങ്ങള്‍ രണ്ടുപേരും വിദഗ്ദമായി നിര്‍മ്മിക്കപ്പെട്ട ഭരണഘടന അനുസരിച്ച് രാജ്യത്തെ ഓരോ പൗരന്റേയും സംസാരിക്കാനും ആരാധിക്കാനും ഉള്ള സ്വാതന്ത്ര്യത്തെ ബഹുമാനിക്കുമെന്ന് പ്രതിജ്ഞ ചെയ്തവരാണ്.

നിങ്ങളെ പോലെ തന്നെ ഏറെ അനുഭവസമ്പത്തുള്ള മുന്‍ സേവകന്‍ എന്ന നിലയില്‍ ഇതേ ഭരണഘടനയെ ഉയര്‍ത്തിപ്പിടിക്കുമെന്ന് ഞാനും ഉറപ്പുനല്‍കിയിരുന്നു. ഭരണഘടനയുടെ അവതാരികയിലും ഡയറക്റ്റീവ് പ്രിന്‍സിപ്പളിലും പറഞ്ഞപോലെ ഈ മണ്ണിലെ ഓരോ പൗരന്മാരുടെയും അവകാശങ്ങളെ ബഹുമാനിക്കാന്‍ തെരഞ്ഞെടുക്കപ്പെട്ട ഭരണകൂടം ബാദ്ധ്യസ്ഥമാണ്.


Don’t Miss: ബിയര്‍ കഴിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ വയര്‍ കൂടുന്നതിന്റെ കാരണം ഇതാണ്


സുപ്രീം കമാന്‍ഡര്‍ എന്ന നിലയിലും ചീഫ് എക്‌സിക്യൂട്ടീവ് എന്ന നിലയിലും ഇത് നിങ്ങള്‍ ഉറപ്പുവരുത്തേണ്ടതും ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ജനങ്ങള്‍ നിങ്ങളില്‍ അര്‍പ്പിച്ചിട്ടുള്ള എല്ലാ അധികാര ശക്തികളും ഉപയോഗിച്ച് നടപ്പിലാക്കേണ്ടതുമാണ്.

നമ്മള്‍ വേരോടെ പിഴുതെറിഞ്ഞില്ലെങ്കില്‍ പിന്നീട് ഏറെ വൈകിപ്പോകും. ജനാധിപത്യത്തിലുള്ള വിശ്വാസം നിലനിര്‍ത്താനും രാജ്യത്തിന് അന്തസ്സും ഐക്യവും കാത്തുസൂക്ഷിക്കാനും വേണ്ട എല്ലാ നീക്കവും നിങ്ങള്‍ നടത്തണമെന്ന് ഇന്ത്യയിലെ ജനങ്ങളാണ് ഞങ്ങള്‍ ആവശ്യപ്പെടുന്നു.

അഡ്മിറല്‍ എല്‍. രാംദാസ്

 


KILL Cancer Using Cannabis and Coconut Oil

Cannabis and Coconut Oil Make Powerful Mixture to KILL Cancer Cells

   


The human race has used the cannabis plant for its different uses since time began, with countless references to it in every ancient culture. 

 



It is only since 1937, very recently in terms of civilization, that this natural plant has been deemed illegal to utilize. It seems baffling that something that grows naturally on our planet has been made illegal, but that is what the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 did, and later the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 made the punishment for using it even greater.

 



Thankfully, as time passes it seems that the public, and indeed doctors are coming round to the realization that cannabis has many therapeutic properties. There has been over 20,000 published studies, and 2,100 since 2011 that have investigated the effect cannabis has on the body, in a scientific way.
 
Because of this change in perception, there are currently 20 states and the District of Columbia where medical marijuana is legally distributed.  
 
 
Joycelyn Elders, MD, former US Surgeon General, wrote the following in a March 26, 2004, article titled “Myths About Medical Marijuana,” published in the Providence Journal:

 
 The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana can relieve certain types of pain, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms caused by such illnesses as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS — or by the harsh drugs sometimes used to treat them. And it can do so with remarkable safety. Indeed, marijuana is less toxic than many of the drugs that physicians prescribe every day.

 
 
Ray Cavanaugh, PhD, National Director of the American Alliance for Medical Cannabis (AAMC), says something similar n his 2002 article titled “The Plight of the Chronically Ill,” posted on the AAMC website:

 
 Many of the chronically ill have successfully sought relief with the use of medical cannabis, an age-old remedy that now shows real scientific efficacy. Hundreds of thousands of the sick have replaced disabling narcotics and other psychotropic medications with nontoxic and benign cannabis. The anecdotal evidence is overwhelming. Folks with spinal injuries able to give up their walkers, AIDS patients able to gain weight and keep their medications down, cancer patients finding relief from the terrible nausea of chemotherapy, chronic pain patients once again functional with their consciousness restored from narcotic lethargy, and folks once disabled from crippling psychiatric disorders and addictions, returned to sanity and society with the assistance of a nontoxic herb with remarkable healing powers.

 
 
The American Nurses Association (ANA) are on board too, this is from its Mar. 19, 2004 “Position Statement: Providing Patients Safe Access to Therapeutic Marijuana/Cannabis,” posted on the ANA website:

 
 The American Nurses Association (ANA) recognizes that patients should have safe access to therapeutic marijuana/cannabis. Cannabis or marijuana has been used medicinally for centuries. It has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and conditions.

 
Medical marijuana has been tested and proved positive in helping with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and moderate autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and rheumatoid arthritis, and has shown to be beneficial in cancer studies.
 
As an alternative to smoking, it can be mixed with coconut oil and taken in tablet form. The combination makes the marijuana easy for the body to absorb when it gets to the liver.

 
Coconut oil’s fatty agents are great for delivering the cannabinoids into the body, not to mention the stand-alone benefits of coconut oil, which is rare as it contains lauric acid which is scarcely found in nature and its referred to as a ‘miracle’ ingredient.



Meet Stan and Barb Rutner

 
 
Stan and Barb Rutner are utterly convinced of its effectiveness, as they have faced cancer on multiple occasions and have lived to tell the tale. 

 
Barb has twice suffered from breast cancer and Stan was diagnosed 20 years ago with non-Hodgkin lymphoma which responded to treatment. In 2011 however, the cancer came back, and had spread to his lungs and brain. 

He was told by doctors his only option was further chemotherapy, but Stan and his family defied the doctors, instead looking a natural way of treating him that would be less harmful than chemo and which would help his quality of life, and perhaps even prolong it. They had heard that cannabis was effective in cases of cancer, so they decided undertake this alternative therapy and haven’t looked back.
 
 
It was Stan’s daughter Corrine who found after researching that cannabis was particularly effective when taken with coconut oil, and so this is the route that Stan took. After two weeks of taking the capsule, Stan was able to give up his oxygen tank that he had previously had to use 24/7. He began to gain weight, sleep better and get stronger overall. After a few months, a brain scan revealed that Stan was completely cancer free.

 
The Rutners have praised cannabis oil in helping Stan recover,  John, the Rutners son-in-law has said  “There is no doubt in my mind that cannabis pulled my father-in-law out of the wasting stages of cancer and enabled him to gain strength and in turn fight this horrible cell malfunction with success. While many would say that the chemo and radiation could have played a part, he would never have lived long enough to find out without cannabis oil.”




Bhopal Fake Encounter

After several incriminating videos of the so-called ‘encounter’ (a classic Indian euphemism for cold-blooded, execution-style murder by cops), now come some damning stills!

Surely, it is just a coincidence that the killer and the killed are wearing the same sports shoes, same make and colour. Not fishy at all, no?

But the big question is: Since jails don’t allow belts/shoes/watches, how/where did #SIMI men find these? While walking to the jungle? In the shoe closet at the three heavily-guarded gates they crossed? Or the shoe rack on top of the jail’s watch tower? Or did they first walk from the jail to the ATS squad office, raid their sports shoes supplies, then quietly marched to the jungle, huddled together atop a hill, waiting to be killed?

Let’s not even ask the other questions! Between the 8 of them, two allegedly had desi, crude pistols – how did they manage to get these? Or for that matter the knives? From some corrupt prison staff? Or found them lying on the road they walked on? Or through an accomplice, waiting for them outside? In which case, why was the accomplice stupid enough not to get an SUV or a van to drive them a couple of hundred miles away at night, maybe even take them outside the state and/or drop them to a railway station, for them to vanish on separate long-distance trains?

Police reports say the escapees fired 2 rounds at them while they fired 47 rounds. So, the escapees got 2 desi guns with only one bullet each? How stupid of them!

A video shows a cop ‘recovering’ a knife from an escapee’s waistband. A shiny broad-blade and 5-6 inches long. How did this escapee manage to walk with this knife tucked inside his (new) jeans, without slicing his groin or cutting open his thigh? Warning: don’t try this at home, but without walking, just try & tuck in a kitchen knife Into your waistband!

The jailbreak itself is the stuff of legend. Like Jai-Veeru in Sholay with the angrezon ke zamaaney ke jailer.

Let’s accept scene 1 of the MP cops’ screenplay. That the escapees attacked a warden. Then stole the keys from him to open other cells to free their friends. But they forgot to free their own leader Abu Faisal alias Doctor from a nearby cell? How clumsy and stupid, but let’s say they were in too much of a hurry!

But how did they manage from there? The staffer inside the cell doesn’t carry keys to the entire jail and all its entry/ main & intervening security gates, but only for his block. Any movie-goer knows that!

So, how did the escapees cross gate 1, 2 and 3? Did these gates have no security or armed guards? The cops’ screenplay suggests they had made keys from wood and metal spoons. When? That night itself? Or well in advance? Either way, the jail staff on duty and armed guards just looked on as these escapees stood around gate 1 for hours, filing and chiseling the spoon, fitting & trying it and finally making a duplicate key? And then, they repeated the process at gates 2 and 3?

The screenplay now suggests that they climbed (multiple sets of?) 30 foot high walls by making a “ladder out of bedsheets”. Imagine 1 man climbing the rope-knotted-bedsheets and reaching the top of the first wall. Then what – he jumps down thirty feet, landing perfectly on his brand-new sports shoes? Or climbs down another bedsheet-rope that he has carried to the top? Now it is the turn of escapees 2,3,4,5,6,7,8 to repeat this mountaineering feat.

No police or jail staff spots them during the long time it took them to do this? No one from the watch tower? No armed guards see them? And – no CCTV camera capture this remarkable Olympian achievement?

If this were a Bollywood movie, we would’ve walked out saying “kya bakwaas script hai”! Even Bollywood veterans like Ajay Devgn, Raveena Tandon, Anupam Kher and Paresh Rawal would agree. But this screenplay carries on.

The escapees come out of the ISO-certified Bhopal Central jail. What do they do next? They go for a leisurely walk, covering less than 1.5 km/ hour for 7-8 hours. Not in any hurry. No sense of urgency to escape. And they decide to stick together, all 8 of them. Not split into 2 teams of 4 each or 4 teams of 2 each and go off in different directions, making their own capture difficult. DI’d they never watch TV or any films – and were they just too stupid to take these basic, elementary steps? In that case, they seem to be too foolish to be “dreaded terrorists” or any sort of “masterminds”!

The script now says that apart from 2 desi guns, the escapees get some knives – for what? Hand-to-hand combat with the heavily-armed ATS men? An IGP on camera suggests that his men have sustained injuries, but not from the only 2 bullets supposedly fired at them. So, knife injuries? How? Maybe once the escapees had been shot dead and the ATS chaps went nearer to check, the corpses’ hands twitched and jerked involuntarily but inflicted precise non life threatening injuries. Even in death, they were considerate enough to not slice open an artery or a vein – such kind-hearted terrorist?!

Triumphant IGP and valiant cops speak of the ‘encounter’ proudly on camera, telling us how bravely they tackled these men. Gushing TV anchors, wearing flack jackets and in combat mode themselves, inform us that 8 terrorists have been “neutralised” – never mind that these were undertrials, yet to be convicted for any offence, let alone for terrorism, by any court.

A Madhya Pradesh minister slips up and admits that the ‘terrorists’ had no gun, only some kitchen utensils they’d sharpened into makeshift knives. He blows apart the whole brave-cops-under-enemy-fire-reluctantly-retaliate-and kill, without sustaining any injuries themselves. The IGP also contradicts himself.

And then the worst happens – a video apparently shot by the local sarpanch shows us a plainclothes cop ‘recovering’ a knife-machete, another brave one aiming at a figure lying on the ground and firing in cold blood while off-screen voices shower some abuse and even acknowledge that someone is shooting it all on video.

And then comes a second video.
And a third video.
And a fourth video.
All of them are on YouTube for anyone to browse.

Showing us 5 men atop a hillock, no guns or weapons in sight. An independent eyewitness journalist writes to CM Chouhan – they had no way to escape – on the other side was a sheer drop of a couple of hundred feet. They were surrounded. Killed in cold blood.

Finally – Dear Madhya Pradesh Government, ATS & Police, you need to hire better scriptwriters; this is such a terrible story full of large, gaping holes! Learn from the #GujaratModel. 20-30 “encounters”, clearer plotlines & savvier ‘spin’ management! Despite that, they made history by having the largest number of IPS officers & cops arrested & jailed in independent India! And – never have your Home Minister ‘monitor’ the encounters directly – it may land him in jail too!

As a film-maker, let me tell you that cinema works on the basis of “willing suspension of disbelief”. But even in that context, your story, script, screenplay & dialogues are terrible! And people in real life don’t embrace disbelief readily, unless they’re your cadres or blind Bhakts.

The citizens will ask questions, challenge your narratives, criticize you, keep you in check as is mandated in the Indian Constitution under the chapter titled Fundamental Duties!

– Rakesh Sharma

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Why I will never use Ramdev’s Patanjali products again

 

Why I will never use Ramdev’s Patanjali products again

The yoga guru’s political clout makes it easy for him to evade government scrutiny of his products and processes.

 |   Long-form |   21-10-2016

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay
NILANJAN MUKHOPADHYAY

 @nilanjanudwin

 
 
 
 

Till a few years ago, I was a regular consumer of Ayurvedic medicines manufactured and marketed by the empire of Baba Ramdev – Patanjali Ayurved. 

Drawn to one of his shops after battling chronic lower-back pain for close to three decades, I found refuge in a communicative “vaidji” who sympathetically heard the litany of health complications.

“It will take time but theek ho jayega.”

Greatly relieved, I did not let it bother me that these products were rather expensive. I reasoned that allopathic medicines and tests often cost a lot more. Hope, it is said, often denudes rationalism.

I believed that a tiny packet containing brownish powder was worth its cost of several hundreds of rupees, as the man at the counter explained that the price was high because “gold was used” in manufacturing the medicine. It had to be mixed with other powders – cheaper than this – and then had to be taken in prescribed doses at designated hours.

Over several years, many medicines were added for other ailments, beginning with diabetes and a few other chronic ailments. Yet none of the “problems” were alleviated. In time, my back pain worsened and I chose to try out oil massage therapy of the Kottakkal school of Ayurveda.

In contrast to the Hindi-speaking vaidji at Ramdev’s shop, the doctor who I was assigned to was an English-speaking Punjabi lady – an oddity in the Malayali-dominated hospital in East Delhi.

patanjalibd_102116022313.jpg
Ramdev has gone beyond being yoga guru, and is now often referred as what he actually is – an industrialist.

The question must have been scribbled on my face because she volunteered that she had studied in an Ayurvedic college in Punjab before settling in Delhi after her marriage and taking up a job at the hospital. She read the supplementary question too and explained:

“Basically, all Ayurvedic medicines are the same. Be it ours, Dabur, Hamdard or even Baba Ramdev’s. Our medicines respond better to certain ailments like muscular pains and neurological disorders because we use oils with medicines mixed in it. Also, they are applied to affected parts by trained hands.”

I also agreed to supplement the massage with oral medicines. That is when I began reading the fine print of constituents in the medicine and discovered, to my astonishment, that some of them were the same as the Patanjali medicines.

Before I went to try the Kottakkal therapy, I had been further sucked into the Ramdev web. I started buying Patanjali’s hair oils and shampoos in the mistaken idea (not that my hair will grow again) that itching in the scalp would stop. A sucker for diabetic products, I began buying Patanjali biscuits despite rating it lesser on the taste parameter compared to those “sugar-free” products manufactured by FMCG regulars.

I remained a committed Patanjali consumer till the summer of 2011 when I began examining if CPI leader Brinda Karat had indeed raised valid questions about its products and medicines.

After all, anyone who was engaged in genuine “sewa” would not behave in the selfish manner Baba Ramdev chose to in June that year when he abandoned thousands of followers disguising himself in a woman’s attire and exposing them to grave danger.

I was particularly incensed that while the Baba scooted, a poor woman, Rajbala, took police batons on her body and eventually died of injuries. Only a professional politician abandons followers, and not someone who likens himself to gurus and swamis, I reasoned. And my disenchantment with Ramdev, opportunistic campaigner against corruption, grew.

In the past five years Ramdev has gone beyond being a yoga guru, and is now often referred as to what he actually is – an industrialist.

After all, after having become a Rs 5,000-crore company this past fiscal, he is now aiming to round off the current financial year with a turnover of more than Rs 7,000 crore, and an annual sales figure of $1 billion.

ramdevbdpti_102116022341.jpg
Every business activity of Patanjali is justified in the name of Ramdev’s vision of providing an alternative. (Photo: PTI)

As his business grew by leaps and bounds, my reasons to stop using Patanjali products also increased for several reasons, but most importantly, I found the idea of guru and business anachronistic.

This is not a campaign piece. Let me make it clear that I do not object to members of my family from using Ramdev products, if they wish – and many do with great faith.

Yet, because of being in the business of news and views, and since we often write about personal experiences, it is probably apt for me to do so because Ramdev is in the middle of an aggressive campaign against Chinese goods.

A person having diverse business interests is one matter, but if he also begins displaying active political interests and promotes his products by political and nationalistic reasons, then his sincerity is suspect in my eyes.

Once again, let me confess that I have not been buying Chinese brands for several years, though there is almost no escaping multi-national brands assembled or manufactured in China, and thereby, I am partially on the same page as Ramdev.

Where we differ is that I have no business interests, while he has. And thus his decision is suspect in my eyes.

On radio, over TV, Patanjali products are advertised ad nauseam and it is estimated that Ramdev’s face appears on one major Indian TV channel every 30 seconds, which coupled with ad spends for print and radio, involves an annual expenditure of Rs 400 crore. That too because the cost does not involve that of the “model” – the so-called yoga guru himself.

But most importantly, in radio ads, his sales pitch is that Patanjali products must be purchased to secure “aarthik azaadi for Bharat”. Similarly, in one of frequently aired ads references are made to the Swadeshi movement of 1906 and images of Bhagat Singh and Chandrasekhar Azad are used liberally.

Essentially, this means that Ramdev is likening his products to those that were popularised in the first flush of the nascent national movement and he is presenting himself as part of the generations of India’s freedom fighters.

A businessman must remain in his territory and such tactics must be disallowed. It is for the government to decide that. If it chooses to allow Patanjali or any other company using national icons, symbols and episodes of the freedom struggle, it becomes open to charges of pandering to crony capitalism.

The ruling dispensation also attracts this charge because Ramdev has claimed that he advises Modi on political matters — “I tweeted to Modiji that he should talk about Buddha and yudhha (war) side by side.”

In his advertisements, the promoter of Patanjali also claims that profits earned from the sale of products are accrued in the account of any person. However, Balkrishna, Ramdev’s aide who spent time in jail on charges of money laundering, owns 94 per cent of the shares of Patanjali Ayurved Limited.

Watch: How India Today got Baba Ramdev’s ‘Power Yogi’ pose

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/embed/j4ci68lt1c

Interestingly, Forbes magazine recently listed Balkrishna as one of India’s richest individuals but, for the sake of pretence, he is always clad in dhoti and half-sleeve kurta.

The BJP governments in several states have also been large-hearted in their largesse towards Ramdev’s empire by allotting land at concessional prices for pursuing his businesses, which are cleverly woven into his yoga camps.

The favour bestowed on Ramdev is obviously part of the quid pro quo arrangement that was worked out in return for Ramdev’s support to Modi during the 2014 polls and thereafter.

While the almost-iconic photograph of Ramdev on the India Todaycover where his inversely vertical image has been a rage, little is known to the public about the intricate business arrangement of his four verticals — food, cosmetics, herbal and home care. To add to these, he now intends adding dairy as the fifth vertical.

Every business activity of Patanjali is justified in the name of Ramdev’s vision of providing an alternative. He is a clear leader in a sector which has witnessed the entry of others who peddle spirituality besides yielding enormous political clout, for instance, Sri Sri Ravishankar and Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, head of Dera Sachha Sauda. But because of the economic and social class that Ramdev targets – mainly the middle-middle group – he is the clear winner in this category of businessmen.

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Ramdev’s political clout makes it easy for him to evade government scrutiny. (Photo: PTI)

Though his vow is to provide alternate products, the business model that Ramdev uses is no different from what MNCs and other big companies. His products are manufactured in similar production units but without any information if laws related to their functioning and labour regulations are followed or not. (Karat was embroiled in the controversy after workers went to the CPM-controlled CITU with complaints of law laws being violated by Patanjali)

Because of the veil of doing “good business”, no information ever comes out as government officials refrain from checking if norms are being followed or not because of his political connections.

Ramdev is successful because he preys on the insecurities of potential consumers (“you will fall ill if you continue consuming products made by existing companies” or “their products are harmful while mine are not”).

After nudging consumers from their perch of safe and secure consumption, his marketing ploy emphasises on two themes – faith and purity.

Ramdev in this manner emerges as clear leader in the F&P sector as his primary product is yoga, or “ticket” to well-being, while Sri Sri and Ram Rahim’s primary outreach vehicle is spirituality as membership to a sect. All Ramdev’s followers are his clients, though not all consumers are his followers.

Riding on the unbeatable formula of spiritualism, politics and business, Ramdev has now stepped into fashion and footwear, which by no imagination can be termed as “alternatives”.

Jeans, after all, are a foreign idea and to say that there can be “Swadeshi jeans” is stretching the imagination too far. However, it gets accepted and stores put his products on their counter because they fear political pressure.

Ramdev tweets from the latest Apple iPhone, quite unmindful that they are assembled in China. This makes one wonder if in times to come Ramdev will also step into the mobile market and come up with Pat Mobiles?

Ramdev’s political clout makes it easy for him to evade government scrutiny of his products and processes, and this gives him an unfair advantage in the market. Having being gullible once, I now opt again for products made by long-standing companies, who do not have the capacity to evade routine inspections from government officials.

Many of these products, I am sure, get into the market by greasing palms. There have been several studies that have demonstrated that cold drinks, infant milk, instant noodles contain dangerous contaminants. But it is probably wiser to wade into a territory knowing that there are landmines than stepping into a field about which we know little.

Because of the size of Ramdev’s business and the wide range of products, it is time that consumers had better information about these products, rather than be guided by faith and believing blindly that they are pure.

Maybe they are. But if not, then?

Watch: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/embed/is2jzlz28w

Also read: No economic freedom in Ramdev’s Patanjali

 
ALSOREAD
 
 
 

5 Years Ago Today, the US Helped Murder Gaddafi to Stop the Creation of Gold-Backed Currency

5 Years Ago Today, the US Helped Murder Gaddafi to Stop the Creation of Gold-Backed Currency

Five years ago today, the West took it upon itself to use NATO to overthrow Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi — not for any humanitarian threat to civilians as had been repeatedly claimed — but because his planned roll-out of a new currency to be used across Africa posed a palpable existential threat to central banks at the heart of the Western financial and political system.

Long theorized to be the actual vehicle for Gaddafi’s downfall, the gold dinar-based, pan-African currency motive came to light in nascent 2016 in one of more than 3,000 of Hillary Clinton’s emails released by the State Department — conveniently timed with the New Year’s holiday to abate outrage or repercussions.

And outrage there should still be — plenty of false posturing in the lead-in to the ultimate overthrow of the Gaddafi regime should sour public trust in the West’s geopolitical motives, as a prime example of embroiling itself in unnecessary conflict every time a nation threatens to gain too much independence.

In March 2011, amid heightening rebellion of the Arab Spring, chaos came to Libya’s second-largest city, Benghazi — and the West and its allies quickly capitalized on those events to partake in a falsely-premised rebellion of its own.

Citing a decades-old U.N. Security Council resolution to invoke a nefarious no-fly zone over Libya to “protect civilians,” the United States, U.K., France, and others began a bombing campaign on March 19 — in actuality, of course, that protection was of the central bank monopoly and, in particular, France’s financial interests in the historically French-colonial region.

“We are doing it to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy,” railed French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who played a key role in Gaddafi’s fated demise.

“Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community… He continues to brutalize his own people,” British Prime Minister David Cameron also asserted. “We cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.”

As head of the U.S. State Department, Hillary Clinton intoned the scripted narrative, heralding the intervention in Libya as the need to “protect civilians and it is to provide access for humanitarian assistance.”

In the years leading up to the decision to topple the Libyan government, Gaddafi had made amends for the nation’s terrorism-pockmarked history, even agreeing to abandon and dismantle its chemical and nuclear weapons programs. In fact, Gaddafi so ameliorated Libya’s reputation, the U.S. removed the nation from its state sponsors of terrorism list in 2006.

But all of that was for naught once Gaddafi sought to pivot from central banks for the good of millions of people in Africa.

In the aforementioned memo released by the State Department, longtime Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal wrote the secretary of state on April 2, 2011, under the heading, “France’s client & Qaddafi’s gold,” about several pertinent concerns in the ongoing siege on Libya.

It seemed to Blumenthal toppling Gaddafi might be a more cumbersome task than originally imagined, in part because the leader had “nearly bottomless financial resources to continue indefinitely” combating NATO and allied forces.

Blumenthal wrote:

“On April 2, 2011 sources with access to advisors to Saif al-Islam Qaddafi stated in strictest confidence that while the freezing of Libya’s foreign bank accounts presents Muammar Qaddafi with serious challenges, his ability to equip and maintain his armed forces and intelligence services remains intact. According to sensitive information available to this these individuals, Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011 these stocks were moved to SABHA (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli.”

Indeed, the extent of the threat to the West’s central financial monopolies from the gold dinar-backed currency is made astonishingly clear as the now-notorious memorandum continues:

“This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide, the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French franc (CFA).

“(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.”

Those unnamed sources cited five major points of concern for Sarkozy over Gaddafi’s innovative plan to escape Western control:

a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,

b. Increase French influence in North Africa,

c. Improve his internal political situation in France,

d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,

e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in,Francophone Africa.)

In what could best be described a gut-wrenching letter — considering the events to follow — Gaddafi, oblivious to the plot, penned a letter on April 6 to President Obama begging for an end to NATO-led airstrikes on Libya.

Addressing the president as “Our son,” referring to Obama’s African heritage, the embattled leader wrote [unusual spellings and errors per original]:

“We have been hurt more morally that physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you. Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened. We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne. You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action.”

Gaddafi added that “for the sake of economic, and security cooperation against terror, you are in a position to keep Nato off the Libyan affair for good.

“As you know too well democracy and building of civil society cannot be achieved by means of missiles and aircraft, or by backing armed member of AlQuaeda in Benghazi.”

But his plea — as one sent just days before the bombing began, in which Gaddafi insisted, “even if Libya and the United States enter into war, God forbid, you will always remain my son” — fell on purposely, criminally deaf ears.

On October 20, 2011, Gaddafi attempted in vain to flee the city of Sirte — and Libya fell largely under Western-backed rebel and NATO control by the end of the month.

Hillary Clinton’s deplorably merciless reaction, “We came, we saw, he died,” played out in an interview shortly after Gaddafi’s shameful murder.

As per usual, the U.S. and its Western counterparts left the country to its own devices after slashing the once-thriving nation to the ground.

“Today there is no government of Libya. It’s simply mobs that patrol the streets and kill one another,” Virginia State Senator Richard Black told RT of the mess left behind.

And despite certain issues in Libya before the coup, “Libyans had an incredibly high standard of living, the highest in Africa,” international lawyer Francis Boyle told RT“When I first went to Libya in 1986, I was amazed by the empowerment of women. What I saw in Libya was that women could do anything they wanted to do.”

Tragically, as has played out repeatedly around the planet, any nation — no matter how functional and successful — will be annihilated by the American empire if it or its allies have sufficient reason.

As Sen. Black noted — as could be of any such nation:

“We were willing to absolutely wipe out and crush their civilization.”


Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/5-years-ago-us-killed-gaddafi-gold/#RUZzf538GSO4g411.99

Fats and figures

Fats and figures

32Fats

Meet the doctor who is changing the way we eat


  • “The focus has been on cholesterol, weight and burning calories—it’s all fatally flawed. The root cause driving heart disease and diabetes is insulin resistance. What drives insulin resistance is a diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates” – Dr Aseem Malhotra

Dr Aseem Malhotra orders a double helping of cheese. At Li Veli, an Italian bistro in Covent Garden, he picks a plate of Italian cheeses as a starter and then tucks into aubergine Parmigiana, a gratin with mozzarella and Parmesan.

This isn’t a “sod the diet” day, though. Malhotra is a cardiologist, and this is how he thinks we should all eat. He puts grass-fed butter on his vegetables, and extra-virgin olive oil on everything else. And in his new documentary, The Big Fat Fix, he sets out why fat is not the enemy but sugar is, and how refined carbohydrates—white bread and white pasta—are false friends, to be consumed only in moderation.

“Some people have an outdated fear of fat,” the 38-year-old says. “It’s nonsense. We’ve got better data than we had years ago when it was said that fat was the problem. Full-fat, non-processed dairy is good for the heart and fat keeps you fuller for longer.”

What about the old bogeyman of the food industry, saturated fat? “There are different types. Extra virgin olive oil—amazing for health—has about 14 to 20 per cent saturated fat. We should move towards food-based, not food-group, guidelines.”

Malhotra dismisses the current health consensus: “The focus has been on cholesterol, weight and burning calories—it’s all fatally flawed. The root cause driving heart disease and diabetes is insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that helps control glucose levels in the blood. What drives insulin resistance is a diet that is high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.”

In The Big Fat Fix, Malhotra travels to Pioppi, southern Italy, where residents enjoy longevity and a healthy old-age with low rates of heart disease, diabetes and dementia. Britain’s bastardisation of the Italian diet means we think pizza and pasta. It doesn’t. It means oily fish and lots of vegetables. Pizza is a once-a-month treat; pasta is a starter. And in Pioppi, even a rare pudding is cooked in olive oil.

35AseemMalhotraDr Aseem Malhotra | Alamy

The Pioppi Protocol should be our dietary model, Malhotra says. His first advice to patients (he works at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage) is that they should eat a handful of nuts a day. Then they should cut all processed and refined sugar. They should never buy anything marked low-fat but should eat lots of vegetables and oily fish, which is high in Omega 3. Counting calories is out, too. “It’s the quality of the calories you are eating that matters, not the number,” he asserts.

The effects, he says, are dramatic: “I don’t mean weight loss—although you may lose weight as a side-effect—I mean with health. We should focus on health; the weight will correct itself.”

Even the slim should heed this advice. Many have the “illusion of protection”, Malhotra says, because they aren’t struggling to button up their jeans. “Many of my patients’ measure of success is their weight and doctors focus too much on it, too. There’s no such thing as a healthy weight. Forty per cent of people with a normal BMI will still get lifestyle diseases. The biggest risk factor for them is waist circumference.”

Malhotra was not always this way. He used to eat sugary cereal for breakfast. Finding himself starving at 11am, he would reach for a KitKat. For lunch he might have pasta, while dinner could be a curry with lots of rice. Since changing his diet, he has lost a stone—and it is all from around the waist. What changed his view was seeing, as a junior doctor, the pressure on England’s National Health Service. “There was ever more misery, ever more people who were overweight or with type II diabetes.” He believed our dietary advice must be wrong, started investigating and noted conflicts of interest in the promotion of a low-fat diet. “I have been eating and sleeping this for five years.”

35Thefocus

The Big Fat Fix also looks at exercise (there is even a training montage). Previously, Malhotra was a drive-to-the-gym-and-pound-the-treadmill type. But then he spoke to orthopaedic surgeons, who said they were seeing people in their forties needing hip and knee replacements, and that no one should run on the pavement, or even treadmills.

Now he does a lot of squats, and focuses on compound movement. “Try not to sit for more than 45 minutes at your desk. Just stretch for 15 seconds or do a squat. For heart health, keep moving. Do what you enjoy: whether it’s cycling or walking.” In Pioppi there are no gyms. “If you look at the Mediterranean culture in the film, they walk everywhere. These people are living until 90!” He also reckons we should have more sex—to reduce the odds of heart disease, obviously.

He is frustrated that so much focus is on working off calories. “It angers me that people are measuring how many they burn on a treadmill. The body doesn’t work that way. The amount you burn from exercise is minimal compared to what people eat. If you want to put on weight, we tell you to exercise because it increases appetite.”

He calls for a revolution in how we think about energy from food. “About 75 per cent of the calories we burn are just for keeping your organs going. I need energy for my brain, my heart. I don’t want to be fuelling that with stuff that’s going to give me heart disease and type II diabetes. The idea that it doesn’t matter where the calories come from, you can just burn it off, is nonsense.”

Malhotra’s mission now is to take these messages to the masses. “A doctor’s duty goes beyond individual patients, to the whole population.”

34doctorprescribes

What the doctor prescribes 
* Fat is not the enemy: cheese and butter are off the banned list, and olive oil and nuts are your dietary new best friends 
* Stop counting calories. What really matters is the quality of the calories you eat 
* Cut out processed and refined sugar. You can still eat fruit, but try to get the majority of your five-a-day from vegetables 
* Reduce your consumption of refined carbohydrates by eating as the Italians actually do—pasta is not a main course and pizza is a treat 
* If you sit at a desk all day, set a timer and every 45 minutes do 15 seconds of stretching, a squat or walk to the water cooler 
* To combat stress, get 10 minutes a day (you can break it up) of deep breathing or tai chi exercises, where you switch off

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Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): 9 Healthy Habits That Science Later Proved

Jack The Lad

In honor of the prophet’s birthday, we decided to share with you some of Muhammad’s (PBUH) healthy habits, which happen to be backed scientifically today!

Early Riser: Prophet Muhammad slept early and woke up with the Adhan of Fajr each day. Being an early riser has scientifically been correlated with better productivity, as well as better mental health in general. So, waking up early may be hard but with baby steps, even if it’s just waking up 15 minutes earlier to start with, you can begin improving your quality of life.


Eating Less: The practice of eating less to prevent sickness and disease was emphasized by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and now backed heavily by science much later. The Islamic concept ‘1/3 for your food, 1/3 for your liquids, and 1/3 for your breath’ matches very closely to the Japanese ‘hara hachi bu’ concept, which means eat until you are only…

View original post 509 more words

Muhammad Mentioned By Name In The Hebrew Bible | Jack The Lad

Muhammad Mentioned By Name In The Hebrew Bible | Jack The Lad

 
 
 
 
 

 

 
3 Votes

 

The name “Muhammad” is written in the Bible in the original Hebrew language.

In the 5th chapter of the Shir haShirim ( שיר השירים ), which is one of the five megilot or Sacred Scrolls that are part of the Hebrew Bible or for short the “Song of Solomon” (also called “Song of Songs”). That chapter is giving a prophecy about an individual to come, a mystery man.

Song of Songs 5:15 compares this prophetic mystery man to the land of “Lebanon” which is the land of the Arabs. This implies that the mystery man would be an Arab.

Verse 15 of the NIV Bible says: “His appearance is like Lebanon”, so this is an Arabic gentleman (or Arab looking).

Verse 11 says: “his head is as the most fine gold, his locks are
wavy, and black as a raven”. Verse 10 describes this man as being “radiant and ruddy” which means he was slightly light-skinned with a rosy color. This physical description matches exactly with the authentic Islamic sources.
Sahih Al Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 747, says Muhammad was slightly light skinned, with a rosy color (and has the same hair as is mentioned in verse 11)

Song of Songs 5:10 says: “My beloved is white and ruddy, pre-eminent above ten thousand.” This is a prophecy of Prophet Muhammad as he conquered Mecca. It is a well known historically documented fact that in the year 630 CE Muhammad entered Mecca as the leader of an army of “ten thousand men”.

In reading the English translation of Song of Songs 5:16 it finishes the description by saying: “He is altogether lovely” but what most people don’t know is that the name of that man was given in the original megilot. Here is the name written in ancient Hebrew as it appears in verse sixteen: מחמד . It is read as : “Mahammad”.

Hebrew: חִכּוֹ, מַמְתַקִּים, וְכֻלּוֹ, מַחֲמַדִּים; זֶה דוֹדִי וְזֶה רֵעִי, בְּנוֹת יְרוּשָׁלִָם.

English: His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is ALTOGETHER LOVELY. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.

There is a plural used together with this Hebrew word, with
the plural it’s pronounced “Mahamadd-im”. The ending letters ‘im’ is a plural of respect, majesty and grandeur for God’s prophet, just as in the word Eloh-im.

According to Ben Yehuda’s Hebrew-English Dictionary, it is correctly pronounced as “Mahammad”.

If you still don’t believe, go to these translator links, paste the name מחמד and then translate it into English. You will see that מחמד is translated as “Muhammad”.

http://www.freetranslation.com/

http://www.worldlingo.com

You can also see and listen to the Song of Songs in its original form, in Hebrew where Muhammad is mentioned by name in the below link (please notice the “im” in Hebrew is a plural of respect):

http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt3005.htm

The main proof of Muhammad’s Prophethood, peace and blessings be upon him, is and forever will be the Miraculous Qur’an which was revealed by God to him through the Angel Gabriel. God Almighty, out of His mercy for the Jews and Christians (respectfully referred to in the Qur’an as the People of the Book) also provided an additional proof to mankind of his Prophethood. This can be found in their very own scriptures, the Torah and Gospels.

This video discusses the 42nd chapter of the Old Testament Book of Isaiah which clearly foretells the coming of an Arabian Prophet, specifically Prophet Muhammad.

To learn more about Muhammad in the Bible please visit this website:

www.manyprophetsonemessage.com

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Donald Trump Tax Records Show that he declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns.

Donald Trump Tax Records Show He Could Have Avoided Taxes for Nearly Two Decades, The Times Found

By DAVID BARSTOW, SUSANNE CRAIG, RUSS BUETTNER and MEGAN TWOHEY

Donald J. Trump declared a $916 million loss on his 1995 income tax returns, a tax deduction so substantial it could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for up to 18 years, records obtained by The New York Times show.

The 1995 tax records, never before disclosed, reveal the extraordinary tax benefits that Mr. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, derived from the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Tax experts hired by The Times to analyze Mr. Trump’s 1995 records said that tax rules especially advantageous to wealthy filers would have allowed Mr. Trump to use his $916 million loss to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income over an 18-year period.

Although Mr. Trump’s taxable income in subsequent years is as yet unknown, a $916 million loss in 1995 would have been large enough to wipe out more than $50 million a year in taxable income over 18 years.

The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of “The Apprentice,” or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.

 
 

“He has a vast benefit from his destruction” in the early 1990s, said one of the experts, Joel Rosenfeld, an assistant professor at New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. Mr. Rosenfeld offered this description of what he would advise a client who came to him with a tax return like Mr. Trump’s: “Do you realize you can create $916 million in income without paying a nickel in taxes?”

Mr. Trump declined to comment on the documents. Instead, the campaign released a statement that neither challenged nor confirmed the $916 million loss.

“Mr. Trump is a highly-skilled businessman who has a fiduciary responsibility to his business, his family and his employees to pay no more tax than legally required,” the statement said. “That being said, Mr. Trump has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in property taxes, sales and excise taxes, real estate taxes, city taxes, state taxes, employee taxes and federal taxes.”

The statement continued, “Mr. Trump knows the tax code far better than anyone who has ever run for President and he is the only one that knows how to fix it.”

Document | Donald Trump’s Letter In response to a Times article revealing pages of his 1995 income tax records, Mr. Trump said, “The only news here is that the more than 20 year-old alleged tax document was illegally obtained.”

Separately, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Marc E. Kasowitz, emailed a letter to The Times arguing that publication of the records is illegal because Mr. Trump has not authorized the disclosure of any of his tax returns. Mr. Kasowitz threatened “prompt initiation of appropriate legal action.”

Mr. Trump’s refusal to make his tax returns public — breaking with decades of tradition in presidential contests — has emerged as a central issue in the campaign, with a majority of voters saying he should release them. Mr. Trump has declined to do so, and has said he is being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.

At last Monday’s presidential debate, when Hillary Clinton suggested Mr. Trump was refusing to release his tax returns so voters would not know “he’s paid nothing in federal taxes,” and when she also pointed out that Mr. Trump had once revealed to casino regulators that he paid no federal income taxes in the late 1970s, Mr. Trump retorted, “That makes me smart.”

The tax experts consulted by The Times said nothing in the 1995 documents suggested any wrongdoing by Mr. Trump, even if the extraordinary size of the loss he declared would have probably attracted extra scrutiny from I.R.S. examiners. “The I.R.S., when they see a negative $916 million, that has to pop out,” Mr. Rosenfeld said.

The documents examined by The Times represent a small fraction of the voluminous tax returns Mr. Trump would have filed in 1995.

The documents consisted of three pages from what appeared to be Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. The pages were mailed last month to Susanne Craig, a reporter at The Times who has written about Mr. Trump’s finances. The documents were the first page of a New York State resident income tax return, the first page of a New Jersey nonresident tax return and the first page of a Connecticut nonresident tax return. Each page bore the names and Social Security numbers of Mr. Trump and Marla Maples, his wife at the time. Only the New Jersey form had what appeared to be their signatures.

The three documents arrived by mail at The Times with a postmark indicating they had been sent from New York City. The return address claimed the envelope had been sent from Trump Tower.

Document | Pages From Donald Trump’s 1995 Income Tax Records The tax records obtained by The Times show that Donald J. Trump claimed a $916 million loss that could have allowed him to legally avoid paying federal income taxes for up to 18 years.

On Wednesday, The Times presented the tax documents to Jack Mitnick, a lawyer and certified public accountant who handled Mr. Trump’s tax matters for more than 30 years, until 1996. Mr. Mitnick was listed as the preparer on the New Jersey tax form.

Mr. Mitnick, 80, now semiretired and living in Florida, said that while he no longer had access to Mr. Trump’s original returns, the documents appeared to be authentic copies of portions of Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax returns. Mr. Mitnick said the signature on the tax preparer line of the New Jersey tax form was his, and he readily explained an obvious anomaly in the way especially large numbers appeared on the New York tax document.

 

A flaw in the tax software program he used at the time prevented him from being able to print a nine-figure loss on Mr. Trump’s New York return, he said. So, for example, the loss of “-915,729,293” on Line 18 of the return printed out as “5,729,293.” As a result, Mr. Mitnick recalled, he had to use his typewriter to manually add the “-91,” thus explaining why the first two digits appeared to be in a different font and were slightly misaligned from the following seven digits.

“This is legit,” he said, stabbing a finger into the document.

Interactive Feature | Donald Trump’s Taxes: What We Know and Don’t Know In the absence of any disclosures from Mr. Trump, The New York Times and other news outlets have attempted to fill in the gaps.

Because the documents sent to The Times did not include any pages from Mr. Trump’s 1995 federal tax return, it is impossible to determine how much he may have donated to charity that year. The state documents do show, though, that Mr. Trump declined the opportunity to contribute to the New Jersey Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Fund, the New Jersey Wildlife Conservation Fund or the Children’s Trust Fund. He also declined to contribute $1 toward public financing of New Jersey’s elections for governor.

The tax documents also do not shed any light on Mr. Trump’s claimed net worth of about $2 billion at that time. This is because the complex calculations of business deductions that produced a tax loss of $916 million are a separate matter from how Mr. Trump valued his assets, the tax experts said.

Nor does the $916 million loss suggest that Mr. Trump was insolvent or effectively bankrupt in 1995. The cash flow generated by his various businesses that year was more than enough to service his various debts.

But fragmentary as they are, the documents nonetheless provide new insight into Mr. Trump’s finances, a subject of intense scrutiny given Mr. Trump’s emphasis on his business record during the presidential campaign.

The documents show, for example, that while Mr. Trump reported $7.4 million in interest income in 1995, he made only $6,108 in wages, salaries and tips. They also suggest Mr. Trump took full advantage of generous tax loopholes specifically available to commercial real estate developers to claim a $15.8 million loss in 1995 on his real estate holdings and partnerships.

But the most important revelation from the 1995 tax documents is just how much Mr. Trump may have benefited from a tax provision that is particularly prized by America’s dynastic families, which, like the Trumps, hold their wealth inside byzantine networks of partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations.

The provision, known as net operating loss, or N.O.L., allows a dizzying array of deductions, business expenses, real estate depreciation, losses from the sale of business assets and even operating losses to flow from the balance sheets of those partnerships, limited liability companies and S corporations onto the personal tax returns of men like Mr. Trump. In turn, those losses can be used to cancel out an equivalent amount of taxable income from, say, book royalties or branding deals.

Better still, if the losses are big enough, they can cancel out taxable income earned in other years. Under I.R.S. rules in 1995, net operating losses could be used to wipe out taxable income earned in the three years before and the 15 years after the loss. (The effect of net operating losses on state income taxes varies, depending on each state’s tax regime.)

The tax experts consulted by The Times said the $916 million net operating loss declared by Mr. Trump in 1995 almost certainly included large net operating losses carried forward from the early 1990s, when most of Mr. Trump’s key holdings were hemorrhaging money. Indeed, by 1990, his entire business empire was on the verge of collapse. In a few short years, he had amassed $3.4 billion in debt — personally guaranteeing $832 million of it — to assemble a portfolio that included three casinos and a hotel in Atlantic City, the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, an airline and a huge yacht.

Reports that year by New Jersey casino regulators gave glimpses of the balance sheet carnage. The Trump Taj Mahal casino reported a $25.5 million net loss during its first six months of 1990; the Trump’s Castle casino lost $43.5 million for the year. His airline, Trump Shuttle, lost $34.5 million during just the first six months of that year.

 

“Simply put, the organization is in dire financial straits,” the casino regulators concluded.

Reports by New Jersey’s casino regulators strongly suggested that Mr. Trump had claimed large net operating losses on his taxes in the early 1990s. Their reports, for example, revealed that Mr. Trump had carried forward net operating losses in both 1991 and 1993. What’s more, the reports said the losses he claimed were large enough to virtually cancel out any taxes he might owe on the millions of dollars of debt that was being forgiven by his creditors. (The I.R.S. considers forgiven debt to be taxable income.)

But crucially, the casino regulators redacted the precise size of the net operating losses in the public versions of their reports. Two former New Jersey officials, who were privy to the unredacted documents, could not recall the precise size of the numbers, but said they were substantial.

Politico, which previously reported that Mr. Trump most likely paid no income taxes in 1991 and 1993 based on the casino commission’s description of his net operating losses, asked Mr. Trump to comment. “Welcome to the real estate business,” he replied in an email.

Now, thanks to Mr. Trump’s 1995 tax records, the degree to which he spun all those years of red ink into tax write-off gold may finally be apparent.

Mr. Mitnick, the lawyer and accountant, was the person Mr. Trump leaned on most to do the spinning. Mr. Mitnick worked for a small Long Island accounting firm that specialized in handling tax issues for wealthy New York real estate families. He had long handled tax matters for Mr. Trump’s father, Fred C. Trump, and he said he began doing Donald Trump’s taxes after Mr. Trump turned 18.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Mitnick said he could not divulge details of Mr. Trump’s finances without Mr. Trump’s consent. But he did talk about Mr. Trump’s approaches to taxes, and he contrasted Fred Trump’s attention to detail with what he described as Mr. Trump’s brash and undisciplined style. He recalled, for example, that when Donald and Ivana Trump came in each year to sign their tax forms, it was almost always Ivana who asked more questions.

But if Mr. Trump lacked a sophisticated understanding of the tax code, and if he rarely showed any interest in the details behind various tax strategies, Mr. Mitnick said he clearly grasped the critical role taxes would play in helping him build wealth. “He knew we could use the tax code to protect him,” Mr. Mitnick said.

According to Mr. Mitnick, Mr. Trump’s use of net operating losses was no different from that of his other wealthy clients. “This may have had a couple extra digits compared to someone else’s operation, but they all benefited in the same way,” he said, pointing to the $916 million loss on Mr. Trump’s tax returns.

In “The Art of the Deal,” his 1987 best-selling book, Mr. Trump referred to Mr. Mitnick as “my accountant” — although he misspelled his name. Mr. Trump described consulting with Mr. Mitnick on the tax implications of deals he was contemplating and seeking his advice on how new federal tax regulations might affect real estate write-offs.

Mr. Mitnick, though, said there were times when even he, for all his years helping wealthy New Yorkers navigate the tax code, found it difficult to face the incongruity of his work for Mr. Trump. He felt keenly aware that Mr. Trump was living a life of unimaginable luxury thanks in part to Mr. Mitnick’s ability to relieve him of the burden of paying taxes like everyone else.

“Here the guy was building incredible net worth and not paying tax on it,” he said.

How to Crash Systemd in a 50 character command

How to Crash Systemd in One Tweet

The following command, when run as any user, will crash systemd:

NOTIFY_SOCKET=/run/systemd/notify systemd-notify ""

After running this command, PID 1 is hung in the pause system call. You can no longer start and stop daemons. inetd-style services no longer accept connections. You cannot cleanly reboot the system. The system feels generally unstable (e.g. ssh and su hang for 30 seconds since systemd is now integrated with the login system). All of this can be caused by a command that’s short enough to fit in a Tweet.

Edit (2016-09-28 21:34): Some people can only reproduce if they wrap the command in a while true loop. Yay non-determinism!

The bug is remarkably banal. The above systemd-notify command sends a zero-length message to the world-accessible UNIX domain socket located at /run/systemd/notify. PID 1 receives the message and fails an assertion that the message length is greater than zero. Despite the banality, the bug is serious, as it allows any local user to trivially perform a denial-of-service attack against a critical system component.

The immediate question raised by this bug is what kind of quality assurance process would allow such a simple bug to exist for over two years (it was introduced in systemd 209). Isn’t the empty string an obvious test case? One would hope that PID 1, the most important userspace process, would have better quality assurance than this. Unfortunately, it seems that crashes of PID 1 are not unusual, as a quick glance through the systemd commit log reveals commit messages such as:

Systemd’s problems run far deeper than this one bug. Systemd is defective by design. Writing bug-free software is extremely difficult. Even good programmers would inevitably introduce bugs into a project of the scale and complexity of systemd. However, good programmers recognize the difficulty of writing bug-free software and understand the importance of designing software in a way that minimizes the likelihood of bugs or at least reduces their impact. The systemd developers understand none of this, opting to cram an enormous amount of unnecessary complexity into PID 1, which runs as root and is written in a memory-unsafe language.

Some degree of complexity is to be expected, as systemd provides a number of useful and compelling features (although they did not invent them; they were just the first to aggressively market them). Whether or not systemd has made the right trade-off between features and complexity is a matter of debate. What is not debatable is that systemd’s complexity does not belong in PID 1. As Rich Felker explained, the only job of PID 1 is to execute the real init system and reap zombies. Furthermore, the real init system, even when running as a non-PID 1 process, should be structured in a modular way such that a failure in one of the riskier components does not bring down the more critical components. For instance, a failure in the daemon management code should not prevent the system from being cleanly rebooted.

In particular, any code that accepts messages from untrustworthy sources like systemd-notify should run in a dedicated process as a unprivileged user. The unprivileged process parses and validates messages before passing them along to the privileged process. This is called privilege separation and has been a best practice in security-aware software for over a decade. Systemd, by contrast, does text parsing on messages from untrusted sources, in C, running as root in PID 1. If you think systemd doesn’t need privilege separation because it only parses messages from local users, keep in mind that in the Internet era, local attacks tend to acquire remote vectors. Consider Shellshock, or the presentation at this year’s systemd conference which is titled “Talking to systemd from a Web Browser.”

Systemd’s “we don’t make mistakes” attitude towards security can be seen in other places, such as this code from the main() function of PID 1:

/* Disable the umask logic */
if (getpid() == 1)
        umask(0);

Setting a umask of 0 means that, by default, any file created by systemd will be world-readable and -writable. Systemd defines a macro called RUN_WITH_UMASK which is used to temporarily set a more restrictive umask when systemd needs to create a file with different permissions. This is backwards. The default umask should be restrictive, so forgetting to change the umask when creating a file would result in a file that obviously doesn’t work. This is called fail-safe design. Instead systemd is fail-open, so forgetting to change the umask (which has already happened twice) creates a file that works but is a potential security vulnerability.

The Linux ecosystem has fallen behind other operating systems in writing secure and robust software. While Microsoft was hardening Windows and Apple was developing iOS, open source software became complacent. However, I see improvement on the horizon. Heartbleed and Shellshock were wake-up calls that have led to increased scrutiny of open source software. Go and Rust are compelling, safe languages for writing the type of systems software that has traditionally been written in C. Systemd is dangerous not only because it is introducing hundreds of thousands of lines of complex C code without any regard to longstanding security practices like privilege separation or fail-safe design, but because it is setting itself up to be irreplaceable. Systemd is far more than an init system: it is becoming a secondary operating system kernel, providing a log server, a device manager, a container manager, a login manager, a DHCP client, a DNS resolver, and an NTP client. These services are largely interdependent and provide non-standard interfaces for other applications to use. This makes any one component of systemd hard to replace, which will prevent more secure alternatives from gaining adoption in the future.

Consider systemd’s DNS resolver. DNS is a complicated, security-sensitive protocol. In August 2014, Lennart Poettering declared that “systemd-resolved is now a pretty complete caching DNS and LLMNR stub resolver.” In reality, systemd-resolved failed to implement any of the documented best practices to protect against DNS cache poisoning. It was vulnerable to Dan Kaminsky’s cache poisoning attack which was fixed in every other DNS server during a massive coordinated response in 2008 (and which had been fixed in djbdns in 1999). Although systemd doesn’t force you to use systemd-resolved, it exposes a non-standard interface over DBUS which theyencourage applications to use instead of the standard DNS protocol over port 53. If applications follow this recommendation, it will become impossible to replace systemd-resolved with a more secure DNS resolver, unless that DNS resolver opts to emulate systemd’s non-standard DBUS API.

It is not too late to stop this. Although almost every Linux distribution now uses systemd for their init system, init was a soft target for systemd because the systems they replaced were so bad. That’s not true for the other services which systemd is trying to replace such as network management, DNS, and NTP. Systemd offers very few compelling features over existing implementations, but does carry a large amount of risk. If you’re a system administrator, resist the replacement of existing services and hold out for replacements that are more secure. If you’re an application developer, do not use systemd’s non-standard interfaces. There will be better alternatives in the future that are more secure than what we have now. But adopting them will only be possible if systemd has not destroyed the modularity and standards-compliance that make innovation possible.

Hi, I’m Andrew. I’m the founder of SSLMate, a service which automates your SSL certificate deployment. I also develop open source projects like git-crypt and titus.

I blog here about a variety of technology topics, including security, devops, IPv6, and reliable programming. If you liked this post, check out my other posts or subscribe to my Atom feed.

My email address is andrew@agwa.name. I’m AGWA at GitHub and @__agwa on Twitter.

Clinton Email: We Must Destroy Syria For Israel

Clinton Email: We Must Destroy Syria For Israel

Leaked Clinton email reveals that Clinton ordered war against Syria to benefit Israel
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A leaked Hillary Clinton email confirms that the Obama administration, with Hillary at the helm,  orchestrated a civil war in Syria to benefit Israel. 

The new Wikileaks release shows the then Secretary of State ordering a war in Syria in order to overthrow the government and oust President Assad, claiming it was the “best way to help Israel”.

Newobserveronline.com reports:

The document was one of many unclassified by the US Department of State under case number F-2014-20439, Doc No. C05794498, following the uproar over Clinton’s private email server kept at her house while she served as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

Although the Wikileaks transcript dates the email as December 31, 2000, this is an error on their part, as the contents of the email (in particular the reference to May 2012 talks between Iran and the west over its nuclear program in Istanbul) show that the email was in fact sent on December 31, 2012.

 

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The email makes it clear that it has been US policy from the very beginning to violently overthrow the Syrian government—and specifically to do this because it is in Israel’s interests.

clinton-email-syria-israel

“The best way to help Israel deal with Iran’s growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad,” Clinton forthrightly starts off by saying.

Even though all US intelligence reports had long dismissed Iran’s “atom bomb” program as a hoax (a conclusion supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency), Clinton continues to use these lies to “justify” destroying Syria in the name of Israel.

She specifically links Iran’s mythical atom bomb program to Syria because, she says, Iran’s “atom bomb” program threatens Israel’s “monopoly” on nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

If Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon, Clinton asserts, this would allow Syria (and other “adversaries of Israel” such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt) to “go nuclear as well,” all of which would threaten Israel’s interests.

Therefore, Clinton, says, Syria has to be destroyed.

Iran’s nuclear program and Syria’s civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. What Israeli military leaders really worry about — but cannot talk about — is losing their nuclear monopoly.

An Iranian nuclear weapons capability would not only end that nuclear monopoly but could also prompt other adversaries, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to go nuclear as well. The result would be a precarious nuclear balance in which Israel could not respond to provocations with conventional military strikes on Syria and Lebanon, as it can today.

If Iran were to reach the threshold of a nuclear weapons state, Tehran would find it much easier to call on its allies in Syria and Hezbollah to strike Israel, knowing that its nuclear weapons would serve as a deterrent to Israel responding against Iran itself.

It is, Clinton continues, the “strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria” that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel’s security.

This would not come about through a “direct attack,” Clinton admits, because “in the thirty years of hostility between Iran and Israel” this has never occurred, but through its alleged “proxies.”

The end of the Assad regime would end this dangerous alliance. Israel’s leadership understands well why defeating Assad is now in its interests.

Bringing down Assad would not only be a massive boon to Israel’s security, it would also ease Israel’s understandable fear of losing its nuclear monopoly.

Then, Israel and the United States might be able to develop a common view of when the Iranian program is so dangerous that military action could be warranted.

Clinton goes on to asset that directly threatening Bashar Assad “and his family” with violence is the “right thing” to do:

In short, the White House can ease the tension that has developed with Israel over Iran by doing the right thing in Syria.

With his life and his family at risk, only the threat or use of force will change the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s mind.

The email proves—as if any more proof was needed—that the US government has been the main sponsor of the growth of terrorism in the Middle East, and all in order to “protect” Israel.

It is also a sobering thought to consider that the “refugee” crisis which currently threatens to destroy Europe, was directly sparked off by this US government action as well, insofar as there are any genuine refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.

In addition, over 250,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which has spread to Iraq—all thanks to Clinton and the Obama administration backing the “rebels” and stoking the fires of war in Syria.

The real and disturbing possibility that a psychopath like Clinton—whose policy has inflicted death and misery upon millions of people—could become the next president of America is the most deeply shocking thought of all.

Clinton’s public assertion that, if elected president, she would “take the relationship with Israel to the next level,” would definitively mark her, and Israel, as the enemy of not just some Arab states in the Middle East, but of all peace-loving people on earth.

From damage to discovery via virtual unwrapping: Reading the scroll from En-Gedi

From damage to discovery via virtual unwrapping: Reading the scroll from En-Gedi
Science Advances  21 Sep 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 9, e1601247
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601247

Abstract

Computer imaging techniques are commonly used to preserve and share readable manuscripts, but capturing writing locked away in ancient, deteriorated documents poses an entirely different challenge. This software pipeline—referred to as “virtual unwrapping”—allows textual artifacts to be read completely and noninvasively. The systematic digital analysis of the extremely fragile En-Gedi scroll (the oldest Pentateuchal scroll in Hebrew outside of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals the writing hidden on its untouchable, disintegrating sheets. Our approach for recovering substantial ink-based text from a damaged object results in readable columns at such high quality that serious critical textual analysis can occur. Hence, this work creates a new pathway for subsequent textual discoveries buried within the confines of damaged materials.

Keywords

  • Micro-CT
  • virtual unwrapping
  • segmentation
  • digital restoration
  • visualization
  • digital flattening

INTRODUCTION

In 1970, archeologists made a dramatic discovery at En-Gedi, the site of a large, ancient Jewish community dating from the late eighth century BCE until its destruction by fire circa 600 CE. Excavations uncovered the synagogue’s Holy Ark, inside of which were multiple charred lumps of what appeared to be animal skin (parchment) scroll fragments (12). The Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) faithfully preserved the scroll fragments, although in the 40 years following the discovery, no one produced a means to overcome the irreversible damage they had suffered in situ. Each fragment’s main structure, completely burned and crushed, had turned into chunks of charcoal that continued to disintegrate every time they were touched. Without a viable restoration and conservation protocol, physical intervention was unthinkable. Like many badly damaged materials in archives around the world, the En-Gedi scroll was shelved, leaving its potentially valuable contents hidden and effectively locked away by its own damaged condition (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1The charred scroll from En-Gedi.

Image courtesy of the Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library, IAA. Photo: S. Halevi.

 

The implementation and application of our computational framework allows the identification and scholarly textual analysis of the ink-based writing within such unopened, profoundly damaged objects. Our systematic approach essentially unlocks the En-Gedi scroll and, for the first time, enables a total visual exploration of its interior layers, leading directly to the discovery of its text. By virtually unwrapping the scroll, we have revealed it to be the earliest copy of a Pentateuchal book ever found in a Holy Ark. Furthermore, this work establishes a restoration pathway for damaged textual material by showing that text extraction is possible while avoiding the need for injurious physical handling. The restored En-Gedi scroll represents a significant leap forward in the field of manuscript recovery, conservation, and analysis.

Virtual unwrapping

Our generalized computational framework for virtual unwrapping applies to a wide range of damaged, text-based materials. Virtual unwrapping is the composite result of segmentation, flattening, and texturing: a sequence of transformations beginning with the voxels of a three-dimensional (3D) unstructured volumetric scan of a damaged manuscript and ending with a set of 2D images that reveal the writing embedded in the scan (36). The required transformations are initially unknown and must be solved by choosing a model and applying a series of constraints about the known and observable structure of the object. Figure 2 shows the final result for the scroll from En-Gedi. This resultant image, which we term the “master view,” is a visualization of the entire surface extracted from within the En-Gedi scroll.

Fig. 2Completed virtual unwrapping for the En-Gedi scroll.
 

The first stage, segmentation, is the identification of a geometric model of structures of interest within the scan volume. This process digitally recreates the “pages” that hold potential writing. We use a triangulated surface mesh for this model, which can readily support many operations that are algorithmically convenient: ray intersection, shape dynamics, texturing, and rendering. A surface mesh can vary in resolution as needed and forms a piecewise approximation of arbitrary surfaces on which there may be writing. The volumetric scan defines a world coordinate frame for the mesh model; thus, segmentation is the process of aligning a mesh with structures of interest within the volume.

The second stage, texturing, is the formation of intensity values on the geometric model based on its position within the scan volume. This is where we see letters and words for the first time on the recreated page. The triangulated surface mesh offers a direct approach to the texturing problem that is similar to solid texturing (78): Each point on the surface of the mesh is given an intensity value based on its location in the 3D volume. Many approaches exist for assigning intensities from the volume to the triangles of the segmented mesh, some of which help to overcome noise in the volumetric imaging and incorrect localization in segmentation.

The third stage, flattening, is necessary because the geometric model may be difficult to visualize as an image. Specifically, if text is being extracted, it will be challenging to read on a 3D surface shaped like the cylindrical wraps of scrolled material. This stage solves for a transformation that maps the geometric model (and associated intensities from the texturing step) to a plane, which is then directly viewable as a 2D image for the purpose of visualization.

In practice, this framework is best applied in a piecewise fashion to accurately localize a scroll’s highly irregular geometry. Also, the methodology required to map each of these steps from the original volume to flattened images involves a series of algorithmic decisions and approximations. Because textual identification is the primary goal of our virtual unwrapping framework, we tolerate mathematical and geometric error along the way to ensure that we extract the best possible images of text. Hence, the final merging and visualization step is significant not only for composing small sections into a single master view but also for checking the correctness and relative alignments of individual regions. Therefore, it is crucial to preserve the complete transformation pipeline that maps voxels in the scan volume to final pixels in the unwrapped master view so that any claim of extracted text can be independently verified.

The volumetric scan

The unwrapping process begins by acquiring a noninvasive digitization that gives some representation of the internal structure and contents of an object in situ (911). There are a number of choices for noninvasive, penetrative, and volumetric scanning, and our framework places no limits on the modality of the scan. As enhancements in volumetric scanning methodology [for example, phase-contrast microtomography (612)] occur, we can take advantage of the ensuing potential for improved images. Whatever the scanning method, it must be appropriate to the scale and to the material and physical properties of the object.

Because of the particularities of the En-Gedi scroll, we used x-ray–based micro–computed tomography (micro-CT). The En-Gedi scroll’s damage creates a scanning challenge: How does one determine the correct scan protocol before knowing how ink will appear or even if the sample contains ink at all? It is the scan and subsequent pipeline that reveal the writing. After several calibration scans, a protocol was selected that produced a visible range of intensity variation on the rolled material. The spatial resolution was adjusted with respect to the sample size to capture enough detail through the thickness of each material layer to reveal ink if present and detectable. The chemical composition of the ink within the En-Gedi scroll remains unknown because there are no exposed areas suitable for analysis. However, the ink response within the micro-CT scan is denser than other materials, implying that it likely contains metal, such as iron or lead.

Any analysis necessitates physical handling of the friable material, and so, even noninvasive methods must be approached with great care. Although low-power x-rays themselves pose no significant danger to inanimate materials, the required transport and handling of the scroll make physical conservation and preservation an ever-present concern. However, once acquired, the volumetric scan data become the basis for all further computations, and the physical object can be returned to the safety of its protective archive.

Segmentation

Segmentation, which is the construction of a geometric model localizing the shape and position of the substrate surface within the scan on which text is presumed to appear, is challenging for several reasons. First, the surface as presented in the scanned volume is not developable, that is, isometric to a plane (1315). Although an isometry could be useful as a constraint in some cases, the skin forming the layers of the En-Gedi scroll has not simply been folded or rolled. Damage to the scroll has deformed the shape of the skin material, which is apparent in the 3D scanned volume, making such a constraint unworkable. Second, the density response of animal skin in the volume is noisy and difficult to localize with methods such as marching cubes (16). Third, layers of the skin that are close together create ambiguities that are difficult to resolve from purely local, shape-based operators. Figure 3 shows four distinct instances where segmentation proves challenging because of the damage and unpredictable variation in the appearance of the surface material in the scan volume.

Fig. 3Segmentation challenges in the En-Gedi scroll, based on examples in the slice view.

Double/split layering and challenging cell structure (left), ambiguous layers with unknown material (middle left), high-density “bubbling” on the secondary layer (middle right), and gap in the primary layer (right).

 

Our segmentation algorithm applied to the En-Gedi scroll builds a triangulated surface mesh that localizes a coherent section of the animal skin within a defined subvolume through a novel region-growing technique (Fig. 4). The basis for the algorithm is a local estimate of the differential geometry of the animal skin surface using a second-order symmetric tensor and associated feature saliency measures (17). An initial set of seed points propagates through the volume as a connected chain, directed by the local symmetric tensor and constrained by a set of spring forces. The movement of this particle chain through the volume traces out a surface over time. Figure 5 shows how crucially dependent the final result is on an accurate localization of the skin. When the segmented geometry drifts from the skin surface (Fig. 5A), the surface features disappear. When the skin is accurately localized (Fig. 5B), the surface detail, including cracks and ink evidence, becomes visible.

Fig. 4A portion of the segmented surface and how it intersects the volume.
 
Fig. 5The importance of accurate surface localization on the final generated texture.

(A) Texture generated when the surface is only partially localized. (B) Texture generated when surface is accurately localized.

 

The user can tune the various parameters of this algorithm locally or globally based on the data set and at any time during the segmentation process. This allows for the continued propagation of the chain without the loss of previously segmented surface information. The segmentation algorithm terminates either at the user’s request or when a specified number of slices have been traversed by all of the particles in the chain.

The global structure of the entire surface is a piecewise composition of many smaller surface sections. Although it is certainly possible to generate a global structure through a single segmentation step, approaching the problem in a piecewise manner allows more accurate localization of individual sections, some of which are very challenging to extract. Although the segmented surface is not constrained to a planar isometry at the segmentation step, the model implicitly favors an approximation of an isometry. Furthermore, the model imposes a point-ordering constraint that prevents sharp discontinuities and self-intersections. The segmented surface, which has been regularized, smoothed, and resampled, becomes the basis for the texturing phase to visualize the surface with the intensities it inherits from its position in the volume.

Texturing

Once the layers of the scroll have been identified and modeled, the next step is to render readable textures on those layers. Texturing is the assignment of an intensity, “or brightness,” value derived from the volume to each point on a segmented surface. The interpretation of intensity values in the original volumetric scan is maintained through the texturing phase. In the case of micro-CT, intensities are related to density: Brighter values are regions of denser material, and darker values are less dense (18). A coating of ink made from iron gall, for example, would appear bright, indicating a higher density in micro-CT. Our texturing method is similar to the computer graphics approach of “solid texturing,” a procedure that evaluates a function defined over R3 for each point to be textured on the embedded surface (78). In our case, the function over R3 is simply a lookup to reference the value (possibly interpolated) at that precise location in the volume scan.

In an ideal case, where both the scanned volume and localized surface mesh are perfect, a direct mapping of each surface point to its 3D volume position would generate the best possible texture. In practice, however, errors in surface segmentation combined with artifacts in the scan create the need for a filtering approach that can overcome these sources of noise. Therefore, we implement a neighborhood-based directional filtering method, which gives parametric control over the texturing. The texture intensity is calculated from a filter applied to the set of voxels within each surface point’s local neighborhood. The parameters (Fig. 6) include use of the point’s surface normal direction (directional or omnidirectional), the shape and extent of the local texturing neighborhood, and the type of filter applied to the neighborhood. The directional parameter is particularly important when attempting to recover text from dual-sided materials, such as books. In such cases, a single segmented surface can be used to generate both the recto and verso sides of the page. Figure 7 shows how this texturing method improves ink response in the resulting texture when the segmentation does not perfectly intersect the ink position on the substrate in the volumetric scan.

Fig. 6The geometric parameters for directional texturing.
 
Fig. 7The effect of directional texturing to improve ink response.

(Left) Intersection of the mesh with the volume. (Right) Directional texturing with a neighborhood radius of 7 voxels.

 

Flattening

Region-growing in an unstructured volume generates surfaces that are nonplanar. In a scan of rolled-up material, most surface fragments contain high-curvature areas. These surfaces must be flattened to easily view the textures that have been applied to them. The process of flattening is the computation of a 3D to 2D parameterization for a given mesh (61920). One straightforward assumption is that a localized surface cannot self-intersect and represents a coherent piece of substrate that was at one time approximately isometric to a plane. If the writing occurred on a planar surface before it was rolled up, and if the rolling itself induced no elastic deformations in the surface, then damage is the only thing that may have interrupted the isometric nature of the rolling.

We approach parameterization through a physics-based material model (42122). In this model, the mesh is represented as a mass-spring system, where each vertex of the mesh is given a mass and the connections between vertices are treated as springs with associated stiffness coefficients. The mesh is relaxed to a plane through a balanced selection of appropriate forces and parameters. This process mimics the material properties of isometric deformation, which is analogous to the physical act of unwrapping.

A major advantage of a simulation-based approach is the wide range of configurations that are possible under the framework. Parameters and forces can be applied per vertex or per spring. This precise control allows for modeling of not only the geometric properties of a surface but also the physical properties of that surface. For example, materials with higher physical elasticity can be represented as such within the same simulation.

Although this work relies on computing parameterizations solely through this simulation-based method, a hybrid approach that begins with existing parameterization methods [for example, least-squares conformal mapping (LSCM) (23) and angle-based flattening (ABF) (24)] followed by a physics-based model is also workable. The purely geometric approaches of LSCM and ABF produce excellent parameterizations but have no natural way to capture additional constraints arising from the mesh as a physical object. By tracking the physical state of the mesh during parameterization via LSCM or ABF, a secondary correction step using the simulation method could then be applied to account for the mesh’s physical properties.

Merging and visualization

The piecewise nature of the pipeline requires a final merge step. There can be many individually segmented mesh sections that must be reconciled into a composite master view. The shape, location in the volume, and textured appearance of the sections aid in the merge. We take two approaches to the merging step: texture and mesh merging.

Texture merging is the alignment of texture images from small segmentations to generate a composite master view. This process provides valuable user feedback when performed simultaneously with the segmentation process. Texture merging builds a master view that gives quick feedback on the overall progress and quality of segmentation. However, because each section of geometry is flattened independently, the merge produces distortions that are acceptable as an efficiently computed draft view, but must be improved to become a definitive result for the scholarly study of text.

Mesh merging refers to a more precise recalculation of the merge step by using the piecewise meshes to generate a final, high-quality master view. After all segmentation work is complete, individual mesh segmentations are merged in 3D to create a single surface that represents the complete geometry of the segmented scroll. The mesh from this new merged segmentation is then flattened and textured to produce a final master view image. Because mesh merging is computationally expensive compared to texture merging, it is not ideal for the progressive feedback required during segmentation of a scan volume. However, as the performance of algorithms improves and larger segmented surfaces become practical, it is likely that mesh merging will become viable as a user cue during the segmentation process.

Maintaining a provenance chain is an important component of our pipeline. The full set of transformations used to generate a final master view image can be referenced so that every pixel in a final virtually unwrapped master view can be mapped back to the voxel or set of voxels within the volume that contributed to its intensity value. This is important for both the quantitative analysis of the resulting image and the verification of any extracted text. Figure 8demonstrates the ability to select a region and point of interest in the texture image and invert the transformation chain to recover original 3D positions within the volume.

Fig. 8Demonstration of stored provenance chain.

The generated geometric transformations can map a region and point of interest in the master view (left) back to their 3D positions within the volume (right).

 

RESULTS

Using this pipeline, we have restored and revealed the text on five complete wraps of the animal skin of the En-Gedi scroll, an object that likely will never be physically opened for inspection (Fig. 1). The resulting master image (Fig. 2) enables a complete textual critique, and although such analysis is beyond the scope of this paper, the consensus of our interdisciplinary team is that the virtually unwrapped result equals the best photographic images available in the 21st century. From the master view, one can clearly see the remains of two distinct columns of Hebrew writing that contain legible and countable lines, letters, and words (Fig. 9).

Fig. 9Partial transcription and translation of recovered text.

(Column 1) Lines 5 to 7 from the En-Gedi scroll.

 

These images reveal the En-Gedi scroll to be the book of Leviticus, which makes it the earliest copy of a Pentateuchal book ever found in a Holy Ark and a significant discovery in biblical archeology (Fig. 10). Without our computational pipeline and the textual analysis it enables, the En-Gedi text would be totally lost for scholarship, and its value would be left unknown.

Fig. 10Timeline placing the En-Gedi scroll within the context of other biblical discoveries.
 

What is clearly preserved in the master image is part of one sheet of a scripture scroll that contains 35 lines, of which 18 have been preserved and another 17 have been reconstructed. The lines contain 33 to 34 letters and spaces between letters; spaces between the words are indicated but are sometimes minimal. The two columns extracted from the scroll also exhibit an intercolumnar blank space, as well as a large blank space before the first column that is larger than the column of text. This large blank space leaves no doubt that what is preserved is the beginning of a scroll, in this case a Pentateuchal text: the book of Leviticus.

Armed with the extraction of this readable text and its historical context discerned from carbon dating and other related archeological evidence (12), scholars can accurately place the En-Gedi writings in the canonical timeline of biblical text. Radiocarbon results date the scroll to the third or fourth century CE (table S1). Alternatively, a first or second century CE date was suggested on the basis of paleographical considerations by Yardeni (25). Dating the En-Gedi scroll to the third or fourth century CE falls near the end of the period of the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls (third century BCE to second century CE) and several centuries before the medieval biblical fragments found in the Cairo Genizah, which date from the ninth century CE onward (Fig. 10). Hence, the En-Gedi scroll provides an important extension to the evidence of the Dead Sea Scrolls and offers a glimpse into the earliest stages of almost 800 years of near silence in the history of the biblical text.

As may be expected from our knowledge of the development of the Hebrew text, the En-Gedi Hebrew text is not vocalized, there are no indications of verses, and the script resembles other documents from the late Dead Sea Scrolls. The text deciphered thus far is completely identical with the consonantal framework of the medieval text of the Hebrew Bible, traditionally named the Masoretic Text, and which is the text presented in most printed editions of the Hebrew Bible. On the other hand, one to two centuries earlier, the so-called proto-Masoretic text, as reflected in the Judean Desert texts from the first centuries of the Common era, still witnesses some textual fluidity. In addition, the En-Gedi scan revealed columns similar in length to those evidenced among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

DISCUSSION

Besides illuminating the history of the biblical text, our work on the scroll advances the development of textual imaging. Although previous research has successfully identified text within ancient artifacts, the En-Gedi manuscript represents the first severely damaged, ink-based scroll to be unrolled and identified noninvasively. The recent work of Barfod et al. (26) produced text from within a damaged amulet; however, the text was etched into the amulet’s thin metal surface, which served as a morphological base for the contrast of text. Although challenging, morphological structures provide an additional guide for segmentation that is unlikely to be present with ink-based writing. In the case of the En-Gedi scroll, for instance, the ink sits on the substrate and does not create an additional morphology that can aid the segmentation and rendering process. The amulet work also performed segmentation by constraining the surface to be ruled, and thus developable, to simplify the flattening problem. In addition, segmented strips were assembled showing letterforms, but a complete and merged surface segmentation was not computed, a result of using commercial software rather than implementing a custom software framework.

Samko et al. (27) describe a fully automated approach to segmentation and text extraction of undamaged, scrolled materials. Their results, from known legible manuscripts that can be physically unrolled for visual verification, serve as important test cases to validate their automated segmentation approach. However, the profound damage exhibited in the materials, such as the scroll from En-Gedi, creates its own new challenges—segmentation, texturing, and flattening algorithms—that only our novel framework directly addresses.

The work of Mocella et al. (12) claims that phase-contrast tomography generates contrast at ink boundaries in scans of material from Herculaneum. The hope for phase contrast comes from a progression of volumetric imaging methods (56) and serves as a possible solution to the first step in our pipeline: creating a noninvasive, volumetric scan with some method that shows contrast at ink. Although verifying that ink sits on a page is not enough to allow scholarly study of discovered text, this is an important prelude to subsequent virtual unwrapping. Our complete approach makes such discovery possible.

An overarching concern as this framework becomes widely useful has to do not with technical improvements of the components, which will naturally occur as scientists and engineers innovate over the space of scanning, segmentation, and unwrapping, but rather with the certified provenance of every final texture claim that is produced from a scan volume. An analysis framework must offer the ability for independent researchers to confidently affirm results and verify scholarly claims. Letters, words, and, ultimately, whole texts that are extracted noninvasively from the inaccessible inner windings of an artifact must be subject to independent scrutiny if they are to serve as the basis for the highest level of scholarship. For such scrutiny to occur, accurate and recorded geometry, aligned in the coordinate frame of the original volumetric scan, must be retained for confirmation.

The computational framework we have described provides this ability for a third party to confirm that letterforms in a final output texture are the result of a pipeline of transformations on the original data and not solely an interpretation from an expert who may believe letterforms are visible. Such innate third-party confirmation capability reduces confusion around the resulting textual analyses and engenders confidence in the effectiveness of virtual unwrapping techniques.

The traditional approach of removing a folio from its binding—or unrolling a scroll—and pressing it flat to capture an accurate facsimile obviously will not work on fragile manuscripts that have been burned and crushed into lumps of disintegrating charcoal. The virtual unwrapping that we performed on the En-Gedi scroll proves the effectiveness of our software pipeline as a noninvasive alternative: a technological engine for text discovery in the face of profound damage. The implemented software components, which are necessary stages in the overall process, will continue to improve with every new object and discovery. However, the separable stages themselves, from volumetric scanning to the unwrapping and merging transformations, will become the guiding framework for practitioners seeking to open damaged textual materials. The geometric data passing through the individual stages are amenable to a standard interface through which the software components can interchangeably communicate. Hence, each component is a separable piece that can be individually upgraded as alternative and improved methods are developed. For example, the accurate segmentation of layers within a volume is a crucial part of the pipeline. Segmentation algorithms can be improved by tuning them to the material type (for example, animal skin, papyrus, and bark), the expected layer shape (for example, flat and rolled pages), and the nature of damage (for example, carbonized, burned, and fragmented). The flattening step is another place where improvements will better support user interaction, methods to quantify and visualize errors from flattening, and a comparative analysis between different mapping schemes.

The successful application of our virtual unwrapping pipeline to the En-Gedi scroll represents a confluence of physics, computer science, and the humanities. The technical underpinnings and implemented tools offer a collaborative opportunity between scientists, engineers, and textual scholars, who must remain crucially involved in the process of refining the quality of extracted text. Although more automation in the pipeline is possible, we have now achieved our overarching goal, which is the creation of a new restoration pathway—a way to overcome damage—to reach and retrieve text from the brink of oblivion.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Master view results

The master view image of the En-Gedi scroll was generated using the specific algorithms and processes outlined below. Because we use the volumetric scan as the coordinate frame for all transformations in our pipeline, the resolution of the master view approximately matches that of the scan. The spatial resolution of the volume (18 μm/voxel, isometric) produces an image resolution of approximately 1410 pixels per inch (25,400 μm/inch), which can be considered archival quality. From this, we estimate the surface area of the unwrapped portion to be approximately 94 cm2 (14.57 in2). The average size of letterforms varies between 1.5 and 2 mm, and the pixels of the master view maintain the original dynamic range of 16 bits.

Volumetric scan

Two volumetric scans were performed using a Bruker SkyScan 1176 in vivo Micro-CT machine. It uses a PANalytical microfocus tube and a Princeton Instruments camera. With a maximum spatial resolution of 9 μm per voxel, it more than exceeded the resolution requirements for the En-Gedi scroll. A spatial resolution of 18 μm was used for all En-Gedi scans. Additionally, because this is an in vivo machine, the scroll could simply be placed within the scan chamber and did not need to be mounted for scanning. This limited the risk of physical damage to the object.

An initial, single field-of-view scan was done on the scroll to verify the scan parameters and to confirm that the resolution requirements had been met. This scan was performed at 50 kV, 500 μA, and 350-ms exposure time, with added filtration (0.2 Al) to improve image quality by absorbing lower-energy x-rays that tend to produce scattering. The reconstructions showed very clear separation of layers within the scroll, which indicated a good opportunity for segmentation. The scan protocol was then modified to increase contrast, where the team suspected that there may be visible ink. To acquire data from as much of the scroll as possible, the second and final scan was an offset scan using four connected scans. Final exposure parameters of 45 kV, 555 μA, and 230 ms were selected for this scan. The data were reconstructed using Bruker SkyScan’s NRecon engine, and the reconstructed slices were saved as 16-bit TIFF images for further analysis.

Segmentation

The basis for the algorithm is a local estimate of the differential geometry of the animal skin surface using a second-order symmetric tensor and associated feature saliency measures (17). The tensor-based saliency measures are available at each point in the volume. The 3D structure tensor for point p is calculated asEmbedded Image(1)where ∇u(p) is the 3D gradient at point pgσ is a 3D Gaussian kernel, and denotes convolution. The eigenvalues and eigenvectors of this tensor provide an estimate of the surface normal at pEmbedded Image(2)

The algorithm begins with an ordered chain of seed points localized to a single slice by a user. From the starting point, each particle in the chain undergoes a force calculation that propagates the chain forward through the volume. This region-growing algorithm estimates a new positional offset for each particle in the chain based on the contribution of three forces: gravity (a bias in the direction of the long axis of the scroll), neighbor separation, and the saliency measure of the structure tensor. First, n(p) is biased along the long axis of the scroll by finding the vector rejection of an axis-aligned unit vector Z onto n(p)Embedded Image(3)

To keep particles moving together, an additional restoring spring force S is computed using a spring stiffness coefficient k and the elongation factors Xl and Xr between the particle and both its left and right neighbors in the chainEmbedded Image(4)

In the final formulation, a scaling factor α is applied to G, and the final positional offset for the particle is the normalized summation of all termsEmbedded Image(5)

The intuition behind this framework is the following: The structure tensor estimates a surface normal, which gives a hint at how a layer is moving locally through points (Eqs. 1 and 2). The layer should extend in a direction that is approximated locally by its tangent plane: the surface normal. The gravity vector nudges points along the major axis around which the surface is rolled, which is a big hint about the general direction to pursue to extend a surface. Moving outward, away from the major axis and across layers, generally defeats the goal of following the same layer. The spring forces help to maintain a constant spacing between points, restraining them from moving independently. These forces must all be balanced relative to one another, which is done by trial and error.

We applied the computed offset iteratively to each particle, resulting in a surface mesh sampled at a specific resolution relative to the time step of the particle system. The user can tune the various parameters of this algorithm based on the data set and at any time during the segmentation process. We also provided a feedback interface whereby a human user can reliably identify a failed segmentation and correct for mistakes in the segmentation process.

For each small segmentation, we used spring force constants of 0.5 and an α scaling factor of 0.3. Segmentation chain points had an initial separation of 1 voxel. This generally produced about six triangles per 100 μm in the segmented surface models. When particles crossed surface boundaries because the structure tensor did not provide a valid estimate of the local surface normal, the chain was manually corrected by the user.

Texturing

Two shapes were tested for the shape of the texturing neighborhood: a spheroid and a line. The line shape includes only those voxels that directly intersect along the surface normal. When the surface normal is accurate and smoothly varying, the line neighborhood allows parametric control for the texture calculation to incorporate voxels that are near but not on (or within) the surface. The line neighborhood leads to faster processing times and less blurring on the surface, although the spheroid neighborhood supports more generalized experimentation—the line neighborhood is a degenerate spheroid. We settled on bidirectional neighborhoods (voxels in both the positive and negative direction) using a line neighborhood with a primary axis length of 7 voxels. We filtered the neighborhood using a Max filter because the average ink response (density) in the volume was much brighter than the ink response of the animal skin.

Flattening

Our flattening implementation makes use of Bullet Physics Library’s soft body simulation, which uses position-based dynamics to solve the soft body system. Points along one of the long edges of the segmentation were pinned in place while a gravity force along the x axis was applied to the rest of the body. This roughly “unfurled” the wrapping and aligned the mesh with the xz plane. A gravity force along the y axis was then applied to the entire body, which pushed the mesh against a collision plane parallel to the xz plane. This action flattened the curvature of the mesh against the plane. A final expansion and relaxation step was applied to smooth out wrinkles in the internal mesh.

Merging

In total, around 140 small segmentations were generated during the segmentation process. These segmentations were then mesh-merged to produce seven larger segmentations, a little over one for each wrap of the scroll. Each large segmentation was then flattened and textured individually. The final set of seven texture images was then texture-merged to produce the final master view imagery for this paper. All merging steps for this work were performed by hand. Texture merges were performed in Adobe Photoshop, and mesh merging was performed in MeshLab. An enhancement curve was uniformly applied to the merged master view image to enhance visual contrast between the text and substrate.

SUPPLEMENTARY MATERIALS

Supplementary material for this article is available athttp://advances.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2/9/e1601247/DC1

table S1. Radiocarbon dating results of the En-Gedi scroll (25).

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

REFERENCES AND NOTES

Acknowledgments: We thank D. Merkel (Merkel Technologies Ltd.) who donated the volumetric scan to the IAA. Special thanks to the excavators of the En-Gedi site D. Barag and E. Netzer (Institute of Archaeology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Radiocarbon determination was made at the DANGOOR Research Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (D-REAMS) at the Weizmann Institute. We thank G. Bearman (imaging technology consultant, IAA.) for support and encouragement. W.B.S. acknowledges the invaluable professional contributions of C. Chapman in the editorial preparation of this manuscript. Funding: W.B.S. acknowledges funding from the NSF (awards IIS-0535003 and IIS-1422039). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. W.B.S. acknowledges funding from Google and support from S. Crossan (Founding Director of the Google Cultural Institute).Author contributions: W.B.S. conceived and designed the virtual unwrapping research program. C.S.P. directed the software implementation team and assembled the final master view. P.S. acquired the volumetric scan of the scroll and its radiocarbon dating and provided initial textual analysis. M.S. and E.T. edited the visible text and interpreted its significance in the context of biblical scholarship. Y.P. excavated the En-Gedi scroll on May 5, 1970. The manuscript was prepared and submitted by W.B.S. with contributions from all authors.Competing interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data needed to evaluate the conclusions in the paper are present in the paper and/or the Supplementary Materials. Additional data related to this paper may be requested from the authors. All scan data and results from this paper are archived at the Department of Computer Science, University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY) and are available athttp://vis.uky.edu/virtual-unwrapping/engedi2016/.

View Abstract

Battery technology set to break barriers

Battery technology set to break barriers

 
Wind farm
Once renewable energy can be stored for use on demand, Britain could become self-sufficient in its energy usage CREDIT: CHARLOTTE GRAHAM/REX SHUTTERSTOCK 


The world’s next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away. Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point.

The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the ‘Holy Grail’ of energy policy.

You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming “drastic improvements” that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

“Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely “decarbonised” by the middle of the century.

The technology is poised to overcome the curse of ‘intermittency’ that has long bedevilled wind and solar. Surges of excess power will be stored for use later at times when the sun sets, and consumption peaks in the early evening.

This transforms the calculus of energy policy. The question for the British government as it designs a strategy fit for the 21st Century – and wrestles with an exorbitant commitment to Hinkley Point – is no longer whether this form of back-up power will ever be commercially viable, but whether the inflection point arrives in the early-2020s or in the late 2020s.

One front-runner – a Washington favourite – is an organic flow battery at Harvard that uses quinones from cheap and abundant sources such as rhubarb or oil waste. It is much cheaper and less toxic than current flow batteries based on the rare metal vanadium. Its reactions are 1,000 times faster.

Energy
Harvard professor Michael Aziz working on his revolutionary ‘rhubarb battery’ CREDIT: HARVARD

Professor Michael Aziz, leader of the Harvard project, said there are still problems to sort out with the “calendar life” of storage chemicals but the basic design is essentially proven.

“We have a fighting chance of bringing down the capital cost to $100 a kilowatt hour, and that will change the world. It could complement wind and solar on a very large scale,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

The latest refinement is to replace toxic bromine with harmless ferrocyanide – used in food additives. The battery cannot catch fire. It is safe and clean. “This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement,” he said.

The design is delightfully simple. It uses a tank of water. You could have one at home in Los Angeles, Lagos, Buenos Aires, Delhi, or Guangzhou, storing solar power in the day to drive your air-conditioning at night. It could be scaled up for a 500 megawatt wind farm.

energy
The Harvard organic flow battery. It can run off rhubarb CREDIT: US ENERGY DEPARTMENT

Italy’s Green Energy Storage has the European licence. It is building a prototype with the Kessler Foundation at Trento University, backed by EU funds. “We have a chemistry that is ten times cheaper than anything on the market,” said Salvatore Pinto, the chairman.

“We are speaking to three utilities in Europe and we will install our first battery as a field test next year,” he said.

It is a race. Tim Grejtak, an energy expert at Lux Research, said Lockheed Martin and Pacific Northwest labs are both working on their own organic flow batteries, while others are developing variants with designed molecules.

I do not wish to single out this particular technology. I cite it as an example of how fast the picture is evolving as the world’s scientific superpower mobilizes in earnest, and investors start to chase the immense prize. Consultants Mckinsey estimate that the energy storage market will grow a hundredfold to $90bn a year by 2025.

Once storage costs approach $100 per kilowatt hour, there ceases to be much point in building costly ‘baseload’ power plants such as Hinkley Point. Nuclear reactors cannot be switched on and off as need demands – unlike gas plants. They are useless as a back-up for the decentralized grid of the future, when wind, solar, hydro, and other renewables will dominate the power supply.

I will be writing about the economics of offshore wind in coming days but bear in mind that renewables generated 18pc of UK power last year, and this is expected to double by the late 2020s as wind and solar capacity reach 50 gigawatts (GW). Once the power can be stored for overnight use, there will be extended periods in the summer when no base-load is needed whatsoever.

Perhaps the Hinkley project still made sense in 2013 before the collapse in global energy prices and before the latest leap forward in renewable technology. It is madness today.

The latest report by the National Audit Office shows that the estimated subsidy for these two reactors has already jumped from £6bn to near £30bn. Hinkley Point locks Britain into a strike price of £92.50 per megawatt hour – adjusted for inflation, already £97 – and that is guaranteed for 35 years.

That is double the current market price of electricity. The NAO’s figures show that solar will be nearer £60 per megawatt hour by 2025. Dong Energy has already agreed to an offshore wind contract in Holland at less than £75.

Michael Liebreich from Bloomberg New Energy Finance says the Hinkley Point saga will be taught for generations as a case study in how not to run a procurement process. “The obvious question is why this train-wreck of a project was not killed long ago,” he said.

enery
All the extra power capacity added since the mid-1990s in Europe has been renewableCREDIT: EWEA

Theresa May has inherited a poisonous dossier, left with the invidious choice of either offending China or persisting with a venture that no longer makes any economic sense. She may have to offend China – as tactfully as possible, let us hope –  for the scale of the folly has become crushingly obvious.

Every big decision on energy strategy by the British government or any other government must henceforth be based on the working premise that cheap energy storage will soon be a reality.

This country can achieve total self-sufficiency in power at viable cost from our own sun, wind, and waters within a generation. Once we shift to electric vehicles as well, we will no longer need to import much oil either. Rejoice.

 

Autodesk Just Gave Every Fab Lab Access to $25,000 in Design Software

Autodesk Just Gave Every Fab Lab Access to $25,000 in Design Software

 

Last year Autodesk granted Fab Labs, a global network of workshops and makerspaces connected through the Fab Foundation, access to Tinkercad, 123D Circuits, and Fusion 360 Labs, but that was just the beginning. Earlier this year, Autodesk expanded their generosity to the Fab Foundation’s Fab Academy (which is the foundation’s training initiative) by offering them access to their entire Product Design Collection, and today Autodesk announced that they will be offering all registered Fab Labs in the Fab Foundation’s network 10 licenses to the Product Design Collection.

product-design-collection-badge-1024

The Autodesk suite of software is a reliable favorite of professionals and hobbyists alike, and having access to these tools is invaluable to a student or part-time inventor who might not otherwise be able to get their ideas off the ground.

The Product Design Collection includes the 14 software programs and would cost a person $2,460 a year to buy all of them as a collection, but individually purchasing the software would be even more expensive (Inventor Professional alone would be $1,890 and AutoCAD another $1,680). This means that each Fab Lab stands to gain $24,600 worth of software and that (given the fact the network includes over 1000 Fab Labs) there’s $24,600,000 in software available to the Fab Foundation’s members.

This offer is part of Autodesk’s extensive efforts to support the global maker movement through free software to students, educators, non-profits and educational institutions (like the Fab Foundation), theirEntrepreneur Impact Program for start-ups and hobbyists, and by open-sourcing design files for our 3D printer Ember.

Speaking about their partnership with the Fab Foundation specifically, Autodesk’s Rama Dunayevich, Senior Manager of Brand Partnerships, speaking about the partnership with the Fab Foundation specifically “At each step of the way, we are learning more about how best to support Fab Labs so we can improve and deepen our relationship. We are using an initial one-year renewable subscription term to collect feedback and data to be in a better position to consider further expansions, refinements and customization based on that data.”

The details of Autodesk’s offer are as follows:

Participating Fab Labs will receive a grant that includes 10 subscriptions to the Autodesk Product Design Collection for the Fab Lab which can be used on or off-site by its members. The subscription includes the professional-grade 3D design tools needed to succeed in the changing landscape for product makers, hobbyists and manufacturers including Fusion 360, Inventor Professional, AutoCAD, ReCap 360 Pro, 3ds Max, 25 gigabytes of cloud storage and more.

The Product Design Collection includes:

·         Inventor Professional

·         AutoCAD

·         AutoCAD Architecture

·         AutoCAD Electrical

·         AutoCAD Mechanical

·         AutoCAD 360 Pro

·         Cloud storage (25 GB)

·         Factory Design Utilities

·         Fusion 360

·         Navisworks Manage

·         ReCap 360 Pro

·         Rendering in A360

·         Vault Basic

·         3ds Max

Fab Labs registered as part of the Fab Foundation’s network of global Fab Labs can apply for the grant now. There is no limit to the number of grants Autodesk is willing to fulfill and no additional requirements besides being a registered Fab Lab.

To become a registered Fab Lab your space must have 5 different types of fabrication tools (CNC machining, 3D Printing, microelectronics workstations, etc.); it must be free and open to the public (for at least some portion of time if operated out of a private school or university); abide by the Fab Lab Charter; and participate in your community.  You can register here. There is no licensing fee and someone from your region will confirm that you meet the qualifications.

This announcement is being made now to coincide with the Fab 12 conference being held in Shenzhen. This conference is a gathering of Fab Labs members to discuss the future of community led, education-focused workspaces and participate in workshops centered on different fabrication projects.

Muslim doctor: My patient refused to let me treat her because of my religion

 

 

Muslim doctor: My patient refused to let me treat her because of my religion

 
 
 
 
 August 10

Making my rounds in the hospital one day, I put my stethoscope to a patient’s chest while she kept her eyes fixed on the television screen over my shoulder.

Hours before, bombs had torn through an airport and a train station in Brussels. My 65-year-old patient watched a flurry of images on Fox News showing unfathomable carnage, and I went through the all-too-familiar ritual of hoping that the perpetrators would not be identified as Muslim, that members of my faith would not be considered guilty by inexplicable association.

The sounds of my patient’s voice rose, eclipsing the thump of her heartbeat that I was painstakingly trying to hear.

She sounded distressed, anguished even, about the loss of the innocent lives on the TV screen. “These foreign people only come here to kill and ruin things,” she said. Then she said Donald Trump is right: America should ban all Muslims from immigrating here.

And then perhaps she noticed the subtle change in my facial expression. “I’m sorry, but your people and people who look like you make me uncomfortable,“ she said.

She refused to let me treat her.

I stood aghast at the bedside, wondering how my humanity and years of medical training had been negated by the acts of a sinister few an ocean away. With her words, the ascendant xenophobia of our time infiltrated the sacred patient-doctor relationship.

I had understood, in the abstract, the threat of Trump’s demagoguery and petulance. But until that moment, the bile he spewed seemed confined to Twitter and to rallies in faraway places. I didn’t think it would ever reach me, a physician, born here in the United States.

I should have known better.

Medicine is not practiced in a vacuum. It’s subject to the same influences affecting the rest of our society. In our current political environment, the toxic, Islamophobic rhetoric intended to incite and galvanize voters is of course seeping into hospitals and clinics.

A study published last year in AJOB Empirical Bioethics of Muslim doctors, who comprise 5 percent of U.S. physicians, found that 1 in 10 of these doctors has had a patient refuse their medical care because they are Muslim. Clearly my experience was not isolated.

That day, I deferred to my medical students to hastily complete the patient’s physical exam while I stepped aside and observed from the periphery. My impulses wrestled with my discretion, trying to suppress my desire to respond. Anger would only further alienate the patient, I knew.

I wondered what my responsibilities to the patient were in the face of this bigotry. Did any remain?

As a physician, I thought first of the Hippocratic oath, a doctor’s steadfast commitment to a patient. We doctors heal the affluent or the dispossessed. We heal regardless of sexual orientation, gender, religion or race. This oath compels us to invariably protect the patient from our biases and darkest demons. But it offers little wisdom when the physician is the one subjected to intolerance.

I needed more. And as I attempted to reconcile my desire to preserve my wounded personal dignity with the principles enshrined in the Hippocratic oath, I found my Islam.

Clarity arrived as I remembered one of my favorite verses from the Koran: “Believers, stand firm for God, be witnesses for justice. Never allow the hatred of people to prevent you from being just. Be just, for this is closest to righteousness.”

The concept of justice captured in this verse animated Muslims during the nascent stages of Islam. The Prophet Muhammad’s unprecedented message of egalitarianism threatened the entrenched social order and thus provoked considerable malice at the time. Yet this early Muslim community endured the ridicule and persecution because it was inspired by something far greater than itself.

Retreating into cynicism and rage was too tempting in the aftermath of my experience with the patient, but it would be an affront to the legacy and sacrifice of those that came before me.

In the end, this was all part of my personal inner jihad, which literally means “a struggle.” For a Muslim, jihad means the struggle of the soul to topple the barriers which prevent the realization of a divinely inspired life, a life that promotes the virtues of compassion, understanding and justice. A selfish focus on my own damaged ego detracted from this purpose.

My decision to work as a physician in the public setting of a hospital meant that I was an ambassador for my faith, whether I wanted to be or not. That’s an important role: the Pew Research Center has found that Americans are more likely to have a favorable opinion of Muslims if they know one.

As I reflected on the conversation with my patient that had gone awry, I realized the value in the seemingly mundane conversations I share daily with other patients. Perhaps the exchanges about their lives and mine are transformative. Our interactions allow us to see our common hopes and fears in each other.

Trump and others of his ilk have sought to sow division by stripping groups like Muslims, African Americans, Mexicans and women of their common humanity. His candidacy has brought long-hidden rancor into the open, even into our hospitals.

The finest and noblest traditions of medicine, however, are transcendent. My personal faith subsumes the Hippocratic oath and preaches mutual respect and tolerance. These are the sources of my continued dignity.

And they allowed me to knock on the same patient’s door again the next day.

Jalal Baig is an oncologist and a writer in Chicago.

Chinese Hui Muslims

China’s Complex Relationship With Islam Is Reflected in Ties to Hui

Play
 How Islam Coexists With Communism in Atheist China 5:41

YINCHUAN, China — This imam wears heels — and a gold-flecked headscarf.

Ma Lijuan is one of the faces of state-backed Islam in officially atheist Communist China.

Female imams like her are unique to China’s Hui, a Muslim minority group — as are their women-only mosques.

Ma hails from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, a sparsely populated province straddling an arid plateau on the Yellow River basin in north-central China.

“Here, [religion] is very normal for us,” said Ma, 33. “Our constitution grants us the freedom of religious belief, and we are thankful to live here.”

Image: Ma Lijuan
Ma Lijuan, an imam at Nanguan mosque in central Yinchuan, teaches Quran classes to dozens of women who repeat her chants in Arabic. David Lom / NBC News

Ma, who is married with two boys, helps lead a congregation of hundreds at the Nanguan Mosque in the provincial capital of Yinchuan. The mosque — with its onion-shaped domes and treed courtyard — dates to the 1900s but was refurbished in the 1980s.

“As a teacher, spreading Islamic truth is my duty,” Ma told NBC News. “When we are educating a Muslim woman we are also educating a family.”

Every morning Ma teaches Quran classes to dozens of mostly middle-aged and older women who repeat her chants in Arabic. She speaks in a gentle yet confident voice, and her infectious laugh punctuates conversations.

Ethnically Chinese Hui Muslims speak Mandarin and in recent decades have nurtured a coexistence with the Communist Party. The party has in return rewarded the community — which traces its roots to 10th-century Arab traders who married Chinese women — with the latitude and support to establish mosques, religious schools and museums.

However, the two haven’t always had such a harmonious relationship.

During the Cultural Revolution, religious communities throughout China were persecuted, and the Hui were no exception. After the country emerged from the tumult in 1976, the Hui reinstated the practice of their faith.

Play
 Former Red Guard Remembers Communist Revolution 1:53

China’s constitution provides for freedom of religion, but within very strict limits. Five “recognized religions” — including Christianity and Islam — are permitted to worship at state-approved sites. Proselytizing in public is illegal and unregistered groups, such as Tibetan Buddhists or Falun Gong, routinely encounter problems.

Not all of China’s 23 million Muslims, a legacy of traders who centuries ago ventured from the Middle East along the Silk Road, practice as freely as the Hui do.

Turkic-speaking Uighurs have increasingly chafed at large-scale immigration of China’s dominant Han Chinese. Ethnic tensions fueled violence that Chinese authorities point to as justification for religious restrictions and repressive tactics.

Image: A veiled Muslim Uighur woman in Kashgar in 2014
A veiled Muslim Uighur woman walks passed a statue of Mao Zedong in Kashgar in China’s restive Xinjiang Province in 2014. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

This year the government barred Uighur Muslim civil servants, students and children in the far western region of Xinjiang from fasting for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rest of the year, burqas, long beards and calls to prayer over loudspeakers are banned throughout Xinjiang. People under the age of 18 are not allowed to enter mosques at all.

The government’s unease with Islam intensified with the rise of Islamic extremism and as groups like ISIS recruited followers in China. Late last year, a digital recording of an ISIS chant in Mandarin calling on Muslims to “wake up” and “take up weapons to fight” was posted online.

“It would be naïve to say China does not face a problem with jihadi-style extremism,” said James Leibold, an expert on China’s ethnic minorities at Australia’s LaTrobe University. “But I don’t think that problem is nearly on the scale that the government perceives it to be. They have overblown it, which is dangerous and counter-productive because it whips up anti-Islamic fear and suspicion.”

Gallery: Uighurs in Kashgar: China’s Muslims Try To Preserve Traditions

Aware of how its crackdown in Xinjiang might affect its image in the Middle East, China recently issued a white paper on religion that declared “no Xinjiang citizen has been punished because of his or her rightful religious belief.”

Beijing, meanwhile, has invested heavily in Yinchuan and the surrounding area.

The makeover includes a new airport terminal to handle what local officials hope will accommodate a flood of Muslim tourists from the Middle East as China seeks to boost its image in and trade with the Arab world. The government is also promoting Hui-made products and real estate developments as part of its ambitious “One Belt, One Road” strategy to revitalize trade along the ancient Silk Road.

 

Image: Hui men in the courtyard of Najiahu mosque
Hui men in the courtyard of Najiahu Mosque. Janis Mackey Frayer / NBC News

Even street signs are being translated to Arabic.

“Unlike some other minorities, Hui people follow the leadership of the government,” said singer Ma Shouyun. “The state supports our religion very much.”

Because of all that the Hui are allowed to practice in relative peace.

On a recent evening as the call to prayer echoed across a courtyard, dozens of men adjusted their white caps under the shade of a locust tree and filed into Najiahu Mosque. It is a ritual practiced five times a day by Muslims all over the world.

But even in Yinchuan amidst state support most Hui remain conscious of their delicate position. When the conversation with Ma, the singer, shifted from Hui culture to Islam, a nearby shopkeeper interrupted him.

“No questions about religion,” she warned him, sparking a tense discussion with bystanders about the risk of irritating officials.

Few of them noticed the singer take off his TV microphone, straighten his cap and quietly walk away. 

A Palestinian Village Tries to Protect a Terraced Ancient Wonder of Agriculture

Photo
 
Palestinian farmers in Battir, a West Bank village near Bethlehem, use a Roman-era irrigation system to water their crops. Credit Abir Sultan/European Pressphoto Agency

BATTIR, West Bank — In this scenic Palestinian village in the West Bank hills near Bethlehem, just south of Jerusalem, a week is said to last eight days, not seven. That is because Battir’s eight extended families take daily turns watering their crops from the natural springs that feed their ancient agricultural terraces, a practice they say has worked for centuries.

The water flows through a Roman-era irrigation system down into a deep valley where a railway track — a section of the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway built in Ottoman times — roughly marks the 1949 armistice line between the West Bank and Israel. The area is dotted with tombs and ruins upon ruins of bygone civilizations.

When the World Heritage Committee of Unesco — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — meets in St. Petersburg, Russia, over the next two weeks, this pastoral area will be thrust into the spotlight at least momentarily as the villagers and conservation experts fight to save what they say is a unique living cultural and historical landscape.

The experts say the Battir terraces are under imminent threat because Israel plans to build a section of its West Bank security barrier right through the valley, parallel to the railway track. They are seeking to have Battir nominated as a World Heritage site on an emergency basis, a move that might persuade Israel to change its plans for the construction.

“The people here constructed their village while always preserving the terraces,” said Hassan Muamer, 27, a civil engineer working for the Battir Landscape Eco-Museum. “It was part of the mentality,” he added. “It is living history.”

But the effort to secure a nomination for Battir has been bogged down by internal Palestinian disagreements, designs and interests. The formal submission of the case was blocked at the last minute on the grounds that it had come too late. Instead, the Palestinian delegation to Unesco is pushing a higher-profile, more political effort to have Bethlehem’s venerated Church of the Nativity and pilgrimage route inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites on an emergency basis.

A panel of experts has already determined that although the church needs renovation and conservation, it does not appear to be in imminent danger and therefore does not qualify for emergency status. Leaders of the three churches that share control of the Church of the Nativity, always leery of prospective changes to the delicate status quo, also expressed some early reservations.

Continue reading the main story

 

 

When Unesco granted Palestinians full membership in the organization last October, Israel and the United States viewed the development as part of a contentious, wider Palestinian campaign for international recognition of statehood in the absence of an agreement with Israel. The step cost Unesco one-quarter of its yearly budget — 22 percent, or about $70 million, contributed by the United States, and 3 percent contributed by Israel.

Now some Palestinian and Western officials say that by pushing the case of the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birthplace of Jesus, the Palestinian leadership is putting prestige above professional and technical considerations.

In response to the criticism, the Palestinian ambassador to Unesco, Elias Sanbar, wrote a letter condemning what he called “a persistent campaign of rumors aimed at discrediting Bethlehem’s candidacy” by “those who do not want to see Palestine exercise its legitimate rights.” He attached a statement from two of the three church leaders expressing their thanks to the Palestinian leadership for its efforts to safeguard and advance the Christian congregations’ freedom and cause.

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Battir is seeking World Heritage status from Unesco. Credit The New York Times

Still, experts in the Palestinian territories say Battir is in more urgent need of protection.

“If Battir is submitted only next year, it may be too late,” said Giovanni Fontana Antonelli, the cultural heritage program specialist at the Unesco office in Ramallah, in the West Bank. “If the wall goes through the valley, it will totally destroy the integrity of the site,” he added.

Noting that the terraces are supported by dry stone walls made up of many millions of stones, Mr. Fontana characterized the valley as “not monumental but historical, an example of outstanding engineering.”

“The work of human beings there needs to be valued,” he said. “It is the work of centuries.”

Israel says its barrier, a system of fences and walls, razor wire and patrol roads, is essential to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities.

The villagers have petitioned the Supreme Court in Israel to have the barrier rerouted here to prevent the destruction of the striking beauty of the area and its ancient system of cultivation. A court decision is pending. The conservationists hope that a recommendation from the World Heritage Committee may help persuade the court not to reject the villagers’ petition.

Local Palestinians like Raed Samara, a planning and development expert who has been active in promoting the case of Battir, say construction of a barrier would destroy the tranquillity that has prevailed here for decades.

The steep slopes across from Battir are in Israel, making this shared landscape a transboundary site in the Unesco lexicon.

“Nobody thinks that Israel’s security concerns are not legitimate or important,” said Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, an organization that works to promote cooperation on environmental issues in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. But, he added, “there are alternative ways to bring about security without destroying 4,000 years of cultural heritage for the Israelis, the Palestinians and all of humanity.”

On a recent evening, Mohannad Abu Hassan, a schoolteacher, was working a small triangular plot in the valley with his son Muhammad, 12. Water poured in from one corner as they turned the rich soil planted with green beans, zucchini, eggplant and chard. As soon as they were finished watering, a sprightly elderly woman, a distant relative, skipped down to a nearby plot across the railway track and turned her water on. In the old core of the village, children bathed in the cool waters of the central spring.

Until the late 1940s, Battir was the last stop before Jerusalem on the Jaffa-Jerusalem railway. The train platform used to turn into a bustling market, and the villagers maintained strong connections with the city. The train does not stop here anymore, and most of the produce is now for home use or for local sale. But the villagers are keeping up with the times, swapping news about the Unesco effort through a Facebook group of 2,000 residents and supporters.

Akram Bader, the mayor of Battir, recently traveled to Unesco headquarters in Paris to push his case and plans to go to St. Petersburg. “For three months I couldn’t sleep,” Mr. Bader said. “I cannot imagine my village divided. If we have lived in peace these last 60 years, we can live the same way forever.”

Lung cancer “breathalyzer” wins $100K Entrepreneurship

  • MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    Photo: Michael Last

    FULL SCREEN

  • MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    Photo: Michael Last

    FULL SCREEN

  • MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    MIT $100K grand-prize-winning team Astraeus Technologies (left to right): Graham Lieberman, Jay Kumar, Alexander Blair, and Joseph Azzarelli.

    Photo: Michael Last

    FULL SCREEN

Lung cancer “breathalyzer” wins $100K Entrepreneurship Competition

Team’s smartphone-connected device can detect lung cancer early from a single breath.

Rob Matheson | MIT News Office 
May 12, 2016

A team of MIT and Harvard University students who invented a smartphone-connected sensor that detects lung cancer from a single breath took home the grand prize from Wednesday night’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition.

Astraeus Technologies won the $100,000 Robert P. Goldberg Grand prize at the 27th annual competition, beating out seven other finalist teams that pitched business ideas to a panel of expert judges and a lively capacity crowd in Kresge Auditorium. Five other teams innovating in big data, creative arts, and food service took home separate category prizes totaling $40,000.     

Astraeus has developed a postage-stamp-sized device, called the L CARD, that detects certain gases indicative of lung cancer. When someone blows onto the device, a connected mobile app turns a smartphone screen red if those gases are present and green if they aren’t. 

Inventor Joseph Azzarelli, an MIT PhD student in chemistry, demonstrated the device on stage by spraying a syringe filled with the lung-cancer-signaling gases onto the device, causing the smartphone screen to flash red. “The L CARD reacts and sends instantaneous information to the physician that further attention is required,” Azzarelli said while a ripple of excitement spread through the crowd.

“We love that demo as much as you guys do,” added team member Jay Kumar, a student at Harvard Medical School.

After the competition, Azzarelli told MIT News the prize money will go toward product development and first-round clinical trials in research hospitals in the area.  

Cheaper, safer screening

Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the United States, causing more deaths than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined, according to the World Health Organization. “Part of the reason lung cancer is so deadly is that the current gold standard screening test — the low-dose CT scan — is wholly inadequate in a variety of ways,” said team member Graham Lieberman, an MBA student at the Harvard Business School.

Kumar delved into more detail, explaining that CT scans cost about $800 for each scan, have a high false-positive rate, and expose patients to radiation that can increase their cancer risk.

Due to the risks and costs of CT scans, Lieberman added, only about 1.6 million of the 94 million Americans at risk for lung cancer — as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — are scanned each year. “A cheaper, safer screening device can be applied to a much larger percentage of that population,” he said.

The L CARD (which stands for Chemically Actuated Resonate Device) is essentially a modified near-field communication tag. Certain volatile organic compounds unique to the breath of lung cancer patients modify the tag’s radio frequency identification signal. A smartphone then pings the device and determines, from the modified signal, if those volatile compounds are present.

Kumar said the devices are an order of magnitude (about 10 times) more accurate than CT scans and can be made for less than $1. Astraeus will sell L CARDS directly to hospitals and clinics for use during routine annual checkups, he said. “We’re going after lung cancer,” Kumar said. “The root cause is bad screening: We’ve developed a better screening test, and it’s cost effective.”  

Last night’s win was the second for Astraeus in the $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, which consists of three independent contests: Pitch, Accelerate, and the Launch grand finale. Astraeus, which formed last November, also won the $10,000 Danny Lewin Grand Prize and the $3,000 Founders.org Audience Choice Prize at the Accelerate competition on Feb. 10.

Going through the competition helped the team focus on all the steps it takes to establish and expand a business, Azzarelli told MIT News. “Going into the $100K — the Launch competition in particular, which is taken so seriously by so many — really forces you to think, ‘If we’re really going to do this, at the level we really want to do it at, how are we going to move forward,’” Azzarelli said.

Big winners

Several additional awards were granted last night to finalist and semifinalist teams: Finalist team Spyce, which developed a tumbler-type machine stocked with raw ingredients that autonomously cooks and serves meals in bowls to customers, won the $5,000 Audience Choice award.

A $10,000 data prize from Booz Allen Hamilton went to semifinalist team ReviveMed, which developed a platform that can be used to repurpose safe but shelved drugs at pharmaceutical firms, for other uses. Two teams split a $10,000 Thomson Reuters Data Prize: finalist teamHive Maritime, which is developing analytics and optimization algorithms for shipping routes and vessel speeds, based on predicted queues at ports and canals; and semifinalist teamSwift Calcs, which is creating a cloud-based computational platform for engineers to collaborate on calculations.

Taking home the $15,000 Creative Arts Prize was Tekuma, which developed a service that matches people who want to rent property with artists who create and curate art, and ships the art to the rented space.   

Five other finalist teams pitched ideas: AquaFresco developed a water-recycling technology that lets people use one batch of soapy water to clean their laundry for several months;DoneGood is an app that lets people rate businesses based on practices such as being green, supporting diversity, buying locally, and adequately supporting workers, among other causes; Lux Labs created a nanoscale film that selectively filters light to reduce energy consumption on mobile devices and improve efficiency of solar cells; Solugen invented a green, safe, scalable process for producing hydrogen peroxide, which is used for things like semiconductor fabrication, plastic production, and water purification; and ABA Power is making aluminum-based batteries that have 30 times the energy density of traditional lithium batteries and are manufactured with zero emissions.

Since its debut in 1990, the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition has helped launch 160 companies worldwide that have raised an additional $1.3 billion in funding, have a combined market value of $16 billion, and have employed more than 4,600 people.

This year, 160 teams applied to the entrepreneurship competition. That number was winnowed to 50 semifinalist teams for the Launch contest. Judges then chose eight finalists to compete in Wednesday’s grand finale event. Semifinalist teams receive mentoring, prototyping funds, media exposure, and discounted services.

Tesla’s inherent safety saves five joyriding teenagers in Germany

Tesla’s inherent safety saves five joyriding teenagers in Germany

The car left the road, flew through the air and rolled into a field.


What’s left of the Model S after a teenager crashed and then rolled it into a field.
Sabine Hermsdorf

Do you have a teenage child that likes to borrow your car and then destroy it in a spectacular crash? We sincerely hope the answer to that question is a resounding “no,” but in the off chance that you do, you may want to consider changing your current vehicle for a Tesla Model S. Last week in Germany, the joyriding daughter of a Tesla owner discovered first-hand just how safe the electric vehicle is, after losing control at high speed and rolling into a field.

According to German newspaper Merkur, the 18-year old and four of her friends were messing around in her father’s Model S before losing control. The car flew more than 80 feet (25m) into a field before rolling once and coming to a halt. Although three of the occupants had to be helicoptered to hospitals in Munich for treatment, none of their injuries were life-threatening, a testament to the safety of Tesla’s skateboard chassis.


Enlarge / The skateboard chassis used by the Model S and Model X is extremely safe, with crumple zones that are unconcerned with engines that can transfer kinetic energy into the passengers during a frontal collision.
Jonathan Gitlin

Unlike a conventionally powered car, the Model S (and Model X) have no large engine up front to intrude into the passenger compartment during a collision. This means the front and rear crumple zones can effectively dissipate the kinetic energy of a crash, as seen to good effect in the photographs taken after the accident.

While the Model S was heavily damaged, one doesn’t need much of an imagination to think that a similar crash in a front-engined internal combustion vehicle would have had a much worse outcome for the car’s five occupants. (According to comments left at electrek.co, about the only way to fatally crash a Tesla appears to be driving one off a cliff at high speed.)

Well done, Tesla.

Wind power generates 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand

Wind power generates 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand

Unusually high winds allowed Denmark to meet all of its electricity needs – with plenty to spare for Germany, Norway and Sweden too

 
Offshore windfarm, Middelgrunden, Copenhagen, Denmark
 The Conservative UK government has announced a withdrawal of support for onshore windfarms. Denmark’s windfarms have strong government backing. Photograph: Max Mudie/Alamy

So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden.

On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%.

Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.

“It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind energy and renewables can be a solution to decarbonisation – and also security of supply at times of high demand.”

The figures emerged on the website of the Danish transmission systems operator,energinet.dk, which provides a minute-by-minute account of renewable power in the national grid. The site shows that Denmark’s windfarms were not even operating at their full 4.8GW capacity at the time of yesterday’s peaks.

http://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2015/07/denmark_wind_farms/giv-21277ih0cdT3kzSgL/

A surge in windfarm installations means Denmark could be producing half of its electricity from renewable sources well before a target date of 2020, according to Kees van der Leun, the chief commercial officer of the Ecofys energy consultancy.

The British wind industry may view the Danish achievement with envy, after David Cameron’s government announced a withdrawal of support for onshorewindfarms from next year, and planning obstacles for onshore wind builds.“They have a strong new builds programme with a net gain of 0.5GW in new onshore windfarms due before the end of the decade,” he said. “Some 1.5GW from new offshore windfarms will also be built, more than doubling the present capacity. We’re seeing a year-on-year 18% growth in wind electricity, so there really is a lot of momentum.”

Joy said: “If we want to see this happening on a European scale, it is essential that we upgrade the continent’s ageing grid infrastructure, ensure that countries open up borders, increase interconnection and trade electricity on a single market.”

Around three-quarters of Denmark’s wind capacity comes from onshore windfarms, which have strong government backing.

Savarkar justified the idea of rape as a political tool

Reading Savarkar: How a Hindutva icon justified the idea of rape as a political tool

The controversial figure castigated Maratha ruler Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan, whom he defeated.

Decades before the sexual assault of women during the 2002 Gujarat and 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, Hindutva propounder Veer Savarkar justified rape as a legitimate political tool. This he did by reconfiguring the idea of “Hindu virtue” in his book Six Glorious Epochs of Indian History, which he wrote in Marathi a few years before his death in 1966.

Six Glorious Epochs provides an account of Hindu resistance to invasions of India from the earliest times. It is based on historical records (many of them dubious), exaggerated accounts of foreign travellers, and the writings of colonial historians. Savarkar’s own febrile and frightening imagination reworks these diverse sources into a tome remarkable for its anger and hatred.

Savarkar’s account of Hindu resistance is also a history of virtues. He identified the virtues that proved detrimental to India and led to its conquest. He expounded his philosophy of morality in Chapter VIII,Perverted Conception of Virtues, in which he rejected the idea of absolute or unqualified virtue.

“In fact virtues and vices are only relative terms,” he said.

Virtues or vice?

Savarkar added that the test of determining what is virtue or vice is to examine whether it serves the interests of society, specifically Hindu society. This is because circumstances change, societies are always in a flux. What was deemed virtuous in the past could become a vice in the present if it is detrimental to mankind, he said.

For instance, said Savarkar, the caste system with its elaborate rules of purity and pollution helped stabilise Hindu society. But some of these rules became dysfunctional, degenerating into “seven fetters” of Hindu society.

These shackles, according to Savarkar, were untouchability, bans on drinking water from members of other castes, inter-caste dining, inter-caste marriage, sea-voyage, the ban on taking back into the Hindu fold those who were forcibly converted to Islam or Christianity, and ostracism of those who defied these prohibitions.

These “seven fetters” proved advantageous to the Muslim conquerors, wrote Savarkar, because they exploited caste rules to increase their population.

The conquerors forcibly converted Hindus who had been defeated, provided them with food and water, abducted women who were either kept as concubines or wives, certain that the ban on taking them back into the Hindu fold left them with no option but to live as Muslim, the Hindutva propounder wrote. This meant the “transformation of a man into a demon, the metamorphosis of a God into a Satan”.

Rape as a political tool

It is in this paradigm of ethics that Savarkar mooted the idea of rape as a political tool. He articulated it as a wish, through a question: What if Hindu kings, who occasionally defeated their Muslim counterparts, had also raped their women?

He expressed this wish after declaring, “It was a religious duty of every Muslim to kidnap and force into their religion, non-Muslim women.” He added that this fanaticism was not “Muslim madness”, for it had a distinct design – to increase the “Muslim population with special regard to unavoidable laws of nature.” It is the same law, which the animal world instinctively obeys.

Sarvarkar wrote:

“If in the cattle-herds the number of oxen grows in excess of the cows, the herds do not grow numerically in a rapid number. But on the other hand, the number of animals in the herds, with the excess of cows over the oxen, grows in mathematical progression.”

He cites examples from the human world too. For instance, he wrote, the African “wild tribes” kill only their male enemies, but not their women, who are distributed among the victors. This is because these tribes consider it their duty to increase their numbers through the progeny of abducted women. Similarly, he wrote that a Naga tribe in India kills women of rival tribes whom they can’t capture because they believe, rightly so, that paucity of women would enhance the possibility of their enemies dwindling in number.

Savarkar said that the Muslim conquerors of Africa too followed this tradition. Immediately thereafter, he spoke of the well-wishers of Ravana who advised him to return to Rama his wife, Sita, whom he had abducted. They said it was highly irreligious to have kidnapped Sita. Savarkar quotes Ravana saying, “What? To abduct and rape the womenfolk of the enemy, do you call it irreligious? It is Parodharmah, the greatest duty!”

It is with the “shameless religious fanaticism” of Ravana that the Muslims, from the Sultan to the soldier, abducted Hindu women, even the married ladies of Hindu royal families and notables, wrote Savarkar, adding that this was to increase the population of Muslims, to demographically conquer India, so to speak.

Savarkar is venomously critical of Muslim women who, “whether Begum or beggar”, never protested against the “atrocities committed by their male compatriots; on the contrary they encouraged them to do so and honoured them for it”.

Savarkar, even by his own standards, takes a huge leap by claiming that Muslim women living even in Hindu kingdoms enticed Hindu girls, “locked them up in their own houses, and conveyed them to Muslims centres in Masjids and Mosques”.

Muslim women were emboldened to perpetrate such atrocities because they did not fear retribution from Hindu men who, argued Savarkar, “had a perverted idea of women-chivalry”. Even when they vanquished their Muslim rivals, they punished the men among them, not their women, he said.

“Only Muslim men alone, if at all, suffered the consequential indignities but the Muslim women – never!” wrote Savarkar.

When Shivaji was wrong

This regret prompts him not to spare those who commend Shivaji for sending back the daughter-in-law of the Muslim governor of Kalyan, whom he defeated, as well as Peshwa Chimaji Appa (1707-1740), who did the same with the Portuguese wife of the governor of Bassein.

Savarkar wrote:

“But is it not strange that, when they did so, neither Shivaji Maharaj nor Chimaji Appa should ever remember, the atrocities and the rapes and the molestation, perpetrated by Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Ghori, Allauddin Khalji and others, on thousands of Hindu ladies and girls…”

Savarkar’s febrile imagination now flies on the wings of rhetoric. He writes:

“The souls of those millions of aggrieved women might have perhaps said ‘Do not forget, O Your Majesty Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and O! Your Excellency Chimaji Appa, the unutterable atrocities and oppression and outrage committed on us by the sultans and Muslim noblemen and thousands of others, big and small.

“Let these sultans and their peers take a pledge that in the event of a Hindu victory our molestation and detestable lot shall be avenged on the Muslim women. Once they are haunted with this dreadful apprehension that the Muslim women too, stand in the same predicament in case the Hindus win, the future Muslim conquerors will never dare to think of such molestation of Hindu women [emphasis added].”

Their chivalry was perverted, said Savarkar, because it proved highly detrimental to Hindu society. This chivalry was “suicidal” because it “saved the Muslim women (simply because they were women) from the heavy punishment of committing indescribable serious crimes against Hindu women”, Savarkar laments.

Even worse, he said, was the foolish notion among the Hindus that to have “any sort of relations with a Muslim woman meant their own conversion to Islam”. This belief became an impediment to Hindu men inflicting punishment on the “Muslim feminine class [fair (?) sex]” for their atrocities [words in parenthesis Savarkar’s].

Savarkar’s readers cannot but see that he has overturned the code of ethics and freed the Hindus from the shackles that prevent them from descending into barbarism. But Savarkar doesn’t seem convinced of his persuasive powers.

So under a subsection titled, But If, he seeks to hammer in his point. He asks readers:

“Suppose if from the earliest Muslim invasions of India, the Hindus also, whenever they were victors on the battlefields, had decided to pay the Muslim fair sex in the same coin or punished them in some other ways, i.e., by conversion even with force, and then absorbed them in their fold, then? Then with this horrible apprehension at their heart they would have desisted from their evil designs against any Hindu lady.” 

He adds:

“If they had taken such a fright in the first two or three centuries, millions and millions of luckless Hindu ladies would have been saved all their indignities, loss of their own religion, rapes, ravages and other unimaginable persecutions.”

Thus, the use of rape as a political tool stands justified.

But why should Savarkar’s idea of rape as a political tool apply today, given that Six Glorious Epochs deal with India’s past?

This is because Savarkar very explicitly stated that a change of religion implies a change of nationality. It was Savarkar, not Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who first categorised Hindus and Muslims as two nations. From the Hindutva perspective, the two nations – Hindu and Muslim – have been locked in a continuous conflict for supremacy since the 11th century.

In the Savarkarite worldview, only those ethical codes should be adhered to which enable the Hindus to establish their supremacy over the Muslims. Thus, he reasoned, it is justified to rape Muslim women in riots because it is revenge for the barbarity of Muslims in the medieval times, whether proven or otherwise. After all, today’s riots ar