Carpet sellers        
Istanbul's carpet salesmen are legendary.  But when you know you are likely to be moving to work in a different continent within the next six months (where home could be any style of house or apartment in who-knows-what style and colour scheme) - or, if not, that you may be off back-packing round the world whilst deciding what to do next - then the temptation to buy an expensive carpet is pretty easily resisted.

So on my initial transit through Istanbul (on the way to Kyrgyzstan) I let myself be led into a carpet shop to have a look at what they had to offer.  "Just looking".  I was shown carpet after carpet - from Turkey, from India, from Afghanistan, in wool, in yak hair and in silk, and in every colour under the sun.  But sadly I gleaned very little information on carpets, as the salesman was more keen to impress on me how big a discount he would give me if I would go somewhere with him in his car so that he could "show me how he loved me"(!).  No thank you.

However in Uzbekistan, in a carpet-making workshop in the old city of Khiva, I saw a collection of silk carpets and totally fell in love with one.  If only I had somewhere settled to put it, and a spare $2,000...

Back in transit in Istanbul again, thinking no more about carpets (other than the lingering regrets over not being able to buy the one in Khiva), I was walking through a park when I found myself in conversation with a friendly Australian woman, who told me she was in Istanbul for a few months doing some jewellery design.  We chatted a little, and she pointed out a few interesting historical things that we were walking past (that I would otherwise have missed), and then she asked if I'd like to see her jewellery.  Well it seemed a little rude to say no.  But would you believe it, her jewellery was on display in the front part of a carpet shop ... and when she invited me to sit down for a glass of apple tea it was in the carpet showroom.

Whilst I had had no idea that undercover carpet sellers were now roaming the parks disguised as friendly Australians, I have to say that the man in the shop (the Australian rapidly disappeared - presumably to hunt down more victims) was very informative, and totally agreed, when I explained my situation, that now was not the time for me to buy a carpet.

Having listened to his explanations of single -v- double knots, and the significance of the number of knots per inch, I finally asked him about prices.  A very nice wool carpet, about the same size as "my" silk one in Khiva, was worth €1,600, he said.  I told him about the carpet I had fallen in love with and he expressed total disbelief at the price - showed me a much smaller silk one in his collection priced at $11,000...  He wondered if mine might have been made of cheap Chinese silk although even then it couldn't be that cheap (in fact all the silk used in the Khiva workshop is grown in Uzbekistan).  I began to wonder if my guide had mis-translated 20 into 2, or if perhaps I had missed the bargain of a lifetime...


          The Silk Road        

Aside from my close encounter with a golden eagle, my ten days in Kyrgyzstan involved a lot of walking in the mountains and a lot of layers of clothing as I tried to keep warm at night. The tour mostly involved sleeping in yurts set up on bleak hillsides or in remote valleys. Yurts have been used by the indigenous nomads for many centuries, and the thick layers of felt that cover them do keep out the worst of the cold, but with my relatively skinny frame I needed to wear all the clothes I had packed at the same time to stay warm in the evenings before I burrowed under the layers of blankets they provided for us.

We experienced other aspects of local culture too, from the food (warming meals with lots of meat and fat) and drink (a mildly fermented mare’s milk which tasted of sheep’s cheese), to the famous horsemanship skills. The latter included leaning from their saddles and picking a small (golf-ball-sized) object off the ground as they galloped past – not always successfully but this skill comes from a game using a decapitated goat which, to be fair, is rather larger than a golf ball. Horses are an integral part of the life of the nomads in Kyrgyzstan and on our walks we came across several young boys on horseback driving flocks of sheep and goats around the mountain-sides.

We also saw the ancient (restored) caravanserai of Tash Rabat, an atmospheric stone building in the middle of a remote valley – our first introduction to the Silk Route.

From Kyrgyzstan we travelled to Uzbekistan, only next-door but so very different. We went from green mountains to dry, flat desert, and from moveable felt yurts to solid ancient monuments.

The name Samarkand evoked for me the same kind of exotic image as Zanzibar and Timbuktu; an almost mythical place.  & it didn't disappoint.  Mosques, mausoleums and madrassas, all magnificently restored with their dazzling blue tiles, competed for my attention with the stories of the famous men who had passed through here: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane...  the Shah -e- Zindar (street of the dead) was especially impressive, full of intricately tiled mausoleums still being visited by pilgrims.

After Samarkand we visited Bokhara - more mosques and madrassas, but somehow on a smaller, more human scale.  This was a very relaxed place where I felt I could just wander about, or stop in one of its many cafes for a green tea, or even sit on a bench and read my book.  I was working my way through Hopkirk's "The Great Game" - to learn more about the history of the region - and this was brought to life in Bokhara when I visited the 'bug pit' where British officers Connolly and Stoddard were held by the khan for many months before being executed in the square outside the Ark.

There were some good shopping opportunities here too, with the old madrassas and market domes filled with stalls selling ceramics, carpets, miniature paintings, silk scarves and wonderful embroidered jackets that would unfortunately be totally unsuitable for the hot climate of Dakar.

In Bokhara I said goodbye to the rest of the group, and continued further west.  A long day's drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert, crossing the great Oxus River, took me to Khiva.  Although the wall is older, most of the buildings within the old city here date on the from the 19th century, but the effect is of somewhere much more ancient.  My hotel was actually in one of the old (or not so old) madrassas, with a wonderful minaret forming a part of it - see photo.

An interesting practice here was to build tombs on the sloping sides of the city wall.  This meant that the body could not be buried in the ground but had to be laid in the tomb itself, and I was quite surprised when looking into one crumbling old tomb, as I climbed up the wall, to see what appeared very much to be a human thigh-bone, amongst other fragments of broken bone!

As with the other Silk Road cities, I was surprised to see virtually no other Western tourists.  I was told that this was because most prefer to avoid the August heat and that their numbers would rise in September.  There were plenty of local tourists though, and strangely I was as much of an attraction for them as the monuments, many wanting to be photographed with me.  Then on my final day in the country - in a museum in Tashkent - I was even interviewed for Uzbekistan television, asked my views on Tashkent ceramics (on which I'm a great expert, as you can imagine) and the local way of serving green tea.

If you're interested, the latter involves only filling the bowl half-full, so when the guest asks for more the host gets the pleasure of serving them a second time.

          The eagle hunters of Kyrgyzstan        

The art of hunting using eagles was introduced into Kyrgyzstan from Mongolia during the time of Genghis Khan. Today there are some fifty men left who continue the tradition, including Talgarbek who came to demonstrate the art with his nine-year-old golden eagle, Tumara.

We were outside the traditional hunting season, as the birds moult in summer and so are left to rest apart from short displays for tourists. In the winter, however, Talgarbek may take his eagle out into the mountains for several days at a time on hunting expeditions. There, her job is to follow her natural instinct and hunt, and his job is to keep an eye on where she is and follow her so as to get a share of the prey. Both animal skins and meat may then be sold to nomads he passes on his route. When “at home” he feeds her (around 600g of fresh meat, usually rabbit) only every second day, as she will not hunt if she is not hungry.

For the display, it is possible to see her kill a live rabbit, but we had been warned that this can be upsetting. Apparently they are tame rabbits brought up by the hunter and his family; the eagle will not hunt/kill when she is hooded and cannot therefore see her prey properly and the rabbits are used to her presence. On a previous display the guide said the rabbit had not even realised it was supposed to run away and so just sat there as the eagle landed until the bird started pecking at it. Not quite the same as seeing an eagle coming down and grabbing a rabbit in its talons and tearing it to pieces, which might be a spectacle worth seeing (given that the eagle has to eat…). So for us he used a fox fur, pulled along the ground by a rope, as the prey. The eagle, left unhooded and free on a rock a little up the mountainside, quickly spotted the fur and swooped down onto it, at which point the hunter ran up, fed her some alternative food (presumably the rabbit!) and removed the fur.

We were each allowed to hold her, by wearing the thick leather glove which she sits on, and when I asked if I could stroke her I was told that was fine. Although she was hooded at the time, it was still quite a thrill to hold such an impressive bird.

Tumara was taken from her nest in a difficult operation requiring climbing ropes, when her flight feathers were just sprouting. At this stage the parents fly off to hunt for several hours at a time, and the young are sufficiently developed to be taken away. There were two young in the nest, a male and female, and Talgarbek chose the female explaining to us that they are easier to train, being less aggressive.

The hunter spends several hours a day with the bird and comes to be seen as the surrogate parent. Indeed that relationship works both ways, as Talgarbek says he will miss her dreadfully when he finally lets her go – that it will be like a daughter leaving home to get married – but that he will have to free her in order to give her the opportunity to find a mate and live out her adult years as a free bird. He will probably keep her until she is about twenty, which will leave her some thirty years of freedom.
 

          Comment on Banners Design for Mobile Unlock Base by MichaelImmed        
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          World: FPMA Bulletin #7, 10 August 2017        
Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Country: Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Burundi, Cambodia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Thailand, Togo, Uganda, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Viet Nam, World, Zambia

Key messages

  • International prices of wheat rose further in July on quality concerns, particularly for higher protein wheat, although upward pressure was limited by prospects of ample global supplies. Export prices of maize remained generally unchanged, while a slowdown in demand capped gains in rice quotations.
  • In East Africa, prices of cereals in most countries declined signi cantly for the second consecutive month in July with the new harvests, but remained generally higher than a year earlier. However, in Ethiopia, prices of maize surged further and reached record levels, underpinned by uncertain prospects for the 2017 crops.
  • In the CIS, prices of staple potatoes declined sharply from the record or near-record highs of June in most countries of the subregion with the beginning of the new harvest. Prices, however, remained higher than in July last year after the sharp increases of the past months.

          RUSSIA: Babushkas rule        

Russia will be reshaped not by revolution but by urbanization and a life expectancy gap between men and women, writes Ekaterina Schulmann

Historical parallels are a curse of our time because they prevent rational analysis of social and political processes. Once you hear that 2014 is 1914 all over again, or that a certain regime is heading towards a new Nazism, this is a clear signal to stop listening, as clear as when you are advised to read Dostoevsky to gain insight into the ‘Russian soul’.

It is time to stop taking Karl Marx’s joke at face value: history does not repeat itself, either as tragedy, or as farce. Since there is an infinite supply of historical facts, it is likely that striking similarities between past and present events are based either on the magic of numbers – 1914/2014 – or on highlighting some facts while ignoring others.

The main sin of parallelism is that it negates progress. It is stuck in the Middle Ages, when the wheel of fortune decreed that nothing changed.

The same type of thinking that denies the passage of time, however, makes a fetish of space and turns geography into destiny.

People who balk at a comparison between the Russian and Venezuelan political systems are happy to compare modern Russia with the Russia of Ivan the Terrible, Nicholas II or Stalin, periods that have nothing to do with our time economically, culturally or socially.

So what are we to make of this year’s centenary of the revolutions that ended the Russian Empire, and the fashionable search for clues to the future of today’s Russia? To unpick the parallels, it is worth exploring the basic composition of Russian society then and now through demographic trends − while understanding that demography influences, but does not determine, political processes.

Looking at the demographic data of Russia for 2016 and for the Russian regions of the Empire by 1917, we see two major trends that shaped the 20th century: ageing and urbanization.

The median age of a Russian citizen of today is 39 years. In 1917, the average age of a resident of Petrograd was 19. In 1885, there were 11.6 million city dwellers in Russia, a figure that doubled within 30 years to 23.2 million in 1914. In 1940 the urban population of the USSR was 60.6 million people and in 1956, 87 million. Within 40 years, 54 million people had moved from village to town. By the late 1950s, the urban population equalled the peasantry.

Urbanization was a feature of the era that transformed agrarian societies into modern industrial ones. The grimmer appendages of this process were global wars of the type unknown to previous ages, combining the genocidal intent of Genghis Khan with new weapons capable of wiping out millions of lives. The young people wanting to climb up the social ladder by moving from the countryside to the cities could play two roles: as the drivers of progress or the cogs in great totalitarian machines of repression, as happened in Russia and China.

There are gaps in the Russian demographic pyramid that we see repeated roughly every 20 to 25 years. These are the traces of the horror that was the Russian 20th century – mostly the human loss of the Second World War, but also of the civil war, collectivization, numerous waves of genocide and organized hunger. If you compare the modern demographic pyramids of the former Soviet republics, you will see a picture resembling the Russian pyramid, but with the edges somewhat smoothed.

Today 74.4 per cent of the citizens of Russia live in cities, according to Rosstat, the Russian statistics service. Agrarian Russia, the Russia of the peasantry, is now the stuff of folklore. Given the state of the transport and road infrastructure, it is reasonable to assert that Russia today consists of 15 cities and their agglomerations, with more or less empty space in between.

There are two exceptions: the agricultural regions of Southern Russia and the national republics of the North Caucasus. Remarkably, these are also the regions with distinct political cultures and electoral behaviour differing from that of central, northern or Siberian Russia.

Ethnically, if we compare the results of the censuses of 1991 in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, as the territory of the Russian Federation was defined in Soviet times, and the last census of 2010, we see a gradual consolidation of the ethnically Russian population. Non-Russian Judeo-Christian ethnic groups are declining or disappearing: Jews, Germans, even Ukrainians and Belarusians are markedly less numerous in 2010 than in 1991. The sole exception is the Armenians.

At the same time, there is quite significant growth of those ethnic groups that can be described as Muslim: the Azeris, the Tartars, and the Caucasian nations. Very roughly put, in the Russia of today we see two groups of unequal size, but also with unequal demographic dynamics: the generalized Russian and the generalized Muslim nations.

Having said this, it is important to remember that these are not actual ‘communities’ or even ‘ethnic groups’: there is not so much in common between the Kazan Tatars and the Chechens, while the ‘Russian’ Russians are extremely diverse.

These statistics, of course, can be readily used for all kinds of political catastrophism. They can be turned to support nationalistic propaganda of the ‘let’s declare a mono-national state before it’s too late’ type, or the ‘Russians are all dying out and being replaced by people from the Caucasus’.

In fact, Russia is not dying out in any perceivable way, the birth rates being moderately low, but on a par with the general level of countries of comparable economic status and social composition.

Looking at the demographic pyramid of 2016, we see not just an old, but an ageing population, with the predominance of women growing with each rise up the age scale. This is due to the difference in average life expectancy between the genders: men die sooner, and the more pronounced gender inequality starts after 55 years. Life expectancy has been slowly growing for the past 15 years yet according to data for 2016 it is still a shockingly low 66.5 years for males and an almost decent 77 years for females.

The real Russian demographic problem is not low birth rate, but early mortality, especially male mortality, which is almost totally due to preventable social causes: alcoholism, driving accidents, violent crime, high prison population and treatable diseases, most importantly cardiovascular.

There is a total absence of what demographers call a ‘youth bulge’ − a disproportionately high number of 15 to 25-year-olds in the population pyramid. Such a youth bulge was very visible in the population pyramid of Germany in 1933, the year Hitler was appointed Chancellor, and − in a milder form − in Russia in 1927.

Today we have instead what might be termed a youth gap − a visible failure below 25 to 29 years caused by the relatively small generation born during the first half of the 90s. The following 15 to 19 stratum is even smaller − a continuation of the low fertility of the second half of the 90s and early 2000s.

Since 2002, the birth rate has been gradually increasing, and at the base of our pyramid we see two decent-sized ‘bricks’ −Russians aged 10 years or less. Their participation in the political process is yet to come.

What does this demographic picture mean for a country’s political development? Always keeping in mind that demography affects but does not determine political processes, it is possible to discern some tendencies.

With women aged 45 and older becoming the predominant social group in Russia, this creates the impetus to shift the policy agenda towards social issues − healthcare, education, a comfortable living environment. This is in marked contrast to official budget priorities, focused on security, the military and costly foreign adventures.

The decision-makers of the ruling bureaucracy are largely males aged 60-plus, with military, secret service and law-enforcement backgrounds. Their values and interests may be not as aligned with those of the Russian majority as they would like to think.

Demography is an important factor that affects a country’s likelihood of edging towards authoritarianism. Poor demography isn’t a death sentence; however, the existence of a ‘youth bulge’ correlates with a society’s proneness to violence.

When the majority of the population in a country is over 40, protests are more likely to be peaceful and legal. At the same time, an older population has no effect on the probability of a military coup, the other bane of semi-autocracies that don’t have a politically valid mechanism for the transfer of power.

While young people go to demonstrations, older people go to elections. By casting their ballots, the old deliver the results required by the authorities and also agree to accept them as legitimate.

The latter is an important factor in a political system that relies heavily on falsifications and the use of the ‘administrative resource’ to boost turnout and achieve desirable voting outcomes. If younger Russians neither vote nor take an interest in election campaigns and their results, it erodes the election’s legitimacy, making protest activity a more attractive option.

The next generation gap, stemming from the relatively small generation born in the 1990s and early 2000s which is now entering its fertility age, will ensure a continuing need to replace the shortfall with migrant workers. This, inevitably, will form the basis of continuing political tensions for the next 15 to 20 years.

In a longer perspective, we have the continuing ultra-urbanization process that will draw Russia closer and closer to the picture of ‘15 great cities with empty spaces in between’. These are: Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Chelyabinsk, Omsk, Samara, Rostov-on-Don, Ufa, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, Voronezh and Volgograd. Close behind are Krasnodar, Saratov and Tyumen.

The cities of industrial Siberia − Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Tomsk, Novosibirsk − and Southern Russia and the North Caucasus − Makhachkala, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don − demonstrate the most stable population growth in recent years, both due to natural birth increase and migration.

These 15 to 18 cities and the surrounding territories serving them will inevitably strive to become both sources and centres of political power. This is in direct opposition to the current political system that has all-but abolished direct mayoral elections, crushed the freedoms and financial independence of municipalities and strives to uphold at least the appearance of a ‘vertical of power’ by heavy dependence on regional authorities − which, in their turn, are kept under control by a centralized budgeting system and the threat of criminal prosecution.

Both varying demographic dynamics and migration rates will widen the differences in ethnic composition between different regions and between the smaller towns and the megapolises. The core Russian territories are growing more and more uniformly Russian (and its towns are experiencing population decline), while the bigger cities present a globally familiar picture of ethnic and religious diversity.

Today even Moscow is, by international standards, almost a mono-ethnic and certainly a mono-racial city as compared with New York or London, but this will change in the coming decades. Already today the mayor of Moscow is from the Far North and the deputy mayor is from Tatarstan, a cause of some political discontent. In future we are likely to see people from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and other parts of Central Asia who want administrative and political careers in the capital.

Today’s social tensions are often created by the average Russian’s suspicious attitude towards both working migrants in the cities and non-Russians in the administration, the courts and the police.

In the foreseeable future the ethnic shifts described above will dangerously increase those tensions, if they are not absorbed and co-opted by working political institutions, competitive public politics and pluralistic media − not exacerbated or exploited by the state-run media’s short-sighted propaganda and a monopolistic ruling elite which makes little room for the generations below them who are keen for their turn at power.

 

AUTHOR:

Ekaterina Schulmann is an Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration


           How global is the 'global' transformation of the university? The importance of transnational knowledge production, critique and imagination         
Amsler, Sarah (2013) How global is the 'global' transformation of the university? The importance of transnational knowledge production, critique and imagination. In: University of Central Asia Public Lecture Series, 23 April 2013, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
          Killing us softly         

A recent public outcry in China, sparked by a damning documentary about air pollution, was based on well-founded fear:

Of the 100 million people who viewed the film on the first day of its online release, 172,000 are likely to die each year from air pollution-related diseases, according to regional trends.* 

Worldwide, pollution kills twice as many people each year as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,** but aid policy has consistently neglected it as a health risk, donors and experts say. 

Air pollution alone killed seven million people in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures released last year, most of them in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the Asia Pacific region.*** 

In a self-critical report released late last month the World Bank acknowledged that it had treated air pollution as an afterthought, resulting in a dearth of analysis of the problem and spending on solutions. 

“We now need to step up our game and adopt a more comprehensive approach to fixing air quality,” the authors wrote in Clean Air and Healthy Lungs. “If left unaddressed, these problems are expected to grow worse over time, as the world continues to urbanise at an unprecedented and challenging speed.”

A second report released last month by several organisations – including the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, an international consortium of UN organisations, governments, development banks, NGOs and academics – also called for more funding towards reducing pollution. 

“Rich countries, multilateral agencies and organisations have forgotten the crippling impacts of pollution and fail to make it a priority in their foreign assistance,” the authors wrote. 

Housebound in China 

A dense haze obstructs visibility more often than not across China’s northern Hua Bei plain and two of its major river deltas. Less than one percent of the 500 largest cities in China meet WHO’s air quality guidelines. Anger over air pollution is a hot topic among China’s increasingly outspoken citizenry.  

“Half of the days in 2014, I had to confine my daughter to my home like a prisoner because the air quality in Beijing was so poor,” China’s well-known journalist Chai Jing said in Under the Dome, the independent documentary she released last month, which investigated the causes of China’s air pollution.

The film was shared on the Chinese social media portal Weibo more than 580,000 times before officials ordered websites to delete it. 

Beyond the silo

Traditionally left to environmental experts to tackle, the fight against pollution is increasingly recognised as requiring attention from health and development specialists too. 

“Air pollution is the top environmental health risk and among the top modifiable health risks in the world,” said Professor Michael Brauer, a public health expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada and a member of the scientific advisory panel for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a consortium of governments and the UN Environment Programme. “Air pollution has been under-funded and its health impacts under-appreciated.”

Pollution – especially outdoor or “ambient” air pollution – is also a major drag on economic performance and limits the opportunities of the poor, according to Ilmi Granoff, an environmental policy expert at the Overseas Development Institute, a London-based think tank. It causes premature death, illness, lost earnings and medical costs – all of which take their toll on both individual and national productivity.

“Donors need to get out of the siloed thinking of pollution as an environmental problem distinct from economic development and poverty reduction,” Granoff said. 

Pollution cleanup is indeed underfunded, he added, but pollution prevention is even more poorly prioritised: “It’s underfunded in much of the developed world, in aid, and in developing country priorities, so this isn’t just an aid problem.”

Mounting evidence 

Pollution kills in a variety of ways, according to relatively recent studies; air pollution is by far the most lethal form compared to soil and water pollution. 
 

Microscopic particulate matter (PM) suspended in polluted air is the chief culprit in these deaths: the smaller the particles’ size, the deeper they are able to penetrate into the lungs.  Particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) are small enough to reach the alveoli, the deepest part of the lungs, and to enter the blood stream.  

From there, PM2.5 causes inflammation and changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting processes - the precursors to fatal stroke and heart disease.  PM2.5 irritates and corrodes the alveoli, which impairs lung function - a major precursor to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also acts as a carcinogen.

Most research looks at long-term exposure to PM2.5 but even studies looking at the hours immediately following bursts of especially high ambient PM2.5 (in developed countries) show a corresponding spike in life-threatening heart attacks, heart arrhythmias and stroke.

Asia worst affected

The overwhelming majority - 70 percent - of global air pollution deaths occur in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.  South Asia has eight of the top 10 and 33 of the top 50 cities with the worst PM concentrations in the world.  

 

WHO says a city’s average annual PM levels should be 20 micrograms per cubic meter.  But cities such as Karachi, Gaborone, and Delhi have yearly PM averages above 200 micrograms per cubic meter. 

The main source of PM2.5 in indoor air, or household air, is burning solid fuels for cooking and heating, using wood, coal, dung or crop leftovers - a common practice in rural areas of low and middle-income countries that lack electricity.  

Almost three billion people live this way, the majority in the densely populated Asia Pacific region: India and China each hold about one quarter of all people who rely on solid fuels. For these people, the daily average dose of PM2.5 is often in the hundreds of micrograms per cubic meter. 

Filling the gaps

Unlike many other health risks air pollution is very cost-effective to address, Brauer said. Analysis of air quality interventions in the US suggests a return on investment of up to $30 for every dollar spent. 

“We already know how to reduce these risks, as we have done exactly that in high income countries, so this is not a matter of searching for a cure - we know what works,” he said.

But the World Bank report said that unless it starts gathering better data on local air quality in LMICs, the amounts and sources of air pollution and the full gamut of its health impacts, “it is not possible to appropriately target interventions in a cost-effective manner.”

Granoff said there are also gaps in government capacity to monitor, regulate and enforce pollution policy. 

Beijing hopes to bring PM2.5 concentrations down to safe levels by 2030, and has said it will fine big polluters. 

The World Bank report said China is also charging all enterprises fees for the pollutants they discharge; establishing a nationwide PM2.5 monitoring network; instituting pollution control measures on motor vehicles; and controlling urban dust pollution.

But enforcing environmental protections has been a longstanding problem in China.

“Pollution policy will only succeed if citizens are aware of the harm, able to organise their concern [through advocacy campaigns], and have a responsive government that prioritises public welfare over the narrower interests of polluting sectors,” Granoff said. 

While more people die from household air pollution than from ambient air pollution, the latter – through vehicles, smokestacks and open burning – still accounted for 3.7 million deaths in 2012, according to the WHO. 

A change in the air

Kaye Patdu, an air quality expert at Clean Air Asia, a Manila-based think tank - and the secretariat for the UN-backed Clean Air Asia Partnership, comprising more than 250 government, civil, academic, business and development organisations - said the aid community is finally starting to recognise the importance of tackling air pollution.  

• Last year’s inaugural UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution calling for strengthened action on air pollution.  
• WHO Member States are planning to adopt a resolution on health and air quality at the upcoming World Health Assembly in May. 
• The proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the post-2015 international development agenda, address city air quality and air, soil and water pollution. 

None of the experts IRIN contacted could provide a breakdown of total aid spending on all forms of toxic pollution (air, water and soil pollution that is harmful to human health).  So IRIN asked each of the major global donors for their figures.  

Three responded.  

A back-of-envelope calculation of all reported spending on toxic pollution by USAID, the European Commission and the World Bank suggests that between them they committed about US$10 billion over 10 years. This does not include aid spending on the diseases that pollution causes. The World Bank’s spending figures eclipsed those of other the other donors. 

By very rough comparison, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, with half the death toll of air pollution, received $28 billion via public sector commitments to the Global Fund – the world’s largest financier of programs that tackle these diseases – over the same period, a fraction of total spending on these diseases. 

gh/ha/bp

*Based on WHO statistics for per capita mortality rates in the Western Pacific region in 2012. 

**The mortality figures for air pollution come from 2012 statistics and were released by WHO in 2014, while the figures for the infectious diseases come from 2013 statistics and were released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2014 (the Global Burden of Disease study).

***Includes deaths from both household air pollution (4.3 million) and ambient air pollution (3.7 million): the combined death toll is less than the sum of the parts because many people are exposed to both. 

For more: 

The relationship between household air pollution and disease

Ambient air pollution and the risk of acute ischemic stroke 

Cardiovascular effects of exposure to ambient air pollution 

Particulate air pollution and lung function  

Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of cerebrovascular events: Results from 11 European cohorts within the ESCAPE Project  

OECD's The Cost of Air Pollution report
 

101285 200901271.jpg Analysis Health Killing us softly Gabrielle Babbington IRIN HONG KONG Congo, Republic of Djibouti DRC Eritrea Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somalia Sudan Tanzania Uganda Angola Botswana Lesotho Madagascar Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Seychelles South Africa Swaziland Zambia Zimbabwe Benin Burkina Faso Cameroon Cape Verde Chad Côte d’Ivoire Equatorial Guinea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Liberia Mali Mauritania Niger Nigeria Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Sierra Leone Togo Colombia Haiti United States Bangladesh Cambodia Indonesia Iran Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Myanmar Pakistan Papua New Guinea Philippines Samoa Sri Lanka Tajikistan Thailand Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vietnam
          Scale of Vanuatu cyclone disaster complicates aid response        

The scale of Vanuatu’s cyclone disaster is matched only by the complexity of the required humanitarian response, according to both the government and aid workers arriving on the battered Pacific islands.

“The problem is absolutely massive,” Alice Clements, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Vanuatu, told IRIN. “We have simultaneous emergencies in 65 islands, with no telecoms, accessible only by boat or helicopter, in an archipelago stretching 1,300 km.”

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale was reported by the BBC as saying the 13 March storm had "wiped out" all recent development and the country would have to rebuild "everything".

Half the population - 132,000 people - are estimated to have been affected by cyclone Pam, including 60,000 children, according to UNICEF. Initial assessments indicate 90 percent of houses have been damaged in the capital, Port Vila, with destruction on the southern island of Tanna “significantly worse”, Care Australia reported.

Twitter accounts to follow
Hanna Butler - Red Cross @hannarosebutler
OCHA - Asia Pacific             @OCHAAsiaPac
Tom Perry - CARE Australia     @thomasmperry
UNICEF - Australia       @unicefaustralia
Liam Fox - ABC News       @liamfoxabc
Radio Australia Pacific Beat     @RAPacificBeat
Tess Newton Cain             @CainTess

More than 3,300 people are sheltering in 37 evacuation centres on the islands of Torba and Penama, and the main island of Efate. But the National Disaster Management Office will need help if people remain displaced for a prolonged period. 

The humanitarian response “is almost going to be like applying a medical triage, to work out which is the most urgent”, said Clements. Aerial assessments have been carried out so far by military aircraft from Australia, New Zealand and France, with more flights scheduled for Tuesday. Commercial flights have resumed to Port Vila despite damage to the airport.

“There is need for logistics experts and light reconnaissance planes/helicopters, pilots, and fuel to deliver supplies and conduct assessments. There is also a need for sea shipping to transport food, water and rebuilding materials,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. The main hospital in Port Vila is badly damaged, patients have been transferred to a newer part of the building, “but there is an urgent need for medical supplies” and “the morgue is unserviceable”.

Twenty-four people are confirmed dead so far, but the toll is expected to rise as assessment teams reach the more remote islands.

Providing clean water for survivors is a priority. There is a risk of waterborne diseases, especially dangerous for pregnant mothers and young children, and food is also likely to be a problem in the coming days with fruit trees uprooted, root crops inundated, and animal pens destroyed by the 270 km/h winds and flooding.

“Eighty percent of Vanuatu’s population engage in subsistence agriculture as a primary economic activity. It is anticipated that emergency food relief could be needed for up to a month, plus longer term recovery support,” OCHA noted.

Vanuatu has “3,000 years of experience dealing with an incredible mind-boggling range of disasters, from earthquakes to volcanos. People have great coping mechanisms, but this was a category 5 storm," Clements said.

oa/rh

101239 Vanuatu aftermath of Cyclone Pam, 13 March 2015 News Migration Environment and Disasters Scale of cyclone Pam disaster staggering IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Vanuatu reeling from impact of cyclone Pam        

The closure of the main airport in Vanuatu is hampering the humanitarian response to cyclone Pam, which tore through the Pacific island archipelago yesterday, causing colossal damage.

The airport in the capital, Port Vila, is still flooded and trees are blocking the runway, Vincent Omuga, deputy head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Office for the Pacific, said on Saturday.

“There are lots of plans to provide regional humanitarian support, but the challenge is that the airport is not open at the moment. There are indications the government will open the airport to military flights: Australia and New Zealand have plans to move in, and UNDAC [UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination] have a nine-member team on standby, but all flights are currently suspended,” Omuga told IRIN.

Reports describe the tropical cyclone packing winds of up to 270 km/h as “devastating” and potentially one of the worst weather disasters in the region. There are unconfirmed reports of casualties, but aid agencies are warning it will take several days before there is a full picture of the storm’s impact.

Omuga said the government’s priorities are to open the airport, repair damage to hospitals, and clear the roads closed by the category 5 cyclone. It is expected to declare a state of emergency to facilitate the humanitarian response.

“Power lines are still down, there is lots of damage to infrastructure and lots of houses have been destroyed. Many provinces are flooded and inaccessible, and the islands on the eastern side [of the archipelago] were especially affected,” Omuga said.

Even a temporary damage assessment in Port Vila is constrained by the extent of the flooding and the trees and debris blocking the roads. Aid workers on the ground “have not gone out of the capital, and not even all of the capital [has been surveyed]. What they are reporting is what they can see from leaving their vehicles and walking around,” said Omuga.

oa/rh

101235 Port Vila, Vanuatu, aftermath of cyclone Pam, 14 March 2015 News Environment and Disasters Aid and Policy Vanuatu reeling from cyclone Pam IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Kyrgyzstan – a long weekend hiking and exploring        
The lady in the headscarf stands over us, wagging a finger indicating firmly that it is time for us to go to bed. We crawl into sleeping bags, donning hats and fleeces in response to the rapidly lowering temperatures, and soon there are eight bodies all in a row and the sound of deep breathing. […]
          CHP-169-The Mongol Yuan Dynasty Part 1        

In this long overdue episode with a deceiving title we don't actually get around to the Yuan Dynasty.  However a nice handy and confusing overview tracing the rise of the Mongol nation is presented which includes a bio on Genghis Khan.  We'll get to rise of Kublai Khan this time and look at the Yuan Dynasty next episode.  

 

Terms from this Episode

numero ciento sesenta y nueve Number 169

Qin Shihuang 秦始皇 Qin Dynasty founder

Da Yuanchao 大元朝 The Great Mongol Dynasty

Parthians 帕提亚  Iranian nomadic people

Scythians   斯基泰人 Iranian nomadic people

Yuezhi 月氏 Originally from Xinjiang and Gansu, defeated by the Xiongnu

Goths 哥特 West central Asian power, the scourge of the Roman Empire

Magyars   马扎儿人 West central Asian power. Today they are known as Hungarians.

Huns 匈奴 More from the western part of the steppe, often confused with Xiongnu

Xiongnu 匈奴 Often called Huns, they were an early northern tribe who kept invading China

Slavs   斯拉夫人 People from central Europe and the West Asian steppe

Xianbei 鲜卑   So-called "proto-Mongols" who lived around the Qin and Han dynasties and founded the Northern Wei.

Shatuo Turks  沙陀突厥  Power in north China late 9th and 10th century. Founded several short-lived dynasties in the north of China.

Khitans 契丹 The people who founded the Liao Dynasty 907-1125

Tatars 鞑靼人 Mongol tribe defeated by Genghis Khan who later moved westward towards Russia and Europe

Kazakhs   哈萨克人 North-Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Kyrgyz  吉尔吉斯  Central Asian people, Turkic, found mostly in Kyrgyzstan

Uighurs   维吾尔人   Turkic people who today mostly live in Xinjiang

The Hakkas 客家人 The Hakka People

Fujian 福建   Province on the east coast of China

Huizong   徽宗 Last emperor of the Northern Song

Aguda 阿骨打 Also known as Emperor Taizu of Jin, founder of the Jin Dynasty

Wuqimai 吴乞买 Aguda's brother, second emperor of the Jin

Kaifeng 开封 Capital of the Northern Song Dynasty

Jin Dynasty  金朝 Jürchen Dynasty 1115-1234, founded by Aguda

Zhao Gou   赵构 Escaped Zhao royal family member, launched Southern Song

Gaozong 高宗 First emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty

Lin'an 临安 Southern Song capital, present day Hangzhou

Merkits  蔑儿乞人 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Keraits  怯烈亦 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongüts  汪古部 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Ongirats  One of many tribes of the Mongols

Naimans 乃蛮 One of many tribes of the Mongols

Temüjin 铁木真 Genghis Khan's name

Dobun Known as Dobun the Clever, married to Alan the Fair, early ancestors of Temujin

Ah-Lan the Fair married to Dobun, early ancestors of Temujin

Khaidu 海都 c. 1040-1100 Great-grandfather of Khabul Khan

Khabul Khan  合不勒  Early great khan and great -grandfather of Genghis Khan

Yesugei the Brave 孛儿只斤Ÿ也速该 Father of Genghis Khan

Yuanchao Mi Shi 元朝秘史 The Secret History of the Mongols

Börte 孛儿帖 Wife of Temüjin and later Grand Empress of the Mongol Empire

Ulaan Bator 乌兰巴托 Capital of Mongolia

Jochi 术赤 Oldest son of Börte and maybe Genghis Khan

Golden Horde 金帐汗国  Originally the northwest portion of the Mongol Empire. Also known as the Kipchak Khanate. Lasted till 1502.

Xinjiang   新疆 Northwest autonomous region in China

Mongol Yasa (Jasagh)   A Mongol Codified law introduced by Genghis Khan

Khuriltai 忽里勒台   A Mongol congress of all elders and leaders

Kara Khitai 喀喇契丹 Also known as the Western Liao 1124-1218

Xixia  西夏 The Western Xia, an empire established by the Tanguts

Khwarizmian Empire 花剌子模王国 Lasted 1077-1231. Khwarazmia covered All of Iran and parts of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan.

Batu 拔都 Founder of Golden Horde, son of Jochi, grandson of Genghis Khan

Chaghadai 蔡合台 Second son of Genghis Khan, founder of Khanate of Chaghadai

Khanate of Chaghadai 蔡合台汗国 Covered most of Central Asia

Ogedai Khan 窝阔台 or 斡歌歹 Third son of Genghis Khan, second Khan of the Mongol Empire

Tolui 拖雷 Fourth Son of Genghis Khan, father of Kublai Khan

Möngke 蒙哥 Eldest son of Tolui, elder brother to Kublai Khan

Kublai 忽必烈 1215-1294, Great Khan and founder of the Yuan Dynasty. Reigned 1271-1294.

Hulagu 旭烈兀 grandson of Genghis Khan, son of Tolui

Arigh Boke 阿里不哥 Youngest son of Tolui, fought civil war with Kublai

Subotei 速不台 Genghis Khan's number one guy (and Ogedai's too!). Great Mongol general.

Dzungaria 准噶尔 Northern half of Xinjiang with Tianshan Mountains south and the Altai north.

Karakorum 喀喇昆仑 Mongol capital 1235-1260

Guyuk 贵由 Eldest son of Ogedai Khan, reigned only two years as the 3rd Great Khan

Mamluks 马木留克 Originally slave soldiers, they were a powerful "caste" of warriors who operated from the 9th to 19th centuries. Not to be messed with.

Il-khanate 伊儿汗国  The southwestern portion of the Mongol Empire. Ruled by Hülagü's branch of the family - centered around Iran

Dali Kingdom 大理国 Kingdom that lasted 937-1253. Mostly located in Yunnan.

Owen Lattimore 欧文Ÿ拉铁摩尔 American scholar and Central Asian specialist

 

Isaac Meyer:  “History of Japan Podcast”

https://historyofjapan.wordpress.com/

 

Nina Xiang: "China Money Network"

http://www.chinamoneynetwork.com/

 


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          Ronald A. Brand        
Ronald A. Brand
First Name: 
Ronald
Middle Name / Initial: 
A.
Last Name: 
Brand
Academic Director, CILE
Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Professor and John E. Murray Faculty Scholar
Room: 
(412) 648-1307
rbrand@pitt.edu
Degrees: 
Degree: 
JD, Cornell University
Degree: 
BA, University of Nebraska

Ronald A. Brand was the driving force behind the creation of the University of Pittsburgh's Center for International Legal Education (CILE) and its Master of Laws Program for Foreign Law Graduates. His reputation as a scholar on international and comparative law has helped the University of Pittsburgh School of Law attract prominent visiting scholars and lecturers from around the world and enhance opportunities for students to study and work abroad.

Professor Brand's scholarship includes a number of books and many articles in major journals. His books include: Transaction Planning Using Rules of Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments (Hague Academy of International Law, Pocketbook Series, 2014); Fundamentals of International Business Transactions, Vols I and II (4th edition, CILE, 2013); International Civil Dispute Resolution (with Charles Baldwin, David Epstein, and Michael Gordon, West Group, 2d edition, 2008); The 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements: Commentary and Documents (with Paul M. Herrup, Cambridge University Press, 2008); The CISG and the Business Lawyer: The UNCITRAL Digest as a Contract Drafting Tool, (with Mark Walter and Harry Flechtner, Oxford University Press, 2008); Forum Non Conveniens: Past, Present and Future, 3 CILE Studies (with Scott Jablonski, Oxford University Press, 2008); and Private Law, Private International Law, and Judicial Cooperation in the EU-US Relationship, (West 2005).

Professor Brand has been a Fulbright Scholar at the Universiteit Brussel, a Research Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, and a visiting professor at the University of Augsburg. He has lectured on international trade and business law matters at universities in the U.S. and abroad. His excellence in the classroom has earned Professor Brand both the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, a University-wide honor, and the Law School's Excellence-in-Teaching Award. He has also received the Chancellor's Distinguished Public Service Award.

Professor Brand represented the United States at Special Commissions and the Diplomatic Conference of the Hague Conference on Private International Law that produced the 2005 Convention on Choice of Court Agreements.

Courses Previously Taught: 
Course Name: 
International Trade Law Seminar
Course Name: 
Transnational Litigation
old_person_id: 
1486
Key/Recent Publications: 

Books:

  • Transaction Planning Using Rules Of Jurisdiction And The Recognition And Enforcement Of Judgments, Hague Academy Collected Courses (Hague Academy of International Law, Pocketbook Series)
  • Transaction Planning Using Rules Of Jurisdiction And The Recognition And Enforcement Of Judgments, 358 Hague Academy Collected Courses (Recueil des cours) (2013)
  • Fundamentals Of International Business Transactions Vols I and II (4th edition, CILE, 2013), (3rd edition, CILE, 2012); (2nd edition, CILE, 2011)
  • Fundamentals Of International Business Transactions: Documents Supplement (4th edition, CILE, 2013), (3rd edition, CILE, 2012); (2nd edition, CILE, 2011)
  • Recognition And Enforcement Of Foreign Judgments (Federal Judicial Center International Litigation Guide 2012) available from FJC.gov.
  • The Export Of Legal Education: Its Promise And Impact In Transition Countries (with D. Wes Rist, Ashgate Press 2009)
  • International Civil Dispute Resolution (with Charles Baldwin, David Epstein, and Michael Gordon, West Group, 2d edition 2008) (with Documents Supplement and Teacher’s Manual)
  • The 2005 Hague Convention On Choice Of Court Agreements (with Paul M. Herrup, Cambridge University Press 2008)
  • Drafting Contracts Under The CISG, 4 CILE Studies (with Harry Flechtner and Mark Walter, Oxford University Press 2008)
  • Forum Non Conveniens:  History, Global Practice And Future Under The Hague Convention On Choice Of Court Agreements, 3 CILE Studies (with Scott Jablonski, Oxford University Press 2007)
  • Private Law, Private International Law, And Judicial Cooperation In The EU-US Relationship, 2 CILE Studies (West 2005)
  • The Draft Uncitral Digest And Beyond – Cases, Analysis And Unresolved Issues In The U.N. Sales Convention, 1 CILE Studies (with Franco Ferrari and Harry Flechtner, 2005) (reissue of the original work published by Sellier European Law Publishers in 2004)
  • International Civil Dispute Resolution (with Charles Baldwin, David Epstein, and Michael Gordon, West Group, 2004) (with Documents Supplement and Teacher’s Manual)
  • The Draft Uncitral Digest And Beyond – Cases, Analysis And Unresolved Issues In The U.N. Sales Convention (with Franco Ferrari and Harry Flechtner, Sellier European Law Publishers, 2004)
  • Fundamentals Of International Business Transactions (Kluwer Law International, 2000)
  • Fundamentals Of International Business Transactions: Documents (Kluwer Law International, 2000)
  • Enforcing Foreign Judgments In The United States And United States Judgments Abroad (American Bar Association Section of International Law and Practice, 1992)
  • Basic Documents Of International Economic Law (with Stephen Zamora, Commerce Clearing House, Inc. 1990)
  • Disclaimers In Estate Planning:  A Guide To Their Effective Use (with William P. LaPiana, American Bar Association Section on Real Property, Probate and Trust Law 1990)

Books (Series Editor):

  • Michael Karayanni, Conflicts In A Conflict: A Conflict Of Laws Case Study On Israel And The Palestinian Territories, 5 CILE Studies (Oxford University Press, 2014)

Articles and Chapters:

  • State Recognition, Private International Law, and Kosovo, __ Review Of Central And East European Law (RCEEL) (forthcoming 2014)
  • The Unfriendly Intrusion of Consumer Legislation into Freedom to Contract for Effective ODR, Liber Amicorum Johan Erauw 365-380 (Maud Piers, Henri Storm, Jinske Verhellen, eds., Intersentia 2014)
  • Federal Judicial Center International Litigation Guide: Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, 74 University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 491-548 (2013)
  • The Evolving Private International Law/Substantive Law Overlap in the European Union, Festschrift Für Ulrich Magnus Zum 70. Geburtstag 371-384 (Peter Mankowski & Wolfgang Wurmnest, eds.,  Sellier European Law Publishers, 2014)
  • Special Report: Kosovo After the ICJ Opinion, Introduction, 74 University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 593-597 (2013)
  • Cooperation in Legal Education and Legal Reform, 74 University Of Pittsburgh Law Review 650-657 (2013)
  • Shaping the Rule of Law Through Legal Education, 75 Augsburger Rechtsstudien: Gerechtigkeitsfragen In Gesellschaft Und Wirtschaft, 40 Jahre Juristische Facultät Augsburg 11 (Arnd Koch & Matthias Rossi, eds. 2013)
  • Challenges to Forum Non Conveniens, 45 NYU Journal Of International Law And Politics 1003-1035 (2013)
  • Implementing the 2005 Hague Convention: The EU Magnet and the US Centrifuge, Liber Amicorum Alegria Borrás 267-76 (Forner Delaygua-González Beilfuss-Vinñas Farré, ed. 2013)
  • Forum Non Conveniens, Max Planck Encyclopaedia Of Public International Law (updated version 2013)
  • Jurisdictional Developments and the New Hague Judgments Project, A Commitment To Private International Law: Essays In Honour Of Hans Van Loon 89-99 (2013)
  • Party Autonomy and Access to Justice in the UNCITRAL Online Dispute Resolution Project, 10 Loyola University Chicago International Law Review 11-36 (2012)
  • Access-to-Justice Analysis on a Due Process Platform, review of Christopher A. Whytock and Cassandra Burke Robertson, Forum Non Conveniens and The Enforcement of Foreign Judgments, 112 Columbia Law Review Sidebar 76-82 (2012).
  • Recognition Jurisdiction and the Hague Choice of Court Convention, Liber Amicorum Kresimir Sajko 155-187 (Hrvoje Sikirič, Vilim Bouček & Davor Babič, eds., 2012)
  • The Rome I Regulation Rules on Party Autonomy for Choice of Law: A U.S. Perspective, (Dec. 2011).
  • Mr. Bergsten’s Neighborhood: The Vis Moot, Legal Education, and Rule of Law, International Arbitration and International Commercial Law, Convergence and Evolution, Liber Amicorum Eric Bergsten 687-696 (Stefan Kröll, Loukas Mistelis, Pilar Perales Viscasillas & Vikki Rogers, eds., 2011)
  • U.S. Implementation vel non of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, 2010 Yearbook of Private International Law 107-122 (2011)
  • Promoting the Rule of Law: Cooperation and Competition in the EU-US Relationship, 72 University of Pittsburgh Law Review 163-169 (2010)
  • Exporting Legal Education: Lessons Learned from Efforts in Transition Countries, 32 Harvard International Review 43-47 (Issue 2, Summer 2010)
  • Arbitration or Litigation? Choice of Forum After the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, LVII Belgrade Law Review 23-35 (Issue No. 3, 2009), also reprinted at 7 Transnational Dispute Management (Issue 1, April 2010).  
  • Effective Techniques for Teaching About Other Cultures and Legal Systems, International Association of Law Schools Educational Program, Effective Teaching Techniques About Other Cultures and Legal Systems 209, May 30, 2008.
  • Consent, Validity, and Choice of Forum Agreements in International Contracts, Liber Amicorum Hubert Bocken 541-553 (I Boone, I. Claeys, & L. Lavrysen, eds., Die Keure, 2009). On SSRN.
  • Treaties and the Separation of Powers in the United States: A Reassessment after Medillín v. Texas, 47 Duquesne Law Review 707-729 (2009). 
  • The European Magnet and the U.S. Centrifuge: Ten Selected Private International Law Developments of 2008, 15 ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law 367- 393 (2009).
  • The Export of Legal Education: Its Promise and Impact in Transition Countries, The Export of Legal Education: Its Promise and Impact In Transition Countries, chapter 1 (Ronald A. Brand & D. Wes Rist, eds., Ashgate, 2009).
  • Competition in and from the Harmonization of Private International Law, Economic Law as an Economic Good, Its Rule Function and Its Tool Function in the Competition of Systems 353-368 (Karl M. Meessen, Marc Bungenberg and Adelheid Puttler, eds. Sellier European Law Publishers, Munich, 2009). 
  • An American Perspective on the New Japanese Act on General Rules for Application of Laws, Japanese Yearbook of International Law 298-313 (2009) (with Tabitha Fish). 
  • External Effects of Internal Developments: A US Perspective on Changing Competence for Private International Law in Europe, Liber Fausto Pocar: New Instruments of Private International Law 163-179 (Stefania Bariatti and Gabriella Venturini eds. 2009).
  • Forum Non Conveniens, Max Planck Encyclopaedia of Public International Law (2008).
  • The Road to Vindabona: Preparing for the Moot, The VIS Book: A Participant's Guide to the Willem C. VIS International Commercial Arbitration Moot, Chapter 3 (Janet Walker, ed. 2008). 
  • A New Role for Litigation in CISG Contracts: The 2005 Hague Choice of Court Convention, Drafting Contracts Under the CISG 149-166 (Harry Flechtner, Ronald A. Brand and Mark Walter eds., 2007).
  • Judicial Review and United States Supreme Court Citations to Foreign and International Law, 46 Duquesne Law Review 423-437 (2007).
  • Balancing Sovereignty and Party Autonomy in Private International Law: Regression at the European Court of Justice, in Universalism, Tradition and the Individual, Liber amicorum dedicated to Professor Petar Å arèiviè 35 (Johan Erauw, Vesna Tomljenovic, and Paul Volken, eds., 2006)
  • Federalism and the Allocation of Sovereignty Beyond the State in the European Union, 44 Duquesne Law Review 71-79 (2005)
  • CISG Article 31: When Substantive Law Rules Affect Jurisdictional Results, 25 Journal of Law and Commerce 181-202 (2005).
  • The European Union’s New Role in International Private Litigation, 2 Loyola University Chicago School of Law International Law Review 277-293 (2005)
  • Punitive Damages Revisited: Taking the Rationale for Non-Recognition of Foreign Judgments Too Far, 24 Journal of Law and Commerce 181-196 (2005)
  • The 1999 Hague Preliminary Draft Convention Text on Jurisdiction and Judgments: A View From the United States, The Hague Preliminary Draft Convention on Jurisdiction and Judgments 3-40 (Fausto Pocar and Constanza Honorati, editors, 2005)
  • Private Law, Private International Law, and Judicial Cooperation in the EU-US Relationship (West, 2005). Abstract available on SSRN.
  • ASIL Insight: The New Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements ASIL Insight, July 26, 2005
  • Community Competence for Matters of Judicial Cooperation at the Hague Conference on Private International Law: A View from the United States, 21 Journal of Law and Commerce 191-208 (2002)
  • Sovereignty: The State, the Individual, and the International Legal System in the Twenty-First Century, 25 Hastings International & Comparative Law Review 279-295 (2002)
  • Forum Selection and Forum Rejection in US Courts: One Rationale for a Global Choice of Court Convention, in Reform and Development of Private International Law: Festschrift for Sir Peter North 51-87 (James Fawcett, ed., 2002)
  • Comparative Forum Non Conveniens and the Hague Judgments Convention, 37 Texas International Law Journal 467-498 (2002)

Selected Presentations:

  • “Understanding Judgments Recognition,” Symposium on “The Changing Relationship Between International Law and U.S. Law,” sponsored by the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation, University of North Carolina School of Law, January 30, 2015
  • Comments on “When U.S. Treaty Powers and State Law Collide — The Controversy over Implementing the 2005 Hague Convention” by Peter D. Trooboff.  New York University Law School Center for Transnational Litigation, Arbitration and Commercial Law Program, November 24, 2015.
  • “Kosovo Accession to International Organizations: Private International Law,” Workshop on “Kosovo as a Member of the International Community – Accession to International Organisations,” University of Graz, Austria, March 21, 2014
  • “Protecting Consumers in Online Transactions:  Why EU Consumer Protection Rules Should be Replaced with Rules from ‘the Titanic of Worst Decisions’ by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Foreign Chair Lecture at the University of Ghent Faculty of Law, Ghent, Belgium, March 13, 2014
  • “The Recognition of Foreign Judgments in the U.S. and Europe and the Hague Conference Judgments Project,” Institute for European Studies (IES), Brussels, Belgium, March 11, 2014
  • Moderator, panel “Private International Law: The Year in Review” at the International Law Weekend hosted by the American Branch of the International Law Association, New York, Oct. 25, 2013
  • “Contract Drafting Lessons From Rules on Jurisdiction and Choice of Forum in Europe,” at the 2013 International Law Weekend-Midwest, held at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri, Sept. 20, 2013
  • “Making U.S. Judgments Recognition Law: A Three-dimensional Chess Game,” presented as part of a panel on “Responsible Enforcement of Foreign Judgments,” at a symposium on “Transnational Forum Shopping,” at Pepperdine University School of Law, Sept. 19, 2013
  • “The European Court of Justice and Private International Law: An American Perspective,” lecture at the University of Prishtina Faculty of Law, Kosovo, June 7, 2013
  • “An Introduction to U.S. Law” and “U.S. Legal Education,” lectures at Moi University School of Law, Eldoret, Kenya, January 14-15, 2013
  • “A Comparative Law Perspective on Forum Non Conveniens,” panel discussion titled “Regulating Forum Shopping: Courts’ Use of Forum Non Conveniens in Transnational Litigation” at the 18th Annual Herbert Rubin and Justice Rose Luttan Rubin International Law Symposium at the New York University School of Law, On October 25, 2012
  • “Legal Education and Legal Reform,” Conference on “Kosovo After the ICJ Opinion,” Center for International Legal Education, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, October 24, 2012
  • “International Law, Diplomacy, and National Politics: Reflections on the Negotiation and Implementation of the 2005 Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements,” combined meeting of the Honorable Amy Reynolds Hay Chapter and the W. Edward Sell Chapter of The American Inns of Court, May 17, 2012
  • “Improving the World of Electronic Commerce:  Synthesizing Online Dispute Resolution, Consumer Protection, Private International Law, and International Arbitration,” at the Loyola Chicago University Law School conference on “U.S. Impact On International Commercial Arbitration:  Positive or Negative?” February 10, 2012
  • “What is the Effect of an International Arbitration Agreement?”  Teach-in on International Arbitration, Ramallah, West Bank, Palestinian Territories, December 7, 2011
  • “Shaping Rule of Law Through Legal Education,” Symposium on “The Shaping of Society and Economy Through Law” at the University of Augsburg Faculty of Law, November 18, 2011
  • “Private International Law in Action,” panel at the International Law Weekend, American Branch of the International Law Association, New York, NY, October 21, 2011 
old_room_id: 
1312
Awards: 
  • 2011 Doctor Juris Honoris Causa, University of Augsburg
  • 2011 ABA Section of International Law, Leonard J. Theberge Award for Private International Law
  • 2003 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award
  • 1990 University Center for International Studies Senior Research Fellowship
  • 1989 Fulbright Fellowship for Research in Belgium
  • 1989 Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award
  • 1988 Student Bar Association Excellence in Teaching Award
Other Activities: 
  • Member, Inaugural Advisory Committee, Global Studies Center, University of Pittsburgh, 2012-present
  • Invited Expert Observer, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, Working Group III on Online Dispute Resolution, 2010-present
  • Member, Advisory Committee, Center for Russian and East European Studies, University of Pittsburgh, 2010-present
  • Member, Advisory Board, Sultan Qaboos University College of Law, Muscat, Oman. 2010-present
  • Member, ASIL Working Group on Implementation of the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements, Washington, D.C..
  • Observer, National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) Drafting Committee for the International Choice of Court Agreements Implementation Act, 2009-2012
  • Member, Executive Committee, American Branch of the International Law Association, 2006‑present (Chair, Nominating Committee, 2009-11), (Member, Committee on ABILA Committee Rules of Procedure, 2011)
  • Member, American Law Institute 2000‑present; Member Consultative Groups: International Jurisdiction and Judgments Project; Intellectual Property:  Principles Governing Jurisdiction, Choice of Law, and Judgments in Transnational Disputes; International Arbitration Restatement; Principles of World Trade Law
  • Member, U.S. Delegation to Special Commission of The Hague Conference on Private International Law negotiation of convention on jurisdiction and effects of foreign judgments in civil and commercial matters, and concluding the Hague Choice of Court Convention 1993‑2005
  • Associate Member, International Academy of Comparative Law, 2008-present
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board, The Journal of Private International Law, 2003-present
  • Member, Board of Editors, American Journal of Comparative Law
  • Member, American Society of International Law, 1977-present
  • Chairman, Ad hoc Committee to study international economic law programs, 1994‑1995; Member, Interest Group on International Economic Law, 1983-present (Chairman 1987‑1989; Vice-Chairman 1985‑1987; Member, Advisory Committee, 2007-present)
  • Special Master, appointed by Federal District Judge Robert Cindrich, in Dow Chemical Co. v. Federal Ins. Co., C.A. No. 94‑0649, Western District of Pennsylvania
  • Member, Advisory Committee, EU Center of Excellence, University of Pittsburgh
  • Member, University Center for International Studies Global Studies Faculty Advisory Committee, 2003-present
  • Open Society Institute Academic Fellows Program International Scholar to support Kyiv-Mohyla Faculty of Law, 2007-08
  • Member, Open Society Institute selection committee for 2000‑2001 Muskie/FSA Graduate Fellows in Law; selection committee for Palestinian Rule of Law Fellows 2007
  • Reviewer, ABA Central and East European Law Initiative Draft Law on Foreign Investment for the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Report issued June 1, 1995
  • Member, ABA Central and East European Law Initiative Working Group for Concept Paper on International Trade for Bulgaria, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Poland, 1994‑1995
  • Member, Nominating Committee, American Society of International Law, 1992‑1993
Program(s): 

Director, Center for International Legal Education

Director, LL.M. and S.J.D. Programs for Foreign Law Graduates

Program Director, International and Comparative Law Certificate Program

Areas of Specialization: 

International Business|International Trade|Transnational Litigation

Hi-Res Photo: 

          Geo-politics        
The US And That 'Other' Axis

by Jephraim P Gundzik [asia Times: June 9, 2005]

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/GF09Ad08.html



Beijing's increasingly close ties with Moscow and Tehran will thwart Washington's foreign policy goal of expanding US security footholds in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia. However, the primacy of economic stability will most likely prevent a proxy-style military confrontation, in Iran or North Korea, between China and the US.


Threat to 'axis of evil' unwinds in Baghdad

In January 2002 during his State of the Union address to the US congress, President George W Bush outlined his administration's primary foreign policy goal as preventing "regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction". Bush went on to specifically name Iraq, Iran and North Korea as state sponsors of terrorism, infamously dubbing this group the "axis of evil". After failing to gather multilateral support in the United Nation, Bush declared war on Iraq.

Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, Beijing has worked feverishly to strengthen its ties with Moscow and Teheran in an apparent effort to prevent US military action against the remaining "axis of evil" members, Iran and North Korea. In addition to recent massive energy deals with Teheran, which place Iran in China's security web, both Beijing and Moscow have accelerated the transfer of missile technology to Teheran, while selling the Islamic republic increasingly sophisticated military equipment.

Armed with a vast array of anti-ship and long-range missiles, Iran can target US troop positions throughout the Middle East and strike US Navy ships. Iran can also use its weapons to blockade the Straits of Hormuz through which one-third of the world's traded oil is shipped. With the help of Beijing and Moscow, Teheran is becoming an increasingly unappealing military target for the US.

As in the Middle East, the China-Iran-Russia axis is challenging US interests in Central Asia. Washington is working feverishly to gain security footholds in Tajikistan and Kazakhstan to complement existing US military bases in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. China and Russia are working equally hard to assert their influence in Central Asia. A good portion of this work is being done under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO.)

Composed of China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the SCO was created in 1996 and reborn in 2001 when it was bolstered to counter the initial eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The SCO is becoming an increasingly powerful regional mutual security organization. Joint military maneuvers between SCO member states began in 2003. In 2004, the SCO created a rapid reaction anti-terror strike force. According to Igor Rogachev, Russia's ambassador to China, the new force is designed to combat and respond to terrorist attacks in any SCO member nation.

In 2004, Iran made it clear that it was interested in joining the SCO. Iran's mammoth energy deals with China imply that Tehran is now integral to China's national security. A good way to formalize security relations between China and Iran is through the SCO.

The autocratic governments of Central Asia have much more in common with China, Iran and Russia than with the US. At the same time, China and Russia can invest exponentially larger sums of money in Central Asian countries than the US. Almost all of China's and Russia's foreign investment is conducted by state-owned enterprises. Investment by these enterprises is primarily driven by geopolitical expediency.

Foreign investment in the US is controlled by profit-driven private enterprises. While the US government can dole out aid to Central Asian countries, the size of this aid pales in comparison to the money that can be lavished on Central Asian countries by China's and Russia's state-owned enterprises. In 2004, commercial and security ties between Kazakhstan and China were strengthened when Beijing signed a deal with Astana to build a pipeline from the Caspian Sea to western China.

The pipeline deal with Kazakhstan prompted Beijing to pledge increased military and technical assistance to Kyrgyzstan, through which this pipeline passes. Despite its small size and lack of natural resources, the geostrategic importance of Kyrgyzstan, which hosts military bases for both Russia and the US, is enormous. Recent political instability in Kyrgyzstan especially alarmed Washington.

In early April, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Bishkek to ensure that Kyrgyzstan's new government would continue to host US military forces. In addition, Rumsfeld tried to persuade interim President Kurmanbek Bakiyev to allow the US to station AWACS surveillance planes in Kyrgyzstan. At the beginning of 2005, the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry denied this request by Washington, saying that such equipment was beyond the original humanitarian and peace-keeping mission of US. forces in Kyrgyzstan. Bakiyev made it clear that Washington would not be allowed to deploy the AWACS or to establish any more bases or expand existing facilities in Kyrgyzstan.

Bakiyev also stressed that US forces would not be in the country permanently. Deepening economic and security ties between Central Asian countries and China and Russia could eventually reduce Washington's influence in the region to Afghanistan. However, in addition to three operational military bases already in Afghanistan, Washington plans on building another six military bases, further amplifying the US military threat to China, Russia and Iran.

East Asia is another region where the China-Iran-Russia alliance has common interests diametrically opposed to Washington's. The most obvious country where these interests conflict is North Korea. As with Iran, the Bush administration is determined to force North Korea's government to acquiesce to US security demands. Again, like Iran, North Korea poses a strategic threat to Washington's global hegemonic aspirations. The mutual antagonism by Iran and North Korea of the US has naturally brought these two countries together. North Korea has been an integral supplier to Iran's ballistic missile program over the past 15 years.

The US State Department has sanctioned the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation, North Korea's main missile exporter, four times since 2000 for engaging in proliferation activities with Iran. In 2004, US intelligence reported that North Korea was helping Iran build long-range missiles. While Iran's ties to North Korea are strategic, Russia's and China's ties to the country are security driven. Both Russia and China share common borders with North Korea.

The Soviet Union had strong ties with North Korea between 1950 and 1990 punctuated by a mutual security agreement. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia's relations with North Korea weakened sharply. President Boris Yeltsin chose not to renew the mutual security agreement with North Korea in favor of strengthening relations with South Korea.

President Vladimir Putin reestablished the historically close ties between Russia and North Korea. In 2000, Putin traveled to Pyongyang. North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, paid return visits to Russia in 2001 and 2002. In addition to official state visits, Moscow and Pyongyang have exchanged several ministry-level visits in the past two years. Pyongyang also enjoys very close relations with Beijing, with which high-level visits have been exchanged regularly in the past several years.

More importantly, Pyongyang and Beijing are tied together by a mutual security agreement. North Korea is an important security buffer for both China and Russia against US military projection in Asia. With Beijing and Moscow clearly in accord about countering Washington's global hegemonic aspirations, neither country is likely to sell out their relations with North Korea and this security buffer. More likely, Beijing and Moscow would like to bolster the security buffer in the light of expanding US militarism. It is extremely unlikely that the US will convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment program because both Beijing and Moscow need North Korea and the security buffer it provides.


Playing in Washington's backyard

In 2004, Russia and China launched a counter-offensive to the expansion of US militarism in Asia. Beijing and Moscow began to court Latin America's new leftist governments in an unprecedented slap to the US. Both Russia and China have strengthened relations with Washington's arch foe in Latin America - Venezuela. In November 2004, Moscow agreed to sell Caracas as many as 30 combat helicopters and 100,000 automatic rifles. In addition, Venezuela is considering the purchase of up to 50 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia to replace aging F-16s.

The Russia-Venezuela arms deal was widely criticized in Washington. Both Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have voiced strong opposition to the deal. In late 2004, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez visited Beijing, where he signed several oil sector investment deals with the China National Petroleum Corporation. Chavez has also stated that he would like to give oil export preference to China rather than the US. China also signed significant energy-related investment deals with Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina in 2004. The willingness of Beijing and Moscow to challenge US security so close to home clearly indicates that a geostrategic battle has begun.


Security threat or strategic competitor?

Beijing's expanding foreign relations both within and outside the China-Iran-Russia alliance and China's growing militarism have begun to repaint Washington's perceptions of US-China relations. These perceptions have been echoed by Washington's closest allies in Asia - Taipei and Tokyo. In mid-2004, reports by both the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) and the Pentagon depicted China as a major threat to US national security.

The USCC was created by Congress in 2000 "to monitor, investigate and submit to Congress an annual report on the national security implications of the bilateral trade and economic relationship between the United States and the People's Republic of China, and to provide recommendations, where appropriate, to Congress for legislative and administrative action". In June 2004, the USCC released its annual report on China.

This report noted that China was deliberately using economic warfare against Washington by creating a "competitive advantage over US manufacturers". The report specifically referred to the undervaluation of the yuan against the dollar and Beijing's (alleged) disregard for World Trade Organization rules as weapons in China's economic war with the US. The report described China's expanding relations with Iran as countering multilateral efforts to stabilize international oil supplies and prices.

The USCC report also noted that Russia was supplying increasingly sophisticated weapons to China and that these weapons were part of Beijing's strategy for defeating US forces in the event of war with Taiwan. A congressionally mandated report on China by the Pentagon described China's Russia-assisted military buildup as giving China the ability "to cause significant damage to all of Taiwan's airfields and quickly degrade Taiwan's ground based air-defenses and associated command and control". Most alarming, the Pentagon report warned that Chinese military strategists were considering the use of nuclear weapons against US and Taiwanese forces.

The Bush administration's concern over China's growing military power is also depicted in Washington's reaction to the European Union's proposed lifting of its China arms embargo. Washington's greatest concern about renewed arms trade between the EU and China was that this trade would permanently tip the balance of power away from Taiwan and toward China. Even worse, European arms could be used to kill US troops in Asia. Of course, the possibility of Beijing using European weapons to kill US troops presupposes that a war between China and the US will erupt.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) share Washington's concerns about China's military threat. The Chen government's concern stems from its drive for Taiwan's independence from China and Beijing's forceful reminders that Taiwan is part of China. In the lead up to Taiwan's legislative elections in late 2004, Chen campaigned on a platform of Taiwanese independence. Though Chen's DPP suffered significant losses in these elections, Beijing's response was largely entrained in the form of China's anti-secession law.

The law was meant to firmly warn Chen against seeking Taiwan's independence from China in the event that the DPP won a legislative majority. The DPP's losses to the unification-minded opposition takes much of the bite out of the law. In addition, Chen's opposition, the Nationalist Party, has permanently stalled legislation seeking about $18 billion to bolster Taiwan's missile defense system. The opposition has realized that Taiwan has no hope of defending against a military attack from the mainland, prompting renewed ties between Taiwan's Nationalist Party and Beijing.

Along with Washington and Taipei, Tokyo also demonstrated its growing concern over China's increasing military might. In December 2004, the Japanese Defense Agency issued a defense policy guideline that defined China as a potential security threat. The report noted, "China, which has significant influence on the region's security, has been modernizing its nuclear and missile capabilities as well as naval and air forces, and expanding its area of operation at sea."

In a joint US-Japan security statement issued in February, Tokyo went further, agreeing that Japan would "encourage the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue". Both the defense policy guideline and Tokyo's concern over tension between China and Taiwan are a dramatic departure from Japan's post-war foreign policy. The change in foreign policy focus from military pacifism to military assertion is being driven by Washington's own security concerns.

These same concerns drove Tokyo to encourage oil exploration in an area of the East China Sea that is claimed by China. Japan's military assertion has accelerated China's defense buildup while contributing to the creation of the China-Iran-Russia alliance. The shift in Tokyo's foreign policy has led to a sharp deterioration in China's relations with Japan. Foreign policies in Beijing, Washington and Tokyo are all characterized by two separate components - geopolitical relations and economic relations.


Cold War redux

Beijing's geopolitical relations with Washington and Tokyo are arguably at their lowest ebb since China established formal relations with the US and Japan in the 1970s. The deterioration in China's relations with the US and Japan and the resultant improvement in relations with Iran and Russia are being driven by Washington's outsized global security concerns. These security concerns are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy for Washington.

In sharp contrast to geopolitical relations, economic relations between Beijing, Washington and Tokyo remain quite strong. The mutual interdependence of these economies argues strongly against the preeminence of security issues in overall relations. China is the largest trading partner of Japan and third largest trading partner of the US. In addition to substantial trade links, American and Japanese companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in China over the past 15 years. Nonetheless, Beijing, Washington and Tokyo have all elevated the importance of security to overall economic well-being.

While a conflict between the US and China over Iran or North Korea cannot be ruled out, economic interdependence suggests Beijing and Washington have entered a period of geopolitical detente. Beijing's increasingly close relations with Moscow and Tehran will contain Washington's further military projection in the Middle East, Central Asia and Asia and foil the Bush administration's plans for subduing uncooperative governments in Iran and North Korea. Finally, Washington's unilateralist foreign policy will increasingly isolate the US to the benefit of China's foreign economic relations, making Beijing all the stronger.

-----------------------------------------------------------------


Jephraim P Gundzik is president of Condor Advisers, Inc. Condor Advisers provides emerging markets investment risk analysis to individuals and institutions globally. Please visit for further information.

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)
          Wonderful Digital Fantasy Paintings By Svetlana Tigai        
Svetlana Tigai aka Tsvetka is a talented digital artist based in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Below, you may scroll through several creative...
          LGBT Religion News Summary: Banned Muslim Films, Catholic Protest, and Christian LGBT Advocacy        

GLAAD’s Religion, Faith & Values program works to elevate LGBT-affirming voices of faith in mainstream, regional, and community media. To find out more, visit www.glaad.org/faith. For additional religion and faith updates, be sure to subscribe via our online registration form. We welcome suggestions at faith@glaad.org.

An ecumenical gathering of Christian leaders discussed how denominations can more effectively do LGBT advocacy. One step taken by the Indiana Disciples of Christ was to remove barriers for LGBT inclusion in the denomination. A music teacher fired from a Christian school describes how music helped him through his ordeal.

The new San Francisco Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, is worrying Catholics, and even drawing a protest from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Bishop Cordileone is still working against the tide of Catholics who support LGBT equality in America as well as in Ireland. African-American Christians are also increasing support for marriage equality as well.  One man in Minnesota vandalized several churches with anti-LGBT and anti-religious messages, but seems to not be connected to the proposed constitutional amendment in the state. But all the state campaigns are highlighting faith in their television ads

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation banning so-called “ex-gay” therapies in California, which was advocated for by a coalition of religious organizations and celebrated by Pagans. Jewish organizations are joining the legal case against DOMA.

Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson has been promoting his new book, God Believes in Love. The Methodist organization Church Within A Church celebrates its 10th anniversary. Films about gay Mormons were screened while a film about gay Muslims was banned. And personal stories tell us what it means to be gay and Jewish or gay and Seventh Day Adventist.

 

Baptist

Black Churches

Catholic

Christian

Disciples of Christ

Episcopal

“Ex-Gay”

International

Jewish

Marriage Equality

Methodist

Mormon

Muslim

Pagan

Presbyterian

Seventh Day Adventist

United Church of Christ

October 3, 2012
Issues: 

          Tbilisi Dialogue Highlights Regional HIV Challenges        
30 Oct 2014

​Cooperation between government and civil society is crucial in securing rights for people living with HIV, a UNDP- and IDLO-sponsored meeting was told. Held in Tbilisi, Georgia with support from the European Union, the International Dialogue brought together government and civil society representatives from eleven former Soviet states: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia have continued to see a rise in HIV infections. An estimated 1.6 million people live with the virus. Between 2005 and 2012, the AIDS mortality rate climbed by more than a fifth. Levels of treatment are low: no more than a third of those in need of antiretroviral therapy are estimated to be receiving it. The rights of people with HIV are frequently breached in the region: violations range from denial of confidentiality to outright criminalization of the behavior of the populations most at risk.

“HIV is a matter of human rights,” Evgeniy Spevak of the Eurasian and Belarussian Union of People Living with HIV told the meeting. […] states have the obligation to undertake legal, financial and administrative measures to bring these rights as close as possible to the highest standards of health.”

Country: 

          International Women's Day (8 March)/Dia Internaçional da Mulher (8 de março)        

International Women's Day, 8 March 2010:

Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all

From: http://www.internationalwomensday.com

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. 

1908
Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

1909
In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

1910
In 1910 a second International Conference of Working Women was held in Copenhagen. A woman named a Clara Zetkin (Leader of the 'Women's Office' for the Social Democratic Party in Germany) tabled the idea of an International Women's Day. She proposed that every year in every country there should be a celebration on the same day - a Women's Day - to press for their demands. The conference of over 100 women from 17 countries, representing unions, socialist parties, working women's clubs, and including the first three women elected to the Finnish parliament, greeted Zetkin's suggestion with unanimous approval and thus International Women's Day was the result.

1911
Following the decision agreed at Copenhagen in 1911, International Women's Day (IWD) was honoured the first time in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March. More than one million women and men attended IWD rallies campaigning for women's rights to work, vote, be trained, to hold public office and end discrimination. However less than a week later on 25 March, the tragic 'Triangle Fire' in New York City took the lives of more than 140 working women, most of them Italian and Jewish immigrants. This disastrous event drew significant attention to working conditions and labour legislation in the United States that became a focus of subsequent International Women's Day events. 1911 also saw women's 'Bread and Roses' campaign.

 
1913-1914
On the eve of World War I campaigning for peace, Russian women observed their first International Women's Day on the last Sunday in February 1913. In 1913 following discussions, International Women's Day was transferred to 8 March and this day has remained the global date for International Wommen's Day ever since. In 1914 further women across Europe held rallies to campaign against the war and to express women's solidarity.

1917
On the last Sunday of February, Russian women began a strike for "bread and peace" in response to the death over 2 million Russian soldiers in war. Opposed by political leaders the women continued to strike until four days later the Czar was forced to abdicate and the provisional Government granted women the right to vote. The date the women's strike commenced was Sunday 23 February on the Julian calendar then in use in Russia. This day on the Gregorian calendar in use elsewhere was 8 March.

1918 - 1999
Since its birth in the socialist movement, International Women's Day has grown to become a global day of recognition and celebration across developed and developing countries alike. For decades, IWD has grown from strength to strength annually. For many years the United Nations has held an annual IWD conference to coordinate international efforts for women's rights and participation in social, political and economic processes. 1975 was designated as 'International Women's Year' by the United Nations. Women's organisations and governments around the world have also observed IWD annually on 8 March by holding large-scale events that honour women's advancement and while diligently reminding of the continued vigilance and action required to ensure that women's equality is gained and maintained in all aspects of life.

2000 and beyond
IWD is now an official holiday in China, Armenia, Russia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. The tradition sees men honouring their mothers, wives, girlfriends, colleagues, etc with flowers and small gifts. In some countries IWD has the equivalent status of Mother's Day where children give small presents to their mothers and grandmothers.
The new millennium has witnessed a significant change and attitudinal shift in both women's and society's thoughts about women's equality and emancipation. Many from a younger generation feel that 'all the battles have been won for women' while many feminists from the 1970's know only too well the longevity and ingrained complexity of patriarchy. With more women in the boardroom, greater equality in legislative rights, and an increased critical mass of women's visibility as impressive role models in every aspect of life, one could think that women have gained true equality. The unfortunate fact is that women are still not paid equally to that of their male counterparts, women still are not present in equal numbers in business or politics, and globally women's education, health and the violence against them is worse than that of men.
However, great improvements have been made. We do have female astronauts and prime ministers, school girls are welcomed into university, women can work and have a family, women have real choices. And so the tone and nature of IWD has, for the past few years, moved from being a reminder about the negatives to a celebration of the positives.

GoogleAnnually on 8 March, thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate achievements. A global web of rich and diverse local activity connects women from all around the world ranging from political rallies, business conferences, government activities and networking events through to local women's craft markets, theatric performances, fashion parades and more.
Many global corporations have also started to more actively support IWD by running their own internal events and through supporting external ones. For example, on 8 March search engine and media giant Google some years even changes its logo on its global search pages. Year on year IWD is certainly increasing in status. The United States even designates the whole month of March as 'Women's History Month'.
So make a difference, think globally and act locally !! Make everyday International Women's Day. Do your bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding.

---

More about International Women's Day from the UN's Women Watch site: http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/iwd/:
In 1975, during International Women's Year, the United Nations began celebrating 8 March as International Women's Day. Two years later, in December 1977, the General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace to be observed on any day of the year by Member States, in accordance with their historical and national traditions. For the United Nations, International Women's Day has been observed on 8 March since 1975. The Day is traditionally marked with a message from the Secretary-General.



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Accused California hair salon shooter to stand trial in October ...

fe and seven others at a California hair salon in the largest mass slaying in Or ange County history, a judge ruled on Friday. See the article here: s)">Accused California hair salon shooter to stand trial in October (Reuters ) ...

Romania diplomat wants key witness in Singapore crash trial ...

A former Romanian diplomat charged with manslaughter ... and, at the beginning, accused Romanian ... before a new hearing in his trial in Romania, which was set to resume ...

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Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of accident

The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Friday. See the original post: Ionescu trial resumes with ...

Google News

Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run ... who is accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents in Singapore, resumed ...

Romanian diplomat trial over Singapore car crash postponed ...

The trial of a former Romanian diplomat accused of manslaughter after a deadly 2009 car crash in ... Ionescu, who fled the country shortly after the hit-and-run accident ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of accident

SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, whos accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents ... The trial will resume on 11 April, when two more defence witnesses will be heard. Several Singaporean witnesses ...

Bucharest, Romania News - Topix

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of accident. SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued in the Romanian capital ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

By Claudia Craiu | Posted: 06 April 2012 2032 hrs SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued in the Romanian capital ...

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luding the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush was declared competent to stand trial on Tuesday by a federal judge. See the original post here: (Reuters)">Saudi accused in U.S. bomb plot competent to stand ...

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Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of accident. SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued in the Romanian capital ...

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... Trial of African diplomat’s wife to go on in Romania ... Romanian Diplomat Accused Of ... A former Romanian diplomat wanted by Singapore authorities for two hit-and-run ...

Historian, accused of library theft, faces trial (AP) | Widget Wonders

es as papers signed by Abraham Lincoln and invitations to inaugural balls says t here is no evidence against his client and he shouldn't have been denied bail. See original here: Historian, accused of library theft, faces trial ...

Romania diplomat wants key witness in Singapore crash trial ...

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Former Romanian ambassador Dr. Ionescu officially accused | the ...

Bukit Panjang Hit-and-Run Former Romanian ambassador Dr ... Ionescu has been formally accused for his role in a Singapore hit-and-run ... accorded to a foreign diplomat to the ...

Romania diplomat wants key witness in Singapore crash trial

BUCHAREST, January 18, 2012 (AFP) - A former Romanian diplomat charged with manslaughter after a deadly 2009 car crash in Singapore called on Wednesday for a key witness not yet heard in court to testify. ... Ionescu was speaking before a new hearing in his trial in Romania, which was set to resume later on Wednesday. ... Ionescu, who fled the country shortly after the hit-and-run accident, has repeatedly denied he was the driver and says the car was stolen.

TODAYonline | Singapore | Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance ...

7 hours ago ... SINGAPORE - The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued ...

Ionescu calls for key hit-and-run witness

BUCHAREST - A former Romanian diplomat charged ... new hearing in his trial in Romania, which was set to resume ... Hit-and-run involving Romanian diplomats car Click on ...

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescus hit-and-run hearings resume • ... BUCHAREST: The trial of a former Romanian diplomat accused of manslaughter after a fatal 2009 ...

Terrorism Trial Against Swedish Journalists in Ethiopia Resumes ...

The trial against the two Swedish journalists accused of terrorism in Ethiopia resumed Tuesday. ... Though the presence of media and diplomatic figures was less at Tuesday's trial than it had been when the trial commenced on Oct. 18, the attendance of United States Embassy official was a boost to the Swedes' case. Pressure from the United ... In 2007, an ONLF attack against a Chinese-run oil exploration field killed 74 people and triggered an escalation in conflicts.

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Spore Embassy official to attend Ionescu trial

ROMANIA: The judge presiding over former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescus hit-and-run case said she ... days pending trial. Authorities in Singapore have accused ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

9 hours ago ... SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued ...

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Singapore Dissident: Singapore. Silviu Ionescu

... demand that Silviu Ionescu, the former Romanian diplomat accused by Lee Kuan Yews Singapore of a fatal hit and run ... it is whether he will get a fair trial ...

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Ionescu wants key witness in hit-and-run trial - Channel NewsAsia

A former Romanian diplomat charged with manslaughter ... Ionescu wants key witness in hit-and-run trial ... before a new hearing in his trial in Romania, which was set to resume ...

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... imprisoned a number of diplomats accused ... December 2009, in Singapore, the Romanian chargé daffaires, Silviu Ionescu, was allegedly behind a drunk-driving hit-and-run ...

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<b>Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run</b> http://t.co/PTr7nFCi #SingaporeTrial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run http://t.co/PTr7nFCi #Singapore
From: SingaporeTimes - Source: dlvr.it


          Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run        

Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run : Videos

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Tanya Roberts Outrageous Love & Friendship Sam Botta-Live Fearless-Chris Shining,Executive Producer

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Michael Lerner Sam Botta Atlas Shrugged April 15 Movie Release Oscars

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Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run : Photo Gallery

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...
Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

Ionescu trial resumes with

TODAYonline - Comprehensive local and international news and analysis
TODAYonline - Comprehensive local and international news and analysis

TODAYonline - Comprehensive local and international news and analysis

TODAYonline - Comprehensive local and international news and analysis

Ionescu trial resumes with

Ionescu trial continues in Bucharest - 938LIVE on xinmsn Entertainment
Ionescu trial continues in Bucharest - 938LIVE on xinmsn Entertainment

Ionescu trial continues in Bucharest - 938LIVE on xinmsn Entertainment

Ionescu trial continues in Bucharest - 938LIVE on xinmsn Entertainment

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Romanian hit-and-run inquest March - Page 4

Romanian hit-and-run inquest March - Page 4

Romanian hit-and-run inquest March - Page 4

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Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

Ionescu trial resumes with surveillance footage from night of ...

SINGAPORE: The trial of former

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Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

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De informatieve vraagbaak en het prikbord voor Roemenië • Toon ...

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De informatieve vraagbaak en het prikbord voor Roemenië • Toon ...

The former diplomat faces trial for two hit-and-run accidents in Singapore

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De informatieve vraagbaak en het prikbord voor Roemenië • Toon ...

De informatieve vraagbaak en het prikbord voor Roemenië • Toon ...

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Ionescu wants key witness in hit-and-run trial - Channel NewsAsia

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Ionescu wants key witness in hit-and-run trial - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia
Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu trial adjourned to Feb 1 - Channel NewsAsia

Ionescu calls for key hit-and-run witness
Ionescu calls for key hit-and-run witness

Ionescu calls for key hit-and-run witness

Ionescu calls for key hit-and-run witness

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TRIAL RESUMES FOR FORMER ROMANIAN DIPLOMAT ACCUSED OF HIT-AND-RUN

by Channel NewsAsia BUCHAREST - The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who is accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents in Singapore, resumed yesterday in Bucharest. For the first time, the defence team and the accused saw ...

Trial resumes for former Romanian diplomat accused of hit-and-run : Latest News, Information, Answers and Websites

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4 hours ago ... SINGAPORE: The trial of former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, who's accused of manslaughter after two hit-and-run accidents, continued ...

          Peace Revolution episode 072: Social Control and the Fear of Freedom        
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Click here to download this episode, or use the download link at the bottom of the notes for this episode.

Peace Revolution episode 072: Social Control and the Fear of Freedom

Notes, References, and Links for further study:

Tragedy and Hope dot com

Invitation to the Tragedy and Hope online community (link expires monthly)

Log in page for the Tragedy and Hope online community

Peace Revolution primary site (2009-2012)*

Peace Revolution backup stream (2006-2012)*

Includes the 9/11 Synchronicity Podcast (predecessor to Peace Revolution)

*These 2 podcasts amount to 500+ hours of commercial-free educational content, which formulate a comprehensive and conscious curriculum.

Reference Map to Episode 072:

(0-2min) Felice Leonardo Buscaglia “Freeing Ourselves from the Tyranny of Words

(2m-14min) Richard Grove interviewed by Gary Franchi, WHDT World News / Next News Network

(14m-23m) James Corbett and Brett Veinotte from School Sucks Podcast # 209

(23m-24m) Dr. Colin Ross interview summary with Jan Irvin / Gnostic Media #161 & #162

(24m-44m) Richard’s introductory monologue

New York Times: U.S. Engaged in Torture after 9/11, Review Concludes: WASHINGTON — A nonpartisan, independent review of interrogation and detention programs in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks concludes that “it is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture” and that the nation’s highest officials bore ultimate responsibility for it.  The sweeping, 577-page report says that while brutality has occurred in every American war, there never before had been “the kind of considered and detailed discussions that occurred after 9/11 directly involving a president and his top advisers on the wisdom, propriety and legality of inflicting pain and torment on some detainees in our custody.” The study, by an 11-member panel convened by the Constitution Project, a legal research and advocacy group, is to be released on Tuesday morning.

New York Times: Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.:  “Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment.  The judge’s statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie’s characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement. They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington. Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.  Another New York City subway plot, which recently went to trial, needed no help from government.  Nor did a bombing attempt in Times Square, the abortive underwear bombing in a jetliner over Detroit, a planned attack on Fort Dix, N.J., and several smaller efforts. Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, it’s not easy to tell the difference.

F.B.I.: 2011 Request for Information on Tamerlan Tsarnaev from Foreign Government (April 19, 2013): The two individuals believed to be responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday have been positively identified as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, now deceased, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now in custody. These individuals are brothers and residents of Massachusetts. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was a legal permanent resident and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Charges have not yet been filed against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, and he is presumed innocent.  Tamerlan Tsarnaev, age 26, was previously designated as Suspect 1, wearing a black hat. Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, age 19, was designated as Suspect 2, wearing a white hat. Both were born in Kyrgyzstan.  Once the FBI learned the identities of the two brothers today, the FBI reviewed its records and determined that in early 2011, a foreign government asked the FBI for information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups.  In response to this 2011 request, the FBI checked U.S. government databases and other information to look for such things as derogatory telephone communications, possible use of online sites associated with the promotion of radical activity, associations with other persons of interest, travel history and plans, and education history. The FBI also interviewed Tamerlan Tsarnaev and family members. The FBI did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign, and those results were provided to the foreign government in the summer of 2011. The FBI requested but did not receive more specific or additional information from the foreign government. 

(44m-1h40m) Lisa Arbercheski interviewed by Lana Lokteff of Red Ice Radio’s 3Fourteen Podcast

(1h40m-2h40m) Leo Buscaglia “The Art of Being Fully Human

(2h40m-4h20m) History… Connected: Research Discussion with Jan Irvin and Kevin Cole

(4h20m-7h30m) Dr. Colin Ross interview summary with Jan Irvin / Gnostic Media #161 & #162

(7h30m-9h52m) “The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA” by Dave Emory from the She Who Remembers Archives @ Gnostic Media dot com

WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW MORE?

CHECK OUT "THE ULTIMATE HISTORY LESSON: A WEEKEND WITH JOHN TAYLOR GATTO"!

Subtitled: A 5-hour journey examining the history, root-causes, and consequences of public schooling

Alternatively, you can also find The Ultimate History Lesson listed on Amazon.com.


          Garden visitors        


Surprised, I was, a few weeks back to get an email from Noel Kingsbury saying he would be in the Philadelphia area for several days, and would like to drop by.


When we moved to Federal Twist in 2005 and I recognized I'd be gardening in a very difficult place, my hope for the future came from two books by Noel Kingsbury--The New Perennial Garden and Planting Design: Gardens in Time and Space (written with Piet Oudolf). In the first, I learned about naturalistic gardening, in particular about planting into rough grass. In the second, about the three kinds of plants--competitors, stress tolerators, and pioneers or ruderals (more accurately, three primary growth characteristics shared, to various degrees, by different plants) and about prairies--the enormous numbers of plants in a square yard of natural prairie, for example, compared to the much smaller number of plants in a square yard of cultivated garden. My selection of plants was, of course, also affected by his popularization of the Oudolf plant selections.

Noel Kingsbury and me (the one in the cap with his mouth strangely open) accompanied by towers of dried Inula racemosa "Sonnenspeer."

Kingsbury is a scientist, and an extraordinary writer, so rather than oversimplify, I refer you to his books for more details. Needless to say, they were of enourmous value to me making a garden in the woods of western New Jersey.


So I was certainly gratified to have Noel Kingsbury visit last weekend. We had a walk around the garden, then lunch, then a second garden walk. In between, Noel got out his computer and showed me images of the amazing plant communities in Kyrgyzstan, where he visited this past summer.

Checking out the asters.

Just before Noel's visit to Federal Twist, I attended the 29th annual Perennial Plant Conference at Swarthmore, where he was the first presenter of the day. I had read and referenced his books so many times I had little to learn, but I hope others "got" his message--that we need to pay attention to how plants grow in nature to have more successful gardens, that we, in effect, can create artificial ecosystems that make our gardens more self-sufficient and, though not labor-free, certainly lower maintenance. (By the way, the Swarthmore conference is a tremendous conference, and the Swarthmore campus, also known as the Scott Arboretum, is extraordinarily beautiful. I give it the highest recommendation.)

Amphitheater at Swarthmore

I also met a neighbor from nearby Frenchtown at the conference. Well, I didn't know we were neighbors, until I heard a woman behind me mention Frenchtown, and on asking discovered she was Helen Grundman, also a garden designer. Helen and her husband Bill, a forester and organic plant care expert, dropped by for a garden tour mid-afternoon.

The conference was full of surprises. During a break, while I was looking at a dried plant arrangement on the stage, a guy approached me saying, "James?" It was Michael Gordon, a cyber friend who I've been in touch with for several years via the blogosphere but had never met. Michael, from Peterborough, New Hampshire, has a blog called The Gardener's Eye. An optometrist by profession, Michael is also an accomplished garden designer; he designed all the public gardens in Peterborough, as well as his own very polished garden. Michael was traveling with his friend and well known garden writer Tovah Martin, and with garden designer Maude Odgers, also from Peterborough. So several hours after Noel left, Michael, Tovah, and Maude arrived to see the garden in a beautiful just-before-twilight light. It was almost dark when we got back into the house and had coffee, drinks, and cookies, and a warm, pleasant conversation before they left for the long drive back to Connecticut and New Hampshire.

So my unusual day of garden visiting leads me to two conclusions:  (1) I think I should attend more good garden conferences (and meet more people of a like disposition) and (2) I should have more garden visitors, preferably from midsummer to fall, just before sunset.

Is the Garden Conservancy listening?

*Photos of Kingsbury and me were taken by Phillip Saperia. Unfortunately we forgot to take pictures of our other delightful visitors.
          The US Spent Billions in Kyrgyzstan, but Is Leaving Without a Trace        
Since 2001, the US Government has dumped staggering amounts of money into Manas Air Force Base, a critical Air Force outpost in Kyrgyzstan. The base costs US taxpayers 60 million dollars each year in rent. 100 million dollars a year is siphoned into the country through USAID. 300 million plus [...]
          Asbestos industry sabotages UN Rotterdam Convention        
Kathleen Ruff, RightOnCanada.ca At the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention, taking place in Geneva this week, a tiny number of countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, India, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus and Syria – thumbed their noses at the scientific evidence and the wishes of the rest of the world and refused to allow […]
          How to Save Snow Leopards        
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is one of the rarest and most elusive big cat species with a population of 4,500 to 7,500 spread across a range of 1.2 to 1.6 million kilometers in some of the world's harshest and most desolate landscapes. Found in arid environments and at elevations sometimes reaching 18,000 feet (5,500 meters), the species faces great threats despite its extreme habitat. These threats vary across its range, but in all countries where it is found — Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Myanmar — the species is at risk. In some countries snow leopard are directly hunted for their pelt, in others they are imperiled by depletion of prey, loss of habitat, and killing as a predator of livestock. These threats, combined with the cat's large habitat requirements, means conservation through the establishment of protected areas alone may not be enough save it from extinction in the wild in many of the countries in which it lives. Working to stave off this fate in half a dozen of its range countries is the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Founded by Dr. Rodney Jackson, a biologist who has been studying snow leopard in the wild for 30 years, the Conservancy seeks to conserve the species by "promoting innovative grassroots measures that lead local people to become better stewards of endangered snow leopards, their prey, and habitat."
          Liputan Video Bentrokan Suporter Bola Persiku Kudus vs Persis Solo        
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          Kyrgyztelecom expands fibre network by 1,852 km in H1        
(Telecompaper) Kyrgyzstan national operator Kyrgyztelecom deployed 1,852 kilometres of fibre-optic lines across the country in the first half of this year, reports Tazabek...
          12 Must-Know Facts about Asia        
Asia is the world's largest continent in world covering 60 percent of Earth's total land area.

1.Asia is the most populous continent in the world with world's populous countries,China and India.It is the land of diversity.


2.Asia can be divided into 6 subcontinents :



  1. Central Asia – Kazakhstan Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
  2. East Asia – China, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, North and South Korea.
  3. North Asia – Russia.
  4. India Subcontinent – India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka.
  5. Southeast Asia – Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar [Burma], Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  6. Southwest Asia – The Middle East including Turkey, Iran, Cyprus, Israel, and Lebanon.

3.Top Ten Tallest Mountains in Asia :

Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth and it is located in Asia.

Mount Everest with group of people
Mount Everest



  1. Everest -Nepal,Tibet
  2. K2 - Pakistan,China
  3. Kangchenjunga - Nepal,Sikkim, India
  4. Lhotse - Nepal,Tibet, China
  5. Makalu - Nepal,Tibet, China
  6. Cho Oyu - Nepal,Tibet, China
  7. Dhaulagiri - Nepal
  8. Manaslu- Nepal
  9. Nanga Parbat-Pakistan
  10. Annapurna- Nepal
4.Top Ten longest rivers in Asia :

  1. Yangtze 
  2. Yellow River 
  3. Lena River 
  4. Mekong River 
  5. Irtysh River 
  6. Yenisei River 
  7. Ob River 
  8. Nizhnyaya Tunguska River 
  9. Indus River
  10. Brahmaputra River
5.Asia is located to the east of the Suez Canal, the Ural river, and the Ural Mountains, and south of the Caucasus Mountains (or the Kuma-Manych Depression) and the Caspian and Black Seas.It is bounded on the east by the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Indian Ocean and on the north by the Arctic Ocean.

6.Asia’s most dominant financial centers are Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore.

7.Asia is only continent joined by two other continents,Africa and Europe.


9.China is the world's biggest nation and it is located in Asia.

10.Asia is the only continent where tigers are found in the wild.

11.Caspian Sea is the Largest Salt Lake in Asia.

12.The Dead Sea or The Salt Sea is the lowest place on earth is situated in Asia.


          Codes for making International Calls        

What is a Country Code?

      Country codes are used to make International Phone calls.Every country has a unique country code. Country codes are the prefixes you need to dial before calling to the country.This short alphabetic or numeric geographical codes (geocodes) are developed to represent countries and dependent areas.The International Dialing codes of a country is called "Country Code" or  International Area Code(IAC) or International Calling Codes.

International Calling codes of all countries



Country Codes List




CountryCountry Code
Abkhazia+995 44 +7 840, 940
Afghanistan+93
Albania+355
Algeria+213
American Samoa+1 684
Andorra+376
Angola+244
Anguilla+1 264
Antigua and Barbuda+1 268
Argentina+54
Armenia+374
Aruba+297
Ascension Island+247
Australia+61
Australian Antarctic Territory+672 1x
Austria+43
Azerbaijan+994
Bahamas+1 242
Bahrain+973
Bangladesh+880
Barbados+1 246
Belarus+375
Belgium+32
Belize+501
Benin+229
Bermuda+1 441
Bhutan+975
Bolivia+591
Bonaire+599 7
Bosnia and Herzegovina+387
Botswana+267
Brazil+55
British Indian Ocean Territory+246
British Virgin Islands+1 284
Brunei+673
Bulgaria+359
Burkina Faso+226
Burundi+257
Cambodia+855
Cameroon+237
Canada+1
Cape Verde+238
Cayman Islands+1 345
Central African Republic+236
Chad+235
Chile+56
Christmas Island+61 8 9164
Cocos Islands+61 8 9162
Colombia+57
Cook Islands+682
Costa Rica+506
Côte d'Ivoire+225
Croatia+385
Cuba+53
Curacao+599 9
Cyprus+357
Czech Republic+420
Democratic Republic of the Congo+243
Denmark+45
Djibouti+253
Dominica+1 767
Dominican Republic+1 809 / 829 / 849
East Timor+670
Ecuador+593
Egypt+20
El Salvador+503
Equatorial Guinea+240
Eritrea+291
Estonia+372
Ethiopia+251
Falkland Islands+500
Faroe Islands+298
Federated States of Micronesia+691
Fiji+679
Finland+358
France+33
French Guiana+594
French Polynesia+689
Gabon+241
Gambia+220
Georgia+995
Germany+49
Ghana+233
Gibraltar+350
Global Mobile Satellite System+881
Greece+30
Greenland+299
Grenada+1 473
Guadeloupe+590
Guam+1 671
Guatemala+502
Guernsey+44 1481
Guinea+224
Guinea-Bissau+245
Guyana+592
Haiti+509
Honduras+504
Hong Kong+852
Hungary+36
Iceland+354
India+91
Indonesia+62
International Freephone UIFN+800
International Premium Rate Service+979
Iran+98
Iraq+964
Ireland+353
Isle of Man+44 1624
Israel+972
Italy+39
Jamaica+1 876
Japan+81
Jersey+44 1534
Jordan+962
Kazakhstan+7 6xx, 7xx
Kenya+254
Kiribati+686
Kosovo+377 44 / 45 +386 43 / 49 +381 28 / 29 / 38 / 39
Kuwait+965
Kyrgyzstan+996
Laos+856
Latvia+371
Lebanon+961
Lesotho+266
Liberia+231
Libya+218
Liechtenstein+423
Lithuania+370
Luxembourg+352
Macau+853
Macedonia+389
Madagascar+261
Mainland China+86
Malawi+265
Malaysia+60
Maldives+960
Mali+223
Malta+356
Marshall Islands+692
Martinique+596
Mauritania+222
Mauritius+230
Mayotte+262 269 / 639
Mexico+52
Moldova+373
Monaco+377
Mongolia+976
Montenegro+382
Montserrat+1 664
Morocco+212
Mozambique+258
Myanmar+95
Nagorno-Karabakh+374 47 / 97
Namibia+264
Nauru+674
Nepal+977
Netherlands+31
New Caledonia+687
New Zealand+64
Nicaragua+505
Niger+227
Nigeria+234
Niue+683
Norfolk Island+672 3
North Korea+850
Northern Mariana Islands+1 670
Norway+47
Oman+968
Pakistan+92
Palau+680
Palestinian territories+970
Panama+507
Papua New Guinea+675
Paraguay+595
Peru+51
Philippines+63
Poland+48
Portugal+351
Puerto Rico+1 787 / 939
Qatar+974
Republic of China (Taiwan)+886
Republic of the Congo+242
Réunion+262
Romania+40
Russia+7
Rwanda+250
Saba+599 4
Saint Helena+290
Saint Kitts and Nevis+1 869
Saint Lucia+1 758
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines+1 784
Saint-Pierre and Miquelon+508
Samoa+685
San Marino+378
São Tomé and Príncipe+239
Saudi Arabia+966
Senegal+221
Serbia+381
Seychelles+248
Sierra Leone+232
Singapore+65
Sint Eustatius+599 3
Sint Maarten+599 5
Slovakia+421
Slovenia+386
Solomon Islands+677
Somalia+252
South Africa+27
South Korea+82
South Sudan+211
Spain+34
Sri Lanka+94
Sudan+249
Suriname+597
Swaziland+268
Sweden+46
Switzerland+41
Syria+963
Tajikistan+992
Tanzania+255
Telecommunications for Disaster Relief by OCHA+888
Thailand+66
Togo+228
TokelauList of Currencies of the World and their Currency Symbols

There are 179 currencies in the world.
List of Currencies of the World
Currencies of the World

Currency Symbols

CurrencySymbol
Afghan afghani؋
Albanian lekL
Alderney pound£
Algerian dinarد.ج
Angolan kwanzaKz
Argentine peso$
Armenian dramդր.
Aruban florinƒ
Ascension pound£
Australian dollar$
Bahamian dollar$
Bahraini dinar.د.ب
Bangladeshi taka৳
Barbadian dollar$
Belarusian rubleBr
Belize dollar$
Bermudian dollar$
Bhutanese ngultrumNu.
Bolivian bolivianoBs.
Bosnia and Herzegovina convertible markKM or КМ
Botswana pulaP
Brazilian realR$
British pound£
British Virgin Islands dollar$
Brunei dollar$
Bulgarian levлв
Burundian francFr
Cambodian riel៛
Canadian dollar$
Cape Verdean escudoEsc or $
Cayman Islands dollar$
Central African CFA francFr
CFP francFr
Chilean peso$
Chinese yuan¥ or 元
Cocos (Keeling) Islands dollar$
Colombian peso$
Comorian francFr
Congolese francFr
Cook Islands dollar$
Costa Rican colón₡
Croatian kunakn
Cuban convertible peso$
Cuban peso$
Czech korunaKč
Danish kronekr
Djiboutian francFr
Dominican peso$
East Caribbean dollar$
Egyptian pound£ or ج.م
Eritrean nakfaNfk
Ethiopian birrBr
Euro€
Falkland Islands pound£
Faroese krónakr
Fijian dollar$
Gambian dalasiD
Georgian lariლ
Ghanaian cedi₵
Gibraltar pound£
Guatemalan quetzalQ
Guernsey pound£
Guinean francFr
Guyanese dollar$
Haitian gourdeG
Honduran lempiraL
Hong Kong dollar$
Hungarian forintFt
Icelandic krónakr
Indian rupee₹
Indonesian rupiahRp
Iranian rialï·¼
Iraqi dinarع.د
Israeli new shekel₪
Jamaican dollar$
Japanese yen¥
Jersey pound£
Jordanian dinarد.ا
Kazakhstani tenge₸
Kenyan shillingSh
Kiribati dollar$
Kuwaiti dinarد.ك
Kyrgyzstani somлв
Lao kip₭
Latvian latsLs
Lebanese poundل.ل
Lesotho lotiL
Liberian dollar$
Libyan dinarل.د
Lithuanian litasLt
Macanese patacaP
Macedonian denarден
Malagasy ariaryAr
Malawian kwachaMK
Malaysian ringgitRM
Maldivian rufiyaaރ.
Manx pound£
Mauritanian ouguiyaUM
Mauritian rupee₨
Mexican peso$
Micronesian dollar$
Moldovan leuL
Mongolian tögrög₮
Moroccan dirhamد.م.
Mozambican meticalMTn
Myanma kyatK
Nagorno-Karabakh dramդր.
Namibian dollar$
Nauruan dollar$
Nepalese rupee₨
Netherlands Antillean guilderƒ
New Taiwan dollar$
New Zealand dollar$
Nicaraguan córdoba
          Countries in Asia        
 Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent in the world with 50 Countries.Here is the list of 50 countries in  Asia and their capitals. 
Asia





S.no
Countries
Capitals
1.
Afghanistan
Kabul
2.
Armenia
Yerevan
3.
Azerbaijan
Baku
4.
Bahrain
Manama
5.
Bangladesh
Dhaka
6.
Bhutan
Thimphu
7.
Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan
8.
Cambodia
Phnom Penh
9.
Cyprus
Nicosia
10.
East Timor
Dili
11.
Egypt
Cairo
12.
Georgia
Tbilisi
13.
India
New Delhi
14.
Indonesia
Jakarta
16.
Iran
Tehran
17.
Iraq
Baghdad
18.
Israel
Jerusalem
19.
Japan
Tokyo
20.
Jordan
Amman
21.

Kazakhstan
Astana
22.
Kuwait
Kuwait City
23.
Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek
24.
Laos
Vientiane
25.
Lebanon
Beirut
26.
Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur
27.
Maldives
Malé
28.
Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar
29.
Myanmar
Naypyidaw
30.
Nepal
Kathmandu
31.
North Korea
Pyongyang (P'yŏngyang)
32.
Oman
Muscat
33.
Pakistan
Islamabad
34.
The People's Republic of China
Beijing
35.
The Philippines
Manila
36.
Qatar
Doha
37.
The Republic of China
Taipei
38.
Russia
Moscow
39.
Saudi Arabia
Riyadh
40.
Singapore
Singapore
41.
South Korea
Seoul
42.
Syria
Damascus
43.
Tajikistan
Dushanbe
44.
Thailand
Bangkok
45.
Turkey
Ankara
46.
Turkmenistan
Ashgabat
47.
The United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi
48.
Uzbekistan
Tashkent
49.
Vietnam
Hanoi
50.
Yemen
Sanaá

          Mathematics Faculty Member - Kyrgyzstan        
Department: School of Arts and Sciences Duty Station: Naryn Campus, Kyrgyz Republic   Background The University of Central Asia (UCA) is a private (not for profit), secular...
          Dynaflex appointed authorized representative for TGI ILMADUR gauge & sight glasses in Middle East & Africa        
TGI's factory in Ilmenau

Ilmenau — 22 June 2012 — Dynaflex Corporation, the authorized importer, stockist & representative in India for ILMADUR gauge & sight glasses manufactured by Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH, has been allotted by TGI the additional territories of the Middle East & Africa to cater to requirements of their ILMADUR branded gauge & sight glasses in the region. With this appointment, Dynaflex Corporation will now export Ilmadur Gauge & Sight Glasses to Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Northern Cyprus, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Comoros, Djibouti, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan & Sahrawi.

ILMADUR branded gauge & sight glasses are manufactured by Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH at it's Ilmenau plant. ILMADUR gauge and sight glasses are manufactured from borosilicate “I-420” material developed and patented by TGI particularly to produce high-quality sight glasses.

About TGI
Technische Glaswerke Ilmenau GmbH is a leading manufacturer of laboratory and household glassware, sight and gauge glasses, pressed technical glasses, glass tubes, capillaries & rods in Ilmenau, a town located in the district of Ilm-Kreis, Thuringia, Germany.

About Dynaflex Corporation
Dynaflex Corporation is a leading importer and one of the largest stockists in the world of technical & safety glasses from the leading manufacturers in Europe & the USA. Most of the products are again re-exported to South East Asia, Middle East, Africa, North & South Americas & Europe.

Contact
To learn more about this topic, please contact
Dynaflex Corporation, Media Relations
Tek Towers (DOXA)
No.11, Rajiv Gandhi Salai (OMR)
Thoraipakkam
Chennai 600097, INDIA
pr@dynaflex.asia


          Kyrgyz President Says Hosting U.S. Air Base Prompted Threats        
Kyrgyzstan's president said his country has been threatened by other unspecified nations for its decision to host a U.S. air base for nearly 13 years.
          Comment on An update from Arslanbob by Wayne Nicholson        
Awesome mountains in Kyrgyzstan. Never knew the mountains there were so amazing. The snows solid too! Looks like you had a great time!
          Pacing tactics for recreational and competitive cyclists        
In my inaugural article at Tour d’Afrique I make my introductions and share some tips, tactics and strategies for athletes riding in the Silk Route Expedition. Tee Silk route is broken into several sections but for those brave athletes that will be riding the whole 12,100 kilometer/3899 miles in 129 days through China, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. These ... Read More
          HOW TO GROW ALLIUM 'PURPLE SENSATION'        
How to grow Allium 'Purple Sensation'



More accurately known as Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation', and commonly as the Dutch garlic 'Purple Sensation', this outstanding ornamental onion cultivar is a popular bulb-forming perennial whose origins are found in Iran and Kyrgyzstan. It is a selected cultivar developed by Dutch plant breeder Mr J. Bijl in 1963.

It is a popular late-spring flowering garden plant, noted for its gorgeous ball-shaped blooms. Under favourable conditions you can expect it to grow to an approximate height of 90 cm, with a width of 30cm. The mid-green, strap-shaped leaves can grow to 60 cm in length. The rich-purple almost metallic blooms are formed in large umbels up to 15 cm in diametre.

How to grow Allium 'Purple Sensation'
Allium 'Purple Sensation' will perform best in a light sandy, well drained soil in full sun. Avoid planting in cold, wet or waterlogged soils as the bulbs are prone to rot. When planting in heavy soils dig in plenty of horticultural grit-sand and/or organic compost beforehand.

Allium 'Purple Sensation' bulbs become available for purchase as pre-packed bulbs from the autumn onwards. Plant the bulbs to a depth of 10 cm and a distance of 10 cm apart, adding a slow release fertiliser high in potash in poor soils. Plant too close and you will achieve smaller blooms as the bulbs complete for the available nutrients.

After 2 to 3 years the flowers can become noticeably smaller due to the overcrowding of newly formed bulbs growing off of the parent bulb. In the spring these clumps can be lifted, divided and replanted to revitalize your display.

Keep the soil moist during the growing period, but once the leaves start to died off, watering should be stopped to reduce the risk of the bulbs rotting.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' bulbs received the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993.

Images copyright of Simon Eade - gardenofeaden@gmail.com

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW ALLIUM 'PURPLE SENSATION'



          Integrating Islamic Trends in Kyrgyzstan        
How religion and politics are mixing in a previously secular state.

The role played by Islam in Kyrgystan has been steadily growing ever since independence in the early 1990s. Although it remains a secular republic where religious parties are banned, analysts say that Islam is likely to play a part in upcoming presidential elections.

(See Kyrgyzstan: Election Campaigning Co-opts Islam).

There are also fears of radicalisation, with at least 600 Kyrgyz nationals known to have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Alexey Malashenko, chief researcher at the Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) think-tank, spoke to IWPR about the likely impact this trend may have on the future direction of the state.



Alexey Malashenko, chief researcher at the Dialogue of Civilizations (DOC) think-tank. (Photo courtesy of Prof. Malashenko)
Subscribe to IWPR's Weekly Global Voices by email
          Kyrgyzstan: Election Campaigning Co-opts Islam        
Will politicians use religious discourse to appeal to the electorate?

Political scientists are predicting that candidates in Kyrgyzstan’s upcoming presidential elections will try to court growing religious feeling in the country to win over voters.

Although it remains a secular state in which all citizens have equal rights, religion has been growing steadily in popularity in the Muslim majority republic since independence.

For instance, there are now some 2,500 mosques across Kyrgyzstan, in comparison to only a few dozen in the early 1990s.

This increased interest in Islam has also been associated with growing radicalisation. Some 600 Kyrgyz nationals are known to have travelled to fight in Syria and Iraq.



Former prime minister Temir Sariev, gives his old valuable Quran to the lecturer of Islamic university of Kyrgyzstan Chubak Jalilov. (Photo: 24.kg news agency)
Subscribe to IWPR's Weekly Global Voices by email
          Russia's Aims in Central Asia        
Regional cooperation revolves around the Eurasia Economic Union.

Russia continues to lack a common policy on Central Asia, preferring instead to pursue bilateral relations with individual states, according to regional expert Chinara Esengul.

The Kyrgyz analyst on Central Asia geopolitics and security told IWPR that she saw no future imminent accessions to the customs union of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan.

But Russia would still play a key role as a guarantor of the national and regional security of Central Asia, balanced by some economic competition with China.

The only serious threat to Moscow’s dominance in the region, she continued, was the threat of radical Islam.



Chinara Esengul. (Photo courtesy of National Institute for Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic - nisi.kg)
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          President's Lawsuits Intimidate Kyrgyz Media        
Independent outlets fear pressure may fuel self-censorship.

Activists are warning of threats to the country’s media freedom after President Almazbek Atambaev filed a series of lawsuits against outlets for allegedly defaming him.  

Media professionals fear that the huge sums of money involved might lead to self-censorship, and say they are not convinced the courts will give them a fair hearing.

The prosecutor general has demanded 20 million soms (285.000 US dollars) from Taalaigul Toktakunova, a lawyer for the opposition Ata Meken party and Radio Azattyk, and three million soms (43,000 dollars) from other defendants including the Zanoza.kg, and 24.kg websites.

These are substantial sums in Kyrgyzstan, where the average monthly salary is about 200 dollars.



President of Kyrgyzstan, Almazbek Atambaev. (Photo: kremlin.ru)
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          Commentaires sur Occlusions veineuses rétiniennes par MichaelNex        
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          ACF Deploys Emergency Teams to Meet Needs of Thousands Displaced by Violence in Kyrgyzstan        
An ethnic Uzbek woman cries in a tent in a refugee camp Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov, courtesy www.alertnet.org

NEW YORK, NY—International humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International has launched an emergency response to assist the victims of ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. An estimated 300,000 people have been internally displaced and at least 75,000 people have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan since violent clashes erupted in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan in mid-June.

Action Against Hunger’s top priority is providing displaced populations in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan with access to food and safe drinking water with a focus on the most vulnerable—children, expecting and nursing mothers, and the elderly. The humanitarian group, which already secured permission to enter an area of Uzbekistan where thousands of refugees have congregated, has deployed emergency response teams to both countries yesterday. Experts in food security and water & sanitation will immediately begin providing clean drinking water to 30,000 people in Osh and carry out rapid assessments in affected areas to determine immediate needs. A cargo plane carrying emergency supplies is scheduled to arrive within the next few days.

Action Against Hunger learned that makeshift refugee camps have been established in Uzbekistan, but the humanitarian situation for the displaced in Kyrgyzstan remains unknown. Tens of thousands of people are caught on the Uzbek side of the border with Kyrgyzstan, where authorities have registered 32,000 refugee families, mostly comprised of women and children. The distribution of basic supplies is extremely limited due to insecurity, continued population displacement, and the closure of the Osh airport.

“The wounded and sick are unable to reach hospitals for fear of being exposed to violence, and there have even been attacks against medical personnel while trying to evacuate patients,” said Olivier Longue, Executive Director for ACF-Spain. “Humanitarian access is still very limited. Very few agencies are on the ground because of ongoing fighting.”

Hospitals and health centers are running out of food and fuel as the number of wounded continues to rise. In the city of Osh, where many grocery stores, markets, and restaurants remain closed, the population faces rising food insecurity. Household food stocks are being rapidly depleted because of looting and restrictions on movement and on the delivery of supplies. With temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, the water supply in some areas of Osh has been disrupted due to power outages. Stocks of bottled water have also run out or been looted.

“We are especially concerned about indiscriminate attacks on civilians, gender violence, looting, the destruction of personal property, and the lack of protection afforded to those displaced by the violence,” said Javier Perez, head of the emergency team for Action Against Hunger.

The organization calls on all parties involved to cease the killings, stop the destruction, and allow humanitarian actors to safely respond to the immediate needs of the affected populations.


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          Comentario en Yamaha PW-X, Bosch y Brose : motores eMTB 2017. por MichaelRam        
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          Comentario en Yamaha PW-X, Bosch y Brose : motores eMTB 2017. por MichaelRam        
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          Eating the Globe: Zimbabwe        

I tried cooking Zimbabwean beef stew last weekend. It was rather unremarkable. The recipe called for virtually no spices. I cut the meat portion in half and doubled the curry powder, and it was still bland. It was straight out of a 1950s American cookbook-- tasteless. I added the spinach and rice, which were not called for in the recipe.

Countries tried so far:
Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Madagascar, Morocco, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Zimbabwe
Asia: Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Lebanon, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, Yemen
Europe: Albania, Belgium, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden
North America: Belize, Canada, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Trinidad & Tobago, USA
South America: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela
Oceania: Australia, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga
          UNICEF trucks supplies to ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in Kyrgyzstan        
UNICEF Representative in Uzbekistan Jean-Michel Delmotte gives a firsthand account of the refugee crisis unfolding on the border with Kyrgyzstan.
          As cold weather nears, UNICEF and partners shelter Kyrgyzstan earthquake survivors        
UNICEF Radio’s Chris Schuepp talks to UNICEF Representative in Kyrgyzstan Tim Schaffter about the emergency response in quake-affected areas.
          Whither Kazakhstan?        
Essay Types
Essay
Fiona Hill

The Specter of a "Colored Revolution"

Kazakhstan's scheduled December 4, 2005 presidential election brings two major questions into focus for this Central Asian state. First, given the political upheavals at similar junctures in three other post-Soviet countries since 2003, will Kazakhstan avoid a so-called "colored revolution?"[1] And second, can Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev succeed over the long-term in combining regime stability with gradual top-down reform and modernization; or will his model of evolutionary change be either abruptly halted from below, or stagnate and even rot from the top?

The Kazakhstan government is particularly concerned about the answer to the first question, which has also generated a great deal of speculation within the country among opposition parties and key opposition leaders, who have formed a unified coalition movement ("For a Just Kazakhstan") to contest the presidential election. The opposition coalition held its founding meeting on March 20, 2005 in Almaty against the backdrop of the upheavals in Kyrgyzstan, in a move that was clearly inspired by the general perceived contours of the "colored revolutions." At the meeting, opposition speakers made frequent and explicit reference to the earlier events in Georgia and Ukraine, and to the drama that was then unfolding across the border in Kyrgyzstan.[2] Representatives of the youth group, Pora, that played a key organizational role in the "Orange Revolution" in Ukraine, and opposition activists from Kyrgyzstan were also present in the audience. The opposition clearly hoped to use the momentum of events elsewhere to rally the population around its presidential candidate and oust President Nazarbayev.

For its part, Nazarbayev's government has responded to the specter of a Kazakh "colored revolution" by trying to squeeze the groups that it sees as having played a decisive role in the other three countries: international NGOs (especially those funded by the United States), who are accused of directly supporting the opposition; the independent Kazakhstan media; and the opposition itself. A range of international NGOs in Almaty, including the Red Cross, were visited by tax inspectors, who poured through their books and hampered their activities, and a controversial bill to limit the operations of foreign NGOs in Kazakhstan was put before the parliament in spring and summer 2005.[3] In September 2005, President Nazarbayev issued a public warning to NGOs to refrain from "interfering" in the Kazakhstan elections and the government announced that it would even go so far as to monitor the activities of the United States Embassy in Kazakhstan.[4] There have also been several legal and physical attacks on leading members of opposition parties, including the opposition coalition's presidential candidate since March 2005; and press reports in Kazakhstan that the government has prepared contingency plans--including the use of force--for dealing with mass protests around the December 2005 election.[5]

Misplaced Fears

The Kazakh government's fears, however, seem misplaced. Kazakhstan is not Georgia, Ukraine, nor Kyrgyzstan. Many factors suggest that President Nazarbayev has a very good chance of both avoiding a "colored revolution" and of maintaining the momentum of reform. Although, of the three, Kazakhstan most resembles Ukraine, Kazakhstan is not at the kind of turning point that Ukraine was in winter 2004. At this juncture, the government of Leonid Kuchma was extremely unpopular and seen to have run its course, in spite of the growth in the Ukrainian economy and the positive trends in the state's political development. Kuchma's government had become mired in scandals domestically--including the 2000 murder of investigative journalist Georgy Gongadze, allegedly at the instigation of the President himself--and tarnished internationally after being implicated in the sale of radar installations to Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq in breach of UN sanctions. Most importantly, Kuchma was also at the end of his constitutionally-mandated term. He could not run for the presidency again.

In the case of all three "colored revolutions," Presidents Kuchma, Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, and Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, had either reached or were approaching the end of their presidential terms at the critical juncture. In each case their personal popularity had plummeted. There was deep suspicion across the political spectrum (including among many of their supporters) that they intended to prolong their influence, if not their presidencies, through whatever measures they deemed necessary--including blatantly extra-legal measures that went beyond manipulating elections. In contrast, thanks to a referendum and a series of parliamentary votes over the last several years, Nazarbayev has the right to run for a third (now seven-year) term that will extend his presidency to 2012. Indeed, the Kazakhstan government has paid particularly careful attention to the issue of both the acknowledged and the perceived legitimacy of Nazarbayev's presidential term. Initially, the presidential election was slated for some time in 2006, and there was much confusion and disagreement about whether Nazarbayev's current term actually expires at the end of 2005 or 2006 because of all the past extensions and the varying dates of previous elections. Serious questions were raised about Nazarbayev's right to continue his presidency into 2006. The decision to hold the presidential election in December 2005 was thus taken, in part, to eliminate the uncertainty.

A Record of Success

Furthermore, Nazarbayev's popularity, like that of President Putin in Russia, is generally seen as high (around 70-80% in some recent polls conducted by the Kazakh government).[6] He also enjoys the reputation in the region of being the most accomplished of the transitional post-Soviet leaders. In the waning years of the USSR, Nazarbayev was touted as a potential Vice President or Prime Minister for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[7] And, in August 2005, after Nazarbayev announced that he would run for president again, Gorbachev commended his former protégé for having "the most successful model of society in the post-Soviet space" and for his achievements in implementing socio-economic reforms.[8]

Gorbachev's praise was not given lightly. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kazakhstan government under Nazarbayev's tutelage has done a lot of things right. On the economic front, Kazakhstan's performance over the last five years has been impressive. Nazarbayev is not in the situation of former Presidents Eduard Shevardnaze of Georgia, or Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, as they faced election cycles in 2003 and 2005 at the helm of impoverished countries. Between 2000-2004, Kazakhstan recorded an average rate of GDP growth of 10.36% that far exceed neighboring Russia's 6.86% in the same period. Per capita incomes have grown from $1,229 in 2000 to $2,699 in 2004; and there has been significant progress in poverty reduction, with the proportion of the population living below the subsistence minimum now at around 16%, down from just over 30% of the population in 2000.[9] The World Economic Forum's 2005 "Growth Competitiveness Index Rankings" report ranks Kazakhstan as the most competitive of the post-Soviet states, in 61st place out of 117 countries ranked, with the next regional state, Azerbaijan, coming in at 69th, and Russia lagging behind in 75th place.

Admittedly, much of Kazakhstan's good fortune is due to the happy confluence of a rapid increase in world oil prices since 1999 and the steady development of the country's considerable energy resources since the early 1990s. Kazakhstan's energy resources are the largest in the Caspian Sea region, with its offshore Kashagan field alone ranking as the largest new oil field discovered outside the Middle East, and the fifth largest oil field in the world in terms of reserves. Kazakhstan's gas reserves also put it among the top 20 countries in the world, equivalent in size to Canada and Kuwait. Oil production--which stood at 1.22 million barrels per day in 2004--now accounts for about 50% of Kazakhstan's export revenues, and approximately 30% of state budget revenues, and Kazakhstan is poised to become a major world oil exporter with production levels of as much as 3.5 million barrels per day projected by the government for 2015.[10]

More Than Oil and Gas

But oil and gas are not the whole story. Privatization and other important structural reforms like the extensive overhaul of the banking sector have also been accomplished. The private sector now employs 60% of Kazakhstan's workforce and accounts for 85% of economic activity.[11] Kazakhstan has even forged ahead in implementing many of the tough social reforms that have thus far stymied Russian reformers--such as the creation of a national mortgage system to support the development of the private housing market, which Kazakhstan implemented in 1998; and the creation of private pension funds in 1997-1999. Kazakhstan also set up a National Oil Fund in 2001, which Russia did not introduce until 2004.[12] Kazakhstan is now in the process of introducing communal services reform, and unlike Russia, where the monetization of state benefits brought thousands of pensioners out onto the streets across the country in January 2005, Kazakhstan has experienced few social upheavals in response to its reform program. Kazakhstan's successes on these fronts, and the speed in which many of the reforms have been carried out, have earned it glowing and admiring reports in the Russian press.[13] And, during a visit to Astana in March 2004, several senior Kazakh officials made a point of letting me know (with considerable satisfaction) that I had just missed running into Russian presidential advisor, Economist Andrei Illiaronov, who had been on one of his frequent trips to the Kazakh capital to "see what to do and how to do it!"

Economic growth has also been enhanced by careful government attention to the development of Kazakhstan's human resources. Since the 1990s, President Nazarbayev has made it a national priority to nurture a new technocratic elite through education reforms, and a far-sighted, state-funded study-abroad program--the Bolashak ("The Future") program. This program, which was established in 1993, places the best and the brightest from all over Kazakhstan (not just those with family ties to the ruling elite as in many other countries) in degree programs at a range of U.S., European, Russian, and other international universities. Most importantly these young, Western-educated experts are then brought back into the Kazakhstan government, as well as assisted in finding jobs in the Kazakh private sector, or in international institutions and companies operating in Kazakhstan. Over the course of the Bolashak program, it has produced a number of young deputy ministers and ministers including Azamat Abdimomunov, the Deputy Minister for Education and Science, who studied both at Indiana University and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Other young technocratic ministers, like Kairat Kelimbetov, the Minister of Economy and Budget, and Marlen Iskakov the Minister for Taxation, also spent time studying abroad with the encouragement and support of the state; and ministries and government commissions in Astana are full of young experts with impressive international educational experience. Although Kazakhstan still suffers from a shortage of skilled personnel for key government and private positions, it now has a new and growing, educated elite of world-class caliber.[14]

In addition, Kazakhstan under Nazarbayev has not just sent its young people to study abroad, but has also launched a global quest for ideas on reform and modernization, as well as trying to learn from its own past mistakes. Kazakhstan's national strategic plan--Kazakhstan 2030--which was conceived in the late 1990s with the assistance of a team of experts from Harvard University, consciously draws on the experience of the "Asian Tigers" with their state-driven, centralized, and more authoritarian approach to reform. It charts an evolutionary path to becoming a middle-income country--with even greater ambitions. At the same time, specific nationally-prioritized projects on the development of critical transportation routes, infrastructure, and future settlement patterns in this huge and sparsely-populated state have sought to minimize the burdens of the centrally-planned Soviet past, as well as to learn the lessons of development from similarly large states with low population densities and rich natural resources, such as Australia and Canada.

A Balancing Act at Home and Abroad

Equally importantly, on the domestic front, the Kazakh government has managed to avoid a potential north/south split of the country along ethnic lines that was predicted by many regional analysts in the 1990s. As the USSR collapsed, Kazakhstan was left with a majority Slavic population (Russian and Ukrainian) in the northern and eastern steppe regions--the legacy of Khrushchev's "Virgin Lands" campaign of the 1950s to settle and cultivate new agricultural land.[15] In the early 1990s, ethnic Russians in these regions demonstrated in favor of dual citizenship with Russia, and of having Russian established as the second state language, with many leaving for Russia when these demands were not met by the Kazakh government. The situation was also heavily manipulated by nationalist politicians in Moscow, who raised the possibility of the predominantly Slavic regions separating from Kazakhstan and joining the Russian Federation.

President Nazarbayev took a number of steps to head-off this possibility, including moving the capital from its old location in Almaty, in the predominantly ethnic Kazakh south, to Astana in the north to "anchor" the country. In spite of refusing to adopt dual citizenship and enshrine Russian as a second state language, Nazarbayev designated Russian the "language of inter-ethnic communication," and has taken care to ensure that non-ethnic Kazakhs still occupy significant posts in the central and local governments and are not overtly discriminated against in hiring. In addition, the government has maintained the "Assembly of the Peoples of Kazakhstan," an old Soviet-style institution celebrating Kazakhstan's ethnic diversity; played host to numerous international conferences on religious tolerance and a range of multi-cultural issues; and funded the renovation and construction of new churches and synagogues as well as mosques. Combined with Kazakhstan's economic growth, these policies have had some evident success. Inter-ethnic relations in Kazakhstan today present a very different picture from the dire predictions of a decade ago. Although tensions remain--especially given the fact that most ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan still have a poor command of Kazakh, which is an increasingly important skill at the top levels of government and business--the emigration of ethnic Russians and other groups from Kazakhstan has declined sharply from the levels of the 1990s. Instead, the country has become a major recipient of migration, the second largest after Russia in the region. In fact, according to the official figures of the Kazakhstan Migration Agency, 65,000 people--including 15,000 ethnic Russians--who left Kazakhstan in the 1990s, returned in 2003-2004.[16]

This domestic balancing act has been mirrored externally in Eurasia. Kazakhstan has positioned itself proactively, by playing a weak hand strongly, promoting regional integration, and charting a course among the interests of the three main powers active in Central Asia: Russia, China, and the United States. This has involved including the major energy companies of all three states in high-profile oil and gas agreements; forging bilateral military-military ties with the United States and joining NATO's Partnership for Peace agreement, while extending Russia a fifty-year lease for the Baikonur space launch facilities, and pursuing an active membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with Russia and China; and promoting the creation of a single economic space with Russia, while still developing trade relations with the U.S. and China. Kazakhstan has also set its sights more broadly internationally, including initiating the creation of a regional security organization for Asia, the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which held its first summit in Almaty in June 2002; applying to be the first Eurasian state to chair the OSCE in 2009; and courting international economic and political elites by hosting a number of major conferences, such as a Eurasian version of the World Economic Forum, and the Eurasian Media Forum.

Catching "the Russian Disease"?

Beneath the surface, however, Kazakhstan still faces a lot of challenges. These have tended to get far more attention and scrutiny in the West than the positive achievements of the last decade--as the title of Carnegie Endowment scholar Martha Olcott's 2002 book--Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise--might suggest. In part this is the result of the rather gloomy prevailing view of the region that Kazakhstan finds itself in: bordering Russia, China's troubled western province of Xinjiang, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. In the international media, the tendency has been to project the problems of the adjacent countries onto Kazakhstan. In spite of the fact that Kazakhstan was never traditionally considered to be part of Central Asia in the Soviet period, in most Western discourse it has been lumped in with the rest of "the stans" and assigned the same patterns of mismanagement, state weakness or failure, dictatorship, and repression as its neighbors. But Kazakhstan is not just "another stan" and Nazarbayev is not just "another Central Asian dictator." In fact, Kazakhstan is emerging as one of the more advanced and substantial states in post-Soviet Eurasia--more akin, politically and economically, to Russia and Ukraine than to its other Central Asian neighbors--and it should be viewed as such.

Even in the nature of its economic and political problems, Kazakhstan mirrors Russia and Ukraine rather than its Central Asian neighbors. The flip side of the development of Kazakhstan's energy resources underscores this very clearly. As in the case of Russia, where oil and gas are now seen as the country's greatest strategic assets, in Kazakhstan energy resources are viewed as the key to modernization and Kazakhstan's establishment as a future regional power. Currently in Russia, however, soaring world oil prices have led to an unprecedented influx of energy export revenues into the state budget, increasing the role of the state in politics and the economy, and stifling the further development of political pluralism and private-sector innovation as the government begins to drive major investment decisions. The Russian energy industry is also being stripped of revenues that would otherwise be reinvested in its long-term development to diversify the rest of the economy--running the dual risks of a future downturn in the oil and gas sectors if production and energy prices fall, and a broader collapse of the economy if government subsidies for other industries then disappear. [17]

As a major oil producer with a similar post-Soviet economic profile, Kazakhstan runs the risk of catching this new "Russian disease," where heavy-handed centralization and over-bearing statism loom on the horizon. Indeed, just like in Russia, economic nationalism is on the rise in Kazakhstan. Western investors in the oil and gas sector are feeling the squeeze through the stealth repeal (with new taxes and fines rather than canceled contracts) of some of the favorable terms for investment by international energy companies in the 1990s; and the Kazakhstan government has announced that it wants more "strategic control" over the development of its energy resources.[18] In terms of state spending, in President Nazarbayev's addresses to Kazakhstan's people and parliament on both February 18, 2005 and September 1, 2005, he outlined an extensive array of government budgetary expenditures for increasing public sector wages and payments, new public housing programs, and developing small and medium businesses, as well as a whole series of new reforms.[19] One Kazakh official commented to me in a candid moment in March 2005 that he feared that, with the state's coffers bulging with money, the government was now trying to do too much, too fast, and without adequate preparation--risking the quality of reforms in the quantity of spending.

A Victim of its own Success?

Unfortunately, Kazakhstan also runs the risk of becoming, like Russia, a victim of its own success. The World Bank's March 2005 country economic memorandum on Kazakhstan--Getting Competitive, Staying Competitive: The Challenge of Managing Kazakhstan's Oil Boom--encapsulates the dilemma in its title. Kazakhstan's construction, banking, service, and retail sectors are booming. But, as the World Bank's report underscores, most consumer goods are imported, and the manufacturing and agricultural sectors are respectively stagnant and declining. The oil and gas sector accounts for nearly 80% of industrial output, with exports in all other industries holding flat since 1997, defying government efforts to diversify the economy. One of the most precarious sectors is housing construction, which shows every sign of overheating, fueled by the injection of large sums of oil money into the economy, and further encouraged by the massive building project of the new capital in Astana.

Beyond encouraging a construction boom, relocating the capital over 1,000 kilometers north to Astana has had some other downsides. It has moved the focal point of Kazakhstan's population into the geographic region of Western Siberia--a move equivalent to shifting the United States' capital from Washington, DC to Greenbay Wisconsin, or Russia's capital from Moscow to Irkutsk on Lake Baikal in Siberia. Astana is on average 10 degrees Celsius colder than Almaty, which is significant when one considers the additional costs involved in constructing new buildings of glass and steel to withstand the ravages of the elements and of keeping these buildings heated in the winter. Keeping buildings cool in the summer is also an issue. Although Astana holds the distinction of being the world's "coldest" capital city, the region around it experiences dramatic annual temperature swings from minus 30-35 degrees Celsius in the winter to plus 30-35 Celsius in the summer.[20] The plans for Astana envisage growing the city from an initial size of 250,000 (before it was designated as the capital) to 1.2 million over the next several years. Its current population stands officially at around 600,000, and many of the buildings designed for and under construction in the city would not look out of place in the Persian Gulf states like Dubai and Qatar--including a dramatic steel, glass and stone pyramid, designed by world-renowned British architect Sir Norman Foster, to house a new religious and cultural center.[21]

Like many of Russia's Siberian cities, Astana also suffers from problems of remoteness. Travel between Astana and Almaty and the relatively densely populated south of the country is difficult. Almaty remains the natural communications hub for Kazakhstan as well as a hub for the rest of Central Asia because of its location close to the borders with Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It still attracts most international flights, although the government is trying to redirect them toward Astana to the great irritation of the southern elite and many in the international community in Almaty. Flights between Almaty and Astana, although increasing in frequency, are often over-booked, and the only alternative travel option is by rail--a journey that can take as long as 20 hours between the two cities. For now, the technocratic governing elite in Astana is cut-off from rest of country, with much of the country's international presence and civil society (and the main political opposition) still concentrated in Almaty. Astana was created to solve one set of problems, but like Russia--which moved its capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, and then back again--Kazakhstan now has two capitals, Astana and Almaty, with very different profiles.

Central Asia's Migration Magnet

Kazakhstan shares other dilemmas with Russia, including an aging population and the kind of general demographic decline associated with the lower birth rates of developed industrial states. Like Russia, Kazakhstan has lower life expectancy and higher than normal adult mortality rates, which have been linked to the stresses attendant at the collapse of the USSR as well as poor dietary and healthcare practices.[22] In fact, the Slavic population in Kazakhstan's north, shows the same poor health profile and low life expectancy as the Russian population it borders in the Urals and western Siberian, while birthrates have been higher among the ethnic Kazakh in the south. Kazakhstan's government has set ambitious targets for population growth from 15 million in 2005 to 20 million in 2015, including introducing programs for the migration of 4.5 million "Oralmans," or ethnic Kazakhs, from neighboring countries of Central Asia, Turkey, Mongolia, and China. Although 374,000 "Oralmans" have "returned" to Kazakhstan in recent years, the bulk of Kazakhstan's population growth is currently the result of illegal migration into Kazakhstan from the rest of Central Asia as well as China.[23]

Economic migrants are attracted to Kazakhstan by the prospect of low-skilled jobs in the growing construction and service sectors. For example, the Kazakh government itself suggested (during interviews I conducted in Astana on this subject in March 2004) that Kazakhstan may presently have as many as a million illegal migrants, working either temporarily or permanently in the country. Officials from the Migration Agency and the Presidential Administration indicated that, according to their estimates, there are at least 500,000 people from Uzbekistan alone working illegally in Kazakhstan, with most working in the southern agricultural regions on the Kazakh-Uzbek border and in construction in Astana. As a further illustration, the local government in Almaty estimates that as many as 100,000 migrants from neighboring Kyrgyzstan come to work in the region every summer.[24] Shanty towns have sprung up on the outskirts of Astana, Almaty, and other cities, creating social pressures and a new underclass that the Kazakh government has not yet devised policies to deal with. The concentration of new wealth in cities like Astana and Almaty have also exacerbated existing economic disparities among Kazakhstan's far-flung regions, increasing domestic political tensions.

Ensuring New Leadership

In large part, as already noted, many of these issues are a mark of the success of Kazakhstan's post-Soviet transition. Modernization and rapid economic development of the kind that Kazakhstan is experiencing always bring new social problems, as well as demands for more change--especially political change. Although the Bolashak program has been very successful in bringing a new generation of people into positions of power, Nazarbayev's is still an aging regime held in place by what is essentially an old Soviet elite. Nursultan Nazarbayev may have been the most successful of the former Soviet leaders who inherited a new state, but he is still a Soviet holdover. And unlike in many other states, including Russia and Ukraine, there has been no post-Soviet transition of executive power in Kazakhstan. If Nazarbayev completes his third term in 2012, he will have been in power for almost a quarter of a century. All of which raises the question of how to create the mechanisms to bring in an entirely new president and leadership in the near future.

The Kazakh parliament, which is now generally seen as tightly controlled by the executive branch, has not yet emerged as a route to the upper echelons of power. Presidential preference (enlightened as it may be at times) is still seen in Kazakhstan as the way ahead. If Nazarbayev is re-elected in December 2005, the top job will be locked in for the next seven years. And, with decisionmaking authority centralized in the presidential administration, Kazakhstan has all the basic conditions for a ruinous round of infighting over the question of a successor--very similar to the waning days of Boris Yeltsin's regime in Russia, and to the drama unfolding again in Russia as President Putin approaches the end of his term in 2008.

A Growing But Fractious Opposition

Frustration with the Nazarbayev regime is already bubbling up to the surface of politics. There have been numerous splits in the ruling elite over the last several years, illustrated by the defection, ostracizing, and even imprisonment of political figures once close to Nazarbayev, including former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin, and Galimzhan Zhakiyanov, the former Governor of Pavlodar, and a sometime protégé  of the Kazakh President. Both were accused of corruption after publicly parting ways with the President and entering the opposition, with Kazhegeldin ending up in exile abroad, and Zhakiyanov jailed for several years.[25] The Zhakiyanov case, although shrouded in a great deal of intrigue, is particularly striking, as Zhakiyanov was, in the late 1990s, viewed within the Kazakh government as a rising star, designated by the President for greater things. He moved rapidly in this period from the head of the Agency for Control Over Strategic Resources to the governorship of Pavlodar, a key province on the Russian border. His equally rapid demise suggests that some of the members of Nazarbayev's "anointed" young generation may have pushed for too much power, too fast and too early for the President's preferences.

The Kazakh opposition is now filled with people who have been in power, or close to the center of power, and have had the opportunity of participating in the running of the country, but who have felt stifled by Nazarbayev's heavy top-down control, or disillusioned with the lack of political and economic opportunity. These include figures like Oraz Zhandosov, the former Deputy Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Chairman of the Central Bank of Kazakhstan, once seen as one of Nazarbayev's "young Turks," spearheading the country's reform program; and Zharmakhan Tuyakbay, a former Nazarbayev loyalist and ruling party member, the former Prosecutor General and Speaker of Parliament, who parted ways with Nazarbayev after accusing the government of manipulating the outcome of Kazakhstan's last round of parliamentary elections.

At the founding congress of the opposition movement "For a Just Kazakhstan" in March 2005, the opposition parties and leaders present selected Tuyakbay as their candidate to contest the presidential election. The opposition leaders at the meeting also paid tribute to Kazhegeldin--who was reported to be funding the new movement from exile--and to Zhakiyanov, who was portrayed as the symbol of the opposition, the outcast martyr, suffering for his convictions.[26] However, the fact that the opposition includes such formerly influential figures, all of whom entertain their own ambitions for the "top job," has also tended to lead to infighting. The various opposition movements have repeatedly split into competing factions and the coalition "For a Just Kazakhstan" is a precarious one.[27]

For Family and Friends

As in Russia and other post-Soviet states, the opposition to Nazarbayev may be fractious, but it is genuine, and it is also complicated by its links to the Nazarbayev "family" and political "clan."Â References to the Nazarbayev family (his actual immediate and extended family) are usually the issue that raise the most direct comparisons with the other Central Asian states--especially Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, where presidential family members have been active in politics and business. In Kyrgyzstan, the corruption and venality of President Askar Akayev's family, and his coterie's attempts to manipulate the 2004 parliamentary elections with a view to enabling Akayev to stay in power longer than the constitution permitted, were the main triggering events for the protest and eventual overthrow of the government.

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          Comment #4438        
I have read on a few message boards where people from other countries wish Trump was running where they live.

I heard Kyrgyzstan is looking for a new leader and maybe the only country where Trump could win. He already named himself dictator of Michelles Cove.
          Ann Wright at WAMM Annual Meeting, March 4, 2017        

Mary Ann Wright is a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War which precipitated her resigning from the State Dept. Wright served 13 years in active duty in the U.S. Army, and 16 years in the Army Reserves, rising to the rank of colonel. She was placed in the Retired Ready Reserve, meaning the President could call her back to active duty in a time of need.

In 1987, Wright went to work for the Foreign Service within the U.S. State Department. Over the course of her State Department career, Wright served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. embassies in Afghanistan (which she helped open following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, an assignment she volunteered for), Sierra Leone (an embassy which she helped close and then reopen again), Micronesia and Mongolia, and also served at U.S. embassies in Uzbekistan (which she helped open), Kyrgyzstan, Grenada, and Nicaragua.

Wright's eventual resignation was not the first time she had spoken out against policy. In an interview, Wright said that she spoke out against United Nations bombing tactics waged in Somalia, in the effort to kill rebel leader Mohamed Farrah Aidid. Wright also says that she didn't agree with policy on multiple occasions, but continued her State Department work despite her own disagreements with the policy.

Since her retirement from the State Department, Wright has become a prominent figure in the movement opposed to the occupation of Iraq. She has attended many conferences and given numerous lectures on her political views and on her experiences before and after her resignation.

Wright has worked with anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan on several occasions, most notably by helping organize the Camp Casey demonstration outside George W. Bush's Crawford, Texas, ranch in August 2005, and by accompanying the southern leg of the Bring Them Home Now bus tour. She also volunteered at Camp Casey 3, the Veterans For Peace shelter for Hurricane Katrina victims in Covington, Louisiana, during the bus tour. She marched with Sheehan in 2006 with the Women Say No to War campaign, which was meant to deliver a petition with over 60,000 signatures of citizens against the war.

Wright has willingly been arrested while taking part in anti-war demonstrations, the first such arrest occurring in front of the White House on September 26, 2005. She has said in interviews that she does not remove the arrest bracelets attached to her wrists upon the processing of her arrest, but rather collects them.

Her law degree comes from the University of Arkansas and her master's degree in national security affairs is from the U.S. Naval War College.

Cast: Bill Sorem

Tags: Coleen Rowley, Women Against Military Madness, Ann Wright and WAMM


          O! opens new store in Bishkek's Globus shopping centre        
(Telecompaper) Kyrgyzstan mobile operator Nur-Telecom, working under the O! brand, has opened a new retail outlet and service centre under the O!Store brand...
          Guatemala Quetzal(GTQ)/Kyrgyzstan Som(KGS)        
1 Guatemala Quetzal = 9.26324 Kyrgyzstan Som
          Kyrgyzstan, Kyrzbekistan _ Whats the Difference?        
Looks like the writer of this article has been watching too much television. From the New York Times. Correction: January 7, 2015 An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the country whose army chased Tommy Caldwell’s kidnappers. As other references correctly noted, Caldwell was in Kyrgyzstan, not Kyrzbekistan, which does not exist.
          Leeza Ahmady        

International curator and art advisor Leeza Ahmady shares her appreciation of global approaches to creative making and exhibiting with webinar participants. Ahmady also underscores the importance of thinking and working beyond one’s immediate locale.

“I would say that if there would be anything that could be beneficial to you, beyond just really focusing on your practice, it would be the ability to go to other places, to make work, to test out your ideas, and to interact with other kinds of communities…. There is some kind of a magic in that, and you tap into a whole community of people who might be interested in your work that you don’t find in your ordinary surroundings.”

Leeza Ahmady is a New York-based curator, consultant, and art advisor specializing in contemporary Asian art. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Ahmady’s family relocated to the United States when she was a teenager. From 1997-2001 she served as director of LL Gallery, a site-specific venue that exhibited international contemporary artists within a Chelsea nightclub, and from 2000-2001 she was co-director of Robert Pardo Gallery. Since 2004 she has served as director of Asian Contemporary Art Week, a New York City festival celebrating contemporary Asian art through exhibitions, lectures, performances, and other programming. In 2005 she founded AhmadyArts, a platform for her own curating, consulting, educational work, and arts advising. She has curated a large number of national and international exhibitions, including at such venues and events as The National Gallery of Art; the Whitney Museum of Art; the Queens Museum of Art; the Museo de Arte de El Salvador (MARTE); apexart; Art Asia Fair Miami; and the Second International Biennale of Arts, Kyrgyzstan. Ahmady holds a BA in International Relations with a minor in Art History from St. John’s University in New York, and an MA in Art and Cultural Management from Pratt Institute.


          Donor Roundtable Meeting on the Women's Access to Justice Flagship Initiative        
14 Jul 2017

STATEMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LAW ORGANIZATION

Donor Roundtable Meeting on the Women's Access to Justice Flagship Initiative: "Addressing Impunity Against Women and Girls Through Effective Women's Access to Justice in Diverse Country Contexts"

July 6th, 2017

New York

Delivered by Mr. Patrizio Civili, Permanent Observer to the UN, IDLO

​Check against delivery

 

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates, colleagues, Ladies and gentlemen,

Thanks to the Norwegian Ambassador, UN Women and panelists.

Let me say at the outset that IDLO, the only inter-governmental organization exclusively devoted to advancing the rule of law, is proud to be part of this initiative, which addresses a cause that is both central to IDLO’s priorities and crucial to enabling progress to achieve Agenda 2030.

Throughout the world, millions of women continue to be denied justice. Women and girls suffer appalling levels of discrimination, violence and neglect, with very limited means to access effective remedies. This is so because their road to justice is often impeded by discriminatory legal frameworks, unequal social norms, and inaccessible or gender-biased justice institutions.

Women’s access to justice is especially challenging in crisis-affected States. The breakdown of law and order, weakened justice institutions, opportunistic violence and other forms of extremism, create an environment that breeds impunity. In many situations, sexual and gender-based violence is used as a weapon of war; in other cases, women and girls themselves are used as human shields with great risks to their lives and the safety of their families.

Also, despite the primacy that the international community has been giving to gender concerns in conflict resolution and peace building, women’s participation and representation in the negotiation and implementation of peace agreements remain negligible.[1]

Overall, although some significant gains have been made in improving women’s access to justice in conflict and fragile situations, the challenge remains immense.

We know from our work around the world that good laws, fair justice institutions and an empowered constituency of women are vital in dismantling discriminatory structures, enhancing accountability for violations of women’s rights, and advancing gender equality. This is why SDG 16 is not only important as a goal in its own right. It is also critically relevant to SDG 5: a robust legal and justice environment is imperative to gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

In turn, SDG 5, points to the crucial importance of gender equality in strengthening the rule of law, which is addressed in SDG 16; in combatting inequalities addressed in SDG 10; and, more generally, in achieving, across goals, the overall objective of human progress that underlie Agenda 2030. Integrating gender in laws and policies is instrumental in bringing about equitable, accountable and fair justice institutions that cater to the needs of the entire population.

Advancing synergies between law and gender is a guiding principle of much of IDLO’s work.

In Afghanistan, IDLO continues to strengthen specialized prosecution units in the Attorney-General’s Office to handle cases of violence against women; and we work with a network of women’s shelters in the country so they can offer better safety and support services, to survivors of violence.

In Liberia, IDLO works to strengthen the efficiency, transparency and accountability of a specialized Criminal Court designed to deal exclusively with sexual offenses.

In a range of countries across regions - Kenya, Myanmar, Somalia, and South Sudan – IDLO is providing technical support in handling sexual and gender violence, including through policy formulation, prosecution and investigation, as well as legal education and training, and community engagement. 

In Tanzania and Uganda, IDLO through legal empowerment and social accountability is strengthening the capacities of women and girls and their communities to hold service providers accountable and seek justice through many pathways.

In Kyrgyzstan, IDLO is focusing on community justice mechanisms and their capacity to deliver fair outcomes to women and girls.

A key lesson that we – and, I trust, all international actors engaged in advancing justice for women as an integral part of achieving Agenda 2030 – are learning from experience on the ground is that building and strengthening partnerships is critical to accelerating and sustaining change

This is for different reasons. But a key one is simply that women’s access to justice is a complex, multi-dimensional challenge that requires multi-dimensional solutions that only partnerships can bring.

It is this vision that has guided UN Women, UNODC and IDLO to jointly commit, together with UNDP, to this initiative and to seek your crucial support. The Global Programme being launched today is a partnership of experiences, expertise, and resources. It is founded on a common intolerance for injustice and impunity; a common commitment to advancing the goals of Agenda 2030 in an integrated, mutually reinforcing way; and mutual respect for the unique set of skills that each of us can bring to the table.

Together, we trust that you will join us in ensuring that injustice for women and girls no longer goes unaddressed.  And, together, we hope that this global program will serve to bring about real progress in delivering justice to women, particularly those in fragile and conflict countries, and indeed to all women across the world.

***

The International Development Law Organization (IDLO) enables governments and empowers people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.

 

[1] Between 1992 and 2011, only four per cent of signatories to peace agreements and less than 10 per cent of negotiators at peace tables were women.  (UN Women Facts and figures: Peace and security. See at http://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/peace-and-security/facts-and-figures).  


          Projets de volontariat au Kirghizistan        
Recherche volontaires internationaux pour projets au Kyrgyzstan
          Iqbal: His Life and Our Times        
Cover design MelloWatts 
Originally published at Marghdeen Learning Centre

The mind of Goethe,
The heart of Rumi,
The message of the Quran.

This was the unparalleled legacy of the poet-philosopher credited with birthing a nation and a state, and at no other time has the world been more ready to embrace his ideas than it is right now. 


The story of his mind, and what he taught, as told herein from a new and compelling angle, leads us on a trail of discovery towards a new way of life. You're invited to approach this as a handbook for implementing his life-giving ideas.
The above-quoted blurb reflects the spirit in which my new book, Iqbal: His Life and Our Times, is being offered. The book is a tribute to Iqbal by ten sovereign states, since it is being published jointly by Iqbal Academy Pakistan and the Cultural Institute of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which is the successor organization of the RCD and now includes Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The international edition is being brought out by Libredux, UK, on behalf of the original publishers. It will be available from Thursday, May 8.

It can be ordered from the page on the Createspace Website. It will also be available on other websites, including Amazon. The Pakistani edition is hopefully coming out by the end of this month.  

Much has been written about Iqbal but this book may turn out to be different (even from my earlier writings) because it presents Iqbal with a special focus on how his ideas can be implemented today - especially in Pakistan and the Muslim world, but also elsewhere - by individuals as well as societies. I have kept it less than 200 pages, so that it may serve as a compact handbook.

Until the book comes out this Thursday, I offer you following introduction written by two people for whom I have deep respect and gratitude.


Introduction
by 
Muhammad Suheyl Umar, Director, Iqbal Academy Pakistan;
and Iftikhar Arif, Director, ECO Cultural Institute (ECI)

Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) is the only poet and thinker in the history of world literature who has been credited with the birth of a new nation and a new state. It is therefore very befitting that a handbook about his life and thought should be brought out by an organization comprising of ten member states. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI) is pleased to bring out this publication jointly with Iqbal Academy Pakistan.

In addition to his unique status in Pakistan, Iqbal also happens to be either a national poet or a household inspiration in several other countries including Iran, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and India. In Turkey, his symbolic grave stands in the compound of the mausoleum of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. In the universities of Heidelberg and Cambridge, there are chairs or fellowships in his name. Roads, buildings and monuments have been named after him in other countries too, including Mauritius.

Iqbal: His Life and Our Times fulfils the need for a simple and reliable introduction to the life and work of this unmatched genius, highlighting the practical relevance of his ideas for those who wish to consider them for implementation. The author, Khurram Ali Shafique, is well-known in the field of Iqbal Studies. The awards which he has received for his previous publications include the coveted Presidential Iqbal Award.

The present volume includes many findings that are the outcome of the author’s original research. Of special interest to the general readers as well as the experts would be the evidence, presented here for the first time, which establishes a historical connection between the political ideas of Iqbal, the American thinker Mary Parker Follett and the Bengali visionary C. R. Das. 

We are hoping that this volume will offer much by way of looking at the present times from new avenues. 

It is shown here that the views expressed by Iqbal in his poetry and prose formed a coherent system of thought, and the same was implemented by him through political and social action. 

This is to dispel the myth which has been preventing a deeper understanding of Iqbal’s thought until now, i.e. the false but widely perpetuated assumption that the ideas presented by Iqbal were either inconsistent with each other or they kept undergoing such perpetual changes throughout his life that they cannot be considered for implementation in any other time.

The system of his thought and its underlying principles are being presented here, perhaps for the first time. It is also being shown that in spite of its inner coherence, the system of Iqbal’s thought kept pace with the evolution of the collective life of his community. 

This evolution can be studied by dividing the intellectual life of the poet-philosopher into three stages: inquiry, discovery and transcendence. The duration of each stage has been established here on the basis of biographical and textual evidence, and the book has been divided into three chapters accordingly. 

Each of these three stages started in his mental life when his community adopted a new goal collectively. The goals, their relevance to the world and humanity, their implications for Iqbal, and his contribution towards achieving them are issues which are being discussed here in a fresh light. This may turn out be one of the most significant contributions which this book will make to the subject.

If nations of the world desire to come closer in their hearts and minds, they cannot ignore to learn about the ideas, emotions and visions of each other. The Economic Cooperation Organization’s Cultural Institute (ECI), formed through a charter at the third summit meeting of the countries of ECO held at Islamabad in 1995, aims at fostering understanding and the preservation of the rich cultural heritage of its members through common projects in the field of the media, literature, art, philosophy, sport and education. 

The present volume is being offered in line with this vision, and with the conviction that it is important for everybody to be informed about the ideas of Iqbal, since they may be counted among those cultural forces which have gone into shaping a significant part of our world.

This conviction is shared by Iqbal Academy Pakistan, a statutory body of the Government of Pakistan, originally established through an act of parliament in 1951 and reinforced through an ordinance in 1962. The aims and objectives of the Academy are to promote and disseminate the study and understanding of the works and teachings of Iqbal. The Academy has been translating its objectives into action and activity through a number of measures including publication programme, IT projects, outreach activities, Iqbal Award Programme, website, research and compilation, audio-video, multimedia, archive projects as well as exhibitions, conferences, seminars, projection abroad, research guidance, academic assistance, donations and library services.

We hope that the readers will benefit from the book which we are offering here jointly, and this will go a long way in achieving our common objectives.

          Our microfinance team allocated its 1,666th loan        
Would you even know where Kyrgyzstan is? Leave alone, been there? And would you even have thought to finance an entrepreneur there? Ever? Well we did. On all three accounts: "Knew", "Visited", and "Financed"... We just financed our 1,666th loan (that is one thousands six hundred and sixtysixthththth) loan with our Kiva micro financing team. The loan went to Zaripakhon, 52 years and mother of three children. She is a cattle farmer since 2000 selling milk and dairy products. To order further...

Full post on www.theroadtothehorizon.org

          Mosque of the world        
Mosque of Pakistan 







                                   


Mosque of Soudi Arabia





          


                     Mosque of Turkey








 Mosque of India









 Mosque of Ejypt      









Mosque of America






    Mosque of Iran






Mosque of Behrin



Mosque of Indonesia



Mosque of Dubai





Mosque of Singapore






Mosque of Burnei





Mosque of  China




Mosque of Malaysia






Mosque of France


Mosque of Morocco





Mosque of Timbutu



Mosque of Rusia


Mosque of Ghana




Mosque of Oman



Mosque of  Japan


Mosque of Sirilanka



Mosque of Yemen



Mosque of  Polistine



Mosque of  London



Mosque of Maldives



Mosque of  Dakar



Mosque of  kyrgyzstan


Mosque of Uzbekistan


Mosque of Sharjah


Mosque of Spain


Mosque of KapitanKlingMosque


Mosque of kuala kangsar


Mosque of Abu Dabi


Mosque of Aegentina


Mosque of istambol


          The surprising origin of Kyrgyzstan’s Altyn Arashan        

Back in 2008, while traveling in the Karakol region of Kyrgyzstan, I visited the Altyn Arashan hot springs (as described here), but I didn’t think anything about the place-name other than that it was a golden (altïn) something. Years later, while reading Juha Janhunen’s recently-published presentation Mongolian, I was surprised to find the meaning of … Continue reading The surprising origin of Kyrgyzstan’s Altyn Arashan

The post The surprising origin of Kyrgyzstan’s Altyn Arashan appeared first on Christopher Culver.


          Favours in Mari and Turkic        

While sitting in a bookstore reading a travel guide to Kyrgyzstan, I was struck by the following sentence from the list of useful Kyrgyz phrases: Please write it down: Жазып берсеңчи /dʒʲazɨp berseŋči/. Here we have a construction where the request is expressed as a converb followed by the imperative of the verb ‘to give’. … Continue reading Favours in Mari and Turkic

The post Favours in Mari and Turkic appeared first on Christopher Culver.


          Maine Kyrgyzstan        
none
          EBRD and IDLO strengthen judicial capacity building        
14 Jul 2017

Investment climate to improve through creation of transparent and predictable legal environment

The EBRD and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) are strengthening their cooperation in judicial capacity building with the aim of boosting the investment climate in the Bank’s countries of operations. During the last decade, the two organisations have worked together on numerous projects to facilitate commercial dispute resolution in central Asia, south-eastern Europe and Arabic countries.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding and a framework agreement signed today the organisations will jointly design and implement projects and have access to each other’s legal reform experts, methodologies and networks in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

The EBRD Legal Transition Team will have increased access to IDLO’s experience in capacity building in dispute resolution, especially the training of judges and bailiffs.

In return, IDLO will benefit from the EBRD’s knowledge of its countries’ legal and judicial systems and from the Bank’s direct contacts with governmental structures and authorities.

Marie-Anne Birken, EBRD General Counsel, said at the signing: “This is a very important accord because it unites and strengthens our institutions. The main beneficiaries of this closer cooperation between the EBRD and IDLO will be our countries, which will gain access to highly qualified technical assistance, and this will have a positive impact on their investment climate.”

“The agreement strengthens our partnership with the EBRD and deepens our mutual commitment to drive inclusive growth and sustainable development through the rule of law. IDLO looks forward to working with the EBRD to support our partner countries to build strong and effective judicial institutions," said Irene Khan, Director-General of IDLO.

In order to strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms in commercial activities the programme will include work on capacity building projects in court systems, access to court decisions and alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration.

The objective is to enhance the capacity of judges to render good-quality and legally sound judgments and of bailiffs to perform their duties and enforce judgments effectively. Facilitating access to court decisions will increase transparency, predictability and accountability.

IDLO is the only intergovernmental organisation exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law. It works to enable governments and empower people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.

The EBRD is a multinational bank supporting the development of the private sector in its countries of operations on three continents.


          EBRD and IDLO strengthen judicial capacity building        
Friday, July 14, 2017

Investment climate to improve through creation of transparent and predictable legal environment

The EBRD and the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) are strengthening their cooperation in judicial capacity building with the aim of boosting the investment climate in the Bank’s countries of operations. During the last decade, the two organisations have worked together on numerous projects to facilitate commercial dispute resolution in central Asia, south-eastern Europe and Arabic countries.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding and a framework agreement signed today the organisations will jointly design and implement projects and have access to each other’s legal reform experts, methodologies and networks in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

The EBRD Legal Transition Team will have increased access to IDLO’s experience in capacity building in dispute resolution, especially the training of judges and bailiffs.

In return, IDLO will benefit from the EBRD’s knowledge of its countries’ legal and judicial systems and from the Bank’s direct contacts with governmental structures and authorities.

Marie-Anne Birken, EBRD General Counsel, said at the signing: “This is a very important accord because it unites and strengthens our institutions. The main beneficiaries of this closer cooperation between the EBRD and IDLO will be our countries, which will gain access to highly qualified technical assistance, and this will have a positive impact on their investment climate.”

“The agreement strengthens our partnership with the EBRD and deepens our mutual commitment to drive inclusive growth and sustainable development through the rule of law. IDLO looks forward to working with the EBRD to support our partner countries to build strong and effective judicial institutions," said Irene Khan, Director-General of IDLO.

In order to strengthen dispute resolution mechanisms in commercial activities the programme will include work on capacity building projects in court systems, access to court decisions and alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration.

The objective is to enhance the capacity of judges to render good-quality and legally sound judgments and of bailiffs to perform their duties and enforce judgments effectively. Facilitating access to court decisions will increase transparency, predictability and accountability.

IDLO is the only intergovernmental organisation exclusively devoted to promoting the rule of law. It works to enable governments and empower people to reform laws and strengthen institutions to promote peace, justice, sustainable development and economic opportunity.

The EBRD is a multinational bank supporting the development of the private sector in its countries of operations on three continents.


          Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation (yes, seriously)        

OK, so I've formed the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation, for all those marathon swimmers out there who are interested in swimming in the second largest alpine lake in the world. The elevation of the lake is 1607m and the lake is special in that it never freezes (thus the issyk which in Kyrgyz means hot). It really is a beautiful location.

There are three routes currently, but the lake is big; options abound for more routes.

We have a FB presence, so feel free to join us if you're on FB.

I am here until summer 2016, so I can help anyone who wants to come out and swim in the lake. After August next year I'll be close to Kyrgyzstan, so can still help a bit. I hope to have the Federation more established after summer 2016 so that anyone will have contacts (English speaking) with whom they can communicate for crossings of this most beautiful lake.

For those not on FB, I'm posting the three routes and notes on them below.

So this is the shortest route, 13km, linking the villages of Kara-Talaa in the south and Toru-Aygyr in the north. This route is based on a Kyrgyz myth about a very famous horse, named Toru-Aygyr. You can read about him here.

.

This route is the (current) only successful crossing done on lake Issyk Kul. Akhmed Anarbaev, Kyrgyz Olympian, completed this 33km route in 1982 in a time of 10:42. This route connects the villages of Ananyevo and Kyzyl-Suu.

.

This 60km routing is the longest crossing in the lake. Anarbaev attempted this solo in 1985 but was unsuccessful. He formed a 4-person relay and in 1991 they completed this crossing in a time of 18:00.

.

Any questions, let me know.


          Above the Parapet - Women in Public Life [Video]        
Speaker(s): Roza Otunbayeva | Editor's note: We apologise for the poor quality of this podcast. The question and answer session has been removed. Roza Otunbayeva is the first female President of Kyrgyzstan and the first woman to head a country in Central Asia. In this lecture she will reflect on her journey to the highest level of public life. This event is part of the Above the Parapet project, which seeks to capture the experiences of high profile women who have shaped public life. Roza Otunbayeva is a Kyrgyz diplomat and politician who went on to head the government during its transition from an authoritarian regime to a parliamentary democracy. In June 2010, she was elected President of the Kyrgyz Republic and served in that post until successfully facilitating the first peaceful transfer of state power in Central Asia in December 2011. Purna Sen (@Purna_Sen) is Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs at LSE. Above the Parapet (@LSEParapet) is a research project at the LSE’s Institute of Public Affairs which explores the stories of women in high profile public life. The Institute of Public Affairs (@LSEPubAffairs) is one of the world's leading centres of public policy. We aim to debate and address some of the major issues of our time, whether international or national, through our established teaching programmes, our research and our highly innovative public-engagement initiatives.
                  

          Cooper & Gorfer        
Today is officially the last day of DesignMarch 2013 and for me personally, this has been the most fun and inspiring DesignMarch so far, by far. Design in Iceland is a relatively young "industry" and we are perhaps not quite "there" yet, compared with our fellow Nordic countries like Denmark, Sweden and Finland which all have a strong and solid design heritage, recognized the world over. Having said that, a lot of what I saw from Icelandic designers this DesignMarch, is both beautifully designed AND made, truly deserving of being introduced to the rest of the world. 
However, before I start to bombard you with my personal favorites of Icelandic design, I want to share with you two events of foreign origins which I enjoyed very much, but for very different reasons. Both these events are part of the DesignMarch 2013 programme.


Yesterday afternoon I visited a photographic exhibition which absolutely blew me away. When I left, my first thought was, I have to come back! Held in the basement of The Nordic House, designed by Alvar Aalto and opened in 1968, this exhibition was not something I would have thought would work with Aalto´s organic, modernist style of architecture. Being taken by surprise can be such an important and yet often overlooked part in making an object or an experience unforgettable, and a surprise the exhibition certainly was, for me and the two people with me there yesterday. The space where the exhibition was held had been dramatically transformed into something that you were far from expecting to see in a place like The Nordic House, yet so incredibly complimenting to the striking and dramatic ambiance reflected in each and every image hanging on the walls.  
The Long Moment is an exhibition were Sarah Cooper and Nina Gorfer beautifully blurr the lines between photography and painting in photographs, shot in Iceland and countries as far away as Quatar and Kyrgyzstan. A lot of work goes into both pre- and post production where the images are digitally processed to create collages which you are sometimes not sure whether to categorize as photographs or paintings. The results are, to me at least, breathtakingly beautiful. 










          Beautiful Wedding Dresses Photos Picturces Pics Images        

BEAUTIFUL WEDDING DRESSES DEFINITION

Source(google.com.pk)
In Kyrgyzstan culture marriage is one of the most important decisions and acts of person's life. To get a clearer picture of what a Kyrgyzstan wedding looks like, I have decided to describe two real weddings, one  Blogs of the World . The Wedding Capital: Read the story and see photos of a visit to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan by Travel Pod member silkscreen.The destination for planning the most beautiful wedding. . Lover.ly helps you discover and save wedding ideas in one, easy place.  People's Republic of, Korea, Republic of, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Latvia .Leading and award-winning designer label of wedding gowns. . Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Moldova . of protracted absence," citing a study by another researcher in a different part of Kyrgyzstan. However, these rituals, especially weddings and . Travel ling Kyrgyzstan in April is like a big bosom ed lady at the end of an aisle standing there in her wedding dress. Covered in white, you know TV, social networks, mass media, blogging, songs and . in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan so .Beautiful Full Birdcage Veil as seen in the Style Me Pretty wedding blog-- Ready to Ship. Beautiful Full Birdcage Veil as seen in the Style Me Pretty wedding blog.Kyrgyzstan is a small landlocked country bordering China where traditions run deep. . The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not . Wedding Makeup - Light but defined .Hundreds of wedding-themed articles, on-line recommendations of stylists and wedding . And the idea was rapid and clear – I should launch a blog or a web-site. . Here in Kyrgyzstan Internet is not that popular and I have to remind the target.
Festive season is all around in the world, the countdown to Christmas has also begun and festivals bring a lot of happiness and excitement along , we always imagine lot of colors, glitters and sparkles with our happiness. Winter is also a season of weddings and parties and parties always insist us to think about our beauty and outfits. You always would have felt a warm excitement and thrill for decorating yourselves for these evening parties.  Some times it does happen that the sort of dress you have in mind, isn't available easily, but how about an amazing place where you get countless of such evening dresses which are far more beautiful than your imagination and when you keep your step in the party lounge, all eyes refuse to stay away from you.
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BEATIFUL WEDDING DRESSES PHOTOS PICTURES PICS IMAGES
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          The Young Hwytes Season 5, Episode 22: “Kyrgyzstan Dominguez”        
Late again, though only by a day. We dive into more academic POZ like usual. Enjoy, qu33rs. Paypal donations: theyounghwytes@gmail.com RSS Feed: http://feeds.soundcloud.com/users/soundcloud:users:291879012/sounds.rss Articles discussed: Praising twerk: Why aren’t we all shaking our butt? http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0957155817710427 ISIS-chan – the meanings of the Manga girl in image warfare against the Islamic State http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17539153.2017.1348889 Six propositions on the...
          Offer - NOORANI MAGIC RING | how to join illuminati today +27784115746 in SOUTH AFRICA VEREENIGING SASOLBURG SEBOKENG MAYT - BRAZIL        
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          RI’s soccer team in Group E with Thailand, Maldives, Timor Leste        
Timor-Leste
Indonesia, Thailand, Maldives
Indonesia can look forward to some tough matches during the soccer competition at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, which begin in September.

The soccer draw, which was held on Thursday at the Harbor Park Hotel, Incheon, saw Indonesia placed into Group E together with Thailand, the Maldives and Timor Leste.

“Every opponent is tough. We are already familiar with the other teams because we have played them several times,” Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) chairman Djohar Arifin told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview.

Djohar said he hoped Indonesia’s young players would not suffer any lack of confidence.

“I hope the Indonesian team will advance to the knockout phase, at the very least,” he said.

Host country South Korea was drawn in Group A with Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Laos, while defending champion Japan was placed in group D with Kuwait, Iraq and Nepal. Four-time winner Iran will kick off its campaign in group H with Vietnam and Kyrgyzstan.



The Asian Games, which takes place every fours years, is slated to run from Sept. 19 through Oct. 4. However, the soccer competition is scheduled to start on Sept. 14, four days ahead of the opening ceremony. The age limit for the teams is 23, with three players over that age also allowed.

Indonesia’s soccer team is part of the country’s 188-strong delegation to the Games, where it is due to participate in 23 out of the total 36 events.

With only a slim chance of advancing beyond the first knockout stage, Djohar said the Asian Games was just a stepping stone in the team’s long-term program of developing a new generation of players for the senior team.

“This tournament will allow them to gain experience as they face opponents at the regional level,” Djohar said.

Wei Jizhong, honorary life vice president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), said as reported by Reuters that the Games were a chance for the region to impress the world.

“With nearly 10,000 athletes and 5,000 officials, the Asian Games is nearly on the same scale as the Olympic Games,” he said.
Soccer draw

Group A: South Korea, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Laos
Group B: Uzbekistan, Hong Kong, Bangladesh, Afghanistan
Group C: Oman, Palestine, Singapore, Tajikistan
Group D: Japan, Kuwait, Iraq, Nepal
Group E: Thailand, Maldives, Timor Leste, Indonesia
Group F: North Korea, China, Pakistan
Group G: UAE, India, Jordan
Group H: Iran, Vietnam, Kyrgyzstan

Irawaty Wardany, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sports | Fri, August 22 2014, 10:17 AM
http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2014/08/22/ri-s-soccer-team-group-e-with-thailand-maldives-timor-leste.html
          120W LED wall pack light        
120W LED wallpack light replacement 400W wallpack in heavy duty mechanical shop, Kyrgyzstan.  TEK's LED wall light retrofit 400w wallpack with energy saving. Looking outside mechanical workshop, you will see the TEKLED's...
          500W LED high bay illuminate heavy duty mechanical shop in Kyrgyzstan        
Project: 3600Square-meters Heavy duty mechanical shop lighting Length: 90meters Width:40meters Height:20meters Project Date: 2016 TEK LED high bay lighting fixtures were installed in a new 3600-square-meters...
          The New Great Game Round-Up: November 30, 2016        
China Urges Turkey to Extradite Embassy Bombing Suspects to Kyrgyzstan & Major Powers Vying for Influence in Afghanistan Newsbud’s New Great Game Round-Up by Christoph Germann brings you the latest newsworthy developments regarding Central Asia and the Caucasus region. We document the struggle for influence, power, hegemony and profits between a U.S.-dominated NATO, its GCC […]
          The Force of Custom in Kyrgyzstan        
Guest: Judith Beyer is professor of anthropology at the University of Konstanz, Germany where she focuses on the anthropology of the state, legal pluralism, and theories of social order in Central Asia and Southeast Asia. She’s the author of The Force of Custom: Law and the Ordering of Everyday Life in Kyrgyzstan published by Pittsburgh...
          Corruption in Kyrgyzstan        
Johan Engvall on the buying and selling of state offices in Kyrgyzstan. [powerpress]
          Readers' travel photography competition: July – the winners        

This month’s images include contrasting views of an iconic bridge in Myanmar, the Kyrgyzstan steppe and a North Yorkshire storm. Scroll to see the winner, who receives a £200 holiday voucher from Exodus Travels. The overall 2017 winner will go on a 16-night wildlife holiday for two to Costa Rica with Exodus
• Enter August’s competition

Continue reading...
          everythingcentralasia: Cemetery In Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan by Eric...        




everythingcentralasia:

Cemetery In Kochkor, Kyrgyzstan

by Eric Lafforgue


          Connections teaser: Snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan with Rafael Pease        

There is no denying the connections and natural forces that draw us to the outdoors.

The post Connections teaser: Snowboarding in Kyrgyzstan with Rafael Pease appeared first on Snowboard Magazine.


          The do’s and don’ts of travel in Kyrgyzstan        

Kyrgystan: Central Asia, west of China and south of Kazakhstan. Dominated by the Tian Shan (Heavenly Cloud) mountainous range with verdant green gorges, tall peaks and high altitude lakes. Through…

The post The do’s and don’ts of travel in Kyrgyzstan appeared first on Intrepid Travel Blog.


          Community Event        
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          Encuentra personas mdiante su telefono y el GPS        
A continuacion les presentamos esta innovacion para localizar gente mediante la señal del celular y un GPS. Gracias a www.trackapartner.com

Debes poner el pais y el numero de telefono con el codigo de la ciudad...


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          Live @ Benaroya Hall Announces Joe Biden, Yanni, Emily Haines, and More        

Live @ Benaroya Hall announces their biggest season ever with an eclectic mix of concerts, lectures and dancers from around the world. Additional shows will be announced in the coming months. Tickets for most of the concerts listed above are on sale now, prices vary. Tickets for Yanni and Casa Patas Flamenco: Binomio will go on sale Friday, August 11, at 11am. Visit www.benaroyahall.org or call (206) 215-4747. The Benaroya Hall Ticket Office is on the corner of Third Avenue and Union Street. Ticket Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday, 1 p.m.-6 p.m.

Phone interviews and in-person appearances (when the touring schedule allows) are available by contacting Jennifer Rice at the number listed above. Details on the individual concerts listed below.

George Winston Friday, September 22, 7:30pm; Tickets $37-$47

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.georgewinston.com/

Inspired by the seasons and topographies, George Winston's concerts feature a variety of styles including melodic folk piano, New Orleans R&B piano and stride piano. He performs songs from his seasonal favorites Autumn, December, Winter Into Spring and Summer, as well as Peanuts pieces from his Vince Guaraldi tribute albums.

Colin Hay Thursday/Friday, September 28 & 29, 8pm; Tickets $45-$60

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.colinhay.com/

Scottish singer-songwriter Colin Hay may be best known as the frontman for Australian hit makers Men at Work, but he has received renewed acclaim for his troubadour-style solo career. His latest album, Fierce Mercy, finds him at the top of his game. Alongside the thoughtful storytelling in his songs, Hay's solo shows are peppered with hilarious anecdotes from his often surreal experiences in the world of rock music.

Sun Kil Moon Thursday, October 12, 7:30pm; Tickets $30-$35

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.sunkilmoon.com/index.html

Formed by singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, the indie folk act Sun Kil Moon crafts observational, diary-style lyrics and delivers them through Kozelek's haunting, moody vocals.

Tommy Caldwell Saturday, October 28, 8pm; Tickets $30-$56

S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium www.tommycaldwell.com/

Legendary rock climber Tommy Caldwell chronicles his evolution as a climber in the engrossing memoir, The Push: A Climber's Journey of Endurance, Risk, and Going Beyond Limits. This dramatic, inspiring memoir chronicles the journey of a boy with a fanatical mountain-guide father who was determined to instill toughness in his son to a teen whose obsessive nature drove him to the top of his sport. But his evolution as a climber was not without challenges; in his early twenties, he was held hostage by militants in a harrowing ordeal in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Soon after, he lost his left index finger in an accident.

Caldwell emerged from these hardships with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. He set his sights on free climbing El Capitan's biggest, steepest, blankest face - the Dawn Wall. This epic assault took more than seven years, during which time Caldwell redefined the sport, found love again, and became a father.

Creating S-Town: A New Way to Tell A Story with Brian Reed Sunday, October 29, 7:30 pm; Tickets $30-$56

S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium https://stownpodcast.org/

Brian Reed is the host and co-creator of the podcast S-Town. S-Town is part of Serial Productions, a Production Company from Serial and This American Life. In his talk, Brian walks his audience through the process of how he and his collaborators developed an entirely new kind of storytelling, taking techniques from literature and merging them with journalism in ways that hadn't been done before. Using audio outtakes and reporting details that never made it into the final version, Brian reveals how his team invented this groundbreaking new way of telling a story. S-Town broke podcast records by reaching 40 million downloads in its first month. Rigorously reported and entirely true, S-Town is the first podcast that feels like reading a masterful novel.

Hauschka Friday, November 3, 7:30pm; Tickets $25-$35

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.hauschka-music.com/

The sonic landscapes created by German pianist/composer Volker Bertelmann - better known as Hauschka - sound like the work of a whole ensemble, so it is an astonishing sight to see just one lone figure onstage. Hauschka achieves these otherworldly effects through careful curation of a prepared piano, employing everything from ping pong balls to aluminum foil. His latest release, What If, is an irrepressible outpouring of creativity, and reinvents piano music in a dramatic and exceptional fashion.

Yanni Friday, November 3, 8pm; Tickets $40-$100

S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium www.yanni.com/welcome

Legendary composer and performer Yanni returns to Benaroya Hall to give fans a closer look into his world with an intimate evening of piano and conversation. Forgoing the big production, Yanni will settle in for an evening of piano and conversation, giving his audiences the chance to ask questions and enjoy free-form discussion with him. Yanni has brought hundreds of millions of fans and fellow world citizens together via his concerts. His iconic performances at the Acropolis in Greece, the Taj Mahal in India, the Forbidden City in China, the Royal Albert Hall in England and El Morro in Puerto Rico have crossed countless borders and resonated with billions across the globe.

The Jerry Douglas Band Wednesday, November 8, 7:30pm; Tickets $30-$40

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.jerrydouglas.com/

Jerry Douglas was a teenager playing in a band in Lexington, Kentucky, the first time he heard Weather Report and Chick Corea - on the same day. More than 40 years later, he remembers the moment vividly. "It blew my head off," he says. "I loved it. And I thought, "Well, there's where I could go with all this stuff runnin' around in my head." "All this stuff" is the remarkable music Douglas has made on Dobro and lap steel in a career that's earned him world renown as the top purveyor of his craft. He has won a stunning 14 Grammy Awards so far, including many for his brilliant work with Alison Krauss & Union Station. On his latest musical foray, What If, Douglas decisively merges his early jazz inclinations with the bluegrass, country, blues, swing, rock and soul he's spent his life absorbing and performing, forging a sound that flies beyond the boundaries of anything he - or anyone else - has done before.

Casa Patas Flamenco: Binomio Thu& Fri , Nov. 6&17, 7:30pmSat., Nov. 18, 2pm; Tickets $28-$38

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall http://casapatas.com/casa-patas-2/

Francisco Hidalgo, Anabel Moreno and the dance company of Casa Patas return to Benaroya Hall for Binomio, a passionate new program of flamenco and Spanish dance. Binomio is the energy that flows between the forms of two dancers who together create art. Two identities, two visions, two manners of thought align with one another to create a dialogue of senses, feelings and responses that are interpreted through the music of flamenco.

Joe Biden: American Promise Tour Sunday, December 3, 7:30pm; Tickets $80-$250

S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium www.joebidenbook.com

Joe Biden has always believed that when given a chance, ordinary people can do extraordinary things. As a scrappy kid from Scranton who rose to the Office of Vice President, he is no exception. During his 45 years of public service, one of Biden's greatest strengths has been his ability to bring people together, even in crisis, even across difficult divides, all the while, respecting everybody at the table. This fall, Joe Biden will travel the nation for his American Promise Tour, a series of conversations that will go beyond the 24-hour news cycle and 140-character arguments to connect friends and neighbors around the topics that matter most. Biden will reveal the big political moments of his career, the life-altering choices he made, and the key traits that have helped him persevere through challenges. He will share how the loss of his son Beau tested his resolve, and how he is finding new purpose in a time of uncertainty. Each ticket includes a copy of Joe Biden's forthcoming memoir, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose (a $27 value, on sale November 14 from Flatiron Books).

Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton Friday, December 8, 8pm; Tickets $36

Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall www.emilyhaines.com/

It's time: Emily Haines is back with Choir of the Mind, the Metric singer's first release as her Soft Skeleton solo project in a decade. That interval has particular resonance for Haines: Choir of the Mind, due out September 15 on Last Gang Records, comes 10 years after her Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton EP What Is Free to a Good Home?, which in turn stemmed from her 2006 LP Knives Don't Have Your Back. Ten years before that, she released Cut in Half and Also Double under her own name. Haines' vocals are definitely the focal point of Choir of the Mind. She used her voice to create spellbinding orchestrations for an effect that is subtle and ghostly on "Wounded," lush on "Fatal Gift" and deeply powerful on "Legend of the Wild Horse," which she calls her "soft anthem." Haines' voice is the only audible instrument on "Strangle All Romance," and she creates mesmerizing layers that drift and swirl through the title track, which includes a spoken-word part adapted from a poem by the Indian mystic Sri Aurobindo. Haines recorded Choir of the Mind over several weeks in September and October of 2016, more or less alone in Metric's Toronto studio with a borrowed 18-foot grand piano built in 1850. Her longtime musical partner/Metric bandmate, James Shaw, helped flesh out the sonics with various instruments and rhythmic elements. (Shaw also mixed the album.) Sparklehorse drummer Scott Minor, a member of The Soft Skeleton's first incarnation, returned to perform on "Legend of the Wild Horse." Haines says, "The writing and recording process was heightened and intensive, the two became one thing."

About Live @ Benaroya Hall

Launched in 2012, Live @ Benaroya Hall presents a diverse lineup of lectures, jazz, rock, blues, country, pop, alternative and world music concerts in downtown Seattle's acoustically superb Benaroya Hall - a world-class performing arts center that engages and serves the Puget Sound region. For additional information, including a full concert schedule, please visit www.benaroyahall.org.

About Benaroya Hall

Benaroya Hall is home of the Seattle Symphony and venue of choice for many local arts organizations. It is located on an entire city block in downtown Seattle and is surrounded by numerous restaurants, retail stores and parking facilities. The hall has two performance spaces - the 2,500-seat S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium and the 540-seat Illsley Ball Nordstrom Recital Hall - and a 430-stall underground parking garage. Over 450,000 people participate in public and private events annually, making Benaroya Hall the most-visited performing arts venue in Seattle. Benaroya Hall has received numerous awards, including a 2001 American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Honor Award for outstanding architecture. For additional information, including rental information, event listings and public tour schedules, please visit www.benaroyahall.org.


          Comment on ベラルーシさん (Miss Belarus) by spaghettifelice        
Note: The clothes she's in were something sent as a gift to her from Russia. It tries to incorporate the glitz borrowed from France, but due to Russia's fashion sense, it's slightly old-fashioned. As a human, she's Natalia (Natasha) Arlovskaya (Thank you for the info!) She's always cool, or rather, she's a rather simply unique girl. During her assimilation with Russia, while the other surrounding countries got enraged into wanting independence, she lacked the motivation to revolt and such, and spent her time on farmwork. She was once influenced by the others, and tried to revolt, but things simply went back to the way they were. While Ukraine takes a stance that's close to the EU, Belarus sticks to being pro-Russia. She gets dragged into anti-Russian policies of countries like Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan and gets angry when Russia doesn't speak to her. She's very dependent on Russia, so giving him the cold shoulder would be pretty dangerous.
          Three Kyrgyz Opposition Parties Unite, Will Field Single Presidential Candidate        
Three opposition parties in Kyrgyzstan have announced plans to merge and field a single candidate in the country's October presidential election.
          Prosecutors Seek Lengthy Prison Terms For Kyrgyz Opposition Politicians        
Prosecutors at a high-profile trial in Kyrgyzstan are seeking lengthy prison terms for five opposition politicians charged with plotting to overthrow the government.
          Dozens Register To Run For Kyrgyz President        
A total of 59 people have filed papers with Kyrgyzstan’s Election Commission to become candidates for president.
          Majlis Podcast: Russia's Influence On Kyrgyzstan's Elections        
With Kyrgyzstan scheduled to hold its presidential vote on October 15, this week's Majlis looks at the unavoidable Russian influence on Kyrgyzstan's elections.
          Kyrgyz Presidential Election: Candidates Galore, Party Splits, And Some Chauvinism        
Campaigning has not even started for Kyrgyzstan's presidential race, in fact the registration process for candidates is not even finished yet, but it already seems clear this is going to be a wild ride.
          Controversy Erupts As Czech Company Wins Big Kyrgyz Tender        
A plan to build hydroelectric power stations in Kyrgyzstan has become steeped in controversy after the contract to build them was awarded to a Czech company, which critics allege has neither the experience nor the finances to do so.
          Kyrgyzstan's Hard-Luck Hydropower Project        
It has definitely been difficult for Kyrgyzstan to realize construction of the Upper Naryn Cascade hydropower project. One complication after another has put the project on hold.
          Kyrgyzstan Sentences Akaev's Former Son-in-Law In Absentia        
A court in Kyrgyzstan has sentenced ex-President Askar Akaev's former son-in-law to 20 years in prison in absentia.
          Trump's Second Travel Ban Once Again Misidentifies Source of Domestic Terrorist Threat        



[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

President Trump’s latest attempt at what his critics call a “Muslim ban” – officially known as his executive order on travel – is predicated on the administration’s claim that people from six Muslim-majority nations pose an immediate security threat to Americans by potentially harboring radical Islamist terrorists who might commit acts of violence on American soil.

However, a careful examination of domestic-terrorism data in the United States powerfully indicates that this claim is poorly grounded. The vast majority of so-called “Islamist” inspired terrorism arrests have involved pre-emptive arrests by law-enforcement sting operations in which potential actors were arrested under circumstances where the public was never at risk. None of the listed nations – Somalia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – produced any terrorist who has successfully committed a violent act against Americans.

Most of all, the vast majority of domestic-terrorism incidents in the U.S. do not involve radical Islamists – rather, for the past several decades, most cases of violent terrorism have involved homegrown right-wing extremists. In a growing number of recent cases, some of these extremists have begun targeting Muslims and refugees themselves.

Sean Spicer's tweet provided the only public view
of Trump's executive order signing.
The president issued the order March 6, marking the administration’s second attempt at banning travel from Muslim nations whose refugees and emigrants pose a terrorism risk, as Trump had promised during the 2016 election campaign season. The first executive order, issued Jan. 27, listed the same six nations as well as Iraq, but was immediately contested in the courts and overturned as unconstitutional.

The administration is hoping that its revised order is able to surmount the legal difficulties encountered in its first attempt, primarily by claiming – the president’s campaign rhetoric notwithstanding – that the previous order, as the White House had argued in court, “did not provide a basis for discriminating for or against members of any particular religion,” nor does the new order.

This order also has faced immediate legal challenge in federal courts by several states; so far, Hawaii and Washington have filed lawsuits that include several other states as co-plaintiffs. The SPLC issued a statement decrying the order, saying it is “still discriminatory, continues to target the Muslim community and will cause ripple effects felt by people perceived to be Muslim.”

In his order, Trump attempts to surmount previous legal arguments about the ban’s appropriateness by claiming that

Recent history shows that some of those who have entered the United States through our immigration system have proved to be threats to our national security. Since 2001, hundreds of persons born abroad have been convicted of terrorism-related crimes in the United States. They have included not just persons who came here legally on visas but also individuals who first entered the country as refugees. For example, in January 2013, two Iraqi nationals admitted to the United States as refugees in 2009 were sentenced to 40 years and to life in prison, respectively, for multiple terrorism-related offenses. And in October 2014, a native of Somalia who had been brought to the United States as a child refugee and later became a naturalized United States citizen was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction as part of a plot to detonate a bomb at a crowded Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The attorney general has reported to me that more than 300 persons who entered the United States as refugees are currently the subjects of counterterrorism investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The order calls these cases “recent,” though both of the arrests occurred in 2010. And, as Chip Gibbons of the Bill of Rights Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation recently noted, they both involve cases of pre-emptive arrest: “In each case the ‘terrorism’ in question was concocted by the FBI, as part of a sting operation.”

As NPR’s Middle East editor, Larry Kaplow, explains:

The two Iraqis were convicted in Kentucky of supporting militant groups back in Iraq that were attacking U.S. troops there. They were not charged with planning attacks in the U.S. The Somali man mentioned came to the U.S. as a small child. He was noticed by the FBI after he exchanged hundreds of emails with suspected terrorists and made statements to a jihadist website. He attempted to detonate what he believed was a bomb — actually a fake bomb supplied by FBI undercover agents — at a Portland Christmas tree lighting in 2010.

Moreover, domestic-terrorism statistics collected over the past eight years indicate that over three-quarters of all Islamist-related domestic terrorism arrests in the United States have involved such pre-emptive plots, cases in which no member of the public is ever harmed or even at serious risk. Only a tiny handful of all Islamist plots have been responsible for the vast majority of casualties by Muslim domestic terrorists.*

Four incidents in particular, all with abnormally high numbers of deaths and injuries, account for more than 90 percent of Islamist domestic-terrorism casualties (which total more than 90 deaths and over 400 injuries):


  • November 6, 2009, Fort Hood, TX: Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist influenced by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and suffering from mental illness himself, goes on a shooting rampage inside an Army facility, killing 13 and wounding 32, in an effort to strike a blow in defense of the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan and to become a martyr. Hasan was sentenced to die and awaits execution.
  • March 15, 2013, Boston, MA: Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, two Chechen brothers (ages 19 and 26, respectively) who emigrated from Kyrgyzstan 2002, set off two pressure-cooker bombs at separate locations along the route of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others; and then, when spotted by police after being identified as the suspect, killing another police officer and engaging in a gunfight with police in which Tamerlan was killed and another officer wounded; Dzhokar is later captured hiding in a boat without incident. Convicted of 30 counts, including four murder charges and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, he was sentenced to die and is currently held at a high-security federal prison in Colorado.
  • December 2, 2015, San Bernardino, CA: Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, a Muslim couple recently married in Pakistan, though the husband had been a longtime resident of California, go on a shooting rampage at a holiday party for Farook’s coworkers in a county department, killing 14 and injuring 22, before being killed themselves in a shootout with police
  • June 12, 2016, Orlando, Florida: Omar Mateen, an American-born Muslim of Turkish descent, kills 49 and wounds 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Mateen is killed during the incident.

None of these perpetrators is from any of the nations targeted in the Trump travel ban. All of them, except Tashfeen Malik, were U.S. citizens.

When it comes to assessing the realities of domestic terrorism and the areas where the public is most at risk, these statistics strongly suggest that, regarding Islamist-inspired violence, the greatest area of concern has to be the recent uptick in murderous acts by American-born or –based Muslims, such as those in Orlando and San Bernadino. Recent immigrants, and particularly refugees, not only have been inactive in recent years, some of their communities in fact have been targeted for hate crimes and acts of domestic terrorism by right-wing extremists.

Indeed, both the public generally and law-enforcement officers specifically are most at risk from domestic-terrorist violence when it is committed by fanatics from the radical right. The incidents involving such cases outnumber Islamist terrorism incidents nearly two-to-one.

Likewise, more than 60 percent of all right-wing extremist cases have involved acts of violence in which the public is at risk (compared to only 21 percent of Islamist incidents), and while only about 10 percent of Islamist cases resulted in deaths, over a quarter of right-wing extremist incidents did so.

Consider the steady drumbeat of terrorism over the past eight years from the radical right, including sovereign citizens, white supremacists, militia-movement extremists, and anti-abortion fanatics. Here is just a sampling of the more than 100 such incidents cataloged since 2008:

  • July 27, 2008, Knoxville, TN: Jim David Adkisson, an angry conservative with a manifesto urging violent war against liberals, opens fire in a Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a youth performance of a musical, killing two and wounding seven. He pleads guilty to murder and sentenced to life in prison.
  • April 4, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA: Richard Poplawski, a white supremacist from Pittsburgh, Pennslviana, fearful of an Obama plot to take his guns away, kills three police officers and injures two others in a standoff with police at this home. Poplawski is found guilty of murder and sentenced to die.
  • June 20, 2010, West Memphis, AK: Jerry and Joe Kane, two sovereign citizens, kill two police officers when pulled over in West Memphis, Arkansas, then die in shootout with local and state police.
  • January 18, 2011, Spokane, WA: Kevin William Harpham, a white supremacist, plants lethal backpack bomb along route of MLK Day Parade in Spokane, Washington, which did not detonate. Harpham pleads guilty to attempting to use a weapon of mass destrustrion, and attempting to cause bodily injury with an explosive device because of the race, color, or national origin of a targeted person, and is sentenced to 32 years in prison.
  • August 5, 2012, Oak Creek, WI: Wade Michael Page, a white supremacist, kills six and wounds four during a shooting rampage in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before eventually killing himself after being wounded by an officer.
  • February 15, 2014, Rome, GA: Three men in the so called Rome Militia – Brian Edward Cannon, Corey Robert Williamson, and Terry Eugene Peace – attempt to purchase pipe bombs and other explosives to attack a police station, a water treatment center, and other sites in hopes of overthrowing the US government. All pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, and all sentenced to 12 years in prison.
  • April 13, 2014, Overland Park, KS: Frazier Glenn Miller, former grand dragon of the Carolina Knights of the KKK, kills three at shootings at was extremely well known to law-enforcement authorities long before he embarked on a killing rampage at two Jewish community institutions in Kansas. He’s found guilty of guilty of one count of capital murder, three counts of attempted murder and assault and weapons charges, and sentenced to die.
  • June 8, 2014, Las Vegas, NV: Jerad and Amanda Miller, a married couple and Patriot movement members who had spent weeks involved in the antigovernment standoff at the Cliven Bundy ranch, go on a shooting rampage that killed three people, including two policemen, in Las Vegas. They’re killed by officers during a shootout.
  • June 17, 2015, Charleston, SC: Dylann Roof, a young white supremacist enters black church in South Carolina, prays with congregants, then opens fire on smaller group, killing nine and wounding another. He was found guilty of all 33 federal hate-crime charges against him in December 2016 and sentenced to death.
  • July 22, 2015, Lafayette, LA: John Russell Houser, an admirer of Dylann Roof, similarly caught up in ‘lone wolf’ and other far-right ideologies, enters Louisiana theater with gun, kills two, wounds nine, and is killed.
  • October 27, 2015, Colorado Springs, CO: Robert Lewis Deer kills a police officer and two others, and injures 9 in shootout and standoff at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He references “no more baby parts” in police interview, is charged with first degree murder, and eventually ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial.
  • October 14, 2016, Garden City, KS: Three Kansas militia members plot to bomb an apartment complex home to hundreds of Somali immigrants.

This last incident underscores the potentially lethal nature of right-wing extremist terrorism. Curtis Allen, 49, Gavin Wright, 49, of Liberal, Kan., and Patrick Stein, 47, a resident of a nearby Dodge City, Kan., not only had stockpiled a huge cache of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition with the intent of using them against Somalian refugees and immigrants living in an apartment complex in suburban Garden City.

Their primary plan entailed constructing and detonating three Timothy McVeigh-style truck bombs loaded with fertilizer and fuel oil in the center of the complex, and then mowing down survivors as they fled down the complex’s exit streets with their guns.

The scheduled day for the attack: November 9, the day after the 2016 election. The men were motivated, their attorneys said, by their belief that if Donald Trump won the election, then-President Barack Obama would declare martial law to prevent him from attaining the office, requiring the militias to act.

One of the plotters was recorded describing the militiamen’s beliefs:

“The only fucking way this country’s ever going to get turned around is it will be a bloodbath and it will be a nasty, messy motherfucker. Unless a lot more people in this country wake up and smell the fucking coffee and decide they want this country back … we might be too late, if they do wake up … I think we can get it done. But it ain’t going to be nothing nice about it.”

“There has been an incredible increase in anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment over the past few years. Anti-Muslim groups have exploited terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino,” observed the SPLC’s Heidi Beirich after the men were arrested. “The presidential campaign has also produced some of the rawest nativist appeals in recent memory.

“Significantly, this anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment is increasing within the ranks of the anti-government movement. We’ve seen it in the spate of armed protests outside of mosques in Phoenix and other places last year. The U.S. attorney bringing these charges said the three suspects were members of a militia called the ‘Crusaders.’

“As the Department of Justice announced, the defendants are innocent until proven guilty. The details of the plot, however, are disturbing and should serve as a warning to those who traffic in the politics of fear and bigotry.”

Particularly given the surge in hate incidents since the election, manifest especially in the surge of anti-Semitic threats and attacks over the past month, as well as a growing tide of anti-Muslim hate crimes, the concerns about right-wing domestic terrorism should be more acute than ever.

However, President Trump – who has only made vague gestures at addressing the problem – appears determined instead, with this most recent executive order, to worsen the situation for everyone involved.

___

*The above statistics are a preliminary summary of domestic-terrorism data that have been compiled as part of a multi-year project by the author in conjunction with the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute. Its full findings will be published in April by Reveal Radio and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
          Sudafrica Rand(ZAR)/Kyrgyzstani som(KGS)        
1 Sudafrica Rand = 5.32816 Kyrgyzstani som
          Kyrgyzstan leader 'was poisoned'        
Doctors confirm claims of the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan that he was poisoned this month.
          People power in Kyrgyzstan        
The Kyrgyz leader agrees to curb his powers under pressure from protesters, but can the nation's weak democracy survive, asks Natalia Antelava.
          XINJIANG & TIBET:CONTINUING WEAKNESSES IN CHINA'S PERIPHERAL SECURITY        

 



B.RAMAN

Ten Uighurs, three Hans and two Mongols working for the Ministry of Public Security in Xinjiang and six Uighur separatists were killed on the morning of April 23,2013, in an incident in the Selibya Township in the Bachu county, in the Kashgar area of China’s Xinjiang province. The area of the incident is near Xinjiang’s borders with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

2. The Information Office of the Xinjiang Government has projected the incident as a “severe, violent, terror incident” which has been brought under control. It has projected 15 of those killed as police officers and social workers helping the police in maintaining security.

3. In its announcement, the Information Office has given the following details of the incident: The  incident happened after three community workers  found several suspicious people and knives in a local house. They reported the details to their supervisor but were then restrained by suspected terrorists. When police and community workers arrived, they were ambushed by attackers inside and outside the house. The attackers, who had killed the three community workers who had been held captive, then set fire to the house. By the time police brought the situation under control, 15 people had been killed by the gang. Six gang members were shot dead at the scene, bringing the death toll to 21.

4.The “China Daily” has quoted Mutalif Wubuli, commissioner of Kashgar prefecture, as saying that eight suspects have been arrested. It has also quoted Qi Baowen, commander of the Xinjiang Armed Police, as saying that the consequences of the incident are relatively severe because there are many casualties.

5. Last month, courts in Kashgar had sentenced 19 people for their alleged  involvement in organized terror activities and for spreading extreme religious information via the  Internet and cellphones.

6.In March, the local Ministry of Public Security had started what was described as “Social management in communities” under which Uighurs were recruited as community workers to help the police in the maintenance of security. “It is the foundation of maintaining stability in the region,” Xiong Xuanguo, Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission of Xinjiang, had said in a media briefing.

7. The incident of April 23,2013, appears to have been in retaliation for the jailing of 19 Uighurs last month and to deter the local Uighurs from co-operating with the police in dealing with separatism.

8. In a commentary on the incident carried on April 25,2013, the “Global Times” of the Communist Party of China said: “The latest clashes show that Xinjiang has a long way to go in its anti-terrorism efforts. But it's worth pointing out that this case will not pose a threat to the overall stability of Xinjiang. The public expects social harmony and prosperity…..Although Xinjiang has experienced several violent clashes in recent years, social confidence in Xinjiang and the confidence of the whole country toward the region have remained stable. The situation in Xinjiang since the July 5 riots in 2009  has improved and no violent cases have impeded that process. As the sources of violence in Xinjiang haven't been eradicated, its occasional occurrence cannot be fully prevented. Xinjiang has learned to manage the situation despite some isolated violent cases. It has been investigating and eradicating the internal and external sources of violent terrorist attacks. We should firmly act against violent terrorists. Terrorists should not be permitted to have the misconception that they are carrying out a "holy war" or simply fighting against the regime. They must be clear that they are making enemies of all the Xinjiang people and the Chinese people.”

9.The Xinjiang authorities have not so far blamed the Pakistan-based Islamic Movement of Eastern Turkestan for the fresh violence. They are apparently worried that as the US-led Western troops thin out from Afghanistan, violence by different separatist groups could increase in Xinjiang adding to internal instability. Hence, their interest in co-operating with India in monitoring the ground situation in Afghanistan.

10.The Chinese face a two-pronged threat to their peripheral security--- from the growing anger of the Tibetans in the Tibetan areas and from the Uighurs in Xinjiang. Their hopes that rapid economic development of these areas will dilute the threat have been belied so far.

11. In view of China’s insensitivity to India’s core interests and major concerns in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, it will not be in India’s interest to co-operate with China in relation to its peripheral security problems. ( 25-4-2013)

 

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter : @SORBONNE75)

 

          BOSTON MARATHON BOMBING:QUESTIONS SANS ANSWERS        

 

B.RAMAN

 

Two Chechen brothers living in the US since 2002—Dzhokhar ( 19) and Tamerlan Tsarnaev ( 26),  are suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon on April 15,2013, in which three persons were killed and over 150 injured.

2.The team led by the FBI, which has been investigating the blast, has been able to identify them reportedly through CCTV images of their placing bags, which probably contained the improvised explosive devices (IED), fabricated with a pressure cooker and a metal container, at two places near the finishing line where the explosions occurred.

3. Even though the FBI-led team haS not said so, tip-off from persons knowing the brothers also possibly contributed to the needle of suspicion pointing at the two brothers.

4.Tamerlan died following a shootout with the  police on Thursday ( April 18) night. His  younger brother, Dzhokhar, is still on the run in Boston. However, latest reports indicate that the police are “in engagement” with a person suspected to be Dzhokhar in the Watertown area.

5. From the accounts of the police search for him received so far, Dzhokhar has been making  frantic efforts to evade capture by the police, who must be anxious to catch him alive to question him on what and who motivated him and Tamerlan to commit the bombing, if it is proved that they did it.

5.According to the profile of the Tsarnaev family carried by the BBC and the CNN, they were Chechens who had migrated to Kyrgyzstan and from there to Dagestan. They migrated to the US from Dagestan with Kyrgyz passports in 2002. The father, Anzor Tsarnaev, is since reported to have gone back to Dagestan.

6. According to the BBC, the brothers lived in the Massachusetts town of Cambridge, home of the prestigious Harvard University.  Tamerlan  studied engineering at Bunker Hill Community College just outside Boston but had taken the year off to train as a boxer. Dzhokhar  is enrolled at the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth to study medicine.

7. Russian news agency RIA Novosti has reported that "extremist material" was on the YouTube account belonging to Tamerlan. "Several albums were posted, one of them titled 'terrorist'," the agency said. However, the BBC says it has been  unable to confirm the presence of extremist material on Tamerlan's YouTube page.

8. Their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, told Russia's RT television network on April 19: "My youngest was raised from 8 years in America, my oldest he was really properly raised in our house," she said. "Nobody talked about terrorism. Tamerlan got involved in religion five years ago. (He) started following his own religion, never told me he could be on side of jihad."

9. According to some reports, the FBI had interviewed the father sometime ago to enquire why the two sons had started attending a local mosque for prayers. This would show that the two brothers were under watch by the FBI for some time before they carried out the bombing.

10.Details of their life in Boston available so far do not indicate any travels by them either within the US or outside. If they had developed any radical influences, it must have been through the Internet or during their visits to the local mosque for namaz. Particulars of the mosque to which they started going for namaz are not available. Who was the cleric in charge of it? Did he have any radical background? Why was the FBI worried about their going for namaz?

11. Dzhokhar was very proud of his Chechen ethnicity. It has been reported that whenever his friends referred to him as a Russian, he would correct them and say he is a Chechen.

12.If it is established that the two brothers carried out the Marathon bombing, what could have been their motive? They had no reasons to be angry against the US and its civil society. Their anger should have been against Russia.

13.Were they self-motivated to carry out the bombing or was their an external motivation due to US policies towards the Islamic world? It is not anger over the state of affairs in Chechnya and Dagestan, but anger over matters relating to Islam that seem to have motivated them.

14. Was there an Al Qaeda inspiration behind their action? Chechens had always formed an important component of Al Qaeda. Chechen instructors were employed in Al Qaeda’s training camps in the Waziristan area of Pakistan.

15. Under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the present chief of Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda has turned the focus of its operations from the Af-Pak region to Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Mali, Somalia, Libya and Algeria. Did Al Qaeda propaganda against the US policies in Libya and Syria influence the brothers in their actions?

16. There are many questions without answers. To find the answers, it is important for the US authorities to catch Dzhokhar alive. (20-4-13)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. Twitter: @SORBONNE75)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          FOREIGN FILM PREDICTIONS (Asia)        
And here are my predictions from the 23 countries from Asia. 19 of these countries submitted films last year. Bhutan (1999), Mongolia (2005), Sri Lanka (2009) and Tajikistan (2005) haven't sent films in years.

1. AFGHANISTAN- “Wolf and Sheep” Afghanistan is one of those countries that keeps sending great movies year after year without luck. “Parting” was one of the best films submitted last year (albeit a weak year) but AMPAS mysteriously disqualified it without announcing a reason. Was it because of nationality (the film was an Iranian co-production) or was it not properly released in Afghanistan? Who can say? The year before, “Utopia” was disqualified for having too much English. This year, I predict they will send either “Lina”, a movie about a young woman who goes in search of her biological father after learning from a blood test that her parents are not her real parents, or “Wolf and Sheep”, about life in a pastoral village in central Afghanistan. I give the edge to “Wolf and Sheep” whose 27-year old female director won Director’s Fortnight at Cannes in 2016, and who made the film in Afghanistan with an international crew. Siddiq Barmak (the Golden Globe-winning director of “Osama”) is currently in production on a new movie called “The Pass” in Georgia. 
2. BANGLADESH- “Rina Brown”- There seems to be an unfortunate trend in Asia whereby the highest-profile films of the year are being banned. In February, Bangladesh joined Bhutan and Jordan on the list by banning â€œNo Bed of Roses”, a drama starring Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan. Reasons for the ban are unclear, but it appears to be due to allegations from the widow of acclaimed author/filmmaker Humayun Ahmed (who was also a strong supporter of the current ruling party) that the film is an unauthorized dramatization of her husband’s life. All but one of the Bangladeshi submissions since 2005 have been produced by Impress Telefilms, the dominant national film studio. That bodes well for “Hotath Dekha”, a co-production with India about two characters who meet on a train in 1938 Bengal, and “Rina Brown”, a romance between a Muslim man and a Christian girl on the eve of the war for independence. Films about the 1971 war are always popular subjects for Bangladeshi cinema. If selected, “Rina Brown” would be the first female-helmed film to represent the country. However, most Bangladeshi films that have received buzz abroad have been made outside the Impress studio system, including two decidedly arthouse entries- “Live from Dhaka” (Singapore) and Abu Sayeed’s crowd-funded “Death of a Poet”- as well as “Gopon: The Inner Sound”, which won Best Foreign Film at the Delhi Film Festival. Other Bangladeshi movies about the war for independence this year include “Bhuban Majhi” and “Lal Sobujer Sur”, which could be selected.  My prediction: “Rina Brown” ends up being one of the more obscure entries on this year's Oscar longlist, with war drama “Bhuban Majhi” in second, dramedy “Hotath Dekha” in third, and arthouse “Gopon” in fourth. 

3. BHUTAN- “Honey Giver Among the Dogs” Bhutan submitted a film just once in 1999, for Khynetse Norbu’s delightful “The Cup”. According to the national newspaper/news agency Kuensel, the producers of Norbu’s latest film- “Hema Herma: Sing Me A Song While I Wait” were preparing to submit their film- when the film (which has delighted audiences in Locarno, Toronto and Busan) was unexpectedly banned. Bhutan, best known for its mountain scenery and “gross national happiness” policy is not known for censorship. However, the Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority (BICMA) refused to budge, meaning the film cannot be screened in Bhutan and thus cannot compete for an Oscar. The reasons are vague, but it appears the cultural authorities objected to the way Bhutanese masks were used in the film, in fictional, non-traditional ceremonies. This is a pity for Bhutanese filmmakers and a shameful act of censorship. But all is not lost. Bhutan actually had two well-reviewed films at Busan, so I’m hopeful they’ll send film-noir mystery “Honeygiver Among the Dogs” this year until “Hema Hema” can work out its issues with the government. But they probably won’t send anything. “Honeygiver” is about a policeman searching for two missing people- a monk and a local femme fatale. “Serga Mathang”, which won Best Picture at the National Film Awards, won’t figure into the decision-making.

4. CAMBODIA- “Diamond Island” Most of Cambodia’s film and television industry were executed or exiled during the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s, but the country has submitted films four of the past five years, and netted an unexpected Oscar nomination for Rithy Panh’s documentary “The Missing Picture”. I used to struggle to find even one eligible Cambodian film, but this year’s Cambodia International Film Festival (CIFF) featured six new movies. This year’s nominee is almost certain to be “Diamond Island”, which screened at Cannes Critics Week 2016 before opening in Cambodian cinemas in October. It’s a familiar story- boy from the countryside moves to the big city to find work and falls in love with a local girl- but it’s all supposedly done very well. The main competition comes from Oscar nominee Panh, who has another Khmer Rouge documentary out this year- the French-language “Exile”. However, it’s so abstract and cerebral that I think the Cambodian Academy will give 33-year old Davy Chou a chance. The other four Cambodian premieres at the CIFF included a psychological thriller, a popular martial arts action film, a horror film and an LGBT-themed chase comedy.

5. CHINA- “The Chinese Widow” Director Feng Xiaogang has been selected by Chinese officialdom to represent the country twice. He is one of China’s biggest box-office draws and his “I Am Not Madame Bovary” has been the front-runner all year, ever since its domestic release date was postponed from September to November 2016, changing the year it was eligible. It won Best Picture at the Asian Film Awards and at the China Film Directors Awards and was nominated at the Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan. “Madame Bovary” is a comedy/satire about a woman who is double-crossed by her ex-husband after the two plan a fake divorce to get around government land regulations. Will China feel comfortable nominating a film with a heroine who is trying to cheat the government? Probably not, but they did approve it for release. China is usually the last major country to announce their Oscar pick, and they often make strange decisions. In the past three years, they've selected movies out of left field, that few people had heard of, and which hadn’t won any awards of note. For that reason, I’m wondering if “Madame Bovary” could get bumped by nationalist war drama “The Chinese Widow”, directed by Danish Oscar winner Bille August and starring Emile Hirsch as a downed American pilot who is cared for by a benevolent Chinese family during WWII. Although the film isn’t supposed to be very good, this sounds much more like China’s cup of tea. "The Chinese Widow" opened the Shanghai Film Festival and China has a tradition of sending films to the Oscars with Hollywood stars (Adrien Brody and Tim Robbins in “Back to 1942”, Christian Bale in “Flowers of War”). Feng Xiaogang also has a new movie premiering in October (“Youth”) that could arrange an early release. Three other Chinese films deserve a mention here: “Summer is Gone” is this year’s arthouse frontrunner. It beat out “Madame Bovary” for Best Picture at the Golden Horse Awards, and is an intimate B&W tale of a Chinese family living in Inner Mongolia. “Lady in the Portrait” is this year’s costume drama frontrunner, starring Fan Bingbing (who also plays (not) Madame Bovary) as a 16th century Empress who commissions a portrait by a French artist. “Wasted Times” is a lush, period crime epic, co-starring Zhang Ziyi and Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. All of these films (except the brand-new “Widow”) competed at the China Film Director Awards, and appear to have the approval of the Chinese government. Less likely:  China’s festival films have either gotten mixed reviews (“Free and Easy” from Sundance, “Crosscurrent” from Berlin) or deal with controversial issues (“Walking Past the Future” from Cannes and “Mr. No Problem” from Tokyo). Only “Knife in the Clear Water” (Rotterdam) would seem to stand a chance. Dark horses: a couple of Mainland pictures with Hong Kong directors- girl power romantic drama “Soul Mate” probably has a better chance to represent Hong Kong than China, while hit action film “Operation Mekong” isn’t acclaimed enough. In the end, I’m disappointed to say that I’m predicting “Chinese Widow” will beat out the superior “Madame Bovary”, but I'm hoping that I’m wrong. Rounding out the Top Seven from the world’s largest nation: (in order) “Wasted Times”, “Summer is Gone”, “Lady in the Portrait”, “Youth” and “Knife in the Clear Water”.  Or maybe something nobody has ever heard of. 

6. HONG KONG- “Our Time Will Come” Hong Kong is confusing because many of the territory's top directors are now working on the Mainland, with its mega-market of 1.2 billion cinemagoers. At the same time there are a growing number of people wary of Mainland influence and urging the protection of Hong Kong’s distinct culture and Cantonese language. The obvious Oscar front-runner is “Our Time Will Come”, a large scale historical drama directed by Ann Hui, who has represented Hong Kong four times. It’s about how local Hong Kongers and Chinese guerillas fought the Japanese together during World War II. It’s gotten decent reviews, but Hong Kong’s artistic community may be reluctant to select a film that was released to celebrate twenty years since the unification of China and Hong Kong (it depends who’s on the selection committee!) Still, for now that’s the front-runner. Two small-scale dramas (of the sort selected in 2010 and 2011) also have a chance, namely Cantonese-language “Mad World” (winner of two acting awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards), about a man struggling with mental illness, and Mandarin-language “Soul Mate” (nominated for Best Director at Asian Film Awards and Best Picture at the HK Film Awards), an emotional girl-power romantic drama about two best friends in love with the same man. They haven’t chosen a big martial arts movie in years (2006 and 2008), but these visually impressive films may impress members of the tech branches. Of these, the ones with the best chance are Gordon Chan’s “God of War”, about local Chinese fending off Japanese pirates in the 16th century, and the upcoming Tsui Hark-produced “Thousand Faces of Dunjia”, a wuxia film about the formation of secret society. It’s set to bow October 1st, but Hong Kong frequently arranges an Oscar-qualifying release to promote new films. They could also do the same for “Find Your Voice”, a new Andy Lau movie about a grouchy choir (Oscar loves choirs!) that is currently without a release date. I’m predicting “Our Time Will Come”, but I’m not confident. The rest of the top five: “Mad World”, “Thousand Faces of Dunjia”, “Soul Mate” and “Find Your Voice”.

7. INDIA- TBD

8. INDONESIA- “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts” Indonesia rarely makes movies that make it to the Cannes Film Festival, so “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts”, an exciting feminist revenge thriller with shades of “Kill Bill”, is currently the front-runner to represent Indonesia. One big problem- the film has no domestic release date. Another potential problem- the Indonesian Academy usually sends stuffy historical dramas rather than edgy and exciting fare like "Marlina". But the film has gotten enthusiastic reviews, and I’m hopeful she’ll make it to the longlist.  Overall, Indonesia is seeing a film resurgence, even though they’ve never yet seriously contended for an Oscar. I’m going to predict “Marlina” gets an Oscar-qualifying release this "island western" about a kick-ass widow who takes revenge on the men who have wronged her. Other possibilities include a trio of historical dramas (“Kartini”, “Solo, Solitude” and “A Woman From Java”) and two melodramas (“Salawaku” and “A Letter to God”). If “Marlina” doesn’t get released, I think Indonesia will select “Kartini”, about a feminist hero who defied the traditions of her high-born family to fight for women’s rights in early 20th century Indonesia. Director Bramantyo was selected in 2014 and the film co-stars Indonesia's most acclaimed actress- Christine Hakim- as Kartini’s mother. In third place: “A Letter to God”, about two street children whose fates diverge when the girl is suddenly adopted by a foreign family. She then searches for her best friend a decade later. Garin Nugroho , one of Indonesia’s most senior directors, hasn’t been selected since 1998 but his “A Woman From Java”, about the Indonesian concubine of an elderly Dutch merchant in the colonial era, will come fourth and road movie “Salawaku”, which got a Best Pic nominee at last year’s national Citra Awards, will probably come fifth. 

9. JAPAN- “Harmonium” I lived in Japan five years but I’ve never once predicted them correctly. Their choices tend to be extremely random. I’ve managed to see seventeen out of eighteen submissions since 1999 and they’ve sent some brilliant films (the best was “Confessions”) as well as some real losers (last year’s “Nagasaki: Memories of My Son”) that nobody inside or outside Japan seemed to like. So it’s best not to spend too much time trying to understand. This year, I predict they’ll send “Harmonium”, a dark drama about a man who hires his friend who has just been released from prison. The “friend” (played by Japanese superstar Tadanobu Asano) begins to insinuate himself into the lives of the man’s family. It won the 2016 Jury Prize in Cannes “Un Certain Regard”, and was the only Japanese film to be nominated for Best Picture at the 2017 Asian Film Awards. It has good reviews and starpower and has the same dark tone of their 2010 and 2014 submissions.  Not far behind is Hirokazu Koreeda’s “The Third Murder”, which opens in September. Koreeda is a brilliant director who works outside the studio system. He’s frequently passed over for great work ("Like Father, Like Son" etc.) but he was selected by the Japanese Academy once. Told from three perspectives, “The Third Murder” is about a murderer, a lawyer and the family of a murder victim. Three strong dark horses are (1)- “The Old Capital”, a family drama about a traditional family whose business has hundreds of years of roots to the city of Kyoto, but which is having trouble adjusting to the modern world; (2)- “Oh Lucy!”, a quirky low-key comedy that was called a “hidden gem” at Cannes, stars Shinobu Terajima and Josh Hartnett as a bored office lady and her English teacher. (It’s produced by Will Ferrell!) and (3) “In this Corner of the World”, a gorgeous animated film about Hiroshima in the years leading up to World War II, which won Best Animated Film (a very competitive category in Japan!) at the Japanese Academy Awards this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these five were selected. Cancer comedy “Her Loves Boils Bathwater” and samurai movies “Tatara Samurai” and ultra-violent “Blade of the Immortal” have all gotten great reviews….but none of them seem serious enough to be the Japanese candidate. And the high-profile “Radiance” from Naomi Kawase has gotten mostly mixed reviews. I still say “Harmonium” gets this, with “Third Murder” and “Oh Lucy!” the most likely spoilers.

10. KAZAKHSTAN- “Returnee” Kazakh films do well at international film festivals, though these arthouse films don’t always get released at home. Kazakhstan doesn’t have any obvious contenders this year. Their most acclaimed film (“Road to Mother”) was released on September 29th, 2016 meaning it was eligible for last year. I predict the Kazakhs send “The Returnee”, a drama about the oralman, ethnic Kazakhs from other countries (mostly China and Mongolia) who are invited by the Kazakh government to resettle in Kazakhstan. Although they are “Kazakhs” ethnically, these immigrants often have a difficult time adjusting to the more liberal and secular, Russified culture of Kazakhstan. It was the only Kazakh fiction feature at the Eurasian Film Festival (Kazakhstan’s largest) and it won Best Asian Film at the Fajr Film Festival in Iran. In second place is “Districts” (Rayony), a well-received crime drama by Akan Satayev, who has represented Kazakhstan twice before. A third option would be “The Plague at the Karatas Village”, an arty drama about a new mayor confronted with a strange village plague. It earned Kazakhstan a prestigious nomination for “Best Film From the CIS Countries” at the 2017 Russian Nika Awards. Less likely: taxi driver drama “4+1” (Busan 2016) and 3-hour biopic “Aktoty”.

11. KOREA- “Warriors of the Dawn” South Korea is the world’s greatest filmmaking nation that has never been nominated for an Oscar. They’ve tried everything- arthouse/festival darlings, big-budget war movies, big-budget costume dramas, mainstream box-office hits, comedies, dramas and action movies- but nothing works. This year, they’ve got a lot of contenders (including five by previously submitted directors, four that premiered at Cannes and two that premiered in Berlin), with no obvious frontrunner. The highest-profile Korean film of the year is “Okja”, starring Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and a flatulent, giant animated pig. It premiered at Cannes and is being called this year’s “E.T.” However because it may have premiered online and also has a lot of English, I don't think it will be considered. From Korea’s arthouse branch we have “Bacchus Lady” (Berlin 2016), “On the Beach At Night Alone” (Best Actress; Berlin 2017) and “The Day After” (Cannes 2017). The Koreans love their anti-Japanese history movies (e.g. “Anarchist From Colony”, “Snowy Road” and “Battleship Island”, all set in the colonial era, as well as “Warriors of the Dawn” set in the 16th century), but they also sent one last year. And although they rarely send them to the Oscars, they have a number of crime dramas that could compete here like “The Merciless” (Cannes), box-office hit “New Trial”, corruption drama “Ordinary Person” (Moscow) and this summer’s upcoming “VIP”.  And it’s never wise to count out (1)- Song Kang-ho, who has starred in the Korean submissions the past two years and who stars in “Taxi Driver”, about a man driving a German journalist around during one of Korea’s most politically turbulent times, or (2)- Kim Ki-duk who should have two Oscar noms already for “Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring” and the disturbing “Pieta”. Kim has a new movie- “The Net”- about a North Korean fisherman who accidentally drifts into South Korean waters. It’s gotten good reviews, though they say it’s not his best film.  Ultimately, I think it will depend whether Korea wants to go large or small; set in 1592, “Warriors of the Dawn” is a splashy historical drama about mercenaries fighting against the Japanese with great battle scenes and high production values. It couldn’t be more different than “Bacchus Lady”, a comparatively low-budget film about the surprising Korean phenomena of elder prostitution, that has quietly gained strong notices since its Cannes debut over a year ago. I'll pick “Warriors” since Korea has tended to go glossy the last few years and "Bacchus is a bit disturbing. Rounding out the Top Five: Kim Ki-duk’s “The Net” , big-budget prison break drama “Battleship Island” and noirish police drama “Ordinary Person”. I wouldn’t count out festival films “The Day After” or “On the Beach At Night Alone” either, but reviews have been more mixed.

12. KYRGYZSTAN- “Centaur” Kyrgyzstan takes on the story of Don Quixote in "Centaur", a village drama about a man living with his wife and handicapped son, who secretly frees racehorses in the middle of the night. Director Aktan Arym Kubat (formerly known professionally as Aktan Abdykalykov) is the country’s best-known director and his films have represented the country three times.  Combine that with the fact the film won two awards in Berlin and was the country’s representative at Karlovy Vary, and “Centaur” looks like a shoo-in. Dark horse: “Finding Mother” has also gotten good notices (and some US screenings) for its story of a Kyrgyz orphan who goes to the United States to find his long-lost mother.  

13. MALAYSIA- “Interchange” Malaysia’s first-ever Oscar submission was a Malay-language fantasy film by ethnic Chinese director Teong Hin Saw. This year, most everyone would agree that Malaysia’s best film of the year is “You Mean the World to Me”, a semi-autobiographical drama about Saw’s difficult relationship with his mother. It has an all-star regional cast and is lensed by Wong Kar-wai cinematographer Christopher Doyle. In any other country, this critically-acclaimed family drama would be automatically be the country’s Oscar submission. But the film is about an ethnic Chinese family, and Malaysia has a system of pervasive legal and cultural discrimination against its Chinese and Indian ethnic minorities. I’d say it’s extremely unlikely they would select a Chinese-language film to represent the country, no matter how good it is (In 2014, Malaysia sent nothing, rather than send “The Journey”). However, things may be changing. Last year, a number of prominent Malay filmmakers threatened to boycott the Malaysian Film Festival in protest of the rule that only Malay-language films could compete in the main awards (Malaysian Chinese and Indian films would be relegated to a sort of Best Foreign Language Film category). Due to the controversy, the festival was forced to change the rules, and a Tamil-language film won. So, I hope I'm wrong. For now though, I still think the Malaysian Academy will seek to send a Malay film….Problem is, they don’t have much to choose from this year. One option is “Interchange” (Toronto 2016), a weird fantasy-mystery about a forensics photographer trying to solve a supernatural murder. Director Dain Said directed Malaysia’s second Oscar submission (“Bunohan”). Other possibilities: social dramas “Adiwiraku”, about a rural school and “Hijabsta Ballet”, about a young ballerina who insists on wearing a hijab when she dances. I’m definitely rooting for “You Mean the World to Me”, but ethnic prejudice means I’m going to predict “Interchange”, even though it hasn’t gotten great reviews. But then, most Malaysian films sent to the Oscars haven’t either.

14. MONGOLIA- “Children of Genghis” Mongolia hasn’t been on the Oscar list since 2005. Both their previous submissions were directed by Germany-based Byambasuren Davaa who got a Documentary Oscar nomination for “The Story of the Weeping Camel” after failing the make the shortlist for Foreign Film the year before. Davaa said in a 2017 interview that she is working on “several projects” but nothing is ready to start filming. She also mentioned that her next film may be a fiction film. The Mongolians began a new national film Awards this year, so perhaps that will inspire them to rejoin the Oscar race. This year, the two front-runners are “Faith”, a moral dilemma drama about the pervasiveness of corruption in Mongolia which won Best Picture at the new awards, and “Children of Genghis”, a US co-production which appears to be a sort of docudrama about Mongolian children learning the ancient sport of horse racing. I give the edge to “Genghis”.
15. NEPAL- “White Sun” Few countries this year have an easier decision than the Himalayan nation of Nepal, which is certain to submit “White Sun”, which has played at a dozen festivals since its premiere in Venice last August. It won the Interfilm Award there, as well as prizes at Palm Springs (Grand Jury Prize) and Singapore (Best Asian Film). This film, about a political activist burying his father amidst ancient traditions, family pressures, caste differences and the challenges of living under the new, post-war republican government, is said to be one of the best films ever made by a Nepali director. The Hollywood Reporter specifically noted in its review that the film could “go a fair distance” in the Foreign Language category. It’s a lock.

16. PAKISTAN- “Rahm” Pakistan is my home country until September 2nd, and I’ve had a wonderful year here. Unfortunately, although national cinema has really been improving, many Pakistanis still snobbishly say they won’t go and see local films. While here, I’ve tried to encourage people to support their local cinema industry.  I see five possibilities this year:  (1)- “Abdullah: The Final Witness”, a film based on a true story about an innocent truck driver convicted of the murder of several foreign citizens in Balochistan province. It was set to premiere in 2015 but was banned by the Pakistani censors until Fall 2016; (2)- “Gardaab”, a gritty thriller very loosely based on Romeo & Juliet, set amidst the slums of Karachi, (3)- “Rahm”, also based on a Shakespeare play (the less well-known “Measure for Measure”),  about a woman trying to save her innocent brother from being executed by a fanatical, religious governor, (4)- “Salute”,  based on the true story of a teenaged boy who died saving his school from a suicide bomber and (5)- the long-delayed “Saya-e-Khuda-e-Zuljalal” (aka “SKZ”…I predicted it two or three years ago), a nationalist action film about Pakistan's worsening relations with India between Pakistani independence in 1947 and the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. Less likely: two-time Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s new animated film “3 Bahadur”, or upcoming revenge thriller “Wujood". In the past four years since Pakistan returned to the Oscar race (after a 50-year absence), Pakistan has selected one “indie” movie, and three arty but mainstream dramas. For that reason, I’m predicting a surprise nod for the relatively obscure “Rahm”, which has arguably gotten the strongest reviews and which is not controversial like “Abdullah” or “Salute”. I’ll rank the other Shakespearean adaptation- “Gardaab” – in second place with "SKZ" a strong third. 
17. PHILIPPINES- “Pedicab” I honestly don’t have a clue what the Philippines will send to the Oscars this year. They have a couple dozen mostly well-received films that have won awards at the country’s numerous awards shows and film festivals. Virtually none of them have been screened at any major film festivals (except “Pedicab”), and almost none of them have been reviewed by international critics. To make things more complicated, they have nine new films premiering at the Cinemalaya Film Festival in August, which often supplies many of their Oscar submissions. So, I'm definitely going to get this one wrong. I vaguely see the ten leading candidates (in alphabetical order) as “Apocalypse Child”, “Baconaua”, “Die Beautiful”, “Mercury is Mine”, “Mrs.”, “Patay na si Jesus”, “Pedicab”, “Right to Kill”, “The Sun Behind You” and “Women of the Weeping River”….but none of them seems especially likely. My prediction is “Pedicab”, but only because it won Best Picture at the Shanghai Film Festival. It’s a black comedy about a poor family moving from the slums of Manila, back to their home village. Reviews have been good but not great. My runner-ups: “Apocalypse Child”, about a youth in a surfing town who believes he was conceived during the filming of “Apocalypse Now”, “Women of the Weeping River”, a drama about a blood feud in a Muslim village which dominated the Gawan Urian Awards and “Die Beautiful”, by the director of “Bwakaw”, a surprisingly heartwarming comedy about a family trying to honor a transgender woman’s last wish to appear dressed as a different celebrity each night of her wake. The Philippines is the most confusing country in the world this year.

18. SINGAPORE- “A Yellow Bird” Tiny Singapore has submitted films six years in a row now, and appears to have become a regular participant in thi category. Although most of their films are made in Chinese or English, this year's two main contenders are in minority languages. The front-runner has got to be “A Yellow Bird”, which premiered in the International Critics Week section of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. That’s a big deal for Singapore. The multilingual film is mostly in Tamil and focuses on an Indian Singaporean whose family rejects him after he is released from prison. Singapore likes to highlight its multicultural society and has never selected a director from the minority Indian community (although director Rajagopal was one of the short film directors who made the entertaining omnibus “7 Letters”). The problem is that “A Yellow Bird” hasn’t gotten very good reviews, with critics applauding the cinema verite style, but also calling the film slow, boring and/or difficult to watch. A fun, alternate choice would be the Thai-language “Pop Aye”, a road movie made in Thailand by Singaporean director Kirsten Tan. It delighted audiences when it premiered in Sundance and it's been getting great reviews around the world. Starring 50-something Thai singer Thaneth Warakulnukroh alongside a scene-stealing elephant, “Pop Aye” is an indie dramedy about a man travelling with his childhood friend (an elephant) on a road trip back to his hometown. I’m rooting for “Pop Aye”, but I think the more “authentically Singaporean” “Yellow Bird” will be Singapore’s submission.

19. SRI LANKA- “Aloko Udapadi” Sri Lanka hasn’t sent a movie since 2009, despite a medium-sized film industry that annually produces several dozen films. They’ve only sent two films before- first an arthouse costume drama (“Mansion By the Lake”), followed by a more commercial effort (“The Road From Elephant Pass”). Their best movie of the year is said to be “Burning Birds’ (Busan, Tokyo, Rotterdam etc.), about a widow forced to care for a family of nine after her husband is abducted and killed by a paramilitary group. The director’s first film “Flying Fish” was banned in Sri Lanka by the previous government in 2011. There’s a more liberal regime in place now, but the film still hasn’t secured a local release. So, if the Sri Lankans do elect to send a movie, it will probably be big-budget historical drama “Aloko Udapadi”, set in 89BC in an ancient kingdom replete with palace intrigue, or the arthouse “Dirty Yellow Darkness” about a man with mental illness struggling to win back his wife. This really should be “Burning Birds”, but I’ll guess “Aloko Udapadi”.  

20. TAIWAN- “The Road to Mandalay” Taiwan has a wide open race, with every possible genre in contention to represent the island- comedy (“Village of No Return”), theatre of the absurd (“The Great Buddha”), straight drama (“Gangster’s Daughter”, “Missing Johnny”), arthouse (“Road to Mandalay”, “White Ant”), road movie (“Godspeed”), thriller (“The Last Painting”), musical (“52Hz, I Love You”), and even an unlikely horror film (“Mon Mon Mon Monsters”). Most of their top contenders were screened at the Taipei Film Festival, where the bizarre B&W “The Great Buddha” was the unexpected winner of both the festival's Grand Prize, and Best Fiction Feature in the Taiwanese film competition. “Road to Mandalay”, about two Burmese migrants living illegally in Thailand, has been the most acclaimed movie of the year from international critics, while “Godspeed” managed an impressive number of nominations (including Best Picture) at the Asian Film Awards and the Golden Horse Film Festival (losing both to films from Mainland China). The directors of black comedy “Godspeed” (about a man dealing drugs by hiring a sleep-deprived taxi driver to take him from one side of the island to the other and back, in 24 hours) and the Burmese-language “Road to Mandalay” have both been selected before. I’m unsure what Taiwan will do. “The Great Buddha” just looks too weird. Wei Te-sheng got Taiwan to the shortlist for “Seediq Bale” but his latest- “52Hz”- didn’t get great reviews. Taiwan-based Burmese director Midi Z. was selected in 2014, and selecting a non-Taiwanese twice in four years might be perceived negatively. It’s a confusing year, but I’m going to predict Midi Z. gets this for “Road to Mandalay”, with murder mystery “The Last Painting” and Taipei winner “Great Buddha”  not far behind. Less likely: taxi comedy “Godspeed” and “Missing Johnny”, about a number of characters whose lives intersect in Taipei. That last one won four awards in Taipei. I personally am most looking forward to see quirky comedy “Village of No Return”, about a con artist who brings a magical machine to a small village that causes people to forget all their bad memories, worries and responsibilities. 

21. TAJIKISTAN- “Monkey’s Dream” Tajikistan hasn’t submitted a movie since 2005, but their biennial Didor International Film Festival featured no less than four new films. So, here’s hoping Tajikistan returns to the Oscar race with the Russian-language horror-drama “Monkey’s Dream”, a local retelling of the famous short story “The Monkey’s Paw”, about an Oriental relic that grants its owner three (cursed) wishes. Sadly, Tajikistan's most famous international director, Bakhtyar Khudojnazarov,died in 2015.

22. THAILAND- “By The Time It Gets Dark” Thailand has probably had the weakest film year of the major Asian countries, so they don’t have much to choose from. Most of their film output consists of silly comedies replete with ghosts and drag queens, a huge number of horror films and the odd martial arts action movie. I think that the Thais will send “By The Time It Gets Dark”, a drama that won Best Picture and Best Director at this year’s National Film Awards. Set in the 1970s, it’s about student protests against the Thai military junta, and it’s been praised for its unique, dreamlike style of cinematography. However, since 2014 Thailand has once again been ruled by a military junta, which has been busy putting down protests and clamping down on dissidents, so this film may be a little too close to home. “Bad Genius” isn’t a typical Oscar submission- it’s a youthful heist thriller- but it’s gotten surprisingly good reviews, it has rocked the Thai box office and won Best Picture at the New York Asian Film Festival, so that’s probably their second-best option. Other possibilites: romantic drama “A Gas Station” (Busan) and romantic anthology “The Gift”, featuring music composed by the late King. Less likely: indie drama “Fail Stage” and Burma co-production “From Bangkok to Mandalay”. One potential dark horse: Thailand selected a film by an American director in 2015 so they could send critically acclaimed elephant comedy “Pop Aye” made in Thailand by Singaporean director Kirsten Tan. That would actually be a very smart move.

23. VIETNAM- “Father and Son” Vietnam’s film industry used to be dominated by dull state-sponsored dramas about Vietnamese history, and the occasional arthouse film made by Vietnamese directors based overseas. No longer. Vietnam has a local film industry catering to local tastes, dominated by local romantic comedies and action movies of the type that are popular all over Asia and around the world. 18 movies competed at the national Silver Kite Awards this year, and there wasn’t a Vietnam War movie in sight. The awards were dominated by rom-coms “Saigon, I Love You” and “12 Zodiac”. “Saigon, I Love You”, an omnibus of five romantic stories (including a gay couple, and one foreigner) centered around Ho Chi Minh City, was a local box-office hit and is eligible this year. It’s possible, but I think the Vietnamese Academy will go with something more serious. Vietnam’s “The Way Station”, a heavy drama about a series of characters from all over Vietnam who find themselves in a small seaside village,  won the third biannual
          FINAL PREDICTIONS        
Final Predictions....

So, I've heard that the final list will come out tomorrow (Friday) but that it could come out as early as today (Thursday) so I'm rushing to post this final post.

So many people are predicting the (terrible) documentary "Fire at Sea" from Italy and the animated film from Switzerland, but I find it hard to believe that they will be able to break out of their respective genres especially since they are both on the lists for Best Documentary and Best Animated Film at the Oscars (and especially since "Fire at Sea" is a bad documentary).

Will they care about giving a posthumous honor to Poland's Andrzei Wajda, even though his final film is not considered his best? Will they reward outstanding filmmaking (Slovakia's "Eva Nova") and/or challenging topics (France's "Elle")? Or go with friendlier, easier choices (Sweden's "A Man Called Ove", Brazil's "Little Secret")?

And will it matter that so many former winners (Almodovar, Farhadi and Tanovic plus Honorory Oscar winner Wajda) and nominees (Abu Assad, Larrain, van der Oest, Yamada) are competing against each other?

And can Egypt finally get their first nomination after over 50 years of trying? Can any smaller countries surprise?

Here are my predictions:

NEARLY A LOCK 
1. DENMARK- "Land of Mine"
2. GERMANY- "Toni Erdmann"

PREDICTED
3. NETHERLANDS- "Tonio"
4. FINLAND- "The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki" (Elite Committee Save)
5. EGYPT- "Clash" (Elite Committee Save)
6. SWEDEN- "A Man Called Ove"
7. IRAN- "The Salesman"
8. CHILE- "Neruda"
9. BRAZIL- "Little Secret" (this year's surprise WTF nominee)

STRONG ALTERNATES:
10. FRANCE- "Elle"
11. SPAIN- "Julieta"
12. SINGAPORE- "Apprentice"
13. ISRAEL- "Sandstorm"
14. CANADA- "Juste le fin du monde"
15. RUSSIA- "Paradise"
16. SLOVAKIA- "Eva Nova" 
17. NORWAY- "The King's Choice"
18. ARGENTINA- "The Distinguished Citizen"

DARK HORSES:
19. ALGERIA- "The Well"
20. AUSTRALIA- "Tanna"
21. MACEDONIA- "The Liberation of Skopje"
22. POLAND- "Afterimage" (only because Wajda is dead)
23. SOUTH KOREA- "Age of Shadows"
24. SWITZERLAND- "Ma vie de courgette"
25. VENEZUELA- "From Afar"

LONG SHOTS
26. GEORGIA- "House of Others"
27. ROMANIA- "Sieranevada"
28. SOUTH AFRICA- "Call Me Thief"
29. ITALY- "Fire at Sea" (Dear Academy: Please don't choose this one!)
30. BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA- "Death in Sarajevo"
31. SERBIA- "Train Driver's Diary"
32. VIETNAM- "Yellow Flowers on Green Grass"

LONGEST OF LONG SHOTS
33. ESTONIA- "Mother"
34. PALESTINE- "The Idol"
35. MONTENEGRO- "The Black Pin"
36. GREECE- "Chevalier"
37. NEPAL- "The Black Hen"
38. ICELAND- "Sparrows"
39. KYRGYZSTAN- "A Father's Will"
40. TURKEY- "Cold of Kalandar"

And just for fun.....

Bottom-ranked of the 85 films:
85. PERU- "Videophilia"
84. THAILAND- "Karma"
83. LITHUANIA- "Seneca's Day"

Most Likely to get their first-ever nomination: EGYPT- "Clash"
Runner-ups: SINGAPORE- "Apprentice", SLOVAKIA- "Eva Nova"

Good luck to all 85 countries!



          2017 Foreign Oscar Predictions- ASIA (18 films)        
And here are the 19 films from Asia. Really, almost none of these films have any chance at all to be nominated....though once again SINGAPORE is a potential dark horse.

DISQUALIFIED
19. AFGHANISTAN- "Parting" 

Afghanistan's film industry is always struggling but the produce some absolutely beautiful films that can compete with the world's best. This is why it's disappointing that for the second year in a row, they're not on the official list. Last year, "Utopia" was disqualified after being accepted because it had too much English. And this year, "Parting" (Busan 2016) didn't even make the shortlist. No official reason was given. Some have speculated that this film about Afghans fleeing to Iran was judged to be a majority Iranian film (the director is an Afghan-born refugee who moved to Iran as a child). But the director's brother had a similar co-production accepted to compete for Afghanistan a few years ago. Others have speculated that it didn't have a qualifying run in Afghanistan. I'm not sure what the reason is. If it's the first, I'm angry. If it's the second, hopefully we'll see "Parting" in competition next year (There is precedence for this...."Basain" from Nepal, and "Ghadi" from Lebanon).

BOTTOM OF THE LIST

18. THAILAND- "Karma"
17. PAKISTAN- "Mah-e-Mir"
16. CAMBODIA- "Before the Fall"
15. TAIWAN- "Hang In There, Kids!"
14. BANGLADESH- "The Unnamed"

THAILAND has sent a horror movie about a sinful young monk who confronts some sort of demon/ghost for his transgressions with a cute local girl. And no matter how good a movie about a demon attacking a monk is, it's not going to be nominated for an Oscar. And I think Thailand knows that by now. And they don't care. This film was banned in Thailand and then re-edited and released and turned out to be quite a box-office success.

Neighboring CAMBODIA has selected "Before the Fall", a gonzo action thriller about a love triangle between an American man, a Frenchman and a local Cambodian girl in 1975 right before the genocidal Khmer Rouge took over Phnom Penh. Directed by Australian Ian White, this was a last-minute surprise on the Oscar shortlist. It looks like a fun flick made on a low-budget but the over-the-top acting (especially from the French lead who is a model in real life) and staged fighting mean Cambodia is a bit out of its league here. Still, glad to see them here!

PAKISTAN had a weak year and almost decided not to send a film at all. They ended up selecting "Mah-e-Mir", about a modern-day poet who delves into the life of a renowned 18th century poet. Urdu poetry is not likely to interest Western audiences (and poetry is extremely hard to translate well in subtitles) and the film did not enthuse audiences here in Pakistan. Most people here say it's well-filmed but boring and nobody expects it to do well. Still, I'm trying to find a legal copy so I can judge for myself! Nearby BANGLADESH has selected "The Unnamed", a drama centered on the human trafficking trade. In the film, a family awaits the coffin of a Bangladeshi laborer who died in the Gulf. They problem? The family knows their relative is alive and living illegally in Italy....so who is in the coffin? The answer to that question is eventually answered (becoming another family's tragedy) with excellent storytelling and lots of black humor....but production values in Bangladesh are always a challenge.

And there's TAIWAN...."Hang In There Kids" is a saccharine family drama about three boys from poor Aboriginal communities (they speak Atayal with their families but Mandarin Chinese at school) and their misadventures in their village, with their teacher and with their parents. It's a perfectly nice film that makes the Taiwanese countryside look gorgeous but it's a bit lightweight and forgettable to make an impact here.


OUT OF LUCK
13. INDONESIA- "Letters from Prague"
12. CHINA- "Xuan Zang"
11. KAZAKHSTAN- "Amanat"
10. MALAYSIA- "Redha" (Beautiful Pain)
9. HONG KONG- "Port of Call"

INDONESIA has once again chosen a soapy historical drama- "Letters From Prague"- which sheds light on a little-known period in Indonesian history when Indonesians living abroad were required to swear their allegiance to the new revolutionary government when Suharto took over in a coup d'etat....or forced to renounce their citizenship and live in exile forever. It's an important historical moment for Indonesia but the obscure history and usual Indonesian melodramatics and music (by local R+B star Glenn Fredly) probably won't interest Western viewers. The same will probably go for "Amanat" from KAZAKHSTAN. Those few who have seen the film say it's a good one with high production values, but this film which showcases Kazakh struggles against Russian imperialism during the time of the tsars (1830-1840s....lots of battle scenes, warriors and camels), Stalin (1940s) and Khruschev (1960-1970s) will probably also be too confusing and nationalistic for outside viewers to get the whole story.


Historical dramas don't often do well in this category when the historical elements are confusing or unknown to an American audience who rarely know much more than WWII and Vietnam. And so, Indonesia and Kazakhstan are a distinct disadvantage.

CHINA has gone even further back in history (the 7th century A.D.) with "Xuan Zang", the well-known (in China) story of a young monk who journeys 25,000 kilometers on foot to India to obtain ancient Buddhist scriptures. Reviews almost all say the exact same thing- the visuals and cinematography will dazzle you....and the film will put you to sleep. Not a contender. The best of the three Chinese-language films- HONG KONG's dark crime drama "Port of Call" won't do much better. Reviews have been mixed for this dark procedural thriller in which the murder mystery focuses not on "who" but "why". I watched it last night and I actually thought this was quite a daring film, it's backward and forward timelines can be confusing and ultimately the story doesn't 100% come together ....also, some people clearly don't like the film.

MALAYSIA  is looking to become a regular competitor, submitting for the fourth time with "Redha" (aka "Beautiful Pain") a family drama about parents struggling with raising an autistic child. The father in particular is unable to accept his son as he is. This is probably Malaysia's best effort so far (after sending an action movie, a overwrought period piece and a un-PC comedy) but it's not going to be good enough to make it to the next round. Critics say it's a strong but sentimental film highlighting an important topic for Malaysians, but one that may be a bit too basic on autism for the West.



HOPING FOR A MIRACLE
8. PHILIPPINES- "Ma' Rosa"
7. JAPAN- "Nagasaki, Memories of My Son"
6. INDIA- "Interrogation"

This year, the films from Japan and the Philippines have their fans....just not nearly enough of them. Oscar has never been a fan of the gritty, "poverty porn" that forms the mainstay of Filipino arthouse cinema (and which was the subject of one of the Philippines' best-ever Oscar submissions, satire "Woman in the Septic Tank") so the PHILIPPINES entry "Ma' Rosa" is automatically out of the running. This is Brillante Mendoza's first-ever time representing the Philippines but "Ma" is not considered his best work and most who like the film praise Cannes Best Actress winner Jaclyn Rose more than the film itself. This is the story of two impoverished parents arrested for small-time drug dealing, leaving their kids to fend for themselves. It's dark, grim and a difficult film to watch.

JAPAN has chosen the tearjerker "Nagasaki: Memories of My Son", about an elderly mother visited my the ghost of her son, who was killed in the atomic bombings on Nagasaki. I haven't seen "Nagasaki", but despite the important subject matter, reviews have been decidedly mixed. It's a stirring subject featuring some of Japan's best living actors, but critics note the film is heavy on dialogue and has bizarre comic moments that might make sense in Japan but not in the West. It seems this film doesn't translate very well.

Somewhat more likely is the film from INDIA. Once again, India has chosen well. "Interrogation" is a gritty Tamil-language film about a group of Tamil immigrants in Telugu-speaking Andhra Pradesh who are accused of a brutal crime. Just as it appears they've found a way out, things get worse. Once again, I don't think Oscar is likely to rate the film highly enough to make the next round, but this is a quality film that will proudly represent India.

UNLIKELY BUT POSSIBLE
5. NEPAL- "The Black Hen"
4. KYRGYZSTAN- "A Father's Will"
3. VIETNAM- "Yellow Flowers on Green Grass"

Once upon a time, the foreign Oscar category loved exotic stories from exotic countries, seeing how much lived (especially kids) in a dozen different countrysides. However, the days of "Dersu Uzala", "Children of Heaven" and "Caravan" are largely gone, replaced with more urban and/or historical films (last year's "Theeb" and "Mustang" were notable exceptions).

Vietnam and Nepal have both chosen films in the "cute kids with difficult lives coming-of-age in the beautiful countryside" sub-genre. VIETNAM's "Yellow Flowers on Green Grass" was a big hit at home and has snagged a US distributor (Fortissimo) and bookings in "Kids" sections of international film festivals for its story of kids growing up in rural Vietnam in the 1980s.  Based on a novel, it jumps from story to story and while the countryside look idyllic, these kids run into some pretty tough problems (including one boy who becomes paralyzed). NEPAL's "The Black Hen" may be the best-reviewed Nepali film since Oscar nominee "Caravan" (which was actually directed by a Frenchman), and one of the best-traveled (Venice, Busan, Tokyo etc.) too. The plot concerns two boys from different social classes growing up as unlikely friends during the Maoist Civil War of the 2000s, and their attempt to recapture a lost chicken who matters more than you'd think. The film has been well-received, especially for its visuals.

KYRGYZSTAN is another of those countries that keeps sending good films but has no Oscar nominations to show for it. "A Father's Will" is one of the most obscure films on the list, though it sounds great. A twist on the tale of the prodigal son, "A Father's Will" concerns Azat, who returns to Kyrgyzstan to a not-so-warm welcome after fifteen years living in the United States. It turns out Azat's father (who died in America) borrowed money for the journey to America but never sent any back, and that he also caused his other son (Azat's brother) to be imprisoned before leaving. There's not a single review anywhere online, but if one goes solely by quality, the Kyrgyz have never once sent a bad movie in this category.

DARK HORSES FOR THE LIST
2. SOUTH KOREA- "Age of Shadows"
1. SINGAPORE- "Apprentice"

These two Asian economic powers are still waiting for their first Oscar nominations, even though South Korea has one of the world's most dynamic and popular film industries. Sadly, both of them will likely fall short again this year and although the top-ranked films in Asia, I consider both of them dark horses at best.

SOUTH KOREA has tried everything from arthouse to period pieces to tearjerkers and is now trying its luck with a slick spy thriller. Shot like a Hollywood spy movie, "Age of Shadows" is an exciting movie set during the Japanese colonial era featuring heroic Korean characters defeating villainous Japanese ones. Nationalist overtones aside, this style of film makes for great box-office and the film has gotten good reviews, but ultimately may prove too confusing and too "Korean" to break out here. Korea has failed to be nominated for better films. As for SINGAPORE, it's true nobody is talking about death penalty drama "Apprentice". But this film, which premiered at Cannes 2016, has the potential break out. The story concerns a young Malay Singaporean prison guard on death row who comes under the tutelage of the prison's elderly longtime executioner. Without giving too much way, it eventually transpires that the executioner killed the young guard's father leading to numerous questions about secret intentions. The film has universally strong reviews and though I don't think it will make it, it could surprise.

And here are the statistics:

Number of countries from these regions who have participated in the past: 23

Number of countries participating this year:  19, if you include AFGHANISTAN who were disqualified.

Number of debuts: Zero.

Number of countries opting out:  Only four....Bhutan, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan haven't submitted in years....The last film from any of these countries was "The Road from Elephant Pass" in 2009. 

Already Seen: TWO. "Hang In There Kids!" from TAIWAN and "Port of Call" from HONG KONG. 

Film I'm most looking forward to seeing
: KYRGYZSTAN's "A Father's Will" 

Feature Debuts:  SEVEN of the 19 films are feature debuts: Min Bahadur Bham (Nepal), Kanittha Kwanyu (Thailand), Bakyt Mukul and Dastan Zhapar Uulu (Kyrgyzstan),  Tunku Mona Riza (Malaysia), Narymbetov Satybaldy (Kazakhstan) and Ian White (an Australian representing Cambodia) plus the disqualified Navid Mahmoudi (Afghanistan)

Number of Female Directors THREE. Kanittha Kwanyu (Thailand), Laha Mebow (Taiwan) and Tunku Mona Riza (Malaysia). Kwanyu and Riza are the first women ever to represent their countries here. 

Oldest and Youngest Directors: 85-year old Yoji Yamada from Japan and (probably) 31-year old Angga Dwimas Sasongko from Indoensia. 

Number of Foreign Languages Represented:  Two films are mostly in Mandarin (China and Taiwan) and Malay (Malaysia and Singapore). The other fourteen are in Bengali, Cantonese, Indonesian, Japanese, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kyrgyz, Nepali, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Urdu and Vietnamese, plus the disqualified Afghan film in Persian. 

Actually, the films from Cambodia (French and English), Kazakhstan (Russian) and Taiwan (Atayal) are multi-lingual.

Number of Animated Films and Documentaries:  Zero

Number of comedies: Zero

Number of countries with a realistic chance at making the shortlist:  Um, how about one? 

Highest profile film:  This is a pretty low-profile group of films! But it's probably "Ma' Rosa" (Philippines) on the film festival circuit and "Age of Shadows" (South Korea) in the international box-office. 

Oscar History: Yoji Yamada has represented Japan five times (tying Akira Kurosawa's record) and was nominated once for "The Twilight Samurai". None of the other directors has been submitted before, unless you count Boo Junfeng whose short film was included in Singapore's omnibus entry "7 Letters", last year. 

Best and Worst Decisions:  Good moves from India (which chose a respected, quality film), Pakistan (which almost decided not to submit a film at all), Singapore, Vietnam, Nepal and Kyrgyzstan. 

Once again, Japan and China don't seem to have a handle on what sort of film will do well here....perhaps they don't care. 

Controversies and Changes:  Not much. Some eyebrows were raised when dark comedy "I Am Not Madame Bovary" from China had its release postponed so that it was no longer eligible. It appeared this story of Chinese corruption may have had difficulty with the censors. Afghanistan's disqualification (or whatever happened there) is the biggest controversy from Asia. Even India's selection usually contentious process proceeded quietly. 

Most Notable Omissions:  I was hoping to see "After the Storm" by one of my favorite directors (Hirokazu Koreeda) represent Japan, but the most glaring absence from the list is "The Handmaiden" from South Korea. I was surprised to see "Diamond Island" (Cambodia) left off the list but it may not have premiered at home. And some had hoped that Lav Diaz's two incredibly long shortlisted films, "A Lullaby to the Sorrowful Mystery" (8 hours) and "The Woman Who Left" (4 hours), would represent the Philippines but I think the whole Academy is grateful they weren't. 

Familiar Faces:  The most famous for international audiences is probably Byung-hun Lee, the new Korean "Terminator" who co-stars in "Age of Shadows or Japan's Tadanobu Asano (the "Thor" films, as well as a long resume of infinitely superior, edgy Japanese films) who co-stars in "Nagasaki: Memories of My Son".

Also in the mix this year: pop star/movie star Aaron Kwok stars in "Port of Call", Winston Chao ("The Wedding Banquet") as a King in "Xuan Zang", and the Japanese Meryl Streep, Sayuri Yoshinaga and Kazunari Ninomiya ("Letters From Iwo Jima" co-star with Asano in "Nagasaki: Memories of My Son" 

Last year's race:   All 19 of these countries sent films last year except Indonesia. They failed to get a single spot on the shortlist (and they probably won't this year either). 

I managed to see 10 of them . My favorite was Singapore's "7 Letters" (A-), though I also would also highly recommend the films from Thailand ("How to Win At Checkers", A-), Japan ("100 Yen Love", B+) and China's weird "Go Away Mr. Tumor" (B+), which is kind of a mess of a movie, but ultimately very satisfying. "Court" (India), "Moor" (Pakistan), and "The Throne" (South Korea) were pleasant, average but flawed films. "Talakjung vs. Tulke" (Nepal) definitely had a hard-working cast and crew but was ultimately out of its league in this competition. "The Assassin" (Taiwan) (D) was a visual delight but a disaster in every other respect, especially the screenplay. And "To the Fore" (Hong Kong) is like a bad 80s drama and was ultimately one of the worst films I saw last year. 

Hoping to see "Men Who Saved the World" and "Heavenly Nomadic" before the end of 2016. 


          FOREIGN OSCAR 2016- The 21 Candidates from the Eastern Bloc        
So this year, 81 films have been accepted into the Foreign Oscar competition, the second-highest number ever! 

As usual, I'll be dividing the candidates into four global regions:

LATE OCTOBER- The Eastern Bloc Countries (21)
EARLY NOVEMBER- The Asia-Pacific Region (inc. Turkey) (20)
LATE NOVEMBER- Canada + Western Europe (inc. Israel) (20)
EARLY DECEMBER- Latin America, Africa and the Arab World (20)

Lots of interesting trends this year…We’ve got a huge number of movies about borders, migration and the immigrant experience (Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Serbia, Switzerland) as well as a number of films exploring indigenous and/or traditional cultures (Australia, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan and Venezuela). Those three Latin countries have films that are mostly in indigenous languages; not Spanish. 

We’re also seeing the debuts of a lot of relatives of famous directors. The helmers from Bosnia, Kyrgyzstan and Mexico are trying to make their names in the shadow of famous relatives. 

So, first…the Eastern Bloc countries (including Central Asia)

Last year, the countries of the Eastern Bloc got an amazing four spots on the Oscar shortlist (up from 2, 1, 1, 0 and 2 in the previous five years). However, they aren’t likely to repeat that feat this year, although the official front-runner (“Son of Saul”) could allow them to win two years in a row. Most of this year’s Eastern Bloc films have little or no chance to be nominated.

NO CHANCE IN HELL:

21. KOSOVO- “Babai”
20. SLOVAKIA- “Koza” (The Goat)
19. GEORGIA- “Moira”
18. SLOVENIA- “Drevo” (The Tree)
17. LATVIA- “Modris”

These five films with one-word-titles from some of Europe’s smaller countries have little chance to advance in this year’s competition. But as I always say, the Oscars provide a platform for these films and their directors to be seen and talked about by international critics.

Among the least likely are the family dramas from the ex-Yugoslav republics of Kosovo and Slovenia, both of which premiered at Karlovy Vary. KOSOVO's second-ever  Oscar submission “Babai” is about a young Kosovar boy who runs away to try and find his father who is working abroad in Germany. It has won some small awards but it is said to be a fairly average film from a country just beginning to develop a domestic film industry. SLOVENIA's â€œThe Tree” has gotten mostly positive reviews but critics frequently use words like “subtle” and “challenging”, i.e. unlikely to appeal to Oscar. It’s a grim story told in three parts, about a family in the aftermath of some sort of accident; each is from a different POV- the mother and her two children.
 
Latvia, Georgia and Slovakia have chosen minimalist character studies of the underclasses. LATVIA's â€œModris” is about a disaffected teen barely making an effort to get through life, getting involved with petty delinquency and developing a serious gambling problem. SLOVAKIA has chosen a gritty docudrama (“Koza”, aka “The Goat”) which played at Berlinale; it's about a Roma boxer who once competed in the Olympics but is now living in poverty and attempting a career comeback.  GEORGIA's â€œMoira” (San Sebastian) is about a man who returns to his family in their seaside home after getting out of prison.  The film is said to be "formulaic" and has failed to get very good reviews. Georgia probably would have done better to choose something else. These grim films can all be counted out. 

ONLY A SLIGHTLY BETTER CHANCE:
16. POLAND- “11 Minutes” 
15. MONTENEGRO- “You Carry Me”
14. RUSSIA- “Sunstroke”
13. MACEDONIA- “Honey Night”

It’s unusual for defending champion POLAND and Oscar superpower RUSSIA to be ranked so low down the list (they were both among the five nominees last year). However, the films they selected are just supposed to be really bad. “11 Minutes”, a fast-paced and visually slick thriller following eleven quirky characters, looks like great fun. Unfortunately, reviews have been terrible and everyone I know who has actually seen it has told me they hated it. It was the one film I was unable to get tickets for at the Busan Film Festival so I'm afraid I'll have to reserve my own opinion. As for Oscar winner Nikita Mikhalkov’s bloated three-hour patriotic drama “Sunstroke”- set in the waning days of the Russian Empire in Crimea- is said to be a mess. Bad reviews will condemn these two to being also-rans. 

The former Yugoslav republics of Macedonia and Montenegro didn’t have much to choose from this year. MACEDONIA had only one film submitted for consideration whereas MONTENEGRO ended up choosing a majority-Croatian film due to a lack of suitable candidates. Neither film has made much of an impact on audiences. “You Carry Me” is a Croatian take on “Crash”, focusing on a number of characters with intersecting lives. While some clearly like the film, most refer to it as an overlong two-and-a-half-hour soap opera. With "Wolf Totem" disqualified for lack of Chinese input, I'm confused how "You Carry Me" is even on the list. As for Macedonia’s “Honey Night”, it could be an amazing film......However, the film has zero buzz, political overtones that may confuse an American audience and there's virtually no information about it anywhere online. It's about a national political scandal coinciding with a couple’s marital problems on their 10th wedding anniversary. 

MIDDLE OF THE PACK:
12. SERBIA- “Enclave”
11. CROATIA- “The High Sun”
10. LITHUANIA- “Summer of Sangaile”
9. BOSNIA- “Our Everyday Story”

Three of these four films examine the aftermath of the Yugoslav Wars from the point of view of each of the three main beligerents. Whereas they are all good films, they lack the “oomph” necessary to get to the next round. Despite the highest IMDB rating of all the Eastern films, SERBIA's â€œEnclave” may also be too political. It looks at the relationship between Kosovar Albanians and Serbs,  who found themselves de facto living in a foreign country after Kosovo declared independence. The film won the Audience Award in Moscow, but is certain to appeal more to the Serbian audience who feel emotional pain at the idea of losing the province. CROATIA selected â€œThe High Sun” which won the Un Certain Regard award at Cannes and Best Croatian Film in Pula for its story of three interethnic love stories, set in 1991, 2001 and 2011. The three sets of lovers are played by the same set of actors (a very interesting, but also potentially confusing gimmick). The film is good and it has a lot to say about ethnic conflict, but the chapters vary in their quality (I agree the first is the best). The title of BOSNIA's â€œOur Everyday Story” says it all- it’s a film about a modern-day, middle-class Bosnian family with modern-day, middle-class problems, most notably the cancer diagnosis of the family matriarch. Though it will likely score highest of the seven ex-Yugoslav republics this year, I just have a hard time believing that this quiet, true-to-life family drama can get the scores necessary to advance.


As for LITHUANIA, they’ve selected teen lesbian romance “The Summer of Sangaile”, which won Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival. Critics have loved this sleeper hit about two teenaged girls who fall in love at an air show. However, the Foreign Film committee is rarely kind to LGBT-themed films or youth-oriented films, so I think “Summer” and its lesbian protagonists will also find themselves out of luck.



MIDDLE OF THE PACK:
8. ALBANIA- “Bota”
7. KAZAKHSTAN- “The Stranger”
6. ESTONIA- "1944"

These three films may have their fans but likely will struggle to get noticed. 

ESTONIA has chosen a patriotic war drama (“1941”) that highlights the uniquely complicated situation facing the three Baltic republics during World War II. Other than Hungary (see below), Estonia is the only country that has selected a WWII film, when Estonia was invaded by both the Nazis and the Soviets. Many Estonians were drafted and/or volunteered by sides, resulting in Estonians fighting other Estonians for causes they may not have even agreed with to preserve their nationhood. AMPAS likes war films, but this one is said to be very nationalistic and may suffer from some rather obscure history.

KAZAKHSTAN’s “The Stranger” is the third film by Yermek Tursunov to represent Kazakhstan since 2009. "The Stranger" is about a drama set during Communist times about a man who attempts to resist Sovietization and retain traditional ways. Tursunov was shortlisted for the shortlisted "Kelin" (which certainly deserved an Oscar nod) but response to "The Stranger" has been divided. Many find the film to be confusing and off-putting. 

That brings us to the delightful "Bota" from ALBANIA, about a married man and his two female employees working at a cafe in one of the remotest regions of Albania. Sad, funny and with beautiful music, the film's tagline is "Nothing happens. Everything happens." Events unfold slowly but the film is never boring. And without spoiling the ending, your emotions end up being pulled in two directions. Good storytelling made this (as usual) a great entry from one of Europe'a least-known film industries. Honestly, I know the film is too "small" to make it to the next round, but films like this are one of the reasons I try to see all the film on the list every year. Good luck! 

DARK HORSES
5. KYRGYZSTAN- “Heavenly Nomadic”
4. ROMANIA- "Aferim!"
3. CZECH REPUBLIC- “Home Care”

I'm not predicting that any of these three films will be nominated come January, but one of them could potentially surprise, particularly if the quiet CZECH tragicomedy of “Home Care” resonates with the older voters on the large committee. It’s difficult to make a funny movie about such a sad subject (a wife and mother dying of cancer) but the Czechs have a talent for deftly balancing comedy and tragedy. In the film, a rural Czech nurse who is passionately devoted to both her husband and troublesome patients is stunned to learn that she is ill herself, and embarks on the road to self-discovery and closure. However, I ultimately think this low-key film will be too "small" to ultimately make the finals.

ROMANIA’s road movie “Aferim!” is about a 19th century constable and his son searching for a runaway Gypsy slave in the wilds of a multi-ethnic province of the Ottoman Empire. It’s all very witty and clever with a shocking ending but the puns and witticisms (though very well-translated) may lose something in the translation. The former Soviet republic of KYRGYZSTAN always sends a good film and has likely come closer to an Oscar nomination several times; “Heavenly Nomadic” is said to be a sweet, likable film about a nomadic family living on the steppes. It will score well with the larger committee but it will be almost impossible for this small film to make the Top Six there.

FRONTRUNNERS
2. BULGARIA- “The Judgement”
1. HUNGARY- “Son of Saul”

Everyone is already talking about HUNGARY's Auschwitz-set drama “Son of Saul” as this year’s Oscar front-runner. The glowing reviews from Cannes frequently hailed its “original look” at the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of a Sonderkommando- a little-known group of Jewish prisoners tasked with disposing of the dead. The film left Cannes with Grand Prix. We all know that AMPAS loves any film mentioning the Holocaust (how else to explain the win of the mediocre “The Counterfeiters” a few years back) so “Saul” is as close to a lock as there is.

Conversely, nobody is talking about BULGARIA's â€œThe Judgment”, a morality play about a widower living with his angry teenaged son in Bulgaria's border region, who turns to human trafficking to try and make ends meet. Director Stephan Komandarev was the first and only Bulgarian to make it to the shortlist (for “Salvation is Big and the World Lurks Around the Corner”, which similarly had little-to-no-buzz that year). Perfectly timed to coincide with the current refugee crisis in Europe, “The Judgment” will likely do well with Oscar voters….It just remains to be seen if it can make the Top Nine. It will be on the bubble.  

Now the Statistics:

Number of Eastern Bloc countries that have participated in the past: 27

Number of Eastern Bloc countries participating this year:  21

Number of debuts: None.

Number of countries opting out:  Six. The most notable absence this year is UKRAINE, which had some complicated problems involving their selection committee. I’m not sure of the whole story but apparently half the members quit after last year’s controversial selection of “The Guide” over “The Tribe” and Ukraine was either late getting a new committee approved by AMPAS, or their proposed committee was rejected. In any case, the Ukrainians were rumored to be sending “Brothers: The Final Confession” or “Battle of Sevastopol” and officially asked AMPAS for a deadline extension to settle their internal problems. But ultimately, they didn’t make the list.

The only other surprise was AZERBAIJAN, which has sent films the past three years and who had baity nationalist drama “Black January” eligible. As for MOLDOVA, I don’t think they had any eligible films this year. As usual, Armenia (last submitted in 2012), Belarus (1996) and Tajikistan (2005) are also absent.

Number of countries I predicted correctly: 12 out of 21! Not bad- Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Romania, Russia and Serbia. And I would have gotten Macedonia too if I’d known that “Liberation of Skopje” wouldn’t be ready in time.

Already Seen: Albania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Romania

Films I'm most looking forward to seeing: KYRGYZSTAN has a history of sending absolutely wonderful village dramas (“Wedding Chest”, “Tengri”) so I would definitely choose “Heavenly Nomadic”

Feature Debuts:      9. The directors from Albania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia and Slovenia are also making their feature debuts. The ladies from Bosnia and Montenegro co-directed “Some Other Stories”, but since that film was really a series of five short films from five Yugoslav republics, I think they should be considered to be making their debuts too.

Number of Female Directors:  5 - Iris Elezi (Albania), Ivona Juka (Montenegro) and Sonja Prosenc (Slovenia) are the first-ever female helmers to represent their countries. They’re joined by Alanté Kavaïté (Lithuania) and Ines Tanović (Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Oldest and Youngest Directors:  77-year old Jerzy Skolimowski of Poland is the oldest European director this year. 32-year old Juris Kursietis of Latvia is the youngest from the Eastern Bloc.    

Number of Foreign Languages Represented:  17 primary languages, including four in the Serbo-Croatian dialects and two in Albanian, plus one each in Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak and Slovene.

Due to a large number of films about historical invasions and occupations (Estonia, Hungary, Romania) as well as borders and migration (Bulgaria, Kosovo, Serbia), there are a lot of multi-lingual films from the region this year, adding a bit of German and Turkish into the mix.

Number of Comedies:  Romania comes closest, but I wouldn’t say any of the films are comedies. 

Number of Animated Films, Documentaries or Horror Films:   Slovakia chose what you’d call a “docudrama”.

Number of countries with a realistic chance at making the shortlist: Not many….maybe four or five.    

Highest profile film:  Definitely Hungary’s “Son of Saul” which won the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes. None of the others come close.  

Oscar History:  Five directors have been in the race before. Nikita Mikhalkov of Russia is certainly the most successful. He won the Oscar for “Burnt by the Sun”, got two more nominations for “Close to Eden” and “12” and was also selected two more times to represent Russia for “Burnt by the Sun 2:Citadel” and “The Barber of Siberia”. Kazakhstan’s Ermek Tursunov is on his third try after “The Old Man” (Shal) and “Kelin”, which made the 9-film shortlist. Bulgaria’s Stephan Komandarev was also shortlisted once, for “The World is Big and Salvation Lies Around the Corner”. Macedonia’s Ivo Trajkov (“The Great Water”, “Wingless”) and Croatia’s Dalibor Matanic (“Fine Dead Girls”) have also been in the race before.  

Of the 21 countries, five have won the Oscar (Bosnia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Russia), four more have been nominated,  three have been shortlisted and the other nine are waiting for their first official nominations as independent countries.

Best & Worst Decisions: Albania made the best decision by rejoining the race and sending charming drama “Bota”. Last year, a selection committee met and failed to send either of two competing films. Entering the race will help publicize this wonderful hidden gem. After two Georgian directors made the shortlist last year, Georgia probably made the worst decision by sending the untested “Moira”, which has not been well-reviewed.

Controversies and Changes:     No big controversies this year, although some grumbled that the selection of the three-hour “Sunstroke” was due more to Nikita Mikhalkov’s political connections and the film’s emphasis on Russian ownership of Crimea, rather than the quality of the filmmaking. And I’m surprised there was no controversy over the nationality of “You Carry Me”, a Croatian film representing Montenegro.

Omissions:        The most unfortunate omission this year was Hungary’s critically-acclaimed black comedy “Liza, the Fox Fairy”. Hungary is frequently willing to send unconventional films (“Taxidermy”) to the Oscars, but faced with a potentially Oscar-winning Holocaust drama, the quirky “Liza” just couldn’t compete.

Also doomed by heavy internal competition: morality tale “The Lesson” from Bulgaria, biopic “Gods” from Poland and dramedy “The Treasure” from Romania, while the political tone of Russia’s “The Fool” could not have helped. And Kazakhstan’s Ermek Tursunov defeated himself when “The Stranger” defeated the final film in his Kazakhstan trilogy, “Kenzhe”.

Familiar Faces:  There are no superstar actors in this batch, although many actors are famous in their own countries. Two actors of note for followers of this category are Luminita Gheorghiu (“Child’s Pose”, “The Death of Mr. Lazarescu”) who plays a very small role as a village wife in “Aferim!” (Romania), and Bosnian actor Emir Hadzihafizbegovic who, by my count, is making his 14th co-starring role in an Oscar submission with “Our Everyday Story” (Bosnia).

Last year's race:   Last year, the Eastern Bloc got four spots on the 9-film Oscar shortlist, as well as three of the five Oscar nominees. I saw all four plus the nominees from Croatia, Hungary and Lithuania. My favorite was Estonia’s “Tangerines”, though the technical artistry of Hungary’s “White God” was most impressive. Final grades: Croatia (B-), Estonia (B+), Georgia (C-), Hungary (B+), Lithuania (C+), Poland (B-), Russia (B).



          OSCAR SUBMISSION PREDICTIONS 2015-2016, RUSSIA to VIETNAM (Pt. 5 of 5)        
And here's the last group of predictions, minus the unpredictable Russians. I will try to research the final two giant countries (France and India) over the next week.