A master-class on conflict resolution that was set to be given by an Israeli lecturer in Manchester next week was canceled by the British National Health Service, after trade union members who were to take part in the class objected to participating in a workshop with an Israeli expert.
Moty Cristal, an Israeli expert on negotiating skills and crisis-management, was to have taught a class entitled The Role of Negotiation in Dealing with Conflict, as part of a workshop on conflict resolution for health-trust managers and union officials. The workshop is being organized by Manchester Mental Trust, part of the NHS.
Cristal has worked in the past with Palestinian groups and human-rights organizations, and has lectured on his field on numerous occasions in Britain, including a lecture to the Muslim Council of Britain. Despite this, he received an e-mail on Friday from the company that organized the event, that Cristal's expertise was no longer required, following pressure by members of UNISON, Britain's largest trade union, which represents 1.3 million public service workers. The message said the class was being canceled "on the grounds that it is [the union's] policy and also that of the Trades Union Council to support the Palestinian people."...
Cristal responded to the cancelation by writing to Manchester Mental Trust chief executive Jackie Daniel, "In terms of your future bargaining position with UNISON, I believe that the last minute cancelation is perceived more of an appeasement toward UNISON, rather than a leadership call. Values-wise, unlike you, I am confident that the only way to resolve conflicts, let alone the Israeli-Palestinian one, is through effective communication and constructive dialogue, rather than violence or boycotts."
The Israeli Embassy in London said in response that "the cancelation of a private expert simply due to his citizenship or ethnic identity is a racist policy in every way. What is even more shameful is the fact this was supposed to be an NHS-sponsored workshop dealing, ironically, with negotiating and conflict resolution. It seems that those who canceled it are in urgent need of such training.
An unusual insight into the suffering that goes into those massive choreographed displays so beloved of the North Korean leaders:
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the North Korean authorities ordered the holding of provincial cultural events along similar lines to the famed ‘Arirang’ mass gymnastics. However, in Yangkang Province the weather in the run-up to the event meant that this created considerable displeasure, prompting some wealthier parents to make significant payments to avoid participation.
According to a source from Yangkang Province, a two-hour Arirang-style performance called ‘Shine, Shrine of the Revolution’ went ahead in Hyesan Stadium on the 15th, apparently causing the watching citizens of the city to agree that “We are in tears just watching those kids perform so well when they haven’t had enough to eat.”
Starting in February and continuing throughout the winter, preparations for the performance were intense, so a number of middle and upper class families apparently paid 60-100,000 North Korean Won to get their elementary- and middle school-age children out of it.
“The provincial education office issued an order telling schools to organize the performance for themselves, so the students in charge of preparing the card section had a really hard time making it,” the source explained. ”The intensity of the dance practice was too harsh as well; there were many kids with nosebleeds.”
“They said it was hell, spending all day in the icy cold practicing,” she went on. “Even in April it is about 10℃ in Yangkang Province, cold enough to be wearing padded clothes at midday. The students had to bring lunch, and those who did not practiced the whole day starving”.
North Korea could conduct a nuclear test within the next two weeks, experts warn. "The preparations are done and all it needs to do is to push the button," a government source here said. "There is a strong chance that the North will spend some time considering the timing and conduct the test in early to mid-May."
NBC News last week also cited a U.S. government official as saying the North is likely to conduct a nuclear test in the next two weeks.
AP cited experts at Johns Hopkins University as saying that mining boxcars were spotted moving and piles of soil building up at the North's nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province.
Of course they'll be well aware that they're being monitored. If their nuclear technology is as good as their rocket technology maybe those mining boxcars are moving piles of soil just for the cameras, to keep up the illusion.
Or maybe not....
"Route 1 near Saugus, Mass., sometime around 1977":
A classic American scene. It reminded me of this:
The origins of the joint Danish-Swedish thriller The Bridge are, I think, fairly clear. The Swedes looked over the Øresund and noted that the Danes were doing rather well with their TV thrillers - especially The Killing 1 and 2 - and suggested a collaboration. Once that was decided upon, an obvious plot will have suggested itself: a body found on the Øresund Bridge, exactly on the border, one half in each country. And when they get round to moving the body they find - in a satisfyingly gruesome moment - that it's in fact neatly bisected. And the two halves belong to different people.
Add to that some playing with cultural stereotypes - the cool Swedish blonde policewoman with an autistic streak and the laid-back stubbly chain-smoking wise-cracking Dane - and you've got something to get your teeth into. Of course much of this Swedish-Danish intercourse, as it were, is lost for us, dependant as we are on the sub-titles. I confess I sometimes lose track of whether we're in Copenhagen or Malmo, nevermind the intricacies of the cultural interplay. But despite that, and despite the fact that some of the acting isn't really up to the level of The Killing, it's still oddly compulsive viewing.
So far, after four of the ten BBC4 episodes, we have maybe two or three possible candidates for the killer, assuming we've already been introduced to him in one of the different story lines. Top of the list is seedy Seventies-porn-star lookalike Stefan Lindberg, but August, computer-addict son of Danish detective Martin Rohde, is coming up fast on the outside lane. At the end of Episode 4 the killer could have shot Martin but didn't - echoes of The Killing 2, where it proved to be a vital clue - merely kicking him hard in the balls and re-opening his recent vasectomy cut - something that August would have known about. But then surely that would be too obvious this early in the series...unless we're treated to some major diversions before the end and come back to our early suspect in a nail-biting climax - aha, I thought it was him.
Then there's the odd but compelling tale of sad runaway teenager Anja and her stay in the flat of serious weirdo Lasse Johnson, with his connection to the mysterious No One - presumably the killer. What is Lasse going to do with that samurai sword? Since the series so far hasn't been shy of blood and guts, we will very likely find out in full gory detail in the next episode.
And rich widow Charlotte, another chain-smoker (there's a lot of smoking), with her ghastly wig and glass minimalist Swedish apartment: all that time spent on her and her dead philandering husband surely isn't going to go to waste.
But there's another element that no one's yet commented on as far as I know: the Norwegian connection. The killer's been dubbed the Truth Terrorist - "TT" - by the press. He's killing people as his way of drawing attention to what he sees as various injustices. August remarks to father Martin that TT has done more than any press and TV coverage to publicise the plight of the homeless. Yes, responds Martin: by killing ten of them. Surely there's a deliberate nod here to the wretched Anders Breivik, coldly massacring a load of innocents just to get his political message across.
Analysts who have studied photos of a half-dozen ominous new North Korean missiles showcased recently at a lavish military parade say they were fakes, and not very convincing ones, casting further doubt on the country’s claims of military prowess.
Since its recent rocket launch failure, Pyongyang’s top military leaders have made several boastful statements about its weapons capabilities. On Wednesday, Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho claimed his country is capable of defeating the United States “at a single blow.” And on Monday, North Korea promised “special actions” that would reduce Seoul’s government to ashes within minutes.
But the weapons displayed April 15 appear to be a mishmash of liquid-fuel and solid-fuel components that could never fly together. Undulating casings on the missiles suggest the metal is too thin to withstand flight. Each missile was slightly different from the others, even though all were supposedly the same make. They don’t even fit the launchers they were carried on.
And frankly the top military personnel don't look too convincing either:
February 9, 1910:
[W]hat is known about de Salignac remains limited, and there are no known photographs of him as an adult. Born in Boston in 1861 and descended from French nobility, he married, fathered two children and, after separating from his wife in 1903, started working for the City of New York at age 42. He was the official photographer for the Department of Bridges from 1906 to 1934. At that point, his work—including original plate-glass negatives, corresponding logbooks in his elegant script and more than 100 volumes of vintage prints—began collecting dust in various basement storerooms. He died in 1943, at 82, unheralded.
Here's an interesting theory:
One of the classic conundrums in paleoanthropology is why Neandertals went extinct while modern humans survived in the same habitat at the same time. (The phrase “modern humans,” in this context, refers to humans who were anatomically—if not behaviorally—indistinguishable from ourselves.) The two species overlapped in Europe and the Middle East between 45,000 and 35,000 years ago; at the end of that period, Neandertals were in steep decline and modern humans were thriving. What happened?...
There is no shortage of hypotheses. Some favor climate change, others a modern-human advantage derived from the use of more advanced hunting weapons or greater social cohesion. Now, several important and disparate studies are coming together to suggest another answer, or at least another good hypothesis: The dominance of modern humans could have been in part a consequence of domesticating dogs—possibly combined with a small, but key, change in human anatomy that made people better able to communicate with dogs.
The change in human anatomy relates to the highly visible white sclerae surrounding the colored irises of the eyes - a trait that no other primate possesses. It enables the direction of gaze to be observed, not only by other humans, but possibly as a key communication strategy with domesticated dogs. It's worth reading the whole piece to get the full argument.