Friday, May 31, 2019

3 min. VIDEO: "Two worlds" -- The brilliant imagery of Uğur Gallenkuş

"Istanbul-based artist Uğur Gallenkuş portrays two different worlds within in a single image.

Combining a pair of side-by-side photographs - one of the thriving Western world and the other of the war-torn Middle East - he highlights how, despite living on the same planet, these places could not be more different.

The differences are as striking as they are heartbreaking."

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Latest review on 'Slow Travels in Unsung Spain'

[Photo: Cornelia Kraft]

"...This is a book for readers interested in areas beyond the coasts and in small glimpses on the reality of daily life in Spain.

The author uses a personal style to give the readers an insight into different places...and culture, similar in style to articles of  The New Yorker..."

Read more from source at Literary Rambles blog.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spain defies Trump's military request over Iran

Spain's government have pulled their frigate from a US-led naval group because of Trump's warmongering with Iran...
"MADRID (Reuters) - Spain has withdrawn a frigate from a U.S.-led naval group in the Gulf because [the USA] was now focusing on alleged threats from Iran rather than an agreed objective to mark an historic seafaring anniversary, the Spanish government said on Tuesday.

“The U.S. government has taken a decision outside of the framework of what had been agreed with the Spanish Navy,” acting Defense Minister Margarita Robles told reporters in Brussels.
That led to the temporary pullout of the 215-sailor Mendez Nunez from the group led by aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as the mission no longer had the objective of celebrating 500 years since the first circumnavigation of the world, as envisaged by a bilateral U.S.-Spanish agreement, she said.
Robles said Spain respected the U.S. decision to focus on Iran and would rejoin the group as soon as it returns to its original task, adding: “Spain will always act as a serious and reliable partner as part of the European Union and within NATO.”
While the European Union shares some U.S. concerns about Iran, including its involvement in Syria’s war, it still backs a 2015 international nuclear deal with Tehran from which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew a year ago.
Trump, now trying to isolate Iran, has reimposed sanctions on it and sent the aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East in a move Washington said aimed to offset threats from Iran to American forces in the region.
Trump is also seeking to cut off Iran’s oil exports to pressure the Islamic Republic to renegotiate stricter limits on its nuclear program and drop support for proxy forces in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen."
Reporting by Paul Day and Jesus Aguado; Editing by Mark Heinrich

Sunday, May 12, 2019

"Women I admire" -- My latest opinion column for Catalonia Today magazine

Neus Català
It took the love of an extraordinary woman for me to start becoming aware. Aware of the huge continuous struggle and achievements of women in a world that makes it all so much harder than it usually is for men.

The #MeToo movement was a badly needed poke in the eye for plenty of men, and I would include myself in that demographic of ignorance. 
I had the general opinion that my half of the species had evolved to be largely respectful and kind towards the other half, but it’s now as clear as the glass ceiling that I had overestimated male behaviour.
During Women’s History Month in March, I also started to think specifically about which individual women I have a strong admiration for or those that have inspired me. In the news very recently, there has been the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, teenage climate-crisis activist Greta Thunberg, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as well as the youngest ever female US Congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 
They all have in common an energy, inner strength and brilliance that has been truly remarkable. These women offer great hope for the future in so many ways.
A bit further back in history, there were underrated figures, such as Mo Mowlam, who, working with a deadly brain tumour, was the UK government minister finally able to secure peace in Northern Ireland. (Her then Prime Minister Tony Blair recently completely neglected to include her vital role when he gave a public speech commemorating the 20th anniversary of these peace agreements.)
In the same area of study as the intellectual pioneer Ada Lovelace, there are many others who should be more well-known. Patri, an acquaintance of mine told me the other day about just one of these geniuses: Emmy Noether, a Jewish mathematician from the first part of the 20th century. Patri believes that in fact “most of what is done in the fields of modern physics and a huge branch of mathematics is based on something Noether came up with.” African-American Shirley Ann Jackson is another groundbreaking physicist who few outside the US would have heard of.
Closer to my own personal interests, I have been greatly touched by the work of writers such as Virginia Woolf, Helen Keller, Sylvia Plath, Joni Mitchell, Siri Hustvedt, Slavenka Drakulic and Joanna Bourke. Because of the quality of their work, these last three also deserve much wider recognition.
I also have a great respect for a black woman named Antonella Bundu (who has a Senegalese immigrant father) and is now running to be mayoress of Florence in the local elections at the end of this month. In an increasingly violent, right-wing part of Europe this kind of bravery and heart is both rare and wonderful.
But I don’t just admire women who are public figures. What about all the countless mothers, grandmothers, nurses, carers, teachers and women in the broader world of work who do what they do – and do it well – every day?
Sadly though, some are unable to fulfill their lives’ great potential and I cannot ignore this awful truth. Not long ago, a (male) friend sent me a poignant article that listed just eight young women aged between 16 and 27 who were killed by fanatical, extreme religious family members, all in parts of western Europe and the US. 
The reasons for their murders ranged from refusing an arranged marriage, to not covering their heads, to listening to American music, to getting a job. Here were true individuals. All died purely because they insisted on being themselves and to me, that too merits huge respect.
I would also acknowledge the life and recent passing of Neus Català, who will be well-known to many readers. Finally, I want to dedicate this article to all the victims of domestic violence across the globe.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, May 2019.]

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Microplastics blowing into remote Pyrenees mountains

[Photo: Bob Edme/Pool via Reuters]

"Microplastics have been discovered in a remote area of the French Pyrenees mountains [close to the border with Spain/Catalonia.] The particles traveled through the atmosphere and were blown into the once-pristine region by the wind, according to a new study published in Nature Geoscience.
This is just the latest example of the “hidden risks” posed by plastics that humans cannot see with the naked eye. For now, governments and activists are focused on avoiding plastic litter in the environment, driven mainly by concern for wildlife and worries over unsightly drinks bottles or abandoned fishing nets on beaches. Plastic bag usage has been cut in many parts of the world, and various projects are exploring how to gather up the floating plastic waste in oceans. But little has yet been done to deal with polluting plastic particles that are usually invisible.
There is, however, growing concern about these micro and nanoplastics, classified as particles smaller than 5mm. These come in part from deliberately manufactured sources, such as scrubbing materials in cleaning and cosmetic products, but also from secondary sources, such as the inevitable breaking up or wearing down of larger items such as tires or fibers shed from tumble driers and washing machines. We are becoming increasingly aware of their presence but know surprisingly little about how much is out there, how it behaves in our environment and what the implications are for human and animal well-being.
As more studies publish their findings we are learning that microplastics are more widespread than we imagined, and that they are found in every environmental system investigated. Plastic particles have been found in record-breaking quantities in river sediments in the UK, for instance, while a study in Paris found plastic fibers in wastewater and the air."
Read more from source here.