Posts Tagged CIA
2014 – Year-end Review ——- Theme: Confront Reality & Get Things Done!
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Year-End Reviews on December 24, 2014
Year 2014 is coming to a close. As I see it, it has been a year to confront the reality and get things done. Affordable Care Act became law in January, increasing the accessibility of healthcare, in the US. TIME declared Ebola as the defining issue of the 20th century. It was no more in remote regions of Africa but in the capitals and it landed in the USA. The reality is that we are living in a global world.
And then President Obama reminded us that even though some of our neighbors entered the border illegally, they have made their home here, are working hard, supporting their families and they should have NOT amnesty, but an opportunity to make it right with the law, and live here temporarily, AND pay their share of the taxes, because people can’t live in the shadows, in a global world of visibility and accountability. Long overdue immigration reform will enable many people to come out of the shadows and add to the national treasury – a win-win – what’s not to like?
The same applies to our gay neighbors. They should not have to live in the shadows. Majority of the states this year, legalized same sex marriages and US supreme court refused to hear appeals from states seeking to keep same sex marriage ban in place. Many states also legalized marijuana. But what about our veterans living in the shadows? Department of Veterans Affairs got more resources (as house passed the bill, at the end of the year, averting shutdown), and it now has to get its act together and make it right with those who defend our freedom and values.
And what about skin color? We are confronting the reality that more than 50 years after Dr. King laid out his vision for color-fair society, people are still being judged on the basis of the color of their skin and paying with their lives. This does not just happen when young men turn 22 but prejudice hits in childhood http://bit.ly/15EInJ4 and it splinters society. We can heal and move ahead, but scars made by history, and distrust can only heal when there are no new wounds, when there is real dialog, when each side gets to even briefly experience the reality that the other lives with, and have compassion. We are confronting the reality and lot of dialog is happening. Much work remains to be done but the issue can’t be ignored any longer.
And then the lowest of the low, terrorists and those plotting terror. How do we deal with them? Report on CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the post-9/11 era reveals that “CIA detainees were tortured”. When we lose sight of our values, when the boundaries between moral and immoral gets blurry, then we lose, regardless of what we were seeking to gain. This is a true moment for national soul searching. (the fact some people may be only suspected of being terrorists is whole other story).
Globally, also we are confronting realities. World’s largest democracy, India, elected controversial Mr. Narendra Modi as Prime Minister. Mr. Modi has reached out to leaders across the world and declared campaigns to clean up India. My birthplace has so much to offer to the world and if it cleans up its act, under the helm of Mr. Modi, I couldn’t be happier. Our neighbors need to clean up their act too, even as they rightfully blame the US for its insatiable appetite for drugs. Capture of “El Chapo” Guzman in Mexico was a HUGE victory that got overshadowed later by disappearance and ruthless murder of 43 Mexican college students. “#YaMeCanse12”! Abduction of 270 high school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria #BringBackOurGirls and scores of Yazidi women bought, sold, raped, and murdered, underscores the need to define rape during conflict as a war crime and not a woman’s issue. By some estimates, more than 7 million (50% are children) are displaced by war in Syria (200,000 are killed) and 100,000+ Yazidis are displaced by ISIS. Let us continue to keep theses issues in the spotlight.
The year is ending on a rather sad note of the children who lost their lives in #PeshawarSchoolAttack in Pakistan. Here is my short poem in their memory – http://bit.ly/1wfp47D . It was heart warming to see India support its neighbor in the hour of grief as #IndiawithPakistan was a popular hashtag on twitter. And also deeply heartwarming to see Pakistan echo the sentiments when #PakistanwithIndia and sepecially #PakistanwithIndiaNoToLakhviBail became trendy topics on twitter as overwhelmingly Pakistani people reacted negatively to their government’s decision to give bail to Mumbai terror mastermind Lakhvi. May the balanced sentiments always prevail over extremism, because the reality is that we live in a global world and terror can’t be nurtured and targeted because sooner or later it would hit home. Global world also demands secularism.
As a ray of light and hope, Malala Yousafzai, courageous young lady from Pakistan, spearheading girls’ right to education and Kailash Satyarthi from india, a brave and dedicated activist for children’s rights and against child labor, shared the Nobel Prize, sending strong messages that fight to honor children’s rights will continue.
Hard as it is to confront the reality that one’s parents may not be there forever, I was very happy to spend wonderful time with my mother and my aunty (her sister). I tried to focus on giving them a break from their routines and enable them to have some fun, some unusual experiences. Isn’t it amazing that when a mother gives, she gives with her heart and soul, but when she receives from her children, she receives with a feeling of enormous debt and gratitude! Both my children are focused on their careers; Neil is working with Cisco in IT and Neesha is finishing college this coming year. Both are my pride and joy :). It has also been fun hosting my daughter’s friend from UCSD, originally from Palestine, during the holidays, and alternately being “naughty” with the girls, and playing aunty-mom to two daughters :).
This year, I also visited Japan (we were hosted by many amazing friends and you can see all details in my travel blogs), an amazingly polite and most efficient culture, with world’s most interesting toilets http://bit.ly/1sYL5qs. This year I also started travel blogs and you can see my many blogs at www.darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com.
And finally, here are links to some of the most amazing things that I blogged about, this year.
Best movie – “Last Days in Vietnam” http://bit.ly/1qFIL28
Best play – “Truce” http://bit.ly/1trGhEG and “Andhera Hone Tak” http://bit.ly/1Aij5Rz
Best book – “The Glass Castle” http://bit.ly/1fchcIo
Best biomedical technologies — so many exciting technologies in early to mid stages of development for — treatment of ALS http://bit.ly/1AP2Yd0, for technology for early detection of cervical cancer http://bit.ly/1jalqEz, technology that aims to deliver drugs via inhalation for AFib, point of care solution to minimize prescription filling errors http://bit.ly/1jdfmgr
Wishing my readers, family & friends, and my clients and colleagues, peace and joy in the year 2015. Best wishes to my many friends in fantastic groups that I am routinely affiliated with (each of them enhance life for many, personally and/or professionally) http://www.bio2devicegroup.org, http://www.eppicglobal.org, http://www.citylights.org, http://www.thestage.org, http://www.theatreworks.org, http://www.naatak.org, http://www.enacte.org, http://www.iwings.org .
Inequality for All: Robert Reich’s Documentary – Movie Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Uncategorized on February 28, 2014
The film “Inequality for All” premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and won a U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking. Huffington Post calls it a “must-see movie” and according to Variety, this film “does for income disparity what “An Inconvenient Truth” did for Climate Change”; a deeper understanding of the issues and meaningful conversations around some action. How cool that our local community college hosted the screening and fabulous panel discussion, following the film! DeAnza College at Cupertino is a model in providing top notch all-rounded education experience, with opportunity for civic and community engagement. Economic disparity is a very real problem in our society and here is a link to my previous blog on this issue and the huge fragmenting impact of economic disparity on the fabric of our families and communities – http://bit.ly/AwLq7G .
In “Inequality for All”, economist, author, professor and former labor secretary, Robert Reich examines the widening income disparity in the US, and discusses its impact on our society, and on our democracy. So how wide is the gap? In 2011 broadcast of “The Daily Show”, Jon Stewart cited a CIA Gini Index in which the United States ranked 64th in income inequality (worse than Cameron, but just above Uraguay). Later CIA revised the figures, but as Robert Reich explains in the film, 400 people in the US have more wealth than half the population of the US. Reich examines the years leading up to the crash in 1928, and in 2007, and finds striking parallels.
President Reagan’s economic policy was based on reducing growth of government spending, reducing federal income tax, reducing capital gains tax, reducing government regulation, and tightening the money supply to reduce inflation. The very wealthy often made their money in capital gains, and at 15% rate, frequently pay less in taxes than the average Americans. When wealthy do not pay higher taxes, the middle class gets stagnated. When middle class is squeezed, it stops spending, stops buying, and there is less revenue for states, for public institutions. This results in cost of higher education going up, higher school dropout rate, less skilled workforce, more jobs going abroad, higher unemployment and so on.
It is a misnomer to believe that when the very wealthy have more money, they would spend more and hire more. They may buy 3 more cars or 5 more pairs of jeans. But in the end, there is only so much they can buy, compared to a mass of middle class people. The more wealth they accumulate, the very wealthy invest in speculative assets, in gold, housing, and/or invest it abroad. That is exactly what happened in the years preceding the crash in 2007. The financial sector ballooned and greater deregulations helped the speculative assets to grow.
Meanwhile, the average American worker was struggling to keep up. Not wanting to get locked out of the American dream, middle class families too were buying homes. While middle class salaries had stagnated, two income families grew, and many people were working two and three jobs, in addition to borrowing heavily (often against the equity in their homes), just to make ends meet. With greater deregulations, union bashing, and union squashing, increasingly their voices were not heard. In 1992, President Bill Clinton promised to cut taxes for the middle classes, and make the very wealthy pay their fair share. He also promised to contain outrageous executive pay. Many executives then began to get paid in stock options which further fueled the growth of speculative assets. Government sets the rules by which the markets function, says Reich.
Big corporations are simply not designed to generate jobs. They operate with focused objectives of making profit and delivering value to the shareholders. Technology and globalization enable big corporations to take the jobs away from average American workers and go to the regions of the world, where labor supply is cheaper. Who looks out for the average American worker? The answer is “nobody”, says Reich. President Clinton’s policies did nothing to stop the downward spiral of the middle class. The eventual economic crash further harmed the middle class families. Many of them cannot afford to stay in their homes and resulting pressure often fragmented or broke up families. Please do check out my previous blog on its devastating impact on our families – http://bit.ly/AwLq7G . The very wealthy do not benefit when things get so dire for the majority. Reich makes the points emphatically, citing data and sources to bolster his perspectives and with appropriate amount of humor.
This much is clear from the film that this growing income disparity is lethal for a society and for the democracy. People are polarized and on edge. No one benefits from it. In the end, it also hurts the very wealthy. What communities would they live in when the teachers, the grocery store clerks and others cannot afford to live in the same communities? But how can average Americans take back their voice and get heard? What can they do? The panel discussion that followed the film was enlightening and heart warming. The panelists included Professor Ben Pacho, Professor Jim Nguyen, President of De Anza College, Dr. Brian Murphy, Dr. Crystallee Crain, and Dr. Cynthia Kaufman.
Dr. Murphy advised that we not just focus on marginal shifts but focus on the big picture and reclaim public institutions. He suggested we learn about power and leverage the capacity to build coalitions by forging connections across diversity of race, gender, and cultures, to focus on the true cause. It might be a long struggle but with unity, we can counterbalance the power of money. Dr. Kaufman (author of “Ideas for Action” and “Getting Past Capitalism”, added that we need to focus on building deep, authentic relationships with each other and with “stuff” so that we end up requiring less stuff. According to Dr. Crain, we need to overcome apathy and Professors Pacho and Nguyen emphasized the need to get involved in the community. All panelists emphasized they would not want to see the students getting burnt out. In fact, Dr. Murphy talked about the power of “random episodic silent thinking” or rest! He said, no one can do any kind of community or activist work, if they do not deeply love. This love may be for someone or something but deep affection anchors the values and purposefulness and provides the drive to be involved in things one cares about. It may not be everything that we all can take on. But apathy just won’t do. Each of us can take on and contribute to something we deeply care about so we can leave the world a better place.