Shimon Peres urged Israel to dream and innovate – The Times of Israel

Former president Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday at the age of 93, was not one to take the easy way out, always looking for new solutions — whether fighting for peace or pushing for new technologies.

Peres urged Israel to embrace innovation, given the lack of natural resources in the so-called land of milk and honey. Even if he was polarizing as a politician — hated by some, loved by others — he was unequivocally respected for his unending energy, optimism and inquisitiveness. He believed anything could be achieved if you really tried.

To dream is simply to be pragmatic, he’d say.

Peres served in the Knesset for nearly half a century, from 1959 until 2007, holding virtually all senior ministerial positions over the years. In 1994, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, together with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, for negotiating the Oslo Accords.

Yitzhak Rabin, left, chats with Yasser Arafat, center, and Shimon Peres after the three received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo in 1994. (GPO)

As prime minister in 1985, Peres presided over an economic stabilization plan that led to the birth of Israel’s modern economy. Over his long journey in defining the state he believed in, he was also instrumental in fostering the entrepreneurial culture that defines what is today known as the startup nation.

“All my life I have worked to ensure that Israel’s future is based on science and technology as well as on an unwavering moral commitment,” Peres said in a speech in July, when he laid the cornerstone for the Israeli Innovation Center, which will be part of the Peres Peace House in Jaffa. “They called me a dreamer. But today, when I look at Israel, we all can see clearly that the greater the dream, the more spectacular the results.”

From left: Reuven Rivlin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu try on VR headsets at innovation center event, July 21, 2016 (Courtesy)

From left: President Reuven Rivlin, right, Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu try on virtual reality headsets at an innovation center event on July 21, 2016. (Courtesy)

“Start-Up Nation,” the best-selling book that documents the rise of Israel’s high-tech industry, recounts how, as chief buyer of arms in the 1950s, Peres, together with America’s Al Schwimmer, started dreaming about setting up an aeronautics industry for the fledgling country. While other ministers scoffed at the idea, saying Israel wasn’t even capable of building bicycles, Peres prevailed, and prevailed once again with the idea of starting Israel’s nuclear industry, by disregarding rules, funding it off-budget and working around established scientists.

As deputy defense minister, he injected funds into defense research and development, creating the foundation for Israel’s contemporary military technology edge.

“Peres was a unique figure in the history of the startup nation, and that is the reason why he is the most quoted person in our book,” Saul Singer, who authored the book together with Dan Senor, said in a phone interview. “His career covered the whole history of the nation, and he played a critical role in helping Israel transition from a socialist, top-down, concentrated economy to a free-market economy focused on innovation.”

“He spent his whole career in government but thought and acted like an entrepreneur in terms of building new things and looking ahead at the next. He always looked to the future and that is what kept him youthful,” Singer added.

Peres urged his fellow Israelis to join his quest for excellence, whether in striving for peace, closing social gaps or creating technologies to better the world.

“Shimon Peres will be sorely missed by Israel’s tech community,” said Jon Medved, a veteran of Israel’s high-tech industry and CEO of OurCrowd, an equity crowdfunding platform. “He was a visionary leader and statesman who represented the best of Israel’s creativity and innovation.”

Former president Shimon Peres at the launch of a new innovation center at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, on July 21, 2016. (Yair Sagi/Pool/Flash90)

Former president Shimon Peres at the launch of a new innovation center at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, on July 21, 2016. (Yair Sagi/Pool/Flash90)

US President Barack Obama plans to attend Peres’s funeral on Friday, the Foreign Ministry said, along with Secretary of State John Kerry. Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton will also take a break from campaigning to attend the funeral with her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

“Peres was the prophet of our high-tech nation and a man who knew how to read the technology map sometimes even better than those in the field,” said Maxine Fassberg, CEO of Intel Israel.

The aim of Peres’s innovation center is to draw guests from around the world to learn about Israel’s achievements in the high-tech sphere and to strive to close the gaps between the Arab and Jewish populations, and between rich and poor, and lead to regional innovation collaboration, Peres said in a speech in July at the launch of the center.

“We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers. Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians — to engage in science and technology equally. Here we will emphasize that we can promote peace from childhood, and we will spark the imagination of every boy and girl and enrich their dreams,” he said.

Peres also called upon Israel’s neighbors to join forces to create a “startup region.”

“Peace, innovation and science must be the realm of all. Not only Israel should benefit from the fruit of innovation, but the whole region,” he said. “Let us adopt the road to peace and innovation, which will always be better than war and terror.”

He concluded: “Finally, I have one small request – Israel is a dream that came true. Permit me to continue to dream.”

Dealing with bereavement on daily basis helped Tanya fulfil lifelong dream of publishing novel – Belfast Telegraph

Tanya Ravenswater with her debut novel Jacques, which was a lifetime ambition
Family portrait: Tanya relaxing with husband Richard and children Hanna and Rory
Tanya in her writing shed celebrating the publication of her debut novel
Signature moment: Tanya at a book signing for her novel

As a child brought up in a home where storytelling round the table was a family pastime, it is hardly surprising that Tanya Ravensworth grew up with a love for reading and creative writing. Like most authors though she initially pursued a traditional career following her mother into nursing while always yearning to return to her real passion for writing.

The chance came when she took a career break to have her two children – and this month she is celebrating the launch of her first novel, Jacques, a story about a French orphan.

Born in Bangor but now living in Cheshire with her husband Richard (54), a nurse, and two children, Hanna (20), who is studying zoology at Sheffield University, and son Rory (16), an apprentice carpenter, Tanya says it is still something of a surprise to her that she has finally realised her dream of becoming a published author.

It has taken her several years – often battling self doubt – to get to this point and she couldn’t be more delighted.

“It has all happened over a period of time and I have kind of eased into it, getting bits of work published and you do wonder at times ‘have I got what it takes to do this and is my writing good enough?'” she says.

“You discover it is about confidence and believing in your own voice and your work and I had brilliant support from family and friends who encouraged me to keep going, which was really important when I was flagging.

“Now that the book is published I am delighted, although it still feels a bit surreal.”

Having followed in her mum’s footsteps to train as a nurse and later becoming a bereavement counsellor, Tanya brings a wealth of life experience to her writing.

Tanya says that she enjoyed an idyllic childhood growing up in Northern Ireland in a family of two girls and two boys.

Both of her parents – dad Jack Dalzell, a school teacher and mum Margaret, who is a nurse and also ran her own nursing home – have been major influences in her life.

“I had a real people focused upbringing. Mum was a very dedicated nurse and in her early 20s ran a small nursing home. She was a very confident person to take something like that on and then in her 50s she took on another one in Newtownards,” says Tanya.

“Nursing was always really important to her and my grandmother was also a nurse. My dad taught English and both were real influences overall on my life.

“I had a great childhood with rich experience of the outdoors and nature which is still very important for me. We were a family of storytellers and we were always telling stories round the table and reading.

“My parents taught me to be an observer and to learn from people and appreciate people’s different personalities and to be open minded and not judge. I think that is what motivated me to get into counselling as I always felt people deserve to be heard and listened to.”

Tanya studied modern languages at St Andrew’s University in Scotland, but after graduating decided to change direction and trained as a nurse which is how she met her husband. She worked in hospitals in Scotland and south Wales before finally settling in Macclesfield in Cheshire.

Her first job introduced her to the extreme end of nursing when she found herself in intensive care dealing with patients with head injuries.

“I was thrown in at the deep end. There was a lot of one to one work with families who had suffered all kinds of acute loss of family members or changes in personality or disabilities that come with head injuries,” she says. “It was a background which served me well when I decided to train as a counsellor.

“I always felt when I was working in a hospital ward that there was never time to sit and talk and listen to patients and that too drew me to counselling.”

Tanya worked for a bereavement counselling agency and while she admits it was very tough work, she also found it extremely rewarding.

“It is a pretty stressful job but it is a real privilege to listen to people and how they manage to cope in really dreadful times in their lives,” she says.

“The work involved a lot of young people – quite often they had been in motorbike accidents which was a very, very sudden blow to the family.

“Then, on the other hand, I would have been dealing with elderly people who were the longest surviving members of their families which was very poignant, too.”

While her work was challenging and rewarding, the draw of creative writing never left Tanya.

She first started to write as a young girl and vividly remembers one of her proudest moments when she won a prize at a local Speech and Drama festival for her poetry while in Primary 7.

“I always loved words and knowing what they mean and I kept little notebooks and journals when I was a child and there was something magical about that,” she says. “I loved being imaginative and my sister and I would make our own little theatre productions using our toys.

“I was in my 30s when I took a break to look after my children and returned to writing with short stories and poems. I also did some workshops with children in schools putting together little collections of their work to celebrate it.”

Getting her poems published in UK poetry magazines spurred her on to continue writing and her confidence was given the boost it needed when she won the Cheshire Prize for Literature.

“That was an absolutely wonderful feeling and gave me confidence to consider my novel,” Tanya says.

Her sister Susan and her husband Paul run a very successful literary agency in Bangor called the Feldstein Agency, which has a number of successful local authors on its books.

Although it meant that Tanya did not face the usual uphill struggle to find an agent she stresses that the fact that her sister was representing her in no way influenced her publishing deal with Twenty7 Books.

“I was very lucky that my sister and brother-in-law run an agency in Bangor and agreed to take me on,” she says. “But they had to treat me like any other client. It is a very competitive business and there is lots and lots of waiting to see what is going to happen.

“When Twenty7 Books accepted my novel I was on cloud nine, but at the same time a big part of me realised it was really important to remain grounded. There is an element of me that wants to celebrate it but at the same time I wouldn’t want success to go to my head.”

Jacques is adult fiction and is described as “an uplifting and moving story of love and loss”.

The book tells the story of Jacques Lafitte, a young French boy who is orphaned and torn away from everything he knows. Forced to move to England to live with his guardian – the pompous and distant Oliver Clark – Jacques finds himself in a strange country, and a strange world. As years pass Jacques becomes part of the Clark family. But then his feelings for Oliver’s daughter Rebecca begin to surpass mere sibling affection. A development that has the power to bring them together, or tear the family apart.

Before embarking on her first novel, Tanya started writing short stories and poetry for both adults and children. She has published a collection of short stories for women, and has also been short-listed and published in the Cheshire Prize anthologies.

And in 2014/15 she was delighted when her children’s poem, Badger, picked up the Cheshire Prize for Literature in her adopted home.

Reflecting on her recent success, she says: “It is a strange feeling to finally have a novel published. It is aimed at adults although my daughter and her friends who would be in their late teens have read it.

“I had a book launch in Waterstones in Cheshire last week and my whole family were there to support me and it was just brilliant. They are all dead chuffed for me.

“It is a very nice feeling and at times an overwhelming feeling but really good.”

Tanya, who comes home for a visit every few months, was back in her home town of Bangor as a newly published author taking part in a workshop as part of the Aspects Arts Festival this month.

She is already working on her next book and is in talks about getting it and possibly a third published.

  • Her debut novel Jacques is available on Amazon

Belfast Telegraph

Vampire Dreams: UTC student releases the first book in a planned trilogy – Chattanooga Times Free Press

If you go

› What: “Ascension” book signing by Hannah Rials

› When: 4-6 p.m. Friday.

› Where: Star Line Books, 1467 Market St.

› Phone: 777-5629

Hannah Rials is not the first intern at a publishing company to work up the nerve to ask her boss to look at a manuscript she’d been working on. She’s probably not even the first to have the publisher like her work.

But that’s what happened, says Audrey Press Publisher Valarie Budayr. In fact, Audrey Press needed a Young Adult arm anyway, so she used Rials’ “Ascension” to create Aletha Press.

“She put her manuscript on my desk at 17 when she was in high school doing an internship for us,” Budayr says. “Four hundred and fifty pages. I know adults who can’t do that. I looked at it, and it had good bones, and we decided what she needed was a mentor more than an editor. She and [mentor/editor] Mallory [Leonard] took a wonderful journey.”

Rials, 20, started writing “Ascension” as a 12-year-old middle-school student in Maryville, Tenn. It was her second effort.

“I started one at 10 about a dog, but it never went anywhere,” she says.

Then Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series of books about young vampires came out, “and I read those in about a week, and I woke up from a dream and said, ‘I’m going to write a book,'” Rials says.

She worked on the book while a student at Maryville High School, enlisting the help of Pam Hix, a tutor who helped develop her writing as well as the story.

“I went through four drafts,” Rials says. “The story grew up as I did and matured, and the writing matured. When I started, it was about my own angst. I got over that.”

Rials, a junior at UTC, says the finished “Ascension” is quite a bit different than the original draft, though it still centers around a teenage vampire.

“The main character was named Macy at first, and now she is Cheyenne Lane,” Rials says. “The original title was ‘Macy the Teenage Vampire.’ The content matured and not in a bad way. It went beyond, ‘I hate my parents and I hate high school.'”

Rials, who will sign copies of “Ascension” on Friday at Star Line Books, has finished writing the second book, which is now in the editing process.

Budayr says when she began reading “Ascension” she couldn’t put it down and knew right away that not only would she publish it for the Maryville-based Audrey Press, she knew the book needed to be a trilogy.

The book was released on Aug. 27 with an initial run of 1,500 copies. Budayr says two-thirds of those have sold.

“After just a few days, people Hannah didn’t know were buying them and asking when the second would be out,” Budayr says.

The book is set in New Orleans and Rials, who was born in Louisiana, visited the city with her family while writing the book. She wrote down every street name and landmark she saw.

While she originally had 450 pages to give to Budayr, they weren’t perfect. Rials and Leonard worked for more than a year on the book, then it went to a copy editor.

“She sent it back with 17 pages of plot holes,” Rials says. “I spent the summer fixing those. The process can be heartbreaking, cutting scenes that you really like, but I have wonderful editors and wonderful support.”

And she admits that her writing improved while she plowed through different drafts of the book.

“I was one of those people whose character said so much and didn’t need to. When I was younger, I thought exclamation marks could go anywhere. People get really mad when you do that.”

Contact Barry Courter at [email protected] or 423-757-6354.

Dundee teacher’s superhero dreams come true with new book – The Courier

A Tayside teacher is hoping to put the region  on the map after writing a superhero adventure book set in Dundee and Fife.

Mark Smith, who works at Glebeland Primary School, will have his children’s book Slugboy Saves the World distributed to shops around the UK, Australia and the USA.

The 31-year-old’s answer to the traditional slick superhero is Murdo McLeod, whose unorthodox powers include sliding up walls and secreting slippery slime from his skin – thanks to eating a radioactive garden slug.

© Supplied
The book cover.In a competitive superhero world, Slugboy is so underrated that he doesn’t even make the list when an evil mastermind devises a plan to capture all the other superheroes.

In a competitive superhero world, Slugboy is so underrated that he doesn’t even make the list when an evil mastermind devises a plan to capture all the other superheroes.

It is now up to Murdo to use his not-so-super powers to free the others and save the word.

Mark, who won the Kelpies children’s writing prize for his work last year, explained that he hoped to encourage kids who don’t normally read books to try them out.

He said: “I was brought up on superhero comics and have always wanted to write a book so when I decided to do it, it made sense to stick to what I know.

“The process of writing the book and getting it out there has been long, and now we’re finally at the stage where it’s being published – it really is a dream come true.

“I’m proud to be from Dundee, so it will be great for people further afield to learn more about the city and Scotland as a whole.

“Murdo’s adventure starts in Dundee, and he also moves on to St Andrew’s and Edinburgh.

“Normally superheroes are big and flashy, with great looks and powers, so I wanted to do something a bit different.

“Instead of being bitten by a radioactive spider fr example, Murdo eats a big, grotty slug and then constantly messes up.

“I think it’s important to teach kids that they don’t have to be perfect all the time and that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as you’re trying your best.

“There are kids who don’t read many books, instead preferring comics, so I hope that this book will reach out to them and encourage them to read more.”

Mark said that although some of the pupils at his school know about the book, it will be a surprise for others.

He added: “I haven’t really talked much about it.

“I don’t want the kids to feel like they have to go out and buy it just because their teacher has written it, but I guess they’ll find out about it soon.”

Mark will be holding a free children’s event at the Dundee Literary Festival at Bonar Hall on October 20, with children (and adults!) encouraged to dress up as superheroes.

The Season’s Biggest Novel Has 1.3 Million Words and Outweighs a Bowling Ball – Wall Street Journal

An experimental German novel first published in 1970 is set to be one of the biggest books of the season. The publisher hopes you can’t put it down.

At more than 13 pounds, it is not easy to pick up.

The first English-language release of “Bottom’s Dream,” all 1,496 pages, weighs as much as a bowling ball. With a 14-inch spine, the weighty hardcover tome could topple a flimsy nightstand.

“It’s a monster in all ways,” said Stephen Sparks, a book buyer and seller at Green Apple Books in San Francisco.

Written by German author Arno Schmidt, who died in 1979, the novel tells the story of two translators and their teenage daughter who visit a scholar as they try to interpret the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. Inspired by James Joyce’s “ Finnegans Wake,” it chronicles events of a single day with lewd jokes and linguistic cartwheels.

Tony Messenger, a 53-year-old book blogger in Australia, received “Bottom’s Dream” last week. He planned to read five pages a day, which would take him about a year to finish. Then he opened it. “I now realize that was overly ambitious,” he said, and decided on two years.

The book contains layers of complex language and a multitude of allusions to Joyce, Poe, Shakespeare and other literary giants. Heavy stuff. For reference, Mr. Messenger keeps an iPad and Poe’s collected works nearby.

“You spend more time googling and finding other books than you do actually reading,” he said.

Mr. Schmidt’s oversize novel is a standout in the e-reader age. There is no Kindle version. The volume isn’t likely to fit in purses or briefcases; a backpack, maybe, or something with wheels. At 1,325,000 words, it is more than double the length of “War and Peace” and “Atlas Shrugged.”

“Bottom’s Dream” is also proving a weighty challenge for booksellers. Green Apple ordered 30 copies for a coming event with the book’s translator, John E. Woods: 15 boxes showed up, two books per box. Mr. Sparks said he had to “play a little Tetris” to squeeze just two copies onto the New Fiction table. The store has sold two; 16 line the top of a bookshelf; 10 remain in boxes.

The single copy of “Bottom’s Dream” at Brazos Bookstore in Houston sometimes joins the staff recommendation display, where it fits only on the top shelf, towering over the competition. The rest of the time it sits with the art books, said Benjamin Rybeck, the store’s marketing director. The fiction shelves are too small.

Big books can be big business. German art book publisher Taschen is known for signed, limited editions that often come with a book stand. One release, “GOAT: A Tribute to Muhammad Ali,” weighs 75 pounds.

Such heft isn’t common for literary fiction. The 1996 hardcover edition of David Foster Wallace’s “Infinite Jest,” a benchmark of the contemporary mega-novel, is 2 inches thick and weighs 2.6 pounds, according to


A 1992 edition three-book box set of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” tips the scales at 4.1 pounds—less than a third the weight of “Bottom’s Dream.”

Shipping delivers another plot twist. Green Apple in San Francisco offers 99-cent flat-rate shipping. That means the store will eat about $8 for every delivered copy of “Bottom’s Dream.” Mr. Sparks said he doesn’t mind, given the novelty of the massive book, which was released Friday with a $70 list price.

Readers who preordered “Bottom’s Dream” expressed excitement and surprise when it thudded on their doorsteps in the past weeks.

“My 5-year-old daughter can usually lift packages that come to our house,” said David Auerbach, a tech columnist for Slate. “She couldn’t lift this one.”

Mr. Auerbach says he reads it on the floor.

Thomas Sweterlitsch, a fiction writer in Pittsburgh, mistook the Amazon package for a three-pack of laundry detergent he had ordered. “I knew it was a longer book,” he said, “but I had no idea.”

German literature fans may wonder where they will keep the book. “It will probably stay put on the dining room table, like a weird centerpiece,” Mr. Sweterlitsch said.

Others wonder whether they will be able to finish it. The curator of the literary blog “The Untranslated” said he planned to read the English version after he recovers from the “shell-shock” of trying to read the original in German.

“I don’t think there are that many people in the world who can confidently say that they’re going to read it…and deliver on the promise,” said the curator, who gave his name only as Andrei.

He might have a point. From the novel’s first page:

“(P had mutterd meanwhile. He towerd,

above & belo, from out his hiking britches; He, tall=thin & hairy). / :

»’dYou even listen ? To what I said ?«”

More than 1,000 copies of “Bottom’s Dream” have been ordered by U.S. bookstores, said John O’Brien, founder of Dalkey Archive Press, the book’s publisher; 2,000 were printed.

Mr. O’Brien said the idea of an electronic version was raised with the Arno Schmidt Foundation, which has the final say.

For all but hard-core Schmidt fans, “Bottom’s Dream” is likely to be little more than an art object, according to those who have seen it.

“I suspect it will mainly be a conversation piece,” said Michael Orthofer, founder of Complete Review, a literary website. “I’m not sure about a coffee-table addition—it would crush mine.”

Write to Steven Norton at [email protected]

Dream of every self-published author comes true for Ann Campanella – Charlotte Observer (blog)

When writers choose to self-publish a book, it can be for a number of reasons.

Sometimes it’s for control of the final product. Sometimes it’s because it feels as if time is running out, and the search for a mainstream publisher can be lengthy. Sometimes it’s for no reason other than that’s what the author wants to do.

In rare cases, a writer who self-publishes will be discovered by a mainstream publisher.

That dream happened to Ann Campanella of Huntersville, whose memoir, “Motherhood: Lost and Found,” came out in 2014. Recently, that book was picked up by Divine Phoenix Books in conjunction with Pegasus Books. That company has publishing rights to Campanella’s E-book which is scheduled for release this week.

The book, set against the backdrop of Campanella’s love of horses, tells the story of her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s when Campanella was trying to become a mother herself. She paints a vivid picture of her mother as the disease progresses:

“Daddy, who used to rush to get off the phone, now lingers. He needs to talk to someone,” Campanella writes. “But there aren’t words to explain this to Mom without upsetting her. She knows she feels different, but she’s insulted if I use the words Alzheimer’s or dementia. The times I have gently explained her condition, she nods with a questioning look in her eyes. Thirty seconds later she asks, ‘What did you say my problem was?’ I sit quietly, stroking the lines of her palm.”

The memoir was a finalist for The Next Generation Book Awards. This fall or early next year, the book will also be released as an audiobook with ACX, Audible and iTunes.

November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness month, and Campanella will be hosting an event at Main Street Books in Davidson, “A Conversation about Alzheimer’s and Dementia.” It’s her hope to reach out to those who have loved ones who are struggling with this disease. She is donating a portion of the proceeds from book sales to nonprofit organizations that support those with Alzheimer’s.

Why Trump Is the Islamic State’s Dream Candidate – Foreign Policy (blog)

Every time there is a terrorist attack attributed to Muslim extremists anywhere in the world, Donald Trump will rush forward to claim, as he did after an Easter bombing in Pakistan, that he alone can solve the problem of radical Islamic terrorism. His eagerness to score political points has come back to hurt him in the past, as when, following this summer’s mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, he sent a tasteless tweet bragging: “Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don’t want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!” He must have been deeply disappointed that the Orlando attack, which resulted in the deaths of 49 people, did not give him a boost in the polls. But, he apparently figures, there is still time to make political hay out of the suffering of others.

In the case of the weekend attacks in New York City, New Jersey, and Minnesota, which did not kill anyone but did leave numerous people injured, Trump did not even wait to find out exactly what had happened before telling a rally in Colorado on Saturday night: “We better get very tough, folks.… It’s a terrible thing that’s going on in our world and in our country, and we are going to get tough and smart and vigilant.” The next day he tweeted with transparent glee: “Under the leadership of Obama & Clinton, Americans have experienced more attacks at home than victories abroad. Time to change the playbook!”

With only seven weeks to go until the election, the question at hand is whether voters will be satisfied with Trump’s calls to get “tough and smart” or whether they will demand to know what exactly he is going to do to stop terrorism, because if they do want details, they won’t find any. Beyond Trump’s bluster, there is … more bluster. To the extent that he has spelled out any specific policies, they are likely to exacerbate rather than ameliorate the danger.

Trump laid out his counterterrorism agenda most comprehensively in an Aug. 15 speech in Youngstown, Ohio. He spent the first part of the speech castigating President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for enabling the growth of terrorism by, among other actions, pulling troops out of Iraq and bombing Libya, with no acknowledgement that he had supported both moves at the time. Even more brazenly, he repeated his oft-told lie: “I was an opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning — a major difference between me and my opponent.” In fact, Trump did not publicly come out against the war until August 2004, which was not, as he claims, “very early in the conflict,” but 17 months into the conflict, by which time it was obvious that it wasn’t going to be a “cakewalk.”

In that same Aug. 15 speech, Trump repeated another one of his much-cherished lines: “I have long said that we should have kept the oil in Iraq — another area where my judgment has been proven correct. According to CNN, ISIS made as much $500 million in oil sales in 2014 alone, fueling and funding its reign of terror.” It’s true that ISIS, also known as the Islamic State, makes money off oil, but it’s mainly Syrian, not Iraqi, oil. And Trump never explained in that speech — or in any other public comment since — how he would have “kept the oil in Iraq.” In addition to it being a war crime (you’re not allowed to “keep” another nation’s resources), such an move would have required a long-term U.S. military occupation of the Iraqi oil fields, ports, and all of the land in between. If hatred of America is prevalent in the Muslim world now, imagine how much worse it would be if the United States had seized a Muslim nation’s oil wealth.

In the blink of an eye, Trump switched tracks in that Ohio speech from outlining fantastic and unworkable non-solutions to advocating for what is already being done: “My administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cut off their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting.” He even pledged to “find common ground with Russia in the fight against ISIS,” which is exactly what the Obama administration is doing now in Syria to little effect.

And he vowed — wait for it — to convene an “international conference” to “halt the spread of radical Islam.” An international conference! Brilliant! Why didn’t anyone ever think of that before? Presumably he has never heard of all the conferences in Geneva and Vienna that Secretary of State John Kerry has convened with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to find a solution to the Syrian mess, Syria being the prime breeding ground of terrorism today.

Having made a brief ghostwritten foray into the realm of humdrum foreign-policy respectability, Trump immediately veered back to what got him where he is. The core of his approach is to keep saying the enemy is “radical Islamic terrorism,” something that he (wrongly) claims Clinton never does. “To defeat Islamic terrorism,” he said in Ohio, “we must also speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow.” But there’s a good reason why both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama have been reluctant to speak of “Islamic terrorism,” and it’s not because Obama is a closet Muslim, as Trump has insinuated in the past. It’s because they realize that in the battle against terrorism, the United States cannot win unless it can get the support of most of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. By seeming to insult Islam and Muslims as Trump does, he plays into Islamic State and al Qaeda propaganda, which posits that there is a battle between Islam and the West.

But Trump doesn’t care about winning Muslim hearts and minds. He seems to think he can keep Americans safe by keeping all terrorists out of the country, as if it weren’t the case that many of our post-9/11 attackers — such as Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Fort Hood, Texas, shooter, and Omar Mateen, the Orlando shooter — were homegrown.

Back on Dec. 7, 2015, Trump first proposed a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” His Muslim ban helped him win the Republican nomination but has left him open to well-justified charges of religious bigotry. So for the general election, he has been desperately trying to modify his ban. He knows he wants to ban someone; he’s just not sure exactly who.

In early June, he said he would ban only immigrants — not all visitors — from countries where there is a “proven history of terrorism” against the United States. If taken seriously, this would apply to immigrants from Britain, France, and Italy, among other nations. A few days later, this was modified to suspend “immigration from regions linked with terrorism,” which hardly solves the problem, since just about every region of the world has been linked to terrorism. By mid-July, the ban had been modified yet again to apply to “any nation that has been compromised by terrorism,” a more nebulous category that could just as easily apply to the United States itself as to, say, Syria or Iraq.

Trump’s Aug. 15 speech included a call to stop immigration from “regions where adequate screening cannot take place” while adding another category of undesirables: He vowed to “screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles — or who believe that sharia law should supplant American law.” He never said, of course, how he would implement this kind of screening. Would U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents ask visitors if they harbor “hostile attitudes towards our country”? It apparently never occurs to Trump that terrorists might lie about their true views. He surely has never heard of taqiya, the Islamic term for lying to avoid persecution. His focus on “sharia law” — i.e., Islamic religious law — is also misbegotten. It’s like saying that he will screen out any visitors who believe that the authority of the pope supersedes that of the president of the United States. All observant Muslims obey sharia, just as observant Jews obey Halakha (rabbinical law) and observant Catholics obey papal law, but that doesn’t make them bad Americans or potential terrorists.

And what happens if a few stray terrorists should manage to slip through Trump’s vaunted border controls or if they happen to be here already? He constantly suggests that the answer to terrorism is “profiling,” which, he claims, we are not currently doing because of “political correctness.” Speaking to Fox & Friends on Monday, Trump said, “Our local police, they know who a lot of these people are. They are afraid to do anything about it because they don’t want to be accused of profiling. And they don’t want to be accused of all sorts of things.” Is there any evidence that law enforcement has identified a lot of terrorists but won’t do anything about it because of “political correctness”? Of course not. Just as there isn’t any evidence that, as Trump constantly claims, friends and neighbors of the Orlando and San Bernardino, California, shooters knew what they were up to but refused to tell law enforcement. And just as there isn’t any evidence that, as Trump also claims, “thousands and thousands” of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey, celebrated 9/11. What Trump seems to be suggesting is that law enforcement should employ a strategy of treating American Muslims as the enemy within — a self-fulfilling prophecy if ever there were one.

For all of his huffing and puffing, Trump has yet to offer any remotely workable solution to terrorism. What he offers is a lot of anti-Muslim animus that is guaranteed to backfire. It’s little wonder why the Islamic State is praying for a Trump victory. As noted by Matt Olsen, the former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, in an article for Time that did not receive the attention it deserved: “In August, one ISIS spokesman wrote: ‘I ask Allah to deliver America to Trump.’ Another supporter declared: ‘The ‘facilitation’ of Trump’s arrival in the White House must be a priority for jihadists at any cost!!!’ ISIS is working to drum up support for the candidate it has called ‘the perfect enemy.’”

It is deeply ironic and disturbing that the Islamic State’s dream candidate is posturing as the tough-on-terrorism candidate. If voters can’t see through Trump’s con game, terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al Qaeda will receive an unprecedented helping hand from America’s next president. Imagine what a conspiracy theorist — someone like Donald Trump — would make of that.

Photo credit: JOE RAEDLE/Getty Images

Easier access for antique bouquet: Rare digital books get a makeover – Economic Times

Lack of access to, or cost of, books should not hinder anyone wanting to read about history, says Subbaiah Yadalam, founder of the Rare Book Society of India (RBSI). It is this philosophy that made him curate rare digital books from across the world and make it available on the RBSI website and to its 86,000-strong Facebook community . “There is a huge interest among people -especially youngsters -for rare texts. But they have no idea where to find them,” Yadalam says.
He is right about the heightened interest, for sure.

A recent post about the world’s first English translation of the Bhagavad Gita by Sir Charles Wilkins (published in 1785) got more than 1,200 likes and 225 shares. At any time, there are people from more than 75 countries accessing the site. “Every book is downloaded at least by 500 people and 50% of members are below 33 years of age,” he states. Hence, for the first time since its inception in 2009, RBSI’s site is getting an overhaul to make easier access to its 2,500odd rare digital books, thousands of antique maps, photos and paintings.”Earlier, latest uploads would be visible on top, followed by a list of other materials. It was difficult to search for a specific thing,” Yadalam explains.

On Indian history alone, the site has 36 broad themes including `Literature, Music and Dance of Ancient India’, `India -After the Advent of Photography’, `The Grand Mughals’, `History of Mysore’, `Hindu Empires of Southern India’, `History of India’s Trade and Industry’, `Astronomy, Ayurveda, Yoga, Science and Mathematics in Ancient India’ and `India -As Seen By Foreign Travellers’.Each is being further classified into subsections like essays, books, paintings, rare manuscripts, maps and photo graphs, sculptures and videos. “The process should be completed in a month’s time,” Yadalam says.

Fifty-three year-old Yadalam, who belongs to a family of businessmen and whose personal collection includes 250 rare book titles, curates digital, out-of copyright books from websites like The Internet Archive, Google Books and Project Gutenberg. He coordinates with about 15 museums from across the world to source any relevant material.

He speaks passionately about the alternative narrative around history being shaped by social media and how we should use that to our advantage to become a more art and heritage-conscious society . “I hope the RBSI will help students learn from these original sources rather than their textbooks alone. Real learning will come from reading and accepting many versions of the same subject,” he says.

Astronaut’s tale inspires kids to dream big – London Free Press

The Darkest Dark


By Chris Hadfield and Kate Fillion

Illustrated by The Fan Brothers

Tundra Books, $22.99

– – –

True or False? Famed Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield was afraid of the dark as a kid.

If he was, and overcame it to become the celebrated commander of the International Space Station, it would probably make a good children’s book.

As it is, Hadfield’s new book, The Darkest Dark, for youngsters aged three to seven, was inspired by his growing up years.

And it’s a great book.

We meet young Chris days before the first moon landing.

He’s already honing creative skills, imagining himself as an astronaut, saving the planet from aliens alongside his trusted ally,

Albert the family dog.

He’s fearless in daylight, but crippled at bedtime by a fear of the dark.

That all changes when he joins other cottagers around the only TV on Stag Island on July 20, 1969 to witness the Apollo 11 landing and the iconic moonwalk of Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin.

Everyone’s moonstruck but Chris is also amazed by the ultimate darkness of space, way beyond the dark demons of his bedroom.

From then on, it’s dream on for the little guy. He’s determined to explore the dark universe and achieve his ultimate goal.

The Darkest Dark soars as an inspiration for children trying to overcome a fear as well as dreamers wondering if they will triumph.

Of course, the lesson here is ageless.

The book is beautifully and thoughtfully illustrated by brothers Terry and Eric Fan, who studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto.

Readers who have followed Hadfield’s remarkable career will be heartened to see a guitar as well as a robot on the litle guy’s bed.

Bonus too, is a photo of the real Chris in his first spaceship.

[email protected]

Twitter @suntravelgal  

Semaj Christon keeping eye on NBA dream –

Two summers ago, the Thunder was high on its second-round draft pick from 2014. After a strong showing at the 2015 Orlando Summer League, the thought was that Semaj Christon was NBA ready.

Less than a month later, Christon signed a contract to play in Italy as the chance at minutes in the OKC backcourt looked slim. That same summer, the Thunder was coming off a season of injury and had a rare opportunity to draft in the lottery. It picked Cameron Payne. D.J. Augustin was still on the roster. That Russell Westbrook guy, too.

So, Christon elected to go overseas and wait for his opportunity to crack the Thunder rotation in a year.

After another summer in which Christon showcased NBA-caliber skills, the 23-year-old is still on the fringe of the big league roster.

“My goal is to stay here,” the soft-spoken Christon said Thursday at a Thunder community event in Oklahoma City. “… but if it happens it happens.”

With Christon at the Book Bus event at Sequoyah Elementary was Payne, the young left-handed sparkplug who is ahead of him on the depth chart at point guard. The two shared laughs, Christon saying he and Payne have always been cool on and off the court. “He’s always been goofy,” Christon said of the bond. “I’m kinda goofy, too.”

The two have never been on the roster together for the Thunder or even the D-League Oklahoma City Blue, but they excelled in the summer league this past July. In four games, Payne (18.8) and Christon (16.8) finished first and fourth, respectively, in points per game. Each was in the Top 10 in assists per game. They lined up alongside each other, sharing ballhandling responsibilities.

With Augustin traded earlier in the year and Randy Foye signing with Brooklyn in free agency, buzz built about Christon being able to come in as the No. 3 behind Westbrook and Payne. Then, the Thunder signed veteran guard Ronnie Price on a two-year guaranteed deal.

Now, it looks like Christon is either headed back to the Blue, where he was a D-League All-Star in 2014, or overseas again. Christon’s deal is reportedly partially guaranteed for this season for around $543,000. Unless the Thunder gives up his draft rights via trade or by cutting him in camp, his only current path to the NBA is through Oklahoma City.

It’s a route he’s willing to take. He went home to Cincinnati, Ohio, a few times, but hasn’t ventured far from Oklahoma City this summer. Christon chose to stick around and work out with his Thunder teammates as much as possible. It’s a mature mindset that he said carried over from his 30-game stint in Italy.

His biggest focus point this offseason: shooting. Though he shot 47.1 percent in summer league, Christon’s 3-point shot is still a work in progress. He made just 19 percent (12-of-63) of his 3s playing for Consultinvest Pesaro last season.

But the slender 6-3 guard didn’t call shooting his only ticket to the NBA. It’s important, but “being consistent, being a point guard, being a leader” takes precedent.

“I don’t have to score the ball or do a lot of different things … just getting guys open and getting them in the right position where they’re comfortable,” Christon said. “That was the biggest thing for me, and playing defense, being a lockdown defender.”

His future unclear, Christon continues to operate as if he’ll be on the Opening Day roster. Though he’s entering his third professional season, next Saturday is lining up to be his first training camp with the Thunder.

The first year, Christon was sent to the Blue for development, similar to how the Thunder handled 2015 second-round pick Dakari Johnson and will this season with 2016 second-rounder Daniel Hamilton. In Year 2, Christon chose to go to Italy for more seasoning and an opportunity to make more money.

Now, with two seasons of development, Christon in a better position to make an NBA team, be it with the Thunder or elsewhere. He doesn’t know where he’ll be playing his basketball this season, only what he’ll be doing in the meantime.

“You wake up and keep playing ball,” he said. “It’s not a big deal, but I’d love to be here.”