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Forbidden Photos of Everyday Life in East Germany

Are you tempted? This sign, from a hotel in Kühlungsborn on the GDR coast, 1987, reads “We’re Looking Forward to Your Visit”. Enough said ….. Then this memorable image, from the newly-completed Gross Klein housing estate in Rostock, built in the 1980s in the prefabricated concrete style typical of communist East Germany. It had capacity for almost 20,000 people: progress in residential construction was measured solely in terms of the number of apartments built. The environment of those new homes was regarded as secondary. Siegfried Wittenburg took this picture in 1981 but was banned from exhibiting it at the time…. More

ISIS executes 3,500 in Syria since declaring ‘caliphate’

An insight into the nature of the beast: over 400 of those killed by ISIS since June are reportedly their own forces – executed for ‘spying’. And over 2000 – a clear majority in other words – are allegecly civilians. In addition, according to the UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, during the same period ISIS killed 930 members of a clan in the northeastern Deir al-Zor province of Syria, apparently in retaliation for showing opposition to their forces. Furthermore, over the past few months over 240 ISIS executions of rival rebels and Kurdish fighters, as well as 975… More

France and England soccer fans unite to sing ‘La Marseillaise’

It’s all been stage-managed to a degree: some of the French players aren’t singing; and ‘RIP La France’ – as one placard proclaims – seems a monumentally inappropriate message in the circumstances. But still .. a glorious, fleeting, powerful moment of Ango-French solidarity before the kick-off of last night’s soccer friendly between the two countries. Vive La France! Solidarité entre nous, citoyens européens et du monde entier! http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2015/nov/17/france-and-england-fans-unite-to-sing-la-marseillaise-video?CMP=share_btn_fb

More book extracts in Ceylon Today

Here’s an article published in Ceylon Today (15 November 2015) focused around extensive extracts from my new book – albeit on aspects of the story of Norwegian involvement in Sri Lanka that will probably be of most interest to students of the island’s recent history rather than the lay reader. Still, both the stories Mohan hones in on are good ones: unfettered Indian – or more specifically, Tamil Nadu – support to the LTTE in the 1980s; and smuggling LTTE strategist Anton Balasnigham out of the country for an urgently-needed kidney transplant – with a bit of help from the… More

IS attacks and not playing their game

If there is a reliable strategic purpose to terrorism it is simply this: to shake things up. To change things. To kick over the table and play a different game instead. The best way, always, to win that particular game is not to accept the invitation to play. Thoughtful, focused openDemocracy commentary on the IS Paris attacks. President Francois Hollande. Demotix/ Zaer Belkalai. All rights reserved. IS attacks and not playing their game Gilbert Ramsay 15 November 2015   For the terrorists, best would be to be left alone to consolidate. Next best would be an epic all-out confrontation with… More

UK Daily Telegraph on Sweden’s migration crisis

There’s some simplification, more than a few touches of stereotyping and hyperbole: it doesn’t offer any solutions; and it comes from a traditionally robustly conservative UK media soource. But in the main this article offers a well-articulated analysis of the serious challenges facing Sweden on the back of Europe’s continuing refugee crisis. Choice quote: ‘Britain is a country that is unsure of immigration, but loves immigrants. In Sweden, sadly, it’s the other way around’.   How Sweden, the most open country in the world, was overwhelmed by migrants Sweden used to pride itself on giving a warm welcome to outsiders…. More

Edward Snowden: in defence of freedom

Long, utterly brilliant Lena Sundström interview with Edward Snowden in today’s Dagens Nyheter. (Available in Swedish & English). Covers all the main issues raised by Snowden’s intelligence revelations in depth. Here’s a sample quote: “The drone program creates more terrorists than it kills. There was no Islamic State until we started bombing these states. The biggest threat we [the US] face in the region was born from our own policies.” Powereful, intelligent, and consistently thought-provoking. Snowden remains a brave – and much misunderstood – man. Truly essential reading! Here’s the English version: DN Fokus DN meets Edward Snowden Five hours… More

Oslo Launch Report

Some good photos and a brief report (in Tamil) by Sarawanan Nadarasa from Monday’s  launch at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Oslo for To End a Civil War: Norway’s Peace Engagement with Sri Lanka. Anne Julie Semb, Professor, University of Oslo Iselin Frydenlund, Senior researcher, PRIO Erik Solheim (former Norwegian Development Minister and Special Envoy to Sri Lanka) Mark Salter (Author) and Erik Solheim Erik Solheim, Iselin Frydenlund and Moderator Henrik Syse (Senior Researcher, PRIO) ————————————— இன்று ஒஸ்லோவில் வெளியிடப்பட்ட “To End a Civil War: Norway’s Peace Engagement with Sri Lanka” என்கிற நூல் ஒரு முக்கியமான நூல். 550பக்கங்களைக் கொண்ட பல தகவல்களை உள்ளடக்கிய இந்த… More

Oslo Book Launch

Here are a few shots from yesterday’s Norwegian book launch at the Oslo Peace Research Institute (PRIO). Good discusssion at a well-attended event – and once again, we could have sold double the number of books available…. Note to the best-seller lists: here we (don’t) come . . . .  

London launch: Sri Lankan media coverage

Here’s a piece from the weekend edition of The Island, also reprinted in the Sri Lankan Guardian. The reporting of Erik Solheim’s speech is surprisingly accurate. And he, of course, is very much in the limelight. More of this to come, I suspect . . . . ‘MR was prepared to give self-rule to Tamils within Sri Lankan state’ — Solheim Without calling for elections in the region The Island, October 31, 2015 From left: Mark Salter, Erick Soheim, Vidar Helgersan, Suthaharan Nadaraja and Prof. Michael Hutt (Chair at the meeting) By Sujeeva Nivunhella in London Former Norwegian Norwegian Development… More