PBS | Women, War and Peace


Women, War & Peace is a bold new five-part PBS series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domain. Spotlighting the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, it places women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security, and reframes our understanding of modern warfare.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/30099445]

Featuring narrators Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Geena Davis and Alfre Woodard, Women, War & Peace is the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the roles of women in war and peace

Watch on your local PBS station Tuesday nights from Oct. 11 to Nov. 8. Check local listings for air times.  (Source: PBS)

Rosh Hashana 5772 | L'Shana Tova


This year Rosh Hashana commenced on the evening of 28 September 2011 which is actually the first day of Tishrei, the seventh month of the Hebrew calendar in the year 5772. Rosh Hashana (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, literally means "head of the year," and is commonly referred to as the "Jewish New Year.

Rosh Hashanah is the first of the High Holidays or Yamim Noraim ("Days of Awe"), or Asseret Yemei Teshuva (Ten Days of Repentance) which are days specifically set aside to focus on repentance that conclude with the holiday of Yom Kippur.Source: Wikipedia

As Rosh Hashanah and the Days of Awe begin, Jews around the world will celebrate a joyous New Year before entering a penitential state of fasting and reflection. שנה טובה ומבורכת , שנת בטחון וללא פיגועים !!! to all my Jewish friends, family and readers.

Botswana's 45 Years of Freedom


Friday, 30 September 2011, the Southern African nation Botswana will celebrate its National Independence Day.  This date marks the country’s 45th anniversary of the country's independence from Great Britain. Since gaining its independence in 1966, Botswana has been a stable democracy governed by an elected President.

This prosperous African nation is currently governed by President Seretse Khama Ian Khama and Vice President Mompati Sebogodi Merafhe.  In 1966, Botswana was one of the poorest countries in the Southern Africa region but, the increased prevalence of foreign  multinational  corporations operating in Botswana seems to correlate with the growth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from a per capita income of US$70 to around US$14,800 in 2010.

The phenomena of foreign multinationals manipulating emerging economies to their advantage is not new and today this is known as Neo-Colonialism.  In Africa and other emerging markets the introduction of these profit driven entities into the country often has a deleterious impact on both the population and environment. Some of today's most egregious Neo-Colonialist offenders are the petroleum conglomerates that with the aid of corrupt government officials exploit oil rich nations like Nigeria.

Though it is too early to judge, Botswana may be an exception to this trend since the economy seems to have benefited from the foreign investment. But, like many African countries rich in natural resources, the motivation to invest in the country is purely market driven.  Botswana's abundance of gold, uranium, diamonds, and copper make it attractive to multinational mining companies that extract and sell these lucrative commodities in the global market place.

The adverse effects of Colonialism and Neo-Colonialism are rampant in Africa  which makes Botswana's day of celebration note worthy. We wish Botswanans  continued prosperity and support them as they express their national pride. We congratulate this nation in accomplishing what few other African nations have realized - freedom, stability, peace and democracy.

Happy Ethiopian New Year | Melkam Addis Amet


Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 13:33 PM EDT, 10 September 2011

Enkutatash - 11.9.11This is an inspirational time of the year because of the proximity of the major holidays of the Abrahamic religions.

We have just concluded Ramadan and now we are celebrating the Ethiopian New Year.  Enkutatash is the  word for new year in Amharic the official language of Ethiopia.

The new year is also known as Ri'se Awde Amet (Head Anniversary) in Ge'ez, an appellation preferred by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

It occurs on September 11 in the Gregorian calendar, except for leap years, when it occurs on September 12. The Ethiopian calendar year 1998 'Amätä Məhrät ("Year of Mercy") began on September 11, 2005. However, the Ethiopian years 1996 and 1992 AM began on September 12, 2003 and 1999, respectively.

This date correspondence applies from the Gregorian years 1900 to 2099. Generally, because every fourth Ethiopian year is a leap year without exception, while Gregorian years divisible by 100 are not leap years, a set of corresponding dates will thus apply only for one century. However, because the Gregorian year 2000 is a leap year, then in this case the correspondences continue for two centuries. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Ethiopian New Year will be followed by the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.  We honor all of our readers by acknowledging and celebrating their holy holidays and we thank them and wish them happiness and joy on during these perennial festivals.

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Fistula: The Scourge of Child Brides

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 22:40 PM EDT, 6 September 2011

Child Bride Streets of Calcutta by BrajeshwarIn many countries around the world, young girls are being forced into marriage by their families or society. These marriages are less about religious practices than the economic needs of the families into which these girls are born.

Across the continent of Africa, Middle East and Europe, marrying off young girls is a common practice and in the Amhara region of Ethiopia some girls are married as young as five years old. It is reported that close to half Amharan girls are married before their 15th birthday.

On November 2, 2010, Anna Nicholas reported in the Telegraph about a 10-year old Romanian girl who had given birth to a healthy baby in a hospital in Jerez de La Frontera in southwest Spain.  According to a 2010 poll conducted by Unicef over 64 million women around the world between the ages of 20-24 were married before the age of 18, and in the next ten years over 100 million girls who are under the age of 18 will be married.

Among the many adverse consequences of underage girls being married are a lack of education as most are forced to leave school if they were lucky enough to have had the opportunity to attend, decreased autonomy and ability to make decisions for themselves and their children. Additionally, girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24, according to the United Nations.

According to the Mayo Clinic,  rectovaginal fistula are a form of injury caused during childbirth.  This type of injury include tears in the perineum that extend to the bowel and anal sphincter, the rings of muscle at the end of the rectum that helps hold in stool.  Complete pelvic bone development occurs around 21, so when girls whose hips are too small for the baby's head to pass through, it presses down on her pelvic bone, cutting off blood supply and causing the tissue to die. The resulting hole causes urinal or fecal incontinence.

Fistula affects 2 million women around the world, mostly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization.  In the West this embarrassing and unhealthy condition was virtually eradicated in the 19th century with the discovery of Caesarean sections.  Although, this procedure also has its opponents and risks, the quality of life for women who for medical reasons cannot deliver vaginally is greatly improved.

For women suffering from fistulas, the uncontrolled leakage of feces and urine often results in abandonment by their husbands and the inability to find another protector because they are deemed unclean.  A Kenyan woman was recently interviewed about the negative impact her fistula has had on her life.

She said "people would ask who is making that bad smell, coughing and covering their noses. So I was always isolating myself."  Since she was too poor to buy sanitary pads, she stuffed her underwear with rags but the feces still leaked onto her clothes, forcing her to wash them several times a day. She often doused herself in perfume to hide the smell and endured painful attempts by a midwife who tried to suture the hole four times without success.

After years of suffering shame and isolation, she was fortunate enough to receive an operation at Kenyatta National Hospital's 15-day "fistula camp" which resulted in her complete recovery and the reclamation of her life.


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The Freudian Origins of Surrealism

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 23:53 p.m. EDT, 15 August 2011

Sigmund Freud, Photo in LIFE Magazine

The surrealist movement is in part based on the groundbreaking work of psychologist Dr. Sigmund Freud's theories on free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious.

By tapping into the unconscious and portraying it unfettered through painting and photography, the viewer is afforded the opportunity to live vicariously in the waking dreams.

In the Nahmias Report we have featured the works of the painters Rene Margritte, Frida Kahlo, Francis Picabia, Salvador Dali, and Max Ernst, and encourage you to learn more about these artists and view their works by following the links above.

Some may look at the work of surrealists and conclude that these people must have been mentally unstable. Quite the contrary, most of these artists refused to subvert their inner realities to the conventions of the epoch in which they were born.

They chose instead to push further into the frontiers of the unconscious by translating the ethereal mysteries of their minds on to canvassed landscapes which continue to fascinate, repulse, and intrigue viewers.

Salvador Dalí said it best, "there is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad."



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Fernando Botero | Amedeo Modigliani

Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 00:31 AM EDT, Sunday, 7 August 2011

Jean_Auguste_Dominique_Ingres,_La_Grande_Odalisque,_1814An Odalisque (Turkish: Odalık) was a female slave in an Ottoman seraglio. She was an assistant or apprentice to the concubines and wives, and she might rise in status to become one of them. Most odalisque were part of the Imperial Harem, that is, the household, of the sultan.

Many artists, especially classical artist such as Jean August Dominique Ingres, who in 1814 painted the Grand Odalisque, often portrayed female nudes in this style. Hence the original use of the word as a noun has morphed within the field of paintings into an adjective which used to describe a particular style of portraying a female nude.

Two of into my favorite artists, Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920 and Fernando Botero Angulo (born April 19,1932 - present), depict stylized Odalisque at opposite ends of the spectrum. Both artists portray women in exaggerated proportions, Modigliani chose to elongate his figures, while Botero chose to accentuate corpulence. I find in each a more  natural, albeit caricature, portrayal of women because these artists do not seek perfection through idealization.

Whereas the nudes of the great artists like Michaelangelo strive to not only portray physical perfection of the body types of their age, it seemed as if the artists sought to imbue the canvas with the very essence of the model's soul.  By contrast, Modigliani and Botero seek to explore other aspects of painting and the female nude.

Modigliani was born into an Italian-Jewish family from Livorno, Italy.  He moved to Paris in 1906 where he met a female poet,  Anna Akhmatov who became the inspiration for many of his paintings."

"One of the key-elements of Modigliani's portraitism were the slated heads, derived from Byzantine cariatides because of the horizontal placement of the eyes and mouth coupled with the curvature of the nose. The portraits subtlety is due to Modigliani's unique talent, but its essence, the facial constructions one of the most important artistic inventions of modern art." Source:  Paintings.Name

Such directness in figurative portraiture forms the basis for abstract art, and in fact, Picasso would later use this mask-like depictions of the human face in many of his paintings.

Born in 1932 in Medellin, Colombia, as Fernando Botero Angulo, he has worked in landscapes and still-lifes, but his fame rests on paintings and sculpture of human figures with almost comically exaggerated, rounded features. Colombians have loved him for decades, at least since he won first prize at the Salon de Artistas Colmbiano in 1959, and find his work emblematic of their nation’s identity.

The Latin American artist is often quoted as saying that he paints "the world as he sees it." His work though in the style of caricature is immediately recognizable, and captivating or repulsive depending upon the viewer's perception of corpulence. For those who like 'Zaftig' women, Botero's preference for bigger, richer, models versus thin and emaciated body types that are currently in vogue, makes his work fascinating and engaging.

For students of art history, even a cursory review of his work reveals a Baroque influence. One could reasonably argue that Botero uses the distortion of proportion as commentary on social mores and the stature of the subject.

Perhaps the tendency of Baroque art toward abundance and heightened proportion helped form his signature style. But for his part, Botero claims not to have known or understood the sources of his art when he began painting, calling it entirely intuitive.

Botero’s Baroque inspiration was recognized in the title of a major exhibition of his work, “The Baroque World of Fernando Botero,” which toured museums in North America from 2007 through 2008. The accompanying catalog, published by Yale University Press (2007), is the most extensive study of his life and work to date. Featuring 100 works from the artist’s private collection, the volume provides an informed review of his considerable body of work. Source:  Antique Trader


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