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Archive for February 22, 2011

Émile François Zola – J’Accuse!

Émile François Zola, born in April 2 1840, was a French writer and one of the most important people of the literary school of naturalism and an important contributor to the development of theatrical naturalism. He also became a major figure in the political liberalization of France and in the exoneration of the falsely accused and convicted army officer Alfred Dreyfus. J’Accuse means “I accuse”, and this was exactly what Zola did when he defended Dreyfus who was falsely convicted. On February 23 1898, Zola was imprisoned in France after writing this letter to the French Government.

Zola was born in Paris and his father, François Zola (Francesco Zolla), was an Italian engineer. With his French wife, Émilie Aurélie Aubert, the family moved to Aix-en-Provence in the southeast when Émile was 3 years old. Four years later, in 1847 his father died leaving his mother on a small pension. The family moved back to Paris where also Émile’s childhood friend, a painter named Paul Cézanne joined them. Here Zola started to write in romantic style.

Before his breakthrough as a writer, Zola worked as a clerk in a shipping company, in the sales department for a publisher (Hachette) and would write literary and art reviews for newspapers. According to one story, Zola was sometimes so broke that he ate sparrows that he trapped on his window sill. During his early years, Émile Zola wrote several short stories and essays, four plays and three novels. After his first major novel, Thérèse Raquin (1867), Zola started the long series called Les Rougon Macquart, about a family under the Second Empire.

Dreyfus affair

Although Zola and Cézanne were friends from childhood and in youth, they broke in later life over Zola’s fictionalized depiction of Cézanne and the Bohemian life of painters in his novel L’Œuvre (The Masterpiece, 1886). Then from 1877 onwards with the publication of l’Assommoir, Émile Zola became a wealthy man. He became a figurehead among the literary bourgeoisie and organized cultural dinners with Guy de Maupassant, Joris-Karl Huysmans and other writers at his luxurious villa in Medan near Paris after 1880.

With L’Assommoir (1877, Drunkard), a depiction of alcoholism, Zola became the best-known writer in France, who attracted crowds imitators and disciples, to his great annoyance: “I want to shout out from the housetops that I am not a chef d’ecole, and that I don’t want any disciples,” Zola once said. His personal appearance – once somebody said that he had the head of a philosopher and the body of an athlete.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. When the French intelligence found information about someone giving the German embassy military secrets, anti-Semitism seems to have caused senior officers to suspect Dreyfus, though there was no direct evidence of any wrongdoing. Dreyfus was court-martialled, convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

Lt. Col. Georges Picquart, though, came across evidence that implicated another officer, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, and informed his superiors. Rather than move to clear Dreyfus, the decision was made to protect Esterhazy and ensure the original verdict was not overturned. Major Hubert-Joseph Henry forged documents that made it seem that Dreyfus was guilty and then had Picquart assigned duty in Africa. Before leaving, Picquart told some of Dreyfus’s supporters what he knew. Soon Senator August Scheurer-Kestner took up the case and announced in the Senate that Dreyfus was innocent and accused Esterhazy. The right-wing government refused new evidence to be allowed and Esterhazy was tried and acquitted. Picquart was then sentenced to 60 days in prison.

Émile Zola risked his career and even his life on January 13th 1898, when his “J’accuse“, was published on the front page of the Paris daily, L’Aurore. The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to President, Félix Faure. Émile Zola’s “J’Accuse” accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and anti-Semitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church, and the more liberal commercial society. For this he also wrote and said: Dreyfus is innocent. I swear it! I stake my life on it and my honour! At this solemn moment, in the presence of this tribunal which is the representative of human justice, before you, gentle. men, who are the very incarnation of the country, before the whole of France, before the whole world, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. By my forty years of work, by the authority that this toil may have given me, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. By all I have now, by the name I have made for myself, by my works which have helped for the expansion of French literature, I swear that Dreyfus is innocent. May all that melt away, may my works perish if Dreyfus be not innocent! He is innocent. All seems against me — the two Chambers, the civil authority, the most widely-circulated journals, the public opinion which they have poisoned.”

For this, Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honour. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England. Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the government fall. The government offered Dreyfus a pardon, which he could accept and go free and so effectively admit that he was guilty, or face a re-trial in which he was sure to be convicted again. Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Emile Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” In 1906, Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The 1898 article by Émile Zola is widely marked in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the state.

The death of Zola

Zola died at the age of 62 of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a stopped chimney while sleeping in September 29th 1902. His enemies were blamed because of previous attempts on his life, but nothing could be proven. Decades later, a Parisian roofer claimed on his deathbed to have closed the chimney for political reasons. Addresses of sympathy arrived from all parts of France; for an entire week the vestibule of his house was crowded with notable writers, scientists, artist and politicians, who came to inscribe their names in the registers. On the other hand, Zola’s enemies used the opportunity to celebrate in malicious glee. Zola was in the end buried in the Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris, but on 4 June 1908, almost six years after his death, his remains were moved to the Panthéon, where he shares a crypt with Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. At Zola’s funeral Anatole France declared, “He was a moment of the human conscience.”

What was special about Zola is that he did not believe in the possibility of individual freedom, but emphasized that “events arise fatally, implacably, and men, either with or against their wills, are involved in them. Such is the absolute law of human progress.”

I have for me only an ideal of truth and justice. But I am quite calm; I shall conquer. I was determined that my country should not remain the victim of lies and injustice. I may be condemned here. The day will come when France will thank me for having helped to save her honour.” Émile François Zola

Musa Qala – Centre of Afghan Opium Trade

The district is located to the North-East of Lashkar Gah district some 130 Km (three and half-hours drive) away. To the West is New zed district, to the East is Zamindawar district, in North is Baghran district and in South is Sangin district. According to the shura the district is divided into 5 clusters (Landi Nawa, Sharega, Kunjeck Nawa, Khuja and Nedaam Nawa). The district has a total of 220 villages (20 large, 200 small villages). Musa Qala River flows into the district from its Northwest. Kanjeck Nawa is the main village and also the seat of the government departments.  Temperature reaches 30C in summer and winters are very chilly.

PROVINCE: Helmand  Geo-Code  23, DISTRICT: Musa Qala  Geo-Code  2304, Population in 1990: Setlled: 45,905, Refugees in Pakistan: 9,680, Refugees in Iran: 6,200

Ethnical Data: 100% Pashtuns (Alizai Tribe which is a section within Group of Pashtun tribes are in good majority & have strong hold in the region).

It is the hub of Afghan Opium trade in Helmand Province which a major opium producing state of Afghanistan. Being the economic backbone of Taliban & the major centre of the related activity it has always remained on frontlines with the NATO forces & Taliban militia, In 2007 the town was the epicentre of the famous & most fierced battles fought by ISAf & Afghan National Army popularly known as the battle of Musa Qala code named operation Sankepit by US Marines. It was one of the large scale war operation faught with Taliban Militia till now.  It was also the first battle where Afghan National Army was directly involved & had fought after its formation since the fall of Taliban regime. The infrastructure is in shembles & hardly any facilities are in place for the local population.

Majority of the houses are made of mud, with domed roofs, surrounded by mud walls & rest have wooden roofs. No Sanitation & Drainage system is in place. Though the area has sufficient water resources but the Water potability is a major issue. Though wells & hand pumps are being installed & contructed by few NGOs’ working there but the situation is still not normal.

The condition of Farmlands is very poor. After the prolonged drought the soil fertility has been deteoriated. Now only 30% is cultivable where before drought it was 70%. Due the shortage of irrigated water, fertilizers, seeds the agriculture is hard to revive to a booming stage. The major crops whih can be grown & supported are Wheat, Maize, Barley & Tobacco.

Even after the US Invasion & ouster of Taliban the situation is not so different. Afghans specially needs to uderstand their rights & international community have to see the actual development being done for the welfare of the local people & where the funds are being utilised. Since its been already a long suffering of the peopl of Afghanistan. And now they cannot afford to waste their blood for no good receiving little for their own betterment. Government has to have develop a policy framework where the community can be supported on a greater scale & results can be seen in minimal time period.

World News Headlines of February 22

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Egypt requests freeze on Mubarak assets abroad

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Five killed in Morocco unrest

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American Held in Pakistan Shootings Worked With the C.I.A.

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Suicide bomber kills 30 as Afghan violence spreads

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed at least 30 people in a government office in northern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said, with violence spiralling across the country even before an expected spring offensive. Afghan and NATO-led forces were also investigating two serious incidents involving civilian casualties, the latest…

Congo Colonel Gets 20 Years After Rape Trial

The Associated Press By MICHELLE FAUL Associated Press BARAKA, Congo February 21, 2011 (AP) A Congolese soldier stands guard outside a military tribunal in the town of Baraka, Democratic… A Congolese soldier stands guard outside a military tribunal in the town of Baraka, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011. Eleven…

MI5 had ‘no inkling’ of 7/7 suicide bombings, inquests told

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Sudan’s Bashir not standing for re-election: party

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir will not stand at the next election as part of a package of reforms aimed at democratizing the country, a senior official of the ruling party said on Monday. Bashir took power in a bloodless coup in 1989. In April 2010 he won presidential elections which many…

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Important Events on February 22

February 22: Clean Monday/Start of Great Lent (Julian calendar, 2011); Independence Day in Saint Lucia (1979); Feast of Cathedra Petri (Catholicism)

The battleship  Connecticut running trials; the photographer's boat is moments away from  being swamped by the bow wave emanating from the speeding battleship

  • 1744 – War of the Austrian Succession: British ships began attacking the Spanish rear of a Franco-Spanish combined fleet in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast near Toulon, France.
  • 1909 – The sixteen United States Navy battleships of the Great White Fleet, led by Connecticut (pictured), completed a circumnavigation of the globe.
  • 1980 – At the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, the United States ice hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in an unlikely victory that became known as the Miracle on Ice.
  • 1997 – Scientists at the Roslin Institute in Scotland announced the birth of a cloned sheep named Dolly, the first mammal to have been successfully cloned from an adult cell, seven months after the fact.
  • 2002 – Jonas Savimbi, leader of the Angolan anti-Communist rebel and political party UNITA, was killed in a battle with Angolan government troops.

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