--> Gill Blog: January 2007

Gill Blog

Monday, January 15, 2007

Martin Luther King, Jr. & Gandhi

Mohandas K. Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 into a family of moderate wealth in western India. Trained as a lawyer, he would go on to demonstrate against racism in South Africa and colonial rule in India, using a technique of satyagraha, or nonviolent resistance. A testament to the revolutionary power of nonviolence, Gandhi directly influenced Martin Luther King, Jr., who argued that "the Gandhian philosophy of nonviolence is the only logical and moral approach to the solution of the race problem in the United States."

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While in prison, Gandhi began a fast to protest the policy of separate electorates for untouchables—those who occupied India's lowest caste—within India's new constitution. The fast elicited public attention, helped to refocus attention on the problem of untouchability, and resulted in a major campaign. A resolution was passed by India's Constituent Assembly in 1947 making the practice of untouchability illegal. It was a historic decision that the New York Times compared with the abolition of slavery.

Despite Gandhi's urgings, on 15 August 1947, in the midst of violence and rioting, Britain transferred power to a partitioned India, creating the two independent states of India and Pakistan. Gandhi was dejected by the sacrifice of unity in India's independence, as he wrote, "it would be on the question of Hindu-Moslem unity that my Ahimsa [nonviolence] would be put to its severest test."

On 30 January 1948, Gandhi was assassinated while entering a prayer meeting in New Delhi. The man who demonstrated to the world the revolutionary power of nonviolence to counter racism in South Africa, colonial rule in India, and the economic exploitation of workers and peasants was gone; but Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence would go on to directly influence Martin Luther King, Jr. and the American civil rights movement, as well as many other nonviolent struggles throughout the world.

Martin Luther King, Jr. walking up to the Samadhi (cremation site) of Mahatma Gandhi, 1959. Royal Studio.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Homeland Security Report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than five years after the September 11 attacks, only four big U.S. cities have emergency communications allowing police, fire and medical officials to coordinate fully during a crisis, a federal report said.

The Department of Homeland Security report, due to be released officially on Wednesday, listed Washington, D.C.; San Diego, California; the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area of Minnesota; and Columbus, Ohio, as the major urban areas that achieved "most advanced" status.

The study awarded the same status to the smaller metropolitan areas of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Laramie, Wyoming.

Portions of the report obtained by Reuters said federal officials surveyed the emergency communications systems of 75 urban and metropolitan areas.

New York City, which was hardest hit by the 2001 attacks that killed 3,000 people, did not appear among those with the most advanced systems. Neither did Chicago, another city seen as a potential target.

The report ranked Chicago in the early stages of communications development and cited political divisions between the city and surrounding Cook County as the reason.

The inability of police and fire officials to communicate during the September 11 attacks was blamed for the deaths of New York City firefighters despite a police warning when the World Trade Center towers began to collapse.

The September 11 commission, which investigated the attacks, recommended "interoperability" of the communications systems of urban emergency services.

The new Homeland Security report said 75 urban and metropolitan areas have policies governing interoperability. But it said leadership and planning have lagged and emergency services in some areas were still in need of regular training.

Homeland Security awarded most-advanced status to areas that have standard procedures for interoperable communications, proven familiarity with the equipment during emergencies and a strategic plan for meeting further communications goals.