Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 8th, 2015

Lebanese women demand right to pass on nationality to children

Many times in the last decade, women demonstrated and demanded equal civil rights with married men.

BEIRUT: Dozens of people protested in Downtown Beirut Wednesday against Parliament’s failure to draft a bill that would allow women to pass on their nationality to their children.

A crowd of mostly women from the “My nationality is mine and my family’s right” campaign and other activists gathered in Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square to demand equality with men

Karima Shebbo, the coordinator of the campaign, said the protest came in response to the inclusion of the Lebanese expatriate law in Parliament’s agenda for legislative sessions set for Nov. 12 and 13.

That draft law, which is demanded by Christian parties, would allow people of Lebanese ancestry on their father’s side who live outside the country to receive Lebanese citizenship

Shebbo expressed regret that politicians would agree to discuss that law but not a law that “affects the lives of all Lebanese women.”

“We call on Parliament to place our demands on the top of its agenda, and amend the Lebanese nationality law so that women and men have equal rights in this matter,” Shebbo said.

Eqbal Doghan, head of the Working Women’s League, demanded that lawmakers justify extending their own mandates while ignoring calls made by activists for more than 30 years for the equal citizenship law.

Activist Maryam Ghazal also lashed out at politicians.

“You’ve used sectarianism as an excuse to neglect children (with non-Lebanese fathers)… Where is justice in this?” she asked.

“Who has more of a right to nationality, a child who was born and raised in Lebanon, or a child who was born and raised outside of Lebanon and has barely any connection to the country?”

Officials argue that women in Lebanon who are married to non-Lebanese men should not be allowed to pass the Lebanese nationality onto their children because that could change the country’s sectarian demographic.

Many Lebanese women are married to Palestinians, who under the Lebanese Constitution are not allowed to obtain Lebanese citizenship.

Note: The saying goes: (Loubnan ma bye7mol) Lebanon cannot shoulder the additional burden of thousands of (Not rich) Palestinians to marry Lebanese girls just to obtain citizenship to their children.

And the same goes for Syrians. My aunt could not give the nationality to her 4 children without hard struggle and connections because the husband was a Syrian who emigrated long time ago to Africa.

‘Zeno effect’? Not Zero effect. Atoms won’t move while you watch

‘Zeno effect’ verified

Ultracold lab

Graduate students Airlia Shaffer, Yogesh Patil and Harry Cheung work in the Ultracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics.

One of the oddest predictions of quantum theory – that a system can’t change while you’re watching it – has been confirmed in an experiment by Cornell physicists. Their work opens the door to a fundamentally new method to control and manipulate the quantum states of atoms and could lead to new kinds of sensors.

The experiments were performed in the Utracold Lab of Mukund Vengalattore, assistant professor of physics, who has established Cornell’s first program to study the physics of materials cooled to temperatures as low as .000000001 degree above absolute zero.

The work is described in the Oct. 2 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters

Graduate students Yogesh Patil and Srivatsan Chakram created and cooled a gas of about a billion Rubidium atoms inside a vacuum chamber and suspended the mass between laser beams.

In that state the atoms arrange in an orderly lattice just as they would in a crystalline solid.

But at such low temperatures the atoms can “tunnel” from place to place in the lattice.

Temperature is a measure of a particle’s motion.

Under extreme cold velocity is almost zero, so there is a lot of flexibility in position; when you observe them, atoms are as likely to be in one place in the lattice as another.

The researchers demonstrated that they were able to suppress quantum tunneling merely by observing the atoms. (Repeated measurements is of the observing nature)

This so-called “Quantum Zeno effect,” named for a Greek philosopher, derives from a proposal in 1977 by E.C. George Sudarshan and Baidyanath Misra at the University of Texas, Austin, who pointed out that the weird nature of quantum measurements allows, in principle, for a quantum system to be “frozen” by repeated measurements.

Previous experiments have demonstrated the Zeno effect with the “spins” of subatomic particles. “This is the first observation of the Quantum Zeno effect by real space measurement of atom in motion,” Vengalattore said.

“Also, due to the high degree of control we’ve been able to demonstrate in our experiments, we can gradually ‘tune’ the manner in which we observe these atoms. Using this tuning, we’ve also been able to demonstrate an effect called ‘emergent classicality’ in this quantum system.”

Quantum effects fade, and atoms begin to behave as expected under classical physics.

The researchers observed the atoms under a microscope by illuminating them with a separate imaging laser. A light microscope can’t see individual atoms, but the imaging laser causes them to fluoresce, and the microscope captured the flashes of light.

When the imaging laser was off, or turned on only dimly, the atoms tunneled freely. But as the imaging beam was made brighter and measurements made more frequently, the tunneling reduced dramatically.

“This gives us an unprecedented tool to control a quantum system, perhaps even atom by atom,” said Patil, lead author of the paper. Atoms in this state are extremely sensitive to outside forces, he noted, so this work could lead to the development of new kinds of sensors.

The experiments were made possible by the group’s invention of a novel imaging technique that made it possible to observe ultracold atoms while leaving them in the same quantum state.

“It took a lot of dedication from these students and it has been amazing to see these experiments be so successful,” Vengalattore said. “We now have the unique ability to control quantum dynamics purely by observation.”

The popular press has drawn a parallel with the “weeping angels” depicted in the “Dr. Who” television series – alien creatures who look like statues and can’t move as long as you’re looking at them. There may be some sense to that.

In the quantum world, the folk wisdom really is true: “A watched pot never boils.”

The research was supported by the Army Research Office, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency under its QuASAR program and the National Science Foundation.

Recent Ph.D. graduate Chakram is now at the University of Chicago.

Why documentary makers look down on TV?

Interview with Kim Longinotto, winner of Grierson Trustee Award

Kim Longinotto tells me several times during our interview that she has “very low self-esteem”, adding that “not being a very confident person” may have helped her 30-year career in documentary filmmaking.

It’s not the usual chitchat you’d expect from someone set to join the likes of Sir David Attenborough, John Pilger and Norma Percy in becoming the recipient of a Grierson Trustee Award for documentary film tonight.

But then Longinotto has spent much of her career stuggling to get her work funded, let alone noticed.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“If people think it’s attention-seeking, weird, misplaced, I don’t care.

Loads of people are abused as children, raped, why should we keep quiet?

That’s what we want, people who speak out, not victims who are not embarrassed, not pathetic.

That is what the media can do.”

Award-winning film maker Kim Longinotto

Even her most recent film, Dreamcatcher, about the world of prostitution and sexual abuse of underage girls in Chicago, proved a tough sell.

Her documentaries cost a modest £200,000 for 10 weeks of filming with minimal crew and swift editing, but when she asked the BBC for money to make Dreamcatcher she was turned down.

“I was honest, and said I will do my best. It was risky. Everything is so insecure, they [the BBC commissioners] need reassurance as much as I do.”

She eventually raised $175,000 from a commercial source and “paid them back almost immediately” when, after its premiere at the Sundance Festival in Utah, it was picked up by US cable network Showtime.

Now the BBC have bought it, for more than she originally asked for and it will have its UK debut in BBC4’s Storyville slot on 9 November.

Longinotto has made more than 20 films, usually featuring inspiring women and girls at their core.

She’s delved into female genital mutilation in Kenya (The Day I Will Never Forget), women standing up to rapists in India (Pink Saris), and the story of Salma, an Indian Muslim woman who smuggled poetry out to the world while locked up by her family for decades.

But unlike many modern documentary makers her presence is rarely felt on screen.

She uses handheld cameras to get up close to ordinary people – disarming them. “I want you to forget me, so there is nothing between you and them, so it looks like a fiction film,” she says. “Everywhere I go, I have never had a film which people didn’t want to be in.”

The approach is evident in Dreamcatcher, which explores its subject through the story of an ex-prostitute, Brenda Myers-Powell, who has rebuilt her life and set up a foundation to help escapees.

“It was the last thing I wanted to make, it’s going to be bleak, where is the hope, the rebelliousness in it?” Longinotto thought, when a producer proposed the idea.

“Then she showed me a clip of Brenda, it was love at first sight.” It has a heartbreaking scene where, one by one, a class of vulnerable teenagers tutored by Brenda talk about being sexually assaulted and raped.

One says she was 9 and unable to protect her four-year-old sister. “I was crying for pride in them. They were absolutely thrilled to have their stories told. I think with a lot of the TV programmes what we get is the negative side … they are taking from people … somehow we are robbing people of their stories. Whereas I feel the opposite.

Those girls had never been listened to. Never been heard. Or have been disbelieved, or told off for telling. Here at last was someone [saying] ‘I’m on your side. You can do it’.”

To get the young women and girls to open up, she had showed them another of her films, Sisters in Law, about two women in Cameroon who stand up to male abuse, and told them about her own experience of being gang-raped in her 20s while she was studying at the National Film & Television School in London.

“It is only in the last few years I’ve been able to say that in front of an audience,” Longinotto says.

“I don’t care, it happens to us all. If people think it’s attention-seeking, weird, misplaced, I don’t care. Loads of people are abused as children, raped, why should we keep quiet? That’s what we want, people who speak out, not victims who are not embarrassed, not pathetic. That is what the media can do.

“I put my camera down, I said [to the women in Dreamcatcher], ‘it’s all right, you have got to let it go, learn to let things go’. We are survivors.”

The assault followed on from a sad start in life, a posh boarding school that sent her to Coventry, a cold family who pretended they were direct descendants of painter Edwin Landseer (her father was an Italian photographer), and a period of sleeping rough.

She was in penury for seven years in the 1980s as she held out to make her sort of documentary, but her work has given her perspective on her own life. “You can’t watch Dreamcatcher and think you had it bad. I didn’t have a couple of kids at the age of 14.”

It was the arrival of Channel 4 that offered her a way into filmmaking via a workshop focused on making films in local communities.

This led to a breakthrough commission, Divorce Iranian Style.

She has never earned enough to buy a home, but says being able to buy “the best bike in the shop” means she is well-off, and “you don’t do this for the money” .

It does, though, take money to get her films made.

She is used to making one film a year but that has dropped now it takes longer to get funding. She has used the BBC’s consultation on its next royal charter to argue the corporation should do more to help get documentaries made.

There should be a fully-funded documentary strand on television,” she says.

“I said fund Storyville properly. They get bloody good films, but they should be able to originate them. Have a budget. And the BBC should not be warring with ITV. They should be more public service. Strictly should not be against X Factor.”

However, she isn’t snooty about popular TV.

“A lot of documentary makers tell me they don’t even have a TV, they look down on TV, only watch cinema films. Telly is my pleasure in life. I am addicted. I can’t imagine not living in England because of the telly. It is that bad.

“There are things that are wonderful, The Naked Choir, Gogglebox, The X Factor, these programmes really enrich our lives, the good ones feed into our culture and make our society more adventurous.” She credits Graham Norton, Grayson Perry and Eddie Izzard for making Britain “a more fun place to live”.

She now teaches at the National Film & Television School, “encouraging students to find how they want to do it, maybe film a little less. It is about very basic things, not art, things like how to create a scene.”

Longinotto says it is “wonderful” to be given the Grierson award, but her main priority is getting exposure for her work.

“It feels like it’s not an award for me, but all the people in the films, these films are worth looking at. And it means more people will watch them.”

Meanwhile she is waiting to hear whether the BBC will fund her next film, set in New York.

Asked whether she is likely to succeed, her self-effacement resurfaces: “Who knows, they could easily say no. I probably messed it up.”




November 2015

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