The 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad

The Independent.

Voice of Russia – articles commemorating Stalingrad.

To mark the occasion the city will be called Stalingrad on military holidays.

“Stalin Buses”

The Battle reenacted.

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : No sweetening this bitter pill

Unless the government regulates the growth of the private sector and makes it accountable, the worn-down public health infrastructure cannot be revitalised

The Hindu : Opinion / Lead : No sweetening this bitter pill.

India’s “cleanest and poorest” (and best) Chief Minister

When Manik Sarkar filed his nomination this year for election from Dhanpur constituency in Tripura, he had Rs.1080 cash in hand and his bank balance was Rs.9720. He had inherited a tin-shed home of 432 sq. ft from his deceased mother Anjali Sarkar; its market value was Rs. 2,20,000.

The PTI report appears in different national newspapers: see, for instance,



Tripura has also, with justice, been described as India’s “best-governed State.” See Prakash Karat’s characterisation here:

or here

William Z. Foster’s ‘History of the Communist Party of the United States’, 1952, valuable online resource

Here, accessible as a free online resource, is William Z. Foster’s History of the Communist Party of the United States, New York (1952: International Publishers, New York). It has 38 chapters plus an Appendix, Index & Partial Bibliography. Published in 1952, it covers a pre-history beginning with the American Revolution and early American class struggles and a little-known but stirring history coming up to the mid-twentieth century.

Note: All chapters are available at this link. Click to the next chapter at the link provided at the end of each chapter (until you come to the Appendix, Index & Partial Bibliography).

Courtesy: For a People’s Democracy (monthly bulletin):


‘In the Dairy Case, Ripe Prose’, NYT

Cheese-mongers as creative writers? Yes, ‘some of the most amusing and captivating writing’ in New York is being produced ‘in the service of cheese’:

Historical fiction: recommendations from Hilary Mantel

Advice from the two-time Booker Prize winner, taken from a masterclass organized by the Royal Society in 2010:

‘Battles of the Budget’, Paul Krugman, NYT

‘In a tactical sense the fiscal cliff ended in a modest victory for the White House’ — but ‘progressives’ must beware of what is to come.

‘The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket’, Adam Green in The New Yorker

In magic circles, Robbins is regarded as a kind of legend. Psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and the military study his methods for what they reveal about the nature of human attention.

‘America’s Retreat from the Death Penalty’, NYT

There’s absolutely no rational or evidence-backed justification for retaining capital punishment. Here’s a US update:

‘The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln’, historian Eric Foner in NYT

Abraham Lincoln’s original solution for ending slavery, which be believed to be wrong, was far from radical and badly compromised. ‘Emancipation would be undertaken by state governments, with national financing. It would be gradual, owners would receive monetary compensation and emancipated slaves would be encouraged to find a homeland outside the United States — this last idea known as “colonization.”’ But the slave holders were defiant. Lincoln also took his plan to black Americans, saying slavery was ‘the greatest wrong inflicted on any people’ but qualifying this with the prescription that because of racism, blacks would never achieve equality in America and ‘it is better for us both, therefore, to be separated’. He even seemed to hold black Americans accountable for the Civil War. ‘He had long seen blacks as an alien people who had been unjustly uprooted from their homeland and were entitled to freedom, but were not an intrinsic part of American society. During his Senate campaign in Illinois, in 1858, he had insisted that blacks should enjoy the same natural rights as whites (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness), but he opposed granting them legal equality or the right to vote.’ But all this was to change profoundly and ‘the hallmark of Lincoln’s greatness was his combination of bedrock principle with open-mindedness and capacity for growth’. The Emancipation Proclamation, which he signed on January 1, 1863, ’embodied a double emancipation: for the slaves, since it ensured that if the Union emerged victorious, slavery would perish, and for Lincoln himself, for whom it marked the abandonment of his previous assumptions about how to abolish slavery and the role blacks would play in post-emancipation American life’. Read this nuanced critical assessment in the New York Times by Eric Foner, professor of history at Columbia University and author of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (2011: W.W. Norton & Company, New York). For those who wish to explore this subject further, Richard Hofstadter’s essay, ‘Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth’ in The American Political Tradition And The Men Who Made It (1948, 1989: Vintage Books Edition, Random House, New York) provides an interesting perspective.

‘Let’s give up on the [US] Constitution’ –

‘As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?’