How a Christian Family Stood Up to Tyranny

first_imgWhen the Berlin wall fell 20 years ago, Dorothee Hubner first dared to think, “Are we allowed to leave and finally be free?”  Her story and that of her parents Gerhard and Gertraude, scientists trapped in East Germany, was told by Andrew Curry, a freelance writer, in Science.1  Dorothee was 23 years old in 1989.  Her parents, also biochemists, “had spent decades struggling to do research in East Germany without compromising their personal ideals with allegiance to the ruling Communist Party.”    By not pledging allegiance to the ruling Communist Party, the Hubners faced a life of difficulty.  “Everything from university admissions to teaching positions depended on allegiance to the Communist Party,” Curry wrote:It was a difficult offer to refuse.  In exchange for signing a loyalty oath and an agreement to report back to the Stasi on friends and colleagues, you could attend international conferences and have your career fast-tracked, Gunter Fischer [a colleague of the Hubners] says.  “If you said no, you’d have no higher-ranking position or travel, and you might lose your job,” he notes.  The pressure went beyond career and travel to petty indignities.  Party members were given the best lab times.  Non�party members could only use equipment between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., Gerhard recalls.    Committed Christians, the H�bners refused to give in; they surrounded themselves with like-minded friends and colleagues.  “My parents were never hiding what they were thinking about the whole system,” Dorothee remembers.  “We knew scientists who were honest and didn’t join the party and sell their soul just to have advantages.”In fact, the Hubners found out from Stasi records that at the time the wall fell, the Party was planning to force Fischer and the Hubners out of their jobs.  It was the last indignity for a life of nonconformism.  They had to be very careful.  “You couldn’t speak your mind,” Gerhard said.  “There was always the fear that you could say something that could have harmed your spouse or kids by accident.”  It was difficult for them to get their three children into the university.  Ideology infected everything: “Before 1989, science in the German Democratic Republic, like almost everything else, was political.” Curry said.  “Everything from university admissions to teaching positions depended on allegiance to the Communist Party.”  The Stasi were constantly pressuring scientists and citizens to work for them and spy on their families and neighbors.  By remaining faithful to their principles, the Hubners placed themselves at a severe disadvantage.     Curry’s article mentions other evils behind the Iron Curtain: the pressure on Olympic athletes to dope their bodies, the discrimination against women, the collaboration of many top scientists with the regime, and the constant poor economy: “Like most of the Communist bloc, East Germany was in a perpetual state of financial crisis.”  Dorothee readily acknowledges that the fall of communism “changed everything.”  Now she lives in the United States and enjoys her freedom to work at top labs with state of the art equipment.  Discovering what had gone on in East German labs, though, was like opening a rotten egg: “The Stasi archives were opened in 1991, revealing that some of the country’s top scientists had been collaborators and forcing them out of universities,” Curry wrote.  “In the social sciences, entire institutes were simply closed, their scholarship too tainted by ideology to salvage.”    Gerhard’s integrity and hard work paid off.  “And after decades of isolation, an entire generation of scientists suddenly had to compete for jobs with West Germans and others,” Curry wrote.  “Gerhard found himself the lone East German in the running for a position as the chair of his department, up against more than 30 West Germans—he won.”  And his friend Gunter Fischer is now at the Martin Luther University at Halle-Wittenberg.1.  Andrew Curry, “Twenty Years After the Wall: Profile: Hubner Family: Big Dreams Come True,” Science, 6 November 2009: Vol. 326. no. 5954, pp. 792-793, DOI: 10.1126/science.326_792.This inspiring story with a happy ending of character enduring hardship is provided as an antidote to the year of Darwin.  What historical scientist inspired the communist worldview?  What historical worldview provided the courage to stand for freedom of conscience?  Which worldview tried to suppress the other one?  There are many lessons here.  Dig them out.(Visited 19 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

South African web use surges

first_imgThe report – “South Africa’s Exploding Internet” – states that the number of South African internet browsers increased by 121% in the last two years, from 1.8-million in May 2005 to 3.8-million in May 2007.Over the same period, the number of South African web page “views” grew by 129%, from 91-million to 207-million.Affordable internet connectivity has been boosted recently, with state-owned telecoms company Telkom offering ADSL and broadband, cellular operators like Vodacom and MTN offering 3G and HSDPA access, and other companies like Sentech and iBurst offering wireless broadband.South Africa’s second fixed-line network operator, Neotel, is expected to offer similar services once it becomes fully operational.“In terms of the number of people using the internet, the most developed markets in the Northern Hemisphere have seen a plateauing of growth over the last year or so,” says Nielsen/NetRatings analyst Alex Burmaster.“In contrast, South Africa has seen phenomenal expansion – growing by around 50% in each of the last two years.“This type of growth is, of course, something we have seen across all markets as the internet has taken hold and moves away from being a niche activity to a very mainstream form of media and an integral part of life.”African language potentialThe majority of South Africa’s internet population speaks English, and the vast majority of South African online content is English.However, while the South African internet is experiencing huge growth in this area, Burmaster believes the opportunity for future “hyper-audience” growth lies in targeting African language speakers.English is generally understood across South Africa, being the language of business, politics and the media, and the country’s lingua franca. But it only ranks joint fifth out of 11 as a home language.According to the 2001 census, isiZulu is the mother tongue of 23.8% of South Africa’s population, followed by isiXhosa at 17.6%, Afrikaans at 13.3%, Sepedi at 9.4%, and English and Setswana each at 8.2%.Nielsen/NetRatings’ research report made the following findings on the demographics of South African internet surfers:SA’s internet population is split 54% male (2.15-million people), 45% female (1.79-million people)At 1.42-million people, South Africa’s 25- to 34-year-olds are the most dominant age group, accounting for 36% of the country’s online population – closely followed by 35- to 49-year-olds (1.37 -million: 35%).English is the dominant language – being the home language of around 2.10-million online South Africans (52% of SA’s internet population). Afrikaans follows at 1.11-million (28% of SA’s internet population).Burmaster says South Africa’s internet population is more concentrated around 25- to 49-year-olds than is the case in other English-speaking internet countries.“In South Africa this group makes up around 70% of the internet population, compared to less than 50% in the UK, around 45% in Australia and 40% in the US,” he said.last_img read more

Gift of the Givers appeals for Beaufort West water help

first_imgSouth African relief aid organisation the Gift of the Givers has appealed to all South Africans to help combat the drought in the Western Cape, particularly in the town of Beaufort West, where the water supply is dire.The Gift of the Givers is helping to avert the water crisis in Beaufort West and the surrounding region, through water management projects as well as donations of animal feed and water. (Image: Gift of the Givers website)CD AndersonThe group has asked that South Africans donate sealed bottled water to be sent to Beaufort West, in the Karoo. The town’s dam, its only water supply, has run dry and residents are relying solely on borehole water and treated sewage water.In addition to donations from the public, the Gift of the Givers is working with hydrologists to source much-needed groundwater. The team is led by hydrologist Dr Gideon Groenewald.1.2 Million Litres per day for Beaufort West. #DroughtSA— Gift of the Givers (@GiftoftheGivers) November 28, 2017Givers chairman Imtiaz Sooliman said at the beginning of November 2017 that while the project to find groundwater was progressing well, the town needed much more to tackle the crisis. “We did find water. Right now, we have 420,000 litres per day. That borehole should be fully functional today. We are looking at more boreholes for at least 1 million litres of water a day, so that the whole town can be fed.”Today, @GiftoftheGivers is delighted to announce that we can safely pump out 1.2 million litres a day without stressing the new aquifers we have drilled into. #DroughtSA— Gift of the Givers (@GiftoftheGivers) November 28, 2017After 28 days of work on the project, the Givers announced on 28 November that 1.2 million litres a day was now being safely pumped into the town’s water reservoirs. It added: “We still pray for… rains to fill the various dams in the region and the underground water reserves, simultaneously requesting all South Africans to conserve this scarce resource and use it sparingly and efficiently.”The Gift of the Givers is also intervening in the nearby farming town of Vredendal, with relief deliveries of animal fodder and food and water for almost 3,000 farm workers.We open in prayer…it’s not about Black & White or them & us or Christian & Muslim, it’s about humanity, acknowledging our diversity, holding hands together because we are ALL South African. #DroughtSA— Gift of the Givers (@GiftoftheGivers) November 16, 2017A visit to Sutherland with 2 trucks of fodder & a 3rd bringing cotton. #DroughtSA details here:— Gift of the Givers (@GiftoftheGivers) November 16, 2017Both the Givers and the Beaufort West municipality have appealed to travellers passing through the region in December to donate what they can to help relieve the crisis.In addition, the relief organisation is calling on all South Africans, but especially big business, to get involved in the ongoing intervention project. It particularly called on companies specialising in water management and operations, in order to source and deliver groundwater. It also needs transport companies to give time and transport to deliver water donations to the area.“We are appealing to the broader South African society to help the most vulnerable communities,” Gift of the Givers co-ordinator Farouk Jogiat said yesterday.In Gauteng, people can deliver water donations to the corner of 25 Arterial Road and 26 Kloof Road, Bedfordview. Other drop-off sites in Gauteng and around the rest of the country will be published on social media once they have been confirmed.In the meantime, financial donations and other contributions can be made through the project co-ordinators, Farouk Jogiat on 082 351 7864 and Mohammed Yehia Dicko on 084 244 7744.For information about and news on the project’s progress in the Western Cape, contact the Gift of the Givers Foundation toll free number 0800 786 777 or visit its website here.“[Donations] will make an immense difference to the quality of life of those most stricken and affected by the devastating drought,” Jogiat concluded.Source: EWN, Gift of the Givers websiteWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Helping the Homeless in Seattle

first_imgIn 2011, Seattle architect Rex Hohlbein began taking pictures of people living on the street and posting the photographs on a Facebook page. He was trying to capture the stories behind the stereotypes, and in a few years the project had blossomed into a non-profit advocacy group called Facing Homelessness. Its motto was “Just Say Hello.” Hohlbein’s goal was to break down the negative stereotypes that divided homeless people from everyone else. In time, his architectural practice became a kind of hangout where people could stop in, have a cup of coffee, use the bathroom, and pass the time of day. That turned out to be just a start. A few years later, Hohlbein’s daughter, Jenn LaFreniere, moved back to town after earning her master’s degree in architecture. The two began meeting every Friday morning for coffee to talk about what they could do as architects to ease a homelessness problem that had reached crisis proportions.RELATED ARTICLESBuilding Community to End HomelessnessTiny Houses Join the Building CodeRethinking the Small House Sweet SpotBoston Mulls a New Template for Urban HousingLittle Houses Are a Big Step for Dallas Homeless And from those conversations sprang the BLOCK Project, a grassroots effort to pair someone in need of a place to live with a homeowner willing to give up part of their backyard for a 125-square-foot self-contained house. The first of those houses — designed by Hohlbein and LaFreniere and their new firm BLOCK Architects — was finished last October. Three others are either complete or in the works. The $30,000 houses are built with donated labor and many donated materials and funded entirely by contributions from the community, LaFreniere said in a telephone call. The average donation is less than $15. According to the project’s website, enough money has been donated to build 13 houses. More than 100 city homeowners have volunteered to have one of the houses placed in their yards. “We ultimately think of the BLOCK Project as a community building project where neighbors come together to help those in need,” she said. Their hope is that the tiny houses eventually will be used to help not just the homeless but also for those with mental health issues, refugees, and the elderly. The program’s inaugural hosts are Kim Sherman and her partner Dan. Their new backyard tenant is 76-year-old Robert, who spent a decade living in emergency shelters and on the street prior to his move. Sherman describes their decision to become involved in the program, and how it’s worked out to date, in this guest blog. It originally appeared at Trim Tab, a blog published by the International Living Future Institute. Building a solid administrative foundation The houses are owned by the BLOCK Project, not the homeowners who host them, and are considered detached accessory dwellings under the city’s municipal code, according to the FAQ section of the project’s website. Single-family lots of at least 4,000 square feet can legally accommodate an accessory dwelling of up to 800 square feet. (See the photo gallery at the top of this column for two drawings that offer more detail about how the houses are built.) The program has taken pains to create a legal framework that protects both residents and homeowners. Social service agencies help screen prospective residents, who must agree to follow a code of conduct. Residents currently do not pay rent. The houses are built so they can be taken apart and moved, as might be the case should a homeowner decide to move. The BLOCK Project is hoping the house design will meet the rigorous certification requirements of the Living Building Challenge. “We know that BLOCK homes are not going to be a perfect fit for everyone,” LaFreniere said. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on the match-making process with the resident and the host family. We want that to be more of a friendship than a legal, contractual relationship.” The organization has been careful to think through some of the scenarios that might crop up. “We have spent a lot of time creating a solid foundation for this project and trying to think through a lot of stuff,” LaFreniere said. “We have more lawyers on this project than architects.” It’s early going for the program, but interest is picking up in other cities where homelessness is proving to be an increasingly difficult problem. The project has had inquiries from several major cities, LaFreniere said, including San Jose; Portland, Oregon; San Diego; and Boston. “The BLOCK Project is a community building project,” the website says. “We believe that as a city and a society we end homelessness when every member of the community is engaged in the solution … The BLOCK Home is just one component of what is needed for someone to transition out of homelessness. In order to thrive, we all need community and access to resources and the density of a metropolitan area makes both of these things possible.”last_img read more

Govt. will seek Parliament nod for triple talaq Bill, says Narendra Modi

first_imgDays after the promulgation of the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights of Marriage) Ordinance, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced here on Saturday that the NDA government would soon get the triple talaq Bill approved by Parliament.“Three days ago, the Centre took a decision that was needed for years. The decision was on triple talaq. Nobody was ready to mention it and talk about the problem fearing loss of votes,” Mr. Modi said at a public meeting.“When our government passed the triple talaq Bill in the Lok Sabha, attempts were made to stall it in Rajya Sabha. But now we are committed to saving our Muslim sisters and daughters from the ill practice. We have made the practice illegal by bringing in a new ordinance,” he said.“It will be our constant endeavour to get the nod of Parliament on it”.Opposition’s standWhile the BJP has hailed the ordinance as a step towards empowering women, the Congress-led Opposition has slammed the government saying it was politicising the issue.The PM was on a day’s visit to Odisha to inaugurate a number of projects, including the Veer Surendra Sai Airport at Jharsuguda, the Garjanbahal open cast mines project and the Jharsuguda-Sardega railway line of the MCL in Sundargarh district, and coal production and transportation from the Dulanga coal mine of the NTPC in Sundargarh.He laid the foundation stone for a coal gasification-based fertiliser plant at Talcher Fertilizers Ltd. here. Governor Ganeshi Lal, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu, Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram were present at the inauguration of the airport at Jharsuguda.“Since Independence, around 450 airports have been built. In the past one year, 950 new airports have been proposed. The Veer Surendra Sai Airport is situated in the middle of Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Raipur. It has huge potential for developing into a busy commercial airport,” Mr. Modi said.Chief Minister Patnaik requested the Centre to consider introduction of commercial flights in addition to the UDAN flights.“To begin with, one of the Air India flights from Bhubaneswar to Delhi may be routed through Jharsuguda,” he said.last_img read more

Photo Advisory First, Photos released upto 4 p.m.

first_imgNew Delhi: 16 June 2017 (PTI) EDITORS: Photos with Captions released today. To view thumbnails of these Photographs, visit PTI website at..http.// NATIONAL New Delhi: Sushma Swaraj with Dongchea Chung special envoy of newly elected South Korean President (A) New Delhi: Rajnath and Naidu after meeting Sonia Gandhi (B) New Delhi: Kharge arrives at 10 Janpath to meet Sonia (B) Patna: Nitish with Tejashwi Yadav at a function in Patna (A) Ranchi: Lalu appears before CBI court in Ranchi (B) Shillong: Assam Governor at a felicitation ceremony in Shillong (B) NewDelhi: Coaching centres for various competitive exams (A+B) New Delhi: CBI team at Manish Sisodias residence (B+A) New Delhi: Ashok Leyland trucks expo (B) Mumbai: 1993 Mumbai blasts case, (B+A) BengALURU: Doctors and healthcare professionals protest (A) INTERNATIONAL London : President of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams and Michelle ONeil speak to the press following a meeting with Britains PM (A) Paris : French President visits the Vivatech, a gadgets show in Paris (A) London : The scorched facade of the Grenfell Tower in London (B) Penang: T. Nhaveen shows a picture with the teenager (B) Macca: The piece depicts the cube-shaped Kaaba in the middle of a circuit board. (A) Kajang : Jagjit Signh, lawyer for North Korea speaks to media after a pre-trial procedure for the the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, (B) New York: 48th Annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Gala (B) Christiana: Arrest of the two Georgia fugitives Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose in Christiana (B) Miami: A conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America (A) Barcelona: 24th Advanced Music and Multimedia Art International Sonar Festival (A) Tehran : Iranian Shiite Muslims pray during the holy fasting month of Ramadan (A) Buenos Aires: Demonstration after the government cut some disability payments in Buenos Aires (A) Fengxian: An explosion outside a kindergarten into a hospital in Fengxian County (B) Thessaloniki : Israeli PM speaks at the Monastirioton synagogue in Thessaloniki, (A) Washington: President Donald Trump and first lady pose with members of the Supreme Court (A) London: The annual Beating Retreat which features over 750 soldiers, on Horse Guards Parade, London (A) SPORTS Erin: U.S. Open golf tournament (B) PTI PHOTO VNA DL DLadvertisementlast_img read more