Anita Pratap (for Info only, not official)

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Anita Pratap

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    ...If you thought this occurred in an impoverished Indian village, you couldn’t be further away.This happened in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, once among the richest countries in South America, now in the throes of an economic meltdown.With people running out of money and stores emptying of food, starving citizens turned to the 400 varieties of mango trees lining the city’s streets to satiate hunger.They kill cats, dogs, pigeons and pets for food, scavenge dustbins for leftovers.The zoo’s beautiful black stallion was butchered for meat.People wait in long lines for hours in the tropical heat to buy rationed food and necessities, like toothpaste and soap.They fight, even attack, to retain their place in the queue.When the heavily guarded food truck fails to arrive, enraged people have looted the last few items in empty-shelved supermarkets.Shortages are worse in the villages.Homicide rates have risen alarmingly, with people murdering to steal medicines and mobile phones. ...

    The Week on Oct. 2, 2016, midnight

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    ...Is he savvy, sinister or silly?Supporters see him as confident and charismatic, opponents regard him reckless and dangerous.Trump has wrecked plans, predictions and prospects of everybody and everything—including, and especially, his Republican Party.His volte-faces, his abrasive and divisive taunts, not only torment Hillary Clinton’s supporters, but worry Republican insiders and seniors, who echo the group of disapproving nuns: “He is not an asset to the party.” Evidently, Americans, like the British who voted for Brexit, are hostile to the establishment that stands accused of rigging politics, economics and finance in favour of the ruling elite.This explains the phenomenal rise of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the lack of trust in Hillary Clinton who is seen as an establishment mascot.But the behaviour of a segment of Americans is baffling. ...

    The Week on Sept. 18, 2016, midnight

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    ...Leading economists failed to predict the 2008 global financial crisis, political pundits couldn’t predict the Aam Aadmi Party's Delhi landslide, Donald Trump’s rise or Brexit, and football specialists believed France would defeat Portugal in the 2016 Euro Cup.While seismologists failed, common toads were able to predict the 2009 Italian earthquake by fleeing their habitats.Philip Tetlock, co-author of the bestseller Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, says the average “expert is roughly as accurate as a dart-throwing chimpanzee".When even our experts get it wrong, how can we humans claim to be superior?Research suggests they get it wrong because they are experts.After years of gaining expertise in their narrow, chosen field, they unconsciously develop cognitive biases.In The Paradox of Human Expertise: Why Experts Can Get It Wrong, University College of London’s Itiel Dror says experts develop “tunnel vision that leads them to miss or ignore important information”.Focus creates blind spots in experts. ...

    The Week on Aug. 14, 2016, midnight

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    ...Not this time.It began with mighty Brexit replacing the over-sized cucumber, but brutal events were to follow right across to Turkey, the bridge between east and west.The failed military coup and its aftermath heralds a dangerous new era for strategically located Turkey.Battle tanks in Istanbul snatched the headlines from the massacre of holiday revellers by a truck driver in the beautiful city of Nice in terrorism-wracked France.But then both truck and tanks were overtaken by the news of a black man assassinating three police officers—a terrifying display of racial violence in the US—yet again.These three events are not connected in any way.But like Britain’s Brexit vote, they all symbolise a common disturbing phenomenon in these countries—indeed in much of the world today: deeply polarised societies.Divisions have always existed.But recent trends of clerics and politicians aggravating divisions, scare-mongering, making hate speeches and drawing battlegrounds between “us versus them” have inflamed minds. ...

    The Week on July 31, 2016, midnight