Friday, September 30, 2005

Reuters AlertNet - Global court said ready to indict Uganda rebels

Reuters AlertNet - Global court said ready to indict Uganda rebels: "UNITED NATIONS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court is expected to issue arrest warrants shortly against leaders of a notorious Ugandan rebel force accused of raping and maiming children over two decades, a U.N. official said on Thursday.

Remnants of the Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army recently took refuge in the Congo, and would be disarmed and evicted by force, if necessary, according to William Lacy Swing, head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

'We understand that the International Criminal Court will be issuing international arrest warrants imminently for a number of key LRA leaders and sending these directly to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ugandan governments,' Swing told the U.N. Security Council, according to his written notes, obtained by Reuters.

The LRA, led by a Christian mystic, Joseph Kony, is not on the Security Council's agenda but news that his deputy, Vincent Otti had moved fighters to the Congo, has brought it to the council's attention.

Some diplomats say the warrants could be issued as early as this week or next, and follow sealed indictments to a three-judge pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, Netherlands. The indictments and warrants would be the first by the new global court. "

MSN Money - Financial Times Business News: US rejects UN calls for more troops in Congo

U.S. rejects U.N. call for more troops for Democratic Republic of Congo (from the Financial Times)...
MSN Money - Financial Times Business News: US rejects UN calls for more troops in Congo: "The US has rejected United Nations calls for an additional brigade of peacekeepers for its overstretched mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the central African country gears up for its first multiparty elections in more than 40 years."...

Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, has asked the Security Council for an extra 2,580 troops to quell unrest by Mayi-Mayi militia in the north and centre of the largely lawless, but strategically important, southern province of Katanga. A referendum on a new constitution is due in late November, and already delayed elections are scheduled for next year...

But the US says the UN should instead use troops from neighbouring countries if needed. "We must prioritise," said a US official. "We cannot do everything. We have advocated sharing troops for the election."

The Security Council is expected today to extend the Congo mission for a month, amid hopes for a compromise. That could include raising 500 more troops under the mission's current limit.

It is the second time Mr Annan had appealed for peacekeepers for Katanga, a huge, mineral-rich region where there is little effective state control and growing concerns about ethnic and political tensions, as well as the presence of tribal fighters and undisciplined government troops.

ibaby iron on Posted by Picasa

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Ipod My Baby

Ipod My Baby: "High quality 100% cotton onesies. Each is equipped with a touch sensitive scroll wheel; responsive to your every nudge, tickle and squeeze. Only $15.95. Available in 3 sizes: 6, 12, and 18 months."

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Balls of Fire: Bees carefully cook invaders to death: Science News Online, Sept. 24, 2005

Balls of Fire: Bees carefully cook invaders to death: Science News Online, Sept. 24, 2005: "Honeybees that defend their colonies by killing wasps with body heat come within 5°C of cooking themselves in the process, according to a study in China."...

"I've seen a single wasp overwhelm a colony of 6,000 bees" of a species that doesn't make heat balls, says Seeley. The invader wasp stands at the nest's entrance as one guard bee after another comes out to defend its home. "The wasp cuts the guard into pieces ... and waits for the next one," says Seeley. When all the defenders are dead, "the wasps strip-mine out the larvae," he reports.

However, a few honeybee species can defend themselves by surrounding an invader. Researchers used to think that the few-dozen bees were trying to sting the wasp, says Seeley. Thermal cameras, however, revealed the balls' soaring heat.

Evangelline Lilly  Posted by Picasa Little Girl Lost : News

The star of "Lost"-- that strangest of phenomena: a cult show with blockbuster ratings... Little Girl Lost : News: "J.J. Abrams, executive producer and co-creator of Lost, rejected actress after actress for the role of Kate, insisting that they would find the alluring unknown they were looking for. Just two weeks before shooting was set to begin on the pilot, he saw Lilly's audition tape and proclaimed her to be both beautiful and goofy -- exactly the girl he wanted. But could she handle it? Before Lilly took the part, Abrams looked her in the eye and said, 'You have no idea what's about to happen. If you don't really want this, run.' Lilly avoided his stare and muttered that she was ready, thinking that if she didn't like making the pilot, she'd just go back to college and finish her international-relations degree. Turns out she may never get that degree after all.

'She's amazing,' Fox says. 'Stepping into the lead of a show with no experience? Her poise and confidence are remarkable.'

According to Lilly, Fox tells her something different. Between takes on location, she'll shinny up a vine or maybe eat a slug on a dare, at which point she will receive a steely Fox gaze: 'He's constantly looking at me and saying, 'Evie, do you realize you're really weird?' And then he'll just walk away.'"...

"Over and over again," Lilly says, "I've been called a walking oxymoron. I do things that you wouldn't associate with a good little Christian girl. People say I'm half-boy, half-girl." Before I can object that the visual evidence suggests otherwise, she continues, "I love style and dressing up, but I've also got competitive testosterone and I'm incredibly stubborn. When I'm going for a jog and I come up behind a guy on his bike, I try to beat him, even if it kills me."

Lilly is now earning far more than she ever did as a stewardess or an oil-change grease monkey (another early job), but her lifestyle hasn't changed all that much. She lives with two roommates (both of whom worked as her stand-ins on Lost). She relishes the idea of being an actress for five to ten years, then walking away and having babies.

She knows that in many ways her job is a dream, but despite Abrams' warnings she wasn't prepared for how overwhelming it would all become. She managed to put off the Big Meltdown until near the end of Season One. Worn down by her workload, she called her parents in full hysterics. They told her, "Screw Hollywood -- you come home and we'll feed you some chicken-noodle soup."

Instead, Lilly went to Rwanda, where a friend was doing missionary work. "I holed up and read and wrote and prayed," she says. "I just disappeared off the face of the earth." Ironically, the consequence of playing the character of a forgotten person stranded on one of the most remote corners of the planet is that she has to travel great distances to end up someplace where nobody will recognize her.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

ReliefWeb » Document Preview » 4,000 children still unccounted for in Uganda, rights group says

ReliefWeb » Document Preview » 4,000 children still unccounted for in Uganda, rights group says: "Kampala (dpa) - At least 4,000 children who were among some of the tens of thousands abducted by the Ugandan rebels from the north of the country cannot be traced, a Ugandan human rights group said in a report obtained Wednesday.

The report by Uganda Human Rights Commmission (UHRC) also accuses government forces of torturing civilians in the war-ravaged region, using methods that included suspending weights on genitals for extracting information or instilling discipline.

The war is waged by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) guerillas who have displaced over 1.5 million people and abducted nearly 30,000 children and youth whom they have forced into their army. The LRA has also forced abducted girls into sex slavery.

Many of the children had come back home after escaping from the LRA or being rescued by government forces but according to UHRC, 'by the end of 2004, out of the 26,000 children abducted by the LRA, 4,000 were still unaccounted for in northern Uganda.''

UHRC says the military establishment tortured suspected civilians and soldiers in the northern region and other parts of Uganda to extract information or force a confession from them.

'In one complaint, a wife of a soldier who was around 7 months pregnant was subjected to corporal punishment because she had a quarrel in the barracks with a wife of another soldier. Five army men held the woman down while another enforced corporal punishment,'' the report said."

Reuters AlertNet - Dependency myth stops aid reaching people in need - report

Reuters AlertNet - Dependency myth stops aid reaching people in need - report: "LONDON (AlertNet) – Aid agencies sometimes cite concerns about creating a culture of dependency on aid in disaster-hit countries as justification for withholding relief, according to a new report that says this was a key reason why the humanitarian community was slow to respond to Niger’s food crisis

In fact, the report’s authors say, there is scant evidence that relief undermines local initiatives in responding to crises. Rather than fretting about issues of dependency, they say, the aid world should strive to make aid less unpredictable and more dependable.

“If you did depend on relief, you’d often be dead,” said Paul Harvey, co-author of a new report by the Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) of London-based think tank Overseas Development Institute.

“If people in Niger had sat on their arses, they’d be dead.”"

Gateway Pundit: More Hurricane Katrina: Folklore vs. Fact

Interesting compilation from the Gateway Pundit...
Gateway Pundit: More Hurricane Katrina: Folklore vs. Fact: "More Hurricane Katrina: Folklore vs. Fact"

BBC NEWS | Africa | Violence threat to Darfur relief

BBC NEWS | Africa | Violence threat to Darfur relief: "Escalating violence in Sudan's Darfur region could lead to the United Nations halting relief efforts there, says their chief aid coordinator.

Jan Egeland said violence in Darfur had become so bad that the UN operation could 'all end tomorrow - it's as serious as that'."

Wired News: You Can't Hide Your Lyin' Brain

Wired News: You Can't Hide Your Lyin' Brain: "CHARLESTON, South Carolina -- A scientist at the Medical University of South Carolina has found that magnetic resonance imaging machines also can serve as lie detectors.

That compares with polygraphs that range from 80 percent to "no better than chance" at finding the truth, George said.

The study found MRI machines, which are used to take images of the brain, are more than 90 percent accurate at detecting deception, said Dr. Mark George, a distinguished professor of psychiatry, radiology and neurosciences."

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Protect the people - Editorials/Op-Ed - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper

I agree with the editorialist's conclusions that the international "responsibility to protect" doctrine is a good thing, but am not sure how closely it will be followed...

Protect the people - Editorials/Op-Ed - The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "No, the U.N. General Assembly summit this month didn't produce nearly as much agreement on reform as the world body needs. On the other hand, the World Summit Outcome document does have one big item in its favor.
That's the completion of no less than a revolution in consciousness in international affairs by the adoption of what's known as the 'responsibility to protect.'"...

Under such circumstances, the U.N. summit concluded, "The international community, through the United Nations, also has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. In this context, we are prepared to take collective action, in a timely and decisivemanner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the Charter, including Chapter VII, on a case-by-case basis and in cooperation with relevant regional organizations as appropriate,should peaceful means be inadequate and national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populationsfrom genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity."
The language is not elegant, but the moral principle applied to all governments is: No mass killing and other atrocities on your territory; it is your job as sovereign power to prevent it or stop it. If you can't do it on your own, the international community pledges to help you, and you had better be willing to accept whatever help is necessary to get the job done. If, however, you are the problem, then the international community is prepared to intervene as needed, by whatever means, including military means, to stop the atrocities. The standard is not the effort a government expends (or pretends to be expending), but actual effective protection of people at risk.
The need for such a principle in international affairs is perfectly clear, summed up by reference to such killing fields asSrebrenica,Rwanda, Kosovo and Darfur. The doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, a classical principle of international law, can serve as a double-sided excuse for inaction in the face of unspeakable crimes: First, as asserted by a state responsible for the perpetration of mass killings, to keep others out on the grounds that what's going on is none of their business; second, as a convenient principle according to which outsiders may avert their eyes, excusing their inaction on the grounds that there is nothing they can legitimately do. ...

I say the responsibility to protect is a revolution in consciousness in international affairs for two reasons. The first is that the concept de-centers the state as the actor par excellence in international relations in favor of people, actual human beings, who are not after all subject beyond question to the whims of their rulers. With the privileges of statehood, such as the principle of non-interference, come responsibilities, protection first among them. Any government attempting to assert the former while ignoring the latter, at the expense of its own people, is in danger of losing its privileges.
The second and related revolutionary element of responsibility to protect is that it de-territorializes the enforcement and protection of the rights of man, or human rights. It is not only your government, that which asserts its sovereign power over you who live within its jurisdiction, that will either act to protect or fail to protect your rights, starting with the most basic right, your right to live. Others are called upon to act to protect you when your government does not. Where formerly there was no recourse for you but to try to flee, now you have a claim on the international community at large.
I know that we are not yet in a world in which we can make good on all such claims. But with the adoption of the responsibility to protect, we are a step closer.

All in the Mind: 24 September 2005 - Do You See What I See? Delusions

Here is a description of various delusions. I remember, as a med student, being amazed at the various sorts of illusions/delusions that the human mind could harbor and how powerful they could be...
All in the Mind: 24 September 2005 - Do You See What I See? Delusions: "Cotard’s syndrome is the belief that you have died, and for sufferers it is a terrifying state. Delusions can take many forms, from widespread paranoia to a specific and singular delusion – you might think an impostor has replaced your spouse. These misbeliefs are commonly associated with schizophrenia, but they can also occur in people with brain injuries, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease and dementia. The Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science is seeking to explain delusions by developing a model of how we all come to accept or reject beliefs. We see how this research is progressing. " - War Room

What really caused Katrina? - War Room: "When Hurricane Katrina struck land in Louisiana, an antiabortion group called the Columbia Christians for Life declared that the storm was God's way of punishing New Orleans residents for allowing 'child-murder-by-abortion centers' to operate among them. Al-Qaida apparently believes that Katrina was God's way of punishing the United States -- and New Orleans in particular -- for its tolerance of homosexuality. But right-to-lifers and terrorist groups aren't the only ones with interesting Katrina theories to share: Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is suggesting Katrina is God's way of punishing the United States for the war in Iraq -- and that the federal government may have intentionally destroyed levees in New Orleans during the storm to rid the city of its African-American residents.

During a speech in Philadelphia earlier this month, Farrakhan said New Orleans would be only the first of many U.S. cities to fall unless America changes its course of 'wickedness.' During a press conference in Memphis, Tenn., last week marking the 10th anniversary of the Million Man March, he said that divers have found 'explosives ... from the government side' in the floodwaters of New Orleans. He called for an investigation either to disprove the allegation or to show that 'it is a fact and [that] somebody is guilty ... not only of mass destruction of property, but of mass murder.'"

Saudi Women Have Message for U.S. Envoy - New York Times

Another example of a lack of understanding and finesse in U.S.-Saudi relations... Had Ms. Hughes spent any appreciable amount of time in the Middle East prior to making her presumptuous comments?

Saudi Women Have Message for U.S. Envoy - New York Times: "But the response on Tuesday was not what she and her aides expected. When Ms. Hughes expressed the hope here that Saudi women would be able to drive and 'fully participate in society' much as they do in her country, many challenged her.

'The general image of the Arab woman is that she isn't happy,' one audience member said. 'Well, we're all pretty happy.' The room, full of students, faculty members and some professionals, resounded with applause."...

Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, is on her first trip to the Middle East. She seemed clearly taken aback as the women told her that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive that did not mean they were treated unfairly or imprisoned in their own homes...

But it was the meeting with the women that was the most unpredictable, as Ms. Hughes found herself on the defensive simply by saying that she hoped women would be able to vote in future elections.

In June, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked of democracy and freedom in the Middle East but declined to address the question of driving. By contrast, Ms. Hughes spoke personally, saying that driving a car was "an important part of my freedom."

A woman in the audience then charged that under President Bush the United States had become "a right-wing country" and that criticism by the press was "not allowed."

"I have to say I sometimes wish that were the case, but it's not," Ms. Hughes said with a laugh.

Aid Effectiveness - Privatization, Infrastructure & Business Environment - The World Bank Group


a href="">Aid Effectiveness - Privatization, Infrastructure & Business Environment - The World Bank Group
: "Aid Effectiveness
The ever-shifting debate over the aid industry and the right way to help the world's poor has acquired new focus. There is a new, overdue, and welcome focus on measuring results. No longer is it enough to point, whether with pride or with criticism, at the raw volume of money transferred.

New debates have surfaced. Some of these debates center on how aid is delivered. Which is more important: better monitoring of aid projects or reducing the transaction costs of lending? Which kinds of recipients make the best use of aid: governments, non-governmental organizations, companies, or individuals? What organizations give the most effective aid? And what form should aid take: grants, loans or something else?

The new focus on results adds spice to a third trend: the continuing emergence of competition in the aid industry. Competition forces organizations to demonstrate that they can produce results."

Moving Toward Smarter Aid? by Lex Rieffel - The Globalist > > Global Development

Moving Toward Smarter Aid? by Lex Rieffel - The Globalist > > Global Development: "Moving Toward Smarter Aid?

By Lex Rieffel | Friday, August 19, 2005

The Bush Administration’s new agency for tackling global poverty — the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) — has gotten off to a rocky start. Lex Rieffel and James W. Fox, authors of a new Brookings Institution study, have examined the MCC’s accomplishments and failures to date. They recommend several reforms, as well as a good dose of patience, to make the endeavor work."

ReliefWeb » Document Preview » For crisis-hit Zimbabweans, life ends at 40

Be glad that you don't live in Zimbabwe

ReliefWeb » Document Preview » For crisis-hit Zimbabweans, life ends at 40: "WASHINGTON -- More than 65 percent of crisis-weary Zimbabweans do not expect to reach the age of 40, according to the United Nations.

According to the world body’s 2005 Human Development Report, 65.9 percent of Zimbabweans do not expect to survive to the age of 40 due to rising poverty and the impact of HIV and AIDS.

Average life expectancy for the southern African country, which is currently mired in an unprecedented economic and political crisis, was estimated at 36.9 years.

Only Swaziland, Botswana and Lesotho had higher rates of mortality among those below the age of 40.

According to the report, produced every year by the United Nations Development Programme to assess progress by countries in socio-economic development, more than 74.3 percent of Swazis do not expect to live beyond 40 while 69.1 percent of Batswana have a low probability of reaching 40.

More than 67.6 percent of people in Lesotho would have died by the time they reach 40.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe was among 12 Sub-Saharan African countries that experienced declines in human development between 1990 and 2003. The country dropped 23 places in human development ranking to 145th position in the world and now occupies bottom position among countries classified as medium human development areas.

Neighbours South Africa had the largest decline in the human development index (HDI) of 35 places while Botswana’s HDI ranking slipped 21 places. The two countries are now ranked 120th and 131st in the world in terms of human development, respectively.

The HDI is a barometer for movement in human well-being and tracks changes in incomes, education and health, among various human development indicators.

Other countries that suffered declines in human development were Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Swazil"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Babalu Blog: Thank you, Mr. Clinton. (Updated)

Photos of U.S. Coast Gaurd trying to sink ship of Cuban refugees who tried to arrive to the U.S. during Hurricane Rita...

Babalu Blog: Thank you, Mr. Clinton. ... (Updated):

A group of ten cubans apparently from Puerto Padre, Oriente, built a boat out of plywood and fiberglass with an engine and a makeshift sail and headed off to cross the Florida Straights and reach the shores of Florida's freedom. They left days ago and survived hurricane Rita in the open seas....

Corruption in Brazil...


Brazil has often been a bellwether of Latin American political currents. It exemplified French-style authoritarian positivism in the early 20th century, centrally planned industrialization in the 1960s and 1970s, and democracy in the 1980s. (It was not, however, one of the leading nations in the so-called free market reform wave of the 1990s). Lula’s demise is now strengthening the more radical left, which has been quick to blame what is happening on the President’s “betrayal” of his Marxist origins. The rest of the Latin American left is watching.

Widespread corruption in underdeveloped countries is a symptom of the cost of the law and the weakness of the legal framework. If laws are burdensome and costly to follow, and there is no reliable system for enforcing contracts, corruption becomes a sort of insurance policy. As legal scholar Richard Posner has written, “nepotism, clientelism, and bribery become substitutes for contract when the enforcement of contract is undependable”. Over an extended period of time, corruption becomes a culture.

Genentech in Competition With Itself on Eye Drug - New York Times

Retina specialists leading the fight for massive savings to medicare in the treatment of macular degeneration...
Genentech in Competition With Itself on Eye Drug - New York Times: "Lucentis, a drug being developed by Genentech to treat an eye disease that causes blindness in the elderly, is facing competition from a drug that some doctors say they think is as effective, but less than one-tenth the price. The rival drug's maker? Genentech."

The other Genentech drug is the blockbuster Avastin, which is approved for treatment of colorectal cancer. In the last few weeks many specialists have started using Avastin off-label as a treatment for age-related macular degeneration, the eye condition for which Lucentis is being developed....

Avastin is not an inexpensive drug, costing $4,400 a month. But doctors are now having pharmacists divide vials of Avastin into tiny portions to be injected into the eye. The amount needed for each injection costs only about $30 to $100....

That is much less than the cost of Macugen, a drug already approved for macular degeneration that is sold by Pfizer and Eyetech Pharmaceuticals, and goes for about $1,000 per injection. While Genentech has not discussed its pricing plan for Lucentis, it has been expected to cost at least as much as Macugen because it has been shown to be more effective in clinical trials. Some doctors think Avastin will require less frequent injections than Macugen or Lucentis.

Officials from the American Academy of Ophthalmology have urged Genentech to support clinical trials to study Avastin for macular degeneration. But so far Genentech has declined.

"Genentech's first priority is to their stockholders," said Dr. Rosenfeld. "Physicians have an ethical responsibility to our patients. There is an inherent conflict there."

She ( Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Genentech's president for product development) said that Genentech had spent six years proving Lucentis was safe and effective for macular degeneration. "In our view," she said, "spending the next six years to do the same thing for Avastin doesn't add a lot of value for patients."

Some physicians are holding back on use of Avastin. "I'm very hesitant to use it when I have the option of using an approved drug I know is safe," said Dr. Lawrence J. Singerman, referring to Macugen. Dr. Singerman, president of Retina Associates of Cleveland, is a consultant to Eyetech, the developer of Macugen.

Some of the off-label use of Avastin may end once Lucentis is approved. In the meantime, Genentech is beginning a clinical trial that would offer Lucentis to 5,000 patients at no cost, a move analysts say is mainly aimed at stopping doctors from using Avastin.

Dr. Rosenfeld said that even after Lucentis was approved, he suspected some doctors would continue to use Avastin, in part because of costs.

"Avastin is not going away," he said. "Hopefully, Medicare will support us as well, because potentially this could be a huge cost saving."

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Statesman - New York Times

Bono and Millenium Development Goals...

The Statesman - New York Times: "God knows Africa could use a song or two. The reason that debt relief required such an excruciating effort is that foreign aid has virtually no constituency; a politician is only going to hurt himself by vowing to spend more money helping poor people in Africa. By the time the Bush administration took office, the percentage of G.N.P. devoted to development assistance had been shrinking for more than three decades. And the case for aid had dwindled just as drastically. Countries like Nigeria and Kenya had received tens of billions of dollars over the years with scarcely anything to show for it. Not only conservatives like John Kasich but also Clinton administration 'neoliberals' argued that aid was powerless, perhaps even harmful, in the face of corruption, civil conflict, weak governance, self-defeating economic policies.

Whatever its merits, the neoliberal argument began to feel morally unsustainable as much of Africa retrogressed throughout the 90's. Was the West to offer nothing more than pious advice about free markets and small government while whole portions of the globe slid into misery? Did all African countries suffer from bad values, bad governance and bad policies? Liberal economists and activists formulated an alternative argument: a combination of 'natural' factors - poor soil, high incidence of infectious disease, lack of access to ports - along with disadvantageous trade conditions and wrongheaded neoliberal policies had gotten many countries stuck in what Jeffrey Sachs called 'the poverty trap.' They could not escape, absent outside help. This view, which was widely accepted outside the United States, was given a global endorsement in 2000, when the U.N. adopted the Millennium Development Goals, pledging to radically reduce such problems as extreme poverty, child mortality and infectious disease over the next 15 years. Recipient countries pledged to reduce corruption and improve accountability; donor countries pledged to increase aid, lower trade barriers and grant further debt relief.

Bono passionately embraced this expansive view of the obligations of the industrialized world, and of the possibilities of Africa. In 2001, he went to Bill Gates and others to finance an organization that would lobby for action on Africa. DATA has offices in London, Los Angeles and Washington, but it was plain from the outset that the real challenge lay in Washington, both because historically the U.S. spent so small a fraction of its budget on aid - one-tenth of 1 percent of G.N.P. as of 2000 - and because the incoming Bush administration believed so single-mindedly in free-market solutions to problems of development."

The Statesman - New York Times

Bono's encounter with Jessie Helms...

The Statesman - New York Times: "In mid-2000, Bono received an audience with Senator Jesse Helms, viewed by Bono's fellow lefties, including members of the band, as the archfiend himself. Bono quickly realized that his usual spiel about debt service and so on wasn't making a dent. So, he recalls: 'I started talking about Scripture. I talked about AIDS as the leprosy of our age.' Married women and children were dying of AIDS, he told the senator, and governments burdened by debt couldn't do a thing about it. Helms listened, and his eyes began to well up. Finally the flinty old Southerner rose to his feet, grabbed for his cane and said, 'I want to give you a blessing.' He embraced the singer, saying, 'I want to do anything I can to help you.' Kasich, who was watching from a couch, says, 'I thought somebody had spiked my coffee.' Bono later invited Senator Helms to a U2 concert, and Helms sat through the evening with his hearing aid turned down. Afterward he said to Bono, 'I saw them all standing there with their arms in the air, blowin' like a field of corn.'"

The Statesman - New York Times

This is the most detailed account I have read of how Bono was able to get world leaders to pay attention to Africa....It is truly inspirational account of one individual making a huge difference in the world. There are all kind of interesting details of meetings with world leaders like Jessie Helms, W., Condeleeza Rice etc...It is a must read imo. If the link is expired and you would like to read the whole article (10 pages) let me know and I will email it to you....

Test your internet connection speed

This is a neat website which will graphically compare your internet connection speed with various modes of internet connection....

zoom quilt

Check out this really cool zoom quilt website! You zoom in on the image using your mouse. - War Room

More bizarreness... - War Room: "You can't keep a good man down. Or rather, you can't keep a member of the Bush patronage machine from getting a job he's not qualified to do.

In this case, however, the audacity of the hire is no less than astounding: According to Raw Story, CBS News reported today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is reenlisting disgraced former director Mike Brown -- not to run the agency again, mind you, but to act as a consultant charged with helping the government figure out why FEMA bungled the national response to Hurricane Katrina. In other words, Brown will help investigate what went wrong with the agency that he himself ran in circles while tens of thousands withered for days in festering conditions in New Orleans after the storm struck.

Brown resigned from his job on Sept. 12 after news reports exposed his less-than-glowing professional credentials prior to taking the top FEMA post. He may be eminently more qualified for his new investigative role in terms of understanding the primary evidence involved. We can only hope his team leaps into action more quickly this time in getting to the bottom of the disaster-of-a-federal response to Katrina."

The Observer | International | Armed and dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina

Bizarreess from The Gaurdian...

The Observer | International | Armed and dangerous - Flipper the firing dolphin let loose by Katrina: "t may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.

Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels. Their coastal compound was breached during the storm, sweeping them out to sea. But those who have studied the controversial use of dolphins in the US defence programme claim it is vital they are caught quickly."

Gross National Happiness

An interesting article on how Bhutan is incorporating Buddhism into its new constitution (which is probably a historical first). Concepts such as "Gross National Happiness" are included...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Nanowires for detecting molecular signs of cancer

Nanowires for detecting molecular signs of cancer: "Harvard University researchers have found that molecular markers indicating the presence of cancer in the body are readily detected in blood scanned by special arrays of silicon nanowires -- even when these cancer markers constitute only one hundred-billionth of the protein present in a drop of blood. In addition to this exceptional accuracy and sensitivity, the minuscule devices also promise to pinpoint the exact type of cancer present with a speed not currently available to clinicians.

A paper describing the work will appear in October in the journal Nature Biotechnology and is now posted on the journal's web site. "

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Canadian Jewish News

Canadian Jewish News: "Retired general Romeo Dallaire suggests that little was learned from the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Speaking at the opening event of the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre’s annual Holocaust education series, he said that the world continues to ignore bloodshed in Africa because of race.

Dallaire, who pleaded – without success – for permission to take steps to stop the massacre while he was commander of the United Nations forces in Rwanda, said existing international laws and regulations are not being used to stop crimes against humanity in Africa. He pointed to killing of the black population in the Darfur province of Sudan over the past 15 months.

“We do have the legal tools, but not the political will nor the desire of the public,” said Dallaire, who was the keynote speaker.

“Why get involved? There’s no strategic or geographic interest, there’s nothing in it for us. Africa is overpopulated anyway… We take the destruction of human beings as some sort of trite exercise that is to be expected,” he said.

“Are some more human than others? Do we establish a priority among humanity, a pecking order?”"

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Colour of Water: Bargirls, Two Suicides and Many Untruths

Colour of Water: Bargirls, Two Suicides and Many Untruths: "The impetus for this story was the suicide of two dance bar girls in a single week in Mumbai. After the ban on dance bars approximately 75,000 girls and women have been rendered unemployed. This is the fall out. "

NPR : Anoushka Shankar's Turn to 'Rise'

More from India--this time the music world...

NPR : Anoushka Shankar's Turn to 'Rise': "Anoushka Shankar has an impeccable musical pedigree. Her father, Ravi Shankar, is a sitar master. Her half-sister, Norah Jones, is a Grammy-winning pop-jazz singer. Now, Anoushka Shankar carves out her own sound on a new CD, Rise.

When Shankar was just 7 years old, her father had a special, small sitar made for her. Soon, Ravi Shankar began teaching his child to play the long-necked string instrument. At age 24, Anoushka Shankar has been touring and performing classical Indian music with her father for a decade.

She took a break from touring to create Rise, spending nearly a year writing and arranging all of the music on the album, as well as producing and editing it. She also performs on the release, playing sitar and keyboards.

On Rise, Shankar moves beyond the classical tradition of her father, mixing up a broad range of world music styles and instruments -- flamenco piano, Indian slide guitar, electronic sounds, and, of course, the sitar. The result is a sensual, ethereal sound."

Secular-Right India: The Pathology Of The Powerless

A discussion of the changing power of men in Indian society...the comments on this blog entry are interesting...
Secular-Right India: The Pathology Of The Powerless: "What's happening, we think, is that some Indians, men mostly, are feeling a great loss of mojo. It's a fast changing world where old equations no longer hold -- Indian men, who've traditionally made all the rules, now are caught up in transformations they can hardly understand, much less make rules about.

These men, increasingly powerless, are lashing out in the only way they know how. Regrettably, Indian women are bearing the brunt of their emasculation."

This turban’s disturbin’ - Sepia Mutiny

This turban’s disturbin’ - Sepia Mutiny: "On the late-night community access channel, Dr. Khemfoia Padu, who appears to be black, dons a saffron turban and shills pills with whale tails.

Dr. Padu is the Director of The Natural Healing Foundation… He is a licensed Chiropracter, Herbologist, Nutritionist, as well as a Theologian and Martial Artist. [Link]

I’m not sure whether the pagri pitches desi mysticism, evokes black musicians who wore turbans or references turbans in Africa.

Erykah Padu’s turban may be genuine, but I’m thoroughly irritated that desi culture is associated in the U.S. with hippies and New Age. You can’t go to an all-veg pizza place without drowning in ads for crystals and tarot cards. That ain’t right. A subculture has branded a billion and a half people, the tail wags the wog. - Views - Straight Talk - The Next International Right

U.N. should align themselves with the NRA...This link should work (cut and paste):,2933,65889,00.html - Views - Straight Talk - The Next International Right: "It seems to me that the human rights community has things exactly backward. Given that the efforts of the international community to prevent and punish genocide over the past several decades have been, to put it politely, a dismal failure, perhaps it is time to try a new approach. International human rights law is supposed to be a 'living' body of law that changes with the needs of the times in order to secure important goals -- chief among which is the prevention of genocide. Given that the traditional approaches of conventions and tribunals have failed miserably, the human rights community should be prepared to endorse a new international human right: the right of law-abiding citizens to be armed."

Monday, September 19, 2005

To save the world from hell

This is an excellent article from Le Monde on the founding, history, and future of the U.N. HIghly recommended reading...

To save the world from hell: "SIXTY years ago the battered victors of the second world war gathered in San Francisco to plan the creation of the global organisation that would not “bring us to heaven”, as the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Henry Cabot Lodge Jr, put it, but might “save us from hell”. President Franklin D Roosevelt began the creation of the UN, but when he died, 13 days before the San Francisco conference, Harry Truman took over. Truman makes President George Bush look well-travelled: he had been to Europe only once, during service in the first world war. Yet he understood the importance of US engagement with the UN. “America can no longer sit smugly behind a mental Maginot line,” he wrote (1). The stakes were too high: “In a world without such machinery, we would be forever doomed to the fear of destruction. It was important for us to make a start, no matter how imperfect” (2).

The UN’s imperfections were manifest from its creation. It was built upon some obvious contradictions. It was necessary because greedy and bellicose states could not be trusted to avoid war, respect the rights of their citizens or care for people suffering outside their borders. Yet the new UN would rely upon those selfish states to enforce its principles.

Just as the US constitution hailed equality but legitimised slavery, so the UN charter proclaimed self-determination and encouraged decolonisation, but was steered by many member states that resisted surrendering their colonies. (In the UN’s first two decades, membership, originally 51 states, soared to 117 - it now has 191 members.)

The UN gave equal voice to dictatorships and democracies, but its charter took sides, calling on members to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms. The UN, like any other organisation, depended on authoritative leadership, but power was put in the hands of the Security Council, a squabbling committee dominated by five permanent members with widely divergent interests and p"

Tongue eating bug Posted by Picasa

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish

CBBC Newsround | Sci/Tech | Tongue-eating bug found in fish: "A gross creature which gobbles up a fish's tongue and then replaces it with its own body has been found in Britain for the first time.

The bug - which has the scientific name cymothoa exigua - was discovered inside the mouth of a red snapper bought from a London fishmonger.

The 3.5cm creature had grabbed onto the fish's tongue and slowly ate away at it until only a stub was left.

It then latched onto the stub and became the fish's 'replacement tongu"

BBC NEWS | Health | US plans first face transplant

BBC NEWS | Health | US plans first face transplant: "US plans first
US surgeons are to interview a shortlist of patients hoping to be the first to receive a face transplant.

Doctors in the US have already carried out the procedure on bodies donated for medical research.

Now the Cleveland Clinic team will choose a patient whose face is disfigured to receive a 'new' face from a dead donor.

The chance it will work is around 50% and experts have expressed safety and ethical concerns about the procedure."


SCIENCE: "Citing circumstantial evidence, two British researchers have raised the provocative possibility that mad cow disease arose in English herds after they were given imported feed that contained remains of humans who had died of the closely related Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

The infection may have come from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, they wrote in last week's issue of the journal the Lancet, because scavenging for human bones and remains is widespread in those nations. The researchers said there have been documented reports that those remains have been included in exported material used for animal feed and fertilizer that was used widely in England in the 1960s."

Thursday, September 15, 2005


This shounds like it should be quite interesting....a hands on expose of the poverty related problems besetting a small village in Africa with concrete examples of how aid could help these individuals...IT IS ON MTV TONIGHT!

thinkMTV: "In this special think MTV episode of Diary, actress and United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie journeys to Kenya with the world's leading expert on poverty, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the Millennium Development Goals. On their journey, they witness how the challenges of hunger, disease and isolation in Africa are being overcome in this small village beset by hunger, AIDS, and malaria.

Spending two long days in Sauri, Sachs exposes Jolie to every corner of village life to reveal his vision for ending extreme poverty by 2015. In a small hut, he demonstrates how a simple $10.00 bed net keeps families safe from Malaria, a disease that kills over three million people every year. In an open field, Jolie learns how basic instruction in proper farming techniques and fertilizer use can produce enough food to keep villagers alive on land that has failed to yield sustainable crops for generations. And, in a moving sequence featuring the town's young people, Jolie discovers how free school lunches are giving children a reason to come to class and learn - and that one computer is connecting this tiny village to the rest of the world.

The images and stories that often emanate from Africa are bleak. But, The Diary of Angelina Jolie and Dr. Jeffrey Sachs in Africa offers actual solutions to famine, plague, and conflict. Thanks to the vision of Dr. Sachs and the humanitarian concerns of Jolie - Sauri has a message for the rest of the world - it is alive and fighting back.
" - Moving On

More on the blame game (subscription required)... - Moving On: "The urge to blame is an innate human impulse dating back a million years or more. It's an impulse that travels through our bodies to our fingertips, as we all saw in the frenzied finger-pointing over Hurricane Katrina."...

Modern America is beset by blame-mongering. At, you can buy a "calibrated blame-shifting device" for $2.95. It's a giant foam hand with the words "It's your fault!" on the pointer finger. Run by East Bank Communications, an ad agency in Portland, Ore., the Web site offers tongue-in-cheek mantras: "You have everyone but yourself to blame." "It's not you, it's the printer." The jokes ring true because finding fault is an American preoccupation.

We're a litigious society, obsessed with assigning dollar amounts to blameworthy actions. For entertainment, we used to sing "Blame It on the Bossa Nova" -- now we turn to radio and TV talk-show pundits, who revel in blame games and accusations. And we're fluent in the language of culpability: Ralph Nader was blamed for Al Gore's 2000 presidential defeat, because he siphoned away votes. Your spouse is blamed if you're unhappy. Our parents are blamed for everything.

The right to criticize leaders is a great gift of our democracy. But this freedom to find fault means that even "acts of God" such as Katrina need a human face, says Eric Dezenhall, a crisis-management consultant in Washington, D.C. "Every event must have a villain, a victim and a vindicator in order for our culture to understand it. History is calamity-driven, but Americans feel these things shouldn't happen here, and someone must be at fault."...

Because the crisis in New Orleans revealed the depths of urban poverty, "perhaps the finger-pointing will lead to an effort to rebuild all our cities," says James Morone, a Brown University political-science professor. "I'm not sure the bickering is so terrible. In a sense, it's a fundamental values debate about the direction American society will take."

Of course, politicians may take the low road, pursuing what Prof. Morone predicts could be "a fight to the death in search of Katrina villains."

They'd all do well to consider an old adage: When you point a finger at someone else, your other fingers point toward you.

Why the millennium goals matter: printer friendly version

Why the millennium goals matter: printer friendly version: "What is perhaps even more important is that the goals have caught the imagination of ordinary citizens around the globe and have been embraced as tangible expressions of the concerns of ordinary people across the developing world: reducing child and maternal mortality, ensuring that every girl and boy gets a basic education, securing access to clean water and reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious yet preventable diseases.

The UN Development Program's annual Human Development Report, sent to world leaders last week, details the sobering consequences of inaction on these goals, including the avoidable deaths of 40 million children, and 400 million more people living in extreme poverty than would be the case if the goals were met. Our data also show that under current trends, many of the poorest countries - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in the former Soviet Union - will slip further away from these goals without swift and substantial improvement in aid levels, trade policies and national governance.

But projections are not destiny: These trends can be reversed. And that is why an explicit endorsement of the MDGs at the 2005 World Summit is so important.

The MDGs can make the next 10 years the decade in which we finally turn the corner on extreme poverty. For this to succeed we need more than rhetoric. The goals stipulate with needed precision what it is we are setting out to do, and allow us to chart progress toward these interlocking aims, year after year, country by country, to ensure that these promises are kept.

Those promises include efforts at comprehensive reform within developing nations, which are the indispensable other side of the grand global bargain that was agreed in principle at the 2000 summit. We also need to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit of people around the world as the driving force of sustainable gro"

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

JAMA -- Abstract: Insurance Status and Access to Urgent Ambulatory Care Follow-up Appointments, September 14, 2005, Asplin et al. 294 (10): 1248

JAMA -- Abstract: Insurance Status and Access to Urgent Ambulatory Care Follow-up Appointments, September 14, 2005, Asplin et al. 294 (10): 1248: "Objective To determine the association between reported insurance status and access to follow-up appointments for serious conditions that are commonly identified during an emergency department visit.
Design, Setting, and Participants Eight research assistants called 499 randomly selected ambulatory clinics in 9 US cities (May 2002�February 2003) and identified themselves as new patients who had been seen in an emergency department and needed an urgent follow-up appointment (within 1 week) for 1 of 3 clinical vignettes (pneumonia, hypertension, or possible ectopic pregnancy). The same person called each clinic twice using the same clinical vignette but different insurance status.
Main Outcome Measure Proportion of callers who were offered an appointment within a week.
Results Of 499 clinics contacted in the final sample, 430 completed the study protocol. Four hundred six (47.2%) of 860 total callers and 277 (64.4%) of 430 privately insured callers were offered appointments within a week. Callers who claimed to have private insurance were more likely to receive appointments than those who claimed to have Medicaid coverage (63.6% [147/231] vs 34.2% [79/231]; difference, 29.4 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, 21.2-37.6; P<.001). Callers reporting private insurance coverage had higher appointment rates than callers who reported that they were uninsured but offered to pay $20 and arrange payment of the balance (65.3% [130/199] vs 25.1% [50/199]; difference, 40.2; 95% confidence interval, 31.4-49.1; P<.001). There were no differences in appointment rates between callers who claimed to have private insurance cove"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners

This will make you think twice next time before you put your lipstick on!

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The beauty products from the skin of executed Chinese prisoners: "A Chinese cosmetics company is using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe, an investigation by the Guardian has discovered.

Agents for the firm have told would-be customers it is developing collagen for lip and wrinkle treatments from skin taken from prisoners after they have been shot. The agents say some of the company's products have been exported to the UK, and that the use of skin from condemned convicts is 'traditional' and nothing to 'make such a big fuss about'."

Meet the Fakers - New York Times

This is definitely worth reading in its entirety...

Meet the Fakers - New York Times: "The biggest gathering of leaders in history unfolds this week at the United Nations, as they preen and boast about how much they're helping the world's poor. In short, it may be the greatest assembly in history - of hypocrites.
The fact is that with just a few exceptions, the presidents and prime ministers coming to the U.N. summit are doing a disgraceful job in helping the poor. That's one reason the world's richest 500 individuals have the same income as the world's poorest 416 million people.
We Americans set a dreadful example as hosts to the summit. President Bush has been trying to wriggle away from his 2002 endorsement of the principle that rich countries should try to provide 70 cents in official development assistance for every $100 in national income. (Mr. Bush has sharply increased foreign aid from the Clinton years, but it still stood at only 16 cents in 2004 for each $100 of national income.)"...The new Human Development Report 2005, recently issued by the U.N. Development Program, is blessedly undiplomatic in its willingness to point figures - at just about everybody. It notes that the U.S. and other rich countries seem unwilling to provide a total of $7 billion annually for the next decade to provide 2.6 billion people with access to clean drinking water. That investment would save 4,000 lives a day, and the cost is less than Europeans spend on perfume - or than Americans spend on cosmetic surgery.

Meanwhile, the report adds, AIDS kills three million people a year and devastates countries like nothing since the Black Death in the 14th century. Yet annual world spending to fight AIDS amounts to three days of military expenditures....

Two countries that should be the leaders of the developing world, China and India, are both off track and should be ashamed of their records. In India, among children 1 to 5, girls are 50 percent more likely to die than boys, meaning that each year 130,000 Indian girls are discriminated to death...

And African leaders? Perhaps this is naïve, but it strikes me as racist for them to have complained about brutal white rule in South Africa or Zimbabwe while excusing black rule that is even more brutal....

Readers often ask if I find it depressing to visit African slums or mud-brick villages. On the contrary, it's exhilarating to see how little it takes to make a difference....

Necessary Measures - New York Times

United Nations Millenium Project bedeviled by lack of measurable outcomes with respect to diseases such as malaria, dying in childbirth or pregnancy etc...

Necessary Measures - New York Times: "FIVE years ago, about 150 world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York and tried to move the mountain of global poverty. They adopted eight Millennium Development Goals - quantifiable measures of progress on problems like malaria, tuberculosis and child and maternal mortality. The achievement of those goals by 2015 would lift more than one billion people out of extreme poverty.
The trouble is that progress toward these benchmarks often cannot be measured. And if their achievement cannot be measured, the goals are not only a letdown for the world's poor, but also a time bomb for the credibility of the United Nations. As world leaders gather in New York again this week, the United Nations will have to grapple with the question of whether progress is on track to achieve the goals by the 2015 deadline. So far, this inability to measure progress has meant that the United Nations has either guessed or remained silent. "

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Why aid does work

Jeffrey Sachs on why aid works...

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Why aid does work: "Aid works, when it is practical, targeted, science-based and measurable.

Hence, we have seen the successes of immunisation campaigns for children in impoverished countries, against diseases such as polio, diphtheria, and measles.

These clear aid triumphs have saved the lives of millions of children. Similar aid-backed successes have been achieved in the fight against African river blindness, trachoma, leprosy, and guinea worm.

To make these successes sustainable, however, the aid in an area like health needs to be complemented by practical and targeted aid in other areas like schooling, safe drinking water, and especially agriculture."

Monday, September 12, 2005

Kathleen Parker: Perceptions of race and the faces of poverty

An excellent analysis by Kathleen Parker...I especially like her line, "We don't see the poverty on the periphery because, to be blunt, it spoils our movie..."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Michelle Malkin: NEVER, NEVER FORGET

A round up on 9-11 related memories....

By Michelle Malkin � September 11, 2005 09:04 AM

On this fourth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, let's remember these:"

Economic Freedom of the World

Sounds like an interesting read--compares economic freedom with democracy in diminishing violent conflict (although it seems to me that the two would go hand in hand)...

Economic Freedom of the World: "Economic freedom is almost 50 times more effective than democracy in restraining nations from going to war. In new research published in this year’s report, Erik Gartzke, a political scientist from Columbia University, compares the impact of economic freedom on peace to that of democracy. When measures of both economic freedom and democracy are included in a statistical study, economic freedom is about 50 times more effective than democracy in diminishing violent conflict. The impact of economic freedom on whether states fight or have a military dispute is highly significant while democracy is not a statistically significant predictor of conflict."

Photojournalism of New Orleans

Check out this link for a haunting photo essay of the effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans, in a day-by-day fashion. It provides a perspective and clarity quite different from the major news organizations...The photographer, Alvaro, is a Nicaraguan who was working in New Orleans...Highly recommended...

Living With the Dead - New York Times

A excellent essay by Alice Sebold, the author of "Lovely Bones," (which is btw an excellent, though disturbing, novel) on how the living deal with death...Living With the Dead - New York Times: "AND where do the dead go after they have sucked down their last breaths and drowned in the rafters of their homes? After they have died in the aftermath of fiery explosion? Do they gather, as some believe, together, and ascend to an otherworldly level; or do they remain, watching; or disappear altogether? Do they wait to hear the stories we will tell?

The truth is, none of us knows what the dead do. But on earth, where we remain, the living become the keepers of their memory. This is an awesome and overwhelming responsibility. And it is simple: we must not forget them.
These first weeks after Hurricane Katrina, this fourth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, are not the dangerous days. The dangerous ones are ahead of us - always. They are the days when if we are not careful the dead will fall away from us because of our neglect."

What I would wish for us is that we would turn away from being obsessed by numbers or by politics, and sit with our dead. That we would listen to what they have to tell us instead of doing the easier things: tossing back and forth volleys of blame, recrimination and muscular public bluster.

No, New Orleans will not come back as it was. And yes, it will come back.

No, a new building is not the World Trade Center, but there can still be a new heart for downtown Manhattan.

But no matter what, you cannot bring the dead back. They are gone.

What can the living do in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, where loss has greeted us twice on a national scale in such a short span of years?

Do the dead wish you to suffer? Do they want you to watch CNN and Fox News for days on end? Do they want your guilt or pity? All of these things are like jewels to them. In other words - valueless where they have gone...

These tragedies, it's worth remembering, grant us an opportunity to understand what is perhaps our finest raw material: our humanity. The way we at our best treat one another. The way we listen to one another. The way we grieve...

Look up from this newspaper you are reading, ignore the morning traffic you may find yourself in tomorrow, turn off the television one day this week and watch the moon. Think of the dead of 9/11 and of Hurricane Katrina. Stay there a moment. Remember them.

Egypt's Imitation Election - New York Times

Egypt's Imitation Election - New York Times: "Here are some simple ways to identify a real democratic election. The ruling party should not be allowed to shape the election arrangements and intimidate voters. The candidates should be able to compete on a reasonably level playing field. Impartial observers should be welcome and given time to deploy themselves at polling places nationwide.
Not one of these defining features was evident in last week's Egyptian presidential voting, whose main purpose was to usher President Hosni Mubarak into his fifth six-year term. On Friday he was officially declared the winner, collecting 88.5 percent of the votes."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

U2 Home Page at :: U2 Audio, U2 Video, U2 Lyrics, U2 Images, and U2 News

This is a pretty cool version of "One" by U2 with Mary J. on the link on the U2exit page....

U2 Home Page at :: U2 Audio, U2 Video, U2 Lyrics, U2 Images, and U2 News: "One with Mary J. Blige - U2 One with Mary J. Blige Recorded at Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Canada Shelter From The Storm: A Concert For The Gulf Coast Performance in aid of the victims of Hurricane Katrina new "

FEMA For Kids: FEMA for Kids Rap

Go the FEMA website to listen to this rap... (real audio player required) (Yes, this is for real)

Disaster . . . it can happen anywhere,
But we've got a few tips, so you can be prepared
For floods, tornadoes, or even a 'quake,
You've got to be ready - so your heart don't break.
Disaster prep is your responsibility
And mitigation is important to our agency.
People helping people is what we do
And FEMA is there to help see you through
When disaster strikes, we are at our best
But we're ready all the time, 'cause disasters don't rest.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Human Development Reports

Human Development Reports: "Human Development Report 2005
International cooperation at a crossroads:
Aid, trade and security in an unequal world

This year’s Human Development Report takes stock of human development, including progress towards the MDGs. Looking beyond statistics, it highlights the human costs of missed targets and broken promises. Extreme inequality between countries and within countries is identified as one of the main barriers to human development—and as a powerful brake on accelerated progress towards the MDGs"

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Vaccine plan 'will save millions'

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Vaccine plan 'will save millions': "A plan to save the lives of 10 million children in developing countries has been launched by UK Chancellor Gordon Brown and his European counterparts.

By raising £2.2bn ($4bn) over 10 years they hope to cut the number of deaths from diseases like measles, polio, hepatitis B, tetanus, and diphtheria.

Illnesses from such immunisable diseases kill millions every year.

Critics fear the scheme, first championed by the chancellor in 2003, is a 'buy now, pay later' project."...

The UK has pledged the equivalent of £70m ($130m) each year - 35% of the money for the International Finance Facility for Immunisation.

Mr Brown said the launch had been made possible by recent long-term commitments from other donor countries.

France has pledged the equivalent of $100m (£54m) a year; Italy $30m (£16m) a year; Spain $12m (£6.5m); and Sweden £27m (£15m).

Microsoft magnate Bill Gates has promised a further $750m (£408m) over 10 years through his Gates foundation. ...

The scheme, dubbed Iffim, uses long-term financial commitments to provide "frontloaded" resources for the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (Gavi).

The extra resources are predicted to save the lives of five million children by 2015 and a further five million after that.

Center for Global Development : Initiatives: Active: Making Markets for Vaccines

Center for Global Development : Initiatives: Active: Making Markets for Vaccines: "Making a commitment in advance to buy vaccines if and when they are developed would create incentives for industry to increase investment in research and development. New commercial investment would complement funding of research and development (R&D) by public and charitable bodies, accelerating the development of vital new vaccines for the developing world.

This report presents the proposal from theory to practice, by showing how a commitment can be consistent with ordinary legal and budgetary principles. A draft contract term sheet is included, highlighting the key elements of a credible guarantee.

This generation can leave an historic legacy. By creating arrangements that devote the same scientific effort to diseases of the poor as we put into diseases of the rich, we can make a lasting contribution to the defeat of poverty."

Thursday, September 08, 2005 Wire Story

Only in China... Wire Story: "September 08,2005 | SHANGHAI, China -- A restaurant in northeastern China that advertised illegal tiger meat dishes was found instead to be selling donkey flesh -- marinated in tiger urine, a newspaper reported Thursday.

The Hufulou restaurant, located beside the Heidaohezi tiger reserve near the city of Hailin, had advertised stir-fried tiger meat with chilies for $98as well as liquor flavored with tiger bone for $74 a bottle, the China Daily reported.

Raw meat was priced at $864 per kilogram."

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Flying reptiles just got bigger

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Flying reptiles just got bigger: "Scientists are only now starting to recognise the astonishing size reached by pterosaurs, the flying reptiles that lived at the time of the dinosaurs.

New discoveries in the Americas suggest some had wingspans of 18m or more.

But there was nothing ugly about the way they moved through the air, according to expert Dr David Martill, of the University of Portsmouth.

Their ability to utilise air currents, thermals and ground effects would astonish aeroplane designers, he said.

'Pterosaurs were beautifully engineered,' he told BBC News."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Life 'worse for world's poorest'

BBC NEWS | Americas | Life 'worse for world's poorest':

Many of the world's poorest countries are doing worse in 2005 than they were 15 years ago, a major UN report says.

Drastic action is needed by the world's leaders if they are to keep their promises to end extreme poverty, the 2005 UN Human Development Report warns.

Its 177-nation ranking puts drought-hit Niger last for living standards, with 12 African nations among the bottom 18.

The report, a week before a major UN summit, calls for changes in aid, trade and security policy to halt the slide.

Nothing to wine about | The Other Side | Breaking News 24/7 - (07-09-2005)

Add 6 years to yoyr life...

Nothing to wine about | The Other Side | Breaking News 24/7 - (07-09-2005): "A DIET recommending you eat 100g of chocolate a day and drink red wine, which will add six years to your life - is this for real?
Scientists in Australia and The Netherlands have come up with a diet they claim will cut a person's risk of heart disease by 78 per cent.

And the good news is, you'll want to be on it.

The diet focuses on seven foods that have been proven to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure.

It involves daily consumption of 150ml of red wine, which has been found to cut heart disease risk by 32 per cent.

Chocaholics line up, because you have to consume 100g of dark chocolate per day, an amount the scientists calculate will reduce blood pressure.

You have to eat four meals of fish each week (each 114g), which is said to reduce your heart disease risk by 14 per cent.

The diet also includes a daily total of 400g of fruit and vegetables, also proven to cut blood pressure, and 68g of almonds to cut cholesterol.

You also have to consume 2.7g of garlic per day to reduce your cholesterol levels.

In a paper published in the British Medical Journal, scientists claim that if all these foods are combined in a diet they will lower the risk of heart disease by 78 per cent.

The research shows men who stuck to this diet would gain an extra .6 years of life and have an extra nine years free from heart disease.

Women would gain an extra 4.8 years of life and have an extra eight years without heart disease."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Wake up Doc!

In findings published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 34 young pediatric residents showed similar impairments in vigilance, attention, and driving skills on standardized tests after they had been on duty overnight in the hospital and worked a month of 90-hour weeks, compared with when they had consumed three to four alcoholic drinks after a month of 44-hour weeks with no overnight duties.


Malcolm Gladwell on Health Insurance and Moral interesting and controversial article in the New Yorker Magazine, which has inspired quite a debate in the blogosphere...

New Scientist Breaking News - 95% of thoroughbreds linked to one superstud

New Scientist Breaking News - 95% of thoroughbreds linked to one superstud:

Virtually all 500,000 of the world’s thoroughbred racehorses are descended from 28 ancestors, born in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to a new genetic study. And up to 95% of male thoroughbreds can be traced back to just one stallion



Scarcely a month goes by without news coming from rural China of often-violent protests by locals over corruption, land-grabs, taxation, or environmental issues. The authorities are struggling to stem this rising tide of challenges to abuses that are probably inherent in any one-party dictatorship.

New Scientist Breaking News - Parasites brainwash grasshoppers into death dive

New Scientist Breaking News - Parasites brainwash grasshoppers into death dive: "A parasitic worm that makes the grasshopper it invades jump into water and commit suicide does so by chemically influencing its brain, a study of the insects’ proteins reveal.

The parasitic Nematomorph hairworm (Spinochordodes tellinii) develops inside land-dwelling grasshoppers and crickets until the time comes for the worm to transform into an aquatic adult. Somehow mature hairworms brainwash their hosts into behaving in way they never usually would – causing them to seek out and plunge into water.

Once in the water the mature hairworms – which are three to four times longer that their hosts when extended – emerge and swim away to find a mate, leaving their host dead or dying in the water."
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