Monday, October 31, 2005

Sex Offenders See New Limits for Halloween - New York Times

I feel more secure now (not)...actually I think I will escort my kids on their trick and treat travels tonight...
Sex Offenders See New Limits for Halloween - New York Times: "In Westchester County, high-risk sex offenders on probation will be required to attend a four-hour educational program on Halloween night. In New Jersey, state officials are instructing paroled sex criminals not to answer their doors if trick-or-treaters come knocking. And in counties throughout Texas, parolees with child contact restrictions are being told to stay away from Halloween activities, even family gatherings.

All across the country this year, local and state authorities are placing registered offenders under one-night curfews or other restrictions out of fear that in only a few days, costumed children asking for candy will be arriving on their doorsteps."...

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the new initiatives were a "headline-grabbing response to a serious public health and safety issue" and failed to differentiate between sex offenders whose crimes were against adults and those who focused on children.

US News Article |

Is there a comment on perceived surfer intelligence lurking in this briefing?
US News Article | "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An exclusive California beach enclave has raised eyebrows by passing out tsunami safety brochures that warn residents, in capital letters, that they should never try to surf one.

The pamphlets, part of an emergency preparedness campaign, inform residents of Malibu that tsunamis often follow large earthquakes and advise: 'NEVER GO TO THE BEACH TO WATCH FOR, OR


British woman gives birth to twins from two wombs - Yahoo! News

British woman gives birth to twins from two wombs - Yahoo! News: "LONDON (AFP) - A British woman beat odds of more than five million to one when she gave birth to twins from her two wombs.

Claire Miles, 35, born with a rare medical condition, has a pair of half-size wombs, making it extremely difficult to carry a baby successfully.

Miles is one of about 70 women in the world known to have been pregnant in two wombs since 1905 -- and one of only five such women in Britain in the past 50 years to give birth to babies which survived."

What's a Modern Girl to Do? - New York Times

Maureen Dowd on the Evolution of the Feminist movement...

What's a Modern Girl to Do? - New York Times: "He had hit on a primal fear of single successful women: that the aroma of male power is an aphrodisiac for women, but the perfume of female power is a turnoff for men. It took women a few decades to realize that everything they were doing to advance themselves in the boardroom could be sabotaging their chances in the bedroom, that evolution was lagging behind equality."

A few years ago at a White House correspondents' dinner, I met a very beautiful and successful actress. Within minutes, she blurted out: "I can't believe I'm 46 and not married. Men only want to marry their personal assistants or P.R. women."

I'd been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and powerful men took up with young women whose job it was was to care for them and nurture them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.

John Schwartz of The New York Times made the trend official in 2004 when he reported: "Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and evolution may be to blame." A study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggested that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors. Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them. There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent.

"The hypothesis," Dr. Stephanie Brown, the lead author of the study, theorized, "is that there are evolutionary pressures on males to take steps to minimize the risk of raising offspring that are not their own." Women, by contrast, did not show a marked difference between their attraction to men who might work above them and their attraction to men who might work below them.

So was the feminist movement some sort of cruel hoax? Do women get less desirable as they get more successful?

After I first wrote on this subject, a Times reader named Ray Lewis e-mailed me. While we had assumed that making ourselves more professionally accomplished would make us more fascinating, it turned out, as Lewis put it, that smart women were "draining at times."

Or as Bill Maher more crudely but usefully summed it up to Craig Ferguson on the "Late Late Show" on CBS: "Women get in relationships because they want somebody to talk to. Men want women to shut up."...

When Gloria Steinem wrote that "all women are Bunnies," she did not mean it as a compliment; it was a feminist call to arms. Decades later, it's just an aesthetic fact, as more and more women embrace Botox and implants and stretch and protrude to extreme proportions to satisfy male desires. Now that technology is biology, all women can look like inflatable dolls. It's clear that American narcissism has trumped American feminism.

what tian has learned: Anoop Dogg - Drop It Like a FOB

Check out this link of a funny video in the style of Snoop Dog...

what tian has learned: Anoop Dogg - Drop It Like a FOB: "If you have a lot of chest hair,
Show it like a FOB*,
Immigration coming to get you,
Marry like a FOB,
I've got the champals on my feet,
when im walking down the street,
and I make the best saag**,
when I want something to eat
I am a nice FOB,
I work in the IT***,
When you call tech support,
You will get me.
I am a bachelor,
And I work hard,
Come and marry me
So I can get the Green-card.
White people, they can’t understand me,
Their jobs are now in New Delhi.

* FOB, Freshly Off the Boat, aka. newly arrived immigrants.
** Saag (or Sag), an Indian spinach dish.
*** IT, information technology."

Charles Krebs Posted by Picasa


Check out this link: for fascinating pics from the winners of the annual Nikon small world photography contest..

Let's talk! The computer can translate

Another step towards a global village...

Let's talk! The computer can translate: "This particular gadget, when fully developed, might allow anyone to speak in any number of languages or, as Dr. Waibel put it, 'to switch your mouth to a foreign language.'"

News from PC Magazine: A Computer for Every Kid

News from PC Magazine: A Computer for Every Kid: "It was a pipe dream only a few months ago, but soon it will be reality. An ambitious effort from MIT Media Labs to put a $100 notebook in the hands of every child in the world is picking up big corporate partners, top engineering talent, and interest from several countries. One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit venture, is expected to start distributing machines late next year and to produce 100 to 200 million machines in 2007"

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Chimps Posted by Picasa

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Chimps fall down on friendship

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Chimps fall down on friendship: "Chimps fall down on friendship

Captive chimpanzees fail to help others in their social group, even when it causes no inconvenience, a behavioural study in Nature journal has found.

Helpfulness is prevalent in humans, even when it may harm the helper's own interests to aid another.

Humanlike attributes shown by chimps include tool use and maybe rudimentary language skills, but this study suggests altruism is not among them.

But other researchers said that captive chimps may be less socially inclined.

A team led by Joan Silk of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), set captive chimpanzees tests in which they obtained a food reward.

The chimps were presented with two reward options. One option allowed a chimp only to serve itself with food. The other secured the same reward, but also delivered food to another chimpanzee in an enclosure next door.

Dr Silk's team found the 29 chimps tested in the study were no more likely to pick the second option than the first, even though it allowed them to do a 'good deed' at no cost to themselves.

The result was surprising because the chimps had been living together in the same group for 15 years. They were not related, but might have been expected to be very close.

Food sharing has been demonstrated in groups of wild chimpanzees. So the Nature study raises questions about how this behaviour arises.

Other researchers suggest that the result could be down to the unnatural situation or to differences in behaviour brought on by captivity."

CBS News | FEMA Extends Ex-Chief's Contract | October 26, 2005 20:30:06

Ex FEMA Head , Mike Brown, gets a second thirty day extension...
CBS News | FEMA Extends Ex-Chief's Contract | October 26, 2005 20:30:06: "(AP) The former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday defended the agency's decision to keep him on the job another 30 days as a 'completely legitimate thing to do.'

Michael Brown, who resigned under fire Sept. 12 after being heavily criticized for the federal government's slow reaction to the hurricane, told The Associated Press that he would help the agency complete its review of the response to Hurricane Katrina. He said he would also be reviewing for the agency a large number of Freedom of Information requests dealing with the response. "...

Mississippi Congressman Gene Taylor, whose coastal district was among the hardest hit by Katrina, said Brown's contract extension is an insult to taxpayers, particularly those Gulf Coast residents "whose lives were in danger in the aftermath of that storm because of Mike Brown's incompetence."

"I've got tens of thousands of people living in two-man igloo tents tonight, and less than a quarter of the people who have asked for FEMA travel trailers have gotten them," Taylor said. "And at the same time they can find $140,000 a year to pay this incompetent son of a gun; that's ridiculous."

Developing Lands Hit Hardest by 'Brain Drain' - New York Times

The brain drain problem extends beyond doctors....

Developing Lands Hit Hardest by 'Brain Drain' - New York Times: "Poor countries across Africa, Central America and the Caribbean are losing sometimes staggering portions of their college-educated workers to wealthy democracies, according to a World Bank study released yesterday.

The study found that from a quarter to almost half of the collegeeducated citizens of poor countries like Ghana, Mozambique, Kenya, Uganda and El Salvador lived abroad in an O.E.C.D. country - a fraction that rises to more than 80 percent for Haiti and Jamaica.

In contrast, less than 5 percent of the skilled citizens of the powerhouses of the developing world, like India, China, Indonesia and Brazil, live abroad in an O.E.C.D. country.

NEJM -- The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain

This brain drain factor was one of the biggest concerns of physicians I spoke with when I was in West Africa last spring...Many of their classmates had left Africa to seek greener pastures abroad, contributing to the decline of healthcare in their "home countries."

NEJM -- The Metrics of the Physician Brain Drain: "ABSTRACT
Background There has been substantial immigration of physicians to developed countries, much of it coming from lower-income countries. Although the recipient nations and the immigrating physicians benefit from this migration, less developed countries lose important health capabilities as a result of the loss of physicians.
Methods Data on the countries of origin, based on countries of medical education, of international medical graduates practicing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia were obtained from sources in the respective countries and analyzed separately and in aggregate. With the use of World Health Organization data, I computed an emigration factor for the countries of origin of the immigrant physicians to provide a relative measure of the number of physicians lost by emigration.
Results International medical graduates constitute between 23 and 28 percent of physicians in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, and lower-income countries supply between 40 and 75 percent of these international medical graduates. India, the Philippines, and Pakistan are the leading sources of international medical graduates. The United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia draw a substantial number of physicians from South Africa, and the United States draws very heavily from the Philippines. Nine of the 20 countries with the highest emigration factors are in sub-Saharan Africa or the Caribbean.
Conclusions Reliance on international medical graduates in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia is reducing the supply of physicians in many lower-income countries. "...

India and the Indian subcontinent provide the largest absolute number of physicians to the recipient nations, but the relative draw on nations, as measured by the emigration factor, is actually greater for sub-Saharan Africa and is very pronounced for Caribbean countries

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

fish story Posted by Picasa

castle rock Posted by Picasa | Photoshop Contests | Are you Worthy™ | contest

There are some very imaginative people out there! Check out these photos !!!! | Photoshop Contests | Are you Worthy™ | contest: "We've all dreamed of the perfect home- the unique and fabulous place we'd live if we ever won the lottery. In this contest, your task is to think of the most creative use possible for that endless home building budget- after all, money is no object when you've got Photoshop.

The rules of this game are thus: You must envision an architectural structure that is bizarre, but at the same time oddly appealing and inventive. The rest is up to your imagination. As always, quality is a must. We will remove poor entries no matter how much we like you. You'll have 48 hours for this contest, so make your submission count."

Iraqi women take up arms -- The Washington Times

Iraqi women take up arms -- The Washington Times: "BAGHDAD -- While most Iraqi women live in fear of terrorists and criminals, one small band of women has taken up arms and is prepared to fight back.
Employed by a private security company, the women ride in the front passenger seat posing as ordinary housewives when the company's drivers transport customers around the city in nondescript vehicles.
But their firearms are always close at hand, and they are trained to respond with force if they come under attack. "...

"Before I got into this, I was like a normal female; when I heard bullets, I would hide," said Muna, a stocky young woman in a black T-shirt and black pants.
"Now, I feel like a man. When I hear a bullet, I want to know where it came from," she said, sitting comfortably with an AK-47 assault rifle across her legs, red toenails poking out from a pair of stacked sandals. "Now I feel equal to my husband."
If the work provides personal fulfillment for Muna, her colleague Assal -- a divorced mother -- sees it as a cause.
"I have seen a lot of innocent people die," she said, staring out with intense black eyes. "We are trying to defend ourselves and defend each other. I am doing this for my country."
Like many Iraqis, she has no idea what the future will bring.
"I see today, I don't see tomorrow," she said, voicing a common refrain. ...

After several months of training, the women say they feel more self-confident and stronger. Although none ever dreamed she would be handling guns or jumping out of cars, now all want more training, especially firing range practice with the Baghdad guns of choice -- AK-47s and 9 mm pistols. ... - Many Americans Open to Care At Retail-Based Health Clinics

The future of healthcare? - Many Americans Open to Care At Retail-Based Health Clinics: "Many Americans Open to Care
At Retail-Based Health Clinics
October 26, 2005

Many Americans believe retailers can provide an alternative to a doctor's office visit via onsite clinics, a new Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive health-care poll finds.
As consumers' out-of-pocket costs for health-care services continue to rise, retail chains like Wal-Mart and CVS are stepping in to provide basic medical services via retail-based clinics, The Wall Street Journal reported recently. (See related article). The clinics, which don't require an appointment, provide routine medical services such as strep-throat tests, sports physicals and flu shots for about $25 to $60 per visit.
Thus far, only a small minority of adults (7%) have used the clinics, according to the online Harris poll of 2,245 adults, but those who have used them are largely satisfied: 92% say they have been satisfied with the convenience provided by such clinics, which are often open during evening and weekend hours, and 89% say they are satisfied with the quality of care, which is usually provided by nurse practitioners, who can legally treat patients and write prescriptions in most states.
The poll also finds fairly strong interest in these clinics among people who haven't used them: 41% say they would be likely to use an onsite health clinic for basic medical services, compared with 59% who say they aren't likely to use them.
Among the concerns noted, 71% say they would be worried about the qualifications of the staff and 75% would be worried that serious medical problems might not be accurately diagnosed. "

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reason: Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business: A Reason debate featuring Milton Friedman, Whole Foods’ John Mackey, and Cypress Semi

A fascinating dialogue about the social responsibility of business. As someone whose business philosophy alignes with that of John Mackey, the founder of the immensely successful "Whole Foods" stores, I found the opposing arguments thought provoking ) though not compelling)...

Reason: Rethinking the Social Responsibility of Business: A Reason debate featuring Milton Friedman, Whole Foods’ John Mackey, and Cypress Semiconductor’s T.J. Rodgers: "John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods, is one businessman who disagrees with Friedman. A self-described ardent libertarian whose conversation is peppered with references to Ludwig von Mises and Abraham Maslow, Austrian economics and astrology, Mackey believes Friedman’s view is too narrow a description of his and many other businesses’ activities. As important, he argues that Friedman’s take woefully undersells the humanitarian dimension of capitalism.

In the debate that follows, Mackey lays out his personal vision of the social responsibility of business. Friedman responds, as does T.J. Rodgers, the founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor and the chief spokesman of what might be called the tough love school of laissez faire. Dubbed “one of America’s toughest bosses” by Fortune, Rodgers argues that corporations add far more to society by maximizing “long-term shareholder value” than they do by donating time and money to charity.

Reason offers this exchange as the starting point of a discussion that should be intensely important to all devotees of free minds and free markets"

Medical Economics - MURDERED

This story of a pediatric ophthalmologist murdering another pediatric ophthalmologist certainly shakes one's image of the pediatric ophthalmologists I know--soft spoken, cheerful etc....
Medical Economics - MURDERED: "On a chilly Saturday morning last December, some 700 people walked together in cactus-studded Sabino Canyon Recreation Area outside Tucson. They were relatives, friends, and patients—children in the hundreds—of pediatric ophthalmologist David Brian Stidham, who had died two months before."

The Globe and Mail: Now I lay me down to... fungi

Uugh gross...

The Globe and Mail: Now I lay me down to... fungi: "It's not just your bed, it's an ecosystem, and a swampy one at that. New research has found that your pillow is home to millions of fungal spores from the bathroom, kitchen and other places where you might not want to rest your head.

It's well known that few people actually sleep alone: Most beds are home to thousands of microscopic dust mites, which produce so much excrement they can add a pound or two of weight to your mattress every year, by some estimates. Humans feed the mites by shedding dead skin, and add water from about 100 litres of sweat a year, says Ashley Woodcock, a researcher at the University of Manchester in England.

Still, he was surprised at both the amount and variety of fungi he found when he tested 10 pillows.

He and his colleagues found up to 16 species of fungi, including types normally found in bread and bathrooms, and a more worrisome species called Aspergillus fumigatus, which is the leading cause of death from infection in patients with leukemia and bone-marrow transplants.

'We really thought it was the kind of stuff you find on a bathroom wall in a damp house. To find it in the bed you sleep in is really a surprise,' said Dr. Woodcock, whose findings are to be published this week in the journal Allergy."

U.S. citizens for world invasion...

This link:
is a bit scary, as the "average Joe" apparently feels quite confident in his/her ability to advise what country the U.S. should invade next...

Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution

U.S. and free trade...

Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution: "As the U.S. attempts to spread democratic revolution around the world through the sharing of our hope, something insect-like is eating away at our national fabric and forcing growing numbers of us to wonder if the emporer might eventually not have clothes. It’s our country’s repeated failure to adhere to international agreements.

I’m not talking about U.S. failure to heed corrupt multilateral organizations like the United Nations or bureaucratic-till-the-point-of-pointlessness organizations like the World Court or the European Union. On those matters I remain unyielding in criticism until they change. It’s something else.

The U.S. is starting to get a reputation for playing very dirty around international trade matters. Via Club for Growth, an article on NAFTA says there’s been a growing pattern of global scofflawing that doesn’t become us at all. Apparently, we violate every agreement we sign and get ruled against all the time by the WTO. Shamelessly our government just keeps doing it. The Spectator article linked above describes in graphic detail all the shenanigans going on with Canadian lumber. I’m starting to get disturbed by it, because it seems to be part of a pattern."

Lebanese Political Journal: The Battle Over Syria - Don't Forget about Justice in Lebanon

More about Syria from the Lebanese Political Journal...
Lebanese Political Journal: The Battle Over Syria - Don't Forget about Justice in Lebanon: "Syria has launched an interesting ploy in response to the Mehlis Report. American blogger Joshua Landis is offering the Syrian regime assistance in promoting their rhetoric.

What maks their stance so offensive to me is that they entirely neglect Lebanon. To them, Syria didn't bring this mess on itself: 'This whole situation is entirely an American game that has to do with Iraq with Syria in the middle. Lebanon? Hariri? Justice? No, no, no. This is all about Syria and America, and America's current abuse of Syria.' This line of thinking is downright offensive to anyone who gives a wink about Lebanon or justice or terror or conspiracy to commit murder or blackmail or..."

Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution

On Syria..from Publius Pundit...

Publius Pundit - Blogging the democratic revolution: "The Mehlis report was released today, and it was the historic bombshell that everyone knew it would be. It implicated Syrian and Lebanese intelligence chiefs and military generals, all the way up to members of Assad’s family. The commission was also extended up until December in order to allow for further investigations into more recent developments and leads. And, speaking of those leads, Mehlis deleted the names of some of those suspected of conspiring in Hariri’s murder for reasons not yet known, though I can imagine it has to due with following up with evidence by December. Here’s what happened:"

HIV virus attacking an immune cell Posted by Picasa

BBC NEWS | Africa | Africa Aids orphans 'may top 18m'

BBC NEWS | Africa | Africa Aids orphans 'may top 18m': "UN charity Unicef says 18 million children in sub-Saharan Africa could be orphaned by Aids by the end of 2010.

It also says that every minute, a child is infected with HIV and another child dies from an Aids-related illness.

The charity says children are being overlooked in the global fight against HIV and Aids.

Unicef says only 5% of HIV-positive children get medical help, and fewer than 10% of the 15 million already orphaned by Aids get financial support.

Unicef's executive director Ann Veneman said children were the 'invisible face' of a very visible disease and were missing out on the help that adults received.

'It is critical that the world unite for children and unite against Aids. The size of the problem is staggering, but the scale of the response has been inadequate,' she said."

Monday, October 24, 2005

‘Dust people’ starve in Zimbabwe ruins - Sunday Times - Times Online

The United Nations flies Mugabe to an all expense trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day while Mugabe's 2nd phase of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the filth) commences. This phase is called "Sniff out the rats who have sneaked back in..."
‘Dust people’ starve in Zimbabwe ruins - Sunday Times - Times Online: "‘Dust people’ starve in Zimbabwe ruins
Christina Lamb, Harare
SOME call them the “dust people”, others the “people with no address”. President Robert Mugabe’s government has a more graphic term: “Sniff out the rats who have sneaked back in” is the name of the latest campaign by police and soldiers against the city dwellers whose homes they demolished earlier this year but who have refused to flee.

Thousands of Zimbabweans are now living like animals in the midst of rubble, crawling in and out of hovels less than 3ft high, fashioned from cardboard boxes and broken asbestos.

With no means of earning a living — and with aid agencies banned by the government from helping them — they are forced to forage in rubbish for rotten vegetables or prostitute themselves for the equivalent of 10p to feed their children. A doctor who managed to get in said tuberculosis was rife.

These are the victims of Operation Murambatsvina (drive out the filth), Mugabe’s so-called urban beautification campaign which, according to a damning report by the United Nations, left more than 700,000 homeless or without an income.

Yet last week the United Nations flew Zimbabwe’s president on an all-expenses-paid trip to Rome to celebrate World Food Day in defiance of European Union travel sanctions. Flanked by bodyguards, he proclaimed that there was no hunger in his country and blamed its problems on George W Bush and Tony Blair, branding them international terrorists and likening them to Hitler and Mussolini."

First movie theaters in Saudi!

According to Sabbah's blog, Riyadh will soon have its first movie theater!!!
Alas, only cartoons will be shown...(Link below)

Cool photography tricks

Check out this link of neat photos taken by throwing one's camera in the air and keeping a long shutter speed...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Creating Ring Tones to a Different Tune

Creating Ring Tones to a Different Tune: "Having music on your phone is great, but after spending $1 or so to download a song online, why pay nearly $2 for a ring tone that's only part of the song?
It's a good question, to which there is a cheaper answer: Make your own ring tone, using clips of your favorite songs in your personal music library downloaded directly to your cell phone.
It's almost too easy to make your own ring tone -- and, eventually, that could leave your wireless carrier worried about the money it makes by selling ring tones over the phone.
There are two ways music lovers can download their favorite tunes to their phones. The first involves connecting the computer to the phone via a USB cord -- but for that you need an advanced phone, such as the Palm Treo.
The other way involves third-party software that sends ring tones over the air, via text message.
Xingtone and Ringtone Media Studio -- software suites sold online or in retail stores for just under $20 -- are among those that allow you to tap into your music library to make an unlimited number of ring tones.
'Why should "

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Nzingha's soapbox: Compound Living

A good overview of compound living in Saudi Arabia from an American Muslim woman...

Nzingha's soapbox: Compound Living: "There are basically two types of compounds, those geared toward the Western expatriate community and those geared towards Muslims who are for the most part Arabs. There are some mixed compounds but since they don't provided segregated services for things like the pool it isn't for a very conservative Muslim family. There are problems for Muslims who live on some of the more open (read parties with alcohol and teenage dating ect) western orientated compounds. But for the most part on many of the compounds Muslims and Non Muslims live side by side enjoying a life that most in Saudi are not privy to."

Farah's Sowaleef

From Farooha Sowaleef...
The Everyday Natterings of an Exhausted, Repressed, and Bored "Saudi" Arabian Chick..

Farah's Sowaleef: "Specters of the Abandoned Riyadhian Alleys, AKA. 'there she goes again..'

As I made my daily commute from Northern Riyadh (where I live) to the center, (where college is, also known as Olaisha, or downtown Riyadh), I held my head up and tried my best to do anything but sleep. Which is what I usually do, seeing as it is a 45 minute drive and it is not I who is behind the wheel. What came before me, however, was something I wished I had made note of earlier.

It was the raw and crude Riyadh; Riyadh as it is: sans the lavish villas, sans the state of the art malls, sans the international corporations and banks. The Riyadh that it was in the past, before the world snatched our sleepy Bedouin nation that wasn't as ready as it thought it was, and thrusted it in to the 21st century, where the rest of the civilized world lied. It was the Riyadh that belonged to 1960/1970 Saudi Arabia; the venue on which great Saudi minds flourished."...
It was, in fact, a period where boredom and unemployment was not endemic, where Saudis rolled their sleeves up and did what they had to do for their own selves. It was not wrong for a Saudi man to work as a toileteer (so to speak, as plumber would be an overstatment for "elly yina'9ef al mezagat") My own loving father honorably did that for two years in Gaseem before he moved to Riyadh and then to Seattle. It was also a time where it was not taboo for a girl to walk down the street. I always find myself sighing a sigh of despair when I pitifully compare my life of restriction, distrust, boredom and repression, to what I see in my mother's pictures, "such an enchanting, captivating time it must have been," is all I could always think. I leave you, good people, with the pictures of the alleys I discovered in old Riyadh, my new favorite place in the world, and let your imaginations go wild with the stories that must have once lurked behind them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone From Yahoo! News

Dispatch from the Congo...

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone From Yahoo! News: "'They use rape as a weapon of war,' says 33-year-old Marie. 'They have guns, but this is worse than the guns.'

Marie speaks from experience. In 1997 her husband was killed and she was raped by three members of the Hutu Interahamwe militia -- the same group responsible for much of the 1994 genocide against ethnic Tutsis in Rwanda.

For Serapina, 25, the tragic moments of her life lay on top of each other like bricks, each one heavier than the last, slowly building into a crushing weight of unthinkable misery.

"Then they took me outside," she continues. "They beat my husband. Then..." she pauses. "They killed my two children."

She says they looted everything from the house and then torched it. They left her standing naked in front of the flames. It was too much; mind and body shut down, and she says, she fainted.

For Serapina the horror was reprised seven years later. Rebel soldiers connected to Congolese dissident Laurent Nkunda came to the IDP (internally displaced persons) camp where the family was now living because of renewed violence.

"They killed my husband. After having killed him, one tied my arms on a tree. He also had sex with me as before," she says.

She was three months pregnant when she was raped the second time, she says, but two days later she had a miscarriage.

"They mutilated my husband's body. Cut off his arms." And then, she says in an unfathomably calm tone, "they forced me to eat my husband's flesh. They said they would kill me if I refused."

Serapina says she wishes she had died then. The only thing that has given her any hope in the aftermath of these assaults is the comfort from hundreds of others like her; women victimized by the armed groups camping near their communities.

It began, also in 1997, when Rwandan soldiers supporting the Congolese revolt led by Laurent Kabila came to her home in the mountains of eastern Congo.

'They forced the door open,' she says, in a sure and steady voice that has shared this story before. 'They tied my husband on a tree. They had me to lay down. The first one came and he jumped on me. The second came, the third ... and all of them -- there were six -- and they had sex with me.'

When they were finished, she says they shoved a piece of cloth far into her vagina."


BREITBART.COM - Just The News: "Rock giants U2 have expressed outrage that US politicians from both main parties, including Hillary Clinton, are using their concerts to fill campaign coffers.

'The U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician. They are rock concerts for U2 fans,' a statement from the group's publicist said.

Senator Clinton has 'invited' 18 people to join her on October 19 in a luxury suite at Washington's MCI Center to see U2 play during their sold-out Vertigo tour, as long as they contribute 2,500 dollars to the Democratic Party.

Luxury suites at the center cost 7,000 dollars and offer a close-up view of the stage.

'We do a meet-and-greet with the senator, and then go in and listen to music,' said Ann Lewis, the former first lady's spokeswoman.

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum is holding a 1,000-dollar-a-head fundraiser at U2's show in Philadelphia this weekend." - Foxlife - Strakalogue - Grrr! Bono: A Not-So-Stupid Lit'l Dreamer

Fox news with a positive piece on Bono!... - Foxlife - Strakalogue - Grrr! Bono: A Not-So-Stupid Lit'l Dreamer: "Striving for anything beyond the realm of the ordinary will put you in a gray area where some people are inspired by you, and others will do whatever they can to keep you down.

When encountering the former, it would be best to encourage them to follow their own dreams with hard work and integrity. When encountering the latter, it's best to ignore them.

Negative people will set you back in your career and in your life.

Nobody knows that better than rock star Bono, (search) of U2. One of the most remarkable episodes of any recent late-night talk show happened last week when U2 'hijacked' — to quote Bono — 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien.'

Never mind that Conan is the best show in his time slot, the performances by U2 were some of the best live television will ever offer. And then, Bono spoke about aid to Africa and forgiveness of debt in third world nations.

Before you Grrr! the cause, Bono has been outspoken about aid to victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita here in America, as well."

The way Bono has gone about his activism is both admirable and inspirational. He's done it with respect for others' points of views, and with a reasonable voice that forces people to listen.

"You don't have to agree on everything to get on with somebody," he said of his relationship with President Bush. "You just have to agree on one thing."

According to the Grrr! Lexicon, a "Stupid Lit'l Dreamer" is someone who strives to better his life, his career and the lives of those around him. She is someone who believes she can make a difference. They are people who can ask the most basic and most important question of society or their bosses or the man or woman of their dreams. That question is: "Why not me?"

When you believe in yourself, anything is possible...

Whatever it is that gives you the strength to wipe away your tears, hold on to it for dear life and nurture it with all of your heart. Because at the end of the day, your money, your job, your career and all of those Oblivions who tried to keep you down won't be following you into the afterlife.

The love you've left behind will be the energy that propels you to your next journey.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Razor Wars and the Cutting Edge of Technology

History of shaving--an interesting read...
TCS: Tech Central Station - Razor Wars and the Cutting Edge of Technology: "Of a thousand shavers, two do not shave so much alike as not to be distinguished.

-- Samuel Johnson

Spider webs soaked in oil and vinegar.


That's what ancient Roman men used to slap on their faces to staunch the bleeding cuts left by barbers who had shaved them with the iron razors of the day. No less an authority than Pliny the Elder has left us the formula for this interesting aftershave.

Things have improved to say the least. Indeed, modern shaving has reached the point where an aftershave is more a pick-me-up than a palliative.

If there is one area in which technology has delivered a palpable personal payoff for mankind it is in the attainment of a good, comfortable -- and safe -- shave."

Look Who's Ignoring Science Now

Efficacy of DDT in malaria control...

Look Who's Ignoring Science Now: "The flip side of Bush cronyism is hostility toward experts -- toward people who care about what's what rather than who's who. Economists have depressingly little influence on the Bush economic policy. Climate scientists are incidental to the Bush climate-change policy. Health experts seldom decide issues like the provision of clean needles to HIV-vulnerable drug addicts or poor countries' access to generic AIDS drugs. But it's not just the Bush administration that spurns data and evidence. Consider the case of dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane, on which the Bush administration is marginally better than the European Union.

DDT, to give that chemical its more familiar name, works miracles against diseases that are spread by insects. During the Second World War, vast quantities of the stuff were dusted over troops and concentration-camp survivors to kill the body lice that spread typhus. Later, DDT was used widely in Latin America to beat back dengue and yellow fever. But the chemical's noblest calling is to combat malarial mosquitoes. In the early 20th century, Dunklin County, Missouri, had a higher rate of malarial mortality than Freetown, Sierra Leone. Between 1947 and 1949, DDT was sprayed on the internal walls of nearly 5 million American houses, and at the end of that process malaria had ceased to pose a significant threat in the United States.

DDT also helped to eliminate malaria in Europe and parts of Asia, and in 1970 the National Academy of Sciences estimated that the chemical had prevented 500 million deaths. And yet, despite that astounding number, DDT has all but disappeared from the malaria arsenal. Some 500 million people still get the disease annually, and at least 1 million die, but the World Health Organization refuses to recommend DDT spraying. The U.S. government's development programs don't purchase any of the chemical. In June President Bush made a great show of announcing a new five-year push against malaria; DDT appears to play no part in his plans.

But the worst culprit is the European Union. It not only refuses to fund DDT spraying: In the case of at least one country, it has also threatened to punish DDT use with import restrictions...

Cool Honda Ad

Click and paste the link below for a cool movie (a Honda ad)...

African Food for Africa's Starving Is Roadblocked in Congress - New York Times

Insight into the business of aid...
African Food for Africa's Starving Is Roadblocked in Congress - New York Times: "It seemed like a no-brainer: changing the law to allow the federal government to buy food in Africa for Africans facing starvation instead of paying enormous sums to ship it from the American heartland, halfway around the world. Not only would the food get to the hungry in weeks instead of months, the government would save money and help African farmers at the same time.
The new approach had an impeccable sponsor in Republican-dominated Washington. The Bush administration, famous for its go-it-alone style, was trying to move the United States - by far the world's biggest food donor - into the international mainstream with a proposal to take a step in just this direction. A lot of rich countries had already done so, most recently Canada.
So why is this seemingly sensible, cost-effective proposal near death in Congress?
Fundamentally, because the proposal challenges the political bargain that has formed the basis for food aid over the past half century: that American generosity must be good not just for the world's hungry but also for American agriculture. That is why current law stipulates that all food aid provided by the United States Agency for International Development be grown by American farmers and mostly shipped on United States-flag vessels. More practically, however, it is because the administration's proposal has run into opposition from three interests some critics call the Iron Triangle of food aid: agribusiness, the shipping industry and charitable organizations. "

Genocide Intervention Fund

Genocide Intervention Fund: "A year ago, a group of Swarthmore students decided to take on an unusual extracurricular activity: stopping genocide.
Mark Hanis, one of the students, is Jewish and all four of his grandparents survived the Holocaust. He was troubled by the way generations of Americans acquiesced in one genocide after another � only to apologize afterward and pledge �Never Again.�
So Mr. Hanis and fellow students started to raise money to help provide security to stop the slaughter in Darfur. In particular, they wanted to help pay for African Union peacekeepers.
Their Genocide Intervention Fund has now raised $250,000 and is about to hand over the first installment to the leaders of the African Union. The money may be used to pay for female African police officers to protect Darfur women from being raped."

Burma- Grace Under Pressure

Cut and paste the link below for a very well done flash presentation of Burma with audio and sound by the professional photographer, Geoffrey Hiller...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Year After Year, Grave After Grave - New York Times

Africa needs a green revolution...
Year After Year, Grave After Grave - New York Times: "Gouré, Niger

"They didn't have enough to eat, and then they got diarrhea and weakened and died," he explained. None had seen a doctor; in Niger, there is one doctor for every 33,000 people.

Granted, it's difficult for Western readers who are dieting to comprehend people who are starving. But Niger seems a good place to ponder the failings of a system of international aid that is often irrational and catastrophically inept, leading to the deaths of those children, Suraj, 5, Barida, 3, and Hawau, 2 - along with millions more across the continent.

A crucial mistake is our refusal to provide substantial agricultural assistance to increase African food production. Instead, we ship tons of food in emergency aid after people have already started dying. It's like a policy of scrimping on manhole covers because we're too busy rescuing people who fall into manholes.

Welcome to the most wretched country in the world.

Niger is dead last of the 177 nations ranked in the latest U.N. Human Development Report, based on its heartbreaking rates of poverty, illiteracy and mortality. On a 650-mile drive across the country from the Niger capital, Niamey, to this eastern city of Gouré, I stopped in village after village where peasants told of young children dying of starvation in the last few months. One man named Haroun Mani had just buried three of his eight children."

In Niger, it has been apparent since the beginning of this year that a food crisis was coming, but the world ignored a U.N. emergency appeal for $3 million in aid in February. Then in July, BBC television showed wrenching images of children dying. Niger promptly received more aid in the last 10 days of July than it had received in the previous eight months.

In fact, the situation is more complex than the television images suggest. The reality is that people in Niger are always starving.

"There was a crisis last year, and there'll be a crisis next year," said Claude Dunn, who runs the World Food Program office in Maradi. This year's crisis was especially bad, but year in, year out, 160,000 children under the age of 5 die in Niger - one child in four never reaches 5. In other words, every single week this small country faces a 9/11-sized toll, composed entirely of dead children. And yet no one is declaring: We are all Nigeriens.

One problem is that U.S. law generally requires our food aid to be purchased in American markets and transported on American ships. The upshot is that much of the donation is wasted on shipping costs, the aid is delayed, and when it arrives our grain risks depressing local prices and long-term production incentives. To his credit, President Bush has pushed to ease this requirement, but members of Congress are blocking him, because they value farmers' votes more than African lives.

Above all, we need a major new international initiative to extend the green revolution to Africa. Farmers in tropical Africa get only 1,500 pounds of cereal grain per acre, compared with 4,900 pounds in China. Pedro Sanchez, an agricultural expert at Columbia University, has estimated that Africans could triple food production if they used modern seeds and methods.

In the village of Angaual Goge Haouna, where seven children died in the last few months of starvation, villagers said they wanted more fertilizer above all, as well as better seeds and help exploiting a nearby lake for irrigation.

"I'm not only using the same techniques as my grandfather, I'm actually using the same implements," said Momom Bukhary, a 63-year-old man. "And this land used to be far more productive than it is now. When I was young, the annual harvest would last a full year, longer in good times. Now it only lasts three months, and then we run out of food."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body

Sleep more, live longer...

Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body: "With a good night's rest increasingly losing out to the Internet, e-mail, late-night cable and other distractions of modern life, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that too little or erratic sleep may be taking an unappreciated toll on Americans' health.

Beyond leaving people bleary-eyed, clutching a Starbucks cup and dozing off at afternoon meetings, failing to get enough sleep or sleeping at odd hours heightens the risk for a variety of major illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, recent studies indicate."

Pinhole Lego Camera Posted by Picasa

Thoughts About Photography: Medium Format Pinhole Lego Camera

How to make a pinhole camera out of Legos...
Thoughts About Photography: Medium Format Pinhole Lego Camera: "After making the Lego conversion of my old Polaroid 95a, I decided to tackle another Lego challenge: a medium format Pinhole Lego Camera. I had several goals for the lego camera:

1. First, I wanted to make sure that the film advance knob only turned one direction.

2. Secondly, I wanted to have a film counter in addition to the red window.

3. And last but not least, it would be nice to have some sort of viewfinder.

Originally, I was going to build the camera in Lego Digital Designer, so I could share better instructions with the blogosphere. I still might do that, but until I get a computer that can run that software better, you will have to survive with just my photos. Let's get started..."

plant with eyes Posted by Picasa

Dancing Plants

Copy and paste this link into your browser for a surreal experience with plant photography...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Hound of the Baskervilles 1959 Posted by Picasa

The Truth About Quicksand Is Beginning to Sink In - New York Times

The Truth About Quicksand Is Beginning to Sink In - New York Times: "Real quicksand, the kind that is almost impossible to extricate yourself from, is not just water and sand. Salt and clay are also major ingredients in this B-movie plot device, scientists report in the current issue of Nature.

Their study began when Dr. Daniel Bonn, a professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, was in Iran a few years ago and saw signs warning of quicksand. Naturally, the warning prompted him to collect samples and he sank in to his ankles.

He quickly escaped, but even shallow quicksand can be hard to step out of. Back home, Dr. Bonn and his colleagues found out why. Sand grains in quicksand are usually loosely packed, with the clay acting as a fragile gel holding the grains together.

Hit with sudden force from, say, a hapless victim, the quicksand gel turns to liquid. Then salt causes clay particles to stick to one another instead of the sand grains, with the result that a victim ends up surrounded by densely packed sand.

The force needed to pull out a person immersed in quicksand is about the same needed to lift a car, Dr. Bonn said. The trick for escaping is to slowly wiggle the feet and legs, allowing water to flow in. People float in quicksand so it is also impossible to sink all the way in, but quicksand usually forms at river estuaries, so a captive could drown at high tide."

India's Ghost Man Posted by Picasa

Scary living for India's ghost man - Yahoo! News

Scary living for India's ghost man - Yahoo! News: "PAKURTALA, India (AFP) - Mothers use his name to scare their children while even adults hope they don't bump into him in the dark -- for more than 40 years Gopal Haldar has been making his living in India's Sunderbans mangrove region as a ghost.

Measuring a mere 1.21 meters (four feet) and weighing a slight 24 kilograms (52 pound), Haldar -- now near to retirement age -- says he has been malnourished all his life.

'My mother was very weak. So I am. I am unable to work in the field,' Halder said in an interview in the Sunderbans village of Pakurtala, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) south of the eastern Indian city of Kolkata in the Ganges River delta.

'I have hardly had the money to buy good food or visit a doctor. I have been suffering from malnutrition since my childhood.

Because of his poor health and stick-like physique, he added, neighbours had said he was 'born to play a ghost'.

He took to the idea and his reputation began to spread through the myriad islands that make up the Sunderbans."...

He says it takes him only 10 to 15 minutes to do his makeup and transform his emaciated self into a ghost-like creature -- mainly by painting his sunken face, protruding ribs and skeletal limbs with soot.

"I see it as acting," said Haldar, adding that while he roams from village to village scaring the daylights out of people, his wife and son work in the fields.

"I have no regrets. Sometimes I enjoy it," he said of his spooky profession...

Lighting up a hemp cigarette in front of his wife, Haldar acknowledged his love of the herb.

"(But) when I indulge myself in smoking hemp and playing chess, I wonder if I am a real ghost or a human being," he said philosophically. News | "Whatever the price, I had to tell the truth"

An insightful interview with a courageous (and very pretty) Saudi women. If you are not a subscriber to and are interested in the article, let me know... News | "Whatever the price, I had to tell the truth": "Oct. 5, 2005 | By the time she was in her early 20s, Rania al-Baz had become one of the best known and best loved faces in her home country of Saudi Arabia. As presenter of a program called 'The Kingdom This Morning' on state-owned television, her hair was always covered by a hijab, as is required, but her face remained uncovered, and she would choose head scarves of defiantly flamboyant colors to cover her immaculately styled hair. She became, for hundreds of thousands of Saudi women, admirable, enviable and challenging -- and, thus, an implicit threat to a society in which women are forced to cover themselves, are not allowed to drive, cannot vote or participate in political life, cannot leave home unless accompanied by a chaperone or travel without authorization from a father or husband, and cannot establish a business without a male sponsor.

Then, suddenly, on April 13, 2004, Baz disappeared from the airwaves. When she emerged two weeks later, her face was all over the newspapers, but it was barely recognizable. Her husband had savagely assaulted her, slamming her face against the marble-tiled floor of their home until it suffered 13 fractures. He was disposing of what he assumed to be her dead body when she showed signs of life and, panicking, he took her to the hospital, where doctors gave her only a 70 percent chance of survival."

During the days in which Baz was in a coma, fighting for her life, her father took photographs of her grotesquely disfigured face. And after she recovered, she decided to permit the photographs to be published, thus doing what no woman in the kingdom had ever done. Of course, there was nothing particularly unusual about her bruises: Baz was a victim of one of the world's most common, and least punished, crimes. But in Saudi Arabia especially, Baz had shattered a wall of silence about domestic violence. The images of her grotesquely bruised and swollen face sent shockwaves through her country and around the world, casting an unwelcome but glaring spotlight on the abuse of women that thrives behind the mask of Saudi religious dogmatism. Baz would also go on to divorce her husband -- almost unheard of in Saudi Arabia, where divorce is invariably the other way around -- and win custody of her children, again in defiance of precedent.

Fifteen months after the attack that nearly killed her, Baz is in Paris, visiting for a few days. We had intended to meet in Jeddah, where she lives, but she feels safer, she says, talking outside Saudi Arabia. "It would have been hard for me, even for you maybe, to talk there -- who knows?

Sachet Marketing Posted by Picasa

SACHET MARKETING | An emerging consumer trend and related new business ideas

SACHET MARKETING | An emerging consumer trend and related new business ideas: "Here's an interesting business question: if roughly two-thirds of the world's population makes USD 1,500 or less per year, why try to sell them expensive, bulky goods and services originally designed for consumers who easily make twenty times as much in North America, Western Europe or Japan?

Sachet packaging
To the rescue come innovative micro-selling methods, aimed at new consumers in developing mega-economies like China, India, The Philippines, Mexico and Brazil. It's all about serving up your products, services and loans in affordable portions, sachets or sizes, so that consumers get to know and like your brand.
Meanwhile, you the manufacturer or service provider can still make a good profit from sheer overall volume (smaller sizes, but more buyers). Our sister-publication Springwise New Business Ideas has already been paying quite a bit of attention to these interesting initiatives: now it's up to TRENDWATCHING.COM to coin the overarching trend: SACHET MARKETING.

Consider the following examples highlighting the SACHET MARKETING trend:"...

News in Science - Dolphins sing 'Batman' theme - 03/10/2005

News in Science - Dolphins sing 'Batman' theme - 03/10/2005: "Scientists have taught dolphins to combine both rhythm and vocalisations to produce music, resulting in an extremely high-pitched, short version of the Batman theme song.

The findings, outlined in two studies, are the first time that nonhuman mammals have demonstrated they can recognise rhythms and reproduce them vocally.

'Humans are sensitive to rhythms embedded in sequences of sounds, but we typically consider this skill to be part of processing for language and music, cognitive domains that we consider to be uniquely human,' says Professor Heidi Harley, lead author of both studies.

'Clearly, aspects of those domains are available to other species.'"...

Harley, who is associate professor of social sciences at the New College of Florida in Sarasota, says that both studies tested dolphins at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida.

The researchers first had an adult male bottlenose dolphin position itself in front of an underwater sound projector, called a hydrophone, that produced six different 14 kiloherz, 4 second rhythms.

The dolphin was rewarded for performing a certain behaviour to each rhythm. For example, when rhythm 1 played, it waved its pectoral fin and when rhythm 2 played, it tossed a ball.

The various rhythms were played at different frequencies and tempos to ensure the dolphin was recognising rhythms instead of just frequencies or sound durations.

Another adult male was trained to produce similar rhythms using a pneumatic switch, essentially a small, air-filled ball connected to a computer that then generated sounds whenever the dolphin pressed the switch.

"The dolphin was reinforced for producing a specific rhythm to a specific object," says Harley.

"For example, when we presented him with a Batman doll, he received a fish for producing a specific rhythm, in this case, a short sound and then a long one."

"If you recall the original Batman TV series musical intro you'll probably remember the way they sang 'Bat-maaaaaaaan'," she adds.

The dolphin spontaneously vocalised to the rhythms, so the researchers started to reward the male with fish whenever it matched its 'singing' to the rhythms.

By the end of the studies, the scientists could show an object, such as the Batman doll, which represented a certain rhythm-vocalisation combo to the dolphin, and it would create the correct sounds both vocally and using the switch.

Flying salmon plane Posted by Picasa

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air Promotions

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air Promotions: "“Salmon-Thirty-Salmon” aircraft underscores carrier’s role in transporting Alaska seafood

Alaska Airlines today landed the world’s largest king salmon—stretching 120 feet and weighing in at 140,000 pounds—at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The “Salmon-Thirty-Salmon,” sporting the glimmering image of a wild Alaska king salmon, is among the world’s most intricately painted commercial airplanes. Complete with shiny scales, a dorsal fin and gills, the livery on the Alaska Airlines 737-400 passenger aircraft is the result of a dedicated team of 30 painters working nearly nonstop for 24 days."

Strong Case Against Video Harassment Boys: Expert

Strong Case Against Video Harassment Boys: Expert: "RIYADH, 6 October 2005 — There is a strong case against the four young men indicted for sexually harassing two Saudi girls in the capital last week and any Shariah court in the Kingdom could try them, a legal expert told Arab News yesterday. This could be done, according to the expert, without the girls’ presence in court."...

Three of the men are Saudi, aged between 20 and 26, and the fourth, a Palestinian aged 24, who filmed them with his mobile camera as they harassed the girls.

They confessed to having deliberately circulated the video clip on the Internet and by Bluetooth technology. The General Commission for Investigation and Prosecution closed the four young men’s file on Sunday after it completed its investigations.

The four young men were arrested after police received orders from the governor of Riyadh, Prince Salman, to catch them as quickly as possible.

The video clip caused a degree of shock, anger and outrage which the Kingdom has rarely experienced. The clip showed the young men holding the two girls, touching their private parts and also verbally abusing them. The girls, in accordance with Saudi customs, were completely covered from head to toe. Virtually all the Saudi public are demanding that the young men be severely punished as a deterrent to others.

BBC NEWS | UK | Africa aid pledges to be checked

BBC NEWS | UK | Africa aid pledges to be checked: "Promises of aid to Africa will be checked in a new annual review, the Africa Partnership Forum has agreed.

Members have met in London to discuss how to ensure pledges made for improving the continent are met.

The report will examine what aid has been handed over and give updates on development goals and African governments' promises to make changes.

The forum - involving G8 and African nations - agreed the first edition would be published in October 2006.

Oxfam said this was a 'crucial phase' after the commitments made this year."

[print version] Devices help the blind cross tech divide | CNET

Business is really booming these days, Swerdlick said, as more and more manufacturers are building so-called assistive technology gadgets to address a wide range of special needs groups.

And while he takes bigger and bigger orders from his clients, the mere fact that he is able to spend many hours on the computer is a testament to how far assistive technology designs have come in recent years.

That's because Swerdlick is legally blind.
Disability technology

'I can't see out of one eye and I've got 20/2400 vision in the other. When the doctor asks me to read the chart on the wall, I tell him, 'I can't even see the wall much less the chart,'' Swerdlick joked.

He started his company, Electronic Vision Access Solutions (EVAS), in Westerly, R.I., 26 years ago. In the early days, he went door to door with his wife selling a camera that when hooked up to a speech synthesizer could read aloud what appeared in print. EVAS has gone on to improve its speech synthesizers and contribute bits to things like software that makes print appear larger."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A Wimp On Genocide

A Wimp On Genocide

Published: September 18, 2005

President Bush doesn't often find common cause with Cuba, Zimbabwe, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. But this month the Bush administration joined with those countries and others to eviscerate a forthright U.N. statement that nations have an obligation to respond to genocide.
It was our own Axis of Medieval, and it reflected the feckless response of President Bush to genocide in Darfur. It's not that he favors children being tossed onto bonfires or teenage girls being gang-raped and mutilated, but he can't bother himself to try very hard to stop these horrors, either.

It's been a year since Mr. Bush -- ahead of other world leaders, and to his credit -- acknowledged that genocide was unfolding in Darfur. But since then he has used that finding of genocide not to spur action but to substitute for it.

Mr. Bush's position in the U.N. negotiations got little attention. But in effect the United States successfully blocked language in the declaration saying that countries have an ''obligation'' to respond to genocide. In the end the declaration was diluted to say that ''We are prepared to take collective action on a case by case basis'' to prevent genocide.

That was still an immensely important statement. But it's embarrassing that in the 21st century, we can't even accept a vague obligation to fight genocide as we did in the Genocide Convention of 1948. If the Genocide Convention were proposed today, President Bush apparently would fight to kill it.

I can't understand why Mr. Bush is soft on genocide, particularly because his political base -- the religious right -- has been one of the groups leading the campaign against genocide in Darfur. As the National Association of Evangelicals noted in a reproachful statement about Darfur a few days ago, the Bush administration ''has made minimal progress protecting millions of victims of the world's worst humanitarian crisis.''

Incredibly, the Bush administration has even emerged as Sudan's little helper, threatening an antigenocide campaigner in an effort to keep him quiet. Brian Steidle, a former Marine captain, served in Darfur as a military adviser -- and grew heartsick at seeing corpses of children who'd been bludgeoned to death.

In March, I wrote a column about Mr. Steidle and separately published photos that he had taken of men, women and children hacked to death. Other photos were too wrenching to publish: one showed a pupil at the Suleia Girls School; she appeared to have been burned alive, probably after being raped, and her charred arms were still in handcuffs.

Mr. Steidle is an American hero for blowing the whistle on the genocide. But, according to Mr. Steidle, the State Department has ordered him on three occasions to stop showing the photos, for fear of complicating our relations with Sudan. Mr. Steidle has also been told that he has been blacklisted from all U.S. government jobs.

The State Department should be publicizing photos of atrocities to galvanize the international community against the genocide -- not conspiring with Sudan to cover them up.

I'm a broken record on Darfur because I can't get out of my head the people I've met there. On my very first visit, 18 months ago, I met families who were hiding in the desert from the militias and soldiers. But the only place to get water was at the occasional well -- where soldiers would wait to shoot the men who showed up, and rape the women. So anguished families sent their youngest children, 6 or 7 years old, to the wells with donkeys to fetch water -- because they were least likely to be killed or raped. The parents hated themselves for doing this, but they had no choice -- they had been abandoned by the world.

That's the cost of our passivity. Perhaps it's unfair to focus so much on Mr. Bush, for there are no neat solutions and he has done more than most leaders. He at least dispatched Condi Rice to Darfur this summer -- which is more interest in genocide than the TV anchors have shown.

One group,, prepared a television commercial scolding the networks for neglecting the genocide -- and affiliates of NBC, CBS and ABC all refused to run it.

Still, the failures of others do not excuse Mr. Bush's own unwillingness to speak out, to impose a no-fly zone, to appoint a presidential envoy or to build an international coalition to pressure Sudan. So, Mr. Bush, let me ask you just one question: Since you portray yourself as a bold leader, since you pride yourself on your willingness to use blunt terms like ''evil'' -- then why is it that you're so wimpish on genocide?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Reflections on Art and Religion

Reflections on Art and Religion: "LONDON, 3 October 2005 — London’s Tate Britain decided last week to pull an artwork titled “God is Great” from its latest exhibition. The reason? The artwork might offend Muslims. And quite possibly it might. The artwork, by the British artist John Latham, consists of a large piece of glass into which have been placed pieces of the Qur’an, Talmud and Bible.

As a piece of art, I cannot comment on it. I’ve not seen it, I’ve only seen photographs and what I’ve seen leaves me rather baffled. The artist has described the concept for the artwork as showing that all religions have the same source. Of course he means the People of the Book as we call them, and it is the very books that define us that he has chopped up and displayed artfully in glass."..

do take issue with Holy Scripture being used as raw material for art. God’s words are not paint or clay to be modeled by the artist’s hands. Our Book is sacred and should not be tampered with for the sake of art. Indeed the reason cited by Tate Britain for withdrawing the artwork is that the cutting of the Holy Book could be seen as offensive. I can see their point, but what I find more interesting is why a piece that was created ten years ago and which has been displayed in galleries in London, Oxford and Venice without attracting the attention of the book-burning brigade should now be deemed too offensive to display. And, more crucially, why this piece should be thought of as potentially offensive to Muslims, but not to Christians and Jews?...

Somehow there is a pervasive belief that we Muslims are an easily-offended lot whose passions, once roused, can easily turn to violence and rage. It is notable that Tate Britain withdrew the piece not because it had received complaints about it but because it was worried that it might...

Similarly while Christian tradition ascribes to art a transcendental role, Islam takes the polar opposite view of seeing religious iconography as idolatry. Consequently we have radically different attitudes to art. The idea of art as a gateway to human development is not one that sits easily with Muslim thinking; we are far more likely to take art at face value. Perhaps that is why we tend to get offended. But are we being oversensitive? Is it not the meaning that matters? Take Latham’s piece. Its meaning is not problematic, it is the means he has used to express his artistic will that is difficult for us to accept. Had he painted a book rather than used a real copy of the Qur’an, no one would have raised an eye-brow.

I don’t like the idea of John Latham taking scissors to a copy of the Qur’an. Nor do I like the Tate pulling out an exhibit simply because it fears a potential Muslim backlash. But what I find most significant about this story is what it represents in terms of how the Muslim voice is perceived in Britain today. Muslim views and feelings have zoomed up to the center of the spotlight, but for all the wrong reasons.

— (

Sudanese rebels Posted by Picasa

BBC NEWS | Africa | Direct Darfur talks amid violence

BBC NEWS | Africa | Direct Darfur talks amid violence: "Sudan's government and two rebel groups have met face-to-face for the first time since they resumed talks to end the crisis in Darfur.

The groups have been in Nigeria's capital, Abuja since the middle of September. They are expected to discuss power-sharing."

Hindu Temple plans  Posted by Picasa

A future built on faith |

A future built on faith | "Jagdish Dave remembers when the entire Hindu population of Indianapolis consisted of fewer than a dozen families.
The semiretired engineer from the Northside says the best way for new arrivals to find other Hindus was to search out Indian names in the phone book. Eager to forge a connection, these newcomers would introduce themselves to dark-skinned Asians they might happen across on the street."

Today, some four decades later, the Hindu community of Indianapolis has grown to nearly 3,000 families, still small but large enough for it to build the state's first Hindu temple, on the Far Eastside. The temple, Hindus hope, will serve as a place for worship as well as a showpiece to educate the broader Indianapolis community about their culture...

The Hindu faith, with its belief in reincarnation and concept of a god represented in the forms of multiple deities, originated in India roughly 5,000 years ago. It is one of the world's oldest religions.
There are more than 800 million Hindus in India today. About 1 million Hindus live in the United States, with the largest concentrations found in major cities like New York and Chicago....

The first phase of the temple construction, a $1.3 million project due to be completed in November, will give local Hindus 11,000 square feet of space. But that only hints at things to come.
Ultimately, plans call for the temple to triple in size and cut a distinctively Indian pose on its 13-acre site along North German Church Road.
A wide stone staircase will rise to an elevated colonnade. Distinctive Indian-style towers called gopuarms will project into the sky. In the front of the building, a pair of three-dimensional elephant murals on each side of the staircase will give the illusion they are pulling the entire structure like a grand chariot.
Inside, 12 Hindu deities -- shaped in metal or carved from granite or marble -- will reside in specially made "houses" inside the temple.
"It will be very unique," Dave said. "This is a very exciting time for us to share our culture."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bush Delays Action Against Saudi Arabia - Yahoo! News

Bush Delays Action Against Saudi Arabia - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - The Bush administration has postponed punishing Saudi Arabia for restricting religious freedom, giving the U.S. ally six more months to show it has made progress in its treatment of religious minorities.

One year ago, the State Department declared that religious freedom was absent in the Arab kingdom. Under U.S. law, the Bush administration could have imposed sanctions such as trade restrictions — as it has done with some other countries.

Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice notified Congress last week that she had authorized a 180-day waiver of action against Saudi Arabia 'in order to allow additional time for the continuation of discussions leading to progress on important religious freedom issues.'"
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