Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Working Smart: What’s the Secret to Your Success?

I completely agree with the points made in this article!

Working Smart: What’s the Secret to Your Success?: "As a CEO, I get asked this a lot. And, I'm always a little embarrassed by it. For the most part, I get the question from people who are in their twenties. They want to know “the secret path to the top.”

This past weekend, I received an email from one of my readers. He started, “I have an MBA, but I must have missed the course on Fast-Tracking My Career. If you had to boil it down to one thing, Mr. Hyatt, what would you recommend to a young, aspiring person such as myself?”

I'm not sure I could boil it down to one thing. Life isn’t usually that simple. But if I really, really had to boil it down to one thing, I would say this: responsiveness."

CBS News | Autistic Teen's Hoop Dreams Come True | February 28, 2006 14:49:17

CBS News | Autistic Teen's Hoop Dreams Come True | February 28, 2006 14:49:17: "CBS) It was the stuff of Hollywood, but it was real.

Senior Jason McElwain had been the manager of the varsity basketball team of Greece Athena High School in Rochester, N.Y.

McElwain, who's autistic, was added to the roster by coach Jim Johnson so he could be given a jersey and get to sit on the bench in the team's last game of the year.

Johnson hoped the situation would even enable him to get McElwain onto the floor a little playing time.

He got the chance, with Greece Athena up by double-digits with four minutes go to.

And, in his first action of the year, McElwain missed his first two shots, but then sank six three-pointers and another shot (video), for a total of 20 points in three minutes."

Wired 14.03: A Nation of Guinea Pigs

Wired 14.03: A Nation of Guinea Pigs: "There's a new outsourcing boom in South Asia - and a billion people are jockeying for the jobs. How India became the global hot spot for drug trials."

Center for Global Development : Publications: Back to the Future for African Infrastructure? Why State-Ownership Is No More Promising the Second Time

Center for Global Development : Publications: Back to the Future for African Infrastructure? Why State-Ownership Is No More Promising the Second Time Around - Working Paper 84: "African state-owned enterprises, particularly those in infrastructure, have a long history of poor performance. But moves in the 1990s to rely instead on private-sector participation and ownership have yet to deliver the hoped-for improvements. Is the solution to return to a strategy of improving state firms under public management? John Nellis says no. In this paper, he argues that the prospects for success of Africa’s SOEs are no greater now than before and that private firms still have not been given a real chance."

Geekcorps: A Peace Corps for techies | CNET News.com

This sounds very cool!!!!

Geekcorps: A Peace Corps for techies | CNET News.com: "Geekcorps can essentially be thought of as a Peace Corps with a focus on PCs. The organization recruits technical experts to conceive ideas for integrating technology into local economies in a self-sustaining way."

Geekcorps kicked off in 1999 after Ethan Zuckerman, who had sold his company, Tripod, to Lycos in 1998, found himself flush with cash and lots of spare time. He began to discuss philanthropic ideas with other newly wealthy Internet entrepreneurs. Zuckerman attended the University of Ghana on a Fulbright scholarship and understood firsthand the difficulty of getting books there.

The dot-com crash sucked a lot of the enthusiasm out of the effort. By 2004, Geekcorps teamed up with the International Executive Service Corps. Funding for various projects comes from USAID, a branch of the U.S. State Department.

Monday, February 27, 2006

LiveScience.com - The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don't Use Them

LiveScience.com - The Keys to Happiness, and Why We Don't Use Them: "Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California at Riverside has discovered that the road toward a more satisfying and meaningful life involves a recipe repeated in schools, churches and synagogues. Make lists of things for which you're grateful in your life, practice random acts of kindness, forgive your enemies, notice life's small pleasures, take care of your health, practice positive thinking, and invest time and energy into friendships and family....

The happiest people have strong friendships, says Ed Diener, a psychologist University of Illinois. Interestingly his research finds that most people are slightly to moderately happy, not unhappy...."

Lethargy holds many people back from doing the things that lead to happiness.

"If you are looking for something to complain about, you are absolutely certain to find it," Easterbrook told LiveScience. "It requires some effort to achieve a happy outlook on life, and most people don't make it. Most people take the path of least resistance. Far too many people today don't make the steps to make their life more fulfilling one."

Cafe Hayek: The Death of the Canadian Model

Cafe Hayek: The Death of the Canadian Model: "Proponents of single-payer health care reform in the United States have long pointed toward Canada as a model for the US to emulate.

The New York Times reports that the Canadian system is imploding. A recent Candian Supreme Court decision allowed private health care (oh, the shame, the horror) and as a result, Canadians tired of waiting for radiation therapy, eye surgery and hip replacements have turned toward private alternatives springing up under the new legal environment."

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Damages claim for abortion twin

I am speechless...

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Damages claim for abortion twin: "A mother is hoping to win £250,000 in compensation after her twin daughter survived an abortion four years ago.

Stacy Dow, from Perth, was 16 when she found out she was pregnant with twins and decided to have an abortion.

However, when she returned to her doctor after 33 weeks she was told one of the babies had survived.

Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust said there had been nothing to suggest a child had survived and plans to challenge the claim in court next year.

The surviving baby, Jayde, is now four. Her mother is claiming the damages for the 'financial burden' of her upbringing.

I still don't know if, or what, I am going to tell Jayde when the time comes. Maybe when she is nine or 10 I will sit her down and explain it to her
Stacy Dow

In a landmark legal case, lawyers will argue that as a result of the failed termination, she suffered loss, injury and damage... and suffers 'an impediment in her ability to obtain employment in consequence of her care for the child.'"


This is a test post from Photobucket.com

Stop Genocide Now: An Online Community Working to End Genocide

First hand videos (windows media player and quicktime) of the Darfur genocide...link from Anne Marie Bellevance of omidyar.net...

Stop Genocide Now: An Online Community Working to End Genocide: "For 21 consecutive days, starting November 21st, the Genocide Intervention Fund (GIF) and StopGenocideNow.org will webcast the immediacy of the ongoing genocide in Darfur directly from the field with the new awareness campaign i-ACT (Interactive Activism).

i-ACT will travel to the Chad/Dafur border and visit refugee camps. Along with technical assistance from volunteers, they will use the power of the Internet to put a face to the mind-numbing numbers of dead, dying and displaced."


This is a neat site which chronicles the adventures of a 24 year old in Africa, both with fresh "on the site" video as well as blog entries...

InsideAfrica: "Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Situation Serious for Women Addicts

I find it amazing that the Saudi press is willing to admit that their is drug addiction in the Kingdom, and especially among women...

Situation Serious for Women Addicts: "JEDDAH, 27 February 2006 — “Saudi society is incapable of accepting women as drug addicts; therefore, it is better to treat them as psychiatric patients and not drug addicts,” said Dr. Muhammad Shaweesh of Jeddah’s Al-Amal Hospita"

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Hugh Hewitt: February 19, 2006 - February 25, 2006 Archives

Hugh Hewitt: February 19, 2006 - February 25, 2006 Archives: "Bringing on a revolution, one babe at a time.

This is cool. A 28-year-old artist named Deeyah has been dubbed the 'Muslim Madonna,' and her most recent video is a harsh take on the Muslim world's treatment of women.

The video features Deeyah shedding a burka in favor of a bikini.

Sample lyrics from the song causing controversy, "What Will It Be?":

  • "Does the truth only come from the top of a holy man's spire?"
  • "From three paces back, covered head to toe, like the rules that the man says and written just for show."
  • "You can stand up, lay down, or follow. What will it be? Will it all be the same tomorrow?"
  • "We don't take it lightly when you threatening women. How you have so much hate and you fake your religion?"
  • "If you're that religious and not for trendy clothes, then what you doing even watching videos?"

    AIGS main page

    Click on the link to hear the glaucoma hymn!

    AIGS main page: "

    Glaucoma, Glaucoma, Glaucoma

    Constricting vision slowly

    Halted by progress of science

    Vision of a world united

    Beyond all science knowing

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    Free Bob Marley! - He's been hijacked by stoned suburban teenagers. By Field Maloney

    Free Bob Marley! - He's been hijacked by stoned suburban teenagers. By Field Maloney: "Can Marley's legacy emancipate itself from an American following that wants a multiculti teddy bear? "

    Nigeria Counts 100 Deaths Over Danish Caricatures - New York Times

    Nigeria Counts 100 Deaths Over Danish Caricatures - New York Times: "The cycle of tit-for-tat sectarian violence has pushed the death toll in the last week well beyond 100, making Nigeria the hardest-hit country so far in the caricature controversy.

    The main thoroughfare leading into the city across the Niger River was covered in bodies of Muslim Hausas who had tried to flee rampaging bands of youths, witnesses said. Many of the victims appeared to have been beaten to death; most of the bodies had been doused with gasoline and burned...

    ""What has become of us?" lamented the Rev. Joseph Ezeugo, pastor of Immaculate Heart Parish. "This cannot be Nigeria today. We have been living side by side with our Muslim brothers for so long. Why should a cartoon in Denmark bring us to civil war?"

    But the cartoons, many political analysts say, were simply a pretext to act on very old grievances rubbed raw by political tensions. Nigeria is entering a period of great political uncertainty in which it must elect a new president to replace Olusegun Obasanjo, who is barred by term limits from running for re-election. Speculation has been rife that he may try to amend the Constitution to run again.

    "At the end of the day it is all politics," said Kayode Fayemi, a political scientist and the director of the Center for Democracy and Development, an advocacy group in Nigeria. "Everything else is just pretext."

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    The New York Review of Books: Hamas: The Perils of Power

    This is a long but worthwhile analysis of the recent Hamas victory in Palestine...

    The New York Review of Books: Hamas: The Perils of Power: "Out-and-out victory was not what Hamas had expected or, for that matter, what it had wished for. It had come to see itself as a watchdog on the sidelines, sitting in the legislature without controlling it, shaping the government's policies without being held accountable for them, taking credit for its successes and escaping blame for any setbacks. Its triumph presents it with challenges of a different, more urgent, and less familiar sort. Hamas suddenly finds itself on the front line, with decisions to make and relations to manage with the world, international donors, Israel, Fatah, and, indeed, its own varied constituents. The Islamists may have secretly expected to sweep the elections but, if so, that secret remains well kept. Referring to Iraq, President Bush once spoke of America's catastrophic success. Judging from the Islamists' initial, startled reactions to their triumph, this may well be theirs"

    Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong - New York Times

    The premise of this article seems to be that if given enough money, doctors and hospitals would misdiagnosis less...Most doctors I know operate on a much higher plane than skinnerian rats pressing a lever for economic reward.Most doctors I know are obsessive compulsive neurotics, instinctive and bright ruminators, over achievers, and most of all, humanitarians who take pride, in making correct diagnoses and delivering appropriate treament. Now hospitals...that's another matter...
    Why Doctors So Often Get It Wrong - New York Times: "With all the tools available to modern medicine — the blood tests and M.R.I.'s and endoscopes — you might think that misdiagnosis has become a rare thing. But you would be wrong. Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 percent of the time. So millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease.

    As shocking as that is, the more astonishing fact may be that the rate has not really changed since the 1930's. 'No improvement!' was how an article in the normally exclamation-free Journal of the American Medical Association summarized the situation.

    This is the richest country in the world — one where one-seventh of the economy is devoted to health care — and yet misdiagnosis is killing thousands of Americans every year.

    How can this be happening? And how is it not a source of national outrage?

    A BIG part of the answer is that all of the other medical progress we have made has distracted us from the misdiagnosis crisis."...

    But we still could be doing a lot better. Under the current medical system, doctors, nurses, lab technicians and hospital executives are not actually paid to come up with the right diagnosis. They are paid to perform tests and to do surgery and to dispense drugs.

    There is no bonus for curing someone and no penalty for failing, except when the mistakes rise to the level of malpractice. So even though doctors can have the best intentions, they have little economic incentive to spend time double-checking their instincts, and hospitals have little incentive to give them the tools to do so.

    Big decision time? Best to sleep on it - Yahoo! News

    Big decision time? Best to sleep on it - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When faced with a major decision, such as buying a car or a house, it's best to do your homework, and then forget about it for a while and let your unconscious churn through the options...

    First author Dr. Ap Dijksterhuis told Reuters Health: "The take-home message is that when you have to make a decision, the first step should be to get all the information necessary for the decision. Once you have the information, you have to decide, and this is best done with conscious thought for simple decisions, but left to unconscious thought -- to 'sleep on it' -- when the decision is complex."

    The novel finding from these studies is the "idea that we can think unconsciously and that unconscious thought is actually superior to conscious thought for complex decisions," the researcher added.

    According to the results of a novel study published today in the journal Science, unconscious deliberation may lead to a more satisfying choice than mere conscious deliberation alone, at least for major decisions."

    The New Yorker: The Critics: Books

    This entertaining article explores the philosophical and pyschological history and basis of happiness...

    The New Yorker: The Critics: Books--Pursuing Happiness:

    This is one of the reasons that human beings make heavy weather of being happy. We have been hardwired to emphasize the negative, and, for most of human history, there has been a lot of the negative to emphasize...

    People who have scant control over their lives are bound to place tremendous importance on luck and fate....“Call no man happy until he is dead” was the Greek way of saying this...

    Socrates seems to have been the earliest person to think critically about the conditions of happiness, and how one could be happy, and in doing so he caused a shift in the way people thought about the subject. Socrates made the question of happiness one of full accord between an individual and the good: to be happy was to lead a good life, one in keeping with higher patterns of being...

    The legacy of that ambiguity("The right to the pursuit of happiness as declared by the Founding Fathers) is with us still. We are pursuing happiness to this day, and it is by no means clear that it is a happy process. The self-help section in any bookshop is easy to mock—indeed, it sometimes seems that the titles of self-help books are almost mocking themselves—but there is nothing to mock about the people standing in front of the shelves looking for guidance. In fact, the advice in self-help books is, by and large, pretty good. The trouble is that it is very difficult to take.

    Why is this so? For the first time in human history, it’s possible to give tentative answers that are based on a scientific account of mental processes....

    Philosophers have expounded on happiness for a long time, but only relatively recently have psychologists taken much of an interest. The study of “positive psychology...

    One of the key questions—going straight to the heart of the Enlightenment ambition for us to be happy here and now, in this life—is whether happiness is a default setting of the brain. That is to say, are we, left to our own devices, and provided with sufficient food and freedom and control over our circumstances, naturally happy? The answer proposed by positive psychology seems to be: It depends. The simplest kind of unhappiness is that caused by poverty. People living in poverty become happier if they become richer—but the effect of increased wealth cuts off at a surprisingly low figure. The British economist Richard Layard, in his stimulating book “Happiness: Lessons from a New Science,” puts that figure at fifteen thousand dollars, and leaves little doubt that being richer does not make people happier...

    According to positive psychologists, once we’re out of poverty the most important determinant of happiness is our “set point,” a natural level of happiness that is (and this is one of the movement’s most controversial claims) largely inherited....

    (P)eople’s top four favorite parts of the day feature sex, socializing after work, dinner, and relaxing. Their bottom four involve commuting, work, child care, and housework. But our absolute level of happiness is more elusive...

    Happiness “is something essentially subjective,” Freud wrote. “No matter how much we may shrink with horror from certain situations—of a galley-slave in antiquity, of a peasant during the Thirty Years’ War, of a victim of the Holy Inquisition, of a Jew awaiting a pogrom—it is nevertheless impossible for us to feel our way into such people. . . . It seems to me unprofitable to pursue this aspect of the problem any further.”

    That isn’t, of course, the view taken by positive psychologists. Then again, the news that we’re on a hedonic treadmill, so that we end up where we’re always bound to end up, is so contrary to our fundamental appetites for exertion and the next new thing, that nobody can really accept it. So Lykken himself, the fellow who came up with the finding about the set point, went on to write a book about how to become happier. (It contained his favorite recipe for Key-lime pie.)

    Positive psychology has even devised a formula for how to be happy, where H is your level of happiness, S is your set point, C is the conditions of your life, and V is the voluntary activities you do. Ready for the secret of happiness? Here it is:


    In other words, your happiness consists of how happy you naturally are, plus whatever is going on in your life to affect your happiness, plus a bit of voluntary work. Well, duh. The only vaguely surprising thing about this is how useful voluntary work can be to the person doing it—and even that isn’t really news....

    The psychological study of happiness might seem to be something of a bust. Mainly it tells us things that people have known for a long time, except with scientific footnotes. In the end, the philosophy and the science converge on the fact that thinking about your own happiness does not make it any easier to be happy....

    The trouble is that asking yourself about your frame of mind is a sure way to lose your flow. If you want to be happy, don’t ever ask yourself if you are. A person in good health in a Western liberal democracy is, in terms of his objective circumstances, one of the most fortunate human beings ever to have walked the surface of the earth. Risk-taking Ig and worried Og both would have regarded our easy, long, riskless lives with incredulous envy. They would have regarded us as so lucky that questions about our state of mind wouldn’t be worth asking. It is a perverse consequence of our fortunate condition that the question of our happiness, or lack of it, presses unhappily hard on us.

    BBC NEWS | Africa | The Nigerian Delta's troubled waters

    BBC NEWS | Africa | The Nigerian Delta's troubled waters: "
    Last Updated: Monday, 20 February 2006, 12:43 GMT

    The Nigerian Delta's troubled waters
    By Dan Isaacs
    BBC, Delta region, southern Nigeria

    Returning from a fishing trip
    Fishing is in the blood of the local people
    Iko Creek snakes through thick mangrove swamps in the heart of Nigeria's Delta region.

    Dugout canoes glide silently through the brackish waters.

    On board, chattering women shade themselves from the burning sun with colourful umbrellas, standing out against the thick browns and greens of the tropical vegetation.

    Young children stand in the shallows drawing in nets which have ensnared tiny glinting silver fish.

    A dozen men emerge from the breaking waves of the ocean, pulling their boat onshore, and women wade out to meet them, helping to bring in the morning's catch.

    'Fishing is everything for the people here,' says local community worker Sampson Agba as we travel down the river together, 'but there are fewer fish and they are getting smaller every year'.

    Mr Agba points out an abandoned drilling platform and rusting pieces of industrial machinery.

    'The impact of pollution has been terrible and invades every aspect of life here. Crude oil has leaked into the creeks, and acid rain from gas-flaring pollutes the drinking water.'


    There has in fact been no commercial oil production in this area of Eastern Obolo yet.

    A boat taxi on Iko Creek. Colourful umbrellas shade passengers from the sun.
    Boat taxis are used to get round the creeks

    Shell - the largest multi-national operating in Nigeria - has only dug exploratory wells and is still considering the viability of proceeding with full scale production.

    But the prospect of Shell drilling for both oil and gas in the area is met with mixed emotion within the local communities, not all of it hostile by any means.

    'The people of the area,' a Shell spokesman told melater, "have been asking us to go in there, and to bring in the jobs and development assistance they so badly need".

    Shell spent around $80m on assistance to the Delta region last year and for communities living in such poverty and hardship, such aid is difficult to ignore.

    Troubled help

    Unfortunately, such aid has brought more problems than it has solved.

    Rarely has it been appropriate to the needs of local people.

    Horizontal gas flaring in the Delta
    Locals complain that gas-flaring causes acid rain
    Abandoned aid projects litter the Delta: an unfinished hospital building here; a fish processing factory that never went into production there; and an artesian well dug then abandoned and which now flows with contaminated water right next to a village desperate for a clean supply.

    These are not isolated cases but sadly typical, leaving local communities bitter over the massive waste they see all around them.

    In some parts of the Delta, such resentment has boiled over into militant activity, kidnappings of foreign oil workers and attacks on production facilities.

    These groups demand greater access to the region's wealth, but in reality few of them really seek to represent the legitimate grievances of the local population.

    Their real business is oil theft, breaking into the pipelines that criss-cross the remote and inaccessible region.

    Although the oil companies will not or cannot give accurate figures for the amount of oil lost in this way, the volumes are staggering with armed gangs operating fleets of barges and tankers, permitted to go about their business by politicians and businessmen who collude in the plunder.

    Bodies burned in open after Nigeria riots kill 146 - Yahoo! News

    Bodies burned in open after Nigeria riots kill 146 - Yahoo! News: "ONITSHA, Nigeria (Reuters) - Christian youths burned the corpses of Muslims on Thursday on the streets of Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria, the city worst hit by religious riots that have killed at least 146 people across the country in five days.

    Christian mobs, seeking revenge for the killings of Christians in the north, attacked Muslims with machetes, set fire to them, destroyed their houses and torched mosques in two days of violence in Onitsha, where 93 people died.

    'We are very happy that this thing is happening so that the north will learn their lesson,' said Anthony Umai, a motorcycle taxi rider, standing close to where Christian youths had piled up the corpses of 10 Muslims and were burning them."

    What Does President Bush Mean by "NATO stewardship" of Darfur Crisis? :: sudanreeves.org :: Sudan Research, Analysis, and Advocacy

    An excellent, up to date analysis on Darfur by Eric Reeves...
    What Does President Bush Mean by "NATO stewardship" of Darfur Crisis? :: sudanreeves.org :: Sudan Research, Analysis, and Advocacy: "Given reluctance in Brussels, a good deal less than meets the eye

    Eric Reeves
    February 22, 2006

    President Bush declared this past Friday that a security force for Darfur will require “NATO stewardship, planning, facilitating, organizing, probably double the number of peacekeepers that are there now, in order to start bringing some sense of security” (New York Times, February 17, 2006). But crucially, Bush did not specify whether these additional peacekeeping forces would come from NATO---or indeed how and when they would be generated. And he certainly did not promise participation by US troops or personnel in any NATO deployment. After the President spoke, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joe Carpenter declared it is '‘premature to speculate’ on potential increases in US troops” (Washington Post, February 17, 2006). Privately, Bush administration officials make clear there is no intention of sending US troops to Darfur."...

    Despite what many are construing as encouraging words by President Bush, there is a hollowness at their core, signifying only that we have entered yet deeper into a ghastly heart of darkness.

    Isabel Ndona was taken to the feeding center at Nangweshi Refugee Camp after collapsing from hunger. Her sister Anita Vamba watches over her. Posted by Picasa

    Zambia's Plight Goes Begging in Year of Disasters - New York Times

    "Aid to reugees is a crapshoot..."
    Zambia's Plight Goes Begging in Year of Disasters - New York Times: "NANGWESHI REFUGEE CAMP, Zambia — Hundreds of refugees from Angola's civil war have walked away from this remote United Nations outpost where most have lived for years, many roaming on foot as far as the Namibia border, 85 miles away. The journey was not by choice. The refugees were looking for food."
    In January, to stretch its thinning supplies, the United Nations cut its already basic food rations to war refugees in Zambia by almost 40 percent — not just for the Nangweshi camp's 15,100 residents, but also for 57,000 refugees from Congo in four other camps.

    The cuts were made after the developed world did not respond to United Nations' pleas for help to feed the refugees. Like similar appeals, they went unheeded in a year of many disasters and what aid specialists call a growing malaise among donors about such emergencies.

    That thousands of war refugees cared for by the United Nations should go hungry for want of about $8.5 million, what amounts to a rounding error in the budgets of wealthy countries, may seem surprising. But the international system that is supposed to protect refugees from hunger and privation is prone to breakdowns like this one, which has rendered 72,000 war victims in Zambia hungry for weeks on end...

    Why shortfalls of aid to refugees and other equally vulnerable groups occur at all is vexing. The system that funnels food to the world's needy rests almost wholly on the generosity of the well-off, and each donor's impulse is subject to different forces.

    "The system is basically a crapshoot," Larry Minear, who leads Tufts University's Institute on Humanitarianism and War, said. Fluctuations in food prices, the size of crop surpluses in donating nations, politics in donor and recipient nations, and the inefficiencies of the global aid bureaucracy can all play a role in what aid specialists euphemistically call "pipeline breaks."

    Food shortages have become so regular in parts of Africa that some governments consider them normal, rather than emergencies — an attitude many aid officials say was at the root of the sluggish response last year to widespread hunger in Niger.

    Often, as in Niger, money comes only belatedly, after wealthy donors have been harangued by the United Nations or embarrassed by news media coverage of hungry masses.

    That is the crux of the problem, many aid specialists say. Support for global emergencies is purely voluntary, forcing humanitarian agencies to go hat in hand to governments, not just to sustain continuing programs like refugee camps, but for new emergencies like the 2004 tsunami.

    "We are professional beggars," said one Europe-based United Nations official on condition of anonymity for fear of angering donor nations. He added: "Some activities, you can decide whether you want to voluntarily fund or not. But things like Darfur, like refugees — for that sort of thing, we should have a system that produces money faster."

    Slow Travel - Vacation rentals, villas, reviews, travel information for Europe (Italy, Switzerland, England, France, Spain), USA and worldwide

    THis seems like a useful resource for people who like to travel "off the beaten path" as we do...
    Slow Travel - Vacation rentals, villas, reviews, travel information for Europe (Italy, Switzerland, England, France, Spain), USA and worldwide: "Slow Travel is a community of people who like to travel and experience new places! This website contains our reviews for vacation rentals, hotels and restaurants, our trip reports, and our travel information.

    We have 1200+ vacation rental reviews, 1000+ hotel reviews, 1300+ restaurant reviews, and 300+ trip reports. New reviews, trip reports and content pages are added every month. There are 6500+ pages on the website - lots to read!"

    - Qwika

    - Qwika: "New search engine helps bridge the language gap in Wikipedia"

    Singletary: Bono's prayer and mine

    Singletary: Bono's prayer and mine: "God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”"

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Michael J. Totten

    Interesting first hand experience in a Yezdi temple (with pictures)...
    Michael J. Totten: "LALISH, IRAQ – In Northern Iraq there is a place called Lalish where the Yezidis say the universe was born. I drove south from Dohok on snowy roads through an empty land, seemingly to the ends of the earth, and found it nestled among cold hills.

    I went there because the President of Dohok University told me to go. “I am a Muslim,” he said. “But I love the Yezidis. Theirs is the original religion of the Kurds. Only through the Yezidis can I speak to God in my own language.”

    Yezidis are ancient fire-worshippers. They heavily influenced Zoroastrianism, and in turn have been heavily influenced by Sufi Islam. The temple at Lalish is their “Mecca.” Hundreds of thousands of remaining Yezidis – those Kurds who refused to submit to Islam – make pilgrimages there at least once in their lifetimes from all over the Middle East and Europe."

    Study: Cultures Affect Captive Gorillas - Yahoo! News

    Study: Cultures Affect Captive Gorillas - Yahoo! News: "ST. LOUIS - Captive gorillas actually are a cultured bunch.
    Genetics or environment alone cannot explain variations in the behavior of different groups of the apes, a study found."

    WSJ.com - New Treatments for Paralyzed Limbs

    WSJ.com - New Treatments for Paralyzed Limbs: "Advances in surgical techniques are helping patients with a common type of limb paralysis regain some movement and sensation.

    The procedures employ grafting and splicing tactics to reroute healthy nerves to paralyzed muscles. In rare cases, surgeons are trying nerve transplants, in which nerves are taken from a live donor and implanted in an injured patient.

    The new surgeries aren't useful in treating the devastating paralysis that can result from spinal-cord injuries or stroke. But they are showing promise in so-called peripheral-nerve injuries, which often lead to paralysis in localized areas of the body, such as an arm, shoulder or hand."

    WSJ.com - In South Africa, Insurer Gives Points For Healthy Living

    WSJ.com - In South Africa, Insurer Gives Points For Healthy Living: "JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Taking care of your body should have its own rewards. But a South African health-insurance company is adding some new lures: discounts on travel, movie tickets and electronics."

    WSJ.com - How the Amish Drive Down Medical Costs

    WSJ.com - How the Amish Drive Down Medical Costs: "The delegation of Amish and Mennonite elders came to the Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center to haggle with executives there over rates. They wanted discounts for their fellow worshipers, who collectively spend about $5 million a year in Lancaster County for health services, all of it in cash.

    Like uninsured patients everywhere, the Amish and Mennonites often are billed a hospital's full retail price for medical procedures and pharmaceuticals, mainly because they don't have a large institution, such as an employer or insurer, to negotiate discounts on their behalf. But unlike many of the uninsured, they were able to organize and drive down the price of medical care in Pennsylvania."

    Analysts: Health Care Costs to Keep Rising - Yahoo! News

    Analysts: Health Care Costs to Keep Rising - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Within a decade, an aging America will spend one of every five dollars on health care, according to government analysts who see no end to increases in the cost of going to the doctor and taking medicine."...

    Another trend within the new government projections is an ever-growing reliance on the government to foot the bill for health care. By the end of the next decade, the government will pay for about half of the nation's medical costs.

    Overall, the most important factor in health care spending is income, the analysts said. As Americans make more money, they spend more to get healthy. People making $90,000 are more likely to visit a doctor and get their prescriptions filled than those who make $50,000, Poisal said.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted - Los Angeles Times

    A fascinating read on the tragedy befalling Native Americans, told that they were descended from a lost tribe of Israel as part of their Mormon conversion, now learning that this is not the case, basead upon DNA studies...The corollary is the story of how the Mormon Church incorporates this information in their interpretation of the Book of Mormon, regarded as infallible....
    I am not even going to get into the part about dark-skinned Lamanites rewarded by their skin turning white if they returned to the Church...

    Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted - Los Angeles Times: "From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.
    'We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people,' said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. 'It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God.'

    A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East.

    'I've gone through stages,' he said. 'Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness.'

    For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error."...

    According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an angel named Moroni led Joseph Smith in 1827 to a divine set of golden plates buried in a hillside near his New York home.

    God provided the 22-year-old Smith with a pair of glasses and seer stones that allowed him to translate the "Reformed Egyptian" writings on the golden plates into the "Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ."

    Mormons believe these scriptures restored the church to God's original vision and left the rest of Christianity in a state of apostasy.

    The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions.

    The God-fearing Nephites were "pure" (the word was officially changed from "white" in 1981) and "delightsome." The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the "curse of blackness," turning their skin dark.

    According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors "the principal ancestors of the American Indians." If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.

    Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Aotearoa New Zealand 2005 Released

    Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Aotearoa New Zealand 2005 Released: "Largest-Ever Survey Of Indigenous Entrepreneurship

    Study Confirms Maori Are World's
    Third Most Entrepreneurial People

    New Research Drills Deeply Into
    Maori Entrepreneurial Personality"

    TIME Magazine Archive Article -- Happiness Isn't Normal -- Feb. 13, 2006

    Steven Hayes--University of Nevada, Reno professor, past president of the distinguished Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies, and former panic-disorder sufferer is on the vangaurd of a new Buddhist angle on cognitive therapy, in which one doesn't argue with upsetting thoughts, but dis-identifies with them...

    TIME Magazine Archive Article -- Happiness Isn't Normal -- Feb. 13, 2006: "Hayes and the others teach mindfulness, the meditation-inspired practice of observing thoughts without getting entangled in them, approaching them as though they were leaves floating down a stream ('... I want coffee/I should work out/I'm depressed/We need milk ...'). Hayes is the most divisive and ambitious of the third-wave psychologists--so called because they are turning from the second wave of cognitive therapy, which itself largely subsumed the first wave of behavior therapy, devised in part by B.F. Skinner. (Behavior therapy, in turn, broke with the Freudian model by emphasizing observable behaviors over hidden meanings and feelings.)

    Hayes and other third wavers say trying to correct negative thoughts can, paradoxically, intensify them, in the same way that a dieter who keeps telling himself 'I really don't want the pizza' ends up obsessing about ... pizza. Rather, Hayes and the roughly 12,000 students and professionals who have been trained in his formal psychotherapy, which is called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), say we should acknowledge that negative thoughts recur throughout life. Instead of challenging them, Hayes says, we should concentrate on identifying and committing to our values. Once we become willing to feel negative emotions, he argues, we will find it easier to figure out what life should be about and get on with it. That's easier said than done, of course, but his point is that it's hard to think about the big things when we're trying so hard to regulate our thinking."...


    When you just read that word, no event occurred other than that your eyes moved across the page. But your mind may have raced off in any number of directions. Perhaps you thought of a beautiful sunset. And then maybe you thought of the beautiful sunset on the day your mother died, which might have evoked sadness.

    Hayes uses such exercises to make the point that our thoughts can have unexpected consequences. Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life illustrates that unreliability by quoting a 1998 Psychological Science study in which 84 subjects were asked to hold a pendulum steady. Some were told not only to hold it steady but also not to move the pendulum sideways. But the latter group tended to move the pendulum sideways more often than the group told merely to keep it steady. Why? "Because thinking about not having it move [sideways] activates the very muscles that move it that way," Hayes and Smith write. To be sure, cognitive therapy doesn't ask people to suppress negative thoughts, but it does ask us to challenge them, to fix them.

    By contrast, ACT tries to defuse the power of thoughts. Instead of saying "I'm depressed," it proposes saying "I'm having the thought that I'm depressed." Hayes isn't saying people don't really feel pain (he has felt plenty of it), but he believes we turn pain into suffering when we try to push it away. ACT therapists use metaphors to explain acceptance: Is it easier to drag a heavy weight on a chain behind you or to pick it up and walk with it held close?

    Michael J. Totten: “Our Jerusalem”

    Michael J. Totten: “Our Jerusalem”: "ERBIL, IRAQ – Iraq may not survive in one piece. The overwhelming majority of Iraqi Kurds are packing their bags. Most have already said goodbye. Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish) is the capital of the de-facto sovereign Kurdistan Regional Government. Baghdad is thought of as the capital of a deranged foreign country.

    In January 2005 the Iraqi Kurds held an informal referendum. More than 80 percent turned out to vote. 98.7 percent of those voted to secede from Iraq. Not only have the Kurds long dreamed of independence, when they look south they see only Islamism, Baathism, blood, fire, and mayhem.

    If Middle Easterners had drawn the borders themselves, Iraq wouldn’t even exist. Blame the British for shackling Kurds and Arabs together when they created the new post-imperial and post-Ottoman map. The Kurds do. They call the W.C. (the “water closet,” i.e. the toilet) “Winston Churchill.” Several times when my translator needed a bathroom break he said “I need to use the Winston Churchill.”"

    Kurdistan Posted by Picasa

    Politics and the Press

    The recent maelstrom over freedom of press and how it has played out internationally is amazing. On the one hand, cartoons are published in the Danish press (the Jylllands-Postland newspaper), which everyone knows has the potential to inflame Muslims everywhere. Yet, these same cartoons, orginially published in Oct 2005, at the start of Ramadan, were given new life last month and purposely used to inflame the masses by a select few Muslim clerics. Perhaps not too surprisingly, mob mentality takes over--embassies are burned, people are killed. There are a few voices of moderation, especially in the United States, but few and fare between...

    Meanwhile, in countries that reprint the photos, editors are fired, newspapers are pulled etc...The Danish newspaper that originally published the ads issues full paid apologies in all the major Arab publications...Yet, I have seen throughout the years many anti Western, and especially anti Semitic, cartoons published in the Arab press, without much attention by the Arab world or the Western world! By the way, isn't it a bit strange that the Iranian response to the Danish cartoons, a contest for anti-Western cartoons were all against the Jews. How many Jewish people were involved in the Danish cartoons? Now many Jewish people are in Denmark?

    The Organization of the Islamic Conference calls an emergency meeting last week to talk about say...the genocide in Darfur...wrong--the cartoons of course.

    The American Press, with a few exceptions, refuses to publish the cartoons In fact, the New York Times, in covering the cartoon controversy, not only refuses to publish the photos, but publishes a photo of the Virgin Mary covered in dung!!!! By the way, isn't Mary also revered by Muslims? Didn't hear too much protests by any religious group on that cartoon...

    Then last week, there is release of new pictures (apparently there are over 1000 new photos) of Abu Gharaib humiliations, tortures, and killings. Not the greatest timing with the cartoon controversy still in full swing. As these images are flying throughout cyberspace at many Arab oriented webstites, the American Press (with the exception of salon.com) refuses to publish these.

    Then yesterday, an Austrian historian who denies the Holocaust existed gets a three year prison term. (He did break the Austrian Holocaust law enacted shortly after WWII to prevent further Nazi activity).

    Today, the New York Times reports that the National Security is removing over 55,000 documents from public access that had been previously declassified...

    The intersection of politics and freedom of press can sure make your head spin...

    Saudi Women Breaking Into Politics - Yahoo! News

    Reform continues in Saudi Arabia. It wasn't long ago that most Saudi citizens were living in underdeveloped desert towns. King Abdullah seems to be navigating well the balance between adherence to traditional Muslim practices and modernization...

    Saudi Women Breaking Into Politics - Yahoo! News: "DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia - A minor revolution has spread to this sprawling oil town, with six women running this week for seats on the local chamber of commerce in this deeply conservative country where Islam dictates strict segregation of the sexes.

    Although winning won't be easy — of the 12,000 merchants eligible to vote, fewer than 500 are women — the election is a marker of change in Saudi Arabia, where progress toward a more open political system, including greater rights for women, is measured in inches, not miles."...

    Al-Edrisi and her colleagues in the Eastern Province, home to the world's richest oil fields, have climbed aboard a very small bandwagon. In an unprecedented November chamber of commerce election in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, a pair of businesswomen became Saudi Arabia's first female elected officials....

    King Abdullah, who took the throne in August after the death of his half brother Fahd, has spoken in favor of a larger role for women. The six women candidates credited Abdullah's personal intervention for their opportunity to run.

    Al-Edrisi, a clothing importer, says the kingdom's future depends on women joining public life. But she also believes Saudis won't tolerate rapid change, noting the chaos in
    Iraq after U.S. forces ousted
    Saddam Hussein.

    "Iraq is horrifying for all of us," Al-Edrisi said. "We don't want upheaval no matter how much we want democracy. Stability is not overrated, especially in the Middle East."

    But pressure for change is everywhere, including from the Bush administration, which Al-Edrisi says harms their cause by identifying it with America.

    There's motivation aplenty from within Saudi Arabia, particularly from educated women who might choose to leave if denied meaningful careers, Al-Edrisi said. She cited her two college-educated daughters, who she said will not stay in Saudi Arabia if reform is too slow.

    "It's a global economy now. They'll seek opportunities wherever they are," she said, gesturing with her mobile phone.

    NPR : The Making of Poems

    NPR : The Making of Poems: "I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions and traumatic events that come with being alive.

    When I was 12 years old, I was responsible for the death of my younger brother in a hunting accident. I held the rifle that killed him. In a single moment, my world changed forever. I felt grief, terror, shame and despair more deeply than I could ever have imagined. In the aftermath, no one in my shattered family could speak to me about my brother's death, and their silence left me alone with all my agonizing emotions. And under those emotions, something even more terrible: a knowledge that all the easy meanings I had lived by until then had been suddenly and utterly abolished."

    Because poems are meanings, even the saddest poem I write is proof that I want to survive. And therefore it represents an affirmation of life in all its complexities and contradictions.

    An additional miracle comes to me as the maker of poems: Because poems can be shared between poet and audience, they also become a further triumph over human isolation.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | S Korean claims US skier his son

    BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | S Korean claims US skier his son: "A South Korean man has claimed he is the natural father of US skier Toby Dawson, who won a bronze in the Winter Olympics last week, media reports said."

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    At Least 15 Die in Nigeria Cartoon Protest - Yahoo! News

    Christian--Muslim antagonism is always bubbling under the surface in Nigeria, so it is not surprising that this violent outbreak occurred...

    At Least 15 Die in Nigeria Cartoon Protest - Yahoo! News: "MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Nigerian Muslims protesting caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet in the whirlwind of Muslim anger over the drawings....

    Thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri in a three-hour rampage before troops and police reinforcements restored order, Nigerian police spokesman Haz Iwendi said. Iwendi said security forces arrested dozens of people in the city about 1,000 miles northeast of the capital, Lagos.

    Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protesters attacked and looted shops owned by minority Christians, most of them with origins in the country's south.

    "Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters," Ezeoke said. Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.

    It was the first major protest to erupt over the issue in Africa's most populous nation. An Associated Press reporter saw mobs of Muslim protesters swarm through the city center with machetes, sticks and iron rods. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gas on him and set him ablaze."

    How States Are Aiming to Keep Dollars Out of Sudan - New York Times

    Good on them!
    How States Are Aiming to Keep Dollars Out of Sudan - New York Times: "THE latest American initiatives to put pressure on the government of Sudan are centered many thousands of miles away from its capital, Khartoum. A handful of state legislatures in the United States have passed laws that bar their public pension funds from investing in companies with ties to Sudan, which has been accused of extensive human rights abuses in a long-running civil war."

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    Chad's Oil Riches, Meant for Poor, Are Diverted - New York Times

    Chad is a very important test case for the World Bank, and with potentially devastating consequences for the poor in Chad and of course relevant to us in the U.S., as oil importers ...

    Chad's Oil Riches, Meant for Poor, Are Diverted - New York Times: "Such is reality under a World Bank-supported program that was supposed to harness this impoverished African nation's oil wealth for the benefit of its poorest citizens. A $4.2 billion oil pipeline has generated $399 million for Chad since mid-2004, but the spending of the money has been seriously marred by mismanagement, graft and, most recently, the government's decision that a hefty share can be used to fight a rebellion.

    And now the approach, once envisioned as a model for the development of other African countries, seems to be on the verge of collapse. In recent weeks, Chad seriously weakened a law that dedicated most of its oil revenue to reducing poverty and reneged on its deal with the World Bank. In response, the bank suspended all its loans to the country.

    What is happening in Chad, a Central African country twice the size of France, is an important test of the idea that international institutions like the World Bank can influence governments of poor countries to spend newly tapped riches on their people instead of using the money to further entrench themselves in power.

    The proposition is particularly challenging as oil prices surge, because now nations like Chad can attract investors who make few or no demands on how the profits are spent."...

    frica is in the midst of an oil boom, with countries that have already struck oil aiming to double production by the end of the decade.

    Billions of dollars have been invested in new production capacity, much of it to feed a thirsty American market. The United States already gets about 18 percent of its oil from sub-Saharan Africa, a share that will rise in coming years and could outpace imports from the Persian Gulf, experts say.

    But the United States also faces fierce competition for Africa's oil from countries like China, Taiwan, India and Malaysia.

    From Angola to Nigeria, Gabon to Sudan, riches from oil have often ended up in the pockets of the ruling elite, inciting conflict over the spoils. In Congo, the off-again-on-again fight over a very similar issue, that vast country's mineral riches, has killed four million people, more than any conflict since World War II. Most died of disease and hunger as wars over diamond and copper mines raged.

    Chad has been ranked with Bangladesh at the world's two most corrupt countries by the corruption watchdog Transparency International. The hope that Chad would chart a more humane path fractured when its Parliament voted recently to soften the oil revenue law, allowing the money to be diverted.

    Marriage: U2 and Kierkegaard

    Marriage: U2 and Kierkegaard: "“We Get to Carry Each Other: U2 and Kierkegaard on Authentic Love”"

    Reason: Six Reasons to Kill Farm Subsidies and Trade Barriers: A no-nonsense reform strategy

    A well thought out article...I especially find point number 6 compelling...

    Reason: Six Reasons to Kill Farm Subsidies and Trade Barriers: A no-nonsense reform strategy: "Six Reasons to Kill Farm Subsidies and Trade Barriers"

    Bush Sees Need to Expand Role of NATO in Sudan - New York Times

    Although ruling out U.S. troop commitment, Bush is at least supporting an increased role for NATO...

    Bush Sees Need to Expand Role of NATO in Sudan - New York Times: "ORLANDO, Fla., Feb. 17 — President Bush signaled a new American commitment on Friday to addressing the crisis in Darfur, saying he would support an expanded role by NATO to shore up a failing African peacekeeping mission there.

    Mr. Bush also said he favored doubling the number of peacekeepers operating in Darfur under United Nations control, as proposed by the Security Council last month. He discussed Darfur, in western Sudan, as an offshoot of a question about the fate of children in war-ravaged northern Uganda."

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    In John They Trust

    A fascinating, albeit long, read...
    In John They Trust: "South Pacific villagers worship a mysterious American they call John Frum - believing he'll one day shower their remote island with riches"

    Democracy Now! | Fmr. Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami Debates Outspoken Professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peac

    If you have even a cursory interest in middle east politics, this is a must listen (or less optimally, read). Not only will you hear, opinions contrary to what is often presented in the mainstream U.S. press but also will glean some important historical nuggests regarding the Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

    Democracy Now! | Fmr. Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami Debates Outspoken Professor Norman Finkelstein on Israel, the Palestinians, and the Peace Process: "What happens when a former Israeli Foreign Minister debates a scholar known as one of the world's foremost critics of Israeli policy? The answer is not what you may expect. We spend the hour with Shlomo Ben Ami, author of 'Scars of War, Wounds of Peace,' and Norman Finkelstein, author of 'Beyond Chutzpah'. They joined us in our firehouse studio for a wide-ranging exchange. We discussed the origins of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to the Oslo Peace Process, right up to the present. [includes rush transcript]"

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    Darfur is Dying.com

    MtvU has sponsored a "Darfur Digital Activist" competition. Check out the link:for a unique (and rather macabre) means to increase awareness of the genocide...

    The Jewish Exponent - Philadelphia, PA

    The Jewish Exponent - Philadelphia, PA: "Many who have no idea who the 18th-century British parliamentarian and essayist Edmund Burke was are probably familiar with his observation that all that is needed for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.

    As the toll of murdered Darfurians in the nation of Sudan rises each day, I can't help think that the world has learned very little. Neither the Holocaust - in which six million Jews were killed - nor the Hutu massacre of co-religionist Catholic Tutsis, nor the murder of Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo by Eastern Orthodox Serbs or Catholic Croats seems to have reached that part of our souls where we are so horrified that we demand that steps be taken to stop another genocide.

    According to estimates, since February 2003, more than 400,000 African men, women and children have died, while another 2.5 million civilians have been forced into refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad.

    The destruction of villages has continued unabated, and the rape of women and young girls leaving the camps to collect firewood to cook has become an unrelenting occurrence.

    Not long ago, I had a touching and instructive discussion with refugees from Darfur. They told me that growing up as Muslims in Sudan, they knew almost nothing about Jews and Judaism, and certainly had little awareness of the Holocaust or anti-Semitism.

    One refugee observed that being a victim could lead a person to follow one of two paths. He said that it would be understandable for a victimized people to feel that in light of a history of brutalization and abandonment, they had no obligation to reach out to anyone else. He told me that he recognized that a self-protective instinct could easily lead to an overarching self-interest, where one could say since no one seems to worry about me, I must worry only about myself.

    But, he continued, the Jewish community has responded in just the opposite way - and Darfurian refugees have been profoundly moved by this response."

    Save Darfur.org :: Add Your Voice

    Please consider taking 10 seconds to link to this site and fill out the postcard to the president. We have a unique window of opportunity to exert influence through the U.N. as Bolton assumes the rotating leadership of the United Nations Security Council...

    Save Darfur.org :: Add Your Voice: "We can stop the genocide in Darfur but we must act now.
    Fill out the postcard below to become one of the million voices for Darfur."

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    Community Catalyst -- Peter Rost Transcript

    Just ran across this... from the former vice president of Pfizer--he agrees that greed is indeed the problem!
    Community Catalyst -- Peter Rost Transcript: "Ladies and gentlemen. The system we have today isn’t just broke. The system
    is utterly and completely sick and our weakest citizens are paying the
    price, every day. And here I get to the important point. I can’t talk about
    what’s wrong with the drug companies without also talking about what’s wrong
    with our current system. It’s a system that quite frankly is built on greed."

    The Inside Out Solution

    The Inside Out Solution: "The good news, as I see it, based on my observations: Reframing your challenge from trying to balance work and home to balancing your inner and outer lives will help you deal with all aspects of life -- and build overall health and well-being."

    More and More, Favored Psychotherapy Lets Bygones Be Bygones - New York Times

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy makes Freud and others irrelevant...

    More and More, Favored Psychotherapy Lets Bygones Be Bygones - New York Times: "But returning to the past has fallen out of fashion among mental health professionals over the last 15 years. Research has convinced many therapists that understanding the past is not required for healing.

    Despite this profound change, the cliché of patients' exhaustively revisiting childhood horror stories remains."...

    For example, when confronted with severely depressed patients, cognitive behavioral therapists will not ask about childhoods, but will work with them to identify the corrosive underlying assumptions that frame their psychic reality and lead them to feel bad about themselves. Then, systematically, patients learn to retrain their thinking.

    A Cancer Drug Shows Promise, at a Price That Many Can't Pay - New York Times

    Read the entire article to see how Genentech is completely pushing the envelope in pricing of avastin...and get mad because you and I as taxpayers will be paying much of the cost. Get mad because patients with high co-payments may not be able to afford it. Get mad because the current medicare drug benefit reform does not address price controls for drug manufacturers. Get mad because Genentech is using every possible means to prevent retina specialists from using avastin for macular degeneration (at a cost of ~30$/injection) so that it can force ophthalmologists to use Lucentis when it comes to market (which has in all likelihood the same efficacy and safety as avastin) at a price of probably over 2000$/injection every four weeks.
    A culture of greed, indeed...

    A Cancer Drug Shows Promise, at a Price That Many Can't Pay - New York Times: "Doctors are excited about the prospect of Avastin, a drug already widely used for colon cancer, as a crucial new treatment for breast and lung cancer, too. But doctors are cringing at the price the maker, Genentech, plans to charge for it: about $100,000 a year."

    WSJ.com - Enrollment in Cancer-Drug Study Is Suspended

    WSJ.com - Enrollment in Avastin Study Is Suspended: "Researchers suspended patient enrollment in a study of Genentech Inc.'s cancer drug Avastin after four volunteers died suddenly of causes unrelated to cancer, the company said yesterday.

    The deaths are the first sudden fatalities to turn up in clinical trials of Avastin, a 'targeted' therapy that fights tumors by choking off their blood supply. It wasn't immediately clear to what extent Avastin itself may be responsible.

    The unexpected deaths all occurred in one of three different treatment arms, in which patients received Avastin in combination with the chemotherapy drugs capecitabine and oxaliplatin, a regimen dubbed Xelox. Overall, researchers reported seven noncancer-related deaths in the Avastin/Xelox group, compared with three among patients who received Avastin and a different combination of chemotherapy drugs known as Folfox. There were four deaths among patients who received only the Folfox chemotherapy."

    WSJ.com - The Mossberg Solution

    Back up your cellphone contacts easily: "But this week, we took a look at a new product from Spark Technology Corp. in San Jose, Calif., that eliminates the need for a computer altogether: CellStik. This $40 product is a pocket-size USB thumb drive with a cellphone adapter on one end and a USB adapter on the other. By plugging the phone adapter into your cellphone and pressing a button on the CellStik, you can have your contacts backed up on the device in just seconds -- problem solved."

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    RealClearPolitics - Commentary - What Will Europe Really Do? by Victor Davis Hanson

    Intriguing predictions from Victor Hanson...

    RealClearPolitics - Commentary - What Will Europe Really Do? by Victor Davis Hanson: "Here is what we can probably anticipate. First will come a radical departure from past immigration practices. Islam will be praised; the Middle East assured that Europe is tolerant—but very few newcomers from across the Mediterranean let in.

    There will be continued public furor over the American efforts in Iraq, but far greater secret efforts to coordinate with the United States—in everything from isolating the Assad regime in Syria to rethinking missile defense. For the past three years the post-colonial Europeans have wished the Americans to learn their imperial lessons by failing in Iraq. Yet it may well be that many in private will now wish us to succeed, if only in the hopes that such Middle East democracies will be less likely in the future to turn loose their mobs to burn European embassies and threaten their citizens.

    We won’t see much public condemnation of Hamas, but more likely quiet efforts to pull the plug slowly on subsidies for such terrorists. The Europeans praised Arafat, then learned that he was singularly corrupt. Nothing disturbs a European more than to be swindled and damned as immoral in the process. Subsidies to Jew-hating Hamas terrorists only ensure both.

    Europe will still talk about bringing Turkey into the fold of the West, but de facto is horrified at the thought that millions of a religion that empowers so many to go berserk over a few cartoons might soon comprise the most populous nation of Europe. I doubt any European diplomat will invest any political capital at all in restarting in earnest Turkish/European Union talks."

    TTCS OSSWIN CD - open source software for Windows

    Free open source programs for Windows: "The TTCS OSSWIN CD is a collection of nearly 100 Free/Open Source software for home and business users using the Microsoft Windows 98SE/Me/2000 and XP operating systems."

    Zakaria: The Decline and Fall of Europe - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com

    Zakaria: The Decline and Fall of Europe - Newsweek: International Editions - MSNBC.com: "Feb. 20, 2006 issue - Cartoons and riots made the headlines in Europe last week, but a far less fiery event, the publication of an academic study, might shed greater light on the future of the Continent. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, headquartered in Paris, released a report, Going for Growth, that details economic prospects in the industrial world. It is 160 pages long and written in bland, cautious, scholarly prose. But the conclusion is clear—Europe is in deep trouble. These days we all talk about the rise of Asia and the challenge to America, but it might well turn out that the most consequential trend of the next decade will be the economic decline of Europe."

    Money and Happiness

    The current issue of Forbes has a special on the relationship between money and happiness...Interesting reading !!!!

    USATODAY.com - Saudis mark Valentine's Day despite laws

    It seems that things are pretty much the same in Saudi for Valentine's Day since we left three years ago. I personally thought the underground aspect of Valetine's Day made it more exciting!

    USATODAY.com - Saudis mark Valentine's Day despite laws: "Each year shortly before Feb. 14, the country's religious police mobilize, heading out to hunt for — and confiscate — red roses, red teddy bears and any signs of a heart. In a country where Valentine's Day is banned, ordinary Saudis find they must skirt the law to spoil their sweetheart."...

    Valentine's items descend underground, to the black market, where their price triples and quadruples. Salesmen and waiters avoid wearing red. Though taboo, Valentine's Day still gets a fair amount of attention in Saudi society.

    "Female voices demand the release of the red rose," read a headline in Sunday's Asharq al-Awsat. Women complained to the paper no one had the right to ban flower sales.

    Sheik Abdullah al-Dakhil, head of the religious police, known as the muttawa, in Thumama, a town outside Riyadh, told Al-Eqtisadiah newspaper that "despite awareness campaigns and the confiscation of flowers, chocolate and other items, there were 15 infractions" for Valentine's Day indiscretions last year....

    Despite the restrictions, Valentine's Day has caught on, partly due to satellite TV, where the occasion, like other holidays, is worked into the programming fare.

    Shoppers who know where to look can find plenty of Valentine gifts: hearts that make kissing sounds and say "I love you" when squeezed, white teddy bears sitting on a red heart, lips touching, elaborate gift arrangements with "beating" hearts fitted with blinking lights and baskets of plastic red fruits.

    Lingerie stores have rows of red, lacy lingerie, with one shop displaying a sheer negligee and the picture of a heart next to it.

    In most cases, the gifts are not presented on Valentine's Day. A woman may not get permission from her parents to go out that night, and stores do not want to be saddled with the incriminating items when the muttawa begin making their rounds. Shops either deliver the gifts or call recipients a few days early and ask them to pick up their presents.

    BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Hindu and Muslim anger at Valentine's

    Hindus join Muslims in Valentine's Day protests
    BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Hindu and Muslim anger at Valentine's: "Religious activists in India and Pakistan have begun separate protests against Valentine's Day celebrations, saying they are an insult to Hinduism and Islam."

    Sifry's Alerts: State of the Blogosphere, February 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth

    Check out the graphs demonstrating the phenomenal growth rate of the blogosphere!

    Sifry's Alerts: State of the Blogosphere, February 2006 Part 1: On Blogosphere Growth: "The State of the Blogosphere is Strong."

    Vietnam latest news - Thanh Nien Daily

    Vietnam latest news - Thanh Nien Daily: "His wife said, “My husband used to sleep well, but these days, even liquor cannot put him down.”"

    Ben Muse: Where do we get our chocolate?

    Ben Muse: Where do we get our chocolate?: "Just in time for Valentines Day, the Progressive Policy Institute's Trade Fact of the Week reports on the flow of chocolate and chocolate products in world trade: Seventy Percent of the World's Cocoa Comes from West Africa .

    Lots on chocolate, but even a little something about vanilla:

    What about vanilla? Somehow vanilla has lost its earlier reputation as an aphrodisiac and become a synonym for 'boring.' But vanilla is not boring. It is, among other things, one of the world's four most expensive foods. (Depending on the harvest, vanilla beans can cost anywhere from $40 to $200 per kilo; even the low prices are 30 times the $1.40/kilo price of cocoa beans.) Like chocolate, vanilla is native to Central America and the Amazon, but now grown mainly in Africa and Indonesia. Madagascar is the world's top producer; every flower is hand-pollinated, since the bee that normally does the job is found only in Central and South America."

    NPR : U.S. Gold Medalist Donates Award to Darfur Refugees


    NPR : U.S. Gold Medalist Donates Award to Darfur Refugees: "Morning Edition, February 14, 2006 · American speed skater Joey Cheek did something very unusual after winning the 500 meter race at the Winter Olympics. He announced he's contributing his $25,000 gold medal award from the U.S. Olympic Committee to refugees from Darfur. And he urged Olympic sponsors to support the same relief effort.

    Related NPR Stori"

    The Borowitz Report .com

    The Borowitz Report .com: "Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced today that his department would immediately implement a “Cheney Alert” system to warn Americans if an attack by Vice President Dick Cheney is imminent.

    The Department of Homeland Security has been under pressure to respond to the widespread panic and anxiety that have gripped the nation since Mr. Cheney shot and wounded a fellow quail hunter while on a hunting trip in Texas over the weekend.

    Across the country, people have holed up in their homes and hoarded food and water, fearing another senseless attack by the gun-toting vice president. "

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    The West Can't Save Africa

    The West Can't Save Africa: "Everyone, it seems, was invited to the 'Save Africa' campaign of 2005 except for Africans. They starred only as victims: genocide casualties, child soldiers, AIDS patients and famine deaths on our 43-inch plasma screens.

    Yes, these tragedies deserve attention, but the obsessive and almost exclusive Western focus on them is less relevant to the vast majority of Africans -- the hundreds of millions not fleeing from homicidal minors, not HIV-positive, not starving to death, and not helpless wards waiting for actors and rock stars to rescue them. Angelina, the continent has problems but it is not being destroyed."...

    The West's focus on sensational tragedies obscures the achievements of people such as Patrick Awuah and Robert Keter, who are succeeding even against tremendous odds. Economic development in Africa will depend -- as it has elsewhere and throughout the history of the modern world -- on the success of private-sector entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs and African political reformers. It will not depend on the activities of patronizing, bureaucratic, unaccountable and poorly informed outsiders.

    Development everywhere is homegrown. As G-8 ministers and rock stars fussed about a few billion dollars here or there for African governments, the citizens of India and China (where foreign aid is a microscopic share of income) were busy increasing their own incomes by $715 billion in 2005.

    This is not to say that all Western aid efforts in Africa are condemned to fail. Aid groups could search for achievable tasks with high potential for poor individuals to help themselves...

    WSJ.com - G-8 Nations Shape Plan to Fight Diseases

    WSJ.com - G-8 Nations Shape Plan to Fight Diseases: "The U.S. and its wealthy allies are moving to approve a first-of-its-kind plan to encourage pharmaceuticals companies to develop vaccines for diseases that afflict countries too poor to afford them.

    Finance ministers from the Group of Eight major industrialized powers, who met here this weekend, expect to approve a pilot project when they next get together, in Washington in April.

    Under an advance market commitment plan, the G-8 nations would promise to subsidize the purchase of new vaccines -- for between $800 million and $6 billion -- if pharmaceuticals companies develop ones that meet standards of efficacy and safety. Once the G-8 spends the pledged amount, the drug companies would sell the vaccine at a set discount in the developing world.

    The idea is to ensure that companies get a substantial, upfront, government-backed financial incentive to develop the drugs, even if they ultimately have to sell them at a low price. 'By restoring appropriate incentives,' advance market commitments 'can stimulate private research and investment, accelerate the discovery of new vaccines, save lives and contribute to economic development in a cost-effective way,' Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti wrote in a report to his G-8 colleagues in December.

    Advised by the World Bank and other outside experts, G-8 negotiators are working through details, including which of six Third World killers should be the test case: HIV/AIDS; malaria; tuberculosis; pneumococcus, a source of pneumonia and meningitis; rotavirus, which causes fatal diarrhea in children; or human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer."

    Psychology Today: Procrastination: Ten Things To Know

    An excellent synopsis of the consequences of procrastination....

    Psychology Today: Procrastination: Ten Things To Know: "There are many ways to avoid success in life, but the most sure-fire just might be procrastination. Procrastinators sabotage themselves. They put obstacles in their own path. They actually choose paths that hurt their performance.

    Why would people do that? I talked to two of the world's leading experts on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, and Timorthy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Neither one is a procrastinator, and both answered my many questions immediately."

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    The New Pink Panther Movie

    If you find the posts below a bit depressing, please take the time to see the new Pink Panther movie with Steve Martin. Our entire family was laughing throughout the whole movie, as were most of the people in the theater...

    Man Dies After Insurance Co. Refuses To Cover Treatment - Yahoo! News

    What an incredible tragedy for the wealthiest nation on this planet....

    Man Dies After Insurance Co. Refuses To Cover Treatment - Yahoo! News: "Tracy Pierce, 37, lived a full life. He grew up with family and faith. He went to a Catholic school, got married, had a son, and he even had the car of his dreams. It was the perfect life.

    'He's been strong. He has,' his wife, Julie Pierce, said.

    Two years ago, Tracy Pierce's life changed dramatically when he was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

    'I have no treatment. Three months has gone by and I haven't had any treatment,' Tracy Pierce told KMBC's Jim Flink in May 2005.

    When Flink talked to Tracy Pierce, his cancer was attacking his body. Despite being fully insured, every treatment his doctors sought for him was denied by his insurance provider. First-Health Coventry deemed the treatments were either not a medical necessity or experimental.

    'I don't know what else to do but just wait,' Tracy Pierce said last May.

    As he waited, his doctors appealed again and again, including a 27-page appeal spelling out that Tracy Pierce would die without care. Coventry dismissed each request.

    'It's purely economical. You never see an insurance company try to block an inexpensive test,' said William Soper.

    Soper leads a group of doctors who filed a lawsuit last year against insurance providers. This week, Soper went to Jefferson City to lobby legislators for change.

    'And you know, it's not going to get better anytime soon. It's going to get worse,' said Myra Christopher, who is the president and chief executive officer of the Center for Practical Bioethics.

    Christopher told Flink that change won't happen until there's a change in the entire medical model.

    'I just believe strongly that we need to start being honest about what's going on here,' Christopher said.

    What is going on is that some insurance companies deny even routine treatments because insurance companies treat theirpatients as costs, not as clients, Christopher said.

    "Some of these companies are just unethical the way they treat both subscribers and providers, doctors and hospitals," Soper said.

    Two weeks ago, Tracy Pierce talked with Flink again.

    "Just holding a lot of anger in," Pierce said.

    Cancer ravaged his body, moving from his kidney to his lungs and to his brain.

    "Now, we're just to the point where we're trying to make him comfortable," Julie Pierce said.

    Even as he was dying, for more than a week, his insurance company denied him oral morphine, which had been prescribed to reduce his pain.

    "That's unacceptable because in this day and age, no one should be in pain," Pierce said....

    MySA.com: Commentary

    We have a unique opportunity as citizens to make a difference with regard to the Darfur genocide as the U.S. this month holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council...please consider contacting the White House...

    MySA.com: Commentary: "The death toll from the Sudanese government's three-year campaign of ethnic cleansing against black Africans in Darfur is now approaching 400,000. The Sudanese military and their Janjaweed allies have driven more than 2 million refugees from their homes. Last year, an investigation by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights found as many as 2,000 villages and towns had been depopulated by a brutal scorched-earth policy.

    Beyond the abstract numbers are the horrific violations of human dignity taking place in Darfur. The High Commissioner and numerous human rights organizations have documented a widespread, deliberate campaign of terror and sexual violence: women and young girls taken into slavery or gang-raped in public; men castrated and left to bleed to death."...

    Whenever I write about the situation in Darfur, readers ask me: "What can I do?" Invariably, I refer them to aid organizations such as the Save Darfur Coalition or tell them to contact their representative and senators.

    This month, my answer is different. Contact the White House. Tell Bush that while the United States presides at the Security Council, contingency planning for a U.N. peacekeeping force must become operational planning. Twenty thousand peacekeepers, equipped and supported by the United States and the European Union, are needed on the ground quickly. The first step toward ending the violence is the enforcement a no-fly zone in Darfur by NATO.

    Only American leadership can compel the United Nations to stop the slaughter in Darfur. Only by shaking off moral torpor can Bush prevent a genocide that is already well under way from being completed on his watch.

    Mr. Bush and Genocide

    Mr. Bush and Genocide: "FOR THE PAST 18 months, the Bush administration and its allies have clung to the fiction that they could stop the genocide in the Sudanese territory of Darfur by sending in African Union forces. On Thursday United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke the truth about these troops: 'They didn't have the large numbers that would have been required for a region the size of Darfur. They didn't have logistical support. They didn't have the mobility, either on the ground or in the air.' Mr. Annan went on to say that the U.N. force that may replace the African Union had better be 'a completely different force and have a completely different concept of operation.' The issue is whether President Bush, who is due to meet Mr. Annan tomorrow, is willing to hear this message.

    This shouldn't even be a question. In 2004 Mr. Bush's administration sent expert investigators to interview 1,136 victims of Darfur's violence; based on this careful assessment, the administration accused Sudan's government of genocide -- the first time a government has leveled such an accusation at a sitting counterpart since the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide was adopted in 1948. Last summer Mr. Bush reaffirmed his belief that a genocide was occurring, and it's hard to see why his view would have altered. At least 2 million people -- a third of Darfur's population -- have been driven from their homes, and they could face starvation if international relief is interrupted. Assaults on civilians continue:"...

    This sickening violence was genocide when it began in 2003, and it remains so nearly three years later. The excuses for not confronting it with a serious Western troop deployment never looked good, but they are now thinner than ever.

    Aisha and Fatima preparing their stove in Darfur Posted by Picasa

    Disposable Cameras for Disposable People - New York Times

    Disposable Cameras for Disposable People - New York Times: "Meet some of the disposable people of Darfur, the heirs of the disposable Armenians, Jews, Cambodians, Rwandans and Bosnians of past genocides. Look carefully, for several hundred thousand people like these have already been slaughtered in Darfur in western Sudan — and the lives of two million more are in our hands."

    On my fifth and last trip to Darfur, in November, I smuggled in 20 disposable cameras to hand out to these disposable people. While taking photos without a permit is illegal in Sudan, two aid groups agreed to distribute the cameras, teach the genocide survivors how to use them, and then send me the pictures...

    Granted, people like these die all the time in Africa of malaria or AIDS. And it's true that it's probably as wrenching for a parent to lose a child to malaria as to a machete. But when a government deliberately slaughters people because of their tribe or skin color, then that is a special affront to the bonds of humanity and creates a particular obligation to respond. Nothing rips more at the common fabric of humanity than genocide — and the only way to assert our own humanity is to stand up to it....

    President Bush is doing more about Darfur than most other leaders, but that's not saying much. The French are being particularly unhelpful, while other Europeans (including, alas, Tony Blair) seem to wonder whether it's really worth the expense to save people from genocide. Muslim countries are silent about the slaughter of Darfur's Muslims, while China disgraces itself by protecting Sudan in the United Nations and underwriting the genocide with trade. Still, even Mr. Bush is taking only baby steps.

    Here are some grown-up steps Mr. Bush could take: He could enforce a no-fly zone to stop air attacks on civilians in Darfur, lobby Arab leaders to become involved, call President Hu Jintao and ask China to stop protecting Sudan, invite Darfur refugees to a photo op at the White House, attend a coming donor conference for Darfur, visit Darfur or the refugee camps next door in Chad, push France and other allies for a NATO bridging force to provide protection until United Nations troops arrive, offer to support the United Nations force with American military airlift and logistical support (though not ground troops, which would help Sudan's hard-liners by allowing them to claim that the United States was starting a new invasion of the Arab world), make a major speech about Darfur, and arrange for Colin Powell to be appointed a United Nations special envoy to seek peace among Darfur's tribal sheiks.

    With Mr. Bush saying little about Darfur, presidential leadership on Darfur is coming from ... Slovenia. The Slovenian president, Janez Drnovsek, has emerged as one of the few leaders who are actually organizing an international effort to stop the genocide.

    Judge Tosses Case of Atheist vs. Priest -- Beliefnet.com

    Judge Tosses Case of Atheist vs. Priest -- Beliefnet.com: "Rome, Feb. 10 - An Italian judge has dismissed an atheist's petition that a small-town priest should stand trial for asserting that Jesus Christ existed, both sides said on Friday.

    Luigi Cascioli, a 72-year-old retired agronomist, had accused the Rev. Enrico Righi of violating two laws with the assertion, which he called a deceptive fable propagated by the Roman Catholic Church."

    The Observer | World | Thousands of child 'witches' turned on to the streets to starve

    The Observer | World | Thousands of child 'witches' turned on to the streets to starve: "Naomi is 15 but looks 10. A horrible burn scar shrivels the skin across her chest and shoulder. She had a broken leg, now reset. But her face is calm; she speaks clearly. The physical scars are nothing compared with the trauma she has been through. She is one of the so-called child witches of Kinshasa, rejected by her family and community at six years old and left to survive on the streets.

    Once she had four siblings and lived with her parents across the river in Brazzaville. Her father died and then her mother. She had to live with her grandfather and aunt, who did not want her. 'Grandfather become sick and my aunt accused me of being a witch. She said, 'Why is everyone around sick? They are suffering because of you.' Grandfather gave me special water to drink, but it made no difference.

    'My aunt said I must leave. The neighbours beat me and burnt me. They said either you must admit to being a witch or we will kill you. There is no place for you here. I went to the church, but they gave me water to drink that made me sick. I said to neighbours, let me sleep somewhere, even in your toilet, but they refused. I was caught by some soldiers and they said, you are a witch - we saw you flying with birds. They said they were going to kill me, but I escaped.'"...
    Naomi gives a smile as she recounts how she found another church which took her in and sent her to Kinshasa. She has ended up in a hostel run by War Child. She is lucky. Tens of thousands of children live in the cemeteries, markets and streets of Kinshasa feeding on rubbish, begging and stealing...

    As Congolese society has disintegrated, undermined by the country's rulers and ravaged by Aids and poverty, the family has collapsed. Children have been the main victims, often accused of witchcraft when families suffer misfortunes.

    'Thirty years ago this did not exist,' says Remy Mafu, the director of the Rejeer project for street children. 'Now it's a huge problem and difficult to know how to deal with it.'..

    'In African culture, when something goes wrong, we ask the spirits to find the human cause,' Mafu explains. 'These days children are accused. They can be persuaded to accept it's their fault. They tell themselves "it is me, I am evil".'

    Then there are the new fundamentalist Christian sects, of which there are thousands in Kinshasa. They make money out of identifying 'witches' and increasingly parents bring troublesome children to the pastors. 'It's a business,' says Mafu. 'For a fee of $5 or $10 they investigate the children and confirm they are possessed. For a further fee they take the child and exorcise them, often keeping them without food for days, beating and torturing them to chase out the devil.'

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