Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Like most mums I'm sick of the pink plague, but should Labour REALLY be trying to ban our daughters' favourite colour?

Amanda Craig writes for The Daily Mail

When girls go through their pink stage, it's the parents who suffer most. I vividly remember my daughter, dressed in various shades of strawberry, saying thoughtfully: 'Do you think if we fed the dog pink food, he'd leave a prettier mess on the lawn?' She was obsessed with the colour.

So the news that Labour's Justice Minister, Bridget Prentice, has joined the Pinkstinks campaign, which wants us to boycott shops selling girls' toys and clothes in the colour, will strike a chord with many of us, especially mums of a feminist bent.

The Pinkstinks campaigners say the 'pinkification' of girls is forcing them into a dangerously narrow mindset and teaching them that they should be passive and pretty, valuing beauty over brains.

Mrs Prentice believes that being raised on a diet of pink fairy wings and princess dresses is leading our daughters up a 'pink alley', funnelling them into 'pretty, pretty jobs' rather than careers that challenge them to their full potential.

Yet, as any parent knows, you can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.

Just as boys will fashion guns out of toast crusts, cardboard or yesterday's newspaper when banned from playing with toy revolvers, so most little girls have an extraordinary and unavoidable addiction to the colour pink.

For a minister to try to change that by government edict is politically correct nonsense of the highest order.

Yes, I hate pink. But you can't 'liberate' young girls by banning it. Besides, if you banned pink, there would be a toddlers' revolution. It speaks to their deepest instincts of what is feminine.

A single glimpse of the Sugar Plum Fairy at a Christmas performance of The Nutcracker was all it took for my little daughter to succumb. Pink, the crack cocaine of female infancy, had taken hold of her.

In vain, I tried to distract her with story books about the brave Wrestling Princess or the clever Princess Smartypants.

But she would listen attentively - then demand I read Sleeping Beauty again, because she had a lovely pink dress.

'I think it's a very pretty colour, Mummy,' she would say. 'It's my favourite - just like black is yours.'

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Cuba film institute founder looks back on 50 years

Fidel Castro was 32 and building his new government on the fly.

He nationalized Cuba's U.S.-run telephone company, tapped Che Guevara as head of the National Bank and claimed he was no communist to every interviewer — later maintaining he hid his true political convictions to keep from antagonizing Washington too soon.

And he created a state-run film industry, founding the Cuban Institute of Art and Cinematography on March 24, 1959 — just 82 days after his bearded rebels' revolution.

As the institute celebrates its 50th anniversary during the Havana film festival beginning Dec. 3, its founder, Alfredo Guevara, a college friend of Castro's, provided written answers to questions from The Associated Press.

"Cinema was the great communicator and Fidel knew it. We were inspired protagonists and accomplices in the urgency of the revolution," said Guevara, who is not related to Che.

Guevara, 82, stepped down as institute head in 2000, but remains one of the government's behind-the-scenes power-brokers. He was a communist who went into exile in the 1940s but returned to Cuba in 1951 and became a public face of the party long before Castro did.

Castro grasped that movies, especially quality ones with mass appeal, could be his government's best public-relations weapon. He turned to Guevara, who had written screenplays but was more of an intellectual than movie buff, and was willing to defend the revolution at all cost — even when it meant advocating state censorship.

"I'm not a rebel, or at least not a professional rebel," Guevara said, "I'm a revolutionary."

But Guevara says the film institute is not in the propaganda business.

"We have a mission, an end we always work toward," he said. "It's not ideology, it's idealism."

The institute has produced more than 300 films, winning international acclaim and helping keep the Castro government hip in intellectual circles — despite its bans on free speech, expression, assembly and press.

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How to write the Great American Novel

From Uncyclopedia

The Great American Novel is not just any novel. Any novel could tell a story; Any novel could have dozens upon dozens of product placements. The Great American Novel has to tell the greatest of all stories; place the greatest of all products.

Furthermore, and not a bit too soon, any novel can bring a strong man to his knees, crying over the powerful tragedy of the tale. But only the Great American Novel can make that same man howl in pain over the immense emotional overtones of the tale, and make him curl into a ball, crying for his mommy.

This is the guide to writing the Great American Novel. ...yeah. I know.


How Great?

There are some people out there who will say that the Great American Novel has already been written. I say to thee: NOT TRUE, and NOT TRUE do I say to thee. No book has ever been great enough to be as great as the Great American Novel has to be: In fact, no book can be. Or, at least, no book written by people who aren't Jesus. How does it feel to fail before you even tried? How does it feel to fail in front of Lady Liberty?

It has to bring tears to the eyes. It has to make readers and critics burst into tears. It has to be sad enough to make soldiers throw down their guns in disgust (but pick them up again, of course). It has to be sweeping in its depressive qualities. Good lord, it has to be sad. Oh, oh Jesus. It has to include a powerful, but broken, old man who's retarded son-- no, no wait-- retarded family has to etch a living out of the cruel soil of Kansas-- no, no wait-- Oklahoma.

It has to be inspiring. If we, the public, just wanted a sad book we could burgle the local emo kid's house again. We don't want to do that: there's weird stuff in there. Instead, make the family eventually overcome every struggle put in their way. Like that weird patriotic Emo music that kid makes the lyrics to in his diary, the Great American Novel has to be heroic and crushing at the same time. It may sound impossible now, but just wait till you're writing it: you'll claw your friggin' eyes out. You make me sick.

Make sure that the characters say something patriotic at the end of the book. Oh, oh, make the main character holding an American flag and looking at the sunset at the end! that'll make those poor morons down in Kansas drool. He (of course the main character is a "he") should say something proud and impressive.

"Mary Mae," Louis said, sweat on his brow and blood on his American Flag lapel-pin, "I think we may have made it." Louis looked off in the distance toward the horizon and the distance, respectively. Louis's knuckles were white as he clenched his NRA-approved shotgun-slash-American-flag and looked into the distance, hoping to see something inspiring. "Through all our harrowing adventures, we may just have made it." Louis grabbed even more strongly to the thick, long, manly pole of the American Flag and began speaking again in his thick Kansan accent, "We may have made it."    

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The Afghan quagmire

Ralph Nader writes in Common Dreams

Misusing professional cadets at West Point as a political prop, President Barack Obama delivered his speech on the Afghanistan war forcefully but with fearful undertones. He chose to escalate this undeclared war with at least 30,000 more soldiers plus an even larger number of corporate contractors.

He chose the path the military-industrial complex wanted. The “military” planners, whatever their earlier doubts about the quagmire, once in, want to prevail. The “industrial” barons because their sales and profits rise with larger military budgets.

A majority of Americans are opposed or skeptical about getting deeper into a bloody, costly fight in the mountains of central Asia while facing recession, unemployment, foreclosures, debt and deficits at home. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), after hearing Mr. Obama’s speech said, “Why is it that war is a priority but the basic needs of people in this country are not?”

Let’s say needs like waking up to do something about 60,000 fatalities a year in our country related to workplace diseases and trauma. Or 250 fatalities a day due to hospital induced infections, or 100,000 fatalities a year due to hospital malpractice, or 45,000 fatalities a year due to the absence of health insurance to pay for treatment, or, or, or, even before we get into the economic poverty and deprivation. Any Obama national speeches on these casualties?

Back to the West Point teleprompter speech. If this is the product of a robust internal Administration debate, the result was the same cookie-cutter, Vietnam approach of throwing more soldiers at a poorly analyzed situation. In September, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen told an American Legion Convention, “I’ve seen the public opinion polls saying that a majority of Americans don’t support the effort at all. I say, good. Let’s have the debate, let’s have that discussion.”

Where? Not in Congress. There were only rubberstamps and grumbles; certainly nothing like the Fulbright Senate hearings on the Vietnam War.

Where else? Not in the influential commercial media. Forget jingoistic television and radio other than the satire of Jon Stewart plus an occasional non-commercial Bill Moyers show or rare public radio commentary. Not in the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Washington Post.

A FAIR study published in the organization’s monthly newsletter EXTRA reports that of all opinion columns in The New York Times and the Washington Post over the first 10 months of 2009, thirty-six out of forty-three columns on the Afghanistan War in the Times supported the war while sixty-one of the sixty-seven Post columns supported a continued war.

So what would a rigorous public and internal administration debate have highlighted? First, the more occupation forces there are, the more they fuel the insurgency against the occupation, especially since so many more civilians than fighters lose their lives. Witness the wedding parties, villagers, and innocent bystanders blown up by the U.S. military’s superior weaponry.

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Sexuality - good news, bad news

First, the good news: it still appears to be good for you

Not just good, but good for you

To paraphrase a great old slogan for Guinness beer: Sex isn’t just good, it’s good for you!

Okay, so maybe there’s some wishful thinking going on — the science isn’t exactly iron-clad — but evidence is accumulating that the more sex you have, the better off you are.

There is one caveat, though. “We do not have good data to show a direct connection [to all-around good health]," says Jennifer Bass, the head of information services at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction in Bloomington, Ind.

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Why having 'sex' is a healthy habit

Making love is good for adults. And making love regularly is even better! Not only does it help you sleep well, relieve stress and burn calories, there are several other reasons why you need to have sex more often.

Improves cardiovascular health
A recent study says that men who have sex more than twice a week, had a lesser risk of getting a heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.

Relieves pain
If you’re using your headache as an excuse not to make love, stop doing it. Just when you’re about to orgasm, the level of oxytocin, a hormone increases by five times. The release of endorphins reduces aches and pains.

Increases immunity
Regular love making increases the body's level of the immune-boosting antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which will make your body stronger against illnesses like the common cold and fever.

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And now, the bad news. Writers still get it wrong...

Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction Award 2009

Jonathan Littell has won the seventeenth annual Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award, for The Kindly Ones (Chatto & Windus). The prize (a plaster foot) was presented by award-winning actor Charles Dance. It was accepted on Littell's behalf by his editor at Chatto & Windus, Alison Samuel.

The awards were announced at a lavish ceremony on Monday 30th November 2009, at the In & Out (Naval & Military) Club in St James's Square, where the 400 guests raised a toast to the winner.

The Kindly Ones, originally published in French, won the Prix Goncourt in 2006. It has sold over a million copies in Europe.

The judges used the occasion to praise an ambitious and impressive novel. They said: 'It is in part a work of genius. However, a mythologically inspired passage and lines such as "I came suddenly, a jolt that emptied my head like a spoon scraping the inside of a soft-boiled egg" clinched the award for The Kindly Ones. We hope he takes it in good humour.'

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while others can't get it right...


All men watch porn, scientists find

Researchers were conducting a study comparing the views of men in their 20s who had never been exposed to pornography with regular users.

But their project stumbled at the first hurdle when they failed to find a single man who had not been seen it.

“We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,” said Professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse. “We couldn't find any.”

Although hampered in its original aim, the study did examined the habits of those young men who used pornography – which would appear to be all of them.

Prof Lajeunesse interviewed 20 heterosexual male university students who consumed pornography, and found on average, they first watched pornography when they were 10 years old.

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Anti-war activists plan 'emergency' rally in D.C. to protest Afghanistan escalation

By Evan McMorris-Santoro, Talking Points Memo

A new coalition led by more than 100 anti-war activists has announced an "Emergency Anti-Escalation Rally" to protest President Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan. The rally, scheduled for Dec. 12 in front of the White House, will include speeches by former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel and 2008 Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney.

The new coalition, called EndUSWars.org, has posted an "open letter" to Obama on its website, where it calls for an end to all U.S. military action in the Afghanistan region, including Predator drone airstrikes and covert intelligence operations.

Though the coalition's demands are to the extreme left-wing side of the progressive furor over Obama's plan add troops to the Afghanistan conflict, the organizer of the Dec. 12 rally says the coalition's anger at Obama is becoming more mainstream among the left.

"This is a movement, and it's growing," Laurie Dobson told TPMDC. "A lot of people said any change was better [than President Bush], but it's not better if we're still peddling perpetual war across the planet."

Dobson founded the coalition of anti-war progressives earlier this month, when she said it became clear to her that Obama was not going to cease military operations in Afghanistan. Dobson said the Dec. 12 rally is the first step in a series of protests moves she said might end with anti-war progressives running their own candidate for the 2012 Democratic presidential nomination.

Though Dobson said the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan began as "neo-con wars" under Bush, she claimed Obama's speech last night put made the wars his refocused the full force of the anti-war protests Bush faced onto the Obama administration.

"It's about Obama," she said of the Dec. 12 rally. "And refusing to support his presidency any longer."

Welcome to the Jungle

"What worries me is not the violence of the few, but the indifference of the many" -M.L. King


"The wild, cruel beast is not behind the bars of the cage. He is in front of it" -Axel Munthe

T-SHIRTS (banners for a new world in FRUGALITY & PROSPERITY... An application of such idea would be to avoid feeding the lending corporations --the hungry lion-- by having a simple life. In metaphorical language, we would make the lion become vegetarian)

Banana Revolution Gear

An Alternative Inaugural Presidential Address
"Just as no individual is above the law within countries, no nation can be above the law among countries. We believe that if we disregard the law of nations we're left with the Law of the Jungle, where the only constraint on violence is the power and ruthlessness of those who would employ it. Rest assured, in that world, we won't be the only ones to employ it." (more...http://www.commondreams.org/views05/0120-21.htm)

Well, if you believe our leaders are failing to do something brave and bold like that above, perhaps because they are the puppets of the VESTED INTERESTS, then it is people like you and me who have got to do something. The reality of the jungle is that THOSE WHO CAN CHANGE THE WORLD, WON'T; AND THOSE WHO WANT TO CHANGE THE WORLD, CAN'T.

Please see 'Help Wanted: International Climate Change Mitigation Seeks Leader'... "a familiar absence of leadership from those with the most power to mitigate climate change"
http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5369

Humor as a defense and as a weapon
"I have found that the BEST way to destroy a silly viewpoint is to use satire- satire makes people laugh, and when you point out the silliness in a position in such a way as to make everyone laugh at it you have won the hearts and minds of the people... humor is a powerful defense and a devastating weapon... I believe it exists as a result of evolution... chimps have a sense of humor."
(http://www.habitablezone.com/community/messages/367954.html)

NEW: The International Jungle
http://webspawner.com/users/donquijote92

(These little tiny stories are part of a series in which I explain to my little daughter how things work)

HOW THE POLITICAL JUNGLE WORKS
Politics works like this: Big People of Big Country buy Big People of Little Country, who, by the way, will be elected in "democratic elections" thanks to big bucks; Big People of Big Country give big loans* to Little Country (of course, to buy "made in Big Country"); Big People of Little Country pocket a big chunk and invest it in the Big Country, without ever investing in real development (education, health, the environment, etc); Little People of Little Country work for ever to pay back what they never got; Big People of Little Country thank Big People of Big Country in big ceremony, and promise to repay the big debt; and Little People of Little Country get big promises, just like Little People of Big Country. And they lived happily ever after... (Moral: The Big Fish eats the Little Fish. Well, unless the Little Fish get organized...)

* Please see "Predatory lending" at... http://www.odiousdebts.org/odiousdebts/index.cfm?DSP=content&ContentID=17469

HOW THE LAW WORKS... FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE LION
One day the King of the Jungle, tired of being called AUTHORITARIAN, gathered the most cunning animals in the kingdom, chief among them the Foxes, and told them: "It's mighty unjust that I am not recognized for what I am. You know full well that the best of my SCRAPS, after you, go to the Little Animals... Well, I want you to write LAWS, so from now on it'll be them, and not me, who would rule over this God chosen kingdom..."

After a few months of hard deliberations (and a few "private parties" and "business trips") the Foxes (now turned politicians) returned with a long, long book of laws written in a language so hard to understand to the Little Animals that they thought it was old Greek. After translation, it started like this: "The animals with a mane will be treated like kings; the animals with paws and teeth will be above the Laws; and the animals who will represent the interests of the Little Animals, us, will be granted a raise in benefits and status... Of course, ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION will be considered ILLEGAL, and will result in the Lion eating the Little Animal..." (Moral: The trick is in the law.)

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Climategate: Science is dying

Surely there must have been serious men and women in the hard sciences who at some point worried that their colleagues in the global warming movement were putting at risk the credibility of everyone in science. The nature of that risk has been twofold: First, that the claims of the climate scientists might buckle beneath the weight of their breathtaking complexity. Second, that the crudeness of modern politics, once in motion, would trample the traditions and culture of science to achieve its own policy goals. With the scandal at the East Anglia Climate Research Unit, both have happened at once.

I don't think most scientists appreciate what has hit them. This isn't only about the credibility of global warming. For years, global warming and its advocates have been the public face of hard science. Most people could not name three other subjects they would associate with the work of serious scientists. This was it. The public was told repeatedly that something called "the scientific community" had affirmed the science beneath this inquiry. A Nobel Prize was bestowed (on a politician).

Global warming enlisted the collective reputation of science. Because "science" said so, all the world was about to undertake a vast reordering of human behavior at almost unimaginable financial cost. Not every day does the work of scientists lead to galactic events simply called Kyoto or Copenhagen. At least not since the Manhattan Project.

What is happening at East Anglia is an epochal event. As the hard sciences - physics, biology, chemistry, electrical engineering - came to dominate intellectual life in the last century, some academics in the humanities devised the theory of postmodernism, which liberated them from their colleagues in the sciences. Postmodernism, a self-consciously "unprovable" theory, replaced formal structures with subjectivity. With the revelations of East Anglia, this slippery and variable intellectual world has crossed into the hard sciences.

This has harsh implications for the credibility of science generally. Hard science, alongside medicine, was one of the few things left accorded automatic stature and respect by most untrained lay persons. But the average person reading accounts of the East Anglia emails will conclude that hard science has become just another faction, as politicized and "messy" as, say, gender studies. The New England Journal of Medicine has turned into a weird weekly amalgam of straight medical-research and propaganda for the Obama redesign of U.S. medicine.

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Climate camp set for second night in Trafalgar Square

Environmental protesters are preparing to camp for a second night in London's Trafalgar Square ahead of the Copenhagen summit on climate change.

The Camp for Climate Action said more than 100 demonstrators stayed overnight despite poor weather, after pitching their tents on Saturday.

Organisers said the "elitist and undemocratic" summit would push "false solutions" such as carbon trading.

On Monday, officials from 192 countries begin talks in Denmark's capital.

Direct action

The Metropolitan Police said they had been told the camp would remain in place for 48 hours.

Anna Markova of Camp for Climate Action said spirits were high in Trafalgar Square "even though people are quite wet and cold".

She added: "What we are doing today is highlighting the fact that the kind of solutions proposed by our government are not going to do anything.

"We're calling for more people to come and join us."

Organisers said the camp would stage film showings, vegan meals, workshops and live music, as well as providing activists with space to plan direct action.

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Zombie Reagan raised from grave to lead GOP

Satire from The Onion


Zombie Reagan Raised From Grave To Lead GOP

Steve Earle - 'Rich man's war'

Barbie converts to Islam

From an editorial for the Washington Times

Western culture has lost another battle in the clash of civilizations as Barbie dons the burqa. Burkha Barbie, by Italian designer Eliana Lorena, will be among the dolls auctioned by Sotheby's in a benefit for the nongovernment charity Save the Children. The message to little girls worldwide: Abandon all hope.

Barbie has long been a source of controversy. Critics have taken the iconic doll to task for implicitly promoting an unrealistic body image among young girls. In 1992, Teen Talk Barbie was denounced for saying, "I love shopping!" among other things. This year's Totally Stylin' Tattoos Barbie comes complete with a tasteless "tramp stamp" on her back.

But the upside of Barbie and the image Mattel has cultivated is inspiring the notion of unlimited possibilities. Barbie could be anything a girl wanted her to be - a lawyer, a doctor, an astronaut, a homemaker. By extension, this prompts girls to develop lofty aspirations in a society that accepts and nurtures them.

Barbie, however, is viewed as a threat in the Middle East, where subjugation of women is a cherished practice. Western cultural influence in general threatens this "peculiar institution," and Barbie has been singled out as a particularly corrupting influence.

Saudi Arabia banned Barbie in September 2003. The government Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice denounced Barbie's "revealing clothing, lewd postures and accessories" as "symbols of decadence of the perverted West." The Saudis also claimed Barbie is Jewish. "Let us beware of her dangers and be careful," the commission warned.

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Surge to strain supply lines

Afghan War Costs U.S. Far More per Troop Than Iraq

Andrew Scutro reports for Defense News

With presidential orders to surge 30,000 troops into Afghanistan at "the fastest possible pace," in early 2010, U.S. logisticians and planners are scrambling to coordinate the movement of units and tons of materiel over thousands of miles into an exceedingly prohibitive environment.

Although military logisticians had been prepping for months against the possibility of a surge, detailed planning began only after President Barack Obama announced the new strategy Dec. 1. Senior leaders say it's too early to estimate the price tag of moving the new forces rapidly into a landlocked Asian country.

"We have not figured out any of the transportation costs yet, and I really wouldn't want to give a guess at that right now," said Army Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, director of operations and plans at U.S. Transportation Command.

Lally said calculations on airlift and support requirements will not be made until after the Pentagon issues a detailed deployment plan and schedule, which should be available in mid-December.

They won't come cheap.

Delivering just one Army brigade combat team of more than 3,500 troops to Bagram in northern Afghanistan requires a massive airlift of people and weapons to be carefully coordinated with gear-laden, contractor-operated convoys that debark at Karachi and crawl 1,250 miles over vulnerable Pakistan supply routes.

"Afghanistan is an incredibly tough area to deploy forces into," Lally said in a Dec. 3 conference call with defense reporters, "because you've only got a couple airfields you can fly into and going into Karachi and up that [ground route] is a challenge, so we'll work that very closely."

With 71,000 troops there now, recent experience may serve as a guide to effort and expense. In fiscal 2009, the Pentagon spent $4 billion to move troops and gear into Afghanistan: $2 billion for air transport, $120 million for sealift and the balance for port-handling and inland transport, according to figures the Defense Department provided to Congress.

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Jewish group slams Swiss ban on minarets

From Ynet News

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday urged the Swiss government to be vigilant in its commitment to ensuring freedom of religion, following a Swiss popular referendum  that amended its constitution to ban the construction of minarets.

ADL National Chair Robert G. Sugarman and ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman issued a statement saying, "On November 29, the Swiss Muslim community fell victim to a populist political campaign of religious intolerance, led by the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP). The Swiss government opposed the initiative during the campaign and underscored its commitment to religious freedom in a statement after the vote.
 
In the statement, the Jewish group urged the Swiss government "to be vigilant in its defense of religious freedom, even though the SVP is the largest party in the Swiss Parliament and has two of the seven government ministries.

"The Federation of Swiss Jewish Communities (FSJC) clearly stated its opposition to the initiative before the vote and expressed its disappointment at the result," the statement added.

According to ADL, "This is not the first time a Swiss popular vote has been used to promote religious intolerance. A century ago, a Swiss referendum banned Jewish ritual slaughter in an attempt to drive out its Jewish population. We share the FSJC's stated concern that those who initiated the anti-minaret campaign could try to further erode religious freedom through similar means."

- - -

Swiss government 'very concerned' over minaret ban / Associated Press

Foreign minister says limitations on coexistence of different cultures, religions 'endangers our security'; stresses ban only on new minarets, not on new mosques  Full story


The Rage - on video







Pranasynthesis



"I feel no need for food and water" states Prahladbhai Jani, a seventy-six year old Indian ascetic who lives in a cave near the Ambaji temple in the state of Gujarat. Mr. Jani claims that he has not had food or fluids to drink for the last sixty-five years.

How Europe's discarded computers are poisoning Africa's kids

From The Children of Sodom and Gomorrah by Clemens Höges, Spiegel Online

People in the West throw away millions of old computers every year. Hundreds of thousands of them end up in Africa, where children try to eke out a living by selling the scrap. But the toxic elements in the waste are slowly poisoning them.

According to the Bible, God rained down fire and brimstone to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. "Sodom and Gomorrah" is also what officials in Accra, Ghana, have come to call a part of their city plagued by toxins of a sort the residents of the Biblical cities couldn't even have imagined. No one sets foot in this place unless they absolutely have to.

[ ... ]

The Refuse of the Internet Age

This area next to Sodom and Gomorrah is the final destination for old computers and other discarded electronics from around the world. There are many places like this, not just in Ghana, but also in countries like Nigeria, Vietnam, India, China and the Philippines. Bismarck is just one of perhaps a hundred children here, and one of thousands around the world.

These children live amid the refuse of the Internet age, and many of them may die of it. They pull apart the computers, breaking the screens with rocks, then throw the internal electronics onto the fires. Computers contain large amounts of heavy metals, and as the plastic burns, the children also breathe in highly carcinogenic fumes. The computers of the rich are poisoning the children of the poor.

The United Nations estimates that up to 50 million tons of electronic waste are thrown away globally each year. It costs about €3.50 ($5.30) to properly dispose of an old CRT monitor in Germany. But it costs only €1.50 to stick it on a container ship to Ghana.

An international treaty, the Basel Convention, came into effect in 1989. The treaty is sound in its concept, forbidding developed countries from carrying out unauthorized dumping of computer waste in less developed countries. A total of 172 countries have signed the convention, but three of them never ratified it: Haiti, Afghanistan, and the United States. According to estimates by the US Environmental Protection Agency, around 40 million computers are discarded each year in the US alone.

European Union directives with acronyms like WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) and RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) followed the Basel Convention, and individual countries have signed them into law. Germany's waste disposal laws are among the world's strictest, and shipping computer waste to Ghana can lead to a prison sentence. In theory.

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10 Things science says will make you happy

From: YES! Magazine

In the last few years, psychologists and researchers have been digging up hard data on a question previously left to philosophers: What makes us happy? Researchers like the father-son team Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener, Stanford psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky, and ethicist Stephen Post have studied people all over the world to find out how things like money, attitude, culture, memory, health, altruism, and our day-to-day habits affect our well-being. The emerging field of positive psychology is bursting with new findings that suggest your actions can have a significant effect on your happiness and satisfaction with life. Here are 10 scientifically proven strategies for getting happy.


1. Savor Everyday Moments

Pause now and then to smell a rose or watch children at play. Study participants who took time to “savor” ordinary events that they normally hurried through, or to think back on pleasant moments from their day, “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression,” says psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky.

2. Avoid Comparisons

While keeping up with the Joneses is part of American culture, comparing ourselves with others can be damaging to happiness and self-esteem. Instead of comparing ourselves to others, focusing on our own personal achievement leads to greater satisfaction, according to Lyubomirsky.

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