Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) partners with Mumbai Dabbawala Association (MDA)        

Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) partners with Mumbai Dabbawala Association (MDA)

~A culturally enriching and riveting morning hosted by Malaysian Palm Oil Council with the Dabbawalas of Mumbai~

by Shrutee K/DNS

Mumbai, August 8, 2017 : In April 2017 in conjunction with the visit to India of the Hon. Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato Sri’ Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) signed a MoU with Mumbai Dabbawala Association (MDA). Taking this MoU forward, on the morning of August 8th, MPOC and Mumbai Dabbawalas flagged off an event to create awareness for Malaysian Palm Oil and its benefits.

The event took place at the Lower Parel Bridge, where Dabbawalas wore the T-shirts and topis branded with MPOC message. They then delivered the dabbas carrying a booklet of recipes of dishes that can be cooked in palm oil and the benefits of using palm oil. The Dabbawalas are in a unique position to promote MPOC and raise awareness to the positive nutritional attributes of Malaysian Palm Oil. This becomes particularly useful in Indian cuisine as most dishes are cooked in oil. Substituting for a healthier oil can do no harm, besides besides providing the added bonus of eating delicious food cooked in a healthy oil that is nutritious for the body.

To kick off this event, Dr. Kalyana Sundaram, CEO of MPOC, was present, encouraging the use of palm oil and showing appreciation to our Dabbawalas for their exceptional work. The morning was most enjoyable, entertaining and culturally riveting as some of Maharashtra’s best dancers performed the traditional Lezim Dance, a true delight to have watched! For those unaware of the Lezim Dance, it is a Maharashtrian folk dance performed to the beat of the Dholki, a percussion instrument.

Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Kalyan Sundaram, CEO, MPOC, said, “It gives me immense pleasure to be here this morning. Dabbawalas have been an integral part of this city and they define what Indians stand for: hardworking, responsible and efficient. They work relentlessly with a smile on their face, be it rain or storm. Malaysian Palm Oil has been a very important part of the Indian diet and with this unique initiative we wish to create awareness for this wonderful oil and its several health benefits. Our association with the Mumbai Dabbawalas allows us to spread the message of healthy cooking to a large number of households and encourages a healthier cooking lifestyle”


Mr. Subhash Talekar, Association Spokesperson of Mumbai Dabbawala Association said “We Dabbawalas unfailingly deliver thousands of dabbas to hungry people daily, they are undoubtedly the best people to directly reach out to households and create awareness about palm oil and the health benefits of using it. This is a very exciting new chapter, and we are glad to be partnering with MPOC.”

India is the world’s largest importer of cooking oils. Palm oil constitutes about two-thirds of India’s steadily increasing vegetable oil import. The price, in comparison to competing oils and the proximity of origin, Malaysia, has made Malayisan Palm Oil a highly preferred oil. Now the Dabawallas have taken it upon themselves, with the help of MPOC, to inform families about the benefits of palm oil and how exquisite food can be cooked in palm oil in alternative to other vegetable oils.

Amongst some of the benefits we came to learn about during the event was that palm oil is rich in natural chemical compounds essential for health and nutrition. It has a rich source of carotenoids that are rich in Vitamin A, a potent natural antioxidant, Vitamins D, E, K, fatty acids, and other important fat-soluble micronutrients that boost the human immune system. The health benefits from using palm oil are tremendous - it reduces chances of Cancer, protects against heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, and helps children with Vitamin A deficiency.

The oil is great for cooking; it is of vegetable origin, making it free of cholesterol and apt for vegetarians, vegans, and Jains. Furthermore, the oil has a neutral flavor - you needn’t worry about changing tastes, it does not oxidize easily – making it perfect for frying food, and produces less gummy materials and helps in the cooking area maintaining a non-greasy surface; so, most bakers prefer to use a palm-based margarine for baking goods.

With people now more conscious about their health and food habits, palm oil is definitely the healthier choice to make whilst cooking and a step towards healthier bodies and practices.  What better way to create awareness than directly reaching out to the households through our Dabbawalas.


Note to Editors:
MPOC is a Council under the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities of Malaysia.  Its role is to promote the market expansion of Malaysian palm oil and its products by enhancing the image of palm oil and creating better acceptance of palm oil through awareness of various technological and economic advantages (techno-economic advantages) and environmental sustainability.

The Council has set up a network of ten offices all over the world, mainly in China (Shanghai), India (Mumbai), Pakistan (Lahore), Bangladesh (Dhaka), Middle East (Istanbul and Cairo), Europe (Brussels and Russia), Africa (Durban) and Americas (Washington DC)  to support, promote and venture into new areas for the industry.
                                                                                                             

The plantation industry, particularly palm oil, is one of the main pillars of the Malaysian economy.  The palm oil sector has contributed significantly towards providing a continuous inflow of export earnings through the export of raw commodity and valued-added products to the global market. In 2016, palm oil contributed USD 9 billion in export earnings for Malaysia and accounted for 33% of the world’s palm oil production and 39% of total palm oil exports.

          RENUNGKANLAH SAUDARAKU...!        
Abdul Karim Germanus, Legenda Muslim Hungaria
"Islam satu saat nanti akan memperlihatkan keajaibannya pada saat dunia mulai diliputi oleh kegelapan." (Abdul Karim Germanus) Dr. Abdul Karim Germanus (1884-1979) adalah seorang orientalis terkemuka asal Hungaria dan juga seorang akademisi yang telah mendunia. Perjalanan spiritual Abdul Karim Germanus (dulu bernama Julius Germanus) mencari Islam menyita hampir separuh perjalanan hidupnya. Dia menghabiskan sepanjang hidupnya untuk mempertahankan Islam dan bahasa Arab. Selepas melewati masa-masa sulit semasa remaja dan lepas dari belenggu tradisi, dia kemudian tertarik untuk mempelajari Islam. Germanus menggambarkan kisah keislamannya itu sebagai “bangunnya sebuah kehidupan baru.” Disebutkan, awal perkenalannya dengan Islam adalah di Turki pada saat menjadi mahasiswa di sana. Kemudian, dia pergi ke India untuk mengajar di sana, pada masa Perang Dunia I. Dan di negeri Bollywood itulah dia mengucapkan dua kalimah syahadah. Selepas bertugas di India Germanus kembali ke Hungaria dan diangkat sebagai profesor di sana. Dia sering beradu argumentasi dengan para profesor dan orientalis Hungaria, terutama tentang kebenaran Islam. Berikut kisah perjalanan hidup salah satu legenda Muslim di Hungaria ini yang diambil dari beberapa sumber. *** Awal perjalanan Germanus lahir di Budapes, ibukota Hungaria pada tahun 1884 dan dibesarkan dalam nuansa Kristen taat. Segera setelah lulus dari Universitas Budapes, dia memutuskan untuk mengambil spesialisasi bahasa Turki. Selanjutnya pada tahun 1903 dia pergi ke Istanbul. Dia diterima di Universitas Istanbul dan mengambil program studi bahasa Turki. Selama bertahun-tahun tinggal di sana akhirnya dia menjadi fasih baik dalam hal percakapan, membaca maupun menulis. Selama di Istanbul, Germanus juga belajar Al-Quran berikut terjemahan dalam bahasa Turki. Itulah perkenalan awalnya dengan Islam. Dengan kemampuannya yang tinggi dalam membaca terjemahan Al-Quran berbahasa Turki, membuatnya mudah memahami Islam langsung dari sumber aslinya. Tak hanya itu, dia juga membandingkan terjemahan dalam beberapa bahasa lainnya. Sebuah upaya yang lazim dilakukan oleh misionaris Kristen untuk mengkaji kelemahan Islam. Namun Germanus justru tertarik dengan Islam. Termotivasi dengan kebenaran agama Islam, dia memutuskan untuk melakukan penelitian yakni menelusuri apa saja yang telah ditulis oleh orang-orang Kristen tentang Islam dan membandingkannya dengan sumber aslinya yaitu Al-Quran dan Sunnah Nabi. Dia melakukan berbagai upaya. Misalnya dengan membaca terjemahan kitab-kitab hadis dalam rangka mempelajari perkataan-perkataan Nabi Muhammad SAW. “Bertengkar” dengan profesor Germanus kembali ke Hungaria dan berjumpa dengan beberapa eks profesornya di Universitas Budapes. Mereka punya reputasi hebat sebagai orientalis. Namun sering menyampaikan pemikiran-pemikiran yang menyimpang tentang Islam. Germanus berdebat dengan para profesor itu. Dia menceritakan karakter sesungguhnya dari sosok Nabi Muhammad SAW. Uraiannya didasarkan pada berbagai hadis yang dia ketahui. Setelah puas “bertengkar” dengan para profesornya, Germanus memutuskan belajar bahasa Arab lebih mendalam lagi. Germanus memang punya bakat besar di bidang bahasa. Buktinya, dalam jangka waktu singkat dia sudah mahir berbahasa Arab. Belum puas, dia juga belajar bahasa Persia. Tahun 1912, Germanus diangkat sebagai profesor bahasa Arab, Persia dan Turki di Hungarian Royal Academy di Budapes. Dia juga mengasuh mata kuliah Sejarah Islam. Selanjutnya dia memimpin Department of Oriental studies pada Budapest University of Economics. Bersyahadah di India Pada tahun 1928, setelah bekerja beberapa lama di University of Budapest, sastrawan dan penerima Nobel terkemuka asal Bangladesh (dulu masih bernama India -red) Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) mengundang Germanus untuk mengajar sekaligus memimpin program Islamic Studies di Visva-Bharati University. Germanus bermukim di India selama beberapa tahun dan disana pula dia menemukan cahaya Islam. Prosesi syahadahnya berlangsung di Mesjid Agung Delhi dan dia berganti nama menjadi Abdul Karim. Universitas tempat dia bekerja tak mendiskriminasikannya gara-gara masuk Islam. Bahkan dia mendapat kelonggaran, misalnya untuk menunaikan shalat Jumat ke mesjid. Keinginan Germanus yang kuat untuk mendalami Islam dan menyelami sifat-sifat khas Muslim telah mempertemukannya dengan salah satu pujangga Islam tersohor asal Pakistan yakni Muhammad Iqbal. Rasa ingin tahu Germanus yang begitu tinggi hingga dia sering terlibat pembicaraan hingga berjam-jam lamanya. Tak hanya itu, mereka juga sering berdiskusi tentang aktifitas para orientalis dan misionaris Kristen. Germanus dan Iqbal punya pandangan berbeda tentang aktifitas misionaris Kristen. Menurut Germanus, propaganda yang disebarkan oleh para misionaris Kristen di Eropa sebagai sebuah masalah pelik yang mengkhawatirkan. Sementara Iqbal justru melihat masalah sesungguhnya ada pada orang Islam sendiri. Iqbal menyebut kesatuan Muslim yang lemah yang membuat Islam mudah diombang-ambing. Belajar bahasa Arab klasik Kecintaan Germanus pada bahasa Arab telah membawanya ke Kairo, tempat dimana dia kemudian belajar bahasa Arab klasik. Satu ketika, pada saat pertama kali menjejakkan kakinya di pelabuhan Alexandria, dia mengaku sangat terkejut dengan respon yang diberikan oleh penduduk setempat. Mereka pada tertawa mendengar bahasa Arab Germanus. Bukan apa-apa, karena dia berbicara dengan menggunakan bahasa Arab klasik atau kuno! Mereka, warga Alexandria, berbincang dengan memakai dialek setempat hingga Germanus tak mampu mencerna apa yang mereka ucapkan. Kontan dia merasa marah dan berteriak lantang, “Saya kemari untuk belajar bahasa Al-Quran dari Anda! Kenapa kalian justru menertawakan dan mengejek saya?” Selama di Mesir, Germanus menjalin hubungan erat dengan penulis terkenal negeri kuda nil itu yakni Mahmoud Timour. Mahmoud bahkan menulis tentang perjalanan Germanus mencari Islam dalam bukunya Behind the Veil (Dibalik Hijab) yang berisi kumpulan kisah-kisah pendek. Dia menyebut Germanus seorang teman yang baik, yang memiliki kecakapan bahasa Arab demikian mengagumkan. Menurut Mahmoud, Germanus memainkan peranan yang penting dalam menjaga dan melestarikan bahasa Arab klasik. Begitulah, akhirnya Germanus benar-benar mencapai tingkat kemahiran yang tinggi dalam tata bahasa Arab (baca: Al-Quran). Dia selanjutnya kembali ke kampung halaman dan menjadi profesor di Universitas Budapes bidang sejarah dan kebudayaan selama hampir 40 tahun lamanya. Dia banyak mempublikasikan hasil-hasil pemikirannya, terutama tentang kebangkitan bahasa Arab klasik di dunia Arab. Obsesinya adalah membangkitkan kembali kejayaan bahasa Arab klasik yang mati suri selama sekian lama. Impiannya, satu saat nanti semua negara-negara Arab bisa bercakap dengan format bahasa Arab yang seragam hingga akan mengikat kesatuan di antara mereka serta tumbuh kecintaan akan warisan budaya dan sejarah Arab yang begitu tinggi. Menentang sikap orientalis Sepanjang perjalanan karir akademisnya, Germanus berperang melawan orientalis di Eropa. Dalam berbagai penjelasan, dia selalu menyampaikan argumentasinya berdasarkan data dan fakta serta rasional. Begitupun dia selalu mendapat tentangan, bahkan menjurus permusuhan. Akibatnya sering berselisih pendapat dengan para orientalis lain. Bahkan dia dipecat oleh pihak universitas dengan alasan kelakuan yang tidak pantas. Sebaliknya dengan para mahasiswa bimbingannya, meskipun Germanus dicap berseberangan pemikiran dengan para orientalis, mereka tetap mendukung ide-ide yang dibawanya. Mereka menghargai pekerjaannya dan melihat buah karyanya punya pengaruh yang besar secara akademis, di Barat dan dunia Islam. Karena dukungan para mahasiswa itu pula dia masih masih bisa tetap menjadi staf pengajar di universitas. Naik Haji Di Hungaria, Germanus berusaha keras memberikan pencerahan kepada Muslim di negerinya, yang kala itu berjumlah antara 1000 hingga 2000 jiwa. Dia mendirikan sebuah organisasi guna menjembatani hubungan antara Islam dengan pemerintah. Misinya kala itu adalah membawa Islam agar diterima sebagai salah satu agama resmi di Hungaria. Tahun 1935 Germanus menunaikan rukum Islam kelima dan menjadi satu dari sedikit Muslim Eropa yang berangkat ke Mekkah pada masa itu. Tahun 1939 dia menunaikan ibadah haji untuk kali kedua. Bahkan kisah perjalanan rohaninya ke Mekkah dirangkumnya dalam sebuah buku berbahasa Hungaria yang cukup terkenal berjudul Allahu Akbar! Buku tersebut telah diterjemahkan ke dalam beberapa bahasa. Germanus menikah dengan seorang perempuan Eropa yang dulunya beragama Kristen. Setelah beberapa lama, sang istri akhirnya memeluk Islam dengan disaksikan oleh Syekh Ahmed Abdul Ghafur Attar, seorang penulis dan akademisi Islam terkenal. Publikasi Islam di Eropa Germanus aktif berdakwah melalui tulisan. Dia menulis tentang Islam di pelbagai media di Eropa. Dalam sebuah artikelnya dia pernah menulis bahwa Islam satu saat nanti akan memperlihatkan keajaibannya pada saat dunia mulai diliputi oleh kegelapan. Germanus bisa disebut sebagai jenius bahasa. Buktinya dia menulis banyak buku, diantaranya The Greek, Arabic Literature in Hungarian, Lights of the East, Uncovering the Arabian Peninsula, Between Intellectuals, The History of Arabic Literature, The History of the Arabs, Modern Movements in Islam, Studies in the Grammatical Structure of the Arabic Language, Journeys of Arabs, Pre-Islamic Poetry, Great Arabic Literature, Guidance From the Light of the Crescent (a personal memoir), An Adventure in the Desert, Arab Nationalism, Allahu Akbar, Mahmoud Timour and Modern Arabic Literature, The Great Arab Poets, dan The Rise of Arab Culture. Germanus yang meninggal pada 7 Nopember 1979 mengabdikan dirinya untuk Islam sepanjang lebih kurang 50 tahun. Begitulah, kisah sang legenda yang tak lekang oleh zaman. Dia dikenang hingga kini sebagai salah satu legenda Muslim di Hungaria. [www.hidayatullah.com]
          Dhaka cafe attack suspect arrested in Bangladesh        

Dhaka: A key suspect involved in planning Bangladesh's worst terror attack on a popular cafe was today arrested, becoming the sixth militant to be taken into custody, police said.

Aslam Hossain Rashed alias Rash, was reportedly a coordinator and one of the key planners of Holey Artisan Bakery attack in the upmarket Gulshan area in which 22 people, including an Indian woman, were killed.
He belongs to the Islamic State-inclined Neo-Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB), the Dhaka Tribune reported.

Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) and a team from police headquarters conducted search operations in Natore and Bogra in northern Bangladesh to arrest Rashed.

"We are bringing Rashed from Natore to Dhaka. He will be taken to court and shown arrested in the cafe attack case," Monirul Islam, the head of police's counterterrorism unit, said.

"Rash was a close associate to Tamim Chowdhury, the Bangladeshi-Canadian who headed the Neo-JMB, before being shot dead in a police raid following the cafe attack," he said.
Rashed became the six militant to be taken into custody.

The militants who were previously arrested were ? Sohel Mahfuz, Basharuzzaman, Mizanur Rahman, Hadisur Rahman Sagor, Rashedul Islam.

Bangladesh witnessed its worst terror attack when five gunmen stormed the upscale Holey Artisan Bakery and O'Kitchen inside Dhaka's diplomatic district on July 1 last year.

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          Key plotter of Dhaka terror attack arrested        

Dhaka: A militant who planned last year`s deadly terror attack in Dhaka and and carried arms for it was arrested in the country`s Natore district on Friday morning, the police said.

Abu Jara Rashed, who belongs to the banned Neo-JMB group and carried arms and grenades from Chapainawabganj district to Dhaka, was the key plotter of the Holey Artisan Bakery attack, in the posh Gulshan area, that left 22 persons, mostly foreigners, dead on July 1 last year, Dhaka Tribune reported.

Dhaka Police`s Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit chief Monirul Islam said Rashed alias `Rash` is being brought to the capital for further interrogation.

"We`re bringing him to Dhaka. He will be taken to court and shown arrested in the Dhaka cafe attack case," he said.

According to the official, Rashed maintained close connections with many already arrested and killed cafe attack plotters.

The police have so far hunted down and killed 40 militants linked with the cafe attack, including mastermind Tamim Chowdhury, who was killed in a police raid on August 27 last year, Xinhua news agency reported.

Neo-JMB, an offshoot of banned militant outfit Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), has been blamed for the attack.

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          Agnee Bangla Movies Review        
We loved the action and the intense fight scenes. And above all, we loved Agnee because of Mahi, who has been very well received by the Bangladeshi movie theatre going audience. It's impossible to ignore her quick rise to fame, and now she has acted in as the lead character in a full length, high-budget movie. Mahi's character is definitely a step forward in Bangladesh's movie industry
          Fire girl Mahi        
At first glance one may be fooled by the doll-faced Mahi. Mahiya Mahi is no doll, she is a fire woman. She claims that she likes to argue and fight. Conversing with possibly the new heartthrob of Bangladesh's silver screen, I was lucky to face only the other side of Mahi, who was having a hard time sitting still. She is incredibly jumpy and bubbly; like the girl-next-door you wish you had. Combined with a great sense of humor her charming and down-to-earth personality, Mahi, within a short span of time, has become one of the most sought after actresses in the world of cinema in Bangladesh. Mahi is not just pretty-faced; she also has the curves - slim and slender with an ideal height, and the face of an angel.
          PINOY MAIDS MASS BREAKUP WITH BANGLA BOYFRIENDS AFTER S'PORE TERROR ARRESTS        

by Wan Dan Liao, Straight Times

SINGAPORE - After news broke that twenty-seven Banglas were arrested for terrorism related offences, scores of Pinoy maids gathered at Lucky Plaza for an emergency townhall meeting. It is unclear what exactly transpired during the meeting but ST sources revealed that the maids were debating a total boycott of Bangladeshi boyfriends in Singapore.

At the scene, most of the maids were inconsolable and some went hysterical for fear that having a bangla boyfriend would get them deported back to the Philippines. One of the maids, Pinoi Bionkbangla kneeled down in the middle of the Orchard road walkway and cried loudly: "I promise I sms breakup with my Bangla boyfriend already. I am not related to that Bangla no more. Please gib me a chance, I no want go back Philippines."

Another domestic helper Itchi Tuanini was more stoic and looked forward. "I love my bangla boyfriend, he make me happy every weekend, but since my fellow maids say we must breakup or lose our jobs, I follow their idea. So sad I cannot see my hunny anymore. Maybe time to find China or Indian boyfriend."

At around 7pm, spokesperson for the Pinoy Maid Association Singapore (PMAS) told ST that almost 800 pinoy maids have pledged to break up with their Bangla boyfriends with immediate effect. They believe it is in their best interest to disassociate themselves with Bangladeshi workers to safeguard their employment status in Singapore and the security of Singapore. The remaining 10000 maids with bangla bfs will review their decision at a later date.

When interviewed, Mdm Kia Zheng Hu, an employer of a Filipino domestic worker shared: "I completely support my maid's decision to break up with her bangla boyfriend. This is in Singapore's national security! I will give her a $20 bonus for this very wise decision."

Disclaimer: This piece was written by satirist Wan Dan Liao for the Straights Times. You must absolutely believe what you read.

Editor's Note: 

Do you have a story to share? Please use our submission form or email us at editorial@allsingaporestuff.com. If not, why not give us a 'Like'?

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          Connecting to an international cause close to home        
I was born in Bangladesh. I lived most of my early childhood in Kuwait. I then immigrated to Canada when I was 12 years old. Our family struggled upon our arrival in Canada as my dad worked to get himself established and give us the opportunity we needed to live comfortably. It was because of […]
      

          Les brèves du week-end        

Je regarde le pilote de "Soeur Thérèse.com", vautrée sur mon canapé... Il faut en conclure que :

  • j'ai une angine et une crève qui m'obligent à gémir régulièrement en buvant des litres de thé au citron avec du miel et comme je n'aime pas le miel, je gémis encore plus.
  • la télécommande est complètement hors de portée (aka à plus de 70 cm)



Je corrige des copies priceless :

  • SHE BETWEEN IN THE COIN => elle entre dans la pièce :-|
  • THEY UNITID STEAK OVE AMERICAIN :-|



Je trépigne à l'idée d'aller voir ça à la Cinémathèque :


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J'envoie régulièrement ma fiche step-by-step :

  • Plus de 300 demandes :-| autant vous dire que ça prend un peu de temps.
  • Je pourrais la mettre sur un lien mediafire et basta mais non. La flemme contradictoire sans doute.



Je mate des trucs cools :










Je découvre des trucs cools :


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Pour découvrir l'univers de chouettes talents, vous pouvez aller voir KAro, Made in Pacrette, Les Néréides, The French Factory, Tout Silo...

Je m'insurge :

  • Une prof d'anglais est accusée d'avoir demandé à ses élèves de Terminale de faire une minute de silence en mémoire de Mohamed Merah. Le scoop glauque et croustillant fait le tour du web en quelques heures déchaînant insultes, vindictes et consternation. Scoop glauque et croustillant que les médias n'ont pas pris la peine de vérifier, d'approfondir... Comment oser publier les nom et prénom de cette enseignante et traîner sa réputation dans la boue avec pour unique os à ronger une seule version des faits aussi louche qu'un financement de campagne électorale. Le traitement de l'information m'effraye grandement... Inexactitudes, raccourcis, conclusions hâtives... tout est bon pour assouvir cette avidité malsaine qui rôde dans les médias.
  • On ne trouve pas de vernis Ozotic en France. Ces vernis sont exubérants, outranciers, flashy et rappellent gravement la pouffiasse qui sommeille en moi :-)
  • (bon j'en ai quand même acheté un starring des frais de port équivalents au PIB du Bangladesh)



Je me murge :

Je peux enfin faire des home-made Black Mojito ♥



Bon week-end à tous :-)



          Journée biatch ♥        

Mercredi 11 janvier, j'ai pris mon GPS, ma boussole, ma trousse de survie, des barres de céréales, des Rangers Isotoner (solides MAIS douces pour les petons) et mon sac à main Gérard Darel.



Tu l'as deviné.



Je suis allée faire les soldes.




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Si vous avez manqué le début (prendre la voix de Télé7Jours) :
Grâce à Poulette Nela et ses choupi clients (NAN Poulette n'est pas pute, elle est commiounity manadjeuse), j'ai chopé ZE super plan de ce début 2012.

Poulette Nela : "Dis-donc Sa Majesté, ça te dirait pas de claquer de la thune à nos frais pour les soldes ?"

Princesse Soso : "Est-ce que le Pape est nazi catholique ?"

Poulette Nela : "En plus, fayot sur le cassoulet, tu peux embarquer une lectrice avec toi dans ton épopée comme ça tu pourras racoler sur ton blog et raconter ensuite comment c'était une journée trop de la balle !"

Princesse Soso : "Putain, tu me fais couiner Poulette !"

BAM Seigneur &Maître tire une nana et BAM la super veinarde est donc Elise qui s'est quand même tapée 1h30 de route pour venir couiner avec moi.

Nous avons rendez-vous à 9h au point d'accueil du centre Saint Sever.

J'avais oublié les embouteillages de Rouen le matin ♥

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Je suis à l'heure. Youpi. Elise est déjà là. Re-youpi. Le couinement semble être notre signe de reconnaissance.

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Nous sommes accueillies par Martine, une adorable dame qui nous explique tout ce qu'il y a savoir aka "on vous file de la thune et vous la claquez comme vous voulez" (un chouette concept) et elle nous file un badge V.I.P (je meurs à la fois de honte et d'extase), nos cartes Visa à dégainer dans toutes les boutiques du centre et un petit ticket rose pour pouvoir prendre un p'tit déj' tranquillou bilou.

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Ambiance matin de Noël. On ne sait pas quel cadeau déballer en premier.

Surtout que pour couronner le couinement, plusieurs magasins sont ouverts uniquement pour nous, 1/2 heure avant le rush :-)

On se promène, on sourit comme des abruties en se disant que c'est quand même trop chouette cette histoire.

Je suis également rassurée car Elise :

  • n'est pas une pouffiasse matérialiste qui m'ignore, la bave aux lèvres à l'idée de dépenser le P.I.B du Bangladesh chez Yves Rocher
  • n'est pas hystérique à me toucher les cheveux avant de m'arracher une mèche qu'elle mettra ensuite dans son album "ces blogueuses que je vénère avant de les dépecer"
  • est drôle, sympa, souriante, bavarde et en plus, elle m'a apporté des cadeaux ♥ (les gens qui me font des cadeaux sont forcément des gens bien) (sauf ma saloperie de tante et ma grand-mère-méchante qui m'avaient offert pour mes 10 ans un manteau bleu roi avec une capuche en fourrure moche et surtout une doublure en satin vert fluo)

H&M, Sephora, Okaïdi, Camaïeu, San Marina, Promod, Du Bruit dans la Cuisine, 1...2...3, Morgan, Darjeeling, Etam, Le Loft... Les heures passent à une vitesse folle, on papote comme deux vieilles copines et une de ses amies Linda nous rejoint... Linda que j'avais déjà vue à un Beauty Seminar de Sonia (it's a small world after all)

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C'est assez jouissif de tendre une carte Visa en sachant que RIEN ne sera débité sur mon compte ♥
J'ai l'impression d'être dans une série, genre "The Big BANK Theory" où par un curieux hasard teinté de magie, le shopping serait devenu un truc qui ne fait pas péter la veine sur le front de ton banquier et où je prendrais un verre avec Sheldon et Howard ♥

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Au départ, j'étais censée passer la matinée à couiner avec Elise, puis j'étais censée retrouver mon frère et mon Seigneur & Maître (pour lesquels le mot "soldes" évoque un petit camp de vacances près de Buchenwald) pour déjeuner. Lorsque j'ai regardé ma montre, je me suis aperçue qu'il était 14h48 :-|

Le moment le plus triste de la journée :
Elise, Linda et moi avons plusieurs points communs :
♥ on biatch comme des putes
♥ on aime bien les trucs Kawaï
♥ on est capable de faire Paris-Roubaix à cloche-pied pour manger des sushi
La faim au ventre, la bave aux lèvres et la main endolorie à force de porter une foultitude de paquets, nous nous précipitons vers le Sushi Bar du centre Saint Sever... pour découvrir qu'il ne sert que jusqu'à 14h30. DAMNED.
Fin du moment le plus triste de la journée.

C'était trop génial de la mort comme journée. Élise était ravie de ce moment de détente (elle a un petit bout de chou de deux mois) et je suis vraiment fan que mon Seigneur & Maître m'ait encouragée à ouvrir cet espace virtuel de biatchage, source d'opportunités qui déchirent ♥

Le moment jesuisunepute de la journée :
TOUS les commerçants nous ont accueillies avec le sourire, se montrant joyeux et disponibles malgré la journée speed à base de gens qui courent partout à la recherche du produit de leurs rêves, soldé à 80%.
Tous... Sauf dans un seul magasin où une nana s'est montrée franchement désagréable. Dans un magasin que j'adooooore et que je recommande grave, car mis à part cette nana, toutes les autres vendeuses étaient polies et charmantes.
Du Bruit dans La Cuisine : le magasin de la mort qui tue pour toute personne qui aime tous les trucs rigolos comme des petits sucres Barbe à Papa en forme de petits noeuds trop mignons, des moutardes aromatisées aux cèpes, des Blenders rose bonbon qui te promettent des smoothies de folie, de la vaisselle méga choupi ou design... Bref, une très belle boutique où j'ai pu acheter tout plein de trucs pour moi et pour faire des cadeaux (car je suis généreuse) (en plus d'être merveilleuse) (et modeste).
Tout commence lorsque je choisis une huile parfumée à la truffe blanche, je la mets dans mon panier, je compte l'acheter et je la fais sentir à Elise qui couine olfactivement. La nana du magasin me regarde comme si j'avais écorché un chaton avec un économe.
Princesse Soso : (souriante et polie) "Ne vous inquiétez pas, je l'achète tout de suite, je voulais juste la faire sentir à mon amie"
La-nana-pas-sympa : (sèche et désagréable) "Peu importe. Vous devez me demander l'autorisation"
Princesse Soso : (souriante et polie même si un peu étonnée) "Désolée, je ne voulais pas vous inquiéter, comme je l'achète tout de suite, je ne pensais pas que ça poserait problème"
La-nana-pas-sympa me regarde comme si j'étais en train de lui annoncer que j'allais me foutre à poil dans le magasin et chanter du Sabine Paturel.

Entre temps, je rencontre les assiettes à dessert de ma vie.

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Lorsque j'arrive à la caisse, la-nana-pas-sympa me dit que désolée sa caisse est fermée, je dois passer à côté... avant d'encaisser la cliente derrière moi :-|
Je tends ma carte Visa "VIP" à l'autre vendeuse souriante et aimable lorsque la-nana-pas-sympa lui dit "ah nan, tu la prends pas. Désolée mademoiselle, on ne prend pas ce genre de cartes. Notre magasin n'est pas partenaire".
Ah bah v'là aut'chose... sachant que Martine, à l'accueil, nous avait bien dit que tous les magasins du centre étaient partenaires de l'opération... J'insiste un peu, expliquant de quoi il s'agit et compte-tenu du ton peu aimable avec lequel on me répond, j'en profite pour ajouter que je suis blogueuse et que je dois rédiger un article pour notamment parler de l'ACCUEIL dans les différentes boutiques...
Les autres vendeuses prennent ma défense disant à la-nana-pas-sympa que si, si on la prend cette carte, c'est un truc spécial, aucun souci mademoiselle !
La-nana-pas-sympa grommelle un truc et me regarde encore et toujours comme si j'avais une bite collée sur le front.
Tout en payant, je dis à l'une des vendeuses que je souhaiterais prendre quelques photos du magasin pour illustrer mon article car cette boutique fait partie de mes préférées du centre commercial. Alors que la vendeuse polie et charmante acquiesce en souriant, la-nana-pas-sympa me regarde comme si j'étais en train de proposer une partouze avec des licornes et des limaces.
La-nana-pas-sympa : "Ah nan, impossible. Il faut une autorisation spéciale. Vous n'avez pas le droit de prendre la moindre photo. Désolée pour vous"
Princesse Soso : "Ah bah non... désolée pour VOUS. Cela vous aurait fait de la pub gratuite... et entre parenthèses, je me trouve bien aimable de vous demander l'autorisation, car concrètement avec mon iPhone, j'aurais pu prendre 12 000 photos sans que vous vous en rendiez compte..."
La-nana-pas-sympa m'a regardée comme si je venais de chier sur les Thermomix et nous sommes parties comme des reines en disant chaleureusement au revoir aux vendeuses sympa qui regardaient leur collègue comme si elle s'était montrée particulièrement sèche et injuste envers une cliente qui venait de claquer un max de thunes dans leur magasin.

Mis à part ce petit incident qui nous a finalement fait plus marrer qu'autre chose et qui fut, une source inépuisable de biatchage, nous avons vraiment adoré l'ambiance de cette journée, une petite parenthèse futile, une effervescence vraiment grisante et agréable.

Le moment mavieestunépisodede24heureschrono de la journée :
Au moment de regagner ma voiture, je m'aperçois avec effroi que :

  • la machine du parking ne prend pas la carte bleue (ROSE pour moi, en l'occurence)
  • dans mon porte-monnaie j'ai 67 cts d'euro, un trombone et un petit bouton noir là depuis des années (on ne sait jamais, une urgence "couture" est si vite arrivée) (je rappelle au passage que je ne sais pas coudre) (mais bon, ça n'est pas parce qu'on ne sait pas coudre, qu'on n'a pas le droit d'être bien préparée)
  • j'ai drôlement envie de faire pipi (le drame de ma vie) (à égalité avec la disparition aussi soudaine que douloureuse des petits cookies moelleux de Belin)

Mon intuition féminine ainsi qu'un petit panneau m'indique qu'il y a une borne d'accueil parking avec des humains qui pourront m'aider. Je prends ma voiture, me gare à l'arrache sur une place "Senior" en mettant mes warning et je cours vers la petite borne d'accueil parking avec des humains qui pourront m'aider et m'indiquer les chiottes les plus proches.
Princesse Soso : "Bonjour ! je-suis-garée-à-l'arrache-sur-une-place-senior-qui-est-si-j'ai-bien-compris-une-sous-place-pour-handicapés-et-j'ai-honte-d'être-dessus-vu-que-je-fais-chier-tout-le-monde-avec-mon-discours-sur-comment-c'est-mal-de-se-garer-impunément-sur-une-place-pour-handicapés-je-n'ai-pas-de-liquide-et-je-veux-me-tirer-car-mon-S&M-m'attend-depuis-des-heures"
L'humaine censée m'aider :" "Aucun souci. Vous pouvez payer par chèque"
Princesse Soso : "BORDEL mon chéquier est vide, contrairement à ma vessie... Vous prenez la carte bleue bien sûr ?!"
L'humaine qui m'aide de moins en moins : "Ah non, désolée. Chèque ou espèces."
Princesse Soso : "Mais on est en 2012, on peut payer en carte bleue partout !!!"
L'humaine qui tente de m'aider : "Vous trouverez un distributeur au niveau 0, près des cinémas"

Vous me croyez si je vous dis que le distributeur en question était MOMENTANÉMENT INDISPONIBLE ? :-|

Tout est bien qui finit bien. Je suis parvenue à sortir du parking (au prix d'efforts que la décence et l'ennui m'empêchent de vous énumérer ici) et j'ai retrouvé un Seigneur & Maître amusé qui avait gagné un pari avec lui-même (apparemment, ma phrase "T'inquiète, je reviens vers 12/13h" avait été perçue comme "Je reviendrai plutôt vers 17h") (mon mec est relativement visionnaire).

Bref, j'ai passé une super journée, j'ai rencontré une super nana et j'ai les assiettes à dessert les plus choupi du monde qui se rangent dans la boîte la plus choupi du monde (boîte qui sera recyclée en boîte à maquillage, voire boîte à couture) (même si je rappelle, au passage, que je sais absolument pas coudre) (même un bouton) (oui je sais, c'est quand même malheureux)


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          [news/commentary] Building ISV Relationships: Targeting SMEs - Part I        
Thursday, September 16, 2004
Dateline: China
 
New column on the AlwaysOn Network.  It's on the potential downside of offshoring (the downside for the States, that is).  For the next five days, see http://www.alwayson-network.com ; the permanent link is at http://tinyurl.com/4e4q4 .  It got the ire of a lot of readers and a lot of views (I'm projecting nearly 500 in less than one day).  The article which was the basis for my column is getting a lot of attention in the States.  Worth reading.
 
Building ISV Relationships: Targeting SMEs -- Part I
 
First, a bit of commentary.  One thing all smart SIs (systems integrators) do is develop partnerships and alliances with ISVs (independent software vendors, i.e., software publishers/software companies in a broad sense).  Of course, it's difficult to be the 1,000th entrant in the game and expect to get any traction/assistance from your ISV partner.
 
SIs in China ALWAYS use the approach of offering localization services and OFTEN offer to help push an ISV's product within the domestic market in China.  Frankly, this is what the (usually American) ISV wants, too.  Does this strategy work?  Well, sometimes.  However, even in the case of high profile alliances such as some of those Microsoft has in China (and I won't name names to protect the innocent), it's really nothing more than window dressing.  Everything looks good on paper, but the reality is something quite different.
 
Regardless, this does NOT address the need and desire for SIs in China to build their market in the States.  And when this issue becomes center stage, ISVs frequently respond with something bordering on contempt.  Some ISVs are getting clued that their American channel partners absolutely need partners in China and other low(er)-cost development areas in order to win bids.  Let's face it, it's all about closing deals.  And if an ISV's competitors have channel partners which can put together winning bids, perhaps in part (and perhaps in LARGE part) due to an offshoring component with their channel partner's SI partner(s) in China, then the ISV with an indirect link to China has a competitive advantage.  I don't view this as a sufficient condition to winning bids, but it's increasingly a necessary condition.
 
Clued ISVs want their American channel partners to have an offshoring option, but this requires that their channel partners have relationships with SIs in a country such as China.  But ISVs tend to focus their channel development efforts on their American partners and might develop a couple/few relationships in China, but usually NOT tied to their channel development efforts in the States.  Goofy and shortsighted, to say the least.
 
But how can SIs in China get traction with American ISVs, especially since they're almost always late to the game (in other words, the American ISV already has a well-developed channel)?  The answer (or, at least one answer):  Focus on servicing the needs of SMEs (small and medium enterprises, which is also referred to as "SMBs" -- small and medium businesses).
 
There's another reason this makes sense:  Most of the SIs in China are already focused on servicing SMEs/SMBs in China.  It might be nice to bag a large SOE (state-owned enterprise), but the reality is that most firms in China, especially the burgeoning number of privately-held firms, are SMEs by definition.  Hence, the experiences gained by SIs in China is already within the same market, although I'd be the first person to warn than company size and even similar domains does not necessarily equate to directly transferable skills.  Fact is, things in China are often quite different from the way they are in the States, especially in a "hot" ITO (IT outsourcing) market like financial services.  More about this in a forthcoming postingBottom line:  Give serious thought to targeting the SMB/SME market in the States.  (Part II of this commentary might be a while in coming.)
 
IT Tidbits
 
Lots of tidbits this week.
 
Controlling project costs.  My favorites:  Scope creep, not understanding project financing, "big-bang" projects, overtesting (although I'm not sure I agree with this one), poor estimating.  Good stuff, with recommended solutions.  See http://tinyurl.com/6rfkg .
 
Challenges for China's SIs.  Adapted from a Forrester report.   For starters, how about:  Improving account management (are there really any account managers in China, or at least any who can manage accounts with U.S. clients?   ), moving away from technology-centric messages that often alienate business buyers (better yet, moving away from messages in Chinglish), investing in vertical-specific skills (how many times have I said this?) and becoming more multicultural organizations (yes, and let's start with learning English!).  See http://tinyurl.com/4avfo .
 
"Yee Haw" as an outsourcing option.  Forget India.  Forget China.  Forget the Philippines.  Let's go to Arkansas!!  See http://tinyurl.com/7ya9p .
 
American start-ups go offshore.  Try Corio (is Corio really a start-up?), CollabNet, Aarohl, Infinera, and many others.  See http://tinyurl.com/3wm3o .  Another good article with a BPO spin in Venture Capital Journal, http://tinyurl.com/4rfsa .
 
Offshorings mixed results.  "Vietnam and Myanmar were also in demand ..."  Really?  See http://tinyurl.com/647ap .
 
Looking for SI partners?  Kennedy ranks the largest firms.  As I've said in the past, I like their reports.  (No, I don't get a cut.)  Satyam and TCS didn't make the grade, though.  See http://tinyurl.com/4s965 .
 
Another challenge to conventional outsourcing and offshoring "wisdom."   "Services-driven development models, such as the one at work in India, broaden the global competitive playing field.  As a result, new pressures are brought to bear on hiring and real wages in the developed world - pressures that are not inconsequential in shaping the jobless recoveries unfolding in high-cost wealthy nations.  For those in the developed world, successful services- and manufacturing-based development models in heavily populated countries such as India and China - pose the toughest question of all: what about us?"  For more, see http://tinyurl.com/4acm4 .
 
Forget the Golden Triangle.  How about China + India vs. the world (or, sans the world)?  "Newspaper headlines portray China as the world's manufacturing base for low-cost goods, like clothing and shoes, and India as the global IT monopoly-to-be.  Unfortunately, media outside Asia have failed to acknowledge the growing partnership between the two giants."  "Given the complementary nature of their economies and the size of their markets (nearly 2.2 billion people in total), the nascent cooperation between the two holds the potential to dramatically alter the world trade balance.  A perusal of the Shanghai technology corridor reveals a hint of the countries' industrial interconnectedness.  Walk through one of the main complexes in Shanghai's Pudong Software Park, and you will see a prominently displayed sign for Infosys, one of India's most respected IT firms.  The same complex also holds Satyam, the first of India's software service companies to set up offices in Shanghai.  Nearby are the headquarters of the largest software services company in Asia, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which currently runs an outsourcing center for GE in the town of Hangzhou.  TCS is owned by the Tatas, one of India's most prominent business families.  Across the river is NIIT, the principal software training center in India's private sector.  NIIT, operating in China since 1998, now runs an extensive two-year course in 25 provinces, training around 20,000 students to be software professionals.  There is widespread speculation that Wipro, India's only giant IT firm without a presence in the city, will establish a Shanghai office very soon.  It is no surprise that Indian software companies are setting up in China. They, like everyone else, sense great opportunity in one of the largest, fastest-growing economies in the world."  (Bold is my emphasis.)  All true, and they even forget MphasiS.  See one of my must-read sources, YaleGlobalhttp://tinyurl.com/6ltaz .
 
The partnering wave of the future.  I've talked about this many times in previous postings.  This time CTG dances with Polaris Software.  See http://tinyurl.com/5tbqd .
 
CMMi:  The key to success.  A little simplistic and uses incorrect definitions, but still worth reading.  See http://tinyurl.com/4gp9u .
 
 
 
 
 
How about Microsoft vs. China in an AO "Grudge Match"?  See a lengthy article in CFO titled, "Does Microsoft need China?"; link at http://tinyurl.com/476bo .  China: The champion of open source!!
 
 
Business creativity 101.  "A new book from Wharton School Publishing, The Power of Impossible Thinking by Jerry Wind and Colin Crook prompts you to rethink your mental models and transform them to help you achieve new levels of creativity. In this book, the authors give a set of guidelines on how to see differently."  Examples:  Listen to the radicals; embark on journeys of discovery; look across disciplines.  See http://tinyurl.com/6fvo8 .
 
The innovator's battle plan.  "Great firms can be undone by disruptors who analyze and exploit an incumbent's strengths and motivations.  From Clayton Christensen's new book Seeing What's Next."  GREAT stuff (although John Dvorak won't like it).  What about asymmetric warfare theories applied to the realm of corporate innovation and creativity?  Just a thought ...  See http://tinyurl.com/6mbcy .
 
Your next competitors?  Have you thought about Senegal, Uganda, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, especially in the BPO space?  See http://tinyurl.com/5h93z .
 
Message to product companies: go sell services!!  Interesting take from a VMI perspective.  See http://tinyurl.com/5tqrt .
 
Don't know much about bloggin'?  Good take on the various types of corporate blogs.  See http://tinyurl.com/6my29 .
 
Urls as web services?  You have to read it to get it.  Might be a bit too much for the uninitiated ...  See http://tinyurl.com/563gm .
 
Joel is back and blogging!!  Joel takes on Jakob Nielsen in "it's not just usability."  See http://tinyurl.com/6msmm .
 
How about open source software for HPC?  See http://tinyurl.com/5qzleWARNING: Geek alert, geek alert!!
 
Saving the best for last: a piece on Woz.  See http://tinyurl.com/4szjf .
 
TTFN.  Expect a urls update before I go back to the States.
 
Cheers,
 
David Scott Lewis
President & Principal Analyst
IT E-Strategies, Inc.
Menlo Park, CA & Qingdao, China
 
http://www.itestrategies.com (current blog postings optimized for MSIE6.x)
http://tinyurl.com/2r3pa (access to blog content archives in China)
http://tinyurl.com/2azkh (current blog postings for viewing in other browsers and for access to blog content archives in the US & ROW)
http://tinyurl.com/2hg2e (AvantGo channel)
 
 
To automatically subscribe click on http://tinyurl.com/388yf .
 

          A Muslim's Top 10 Wishes for 2016        

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post on January 3, 2015. You can find the original article by clicking here or on the title. 

A Muslim's Top 10 Wishes for 2016

Have you ever made a wish that's come true -- because you made the wish? Until now, making a wish, whether at the sight of a shooting star or when blowing out the candle(s) on your birthday cake or when breaking a wishbone, has not yet been scientifically proven to actually work, as far as I know. Yet, in the spirit of hope, I am making 10 wishes at the beginning of the New Year. And as is always the case, as a Muslim, I speak on behalf of 1.5 billion people. So here goes...
1. People no longer confuse me with ISIS.
My name isn't ISIS. It's not even Islamic State. In fact, the words Islamic or State are not actually in my extended name. Nevertheless, time and time again, I keep getting requests to respond to the group's actions. I swear, ISIS or ISIL or IS -- none of them are in my family tree; they're not some distant cousins of mine. In 2016, I just want people to stop confusing me with ISIS. I really don't know what ISIS is thinking and why they do what they do. It's not like the State Department is asked for comment because of the State-to-State connection. As a postscript, can ISIS stop using the word Islamic? 
2. Muslims stop killing Muslims for being Muslim.
Somewhere, along the way over the last couple of decades, Muslims started killing other Muslims for being Muslim in the wrong way, or at least took it to a whole new level. There's a whole ideology out there built around takfir or essentially "declaring Muslims as kufar or unbelievers" for failing an evermore peculiar litmus test. Imagine if death squads emerged killing Black people for not being Black enough. Originating in some of the philosophical exhortations by scholar Ibn Taymiyyah 700 years ago, the criteria by which you are deemed "takfir-ed" and permissible to be killed has reached insane if not idiosyncratic levels. It would be funny if the situation weren't so deadly. Even barbers were caught in the crosshairs and were being assassinated in Baghdad in the 2000s. 
3. Death and destruction in the Muslim world have a timeout. 
From Yemen to IraqLibya to Somalia, and from Afghanistan to far beyond, civil strife is rife in too many parts of what is defined as the Muslim world. Autocrats, militants, extremists and terrorists, don't care who they kill: men, women, children -- everyone is fair game. I wish this would stop. Into this toxic mix, the last thing needed is more killing coming into these countries from the outside; the 2003 invasion of Iraq proved that. I wonder if Russia will hear that message? 
4. We all get comfortable with the "other."
What a difference it was in 2015 between Trudeau and Trump in the North American political cycle. The world needs more Trudeaus and less Trumps (Donalds that is). The fear of the "other" is starting to define Western politics and it is not just about Trump. The rise of right-wing political parties in Europe from Hungary to Denmark is a poignant reminder of the breadth of this phenomenon. Yet, outside the West this fear of the other also permeates and often dominates. In Turkey, we are seeing a renewed vilification of the Kurdish population. Further afield in Burma, the Rohingyaare cast as outsiders. In Malaysia, Christians are prohibited from using the Arabic word for God. And, in nearby Brunei, Christmas was simply cancelled. In some of the war zones in the Middle East, Christians are on the verge of disappearing. The world would be a lot better off if we weren't so afraid of the bogeyman of the other.
5. The Muslim world deals with its taboos. 
Speaking of an aversion to the non-orthodox, there's a whole set of taboos that many Muslim countries and societies need to start dealing with. A lot of them relate to sex. Sometimes the Muslim world acts like it has one big case of the cooties. There have been attempts by some to break through these restrictions. Wedad Lootah in the UAE comes to mind. Shereen El Feki's Sex and the Citadel is another. This is not an issue to take lightly, especially in societies where 60-70 percent of youth are under the age of 30. Bombarded by sexualized imagery from modern and digital media, these youth then live, essentially, in an austere second world that is their reality. More importantly and tragically, rape and sexual assault are simply not talked about; child abuse is an even worse curse hidden under the rug. Finally, at some point Muslim countries - and the clerical establishment -- will need to come to terms with the fact that gay Muslims exist
6. Somewhere, over the rainbow, democracy and Islam go steady. 
Let's be honest, a lot of people have tried to set up democracy with Islam for a relationship. Sometimes it has been a surprise blind date (e.g. Iraq in 2003). Other times, it was a relationship that grew from blind passion (e.g. the Arab world in 2011). Often, the sparks of love eventually turn into animus and things quickly go south. In the Arab world, Tunisia is carrying - with some fragility -- the banner of democracy. Many Muslim-majority countries that used to be counted as democracies now suffer from authoritarian syndromes (e.g. TurkeyMalaysia, and Bangladesh). In other cases, democracy in its infancy quickly devolved into score settling or majoritarian mafias (e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt). Perhaps Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country is our hope that can breathe life into this wish. 
7. Averroes comes back in style. 
Averroes -- or Ibn Rushd -- was a man's man. He schooled his way into Raphael's The School of Athens. The polymath kept alive ancient Greek philosophy, paving the way for much of Europe's modern intellectual movements. Back in the day, in Andalusia, he was a big deal (Biden-style). And, why not? He vociferously argued for the co-existence of secular and religious thought in a posthumous debate with the Abbasid scholar Al Ghazali. Ultimately, Ibn Rushd lost the debate to the detriment of the Muslim world, but his arguments culminated with the work, The Incoherence of Incoherence, which I think would be a great riposte to all ISIS ideologues and their friends. If Ibn Taymiyyah came back, then let's bring Averroes back too. 
8. Flying while Muslim is no longer a thing. 
They say that flying while Muslim is the new driving while Black. I guess if you're a Black Muslim, this really sucks, especially if you drive to the airport for your flight. So my wish maybe can be two-pronged: getting rid of both 'driving while Black' as well as 'flying while Muslim.' What is flying while Muslim? Well, it often starts with a casual stare or two from across the way. A timid approach then ensues: "Excuse me sir." This is normally followed by a more forceful: "Please follow me." It can then get quite aggressive, with clothes falling by the wayside. It normally ends with your belongings in disarray, your belt on backwards, and you fast-walking without turning back in the hope that no one thinks twice about you boarding your flight. Oh, and don't watch the news while on the plane. I hate flying while Muslim. 
9. Trump presides over a Muslim beauty contest. 
Was 2015 the year of Trump? You have to hand it to Trump; he sure knows how to grab the spotlight. Unfortunately, he's used that spotlight to spew increasingly populist venom targeted at Muslims (and others). Maybe, we need to better appeal to Trump's core interest: beauty pageants. There are a few lists circulating online for potential Muslim contestants (for Men: click here | for Women: click here). Yet, I think we should make this a mipsters pageant and turn this whole thing on its head. 
10. Peace comes to Syria. 
This Muslim (me) -- speaking on behalf of 1.5 billion people around the world -- has 10 wishes for 2016 but if only one of them came true it should be this one. No country has been more ravaged in recent memory than Syria. Hundreds of thousands have been killed as gangsters, terrorists, and dictators fight for supremacy. The surrounding region, instead of trying to promote a solution, has sent in weapons, fighters, and incitement. The world, instead of trying to mediate, has sought to settle old scores. All the while, the people in Syria live in lifeless limbo amidst daily death and destruction. If I had only one wish it would be that the violence in Syria would come to an end. 
This wish list is non-exhaustive. I think I may have missed a few...

          Marriage Equality Round-Up – April 26th        

Here’s our daily round-up of the marriage equality / LGBT rights stories from all around the internet. If we missed anything, let us know. Enjoy! POP CULTURE: An ITV drama adaptation has attracted criticism – after a gay character was turned straight. full story BANGLADESH: CTV News reports that Al Qaeda has taken responsibility for […]

The post Marriage Equality Round-Up – April 26th appeared first on Marriage Equality Watch.


          Home Sweet Home        
After a hiatus on my travelogue, I decided to share a post on my new house which I have dedicated most of my time during the weekends in 2015.

We have gotten our 4 room built-to-order (BTO) flat keys in July 2015 but I started my renovation research way back in February 2015. Deciding the theme for the house is important and the foremost thing to do before any research is done. It's akin to choosing the travel destination before researching on airfare, accommodation etc. I have research from the below websites before deciding which theme suits us:

- http://www.homeanddecor.com.sg
- https://qanvast.com
- http://www.renonation.sg
- http://renopedia.sg
- http://www.renotalk.com/forum

We first visited interior designer firm (ID) as ID is able to provide quotation based on the floor plan whereas contractor prefers to quote based on the physical state of the house. We meet up with at least 5 ID which we picked up ideas and knowledge from them. We also have a gauge of how much budget we would need to set aside for our renovation.

Hubby and I decided that we do not require an ID because:
- We intend to do minimal and simple renovation. We can also visualize the outcome of our renovation. Most who engage an ID is because ID provides the 3D images. I have tried few software on the Internet doing up a 3D image for our new house. It's time consuming and of cos it's not as presentable as an ID 3D image but it's sufficient for us.
- We can monitor the renovation progress ourselves. We are lucky that hubby job is flexible and our new house is near my parent's house so we went to our new house almost everyday during the renovation period.
- We want to save cost. ID will charge a premium as they provide 3D image and help to monitor and co-ordinate with the contractors. They can't be doing these for free.

After we have collected our keys, we meet up with at least 10 contractors. We compared their quotations (I did this in MS excel for easy comparison) and visited their client house to look at their workmanship. When comparing the quotations, I have to keep asking them to revise their quotation as it's inevitably that they missed out items here and there. In the end, we engaged Steven who has renovated ~50 houses in our BTO project and his price is very competitive.

Renovation work
- Hacking of kitchen wall
- Dismantle service yard door & lourve windows
- Kitchen cabinet base and cement sink base
- Labour & tiles & skirting for living room, dining area, walkway (750sqf) + 2 in 1 cement
- 5 ft top & 14 ft bottom Kitchen cabinets
- 14 ft Kitchen quartz top
6.5ft Master bedroom wardrobe
L 3.5ft x H 4ft shoe cabinet
- Sliding window at service yard
- Window grills at living room, 3 bedrooms & service yard
- Plumbing works
- Electrical works
- Disposal of debris
- General cleaning

As we did not opt in for HDB flooring, we have to factor the flooring cost in our renovation. There are few types of flooring such as tiles, parquet, laminate, vinyl. We decided with wood grain tiles as tiles are more durable and we do not have to worry about the floor getting too wet. We didn't know that there are different sizes of wood grain tiles i.e. 60cm, 90cm and 120cm until we meet up with one contractor. We went to Hafary, Lian Seng Hin & Soon Bee Huat to take a look at the tiles and we can asked for samples to bring home. The samples given are ~ 8x8cm which is not easy to visualise. We took more than 20 samples and compare it under day light and at night, repeat the process again and again before deciding the final one. As HDB no longer provides prepacked cement, this adds on to our renovation cost too.

The wall between kitchen and dining area is hacked away to create a larger space. As I seldom cook and we bought a good hood, open concept kitchen does not pose a problem to us. The window and door dividing the kitchen and service yard are also removed to create a larger space and easier maintenance.

I don't understand why the HDB did not install windows at the service yard. We have to include window installation as our service yard is prone to get drenched during raining days. We also added the installation of window grills for the whole house.

There is minimal carpentry for our house as I feel that the more cabinets you have, there is a higher tenancy to buy and keep more things. The carpentry in our house only consist of a half height shoe cabinet, kitchen cabinet and MBR wardrobe. We opt for a half height shoe cabinet as I do not have so many shoes and most of the time, the upper level of a full height cabinet is usually made redundant. We did not have a TV feature wall too as we prefer the white wall in the background. In the kitchen, we have a lower cabinet for the stove and sink and a lower and upper cabinet at the opposite. The rationale for not having both lower and upper cabinet on both sides is to prevent the kitchen from being seen as too cramped. I have requested the contractor to build a cement base at the sink area to minimise wood corrosion. We had quartz kitchen top as it is durable and has a range of colours to chose from. We have a simple 8 doors wardrobe instead of walk in wardrobe as I find that over time, clothes become very dusty. I have requested my contractor to split the upper and lower wardrobe into separate doors to minimise opening the upper wardrobe where I kept the winter clothes.

We did not engage our contractor to paint our house as the painting quotation I received from various contractors range from $1,100 to $1,400. We bought our own paints and engaged the Bangladesh painters. The Bangladesh painters are professional painters as they painted the interior and exterior of flats for HDB. We bought our paints and painting tools from Chye Seng Paints & Hardware Co (Add: Blk 452 Ang Mo Kio Ave 10 #01-1767 Singapore 560452). It's cheaper here as a tin of Vanilex 5000 cost $47 and a tin of Odouless cost ~$70. The boss from Chye Seng Paints advised us to buy Vanilex paints since we are not moving in immediately and the odour will fade away in few days time. In the end, we bought Vanilex 5000 Sail White for living and dining room and Vanilex 5000 Snow Flakes for bedrooms.

The renovation sequence is usually in this sequence: Dismantling -> Tiling -> Electrical work -> Painting -> Light installation -> Carpentry and there are a few milestones where owner presence are important: electrical wiring, aircon installation, gas piping installation, plumbing, carpentry installation. 

After selecting the contractor, we have to source for lighting, furniture and appliances. We decided to be more adventurous and bought lighting from Taobao. We spent about $450 on lighting (inclusive of shipping and GST charges) which is ~50% saving compared to buying locally. All the lighting are received in good condition except the walkway lamp casing which cracked. I have informed the seller and the seller agreed to send a replacement FOC. However I have to arrange my own shipment from China to Singapore which I have consolidated with my 2nd batch of Taobao purchase.

Lighting
Living room: 1.5米黑色导轨5W 暖白 铝黑壳5W 正白 铝黑壳
Dining area: æœ¨çº¹B款(送3W暖光LED) (we changed the light bulb as the original Taobao bulb is too dim)
Kitchen: 90cm*20cm 26W LED白光,银色
Household shelter, MBR bathroom, Common bathroom: æ–¹åž‹ 18W白光
Entrance, Service Yard, MBR entrance: æ–¹åž‹ 12W白光
Walkway: ç»¿è‰²C款(送3W暖光LED) 
Bedroom 2 & 3: å°å·-白-LED-白光-16W (without remote)
Lights purchased from Taobao

Another alternative is to buy from Malaysia. Below are Johor Bahru lighting shops visited by Singaporeans:

-Tampoi Lighting Centre Sdn Bhd
Add: No 2 Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, 81200 Johor Bahru
Tel:607-2418999
- e Mart
Add: No 23 Jalan Bestari 12/2,Taman Nusa Bestari, 81300 Skudai, Johor Bahru
Tel:607-5569037
- Starworld Lighting
Add: 28 Jalan Titiwangsa 3/1, Taman Tampoi Indah, 81200 Johor Bahru
Tel:607-2358860

At first instance, I feel loss when surfing Taobao website but after I joined several Taobao Facebook page, read a lot and learn from there. I also save the links of those items which the renotalk forumer bought for reference. It's better to buy lights from Tmall which is more expensive but more reputable (Tmall is operating on B2C system (business-to-consumer) whereas Taobao is operating on a C2C system (consumer-to-consumer). I have inform the seller that the purchase are to be ship overseas hence they will usually take extra steps in the packaging. As I'm buying many big items, renotalk forumers recommend shipping agent Peeka or Amcon and I used Amcon for my shipment. The charge is RMB550 for 1st cbm (rounded to nearest 2 decimal places), S$35 shipping document, S$40 local delivery and 7% of the item value purchase. Amcon provided me their Guangzhou warehouse address which I have keyed in when checking out my items. They provide 14 days free storage from the day the 1st item is received. I have to provide Amcon the list of items which I have bought and I will ask for update on the items and the volume received at Guangzhou warehouse. After all the items have reached Guangzhou warehouse, I will ask Amcon to proceed to ship the items to Singapore which takes about 7-10 days. Then Amcon will call me to arrange delivery to my house. 

We visited furniture stores almost every weekend and below are the list of Scandinavian theme furniture stores which we have visited:

Affordable
- Star Living
Various location
- Comfort Furniture
Add: 110 Eunos Avenue 7
Tel:67474809
- Home's Harmony
Ad: 978 Toa Payoh North #01-01
Tel:67104568
- Nook & Cranny
Add: BLK 514 Chai Chee Lane #02-07
Tel:93831176
- Tan Boon Liat Building
- Prestige Affairs
Add: 9 Tagore Lane #03-08
Tel:65521333
- Born In Colours
Add: 1024 Yishun Industrial Park A #02-37
Tel:90093586 (by appointment)
- Castlery
Add: 2 Alexandra Road, #01-03A Delta House
Tel:67445333
- Ikea
Add: 317 Alexandra Road or 60 Tampines North Drive 2

Expensive
- Commune
Add: 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-52 Millenia Walk 
Tel:63383823
- Danish Design
Add: 100E Pasir Panjang Road #08-01
Tel:62708483
- Teak Avenue
Add: 9 Tagore Lane #02-05
Tel:62202667
- Grafunkt
Add: 9 Raffles Boulevard #02-34 Millenia Walk
Tel:63366046
- We Love Air
Add: 29 Tai Seng Avenue #01-02
Tel:62969272
- Lush Lush
Add: 134 Joo Seng Road Level 2
Tel:62879096
- OM Home
Add: 16 Tai Seng Street Level 8
Tel:62350777
- Scan Teak
Various location
- Pickle and Rail
Various location

After visiting so many furniture stores, we bought sofa, TV console, dining table and bench from Star Living. Our bed frame is purchased from Prestige Affairs and we also bought the glass cabinet and dining chairs from Ikea. I have read that there are many people who bought furniture from Taobao nowadays but we decide to buy locally as we prefer to see the physical sample before buying. We did purchased smaller items such as coffee table and bedside cabinet from Taobao. It's better to start from the big items follow by the smaller items e.g buy sofa follow by TV console and coffee table as the smaller items can be omitted if there is not enough space. 

We did not major haul our bathroom as we do not see the necessity in spending on the bathroom. We only change the basin in the MBR bathroom as we find the basin provided by HDB too small. We went to a sanitary shop in JB which was recommended by hubby friend and bought rain shower, 2 bidets and a kitchen mixer. These only cost us $230 which I don't think we can get such price for Johnson Suisse product in Singapore. Do note that if you travel out of Singapore for less than 48 hours, the GST relief is for goods valued up to $150 per person.

- The Best Sanitaryware Trading 
Add: No.37, Jalan Setia 12/3, Taman Setia Indah, 81100 Johor Bahru, Johor 
Tel:07-355 5020

Below are 2 sanitaryware shops frequent by Singaporeans. We bought our kitchen hob and hood from Universal Union as we find that Hoe Kee pricing is slightly more expensive. We decided to invest in a better hob and hood and have chosen the Fujioh brand.

- Universal Union
Add: 710 Geylang Road
Tel:67490007
- Hoe Kee
Add: 8 Genting Lane
Tel:67494521

We opt for gas heater instead of electric heater because the gas heater has inner storage tank and is able to support the rain shower system. We do not want to install the water tank in our toilet as we find it ugly. In addition, gas is also cheaper than electricity.

We purchased most of our appliances from our neighbour as he's working in LG. We got a good discount for our TV, fridge and washing machine. We purchased Mitsubishi Starmex System 3 from AJ Aircon where we enjoyed bulk BTO purchase price. The aircon specs research are done by hubby. We got our ceiling fan from JB e-mart which is half of the price in Singapore. We bought a Mayer 3.5L air fryer for the price of 2.2L during the SG50 promotion. We also bought discounted food blender, rice cooker, iron and hair dryer during the Philip warehouse sales. We decided to do without a built-in oven and microwave as our kitchen is relatively small and I seldom bake.

Below are list of appliances shops which offer competitive pricing and most accept cash or NETS, there is extra charges for payment by credit card. 

- Maximum Credit Co Pte Ltd
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-02
Tel:62233575
- Aik Leong Enterprise
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-16
Tel:62719365
- Hong Liang Electrical Enterprise
Add: BLK 121 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-70
Tel:62783331
- Goh Ah Bee
Add: Blk 210 Hougang St 21 #01-247
Tel:62288611

I choose curtains over blinds for easier maintenance. Instead of engaging those curtains makers who charge at least $700 for four rooms flat, I decided to DIY which only cost half of it. We bought curtain rods from Ikea and asked our contractor to install for us. For the curtains, I purchased them from Qoo10 and the quality is good.

Floor plan
Living room under day light
Living room with lights switch on
Close up view of living room
Walkway

Sheela Patel on “Confronting the Urban Housing Crisis in the Global South: Adequate, Secure and Affordable Housing.”


Housing is often seen as falling into discrete categories such as public or private, formal or informal, individual or collective. Instead, we view housing options on a spectrum that combines different elements of ownership, space, services and finance. In some cases, land may be public while the dwellings on it are private. This spectrum allows a more nuanced analysis of the reality of housing markets in the global south and consideration of a wider range of possibilities.

While many challenges emerged, we focused on three that city officials can act upon and scale up.

Issue 1: The Growth of Informal or Substandard Settlements

As demand for housing has outstripped supply, informal and substandard settlements have proliferated. Since 1990, even as the proportion of global urban populations living in slums has declined, there has been an increase in the absolute number of people living in these areas.

Solution: Find ways to accommodate people where they are

While some call for “slum-free” cities, this is often code for displacement of people to the edge of town, which disrupts labor markets, social networks and lives and harms the city at large. Instead we suggest finding ways to upgrade existing slum areas, tapping into community knowledge and energy while retaining links to social and livelihood networks. This option is best for cities with large slum populations, except in locations with environmental or geographic risks.

An example is Thailand’s Baan Mankong program, which directs government infrastructure subsidies, soft housing and land loans to poor communities who then negotiate with land owners for formal tenure and use the funds to upgrade their housing. By 2016, 101,224 poor families in 345 cities had been fully upgraded under the program with secure land, decent houses and healthy living environments.

Issue 2: Overemphasis on Ownership

Home ownership is over-emphasized in urban development, which hurts those who lack the resources to buy a home or who need flexibility. People who work in the informal economy are particularly affected. Subsidies meant to encourage home ownership are geared to those with regular, documented incomes, not those who work in activities like recycling, domestic help and construction that do not produce a paper trail in many parts of the world. Moreover, rentals are often not available to the urban poor, or are subject to great uncertainty about rights and responsibilities for both landlords and renters, with unclear processes for dispute resolution.

Solution: Expand rental markets for people of all income levels

Establishing legal protection for landlords and renters, while acknowledging informal sector activity, can help meet the housing needs of the urban poor while maintaining flexibility and encouraging market-driven development. This includes non-standard payment patterns and cooperative housing where tenants collectively purchase land and rent small plots within it. Vibrant rental markets foster a fluid labor market, a necessary prerequisite for economic prosperity in any city.

For example, authorities in Gauteng Province, South Africa, which includes Johannesburg, tackled a housing shortage of 687,000 units by making it legal to rent out formerly illegal informal backyard apartments. This made it easier for low-income people to find places to live and encouraged development of services without government subsidies.

Issue 3: Policies That Drive the Poor to the Periphery

In many cities, land is often tangled up in legal disputes, leaving it under-utilized or unused, even as new residents seek housing in the city. Building and land use regulations often impose costs and limit creative use of incremental improvements and innovative land management tools.

Solution: Convert under-utilized land, especially publicly held land, into affordable housing

Political will to address housing needs is critical. Rather than encouraging sprawl, existing urban land should be used for housing. City officials and real estate developers should revise rules and building standards to expand the availability of housing on under-used land.

For instance, in Cochabamba, Bolivia, 420 families live in the María Auxiliadora community land trust on land purchased and held in trust as community-owned property. The community’s unique governance structure rotates leadership among women in two-year terms, rejects men who engage in domestic violence and provides support to families. The land cannot be sold for profit, which keeps the housing affordable.

These solutions will help urban policymakers in fast-growing cities meet the demand for housing while encouraging economic development and cleaner, safer environments. Closing the housing gap by providing access to affordable, adequate and secure housing will benefit everyone, not just the poor and underserved, as cities become more productive, environmentally sustainable and truly places for all.


          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 82        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events


schedule-joust logo.jpgAll Evidence Points to an Amazing CSICon 2017 

Have you registered for CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas, taking place October 26–29? It’s shaping up to be the biggest and best skeptics’ event of the year. That’s a pretty bold prediction, but the evidence is overwhelming.

First, there’s the incredible lineup of speakers. Rarely have so many leading lights of science and reason been part of the same event. A veritable constellation of skeptic luminaries will be presenting at CSICon 2017, representing the sciences, grassroots activism, journalism and media, the arts, and more. James Randi, Richard Dawkins, Eugenie Scott, Richard Wiseman, Cara Santa Maria, Lawrence Krauss, and Lindsay Beyerstein are just a small sampling of the dozens of skeptic leaders coming to CSICon.

Then there’s the entertainment and social events, because it wouldn’t be CSICon Las Vegas without plenty of fun. Taking place in the fantastical Excalibur Hotel, get ready for the Tournament of Kings Joust Dinner, a magic show by Banachek, special lunch events with skeptic stars, a Halloween 70’s Disco Party, and more. Plus, all of CSICon’s ceremonies will be mastered by comic-musician George Hrab. The full schedule has now been posted online.

aacarousel-konnikova.jpgThat’s not all. It was just announced that New Yorker writer Maria Konnikova will receive the 2016 Balles Prize in Critical Thinking for her book The Confidence Game: Why We Fall For It…Every Time, a book that exposes the tricks of the con artists’ trade and explains why all of us are vulnerable to being taken in, including skeptics. Konnikova will be at CSICon to accept her prize and to deliver yet another fascinating presentation.

Need more? To give you an idea of what’s in store for CSICon 2017, take a look back at CSICon 2016 on CFI’s web series Reasonable Talk. The current season is featuring some of the best presentations from CSICon 2016, with Maria Konnikova’s talk and Jamy Ian Swiss’s conversation with Richard Dawkins available to watch right now, with more on the way.

We think we’ve made our case. But to make it all come together, we need you! Register now, come together with the skeptic community, get inspired, and have a blast at CSICon 2017. See you in Vegas.

 


20170524191212-Dawkins-Coyne.jpgThousands Inspired by Richard Dawkins and Friends 

Richard Dawkins has just completed a successful tour of four U.S. cities, delighting, challenging, and inspiring the minds of the thousands who came out to see him in conversation with truly special guests—and all to support the work that you help make possible with the Center for Inquiry.

In Los Angeles, Dawkins took the stage with satirist Adam Felber, best known for appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and as a writer for shows such as Real Time with Bill Maher. Nearly 900 people filled the Alex Theatre, aided by the great team at CFI Los Angeles.

DAm59iFWAAAkCpW.jpgNext up was Boulder, Colorado, where the audience was charmed by the conversation between Dawkins and special guest Annabelle Gurwitch, a bestselling author, TV personality, and the latest celebrity to tell her story for the Openly Secular campaign. You can see from the picture on the right, there was one young lady who was particularly excited to see Richard Dawkins in person. Gurwitch took the picture and tweeted, “Hope for the future!”

Then it was off to the nation’s capital, where CFI DC hosted Dawkins and fellow evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, bestselling author of Why Evolution Is True. CFI board member Brian Engler performed his valuable service, taking a set of excellent photos of this meeting of two great scientific minds.

While in Washington, DC, Dawkins was invited to have a conversation on NPR’s Weekend Edition with host Scott Simon, in which the two discussed recent news, perceptions of atheism, and even CFI’s crucial Secular Rescue program, which works to bring secular writers and activists to safety when their lives are threatened in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The last stop was Miami, where attendees were presented with a pairing that almost no one could have predicted: Richard Dawkins and the Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist Dave Barry. What a treat it must have been to be in the room for this exchange of insights and observations.

Thanks so much to all who came out to see Richard Dawkins this fall. He’ll be back for CSICon 2017 in Las Vegas.

 

News from HQ and the CFI Community


1a495722305699-IMG_2016-Winter-close-up.jpgAmanda Knox, Nick Little, and Religious Privilege 

You probably know Amanda Knox as the woman imprisoned for years in Italy for murder, for which she was exonerated by the Italian Supreme Court. Today, she is a journalist and activist for the wrongfully convicted, and she recently wrote a major report for VICE in which she exposes the use of religion in prisons as the only available path to rehabilitation, which manipulates inmates into indoctrination.

For a legal perspective, Knox sought the insight of CFI’s General Counsel Nick Little. Nick describes how prisons are predisposed to allow access to prisoners by all manner of faith-based figures but frequently put up barriers when it comes to secular influences. “[Prison officials] know that they have to allow all prisoners access to a Bible and to the Quran. But they never consider that prisoners who aren’t religious may want access to a non-religious book in the same way,” Nick tells her. “It’s a problem that a Catholic who wants someone to talk to never faces. They always have access to somebody of their faith background. And that’s not available to humanist prisoners.”

nicholaslittlelittleheadshot2.jpgMeanwhile, wholly by coincidence, Nick’s commentary was also featured by another writer at VICE, Gabby Bess, who reports on a case in which doctors in Michigan who performed female genital mutilation procedures on seven-year-olds are using religious liberty as a defense.

Nick explains that there exists no constitutional right to be exempt from generally applicable laws because of one’s religious beliefs, but that the Hobby Lobby case and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act have blurred the lines. “However,” adds Nick, “this would be a major step further, to allow direct harm to a child.”

 


Michigan Secular Celebrant Class--May 2017 (1).JPGSecular Celebrants Trained in Michigan

A group of nine enthusiastic and community-minded freethinkers successfully completed their training as Secular Celebrants on May 13, when CFI Michigan hosted Reba Boyd Wooden, director of CFI Indiana and head of the CFI Secular Celebrant program.

The trainees will now be expected to complete some additional requirements, and once they do, they will be officially certified to represent the Center for Inquiry as Secular Celebrants, authorized to perform marriages and officiate at many other milestone events in which it is desired that the secular humanist life stance be represented.

After two recent groundbreaking court victories, CFI Secular Celebrants are now able to solemnize marriages in Indiana and Illinois, and earlier this month, the state of Oregon enacted a new law authorizing the same. You can listen to CFI Portland’s Dani Tofte discuss this issue on Jefferson Public Radio.

CFI continues to seek out opportunities to change state laws that prevent those who wish to be married by an officiant who shares their secular worldview from having that opportunity. For example, CFI Northeast Ohio is supporting legislation in that state, introduced by State Sen. Michael Skindell.

Eight of the class were Michigan natives, and one came all the way from Ohio. Congratulations to all. Click here if you’re interested in becoming a CFI Secular Celebrant yourself!

 

CFI Highlights on the Web and in the Media


  • whale whale.jpgIn a special report for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Benjamin Radford looks into the “moral panic” over what seems to be a wholly fictional phenomenon: The “Blue Whale Game,” which is alleged to instruct teenagers to commit suicide.
  • Major advancements in life-enhancing and life-extending biotechnology bring with them difficult ethical questions we are obligated to address. In a new essay at HuffPost, CFI’s Ronald Lindsay says religious morality is not equipped for this task.
  • In the Sun-Sentinel, Rabbi Barry Silver discusses his opposition to the National Day of Prayer and support of the National Day of Reason as an alternative, noting CFI’s role in its creation.
  • What the heck is a “globster”? Joe Nickell explains what’s behind “great decaying masses” that wash up on shores and seem to be horrible sea monsters.
  • Joe also discusses his investigations about sightings of moa, an extinct New Zealand creature that resembles a kind of monster-ostrich.
  • Bertha Vazquez updates us on the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) program, with new workshops coming in Nebraska and North Carolina, new teacher corps members, and more.
  • For Skeptical Briefs, Ben Radford provides a rumination on the desire to unearth something truly paranormal in a piece about his investigation of an old “haunted” hotel.
  • Ben is also the guest on The Folklore Podcast, discussing the mythical chupacabra.
  • Mick West looks at the usefulness and pitfalls of crowdsourced UFO investigation.

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.

 

Upcoming CFI Events


happypride.jpgJune 10:

June 11:

June 13:

June 17:

June 18:

524405aaaa8689_40035996f2.jpgJune 19:

July 14–16:

 

Thank you!


Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!


CFI Logo MarkFortnightly updates not enough? Of course they’re not.

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Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net. 



 


          Cause & Effect: The CFI Newsletter - No. 81        

Cause & Effect is the biweekly newsletter of the Center for Inquiry community, covering the wide range of work that you help make possible. Become a member today!

The Main Events


stephenfry.jpgThe Global Madness of Blasphemy Laws 

For most of those who are reading this, laws against blasphemy seem like anachronistic, vestigial restrictions on free expression that no longer apply in our modern world. Recent months have reminded us, however, that blasphemy laws are very much a part of the contemporary human experience, and the consequences of violating them can range from absurd to horrifying. Several secularists and dissidents have met grisly ends this year, including Pakistani student Mashal Khan, beaten to death last month by a mob of fellow students who were angry over allegations of blasphemy, and Indian student H. Farook, murdered by a gang of militants over postings to social media about atheism.

The Center for Inquiry has made combatting blasphemy laws around the world a central part of our mission. We even have a special program dedicated to rescuing secular writers and activists in need of escape from imminent threats to their lives. In recent weeks, we have taken on the crisis on several fronts.

1549751494524276483.pngBlasphemy is the focus of the latest issue of Free Inquiry, CFI’s magazine of secular humanist thought. Making its way to newsstands and subscribers now, this issue features a powerful and sobering cover piece by someone who knows a thing or two about the consequences of blasphemy restrictions: Flemming Rose of Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, which ran the “Danish cartoons” of the Prophet Mohammed in 2005, which were deemed such an offense to religious sentiments that they sparked violent protests across the Muslim world. Rose warns about the international threat of states’ blasphemy laws and how governments are stirring up rage among the people, inciting them to carry out acts of murder such as those that took the lives of Khan and Farook.

The issue also includes an important report by Mirjam van Schaik on the machinations of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the diplomatic body that seeks to push blasphemy laws beyond borders and into international law.

Blasphemy also became a topic of concern in the west, when beloved actor and humorist Stephen Fry, a longtime advocate of secular causes, became the subject of an investigation by Irish authorities for allegedly committing blasphemy in 2015, when he said some unpleasant things on television about the biblical God’s psychotic behavior. Eventually, the investigation of Fry was dropped, with Irish police citing a lack of outraged victims of Fry’s blasphemy.

DawkinsCFI Board Member Richard Dawkins cleverly stepped into the fracas by reiterating his own “blasphemy” to an Irish newspaper, and dared the authorities to arrest him over it when he next came into the country. He later explained, “I wanted to increase the pressure to repeal this law – partly because the existence of a blasphemy law in a civilised western country like Ireland is taken as an encouraging precedent by some of those countries in the Middle East and Africa, where they have a blasphemy law and it really is enforced.”

Of course, CFI’s diplomatic and international advocacy efforts never stop. For example, CFI President and CEO Robyn Blumner and our public policy director Michael De Dora are signatories on a new petition from the Index on Censorship calling on Denmark to scrap its blasphemy law. Whether these affronts to human rights emerge in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Ireland, or Denmark, and whether they are enforced by the state or by the rage of the mob, we will continue to fight for free expression, for the simple idea that ideas don’t need rights. People do.

 


Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 11.07.07 AM.pngTrump’s Religious Privilege Theater 

During the past couple of weeks, the Trump administration took one clumsy step backward for secularism, but that didn’t stop an encouraging step forward at the state level.

On May 4 (which weirdly was both the National Day of Prayer and Star Wars Day), President Trump signed his “religious liberty” executive order, through which he claimed to be loosening the restrictions on campaign endorsements by churches and other tax-exempt organizations and providing “relief” to companies that don’t want to take part in the contraceptive mandates of the Affordable Care Act because of religious exemptions.

CFI denounced the move as a “cynical pander to the religious right” and noted that despite the president’s boasts, his order is mainly symbolic. “While this executive order won’t accomplish much in practical terms,” said Michael De Dora in our official statement, “it sends a signal that Trump is looking to reward his conservative evangelical base. But this political payback is divisive and dangerous, blurring the line between church leadership and political operatives.”

ct-congress-endorsemaaaaents-illinois-raja-gutierrez-edit-02As a positive sign of our impact, however, the Center for Inquiry and Michael were both called out by name during a House hearing on the Johnson Amendment, with Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asking that our statements be put into the official congressional record.

Meanwhile in Oregon, both houses of the state legislature passed a measure that would allow Secular Celebrants, such as those trained and certified by CFI, to solemnize marriages in the state. CFI began this effort in Oregon in 2015 with a bill that passed the state House, worked on similar legislation in Ohio, and have won crucial court victories for Secular Celebrants in Indiana and Illinois. On May 11, the Secular Coalition for America and its Oregon state chapter were successful in securing its passage through the Oregon House and Senate, and the bill is expected to be signed by the state’s Democratic governor.

 

News from HQ and the CFI Community


internz.pngCFI Welcomes 2017 Summer Interns 

The movement to advance science, reason, and secularism is alive with energy among campus groups and student activists. One of the most inspiring aspects of being a part of the Center for Inquiry is how the CFI internship program gives some of those young leaders the opportunity to take their passion and talents beyond the campus and into the broader world, helping them to learn new skills, develop crucial connections, and earn real-world experience in organizing and advocacy.

Last week, we announced our Summer Outreach Interns for 2017.

First is Vicki Smith of Central Michigan University’s Dogma-Free Society, who says, “I’ve spent my college years getting to know myself and the different issues secular and humanist organizations are up against; now I’m ready to take the next step and see what I can do to promote a secular society.”

Next is Andy Ngo of Portland State University and the Freethinkers of PSU. You might remember Andy’s video report of CSICon 2016, in which he discusses his religious background and journey to skepticism.

And working from our Executive Offices in Washington, DC will be legal intern Jaskirat Singh, who has just finished his second year at George Washington University Law School and Elliot School of International Affairs, studying for a JD and MA in Security Policy Studies. Jaskirat has a background in international human rights work, having previously interned for Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain.

We look forward to getting to know and working with our new colleagues.

 


o-RICHARD-DAWKINS-facebook.jpgSee Richard Dawkins, On Tour in the U.S. Now

Richard Dawkins is here! And there’s still time to get your tickets to see him in live conversation with notable guests, as he comes to the United States for four special engagements, starting this Thursday in L.A.!

  • On May 18 in Los Angeles, Dawkins will be joined in conversation by satirist Adam Felber, best known for appearances on NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and as a writer for shows such as Real Time with Bill Maher.
  • In Boulder, CO, on May 22, Prof. Dawkins will take the stage with best-selling author and actress Annabelle Gurwitch.
  • On May 24 in Washington, D.C., Dawkins joins another great mind of evolution, Jerry Coyne, best-selling author of Why Evolution Is True.
  • And in Miami on May 27, you can witness a meeting few would have predicted, as Dawkins sits down with Pulitzer Prize–winning humorist Dave Barry.

Time and tickets are running out. Don’t miss your chance to witness these unscripted conversations with one of the greatest scientific minds of our time. Buy your tickets now.

 

CFI Highlights on the Web and in the Media


  • Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 11.22.50 AM.pngCFI’s investigative guru Joe Nickell is profiled in a really fun short video by Great Big Story, a new media initiative supported by CNN. “Everything is obvious after it’s been explained,” says Joe.

  • Richard Dawkins is interviewed by The Times, where he discusses religion, his legacy, and in particular his view of the moral status of animals. “There is a speciesist belief that somehow they are only animals, they don’t feel pain,” he says. “But pain doesn’t seem to me to be the kind of thing you need intellect to experience.”
  • At HuffPost, Ronald Lindsay, CFI’s research fellow and former boss, critiques The Benedict Option, the book by conservative thinker Rod Dreher that argues for Christians’ withdrawal from secular society. “What’s so special about recent events that has caused him to decide that now’s the time to sound retreat?” asks Ron. “Same-sex marriage. For Dreher, same-sex marriage is unendurable.”
  • CFI Legal Director Nick Little provides secular perspective in a piece at VICE on a Christian funeral home’s unwillingness to cremate the body of a gay man.
  • 1-CKpTZAudlh0dPz8VOHVxdA.jpegGeorge Ongere, director of CFI Kenya, is interviewed by Humanist Voices about what inspired his work on behalf of reason and against superstition in Africa. “There needs to be a change in mind and thinking,” he says. “Humanism promises this kind of change for Africans to abandon blind faith and focus on the realities of life.”
  • Several outlets covered CFI’s response to Trump’s “religious liberty” executive order, including HuffPost and the Columbus Dispatch (which also features comment from CFI Northeast Ohio’s Monette Richards). Plus, CFI was attacked by the forever-aggrieved Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for our “militant secularism.”
  • Bertha Vazquez updates us on the progress of the Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science (TIES) with developments in Alabama, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Now available online from Skeptical Inquirer and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry:

And of course, you can keep up with news relevant to skeptics and seculars every weekday with The Morning Heresy.

Upcoming CFI Events


May 18:

May 19:

Annabelle GurwitchMay 21:

May 22:

May 24:

  • Marissa Postler, a new member of the Wyoming City Council (and an atheist), speaks to CFI Michigan about “leading with reason.”

May 25:

May 26:

  • Kathie Dello, associate director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, speaks to CFI Portland about climate change and the impact of the Trump administration’s policies.

Dave_Barryklcb.jpgMay 27:

June 11:

June 18:

 

Thank you!


Everything we do at CFI is made possible by you and your support. Let’s keep working together for science, reason, and secular values.  Donate today!


CFI Logo MarkFortnightly updates not enough? Of course they’re not.

       •  Follow CFI on Twitter.

       •  Like us on Facebook

       •  Encircle us on Google+

       •  Subscribe to us on YouTube.

 


Cause & Effect: The Center for Inquiry Newsletter is edited by Paul Fidalgo, Center for Inquiry communications director.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at www.centerforinquiry.net. 

 


          CIT Lets Commerce Shift To India Data In Vietnam Shrimp Row        
The U.S. Court of International Trade has affirmed a U.S. Department of Commerce decision to use wage rates from India as surrogate data when considering anti-dumping margins assessed on Vietnamese shrimp importers, as opposed to data from Bangladesh...(read more)
          Mundo- El gran sueño Africano        
6-7-17   Le Monde Diplo en español

El gran sueño africano


Ignacio Ramonet



Con la llegada del verano, volvemos a asistir a los repetidos y a veces trágicos asaltos contra las murallas alambradas de Melilla, llevados a cabo –con sofisticadas técnicas y artimañas de asedio medieval– por disciplinadas columnas de jóvenes subsaharianos. En otras zonas (Canarias, la isla italiana de Lampedusa, las costas de Sicilia, de Grecia, de Chipre, de Malta y la isla francesa de Mayotte, cerca de Madagascar), los “invasores” llegan casi siempre a las playas de noche –cuando no zozobran–, en silenciosas embarcaciones, como antaño lo hacían sin duda vikingos, normandos o sarracenos.
En Europa y en otras partes del mundo rico, muchos (entre ellos el presidente estadounidense Donald Trump) tienden a considerar a esos “asaltantes” como agresores, delincuentes y hasta criminales. La extrema derecha europea reclama más mano dura para repeler a los intrusos, menos miramientos, y la adopción urgente de medidas más radicales. Más vigilancia, más policía, más ejército, más expulsiones... Y no siempre se pregunta: ¿por qué causas están dispuestas esas personas a correr tantos riesgos para, en definitiva, poner, por precio vil, al servicio de nuestro confort y nuestro alto nivel de vida, su fuerza de trabajo?
El África Subsahariana es una de las regiones más empobrecidas del planeta.
Con una pobreza extrema que se explica por diversos factores. En primer lugar: la trata de esclavos, crimen y genocidio que vació durante siglos el subcontinente de millones de sus hombres y mujeres más jóvenes, sanos y fornidos, obligando a comunidades enteras a vivir escondidas y aisladas en las profundidades de la jungla, sin contacto alguno con los progresos de la técnica y de la ciencia.
Rememorarse también que África ha sido, hasta hace apenas unos decenios, tierra de colonización. De una colonización impuesta por las potencias europeas a sangre y fuego, a base de guerras, exterminios y deportaciones. Todos los poderes locales que osaron oponerse y resistir a los conquistadores –portugueses, holandeses, británicos, franceses, alemanes, italianos o españoles– fueron aplastados.
En el aspecto económico, las potencias coloniales establecieron, de modo autoritario, una economía fundada en la exportación de materias primas hacia la “metrópoli” y en el consumo obligatorio de productos manufacturados producidos en Europa. De esa manera, África perdió en los dos tableros. Y esa doble explotación, por lo esencial, no se ha modificado.
Por ejemplo, Costa de Marfil, primer productor mundial de cacao (el 40% del volumen mundial) nunca ha podido desarrollar una industria chocolatera exportadora. Lo mismo se puede afirmar de Malí o Níger, dos de los principales productores de algodón, quienes se han hallado en la imposibilidad de montar una verdadera industria textil. Y eso porque, en general, las excesivas tarifas aduaneras impuestas por los países importadores ricos a los eventuales productos elaborados en el Sur arruinan toda posible competencia con los productos fabricados en el Norte.
Los países desarrollados quieren conservar la exclusividad de la transformación de las materias primas, o, en el marco de la globalización liberal, aceptan deslocalizar sus fábricas hacia China o Bangladesh, donde la mano de obra es hábil, dócil y sobre todo barata, pero no están en absoluto dispuestas a invertir en África, ni en desarrollar en este continente un sector industrial importante.
La división internacional del trabajo, efectuada en favor de los intereses de los países del Norte, atribuye a África un papel subalterno, marginal, lo cual impide a este continente entrar en la espiral virtuosa del desarrollo.
Las fabulosas riquezas mineras y forestales del continente africano son vendidas a precios de saldo, para el mayor enriquecimiento de las empresas importadoras y transformadoras del Norte. De ese modo, no se crean empleos ni siquiera en las industrias agroalimentarias, que es el sector básico a partir del cual se puede edificar un verdadero desarrollo agrícola, y más tarde industrial. Por eso también, África es el último continente que aún conoce con regularidad crisis alimentarias y hasta hambrunas.
Esta región del mundo, tan a menudo calificada por los medios dominantes del Norte de “subdesarrollada”, “violenta”, “caótica” e “infernal”, no habría conocido tal inestabilidad política – golpes de Estado militares, insurrecciones, masacres, genocidios, guerras civiles, terrorismo yihadista–, si los países ricos del Norte (empezando por las antiguas potencias coloniales) le hubiesen ofrecido posibilidades de desarrollo reales en lugar de seguir explotándola. La pobreza creciente se ha convertido en causa de desorden político, de corrupción, de nepotismo y de inestabilidad crónica. Y esta misma inestabilidad desalienta a los inversores, tanto locales como internacionales. Con lo cual se cierra el círculo vicioso del laberinto de la pobreza.
Todo esto explica por qué hoy un (o una) joven del sur del Sahara, en plena salud y a menudo con buena formación educativa, no desea seguir viviendo en lo que es el calabozo del mundo. Decenas de miles, en este momento, están marchando hacia los vados que conducen a Europa, con la esperanza de poder vivir, por fin, una vida normal. Y quizá también con la reivindicación inconsciente de que algo les debemos de nuestra riqueza actual.
Esto es solo el comienzo, y no se sabe qué tipo de muros habrá que construir para desalentar el flujo. Porque el Banco Mundial acaba de advertir de que la bomba demográfica ya ha estallado, y que ya hay en los países pobres unos 2.500 millones de jóvenes menores de 22 años que no encuentran trabajo en sus países. Y cuya única perspectiva es correr al asalto de las murallas de Europa...
Para algunos países africanos del Sahel, que están entre los Estados más pobres del mundo, como Malí, Burkina Faso, Níger y Chad, el algodón, “oro blanco”, representa entre un 30% y un 40% del valor de sus exportaciones. Es, por consiguiente, un producto vital del que, en estos Estados, viven directamente tres millones de agricultores e indirectamente más de quince millones de personas… “El algodón está ligado a la historia de África y a la penosa historia de la esclavitud –dice Aminata Traoré, exministra de Cultura de Malí–, pero hoy queremos que nos ayude a liberarnos y no que nos esclavice de nuevo”.
Estos países pobres, en los últimos decenios, han sacrificado otras infraestructuras y han hecho esfuerzos considerables (construcción de embalses, canales de riego) para aumentar las superficies dedicadas al cultivo del algodón. Y hoy se encuentran en una situación dramática porque, a pesar del bajísimo coste de una producción realizada por campesinos pobres, el algodón africano se vende mal a la exportación y resulta más caro que el que producen algunos países ricos como Estados Unidos, que controla el 30% de las exportaciones mundiales de la fibra blanca.
¿Cómo es posible que el algodón producido a precio de oro en Norteamérica resulte más barato que el que se cultiva a coste infrahumano en África? Sencillamente porque Washington vierte a sus productores de algodón unas subvenciones anuales de unos 3.000 millones de dólares… Por eso el algodón estadounidense puede venderse en el mercado internacional a un precio inferior al de su coste y hasta más bajo que el precio del “oro blanco” africano.
Consecuencia: si esas subvenciones se mantienen, se producirá una catástrofe económica de gran envergadura en esos países africanos del Sahel que ya se encuentran entre los menos avanzados del planeta. Millones de agricultores seguirán abandonando el campo para ir a enrolarse en los ejércitos yihadistas que controlan gran parte del Sahel; o irán a hacinarse en los barrios de chabolas de las periferias urbanas desde donde la miseria y el hambre empujarán a los más atrevidos a tratar de emigrar a Europa. A bordo de cayucos hasta Canarias, o atravesando el desierto del Sahara hasta Libia intentando después cruzar a Italia.
Del algodón a la patera solo hay un paso. Y aunque parezca que una cosa no tiene que ver con la otra, los países de la Unión Europea, y entre estos los más expuestos a la entrada de los inmigrantes clandestinos subsaharianos, deberían insistir para que se supriman las subvenciones a las exportaciones agrícolas, y en particular a las del algodón, que solo benefician a unos miles de agricultores norteamericanos mientras arruinan a millones de africanos.
Recordemos que la actividad principal, a escala planetaria, sigue siendo la agricultura. De todos los campesinos del mundo, apenas unos 30 millones disponen de un tractor, 250 millones trabajan con instrumentos de tracción animal y 1.300 millones usan herramientas manuales… Esa es la dramática realidad de la agricultura de hoy.
En junio de 2005, para tratar la situación de África y como coartada en dirección a la opinión pública mundial, los jefes de Estado del G-8 invitaron a los presidentes de Sudáfrica, Argelia, Etiopía, Ghana, Senegal y Tanzania, además de a Kofi Annan, entonces secretario general de la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU). La idea de Tony Blair, primer ministro británico en aquel momento y que presidía ese G-8, era reducir la deuda externa de los países intermediarios, después de haber reducido la de trece países pobres de África. También proponía aumentar la ayuda pública al desarrollo (APD) unos 25.000 millones de dólares al año durante un lustro hasta alcanzar el 0,75% del producto nacional bruto (PNB). El presidente estadounidense George W. Bush se opuso a ello bajo el pretexto de que África no sería capaz de absorber tal cantidad de capitales... Sin embargo, la ayuda propuesta por Tony Blair era inferior a lo que estaba costando entonces la guerra de Irak. Otros observadores recordaron que Estados Unidos consintió consagrar, después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, no el 0,75% de su PNB, sino el 1% durante cuatro años para ayudar a reconstruir Europa con el Plan Marshall...
Si de verdad quisieran ayudar a África, los países ricos tendrían que tomar, con urgencia, cinco sencillas medidas:
— Primera, suprimir definitivamente la deuda externa africana (por cada dólar prestado, África ya ha devuelto 1,3 dólares solo en intereses).
— Segunda, suprimir las subvenciones a las exportaciones agrícolas que inundan, a precios de saldo, los mercados de los países en desarrollo y destruyen la agricultura local.
— Tercera, abrir los mercados agrícolas de Norteamérica, de la Unión Europea y de Japón a los productos africanos.
— Cuarta, aceptar que los países africanos establezcan una política proteccionista en favor de sus producciones locales tanto agrícolas como industriales, sin que el Fondo Monetario Internacional (FMI) o el Banco Mundial los sancione.
— Y quinta, reorientar la investigación farmacéutica para curar las epidemias endémicas de África (cuando hoy, el 90% de la investigación farmacéutica está orientada a mejorar la vida del 10% de la población rica mundial).
Los recursos abundan y existen soluciones para erradicar la pobreza en África y en el resto del planeta; falta voluntad política. ¿Cuándo se acabará de admitir que suprimiendo la pobreza y las injusticias, se suprimen las principales causas del terrorismo en el mundo?

http://www.monde-diplomatique.es/?url=editorial/0000856412872168186811102294251000/editorial/?articulo=234c9d2c-9c0d-4bd9-9150-1b8399d6f7ab


          Report Writing        

 Daylight Robbery

    An East Timorese woman, aged 32, was robbed by two Militia men in their 20's CIVPOL monitors have been called in to assess the situation and conduct an interview.
    On the 27th June 1999 an East Timorese woman aged 32, was robbed in 3road daylight, midday. The Two robbers jumped out of the bushes on her way home for lunch, armed with a gun and machete. One was in front and one behind. They demanded her purse, watch and jewelry. First she refused to hand over anything, so the man in front pushed her then punched her in the stomach. She then gave her valuables, but the men didn't believe that she had given everything. The one behind her pinned her arms behind her while the other one punched her repeatedly in the stomac

h. She passed out and when she woke up, the men had gone. She was hurt quite badly so she had to spend a day in hospital. She was threatened by the men; they said that they would kill her if she informed the police. They were probably Militia as they asked her if she had voted in the independence election and became angry when she said yes. She had never seen the men before.
reasons for incident and description of assailants
    Both the men were in their early 20's and were about 5'6-5'8 inches tall wearing red bandannas. One dressed in camouflage fatigues and the other in faded denims and a white t-shirt, the taller one had a scar down the right cheek.
    The woman was probably robbed as the two men knew, or had heard, that she had voted in the independence election, and wanted to confirm it and hit back at her for doing so.
conclusion \Summary
CIVPOL will pass this information to the local police and said that she should contact them should the men return and threaten her again. CIVPOL  assured the woman that they would patrol her streets more closely.
 
Hijacking
    A plane has been hijacked on route from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Rome, Italy on 20 July 2001
    Flight IA 504 is hijacked by five armed men twenty minutes into the flight. It is on its way to Rome, Italy from Kuala Lumpur International. The hijackers divert the plane to Bangkok and demand the release of their 6 friends in an East Timorese jail. They threaten to blow up the plane if their demands are not met. The bomb is apparently in the luggage compartment. After 3 hours, the plane lands in Singapore and the hijackers ask for food and water. The plane is then surrounded by Army Special Forces and food and water is given in exchange for female hostages. Negotiations take place between hijackers and local authorities, why say they need 5 hours to arrange the release of their 6 friends. After 5 hours, the authorities refuse to release 6 but agree to 3. 15 hours of negotiations go on and finally the men surrender to the authorities.
Reasons for incident/Description
    The hijackers have hijacked the plane to force the release of their friends in an East Timorese jail. There are five armed men on the plane armed with pistols and possibly a hand grenade. They say there is a bomb in the luggage compartment.
Conclusion/Summary
    After 15 hours of negotiations, there is no breakthrough and the hijackers surrender without any of their demands being met. All hostages are released unharmed.
Hit and Run
    On the main, highway running to Madrid,, northwest of the city of Barcelona, at 10:30PM, on Friday the 2nd February/there has been a hit and run case. Eyewitnesses say it was a 1996, opal grey, Austin Minor car with caravan. The car was heading towards Madrid when a cyclist on the same road was hit. It was raining and visibility was very bad. The cyclist for some reason moved onto the road from the cycling lane and was hit. His cycle was completely crushed, and has left leg and arm were broken, he received minor injuries to his head, even though he was wearing helmet. The victim was wearing cycling gear but did not have any protection from the rain. He was about 18 years old, slim and 5'10" tall. The cyclist was coming from Madrid. The victim was taken to Barcelona hospital and is said to be out of danger. The car was said to have some scratches from the cycle on the left-hand side as well. Due to the poor visibility, the witnesses at the scene of the crime could not read the number plate.
    A search is taking place for the car in Madrid, as it as heading in that direction. The eyewitness said that there were four people in the car and didn't know if there were more in the caravan. By the brief close look he got and poor visibility, the witness thinks they were all men.
Trapped in an Earthquake
    It was 1:00 AM on Friday the 16th December 1990. Almost all the residents of Cyber town were asleep. It was raining very lightly and it was very dark. All of a sudden at 1:02 AM there was a tremor of more than 6.7 on the Richter scale. It lasted for about 3 minutes. All the houses collapsed pulling down telephone and electrical poles. Fires started, as the main gas supply the houses was broken and gas was leaking everywhere. The people, who managed to wake up and run out of their houses, were running around trying to find a safe place. The ones who were injured or trapped were crying out for help. The whole place was in chaos. Police and army personnel (the ones that had survived the earthquake) were called in to help, and take charge of the situation.Out of the total 50 houses in the town at least 40 of the houses were completely destroyed. Those that were not destroyed were damaged very badly. Ambulances from the near by towns were called in to help with the situation, as they were not as badly effected, as they did not fall directly in the earthquake line.

    The army set up temporary tents in order to accommodate the injured and lost, and a mobile unit was put up for immediate relief. Nearby towns and cities sent out relief workers to help with the situation. Food and medicine vas quickly requested for. By 4:00 AM people were either looking for the missing people or burying the dead. There was a slight haze in the sky from all the dust that had been floating around from the crumbling buildings. t would take the people of Cyber town at least 3-6 months to bring things lack to normal for themselves.
Selling  Alcohol
    At dusk on Saturday 29 September 2001, Mr. Abdul Hamid a young man who is 28 years old, the owner of a small restaurant, in downtown Abu Dhabi. His shop was next to the tall building of the central Bank. Even 'though it was a Saturday, and a holiday, he decided to open his small shop, because his business had not been very good and he needed all the extra money to support his large family. He had only five or six customers during the whole day but he was looking forward to the evening when men would come to have drink. Although, being a Muslim country it was permitted to sell the locally brewed Stella beer, from which he could make quite a bit of profit.
    Then around 9:OOPM two men casually dressed came into his shop and asked him for some beer and things to eat. As soon as he had brought their order, they both stood up and caught him and held his hands behind his back. They said that they were from the Religious police, and that it was forbidden by the Sharia law to sell any sort of alcohol on a holiday. They said that ithere had been a new law passed saying that this was the new rule for all public holidays. The penalty for abusing this law was death, or 100 lashes. Abdul Hamid apologized to the policemen saying that he was not aware that this new law had been imposed, he begged the two policemen to forgive him as it was his first offence and begged them for mercy. Both the officers looked at each other and gave the situation a lot of thought, after some time they released him with a very stem warning.


ALLEGED WITCH HACKED TO DEATH
    A 46-years-old woman accused of being a witch was hacked to death in a remote village in the northeastern Indian state of Tripura, the Press Trust of India reported Thursday. The news agency said the woman was known as a I "spinster in the  village because she had remained unmarried. The woman.KuntiDebbarma, lived on her own and was always fairly quiet, reserved and  considered odd to the villagers. She was forcibly removed from her hut in Tuiching village in western Tripura at approximately 4:40pm witnesses said. She was dragged into the middle of the village by 7 of her neighbors who then proceeded to hack her to death using machetes and axes. She had been accused of allegedly practicing sorcery in her village and putting a spell on a newborn baby that had recently died. Police have launched an operation in the remote tribal area to catch Debbarma's neighbors who are now hissing. Witnesses stated that there were 3 women and 4 men in her death. However, villagers have stated that they were unaware of the whereabouts of the missing people. One man stated that the missing neighbors were reportedly in Jhasi, while another male stated he saw them in the next village over. A female informant stated that after the attacks, two men and one of the woman headed southeast on foot, while the other women and one man headed north by bus, she didn't know the whereabouts of the other man involved. Police have been receiving conflicting reports and will continue their search for the attackers. Every year, several women are killed in India at the hands of villagers after being accused of sorcery. Last year there were 213 reported murdered of "accused' witches in India alone.
RAINSTORMS KILL 3, HURT 50

    Early Monday morning at approximately 3:30am, tropical storms blew away over 6,469 mud and thatch houses and knocked down approximately  396 trees in northern Bangladesh, killing three people and leaving nearly 5,332 people homeless, police reported early Tuesday
Morning. The storms were unexpected for many of the villagers and almost all of the people involved had been asleep when the storms hit. one woman and her baby girl were crushed to death when their tin-roofed house collapsed during the storms. The woman and child were apparently alive after the storm ended, but villagers were unable to rescue them before their deaths. One man was killed by lightning while trying to savetwo young manwho were also trapped in the thatch house next to his. Fifty people were injured during the rainstorms in Netrokona, Sylhet and Moulvibazardistricts  according to police reports in Ittefaq and Janakantha. It is unknown how many injured people are being hospitalized at the moment. The storms not only leveled mud and thatch houses, but tin roof houses as well in the farming region 132 kilometers (80 miles) northeast of Dhaka, the national capital. Police officers are Trying to organize search parties to help remove bodies from the rubble in hopes of knowing an exact number of deaths. At this moment the death toil is three, but police fear that once the house rubble has been cleared, the death toll will dramatically increase.

Jail Break
    There were 350 I nmates in Alcatraz Jail, and 60 staff. It was classified as a maximum security jail and escape was considered to be next to impossible.It is situated on an island and is surrounded by water, which is infested with Sharks. The security staff are shuttled to and from the island by ferry twice a day, which a is the only way in and out.However on the night of 3 April 1992, there was a jail break. Twenty of the inmates managed to escape.What happened was, when the evening ferry came to shuttle the day stuff back to the mainland at 5:00 PM, a fire was started in the dining hall by some of the inmates, in the central building. Most staff on duty rushed to the scene and tries to put out the fire. In the meantime, while all the staff were busy with the fire, the twenty who escaped managed to overpower the guards at the main gate and boarded the ferry which was only manned by two guards. they took the ferry to an isolated spot and abandoned it there. Although the local police were informed, and a search was conducted, they managed to escape. A description of each has been given to the central police headquarters and also to all sub-offices.It has been a week since the incident, and there are no clues as the where they are now. Their friends who are still in the jail are not willing to talk or help authorities on this matter.
ARSON- -NARRA TIVE
    At 2100 hours on Friday 15th September 2000 an Albanian male called Mentor. Who lives in pristina, at Grid reference 136 247.heard a knock at the front door of his house. when he opened it. he saw three masked men standing there. One of hese men grabbed hold of him, held a hunting knife to his throat, and told Mentor. inAbanian no to move or he would be killed. The other two men then entered his house and started to destroy the living -room furniture with a large hammer. which they had with them. The taller of the two men was dressed in green combat clothing and a red ski mask, and the shorter man was wearing blue trousers, a white jacked and a blue ski mask, all three were speaking Serbian to each other. when the two men had finished breaking the living-room furniture, they went upstairs and continued to destroy the furniture there. Later the shorter man in the white jacket came down the stairs and ran outside, returning shortly afterwards  carrying a red plastic container. He poured petrol from the container over the broken living-room furniture and the tall man then set the furniture alight. The  three man started to laugh and the one holding Mentor told him. in Albanian, that it was time the Albanians knew what it was like to have their homes destroyed.  mentor tried to break free, but was pushed to the ground and kicked in the stomach a number of times. The house was starting to fill with smoke, the tall man told him not to report the incident or they would cut his throat. The three men then ran from the house laughing. Mentor was able to crawl from the house into the street, where he saw, abut one hundred meters down the street. The three men standing under a streetlight talking to another male person, who was giving them money.Thethree  men then got into a white Alfa Romeo driving off in the direction of the hospital and the other person walked away towards the town center. The Fire services arrived about five minutes later, by which time the house was well on fire, with flames leaping through the roof. The only items of property, which were saved from the house, were a clock and a satellite dish. Two UNMIK police patrols attended the scene and assisted in keeping people away from the fire. A Danish police officer took  Mentor to the hospital in Pristina, for treatment to his left hand, which he had burnt saving the clock from die house. Mentor was requested to attend police station number one, Pristina, at 1200 hours the following day, to be interviewed.
SUICIDE  - NARRATIVE

    At 1230 hours on Tuesday 3 October 2000, an Albanian male called Besnik went to the UNMIK Police Station Number 4, in Pristina. He stated that his uncle's neighbour had telephoned him and said that he had heard a gunshot from the uncle's house.
An INMIK Police unit was sent to the address, at Grid reference 129326. arriving at the scene at 1240 hours, where they found an elderly male person lying on the kitchen floor. The emergency medical services were called to the scene and Doctor Agim KRASNIQI pronounced the male dead at 1315 hours, the man had died from one gunshot wound to his head. The dead man was an Albanian about 45 years old, wearing a pair of blue jeans and a gray jersey. Next to the body were an Astra automatic pistol, and one empty 7.65 bullet case. A neighbor informed the Police Officers that he had heard a gunshot from next door. at 1200 hours that day and then telephoned Besnik. Both he and the nephew identified the body as Raji HARB. The neighbour also stated that he had been living next door to Raji for 20 years, and that Raji had been suffering from tuberculosis. This disease had caused him a lot of pain over the last year and he had attempted to commit suicide twice before. Also found at the scene, near the body, were a suicide note written on a newspaper and a wedding ring.
    The last person to see Raji alive was his nephew. It was at 0730 hours .morning when he saw his uncle cleaning his car. The body was taken to (mortuary in Pristina hospital. Besnik was requested to attend the Police lion at 1300 hours the following day for interview.

ROAD TRAFFIC ACCIDENT- NARRATIVE

    At 1125 hours on Tuesday 2 May 2000 a Traffic Accident occurred at the main roundabout in south Pristina, grid reference 129217, the vehicles .involved were a British Army Landrover and a black Nissan jeep. The circumstances to the accident were as follows: the Landover drove onto the roundabout from the Northern entrance and the black Nissan jeep, which was already driving around the roundabout, failed to give way to the Landrover, so a collision occurred between the two vehicles. After the collision the Nissan jeep drove away from the scene, towards Pristina Hospital. A witness it the scene was able to give a description of the driver of the jeep as a young dark haired female, approximately 20 years of age, wearing a white blouse, who was alone in the car. The witness also recorded the car's registration number 044 KS 141, on an envelope she was carrying. A joint UNMIK and KPS police patrol arrived at the scene fifteen minutes later, the UNMIK police officer was from Zimbabwe. It was raining at the time of the accident, visibility was poor and the traffic on the roundabout was heavy. the police took measurements of the road and retained broken headlight ass and traces of black paint, found at the scene of the accident. The military driver and his front seat passenger were not wearing their seat belts the time of the accident and both received bruising to the head chest. they were taken to the British Military Hospital to receive medical treatment. The damage to the military vehicle was a badly dented front left side wing; the vehicle was towed to the British Barracks in Pristina. The fitness identified herself as an UN civilian employee, working as a finance officer, in room 12, United Nations Headquarters, Pristina.
 


ROBBERY - NARRATIVE
    At 2010 hours on Monday 18 October 1999, in Pristina, a Serbian female stopped an UNMIK Police Patrol. She was very upset, reporting that her house had been robbed. The patrol took her back home, which was at grid reference 125 227.
At the address the police officers spoke to the woman's husband, a Serbian, who owns a Jewelry shop. which is located in the same building. He stated that at 1930 hours he and his wife were eating in their kitchen when there was a knock at the shop door. When he opened the door he was faced by three men. He described these persons as all being about 25 years old. dressed in green military type jacket and trousers, with their faces covered by dark masks. The leader of the group held an AK 47 in his right hand, the other two were armed with a revolver and a large knife. He also noticed a white Volkswagen car with a female in the driver's seat, parked in front of the shop. the car's engine was running. The leader of the group shouted at the owner in Albanian, forced him back into the kitchen and demanded money from the shop safe. When the victim refused, the man with the revolver hit him across the face knocking him down to the ground. It was then that the power went off and the house was thrown into darkness. The victim started to struggle with the suspects and he managed to take the revolver from one of the men. The suspects then ran from the house through the' rear door. The victim chased them out of the building and saw the two with the rifle and the knife getting into the white Volkswagen, which then drove off towards the city centre. The third suspect disappeared into the woods at the back of the house. Later the police searched the woods and the jacket of the third suspect was found. In the jacket was a driving license and a photograph of a young girl. The revolver, jacket and the other items were seized by the police for further examination. As a result of his struggle with the three suspects the victim received a swollen right eye and a cut to the head, which were later treated at Pristina hospital. It was also revealed that the suspects had taken two gold rings and three silver bracelets, with a total value of 1300 German Marks. The police advised the victim that they would make a report and investigate the incident.                                                   
 

ARMED ROBBERY-NARRATIVE

    Monday 1 of May 2000 about 0140 hours an Albanian male went to the Local UNMIK Police Station and reported that an Armed Robbery had taken ice at the Mini Market near the Stadium. When the Police Patrol arrived at the Mini Market, they found the Security Guard in an office, his hands were handcuffed behind his back and his mouth had been covered with tape. hen they released the guard, he gave them the following information. He stated that he had been employed as a Security Guard at the Mini Market since November 1999 and he was responsible for the security of the building when it closed. On Sunday 30 April he started work at 2100 hours, he checked the building and found the doors and windows secure. After he had finished checking the building he went to his office to complete some paperwork. He was listening to the radio, when at 0015 hours he heard a noise in the Mini Market. Before he could react, the office door opened and four males rushed in. They were all about 20 years old and all wearing a red baseball hat. The one with the hat an automatic pistol of some kind, which he held in his right hand and one of the others, had a baseball bat, which he held in his left hand. The man with the gun pointed it at the guard and shouted at  him. in Serbian, to sit still or he would be killed. Two of the males then gagged and bound him, the one with the baseball bat stayed with him. The hers went out of the office and he heard them taking things out through the side door. About half an hour later the man with the gun re-entered the office warning him again to be quiet, then all four left the Mini Market through theside door. He believed the persons were Serbian as they talked to each otherand him only in Serbian. He waited for sometime before trying to raise the alarm he was eventually heard by the guard of the store next door, who reported the incident to the UNMIK police. This person also stated that at 0045 hours that night he saw a dark colored Mercedes leaving the Mini market car park, towards the Airport. The Police and the guard carried out a check of the building; they found a rear window had been forced open. The Victim stated that 28 cases of Whiskey and 53 boxes of cigarettes had been taken, however all the money was still in safe.
 

ARMED ROBBERY-NARRATIVE (Bank Robbery)

    At 0848 hours on Wednesday the 23rd of September 2000, UNMIK Police Officers from Pristina police station number 1 and units from KFOR responded to a coded alarm for a Bank Robbery in progress at the First Union Bank. Pristina.On arrival at the Bank UNMIK.Police found a Bank employee and two cash securtity guard inside the building, 'hey interviewed the employee, who stated that he was the Head Cashier of the First Union Bank and that he had started work early, about 0630 hours, because there was to be a delivery of a large sum of money. At 0645 hours he saw the Armoured Cash Truck, stop outside the bank and the security guards form the truck were opening the rear doors. A large black BMW stopped immediately behind the armoured truck and two armed men limped from the BMW and pointed their weapons at the guards. On seeing this the cashier attempted to call the police by telephone, but the lines were busy. He was armed with a Glock 17 automatic pistol, so he went to assist the guards. On leaving the bank he was confronted by a third man who had a revolver. The cashier was shouted at. in Albanian. to put his pistol down or he would be killed, so he dropped his pistol. Then he and the two guards were taken into the bank. Where the cashier was forced to open one of the offices. The armed men then tied the three together with rope and covered their mouths with yellow sticky tape, warning them not to try and escape. The armed men then  left the office locking it behind them. At 0845 hours the bank staff came into work and found the cashier and guards locked in an office, so the manager activated the alarm. The cashier was able to describe the suspects as three young men. One was muscular. approximately 1.90 meters tall, the second man was well built about 1.75 meter tall and the third was quite thin about 1.60 meters tall. They all wore green military coveralls and  had covered their faces with black ski masks. The two tall suspects were carrying shotguns and the third suspect was carrying a black revolver. A total of four million five hundred thousand German Marks, in various denominations, was taken from the Cash truck. This large sum of cash was being delivered to pay United Nations Personnel.
 


"EXTORTION"
    On Friday 9 May 2003, at 20.00 hours, an incident was reported to Police Station #5o of a person being severely beaten. The caller witness stated that a beating incident had just occurred at the food store "Best Price", which was located at Main Street -25, grid reference 193-168. Immediately, a police patrol was dispatched to the scene of the incident. On arrival at the scene of the incident at 20.15 hours the officers observed, that the 42-year-old male food storeowner, had been very badly beaten on his face. Due to the very serous condition of the storeowners injuries the officers decided to immediately transport the victim by ambulate to the local hospital for treatment.the 37-year-old female witness to the incident said she and the storeowner lad been friends for the last 3 years. At 19.50 hours, while she was six meters away from the incident hiding behind a bread display, she observed the owner of the store and the offender, a male that was about thirty years of age, 175 cm tall, very heavy build, with long black hair and beard, brown leather coat, white shirt and black pants arguing loudly.
    The witness advised that she over heard the offender say to the storeowner that he was late in paying the 900 euros which were due to be paid at the beginning of each month, and that if the money was not paid he would destroy the store by fire.
the witness advised that the storeowner said to the offender that he refused" to pay any more extortion money to him. The witness then stated that she observed the offender remove a small black club from his coat pocket with his right hand and strike the store owner five times in the face with the club while holding him by the neck with his left hand, and then put the club back in his coat pocket.

    Further interview of the witness revealed that she was employed as a teacher the local school, and resided at Airport Street-49, grid reference 836-742, the witness stated that she had never seen the offender in the store before incident happened. The witness further stated to the officers that the
 


JOURNALIST

On 14 May 2003 at 09.30 hrs a fair haired 180 cm tall, about 35 years old male, with glasses, dressed in blue jeans, brown shoes and black shirt walked into to the police station #3. A young female police officer met him at the duty room and asked him about the reason of his visit. The visitor said. that he was a journalist and needed to speak to the station commander of this police station. The duty officer noticed, that the man looked very upset. She enquired about the reason and the man said, that his photo camera was missing since yesterday evening. He also added, that he was not upset because of the loss of the camera, but mostly because of the loss of the film in this photo camera. The station commander of the police station was not available. He was attending a meeting in the Main Headquarters and the visitor had to wait for 30 minutes, sitting in the waiting room. While he was waiting for the Station Commander, the duty officer gave him a cup of tea. hen the journalist said, that he would not wait longer and left his telephone number as 507-631 asking to call him as soon as the Station Commander would return from the meeting. Then he the Police Station left at 10.00 hrs.
the Station Commander returned from the meeting at 10.15 hrs. The duty officer advised the Station Commander about the journalist. The Station Commander called for the investigation officer and ordered him to call the journalist and to look into the matter.
The investigation officer rang the journalist and they agreed to meet at the reception area of the hotel named "21st Century" at 11.00 hrs. As they met, they walked outside the hotel and sat on the bench in the park. The journalist said, that he was working for a magazine called "Towns and People". He arrived in the town of llth May 2003 to take pictures about customs and tradition of the population, living in this town. The job was over and he took 2 pictures. On 13 May at 19.30 hrs he took a taxi from the old bridge over the river to the city center. He thought, that he had forgotten the bag with the photo camera and films in the taxi. The investigation officer asked him to describe the taxi and the taxi driver. The taxi was a yellow 4-door sedan car.
 

fight in bar (sample report)

    According to the eyewitness, who was present at the scene, it was the evening and approximately 40 people were having drinks in the bar with their friends. A part form this. there were 10-15 army personnel also having a drink there. They had completed their duty and were about to return home. There was a discussion between the barman and the army men concerning the number of drinks that had been consumed. The barman had added extra drinks on their bill bringing to the total for their bill to S200. However, the army men had actually only drunk $100 worth of drinks. The army man who went to the bar to pay the bill a disagreed withthe barman's total, which was more than double, and was accused by the barman oftrying to pay less. There was a heated exchange between the two, ending in the barman punching the army man in the face and telling the army men to get out of the bar. When the fight started the witness was at the bar, having a beer, and was.at happened. After being punched, the army man called his friends and they started smashing all the tables and chairs and fighting with the locals who were supporting the barman. During the fighting, the witness was hit on the head with a beer bottle that had been thrown by somebody. After that.he hid under the table.

    According to the eyewitness account, the trouble started because the barman tried to overcharge the army men for drinks, which they had not consumed. The two sdes became very heated and it then erupted into fights between the army and local people.

    The CIVPOL monitor assured the witness that he/she would report the incident to the local police and thanked the witness for co-operation.

 

“UNMIL RADIO”

People around the world like to listen to the radio. People listen to the radio at home, at work, in the car and in the streets. People listen to the news, weather forecast and like to listen to the music. Liberians are no exception to this common tradition. The Civil war in Liberia was over in 2003. People’s lives and hopes turned to good. More Liberians began walking with a radio in their hands listening to the news and music. There are three main radio stations in Monrovia operating on FM frequency: Music radio on frequency 90, 2. Official radio of the United Nations Mission in Liberia on frequency 91, 5; and World news radio station on frequency 103. The transmission of these radio stations is also well heard in neighboring countries like Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ivory Coast.

A young Liberian man called John was listening to the UNMIL radio. He heard that the nationwide campaign on Disarmament was launched on 3-d of December 2003. He also heard that the campaign was coordinated by the UNMIL radio with intention to inform combatants and communities in Liberia about this program.

           John is a 28 year old Liberian citizen; he has been married for 10 years and has three kids: two sons and a daughter. The daughter is 9 years old, the oldest son is 7 and the youngest is 5.  John and his family still currently live at his father’s house in Monrovia. John finished high school in May 1993 and received his certificate upon completion. During the war he was unemployed and now he is still looking for a job. Like many Liberians he usually played football on weekends and was listening to the radio. His favorite radio station is the Music radio.
On 21st of December 2004, John went to the center of Monrovia to look for a job as a security officer at the shop. He walked into a supermarket which was trading electronic goods. While he was waiting for a manager of the supermarket to ask him if he would hire him, John heard an announcement on the UNMIL radio about recruitment of police officers for the Liberian National Police Service. John left the supermarket without even having a response from the manager. John decided to become a police officer. Walking home John saw a poster on the wall of the Police station located in the center of Monrovia and read that applicants, who successfully meet basic criteria in fitness, writing, psychological and medical tests would be invited for interview at the Police HQ.   

           When John came home he spoke with his father about his intention to become a police officer. His father said that he would be proud if John was a police officer. John successfully passed all necessary tests and on Monday, 17th of January 2005 he was invited to come to the police Headquarters for interview.    

The following conversation is the dialogue between a police officer and John.
 
 â€œPolice medal”

    On 14 January 2005, a journalist from the Police magazine called “To Serve and protect” went to see the magazine Director and proposed writing an article about the history of police medals awarded to citizens for their assistance to the Police. The presumed name of the article was “Police Medal”.

    On 16 January 2005, the journalist went to the Police museum located at Main street number74 to conduct research for the article. While in the museum, he was pleased to see pictures, letters of appreciation, and medals given to young citizens, for their assistance to the Police during investigation of crimes.

    In the records section of the museum, the journalist read that on May 7, 1947 the Chief of Police reported the kidnapping of an 8 year old girl, when she was walking home from school. He said that this crime might have gone unresolved if there had been no cooperation between the citizens and the police. Two youths, 11 and 15 years old, witnessed the girl being abducted and took down the registration plate number, PK 5386, of the vehicle used to commit the crime. This led to the immediate arrest of the criminals. The girl was freed and returned to her parents.

    The common practice of the 20th century was to send letters of thanks to the citizens, but the Police Commission decided thate wanted something special to recognize young people who helped the Police department. It was decided that a "Board of Police Commission Medal" should be formed to plan for the presentation in such cases. Medal designers were instructed to enquire as to the design and costs.

The following resolution was presented and passed unanimously. The medal was to be made of bronze with the words "Police Commission Award" on the front side of the medal and the reverse side was to specify the name of the recipient as well as the date of the service rendered and the words "For praiseworthy service in law enforcement". The estimated cost of production of this medal was 250 dollars.

The medal presentation was always made in the office of the Mayor, who also served as  Chairman of the Police Commission. The first ceremony took place on 26th of November, 1947. The medals were awarded to two boys 11 and 15 years old, who reported the abduction of a girl along with vital clues that led to the immediate arrest of the suspects.

    The next award was presented in 1948 on April 15th to a 17 year old male, who had witnessed an armed robbery attempt at a jewelry shop.  The young male began following the gunman. He saw two Police officers and informed them of the circumstances and they were able to arrest the gunman without incident.

    Before publishing the article, the director of the Police magazine asked the journalist to come to his office to brief him about the article. The following conversation is the dialogue between the director of the Police magazine and the journalist.

''WAR CRIMINAL”

On Friday, 28 January 2005 at 07.00 hrs a mobile police patrol started their day shift. Two police officers drove police vehicle Jeep # 864. The first route was from Police Head Quarters towards the fish market.

    At 07.45 hrs the officers saw a crowd of about 20 people on the Main Street of Monrovia, Grid coordinates LG 305-681. The people at the scene were shouting. The Police officers observed that there were two men fighting. Some of the people from the crowd were hitting one of them  whom they believed was guilty. He was bleeding from the head. Police officers decided to stop the car. It was very obvious, that if the police patrol would not stop, the perceived offender’s life would have been in danger.  It was well known from police sources that 95 mob justice cases had been registered during the past 6 months. Many of these cases had fatal results. The fighters and the crowd were acting aggressively and were very excited. Any step made by the police towards the crowd was very dangerous. 

The team leader of the police patrol, using the loud-speaker system warned the mob to stop fighting. It had diverted the attention of the crowd for a moment. There was no time for hesitation. Police officers rushed into the crowd and took the fighters into a police car. Then they drove to the nearest Police station, located at the airport grid reference LG 307-692. On their way, the team leader of the police patrol gave first aid to the victim and bandaged his head. The driver of the patrol car sent a radio message to the Airport Police Station, reporting the fighting case, adding, that they would be arriving at the Police Station in 10 minutes.

When the police patrol arrived to the Police Station the fighters were taken by the duty officer to the interrogation room. The team leader of the patrol car was asked by the commander of the Airport police to proceed to the police station in order to give details as to what had happened.  During interrogation the two men involved in the case were asked why they were fighting. The man with the injured head said, that he was 35 years old, lived on Green Street number 81. He was the employee of the telephone company called “Lone star”. He also stated that he had never seen the offender before. He then said that he left the house at 07.30hrs for work, but was attacked by the offender. He stated that the offender accused him of being a war criminal and then hit him on the head with an iron pipe. Immediately people from neighboring houses rushed to the scene. Then the police arrived to the scene. The Airport police commander asked the patrol team leader to send the driver of the patrol team to the location of the incident and to find the iron pipe for evidence. The driver of the patrol team returned to the scene and found the iron pipe with blood stains, lying on the grass. The Police patrol continued the shift and drove to the forensic laboratory to deliver this exhibit for forensic examination.
 After the shift was over at 19.00 hrs., the team leader of the patrol team and the driver came to their office to write a report about the results of the shift. 

The following conversation is the dialogue between the Team leader of the Police patrol team and the driver of the Police car preparing to write a report.
“SHOOTING INCIDENT”.

    On Monday, 14th of March 2005 two police officers were conducting a mobile patrol between the stadium and the water tower. They drove Police vehicle jeep # 472, red and white in color.  At 12:45 hrs, the Police heard gun shots at grid coordinates LG 315-692. The driver of the police car drove in the direction of the gun fire. On the radiothe team leader requested for a back up. At 13.10 hrs the Police patrol arrived at house # 59 on Stadium Street. The Police saw the barrel of a rifle sticking out from the window of this house, directed towards the street. The officers were not able to see who was holding the rifle because of the window curtain. The back up police unit arrived at 13.20 hrs and surrounded the house. The team leader of the patrol unit loudly gave the verbal command to whoever was in the house to throw the rifle out of the window and walk slowly out of the house with his hands up in the air. No sound or movement came from the house and the rifle remained in the same position.  The team-leader warned the gunman, that if he did not follow the previously given verbal command, the police would open fire. Again, there was no response from inside of the house.

    At 13.30 hours the back-up unit began an assault on the house. As they entered the house, they observed that nobody was there. The rifle was resting on the window with the barrel pointing towards the street and the butt of the rifle was held on the back-rest of a chair. The police made a quick search of the house and discovered that nobody was there.  They found only the rifle, two empty bullet cases on the floor near the window and blood stains on the chair.

    The police did not take anything from the scene, as the forensic group had not arrived.
The team leader and the driver of the patrol car knocked on the door of the neighboring house. After approximately 10 minutes a 60 year old woman opened the door. She was wearing a green dress and a black scarf on her head. She said that she did not want to open the door because she was afraid of the gunfire near the area of her house. She stated that when the shooting started, she counted a total of 7 gunshots. The woman also saw three masked men of a muscular build shooting in the direction of her neighbor’s house. When the gunfire ended, she stated that she saw that masked men took her neighbor from the house and placed him into a gray colored minibus. The witness was sure that they drove towards the airport. She also noticed that her neighbor was wounded and that his right shoulder was bleeding.
The patrol team remained at the scene to secure the evidence while waiting for the arrival of the forensic group.

    The forensic group arrived at the scene at 14.00 hrs. They made a search of the area and found more 5 empty bullet cases near the fence of the house. The forensic team took the rifle, all empty bullet cases and samples of the blood stains removed from the chair into custody for further examinations.
Later in the shift, the patrol unit heard on the radio, that the suspected minibus was stopped at a check point near the Airport. The suspects were arrested and charged for unlawful possession of weapons and kidnapping. The kidnapped man was taken by the airport police to the hospital.

    The following conversation is the dialogue between the chief of police and the team leader of the Police patrol.


“STRANGE VISITOR”.

    Newly appointed Regional Police Chief was expected to report for duty on Monday 28 of March 2005 at 08.00 hrs. Before showing up for duty officially he conceived a plan to check how duty officers in different Police stations perform their duties in an unusual situation.

    On rainy Friday evening at 18.30 hrs on March 25, 2005 he put on civilian clothes and went to the Police station # 5 at grid reference MG 497 – 551. He introduced himself as the director of the “Atlantic pictures” photo studio. The visitor was dressed in brown shoes, gray pants, white shirt and black cloak. At a sight he was about 40 years old, slim built, 175 cm. tall.
He asked the duty officer that he wished to receive a complaint form for the purpose of reporting a citizen’s complaint against a Police officer.

    The male duty officer replied that he could not file a complaint, but he could call and ask investigation officer of the Police station to come and speak regarding the incident. The visitor said that he did not wish to speak with the investigation officer, but would like to receive a complaint form, with which he could document his complaint in writing and forward it to the appropriate agencies. Then he removed a digital voice recorder from his right pocket and asked the duty officer if he could document via audio recorder his refusal to allow him to receive a complaint form.

    This made the duty officer very angry and he told the visitor to leave or he would be arrested. The visitor promptly left the Police Department without revealing the nature of the complaint. He entered his car a white sedan license # MK 5337 and drove towards the regional police headquarters. As the visitor left, the duty officer called the investigation officer at the regional Police HQ on telephone and reported about this strange visitor. At approx. 19.45 hrs of the same evening the complainant stopped his car at the regional Police headquarters, located at Flower Street # 62. He approached the main desk in the duty room and informed the female duty officer that he would like to receive a complaint form for the purpose of reporting a citizen’s complaint against a police officer.

    The duty officer said that this form was not available to visitors, as the Police department policy was that he must first speak to the investigation officer and describe the incident. The Officer would then decide if the complaint was worthy of a report. She called the investigation officer on telephone and after 5 minutes the visitor was invited to his office.
In the investigation room the visitor displayed his documents and revealed that he was the new regional Police Chief.

    The following conversation is the dialogue between the regional Police Chief and the investigation officer.
Handkerchief


“WITNESS”

On Tuesday 1st of June 2005 at 10.00 hours, an incident of mob justice was reported on telephone to the Liberian Central Police Station.  The caller used the emergency 911 telephone number to call, and stated that the incident was still happening on the side of the road next to the supermarket “Green land” situated on UN road number 73. The caller further stated that approximately 50 people were beating a young man with sticks and throwing rocks at him. Immediately, a police patrol unit was dispatched to the scene.

On arrival at the scene at 10.15 hours, the Police patrol officers observed a large crowd of people. Upon arrival of the police, the crowd quickly dispersed. The police saw a man who was still sitting on the ground. This man was holding his hands over head trying to protect the head from receiving new injures. His head and shoulders were bleeding. His pants and shirt were dirty and torn into pieces, so the color of the clothes was barely recognizable. He was about 18 years of age, slim build, approximately 175 centimeters tall with shaved head. The officers immediately notified an ambulance to respond to the location to transport him to the hospital. 

A male approached the Police patrol unit and said that it was him, who called the police about the mob justice case. He said that his name was David; he was 35 years old and resides at Mango Street number 12. He said that the man sitting on the ground was a thief who had stolen a Nokia mobile phone from the mobile telephone shop in which he, the witness, has been working as a technician for the last two years. The witness then pointed to three men all about 25 years old standing at the side of the road. Two men were unarmed and one was armed with a wooden stick. The witness said that he saw that the victim was hit with a wooden stick a number of times by the third suspect.

He stated that these men were the first who caught the thief and beat him with hands and  wooden stick. Immediately people from the street rushed to the scene to punish the thief. Upon seeing the police officers look in their direction, two of the suspects fled in the direction of the shore of the Atlantic Ocean which was not far away. The third suspect dropped the wooden stick and tried to escape in the crowd. He was a black male, approximately 180 centimeters tall, dressed in blue jeans, green shirt and red cap. The bright colors of his clothes and cap made him visible to the police. The Police patrol officers gave a chase and caught the suspect. They also recovered the wooden stick with fresh blood stains.  The other two suspects escaped by running into a motor boat and sped in the Ocean.  The Police patrol officers handcuffed the captured suspect and charged him for assault and causing serious injuries to the victim.
At 10.30hrs, an ambulance arrived and attended to the victim. The doctor said that the he had suffered massive trauma to his head and shoulders caused by rocks and wooden stick.  The injured male was taken to the Central hospital for medical treatment.  The Police patrol unit reported to the Police headquarters with the captured suspect. The witness was requested to come to the police station for interview the same day at 14.30 hrs.
   

          'Buried history': unearthing the influence of Native Americans on rock'n'roll        

Stevie Salas’ research has led to the documentary Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World, which traces the impact of Native people on America’s rich musical history

As a kid, session musician Stevie Salas would savor the classic concert movie Bangladesh, which chronicled George Harrison’s all-star benefit show from 1971. “How did I watch that movie over and over and never notice that, standing right next to George, was this giant Native American guitar player named Jesse Ed Davis?” Salas asked. “I just thought ‘Wow, he’s a cool-looking guy.’ It’s amazing to me that I never made the connection.”

That’s especially amazing considering Salas himself is Native American. Yet it was only decades later, after Salas made a conscious effort to seek out other indigenous people in popular music, that he looked into Davis’s history. Over the course of his research, the sideman for stars such as Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger found a wealth of overlooked information about the deep impact Native people have had on a variety of American musical genres. His research, and that of others, has found its way into a revelatory new documentary titled Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World.

Continue reading...
          Rapper Anik Khan: ‘I’m absolutely telling the immigrant story’        

The Bangladesh-born New Yorker explains how his heritage informs his hip-hop – and why he loves Craig David

Related: Bobby Friction's best of BBC Asian Network:

Rapper Anik Khan’s SoundCloud page features a telling line above his contact email. “Curry chicken meets collard greens,” it reads, a neat nod to his two identities. When Khan was four he moved from the relative wealth of Bangladesh (three-storey apartment, driver) to Queens, the largest of New York’s five boroughs, and – along with his parents and three sisters – shared a one-bedroom apartment in a low-income housing block. His father – a poet and political speaker – had shlepped his family halfway across the world to give his kids a better education (“The definition of unconditional love,” Khan says), while taking a job as a cab driver.

Continue reading...
          11 things we learned about social enterprise in international development        

11 things we learned about social enterprise in international development As donor governments cut aid budgets, here’s what the experts say about the role of social enterprise in filling the gap 1. The scale of social enterprises varies globally Bangladesh has the powerhouses of Brac and Grameen. “It’s the home of microfinance and Brac’s social […]

The post 11 things we learned about social enterprise in international development appeared first on Make it happen.


          Watch Crossing Over movie free online        
Crossing Over...Every day thousands of people illegally cross our borders......Max Brogan (Harrison Ford) is an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent (ICE) with a dangerous flaw - he has a heart and sympathy for the very people he must track down and deport. His partner, Iranian-American Hamid (Cliff Curtis) awaits his father's naturalization ceremony and appears dedicated to his job only to prove to his family how important it is to be American. As the duo runs routine busts on illegal immigrants, several other stories are revealed a defense lawyer (Ashley Judd) negotiates for a new family for an orphaned child and must also orchestrate the deportation method of a family whose 15-year old daughter is accused of having ties to terrorism; a young Jewish man (Jim Sturgess) tries to use his unpracticed religion to secure a job; and Cole Frankel (Ray Liotta) uses his position as a green card approval supervisor to force a beautiful Australian model (Alice Eve) into some compromising positions. The US offers hope--but that often comes at a price. Many can earn citizenship legally through a lengthy bureaucratic process, but others find themselves out of luck in a country where virtually anything can be bought. Sex, violence and betrayal become their currency. Some wait in line for permission to enter the U.S. while others take matters into their own hands. Working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Los Angeles, Max Brogan is an agent sworn to protect our borders, he deals with the thousands that try to cross over into the US in search of a better life. The lives of Brogan, his ICE partner, Hamid, immigration defense attorney, Baraheri Denise Frankel, and her husband, Cole Frankel, intersect, by necessity, accident or fate, with Mexican factory worker Mireya Sanchez; Hamid Baraheri�€™s sister Zahra; young Bangladeshi Taslima Jahangir; British musician Gavin Kossef; Australian actress Claire Shepard; and Korean teen Yong Kim. Each has a different struggle: a single mother deported without her child; a high school girl whose provocative essay draws FBI attention; an actress who willingly prostitutes herself to earn her green card; a struggling musician trying to build a career while working his day job; and finally, a Korean teen caught between two worlds, while his family is desperate to naturalize.

          Bangladeshi Girl Starring in his first Film Work.        
Watch Bangladeshi Girl Starring in his first Film Work. on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
                  
From Jenna Orkin


           The barriers of internationalization for SMEs in Bangladesh         
Rahman, Mahfuzur and Lodorfos, George and Uddin, Moshfique (2013) The barriers of internationalization for SMEs in Bangladesh. International Journal of Accounting and Business Management, 1 (1). pp. 92-115. ISSN 2289-3717
          Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change        
Earth Day 2013: The Face of Climate Change

Climate change has many faces.

A man in the Maldives worried about relocating his family as sea levels rise, a farmer in Kansas struggling to make ends meet as prolonged drought ravages the crops, a fisherman on the Niger River whose nets often come up empty, a child in New Jersey who lost her home to a super-storm, a woman in Bangladesh who can’t get fresh water due to more frequent flooding and cyclones…

And they’re not only human faces.

They’re the polar bear in the melting arctic, the tiger in India’s threatened mangrove forests, the right whale in plankton-poor parts of the warming North Atlantic, the orangutan in Indonesian forests segmented by more frequent bushfires and droughts…

These faces of climate change are multiplying every day.

For many, climate change can often seem remote and hazy – a vague and complex problem far off in the distance that our grandchildren may have to solve. But that’s only because they’re still fortunate enough to be insulated from its mounting consequences. Climate change has very real effects on people, animals, and the ecosystems and natural resources on which we all depend. Left unchecked, they’ll spread like wildfire.

Between now and Earth Day, we’ll collect and display Earth Day pictures of people, animals, and places directly affected or threatened by climate change – as well as images of people stepping up to do something about it. We’ll tell the world their stories. But we need your help. We need you to be climate reporters. So, send us your pictures and stories that show The Face of Climate Change.
                  






 

Kembali Dari Mekah dan Madinah

AlhamduliLlah, malam kelmarin kami sekeluarga selamat kembali dari dua Tanah Suci; Mekah al-Mukarramah dan Madinah al-Munawwarah. Selama hampir 2 minggu kami berada di sana - menunaikan ibadah umrah dan ziarah ke bumi anbiya'.

Penatnya amat terasa. Ditambah pula dengan demam, batuk dan selesema. Kata orang perkara biasa. Namun ni'mat dan seronoknya menjadi tetamu Allah SWT masih segar di ingatan. Rindu untuk ke sana lagi. Moga-moga dipermudahkan olehNya. Ameen.

Kami sekeluarga (tidak termasuk anak sulung, Izzuddin yang tidak mendapat perlepasan sekolah) berserta emak-abah-adik Laili dan 4 orang emak saudara berlepas ke Madinah pada pagi 30-Mac lalu.

Selepas 4 hari di sana, kami bertolak ke Mekah untuk mengerjakan umrah dan ziarah di sana. Kami berlepas pulang ke tanah air dari Jeddah pada pagi 11-April setelah tersadai kira-kira 7 jam di lapangan terbang akibat penerbangan tertunda.

Insya Allah dalam entri seterusnya akan dicatatkan secara ringkas pengalaman kami ketika di 2 Tanah Haram tersebut.

Catatan Madinah : Perjalanan

Perancangan kami sekeluarga untuk berkunjung ziarah ke Kota RasuluLlah SAW, Madinah al-Munawwarah telah pun lama dibuat. Jika tidak silap, sejak setengah tahun lepas. Dalam mencari-cari agensi pengendali ziarah dan umrah, akhirnya kami memilih Al-Fajr Travel & Tours setelah dicadangkan oleh abah-emak yang pernah mengikuti pakej umrah Al-Fajr kira-kira 2 tahun sebelumnya.

Kami menaiki Penerbangan Malaysia terus ke Lapangan Terbang Madinah dengan pakej RM 4,990/orang selama 11 hari/13 malam. Terdapat penerbangan pilihan pergi-balik transit di Pakistan dengan kadar sekitar RM 4,300/orang tetapi kami bimbang anak-anak tidak tahan letih sepanjang penerbangan.

Beberapa sesi kursus umrah di hujung minggu kami ikuti samada di masjid berdekatan ataupun di premis Al-Fajr di Selayang. Sedikit sebanyak menambah ilmu kami akan kaedah perlaksanaan ibadah umrah dan larangan semasa berihram, yang juga satu kewajiban dalam ibadah haji yang bakal kami laksanakan pada tahun ini. Insya Allah.

Berkumpul di KLIA

Mengikut jadual asal, penerbangan kami ke Madinah adalah pada 30-Mac, 2012 jam 01:35 pagi. Sehari sebelum hari berlepas, kami dimaklumkan penerbangannya ditunda kepada jam 10:45 pagi hari yang sama. Para jemaah diminta berkumpul di hadapan Kaunter K seawal jam 7:00 pagi untuk sesi taklimat dan penyerahan tiket serta pasport.

Kami sekeluarga bersama emak-abah dan Hadi bertolak awal ke Masjid KLIA untuk bersolat Subuh sebelum terus ke KLIA. Terima kasih kepada ipar dan biras; Bakhtiar, Nita-Redzuan dan Fahimey yang menghantar kami.

Ketika taklimat, kami dimaklumkan oleh kakitangan Al-Fajr bahawa tiada mutawwif atau wakil Al-Fajr yang akan mengetuai kami kerana katanya tidak dibenarkan oleh pihak berkuasa Arab Saudi. Hanya dilantik seorang jemaah sebagai ketua dan setibanya di Madinah dan Mekah, kami akan diuruskan oleh petugas yang dilantik oleh Al-Fajr. Sesuatu yang amat tidak menggembirakan. Dikhuatiri timbul masalah yang tidak dapat ditangani oleh para jemaah atau petugas yang dilantik. Malah itulah yang terjadi ketika di dua Tanah Suci tersebut.

Penerbangan ke Madinah

Penerbangan selama hampir 9 jam ke Madinah lancar. Kesemua penumpang, sekitar 450 orang adalah jemaah Umrah dan Ziarah dari pelbagai syarikat umrah. Rupa-rupanya hampir semua penerbangan umrah-ziarah adalah secara tempahan khas oleh syarikat tertentu yang diagih-agihkan tempat duduknya kepada agensi yang mengendalikan pakej berkenaan.

Menariknya, kesemua pramugari bertugas dimestikan bertudung, berkemeja lengan panjang dan seluar panjang. Secara kasarnya mereka telah menutup aurat tetapi hakikatnya sekadar menutup urat bukannya aurat. Tudungnya pendek, manakala seluarnya sendat dan kemejanya pula ketat dan singkat. Apakah ini yang dikatakan oleh para ulama' iaitu 'berpakaian tetapi telanjang'? NauzubiLlahi minzalik. Malah diperhatikan sebahagian pramugari tampak segan dan kerap menarik-narik hujung baju dan seluar.

Inilah yang perlu diambil perhatian oleh pihak pengurusan MAS, apatah lagi untuk penerbangan ke dua Tanah Suci terutama di musim haji. Apalah salahnya jika dilabuhkan tudung atau dipakai jaket luar berserta bawah baju menutupi pinggul dan seluarnya longgar. Pasti pramugari akan merasa lebih selesa dan terjaga maruah diri mereka. Penumpang pun serupa.

Tiba di Madinah

Kami selamat mendarat di Lapangan Terbang Madinah sekitar jam 3:00 petang waktu Arab Saudi (jarak masa 5 jam kebelakang dari waktu Malaysia). Rakan-rakan yang pernah turun di Madinah pernah berpesan, setibanya di Madinah tunaikanlah solat dahulu kerana urusan imigresennya memakan masa lama. Itulah yang kami lakukan.

Justify FullAlhamduliLlah sempat kami tunaikan dahulu solat jamak qasar Zohor-Asar sambil melafazkan kesyukuran dapat bertamu di bumi kesayangan RasuluLlah SAW di mana jasad baginda, ahli keluarga dan para sahabat disemadikan. Tanpa disedari, lahir perasaan sebak mengenangkannya.

Sekilas pandang, Lapangan Terbang Madinah tampak kecil sahaja dengan ruangan pemeriksaan imigresen dan kastam yang juga sempit. Malah ruang solatnya dhaif sekali - sekadar bilik kecil beralaskan permaidani kasar. Tempat berwuduknya pula di sinki tandas bersebelahan. Terkilan hati melihatnya, sedangkan Madinah adalah antara tumpuan utama umat Islam seluruh dunia.

Rupa-rupanya projek menaiktaraf kepada lapangan terbang bertaraf dunia sedang giat dijalankan dan Insya Allah projek 3 fasa pembangunan ini akan siap sepenuhnya pada tahun 2019 nanti dengan keupayaan menampung 12 juta penumpang setahun. AlhamduliLlah. Tak perasan pula kami lokasinya...

Ketika mengambil barang di ruangan bagasi dan selepas pemeriksaan kastam, hati-hati dengan para pekerja Bangladesh (berpakaian coklat) yang aktif bergerak meminta upah menolak troli. Usah dilayan, dapatkan troli sendiri atau gunakan beg bertayar. Dalam kelam kabut, kami terkena juga... apa boleh buat, niat sedekah sahajalah...8)

Selama 4 hari 3 malam di Madinah, rombongan kami seramai 47 orang dari Al-Fajr Travel & Tours menginap di Elyas Silver Hotel yang terletak kira-kira 500 meter dari Masjid Nabawi.

Rutin harian kami sekeluarga sama sahaja - meraih sedaya mungkin fadhilat sekali beribadah (solat) di Masjid Nabawi menyamai seribu kali beribadah (solat) di masjid-masjid biasa.

Catatan Madinah : Masjid Nabawi 1

Melewati hotel penginapan, beberapa menara Masjid Nabawi jelas kelihatan. Tinggi sayup menyapu awan. Sekaligus mengundang rasa rindu dan teruja untuk bertamu di masjid Nabi Muhammad SAW yang penuh barakah.

RasuluLlah SAW bersabda,"Solat di masjidku ini lebih utama daripada seribu solat di masjid-masjid lain kecuali Masjidil Haram" (Riwayat Bukhari).

Dinisbahkan bukan hanya ibadah solat sahaja diganjari seumpamanya tetapi lain-lain ibadah seperti beriktikaf, membaca Al-Quran, bersalawat, berzikir, bersedekah dan apa sahaja kebaikan pun mendapat fadhilat sepertinya. Moga-moga. Ameen.

Alangkah bertuahnya. Mana mungkin diperolehi ganjaran seumpamanya di tempat lain selain di Masjidil Haram dan di Masjid Nabawi. Tidak hairanlah berduyun-duyun pengunjung mendatangi Madinah dan Mekah sepanjang tahun.

Sejarah Masjid Nabawi

Masjid Nabawi dibina oleh RasuluLlah SAW di mana unta yang dinaiki baginda berhenti ketika tiba di Madinah. Keluasan asalnya kira-kira 1,060 meter persegi sahaja. Diperluaskan lagi oleh Rasulullah SAW, diikuti oleh para Khulafa ar-Rasyidin, khalifah Kerajaan Islam dan pemimpin Islam.

Terkini luas masjid sahaja mencapai hampir 93,000 meter persegi. Dilengkapi pula dengan dataran solat berjubin serta kemudahan tandas, bilik mandi dan tempat wuduk menjadikan luas keseluruhannya sekitar 400,327 meter persegi.

Binaan bangunan Masjid Nabawi amat indah dan menakjubkan. Di malam hari cahaya lampu menyimbahi alam sekitar dengan struktur masjid jelas kelihatan. Di siang hari pula bukaan payung-payung meredupkan persekitaran. Sayap payung mengepak tika matahari mulai bersinar dan mengucup tika matahari hampir terbenam. Fenomena yang amat cantik.

Selama ini kami hanya melihat Masjid Nabawi melalui foto dan juga dokumentari sahaja. SubhanaLlah, kini ianya benar-benar di hadapan mata. Lebih menyeronokkan lagi, kami antara jemaah yang turut mendatanginya di setiap waktu azan dikumandangkan. Allahu Akbar... suatu ni'mat yang tidak terucap dek kata-kata.. Terima kasih Ya Allah kerana mengizinkan kami sampai di masjid kekasihMu ini.

Raudhah

Ketika di Masjid Nabawi, tumpuan utama para jemaah adalah di suatu ruangan berpermaidani hijau (kawasan lain berpermaidani merah) yang diselangi tiang-tiang bersalut marmar putih dengan lampu-lampu kendil mewah bergantungan. Itulah Raudah (salah sebuah taman syurga). Luasnya kira-kira 330 meter persegi sahaja. Letaknya antara maqam RasuluLlah SAW (asalnya rumah baginda SAW bersama Saidatina Aisyah) dan mimbarnya, tempat baginda SAW berkhutbah.

Sabda RasuluLlah SAW,"Apa yang ada antara rumahku dan mimbarku adalah Raudhah (sebuah taman) dari taman-taman syurga" (Riwayat Bukhari)

Ketika memasuki Masjid Nabawi, sambil memimpin tangan anak bongsu, Imran; mata saya melilau mencari di mana dia tempat yang dinamakan Raudhah. Sememangnya saya tidak tahu di mana lokasinya walaupun pernah melihat fotonya.

Malu sendiri dibuatnya kerana tanpa disangka-sangka, beberapa meter dari tempat yang sering kami bersolat itulah Raudhah. Patutlah tampak lebih ekslusif dari sekitarnya dan bersesak-sesak jemaah di dalamnya.

Bagi jemaah lelaki, ianya dibuka sepanjang masa. Sukar sekali untuk memasuki Raudhah ketika waktu puncak iaitu sebelum dan selepas solat fardhu. Kerap kali saya mencuba tetapi hampa. Tidak tahan dihimpit oleh jemaah yang lebih kuat dan sasa badannya.

Pilihan saya, datang sekitar jam 9:00 pagi ketika ramai jemaah telah kembali ke rumah/hotel. Beberapa kali saya mendatanginya, AlhamduliLlah dipermudahkanNya untuk bersolat dan bermunajat. Cuma tidak boleh berlama-lamaan kerana ada pengawal yang menjaganya. Kerap kedengaran suara "Hajj-hajj-hajj" meminta jemaah mengungsi keluar. Pandai-pandailah untuk mengelak seperti beralih tempat solat, memilih sudut-sudut jauh dari pandangan dan juga memanjangkan sujud untuk berdoa kepadaNya.

Manakala bagi jemaah wanita pula, mereka dibenarkan berkunjung ke Raudhah 3 kali sehari sahaja - pagi (mulai jam 9:00), petang (jam 3:00) dan malam (jam 11:00). Lazimnya mereka dikumpulkan mengikut benua/kawasan. Selalunya jemaah Nusantara antara kumpulan terakhir. Apakan daya, itulah aturannya. Sewajarnya waktu menunggu digunakan untuk mendekatkan diri kepadaNya.

Maqam RasuluLlah SAW

Tarikan lain adalah maqam RasuluLlah SAW dan 2 sahabat rapat baginda; Saidina Abu Bakar as Siddiq dan Saidina Umar al Khattab. Ianya terletak di sebelah kiri Raudhah dan lebih mudah untuk diziarahi. Biasanya dikerumuni ramai seusai solat fardhu. Ketika mengunjunginya, usah lupa ucapkan salam pada baginda dan para sahabat.

Sabda RasuluLlah SAW,"Barangsiapa yang menziarahiku di saat hidup dan setelah matiku, maka seakan-akan ia menziarahiku ketika hidupku".

Dengan kata lain, amat tidak beradab @ biadab sekali jika tidak menziarahi maqam baginda SAW, apatah lagi dengan akuan RasuluLlah SAW seperti di atas.

Sebelum meninggalkan bumi Madinah, amat disarankan untuk melakukan Ziarah Wida' ke maqam baginda bagi mengucapkan salam perpisahan. Tersentuh hati ini mengenangkan entah bila akan ketemu lagi baginda yang amat disayangi. Selamat Tinggal Ya RasuluLlah.

Mihrab-Mimbar-Suffah

Di dalam Raudhah juga terdapat Mihrab Nabi, di mana RasuluLlah SAW mengimami solat jemaah bersama para sahabat. Kini telah tidak digunakan setelah bahagian hadapan Raudhah diperluaskan sehingga dibina mihrab baru dikenali sebagai Mihrab Uthman. Inilah mihrab solat sekarang. Terdapat beberapa mihrab lagi iaitu Mihrab Tahajjud RasuluLlah SAW, Mihrab Fathimah AzZahra dan Mihrab Hanafi/Sulaiman.

Mimbar Nabi terletak di sebelah kanan Mihrab Nabi di dalam Raudhah. Mimbar asal telah terbakar dan kini dibina mimbar baru di tempat yang sama. Baginda SAW mengatakan bahawa mimbarnya terletak di atas taman dari taman-taman syurga.

Tiang-tiang bermarmar putih di dalam Raudhah mempunyai nama dan sejarahnya tersendiri, antaranya Tiang Aisyah, Tiang Taubat, Tiang Ali, Tiang Tahajjud, Tiang Jibril, Tiang Wufud dan sebagainya.

Di bahagian belakang maqam terletaknya sebuah pentas kecil, dikenali sebagai Suffah. Di zaman RasuluLlah SAW, suffah adalah tempat berteduh bagi para musafir, fakir miskin dan para penuntut ilmu. Abu Hurairah r/anhu adalah antara penghuni suffah.

Babus Salam adalah pintu tumpuan para jemaah, laluan utama melintasi hadapan Raudhah, maqam RasuluLlah SAW, mihrab Uthman dan maqam Jibril yang bersambungan dengan Babul Baqi' yang menghadap Perkuburan Jannatul Baqi'.

Demikianlah sepintas lalu bahagian dalaman Masjid Nabawi terutama di ruangan hadapannya. Sebenarnya banyak lagi yang ingin diceritakan, rasanya cukup setakat ini. Jika ada pun akan disentuh secara lalu dalam entri seterusnya.

Catatan Madinah : Masjid Nabawi 2

Masih lagi kisah di Masjid Nabawi.

Pintu-pintu masuk ke Masjid Nabawi terlalu banyak, tidak terkira. Pernah diberitahu angkanya tetapi dah lupa...8)

Sekitar Raudhah

Dari hotel penginapan Elyas Silver, bersama Imran selalunya kami memasuki BabusSalam ataupun pintu berdekatannya, Babul Siddiq atau Babul Rahmah. Lokasi tumpuan kami adalah di sebelah kiri Raudhah ataupun di belakangnya. Nak masuk ke Raudhah memang tiada ruang lagi.

Inilah ruangan yang paling padat ketika waktu solat. Langkah bahu/ paha dan terhentak kepala lutut adalah perkara biasa. Namun saya menyukai ruang ini kerana meyakini inilah juga sebahagian daripada masjid di zaman RasuluLlah SAW. Duduk dan bersolat bersama bayangan para sahabat baginda yang amat disayanginya. Auranya lebih terasa.

Apabila penuh, ruangan ini selalunya ditutup dengan lingkungan tabir putih dan hanya BabusSalam dan Babul Baqi' sahaja dibuka.

Ruangan Lain

Adakalanya kami memasuki pintu utama di belakang masjid iaitu Babul Fahd. Sekadar bersolat di ruangan belakang. Jauh dari ruangan padat di hadapan. Memandang ke kiri dan ke kanan, nun saujana mata memandang. Betapa luasnya ruangan solat di bahagian belakang.

Ketika solat Zohor dan Asar ianya agak lenggang. Hairannya ketika solat, para jemaah di belakang tidak bergerak memenuhi saf-saf di hadapan. Mereka membina saf-saf sendiri, berkelompok di sana sini. Mungkin jaraknya yang jauh, khuatir terlepas rakaat bersama imam.

Sesekali kami bersolat di dataran sahaja, biasanya ketika solat Maghrib dan Isyak. Ada ketikanya Imran tampak begitu mengantuk, selepas Maghrib terus tertidur. Jadi ruangan solat di dataran lebih selesa dan tidak menganggu jemaah lain. Udaranya pula nyaman sekali.

Bagi jemaah wanita, ruangan yang dikhaskan terletak di bahagian belakang masjid. Terdapat 3 arah utama untuk memasuknya iaitu dari kanan, kiri dan belakang masjid.

Datang Awal

Biasanya kami mendatangi masjid kira-kira 1-2 jam awal sebelum masuk waktu solat. Untuk waktu Subuh, azan pertama akan dikumandangkan sejam sebelum masuk waktu. Ada masa untuk kami bersolat sunat dan membaca Al-Quran.

Imran yang lancar bacaan Qurannya; dengan suara kanak-kanak dan sedikit kuat sering menarik perhatian para jemaah, terutama di kalangan warga Turki. Mungkin sejarah penjajahan minda oleh bapa sekular, Kamal Antartuk menjadikan mereka terharu. Selalunya ada buah tangan untuk Imran samada duit, kurma ataupun manisan. Terima kasih...8)

Solat Jenazah

Hampir setiap waktu, selepas solat fardhu akan ada solat jenazah. Seusai salam, muazzin akan mengumumkannya. Bilik jenazah hanya bersebelahan mihrab imam, jadi masa menunggunya tidak lama. Tidak seumpama di Masjidil Haram.

Selalu terdetik di hati, alangkah bertuahnya mereka yang meninggal dunia di bumi Madinah. Teringat akan sabda RasuluLlah SAW,"Barangsiapa yang mampu mati di Madinah, matilah kerana aku akan memberi syafaatku untuk sesiapa yang mati di Madinah".

Teringat akan penulis Travelog Haji, Prof. Dr. Hj. Muhd Kamil Ibrahim, bekas pensyarah UiTM bersama keluarga sanggup berhijrah ke Madinah semata-mata ingin berjiran dengan RasuluLlah SAW. Mati di Madinah adalah antara impian mereka. Betapa murninya.

Pemeriksaan Keselamatan

Di setiap pintu masuk masjid, pasti ada 2 orang pengawal yang mengawasi jemaah yang masuk.

Bagi jemaah wanita, pengawasannya agak ketat. Beg yang dibawa lazimnya akan diseluk. Kamera, telefon bimbit dan marker pen adalah antara barangan terlarang. Jadi pandai-pandailah sembunyikan jika ingin dibawa masuk, jika tidak akan dirampas atau solatlah di dataran sahaja.

Bagi jemaah lelaki lain pula halnya. Pemeriksaan hanya dilakukan sekali sekala sahaja. Melainkan beg besar dibawa masuk. Setakat beg selempang dan beg selipar biasanya tidak diendahkan. Jemaah yang merakamkan foto di dalam masjid adalah lumrah. Malah selamba sahaja dilakukan di Raudhah dan hadapan maqam RasuluLlah SAW walaupun dilarang oleh pengawal bertugas.

Waqaf Al-Quran

Ianya sering dilakukan oleh para jemaah. Seringkali dikirimkan oleh ahli keluarga, saudara mara dan rakan taulan sebelum bertolak ke Tanah Suci. Jika tidak dikirimkan pun amat baik sekali untuk beramal jariah bagi pihak ahli keluarga yang lain.

Cuma perlu diingatkan hanya Mushaf Madinah yang dikeluarkan oleh kilang percetakan Raja Fahd sahaja diterima oleh pihak masjid. Biasanya terdapat 2 saiz iaitu besar dan sederhana. Saiz besar, kulitnya berwarna biru dengan tali penanda dalam juga biru berharga SR100/mushaf. Manakala saiz sederhana, kulitnya hijau dengan tali penanda berwarna kuning berharga SR50/mushaf. Kedua-duanya terdapat cop mohor di muka surat terakhir mushaf.

Mushaf selain Mushaf Madinah akan dikeluarkan dari rak-rak Al-Quran oleh para petugas masjid dan dihantar ke masjid-masjid di luar Masjid Nabawi ataupun ke negara-negara umat Islam lain.

Kami sendiri pun awalnya terbeli mushaf berkulit hijau tetapi talinya berwarna biru, berharga SR20/mushaf yang dijual di pintu masuk. Sebaiknya dibeli di kedai-kedai buku. Bertanyalah pada penjual yang rata-rata mampu berbahasa Melayu atau mutawwif yang mengiringi jemaah.

Air Zam-Zam

Di Masjid Nabawi, air zam-zam disediakan di merata tempat, samada di dalam tangki di dataran ataupun deretan tong-tong di dalam masjid, berserta cawan plastik pakai buang. Terima kasih Ya Allah. Inilah antara ni'mat kurniaanMu yang amat disyukuri. Peluang keemasan yang tidak sewajarnya terlepas begitu sahaja.

RasuluLlah SAW bersabda,"Sebaik-baik air di muka bumi adalah air zam-zam. Padanya ada zat makanan dan penyembuh daripada setiap penyakit. Ia memberi faedah mengikut niat meminumnya".

Setiap kali meneguknya, disunatkan berdoa memohon pada Allah SWT akan ilmu yang bermanafaat, rezeki yang luas lagi barakah dan penawar bagi setiap penyakit. Itulah yang diajarkan oleh RasuluLlah SAW.

Tempat Selipar/Kasut

Lazimnya para jemaah akan membawa masuk selipar/ sandal/ kasut bersama mereka dan diletakkan berhampiran tempat solat yang dipilih. Terdapat banyak rak disediakan di luar pintu masuk dan juga di dalam masjid (rak putih bernombor). Cuma ingat lokasi ataupun nombor rak sahaja.

Namun ramai juga para jemaah yang membawa masuk sehingga ke ruang solat, samada diletakkan di kaki tiang ataupun di hadapan saf. Tiada siapa yang melarang. Sebaiknya dimasukkan ke dalam beg khas untuk selipar, lebih kemas dan tidak berbau. Kelebihannya mudah untuk keluar dari mana-mana pintu dan sentiasa di bawah pengawasan.

Insya Allah dalam entri berikutnya akan berkisar tentang ziarah
 http://salam-monash.blogspot.com/

          Lowongan Kerja PT. Lava Mobile Indonesia Trainer Technician Sales Eksekutif        
PT lava Mobile Indonesia adalah salah satu perusahaan multinasional smartphone dengan kantor pusat di Cina. Kami memiliki operasi di luar negeri di Thailand Nepal Bangladesh Srilanka Pakistan Mexico Middle East dan Rusia Kini membuka ...

           Summit Group aiming to raise $1 bln to expand its power business         
Bangladesh’s Summit Group wants to raise $1 billion on the international capital markets to fund the expansion of its power business.
           ONGC Videsh to spend $150 mln on exploring Colombia and elsewhere         
ONGC Videsh plans to invest $150 million in exploration during the current fiscal year to drill wells in Bangladesh, Colombia and Kazakhsta
          Vodafone: nuova offerta C’all Giga con Minuti e 10 Giga in 4G per chi è nato in Bangladesh, Cina, India e Marocco        
[Anteprima MondoMobileWeb*] Dal 25 Luglio al 31 Agosto 2017, salvo eventuali cambiamenti, tutti i nuovi clienti Vodafone con codice fiscale del Marocco, India, Cina e Bangladesh, in alcuni rivenditori Vodafone aderenti, potranno attivare la nuova offerta speciale ricaricabile Vodafone C’all Giga a 10 euro ogni 4 settimane a tempo indeterminato. Rispetto alla versione C’All Super, ci sono 6 Giga in... Leggi Tutto »
          Semangkuk Meggi 3 : Rebat RM200 untuk telefon bimbit.        
Assalamualaikum. Haha. Lama dah tak update ni. Bukan busy tapi malas nak menaip. Idea pun kering nak kongsi dalam blog ni. Tapi takpa, lepas ni mungkin aku akan selalu update. Muahaha.


Oklah isu kali ni berkenaan dengan Rebat RM200 untuk telefon pintar.



Pergh gila ah. Dapat rebat beb. Cayalah kerajaan. Memang rakyat didahulukan betul! - Mahasiswa Universiti swasta.



Haha, suka kan? dapat rebat untuk beli handphone. Bukan senang nak dapat tu. RM200 pula tu. Dah la banyak, handphone sekarang pun makin murah. memang akan dapat lebih penjimatan la. Haha


Semua orang pun suka dapat bonus. Rebat ni pun kiranya macam reward dari kerajaan sebab jadi rakyat Malaysia bawah umur 30 tahun. Bangladesh, Nepal, Honduras, Brazil dan Uruguay tak dapat rebat ni beb. Nak dapat kena lahir kat Malaysia dulu atau jadi warganegara Malaysia yang bertauliah. Haha. Sekarang telefon pintar ni dah merata ada, baik yang murah mahupun yang mahal. Peranti Android dikatakan lebih ekonomi dan mesra pelanggan berbanding dengan peranti yang lain. Ada kelebihan dan kelemahan masing-masing.


Ok stop dulu bebel benda yang menyimpang tajuk tadi, kita fokus pada tajuk utama. Mungkin orang ramai masih tak nampak apa yang dimaksudkan dengan pemberian rebat ini. Rebat ini untuk membantu belia-belia negara kita untuk lebih berilmu pengetahuan dalam bidang teknologi selain membantu rakyat yang kurang berkemampuan untuk membeli gajet ini. Dalam membuat permohanan rebat ini, anda perlu meneliti beberapa terma dan syarat yang telah ditetapkan. Syarat-syaratnya adalah :


  • Hanya untuk rakyat Malaysia yang berumur dari 21-30 tahun
  • Pendapatan bulanan adalah sebanyak RM3,000 dan ke bawah
  • Model Telefon Pintar (Smartphone) bawah harga RM500
  • Setiap Belia hanya layak untuk membeli satu telefon pintar
  • Pelanggan boleh menggunakan jalur lebar mudah alih mereka yang sedia ada atau memohon untuk pakej baru



Abaikan syarat yang ketiga. Kerajaan telah meminda syarat untuk menghadkan hanya telefon pintar RM500 kebawah. Kiranya kerajaan dah setuju untuk membolehkan semua jenis telefon pintar layak untuk menggunakan rebat ini.


Aku hanya tertarik dengan syarat kelima. Syarat untuk memohon pakej baru.


Ermmmmm . . . . . . . 


Apa pandangan hangpa semua? Nak pakai rebat ni kena daftar pakej postpaid baru. Mungkin ada diantara kita yang agak keberatan terutamanya pelajar universiti. Mana tak nya nak kena bayar sewa rumah, makan minum, buku, alat tulis. Macam-macam lagi la.


Aku bukan tak bersyukur, jangan pulak anda semua salah anggap. Tapi aku simpati dengan orang yang tak berkemampuan kalau bertul-betul nak pakai telefon pintar ni tiba tiba kena langgan postpaid dahulu. Mungkin mereka agak keberatan. Aku pun agak keberatan juga sebabnya aku cuma pakai BIS sebulan RM20 ringgit saja. Tak mampu den nak pakai postpaid bulanan dan ikat kontrak dengan syarikat perkhitmatan talian. Kepada yang sudah sedia ada mengguna khidmat pascabayar, ini satu kelebihan pada mereka.


Mungkin ada yang tak bersetuju dengan pendapat aku. Aku tak kisah. Cuma rasa tak berbaloi semata-mata nak rebat ni kena ikat kontrak selama setahun. Ada yang dua tahun. Kepada yang mampu tu, sila abaikan pendapat aku. Haha


Kerajaan cuma nak membantu, aku faham niat mereka. Sebab aku pun memohon rebat ni. Aku rasa prabayar pun sudah memadai untuk melayari internet jika diperlukan. Mungkin di rumah sudah tersedia WIFI. 


Jangan ambil hati dengan nukilan aku ni ye. Hehehehe




          Pay now to protect 1 billion people from coastal floods        

As sea levels rise, so will the costs of dealing with it, Christian Aid reminds us in a report released today.

“Spending money now on reducing the risk of disasters will save money and lives later,” said report author Dr Alison Doig in a statement.

More than one billion people will be exposed to coastal flooding by 2060, the report says. Most of them will be in Asia, where the seven most vulnerable cities are. India’s Kolkata and Mumbai top the list, followed by the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

The nation with the most people living in areas vulnerable to coastal flooding is China, home to six of the 20 most financially vulnerable cities.

Four of the other top 20 cities are in the United States, including the city with the most materially to lose: Miami. With $3.5 trillion worth of exposed assets, it is projected to pay the highest cost of coastal flooding by 2070.

The growth of coastal populations combined with rising sea levels due to climate change has created “a perfect storm”, said Doig.

 

Poor people will bear the brunt of it. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called for the percentage of global aid for disaster risk reduction to be doubled to one percent, or one billion dollars. The report’s authors suggest raising that figure to 5 percent, arguing that although it sounds like a large amount: it’s better to pay that now than to pay more later.

jf/ag

Ocean waves Maps and Graphics Environment and Disasters Climate change Cities Pay now to protect 1 billion people from coastal floods Jared Ferrie IRIN 20 cities most at risk from flooding PHNOM PENH Africa Somalia Americas Asia Bangladesh China India Malaysia Myanmar Vietnam Europe Egypt
          Scientists help Vietnam’s rice farmers adapt to climate change, amid major drought        
Scientists are developing more resistant varieties of rice to help farmers in Vietnam adapt to climate change, amid the country’s worst drought in 90 years. 
 
The drought, as well as the related flow of saltwater upriver, has destroyed 159,000 hectares of rice paddies and left almost one million people lacking drinking water, according to a new UN report. Another half million hectares are expected to be damaged by mid-year.
 
In line with its work in other Asian countries, the Philippines-based International Rice Research Institute has been breeding high quality “climate-smart rice varieties” that mature quickly, can tolerate salt, and are designed specifically for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, Reiner Wassmann, the project leader, told IRIN.
 
The delta region, one of the worst-hit by the drought, accounted for half the country’s rice production and 90 percent of its exports last year. 
 
Salt resistant rice seedlings
IRRI
Nguyen Thi Lang of the Cuu Long Delta Rice Research Institute displays rice seedlings engineered to withstand drought, floods and saltwater
 
The drought is linked to El Nino, which is disrupting weather patterns around the world, while saltwater intrusion occurs annually. But the drought has made it worse: the saltwater arrived about two months earlier than usual and has extended around 25 kilometers further inland than average because river levels were lower than any year since record-keeping began one century ago.
 
In the midst of a drought in 2014, the government urged farmers in the northern and central regions to shift from rice to more drought-resistant crops.
 
Scientists say that this year’s emergency is only a taste of what’s to come, as climate change leads to more frequent and intense droughts and rising sea levels. That’s bad news for rice farmers, as well as Vietnam’s economy and its 90 million people. 
 
Rice is a staple at dinner tables throughout the country and an important export. Only India and Thailand exported more rice than Vietnam last year, according to the IRRI. 
 
SEE: Key facts about rice
 
Wassmann’s team have also developed water management techniques to allow farmers to reduce the risk of losing their crops, which can be destroyed if they are inundated with salt water right before and right after flowering. 
 
In addition, to mitigate the risk from drought, IRRI developed a cycle of draining and re-flooding paddies, which can save water use by as much as 25 percent while cutting the cost to farmers of pumping water for irrigation. 
 
Rice researcher in Vietnam
IRRI
A rice researcher tests a technique of draining and flooding paddies
 
Wassmann said he hopes to secure funding to continue working in the delta and recommended that authorities "fast-track the development and delivery of short duration, good quality rice with enhanced salt tolerance".
 
Such strains and strategies will become more important as Vietnam plans to increase rice production just as the effects of climate change become more severe. 
Vietnam doubled rice production over the past two decades after being a net importer. In 2014, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development announced a national strategy to further increase production. 
 
Research conducted in Vietnam also feeds into a larger IRRI programme aimed at adapting rice farming to various aspects of climate change in different countries. For example, IRRI has developed drought-tolerant varieties of rice being farmed in India, Nepal, the Philippines and Bangladesh. 
 
Similar work is aimed at protecting against flooding: one variety of rice is infused with a “scuba” gene to allow it to be submerged for two weeks. It is being grown in flood-prone areas of countries like Myanmar, Laos and Indonesia. Scientists are also transferring the gene into varieties of rice in Africa.
 
jf/ha
rice_1.jpg News Solutions and Innovations Environment and Disasters Climate change Food Scientists help Vietnam’s rice farmers adapt to climate change, amid major drought Jared Ferrie IRIN PHNOM PENH Asia Vietnam
          Flooded mines cause toxic sludge in Vietnam        

Toxic sludge that spilled out of open pit coal mines during 10 days of heavy rains may have seriously contaminated farmland, rivers and coastal areas in northern Vietnam.

Flooding has killed 30 people, wiped out roads and damaged thousands of homes, the United Nations said in a situation report on Wednesday. The UN also warned of potential risks to the environment, health and water sanitation after coal mines in Quang Ninh province flooded, spilling thick streams of dark sludge into the countryside.

While flooding damaged water supply systems across northern Vietnam, where people now lack clean drinking water, the situation in Quang Ninh is the worst by far due to the toxic floods, said Truong Manh Tien, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Economy and Environment, a Hanoi-based nongovernmental organization.

“Water supplies contaminated with coal mud, chemical and other substances cannot be purified in a simple manner,” he told IRIN on Thursday.

 

Tien said authorities are prioritising clean-up efforts as contaminated floodwater is also threatening farmland and fish stocks downstream. He added that there is a risk that huge amounts of coal mud and chemicals will soon be pouring into Ha Long Bay.


A World Heritage Site, Ha Long Bay is one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations, with craggy limestone islands towering over emerald green waters in the Tonkin Gulf.

Government officials and relief agencies have warned that the area could be seriously contaminated.

Dang Huy Hau, vice chairman of the People's Committee of Quang Ninh, which governs the province, told the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper that coal dust and mud has polluted many rivers and streams running into the bay.

“There are increasing concerns regarding environmental issues due to the sludge of coal mines in Quang Ninh, particularly the future risk to the Ha Long Bay,” said the UN report.

Rivers of slurry also destroyed and damaged homes homes in populated areas of the province, according to the UN. After a dam broke on 30 July, sludge flowed into the city of Cam Pha, where some residents waded into the polluted waters to collect coal.

Coal companies, including the state-owned Vietnam National Coal and Mineral Industries Corp (Vinacomin), which operates mainly in Quang Ninh, rushed to pump water out of their mines. 

“Vinacomin is stepping up efforts to overcome consequences so as to revive coal production fully soon,” Nguyen Ngoc Co, the company’s deputy general director, told IRIN. As of Thursday, Vinacomin had resumed half its production in the province, he said.

Co declined to comment on what actions his company would take to clean up the toxic slurry flowing out of the mines.

Toxic waste has also escaped from three flooded coal-fired power plants, according to Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental organisation based in New York.

It was “encouraging” that the government had deployed a disaster response team, the organisation said in a statement issued from Quang Ninh on 1 August.

But the group warned of the “likelihood of both immediate and ongoing health and environmental hazards” from chemicals - including arsenic, cadmium and lead - that have emanated from flooded mines and power plants.

Weeks of heavy rain have brought flooding and devastation to countries across Asia.

In Myanmar, flooding has killed more than 88 people and inundated more than 1 million acres of farmland, posing a risk to food security, according to the UN.

Flooding in Pakistan has killed 169 people and affected almost one million, the National Disaster Management Authority said.

Flood-related deaths have also been reported in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

dv/jf/ag

 

101834 The Mong Duong coal mine in Vietnam's Quang Ninh province was inundated with floodwater in August 2015 News Environment and Disasters Floods cause toxic sludge in Vietnam IRIN HANOI Vietnam
          Killing us softly         

A recent public outcry in China, sparked by a damning documentary about air pollution, was based on well-founded fear:

Of the 100 million people who viewed the film on the first day of its online release, 172,000 are likely to die each year from air pollution-related diseases, according to regional trends.* 

Worldwide, pollution kills twice as many people each year as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined,** but aid policy has consistently neglected it as a health risk, donors and experts say. 

Air pollution alone killed seven million people in 2012, according to World Health Organization (WHO) figures released last year, most of them in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in the Asia Pacific region.*** 

In a self-critical report released late last month the World Bank acknowledged that it had treated air pollution as an afterthought, resulting in a dearth of analysis of the problem and spending on solutions. 

“We now need to step up our game and adopt a more comprehensive approach to fixing air quality,” the authors wrote in Clean Air and Healthy Lungs. “If left unaddressed, these problems are expected to grow worse over time, as the world continues to urbanise at an unprecedented and challenging speed.”

A second report released last month by several organisations – including the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution, an international consortium of UN organisations, governments, development banks, NGOs and academics – also called for more funding towards reducing pollution. 

“Rich countries, multilateral agencies and organisations have forgotten the crippling impacts of pollution and fail to make it a priority in their foreign assistance,” the authors wrote. 

Housebound in China 

A dense haze obstructs visibility more often than not across China’s northern Hua Bei plain and two of its major river deltas. Less than one percent of the 500 largest cities in China meet WHO’s air quality guidelines. Anger over air pollution is a hot topic among China’s increasingly outspoken citizenry.  

“Half of the days in 2014, I had to confine my daughter to my home like a prisoner because the air quality in Beijing was so poor,” China’s well-known journalist Chai Jing said in Under the Dome, the independent documentary she released last month, which investigated the causes of China’s air pollution.

The film was shared on the Chinese social media portal Weibo more than 580,000 times before officials ordered websites to delete it. 

Beyond the silo

Traditionally left to environmental experts to tackle, the fight against pollution is increasingly recognised as requiring attention from health and development specialists too. 

“Air pollution is the top environmental health risk and among the top modifiable health risks in the world,” said Professor Michael Brauer, a public health expert at the University of British Columbia in Canada and a member of the scientific advisory panel for the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a consortium of governments and the UN Environment Programme. “Air pollution has been under-funded and its health impacts under-appreciated.”

Pollution – especially outdoor or “ambient” air pollution – is also a major drag on economic performance and limits the opportunities of the poor, according to Ilmi Granoff, an environmental policy expert at the Overseas Development Institute, a London-based think tank. It causes premature death, illness, lost earnings and medical costs – all of which take their toll on both individual and national productivity.

“Donors need to get out of the siloed thinking of pollution as an environmental problem distinct from economic development and poverty reduction,” Granoff said. 

Pollution cleanup is indeed underfunded, he added, but pollution prevention is even more poorly prioritised: “It’s underfunded in much of the developed world, in aid, and in developing country priorities, so this isn’t just an aid problem.”

Mounting evidence 

Pollution kills in a variety of ways, according to relatively recent studies; air pollution is by far the most lethal form compared to soil and water pollution. 
 

Microscopic particulate matter (PM) suspended in polluted air is the chief culprit in these deaths: the smaller the particles’ size, the deeper they are able to penetrate into the lungs.  Particles of less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) are small enough to reach the alveoli, the deepest part of the lungs, and to enter the blood stream.  

From there, PM2.5 causes inflammation and changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood clotting processes - the precursors to fatal stroke and heart disease.  PM2.5 irritates and corrodes the alveoli, which impairs lung function - a major precursor to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It also acts as a carcinogen.

Most research looks at long-term exposure to PM2.5 but even studies looking at the hours immediately following bursts of especially high ambient PM2.5 (in developed countries) show a corresponding spike in life-threatening heart attacks, heart arrhythmias and stroke.

Asia worst affected

The overwhelming majority - 70 percent - of global air pollution deaths occur in the Western Pacific and Southeast Asia regions.  South Asia has eight of the top 10 and 33 of the top 50 cities with the worst PM concentrations in the world.  

 

WHO says a city’s average annual PM levels should be 20 micrograms per cubic meter.  But cities such as Karachi, Gaborone, and Delhi have yearly PM averages above 200 micrograms per cubic meter. 

The main source of PM2.5 in indoor air, or household air, is burning solid fuels for cooking and heating, using wood, coal, dung or crop leftovers - a common practice in rural areas of low and middle-income countries that lack electricity.  

Almost three billion people live this way, the majority in the densely populated Asia Pacific region: India and China each hold about one quarter of all people who rely on solid fuels. For these people, the daily average dose of PM2.5 is often in the hundreds of micrograms per cubic meter. 

Filling the gaps

Unlike many other health risks air pollution is very cost-effective to address, Brauer said. Analysis of air quality interventions in the US suggests a return on investment of up to $30 for every dollar spent. 

“We already know how to reduce these risks, as we have done exactly that in high income countries, so this is not a matter of searching for a cure - we know what works,” he said.

But the World Bank report said that unless it starts gathering better data on local air quality in LMICs, the amounts and sources of air pollution and the full gamut of its health impacts, “it is not possible to appropriately target interventions in a cost-effective manner.”

Granoff said there are also gaps in government capacity to monitor, regulate and enforce pollution policy. 

Beijing hopes to bring PM2.5 concentrations down to safe levels by 2030, and has said it will fine big polluters. 

The World Bank report said China is also charging all enterprises fees for the pollutants they discharge; establishing a nationwide PM2.5 monitoring network; instituting pollution control measures on motor vehicles; and controlling urban dust pollution.

But enforcing environmental protections has been a longstanding problem in China.

“Pollution policy will only succeed if citizens are aware of the harm, able to organise their concern [through advocacy campaigns], and have a responsive government that prioritises public welfare over the narrower interests of polluting sectors,” Granoff said. 

While more people die from household air pollution than from ambient air pollution, the latter – through vehicles, smokestacks and open burning – still accounted for 3.7 million deaths in 2012, according to the WHO. 

A change in the air

Kaye Patdu, an air quality expert at Clean Air Asia, a Manila-based think tank - and the secretariat for the UN-backed Clean Air Asia Partnership, comprising more than 250 government, civil, academic, business and development organisations - said the aid community is finally starting to recognise the importance of tackling air pollution.  

• Last year’s inaugural UN Environment Assembly adopted a resolution calling for strengthened action on air pollution.  
• WHO Member States are planning to adopt a resolution on health and air quality at the upcoming World Health Assembly in May. 
• The proposed Sustainable Development Goals, which will set the post-2015 international development agenda, address city air quality and air, soil and water pollution. 

None of the experts IRIN contacted could provide a breakdown of total aid spending on all forms of toxic pollution (air, water and soil pollution that is harmful to human health).  So IRIN asked each of the major global donors for their figures.  

Three responded.  

A back-of-envelope calculation of all reported spending on toxic pollution by USAID, the European Commission and the World Bank suggests that between them they committed about US$10 billion over 10 years. This does not include aid spending on the diseases that pollution causes. The World Bank’s spending figures eclipsed those of other the other donors. 

By very rough comparison, HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, with half the death toll of air pollution, received $28 billion via public sector commitments to the Global Fund – the world’s largest financier of programs that tackle these diseases – over the same period, a fraction of total spending on these diseases. 

gh/ha/bp

*Based on WHO statistics for per capita mortality rates in the Western Pacific region in 2012. 

**The mortality figures for air pollution come from 2012 statistics and were released by WHO in 2014, while the figures for the infectious diseases come from 2013 statistics and were released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in 2014 (the Global Burden of Disease study).

***Includes deaths from both household air pollution (4.3 million) and ambient air pollution (3.7 million): the combined death toll is less than the sum of the parts because many people are exposed to both. 

For more: 

The relationship between household air pollution and disease

Ambient air pollution and the risk of acute ischemic stroke 

Cardiovascular effects of exposure to ambient air pollution 

Particulate air pollution and lung function  

Long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and incidence of cerebrovascular events: Results from 11 European cohorts within the ESCAPE Project  

OECD's The Cost of Air Pollution report
 

101285 200901271.jpg Analysis Health Killing us softly Gabrielle Babbington IRIN HONG KONG Congo, Republic of Djibouti DRC Eritrea Ethiopia Kenya Rwanda Somalia Sudan Tanzania Uganda Angola Botswana Lesotho Madagascar Malawi Mauritius Mozambique Namibia Seychelles South Africa Swaziland Zambia Zimbabwe Benin Burkina Faso Cameroon Cape Verde Chad Côte d’Ivoire Equatorial Guinea Gabon Gambia Ghana Guinea Guinea-Bissau Liberia Mali Mauritania Niger Nigeria Sao Tome and Principe Senegal Sierra Leone Togo Colombia Haiti United States Bangladesh Cambodia Indonesia Iran Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Myanmar Pakistan Papua New Guinea Philippines Samoa Sri Lanka Tajikistan Thailand Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vanuatu Vietnam
          Scale of Vanuatu cyclone disaster complicates aid response        

The scale of Vanuatu’s cyclone disaster is matched only by the complexity of the required humanitarian response, according to both the government and aid workers arriving on the battered Pacific islands.

“The problem is absolutely massive,” Alice Clements, spokesperson for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Vanuatu, told IRIN. “We have simultaneous emergencies in 65 islands, with no telecoms, accessible only by boat or helicopter, in an archipelago stretching 1,300 km.”

Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale was reported by the BBC as saying the 13 March storm had "wiped out" all recent development and the country would have to rebuild "everything".

Half the population - 132,000 people - are estimated to have been affected by cyclone Pam, including 60,000 children, according to UNICEF. Initial assessments indicate 90 percent of houses have been damaged in the capital, Port Vila, with destruction on the southern island of Tanna “significantly worse”, Care Australia reported.

Twitter accounts to follow
Hanna Butler - Red Cross @hannarosebutler
OCHA - Asia Pacific             @OCHAAsiaPac
Tom Perry - CARE Australia     @thomasmperry
UNICEF - Australia       @unicefaustralia
Liam Fox - ABC News       @liamfoxabc
Radio Australia Pacific Beat     @RAPacificBeat
Tess Newton Cain             @CainTess

More than 3,300 people are sheltering in 37 evacuation centres on the islands of Torba and Penama, and the main island of Efate. But the National Disaster Management Office will need help if people remain displaced for a prolonged period. 

The humanitarian response “is almost going to be like applying a medical triage, to work out which is the most urgent”, said Clements. Aerial assessments have been carried out so far by military aircraft from Australia, New Zealand and France, with more flights scheduled for Tuesday. Commercial flights have resumed to Port Vila despite damage to the airport.

“There is need for logistics experts and light reconnaissance planes/helicopters, pilots, and fuel to deliver supplies and conduct assessments. There is also a need for sea shipping to transport food, water and rebuilding materials,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. The main hospital in Port Vila is badly damaged, patients have been transferred to a newer part of the building, “but there is an urgent need for medical supplies” and “the morgue is unserviceable”.

Twenty-four people are confirmed dead so far, but the toll is expected to rise as assessment teams reach the more remote islands.

Providing clean water for survivors is a priority. There is a risk of waterborne diseases, especially dangerous for pregnant mothers and young children, and food is also likely to be a problem in the coming days with fruit trees uprooted, root crops inundated, and animal pens destroyed by the 270 km/h winds and flooding.

“Eighty percent of Vanuatu’s population engage in subsistence agriculture as a primary economic activity. It is anticipated that emergency food relief could be needed for up to a month, plus longer term recovery support,” OCHA noted.

Vanuatu has “3,000 years of experience dealing with an incredible mind-boggling range of disasters, from earthquakes to volcanos. People have great coping mechanisms, but this was a category 5 storm," Clements said.

oa/rh

101239 Vanuatu aftermath of Cyclone Pam, 13 March 2015 News Migration Environment and Disasters Scale of cyclone Pam disaster staggering IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Vanuatu reeling from impact of cyclone Pam        

The closure of the main airport in Vanuatu is hampering the humanitarian response to cyclone Pam, which tore through the Pacific island archipelago yesterday, causing colossal damage.

The airport in the capital, Port Vila, is still flooded and trees are blocking the runway, Vincent Omuga, deputy head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Regional Office for the Pacific, said on Saturday.

“There are lots of plans to provide regional humanitarian support, but the challenge is that the airport is not open at the moment. There are indications the government will open the airport to military flights: Australia and New Zealand have plans to move in, and UNDAC [UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination] have a nine-member team on standby, but all flights are currently suspended,” Omuga told IRIN.

Reports describe the tropical cyclone packing winds of up to 270 km/h as “devastating” and potentially one of the worst weather disasters in the region. There are unconfirmed reports of casualties, but aid agencies are warning it will take several days before there is a full picture of the storm’s impact.

Omuga said the government’s priorities are to open the airport, repair damage to hospitals, and clear the roads closed by the category 5 cyclone. It is expected to declare a state of emergency to facilitate the humanitarian response.

“Power lines are still down, there is lots of damage to infrastructure and lots of houses have been destroyed. Many provinces are flooded and inaccessible, and the islands on the eastern side [of the archipelago] were especially affected,” Omuga said.

Even a temporary damage assessment in Port Vila is constrained by the extent of the flooding and the trees and debris blocking the roads. Aid workers on the ground “have not gone out of the capital, and not even all of the capital [has been surveyed]. What they are reporting is what they can see from leaving their vehicles and walking around,” said Omuga.

oa/rh

101235 Port Vila, Vanuatu, aftermath of cyclone Pam, 14 March 2015 News Environment and Disasters Aid and Policy Vanuatu reeling from cyclone Pam IRIN NAIROBI Bangladesh Indonesia Iran Kyrgyzstan Cambodia Kazakhstan Lao Peoples Democratic Republic Sri Lanka Myanmar Papua New Guinea Philippines Pakistan Thailand Tajikistan Timor-Leste Uzbekistan Vietnam Vanuatu
          Walmart Burns more Slaves in Bangladeshi Sweatshops ( Oct 8, 2013 )        
Walmart, Gap, and the lot are in cohorts with each other so they can continue to exploit slave labor in impoverished countries. Their plan is to push their slaves to the absolute limit until they literally burn in their sweatshop machine. This more than apparent in Bangladesh, this is a country where people have been […]
          Walmart’s Sweatshop Deaths tops 1000 in Bangladesh        
Merely Two Weeks after the Walmart Sweatshop Building Collapse in Savar, Dhaka in Bangladesh, which has topped the deaths of over a Thousand Wage Slaves (25 April, 2013 ), There has been Another Sweatshop Fire on 8th May 2013. This is a pattern here that is not only being followed by just one single factory […]
          Walmart Sweatshop Slave Deaths Breaks 500 Record        
Walmart rejoices as they have successfully tried to suppress their involvement in over 500 deaths in Bangladesh ( Garment Factory Collapse – 25th, April 2013 ) by putting the blame on the Building owners, and the the Government of Bangladesh. When the Corporations can easily manipulate the government, and the smaller links in the chain, […]
          Walmart Dhaka Garment SweatShop Corpses in April 2013        
Walmart as well as a number of brand names like Canada’s Joe Fresh, Western world, the Gap have outsourced their manufacturing in countries like Bangladesh where the minimum wage standards are as low as $25 a month. Women are specifically chosen as factory slaves because they can be paid much less than men. The labor costs in […]
          Walmart Bangladesh Sweatshop Factory Fire in 2012, Again        
Bharti Walmart India washes its hands yet again from the fire that happened in Bangladesh where people have been continuously dying for the last six years. There have been many complaints in the media but Walmart has gotten away with their crimes very smoothly. These factories were connected to Li & Fung, a global trading […]
          World Made by Nuts        
So yesterday was one of those days when you just know you're going to waste a bunch of time attending to annoying, but sort-of necessary, stuff.

The car has been giving some trouble, and nobody in town was able to pin it down. Yeah, it is an almost 20 year-old Corolla, so some repair work comes with the territory. It's still a whole lot cheaper than the repayments on a new or newer car, and I greatly doubt I'd find another car with similar longevity, resale value and overall reliability. But I digress...

To get the car diagnosed and fixed I took it to Dr Quincy the Car Wizard in George (he's brilliant!) which meant hanging around his office for a few hours while he sorted things out. While waiting I hobbled down the road to buy a snack – a bag of delicious mixed nuts. On the back of the bag was printed a message that made me feel eerily like Wonko the Sane.

"This product was packed in a factory that uses tree nuts."

Well, yes. I'd think so. It is, after all, a bag of mixed tree nuts.

What sort of insane, fucked up society have we become that somebody felt compelled to print a legalistic cop-out warning that the product might contain traces of nuts, on an actual bag of nuts? I don't doubt that there are some unfortunate individuals so violently allergic to nuts that they need such warnings about products that might possibly contain traces of nuts. They have my deepest sympathy. But if such a person should go out and buy and eat an actual bag of nuts,... well, that would look suspiciously like a suicide attempt.


A couple of weeks ago the news broke that the ungrounding of ice sheets in Western Antarctica is inevitable and unstoppable. We should expect a rise of about 1.2m in global sea-levels. In the words of the original paper, “this sector of West Antarctica is undergoing a marine ice sheet instability that will significantly contribute to sea level rise in decades to centuries to come.” In NASA's slightly easier-to-read synopsis, glaciologist and lead author of the paper, Eric Rignot: “The collapse of this sector of West Antarctica appears to be unstoppable”.

So. Flooding in many major cities. Goodbye to swathes of The Netherlands and Belgium, Bangladesh, south-eastern parts of the USA, and many, many more. Huge displacement of people and infrastructure. Loss of farmland. Loss of biodiversity. And that's probably just the beginning. Unstoppable.



Expect more.

Denialist nut-jobs notwithstanding, we've known for decades that this is coming. Yet we've done absolutely nothing to stop, or even slow, the process, despite the clear and incontrovertible evidence that it is the industrial-capitalist economy that is the primary driver of current global climate change.

You may note that, when we chose our farm, the altitude of the land above sea-level was an explicit selection criterion. We're above 200m. I've made plans for a jetty1.

We've known for decades that this is one inevitable result of unremittingly pouring millions of tonnes of Carbon into the atmosphere year after year. We've known and done nothing. We totally ignored the warnings printed on the packet. Well, that looks suspiciously like a suicide attempt.

My personal conclusion is that nothing can save the mass of us humans from a massive population reduction short of the total, immediate shutdown of industrial activity. And, even if we did manage to implement such a shutdown, we're still in for a solid smack from our mother Earth. Not going to happen, though, is it?

And even as we speak, Eskom, our state-owned electricity monopoly is forging ahead with their plans for three new nuclear power stations, even though the selected sites are likely to be inundated before construction is complete. What sort of insanity is this that ignores incontrovertible evidence before us, yet persists in selecting against survival in favour of this quarter's profits; in favour of stupendous, largely useless, personal "wealth"; in favour of some mythical "progress" chimerical "economic growth"?

Remember, too, that nature seldom works in a gradual, incremental manner. She works by catastrophe: One heavy rain and the Goukamma River changed course overnight, taking a section of the Buffalo Bay Road with it; one heavy rainfall and the slope beneath the George-Wilderness railway line slid into the sea taking the rails to Dave Jones' locker; one smallish earthquake and the town of Ceres was nearly wiped off the map. This is how natural forces normally work. So the statement that we can expect 1.2m of sea-level rise by the end of the century should not give too much comfort. No doubt politicians will read it as "plenty of time, and my term of office will be over long before anything has to be done," but I'll remind them that the major part of that sea-level rise could just as easily happen over mere days or weeks. It will still be "by the end of the century," just a lot more abrupt than any worldly-wise scientist would be willing to put their name to.

Is there anything we can say or do to wake people up from the collective insanity of sitting on our hands doing nothing? I sadly, dejectedly confess that I can't think of anything.

Written from Outside The Asylum.

[1] Joking.
          Comment on Sundarban Package 3 by Gosta Lynga        
Hi again, I wrote to you on Oct 14 regarding a Sundarban tour. In addition, I would like your advice on a hotel in Dhaka since its address is needed to obtain a Visa to Bangladesh. As I said earlier I arrive from Paro at 12.45 on Dec 9 and would require a single room of average quality. Gosta Lynga
          Comment on Sundarban Package 1 by Gosta Lynga        
Hi, I am planning to visit Bangladesh, arriving from Paro to Dhaka at 12.45 on Dec 9. I am leaving on Dec 16 at 13.40 to Bangkok. I would very much like to include a good trip through the Sundarbans National Park and it seems to me that your Package 1 gives quite some time in the area. The return trip from Dhaka to Khulna seems to be easiest done by bus. Please advise me on availability and cost. If you have tours with more time spent in the Sunderbans, please tell me about that as well. Regards, Gosta
          2 Bangladeshi Sluts Picked Up By Two Guys To Fuck In The Jungle        
Watch 2 Bangladeshi Sluts Picked Up By Two Guys To Fuck In The Jungle on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
          The Bangladesh Paradox: exceptional health and sanitation advances despite poverty        
Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC on the Bangladesh public health miracle, aid or trade, arsenic, floating latrines and the post-2015 development agenda. By Cor Dietvorst and Vera van der Grift, IRC Originally posted on the IRC web site, 01 August 2014 … Continue reading
          Evaluating Aid for Trade on the Ground: Lessons from Bangladesh        

Aid for Trade Series: Issue Paper 29 Contributors: Fahmida Khatun, Samina Hossain and Nepoleon Dewan Publication Period: December 2013 With about USD 392 million per year received since 2006, Bangladesh is among the top 15 recipients of Aid for Trade (AfT) funds. Indeed, AfT commitments increased by 35 percent since the AfT initiative was initiated in 2005, …

The post Evaluating Aid for Trade on the Ground: Lessons from Bangladesh appeared first on Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).


          The Rani Re-Rolling Mills Ltd.| Best Steel & Rod company in Bangladesh        
For the development of any modern economy, steel is vital and is considered to be the backbone of human civilization. The Steel industry is an established and growing industry in Bangladesh. The Rani Re-Rolling Mills Ltd. Is the leading Steel and Rod Company in Bangladesh.
          Challenging innovators to find new ways to make disaster risk information accessible to all        
Mapping damage after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines. GFDRR


Sometimes the impacts of disasters seem difficult to predict, such as when the heavy snow that set off deadly avalanches in Afghanistan this winter also damaged transmission lines, disrupting the flow of electricity imported from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and resulting in power outages in Kabul. Other times the consequences seem almost inevitable, for example the likelihood of a devastating earthquake in the Ganges Basin of India, Nepal and Bangladesh within our lifetime.

There are, however, tools and models that allow us to determine the potential impacts of a disaster before they happen, and provide decision-makers with information they can use to reduce the potential impact.


          Homemade Sextape In Bangladesh        
Watch Homemade Sextape In Bangladesh on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
          Burma: National Commission Denies Atrocities        

Vice President Myint Swe speaks at a press conference of the government commission’s final report on the Rakhine State investigation in Rangoon, Burma, August 6, 2017.

© 2017 AP/Thein Zaw

(New York) – A Burmese government commission has dismissed allegations of serious human rights violations by security forces in Rakhine State without a credible basis, Human Rights Watch said today. On August 6, 2017, the National Investigation Commission on Rakhine State, headed by Vice President Myint Swe, held a news conference on their findings into alleged abuses against ethnic Rohingya, following a nine-month domestic inquiry.

The commission’s wholesale rejection of grave abuses despite considerable evidence from independent sources, coupled with the Burmese army’s earlier inadequate investigation, demonstrates the urgent need for the government to allow full access to the United Nations-mandated, international fact-finding mission, Human Rights Watch said.

“The commission’s findings are just the latest attempt to sweep under the rug the massive abuses against the Rohingya last year,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “These atrocities aren’t going to disappear, so the sooner the UN fact-finding mission is allowed into Burma, the sooner those responsible can be identified and redress provided to the victims.”

In a summary of its report obtained by Human Rights Watch, the commission concludes it could not confirm cases of rape, gang rape, torture, and killings in the villages it visited. The commission found that 1152 buildings were destroyed in 13 villages, but said it was too difficult to establish who set fire to the buildings. The report noted that in February and March, 21 cases were filed in court for murder, rape, arson, destruction of evidence, loss of property and wrongful death, but every complaint was dismissed after an investigation, saying that some complaints were fabricated.

The Investigation Commission on Rakhine State’s inept inquiry provides the strongest case yet for Burma letting in the UN fact-finding mission. Burma’s donors and diplomatic friends should tell the government to end their tactics of denial and obfuscation, and cease denying victims their right to the truth.

Phil Robertson

Deputy Director, Asia

Swe reportedly told journalists, “There is no possibility of crimes against humanity, no evidence of ethnic cleansing, as per UN accusations.” He also rejected the possibility that genocide had occurred. The commission in its summary conceded that there could have been security force abuses that have not been exposed and others that needed further investigation.

The 13-member commission used investigative methods that produced incomplete, inaccurate, and false information, Human Rights Watch said. According to reports by local groups, witness accounts, and publicly released footage, the commission’s investigators badgered villagers, argued with them, told them not to say things, accused them of lying, and interviewed victims – including rape survivors – in large groups where confidentiality was not provided.

The commission’s mandate encompassed an investigation into allegations of abuses in northern Rakhine State following the attacks on three police outposts by alleged Rohingya militants on October 9, 2016. The report summary criticized the UN for not taking into consideration these attacks by militants and for focusing on the actions of the security forces. The commission’s findings follow an interim report issued on January 3, 2017, that also dismissed allegations of rights violations by government forces.

The UN, Human Rights Watch, and others have reported on numerous serious human rights violations committed by Burmese security forces against the Rohingya in Rakhine State following the October 9 attacks on police outposts. Human Rights Watch has documented extrajudicial killings, the rape of women and girls, and the burning of at least 1,500 structures. Rohingya villagers told Human Rights Watch that security forces burned the structures. The commission’s summary noted that grenade launchers were used during the fighting, effectively corroborating accounts by Rohingya that “launchers” were used by the military to destroy homes. The security force operations caused massive displacement, with more than 70,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh and temporarily displacing another 20,000 within Burma. A report issued by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on February 3, concluded that the attacks against the Rohingya “very likely” amounted to crimes against humanity.

The conclusion of the commission’s investigation follows the May 23 release of the Burmese army’s inquiry into alleged abuses in Rakhine State, which also denied abuses and uncovered no wrongdoing except two minor incidents. Altogether, the Burmese government established four separate investigations into the violence, none of which have been credible or impartial.

In March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution establishing an independent international fact-finding mission with a mandate to investigate allegations of recent human rights abuses in Burma, especially in Rakhine State.

The government has indicated it will deny visas to the three experts appointed to the fact-finding mission, but to date it has not done so. Kyaw Tin, the deputy minister of foreign affairs, told parliament on June 30, “We will order Myanmar embassies not to grant any visa to UN fact-finding mission members.”

A commission led by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan is due to release its final report detailing its recommendations for Rakhine State this month, but it does not have the mandate to investigate human rights abuses.

“The Investigation Commission on Rakhine State’s inept inquiry provides the strongest case yet for Burma letting in the UN fact-finding mission,” Robertson said. “Burma’s donors and diplomatic friends should tell the government to end their tactics of denial and obfuscation, and cease denying victims their right to the truth.” 


          Làm sạch nước bằng hạt nanô từ tính        

Một nhà khoa học Nhật bản của đại học Utsunomiya là Tiến sỹ Yasuzo Sakai đã triển khai một máy lọc nước thải sử dụng hạt nanô từ tính. Nguyên tắc làm việc của chiếc máy đó như sau: sử dụng một loại vi khuẩn chuyên ăn các chất bẩn trong nước thải, nhiệm vj của loại vi khuẩn này có tác dụng như một chiếc máy “gom rác”. Sau khi ăn no, vi khuẩn sẽ nặng hơn và lắng đọng nhanh xuống dưới đáy. Tuy nhiên, quá trình lắng đọng do lực hấp dẫn của trái đất nên thời gian tiêu tốn sẽ rất lâu. Tiến sỹ Yasuzo Sakai có sáng kiến sử dụng hạt nanô từ tính ôxít sắt để hòa tan vào trong nước thải. Khi vi khuẩn ăn chất bẩn, chúng sẽ ăn cả hạt nanô và bị nhiễm từ. Sử dụng một thanh nam châm bên ngoài làm cho quá trình lắng đọng chất bẩn trong nước thải nhanh hơn một trăm lần so với quá trình lắng đọng do hấp dẫn của trái đất. Ông đã thiết kế được một mô hình lọc nước và thử nghiệm ở Bangladesh. Xem thêm chi tiết bằng tiếng Anh ở đây.
          Comment on Ending the pay squeeze – could the unions make a comeback? by Blissex        
«it will be hard to maintain non-EU immigration to replace EU migration after we leave without that being seen as a betrayal of Brexit.» I really laughed reading this because of the astounding innocence of this “flipchart fairy tale”. The “Leave” campaign was absolutely clear that the slogan was “take back control” of immigration, not “less” immigration, and that the 52^ voted for “take back control” not “less”. Plus the vote was about *EU* freedom of movement, not to non-EU freedom of movement. So with certainty the referendum was a vote that can result in *more* immigration, because “take back control” means that too, and in particular in more immigration from non-EU sources: * Specifically a lot of english citizens of african and asian descent have made clear that they voted for “Leave” because by giving “white” EU immigrants free movement, EU membership effectively reduced the quota for “colored” african and asian immigration of their friends and relatives from their original villages. * More generally a lot of more affluent “Leave” voters in the south voted not against free movement, but against EU integration, because they think that England should have closer ties with the anglosphere of the other “white” anglo-american culture countries and the “colored” ex-colonies of the Commonwealth, because of the imperial past and because the “colored” ex-colonies can be large suppliers of very cheap and obedient servants. Plus a large part of the business sponsors of UKIP and “Leave” badly want a hard-exit with the opportunity to have “Special Enterprise Zones” in England which are like those in Dubai or the Marianas, exempt from immigration rules, profit taxes, corporate duties, employment laws, staffed by desperate asian and african immigrants on £1-2/hour, with a very small number of english “trusties” foremen. Try to imagine Sunderland turned into a a “Special Enterprise Zone” and the Nissan plan entirely staffed almost by bangladeshi and moroccan workers, assembling “extraterritorially” japanese made car blocks into cars to export to the EU.
          Bangladesh Villagers Thought They Were Safely Hidden In Field        
Watch Bangladesh Villagers Thought They Were Safely Hidden In Field on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
          A booklover's wishlist for Christmas        

Friends and family have stopped giving me cookbooks

As you enter our Bloomsbury living room you can see why: a flimsy IKEA bookcase groans under the weight of hundreds of cookbooks - well our demented boiler is gurgling like a gremlin at the moment but that's another story - the flat seems to be tilting precariously to one side under the weight of so many books.

Some are blatant food "porn" purchases from days when I didn't know any better, others are more conventional glossy cookbooks nestled in between the Elizabeth David classics and battered old baking books replete with indecipherable doodles. Inspirational tomes such as Olivier Roellinger's Seafood book and Heston's Big Fat Duck Cookbook are there to remind me that being creative is no bad thing, and I have yet to really sink my teeth into McGee on Food and Cooking in a systematic way, save his chapter on dairy.

But seriously, does a girl really need hundreds of cookbooks? I'm more than a little embarrassed by my bulging cookbook collection and perversely found myself calculating how many pairs of killer heels I could have bought in lieu of all those snazzy cookbooks. After all, a girl can never have too many shoes.

So in order to save you and your family or friends from accumulating quite so many cookbooks - and to save all that money for buying pretty shoes in the new year sales! - I've compiled a Christmas wishlist for bookish food fiends; a list that sprang out of friends asking me from time to time which books I would recommend from my cookbook collection.

For the purpose of this exercise I enlisted my pal Will Knightley - a rogue foodie with a penchant for martinis - to help whittle down the books. It's not a definitive list, We've left off some notable culinary giants and included a few unusual books which might appeal to a foodnerd who is interested in learning more about the history and anthropology of food. There are also a few recommendations for food magazines and journals that would make fine Christmas gifts for a fussy foodie.

I'd be curious to know which books are your favourite ones to cook from, which have proved inspirational, and which ones looked promising but ultimately failed to live up to expectations. Needless to say I'm on a self-imposed ban from buying any more books and if anything a cull is long overdue. Still...there are invariably gaps in my collection so please let me know in a comment below which food/cookery books you'd add to this list :-)

The cookbooks:

Fiona Beckett's Cheese Course (Ryland, Peters & Small)

Perhaps this should have been called 'The Joy of Cheese' as it's a caseophile's delight. I've worked with Fiona for two years and recently wrote my MA thesis on the anthropology of cheese so I'm completely biased, but I genuinely love this book. You learn how cheese is made, examples of the different types of cheese and how to taste and compare them. Fiona being the doyenne of food and wine matching you get a comprehensive cheese and wine matching guide, and also alternatives such as cider, beer, port and whisky to name a few. I could really have used the tip about not matching red wine to oozing Epoisses the other night, and Fiona explains in detail why red wine - a traditional match for cheese as a whole - can be a minefield when paired with many cheese varieties. There are suggestions for seasonal cheese plates and recipes to keep even the greediest of cheeselovers happy.

Try the tartiflette, the buckwheat galettes with parma ham and emmental, and the stichelton steak with winter salad of onions and roquette. If you're a real curd nerd check out Fiona's Cheeselover blog for updates on cheese finds, and her 'Ultimate Mac n' Cheese Challenge' which kicks off December 28th

Moro East by Sam & Sam Clark (Ebury Books)

Fans of the restaurant Moro will love this book which extends east to Levantine shores via their East End allotment. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow. What more can I say - buy this book along with the two original Moro cookbooks and you won't be disappointed. Up there with the Scandinavian Cookbook and Ottolenghi as my everyday favourites.

Risotto with Nettles: A memoir with food
by Anna del Conte (Chatto & Windus)

This is the food memoir of 2009. Del Conte shares stories from her childhood in Milan, giving the recipes she cites at the start of each chapter meaning and context through a tightly-written narrative. Her style of writing is self-effacing and ever so slightly patrician, a legacy of her Milanese roots I suspect and what fascinates me about her story is del Conte's liminality as a child raised in Mussolini's Italy and her transition to an adult who married and settled in Britain - she evinces both Italian (or rather Milanese) and British characteristics in her writing yet in some ways is rootless...

Any book that opens with a chapter on Toscanini and La Scala will appeal to the cultured Italophile foodie; a real gem of a memoir.

The Scandinavian Cookbook by Trina Hahnemann (Quadrille)

One of the best cookbooks published in recent years. Beautiful photography couples with clear, easy-to-follow recipes and the best cinnamon bun recipe this side of Copenhagen. Trina's evocative book sends me straight back to my Scandinavian roots and I can't think of a better introduction to the seasonal cooking of game, fish, fruit, veg grains and aquavit (kidding, aquavit is not a foodstuff) of where I grew up. A book I never tire of.

Look out for Trina's Nordic Diet book - due to be released in January - of which I'll be giving a sneak preview here very soon. If you're curious about Trina's recipes and Scandinavian food in general I did a menu earlier this year based on her book which includes a fabulous gravlaks or gravadlax recipe.


Game: A Cookbook
by Trish Hilferty & Tom Norrington-Davies (Absolute Press)

Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a penchant for game, and I instantly fell in love with this book when it arrived last month. The fact that it's co-authored by Tom Norrington-Davies, head chef and co-owner of Great Queen Street, one of my favourite restaurants, adds to its 'must-have' appeal.

Recipes that stand out:

* confited pheasant with fennel and satsuma salad

* potroast mallard, quince and star anise

* rabbit braised with prunes and beer

In sum, a brilliant, modern cookbook on game - buy this for a bona fide foodie and they'll love you forever

Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson (Murdoch Books)

This book has proved curiously divisive. Will and I love it, other foodlovers aren't convinced.

Jane Lawson seems detached from the recipes and there has been criticism of the broad geographical layout spanning Scandinavia, Germany and Eastern Europe. Frankly that's what appeals to me - there is a common thread of cooking throughout cold Northern European countries: hearty, ribsticking fare with dishes such as beer cooked bratwurst, which is what gets me cooking on a cold winter's day. I was born in Germany and my first word was most likely "wurst" so I'm totally biased - a book with sausage recipes is always going to send my into nostalgic daydreaming mode! The liquorice lamb appeals to the Scandi in me and I love Lawson's baking recipes - reminiscent of the ones I grew up with in Norway. Great recipes and gorgeous photography make this a winner. Buy this book for the Northern European who loves to ski and eats carbs and meat with gusto!

A Very Honest Cook by Stephen Markwick and Fiona Beckett (Culinaria Press)

More of a magazine or journal than a hefty cookbook and therein lies the appeal of 'A Very Honest Cook'. I'd hazard a guess that this slimline book of a few choice recipes from Stephen Markwick of Culinaria fame might prove to be a publishing model for 2010. When I met Stephen and his wife Judy at Abergavenny food festival earlier this year everything Fiona had told me about Stephen was spot-on: he's a self-deprecating cook who represents the best of British cuisine. With a foreword by Simon Hopkinson that praises the 'stylish simplicity' of Stephen's cooking, and clear, concise recipes this is a book I'll be cooking often from and can't wait to visit Bristol again so I can sample Stephen's provencal fish soup, loin of venison with celeriac and potato mash and honeyed parsnips... and a devilishly good treacle tart ;-)

The Songs of Sapa by Luke Nguyen (Murdoch Books)

Will claims this is the book for gap-year kids who read 'The Beach' on their travels throughout Asia during the '90s. I did neither of those things yet I love this book, perhaps because Vietnam is on my list of places to visit. This book transports you to Nguyen's home country with sumptuous recipes and fantastic photography. Recipes such as Hanoi beef noodle soup, roast pork and crisp snapper just work. The only drawback is the book is a tome of the coffee-table variety thus slightly tricky to place in the kitchen while cooking, but still - a book worth owning.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook (Ebury)

My favourite deli in London and a cookbook that is high up on my list of favourites. The partnership between Israeli Yotam Ottolenghi and Palestinian Sami Tamimi works on so many levels: the delis are an aesthete's delight with their white backdrop and an array of colourful food tempting you in. I spent a day in the Upper Street branch of Ottolenghi as part of my Leiths training and witnessed first-hand the care and attention Ottolenghi chefs take in creating both pastries and savoury food. It may be expensive but the food at Ottolenghi is worth every penny.

Buy this book for the foodlover who is curious about the Middle East and loves eating at Ottolenghi's delis.

The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden (Penguin)

Not a recent publication but this should be on every serious foodlover's bookshelf. Roden's vivid account of the Jewish diaspora, enriched with stories of her own life and comprehensive descriptions of Ashkenazi and Sephardic cooking is a classic. The recipes are foolproof and delicious.

Rick Stein's Far Eastern Odyssey (Ebury)

A confession: I have a real soft spot for Rick Stein. Perhaps it's his love of seafood, or his gentle, ambling manner when he's cooking. I was fortunate enough to work as a stagiere in his Seafood restaurant down in Padstow when I was training at Leiths and loved every minute of my stage there, learning more about seafood in a week working for Stein's band of merry chefs than I did anywhere else. Stein's most recent book represents the best recipes of countries such as Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia. Every recipe is enticing and foolproof and somehow captures the rich diversity of food across Asia; this is the book for the globetrotting gourmet who loves telling stories and cooks with confidence and flair!

Adventures with Chocolate by Paul A Young (Kyle Cathie)

Quite simply the best chocolate book of 2009. Paul trained under Marco Pierre White and I've posted on this blog before about his dedication to the crafting of chocolate because that's exactly what he is - a craftsman. His shop in Camden Passage is one of the few chocolate shops in London which is suffused with the scent of chocolate as everything is hand-crafted on site.

The book is comprehensive and teaches you how to buy chocolate, what types of beans there are and the methods of tempering and how to make a truffle (an art in itself). There are tips on how to combine flavours with different types of chocolate and recipes such as:

* chocolate water biscuits for cheese

* passionfruit and coconut truffles (two of my favourite ingredients!)

* blackcurrant and liquorice truffles (ditto)

* chocolate, ginger and cardamom tea bread

* hot chocolate and basil fondants

A perfect gift for chocoholics, especially if they can't get to Paul's two stores in Camden Passage and Threadneedle Street this Christmas

What to Eat Now More Please! by Valentine Warner (Octopus)

Having met Valentine Warner through the lovely people at Peter's Yard I can vouch that he's utterly charming and a real cook's cook. This is the book to buy girls. Boys don't really get the appeal of Valentine so make sure you save this for your sister, cousin, girlfriend or foxy aunt.

Recipes that appeal:

* barbecued bavette steak with anchovies, red wine and garlic (is there a better combination of ingredients?)

* coconut lamb

* gravadlax: having seem Valentine make this at Abrgavenny food festival earlier this year I can attest to this recipe's deliciousness. Plus Valentine looked a bit like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets when he waved bunches of dill above his head

* prawn tangiers: I made this over the summer and it's now a firm favourite

* baby courgettes and chanterelles with basil: simple, clean flavours with not much fuss. Perfect.

Larousse Gastronomique (Hamlyn)

Everyone should own a copy of Larousse. It is the bible of cooking technique and classical French cuisine. Enough said.

McGee on Food and Cooking by Harold McGee (Scribner)

I love McGee's chapter on dairy, you might love his chapter on the four food molecules - every serious cook worth his or her salt should have McGee's encyclopedic masterpiece on their shelves. Failing that at least read his Curious Cook musings on food science ;-)

Coco: 10 world-leading masters choose 100 contemporary chefs (Phaidon)

This is the most zeitgeisty book of 2009, and what a tome it is. Chosen by gastronomic big guns Ferran Adria, Mario Batali, Rene Redzepi, Alice Waters, Jacky Yu, Gordon Ramsay, Fergus Henderson, Shannon Bennett, Alain Ducasse, and Yoshihiro Murata the hundred chefs featured in Coco are all fascinating in their own right. Some have commented on the title and I have to admit 'Coco' does strike me as an odd choice for this book, albeit a catchy one.

No matter, the book is a feast for the eyes and is the book to buy your serious gourmet friend or relative who has a keen interest in sampling the cooking of the hottest chefs today. When I first read about Coco in the Evening Standard earlier this year I was thrilled to see some of my favourite chefs such as Anthony Demetre of Arbutus and Wild Honey fame featured alongside Theo Randall and Skye Gangell. When Gastrogeek invited a few fellow food bloggers to join her and the team from Phaidon and Sauce PR for a Coco Gourmet Gallop around Maze, Theo Randall and Launceston Place last month I nearly fell off my chair at the itinerary for the gallop. We were treated to a fantastic evening of decadence, sampling the recipes each chef had included in the book. You can read brilliant reviews of the gourmet gallop from Gastrogeek herself, Dan of Essex Eating and Dan of the blog FoodUrchin amongst others including twitter's funniest food blogger Mimi of Meemalee's Kitchen who concluded: the Coco gourmet gallop was worth missing the last train for (and she did!)

A few snaps from the night:

Theo Randall's wood-roasted Cornish monkfish with parsley, capers, roseval potatoes, globe artichokes and prosciutto di Parma - a humdinger of a dish. Full of flavour and culinary skill. Theo himself came out to speak to us which was much appreciated by all of us attending the gallop



Tristan Welch's dessert platter (along with several huge tarte tartins) was the best dessert experience I've had since being left with the dessert trolly at Guy Savoy a 3-star michelin restaurant in Paris. Tristan and his staff looked after us with immense generosity, and like Theo Randall, took the time to speak to us about their cooking and Launceston Place. An epic way to end an epic gourmet gallop...



The books on food but not necessarily cookery:

Tsukiji by Theodore Bestor (University of California Press)

Harvard anthropologist Theodore Bestor has twenty years of ethnographic fieldwork in Japan under bis belt. The man knows Japan and he writes well which are two key features in the appeal of this book about Tokyo's legendary fish market Tsukiji. One for the food anthropologist, or someone who loves big fish and the ocean in general.

Hungry City by Carolyn Steel (Random House)

A lecturer in architecture at Cambridge, Steel is a formidable speaker and passionate advocate of how food shapes cities. Not one for the glossy food porn admiring reader, but one for serious foodies with a sense of history, an interest in the development of cities and architecture. Check out her Hungry City site for an idea of what the book is all about.

The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir by Amy Trubek (University of California Press)

Trubek asks why terroir and place matter. You may be wondering why the question even matters and if so I suggest you read Trubek's Taste of Place, an accessible and informative account of why terroir is important: we live in a highly connected world in which food is subjected to the forces of globalization like any other industry. Place becomes a powerful symbol of cultural and national roots, not to mention identity. Terroir evokes authenticity, particularly in wine, but increasingly now in food such as cheese and Trubek's book is for those who are bored by cookbooks and want something profound to sink their teeth into over the Christmas holiday.

Catching Fire by Richard Wrangham

For the foodie who cares about evolution, anthropology and understanding how cooking makes us human, this is the book to buy them for Christmas. Wrangham has a breezy style of writing virtually unseen in academia and his argument is elegant and provocative in equal measure. Brilliant. By far the most interesting anthropology book I've read in years.

Magazine/Journal Subscriptions to get discerning foodies:

Fire & Knives


Brand-spanking new food journal from editor extraordinaire Tim Hayward. Great writing, great photography, great design. Looks like a small book which makes it ideal for popping in your handbag. At a bargainous £20 per year for a subscription this is the gift to give the foodlover who has all the cookbooks they need.

The Art of Eating

Edward Behr's pared-back style of writing is true to his Vermont background and I can't wait for The Art of Eating to arrive by post every few months. Excellent pieces on real food, unfussy and spot-on in its analysis. You should see the cheese collection. Another one for the foodie who has everything and loves that New England salt-of-the-earth way of seeing the world.

美味しんぼ or Oishinbo (The Gourmet)

What can I say? if you know someone who loves Japanese food this is the publication for them. The ultimate 'foodnerd' gift this Christmas!


* an addendum: one book I completely forgot about is Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken and Other Stories and thank you to Helen aka Food Stories for reminding me about Hopkinson's other brilliant book Week in Week Out both books of which I own and love. Roast chicken had slipped down behind the bookcase and the latter I haven't used much recently but shall revisit when I return from the Canaries after Christmas. Add both to the neverending list of must-have books ;-)
          Bangladeshi Student Teacher Sex Scandal        
Watch Bangladeshi Student Teacher Sex Scandal on rnoPo.com - free hardcore porn videos and amateur sex tapes.
          Episode 127: Best of Distillations #8        

We bring you some of our favorite segments from past Distillations episodes this week: mesmerism, the impacts of climate change, and why its chic to be a geek..

SHOW CLOCK

00:00 Opening Credits

00:32 Introduction

00:44 Mesmerism

04:30 Extreme Effects: Chad and Bangladesh

08:42 Upping STEM's Cool Factor

14:21 Closing Credits

CREDITS

Special thanks to Michal Meyer, Jennifer Dionisio, and Esther D'Amico for researching this show. Additional credits available at chemheritage.org/distillations.


          Episode 119: Climate Change        

One of this century's great challenges will be mitigating the effects of our steadily warming planet. In today's episode we explore the consequences of our changing climate.

SHOW CLOCK

00:00 Opening Credits

00:32 Introduction

01:11 Extreme Effects: Chad and Bangladesh

05:13 Interview with Susan Solomon

12:24 Closing Credits

CREDITS

Special thanks to Jennifer Dionisio for researching this show. Additional credits available at chemheritage.org/distillations.


          Algunos comentarios - (Mayo 2013)        
En esta entrada recojo algunos comentarios que he realizado este mes en el foro de artículos cuya lectura recomiendo.




Queda claro que los mercados se han convertido en una "distorsión" para la sociedad y para los derechos humanos. Hace poco hemos podido comprobar en Bangladesh cómo es la vida en un mercado sin distorsiones. Va a ser que un mercado bien distorsionado, quizá cubista, presentaría un aspecto mucho más interesante.

Me consta que esta ideología que proclaman en cuanto pueden -el tema de la charla parece una disculpa- se pregona también en algunos púlpitos universitarios como si fuera una verdad científica. Ponen las curvas de la oferta y la demanda, y si la realidad no encaja, (pongamos que por esa manía de querer comer a pesar de que el alabado mercado no provea a todos), te dicen que la realidad "es una distorsión del mercado de trabajo", y asunto arreglado. Y cuando les digas que las emisiones de CO2 deberían disminuir para no acabar con el planeta, te dirán que el planeta es otra distorsión para el mercado. ¡Con lo simple y elegante que es su fórmula! ¿cómo es posible que el mundo se niegue a pasar por ese aro?

Vivimos la pesadilla de otro sueño de la razón del que debemos librarnos cuanto antes.

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Si se busca, se encuentra bastante información que deja en evidencia la irracionalidad de nuestro sistema alimentario pero es raro que algún artículo ofrezca una perspectiva tan amplia, completa y bien enfocada: hilando una confusa madeja para empezar a tejer el paño de las soluciones prácticas. Se agradece. Seguimos aprendiendo.

A veces se olvida que ya han ocurrido muchos colapsos económicos en la historia sin que eso haya supuesto siempre un drama humanitario. Tampoco una depresión económica traerá por sí misma un cambio esencial o permanente de modelo, (como no lo hizo en USA en los años 30, ni en Cuba en los 90), y no es esa previsible caída el motivo principal por el que debemos cambiarlo. En realidad el problema actual, según yo lo veo, es que necesitamos actuar todos como si ya tuviéramos un colapso, precisamente para evitar un desastre natural, este sí, irreversible, porque como dice Bill McKibben en referencia al calentamiento climático, “antes de quedarnos sin petróleo nos quedaremos sin planeta”.

Me pregunto qué puede suscitar este necesario cambio de percepción en la sociedad que nos lleve a una sensatez económica duradera, sistémica. Y creo que una clave importante es entender que en realidad el cambio que necesitamos supera en virtudes al modelo actual no sólo en su sostenibilidad y en su resiliencia sino en lo que concierne a nuestro modo de vida, a las infravaloradas posibilidades de realización personal al margen del éxito laboral, (incluyendo -como bien explicas- el gozo en las relaciones, tanto en las económicas como en las demás, actualmente alienadas por la desconfianza competitiva). Nos vendría bien liberar tiempo y energías de la ansiedad por la acumulación.

Vivimos como hilos colgando sin conexión entre ellos, pendiendo frágilmente de una maraña oligárquica, y necesitamos tejer una red en la base que nos permita soltarnos y prosperar juntos.

Este artículo de Esther Vivas menciona muchas cooperativas de consumo agroecológico en España además de revisar su evolución y de adentrarse en un profundo análisis de la situación en la práctica. Es de hace tres años pero creo que puede ser una buena base para seguir la pista de lo que ha ocurrido desde entonces en cada zona: “Consumo agroecológico, una opción política”

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Y toda esa recuperación de dinero, que sería suficiente para evitar los recortes, vendría dada sólo por la lucha contra el fraude. Supongamos que también eliminamos toda la maraña de deducciones fiscales hechas a la medida de las grandes empresas y que convierten a España en un paraíso fiscal para ellas. Sin duda se podría estimular la demanda agregada creando empleo con ello, (por ejemplo en el necesario sector de las energías renovables o en la rehabilitación ecológica de edificios).

¿Y si eliminamos los demás paraísos fiscales? El gran desfalco que amparan los gobiernos

¿Y si adoptamos una política fiscal como la de los llamados 30 años gloriosos para encarar un futuro más esperanzador y sin exclusión?: Cuando los ricos pagaban el 63%

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Creo que esa tasa a las transacciones financieras debería utilizarse para instaurar una Renta Básica Europea, otra interesante campaña en marcha.

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Desde el mismo 15m de 2011, si no antes, siempre se ha intentado poner de relieve la falta de algo así como “consistencia práctica” en el oleaje informativo de la red. Aquí se incide de nuevo en ello. Pero quizá el problema es el enfoque, tanto el de quien hace la crítica como el de los partícipes de los movimientos surgidos en red que esperan de ellos lo que no son. Su virtud, su novedad y su potencia está en la transformación de las conciencias, algo más intangible que la movilización pero también más importante. Porque lo que necesitamos no es asaltar un castillo para acabar físicamente con sus ocupantes, ni lograr una nueva alineación política tan vistosa como rígida, sino extender el conocimiento y la responsabilidad política hacia quien no se ha cuestionado estos problemas para, algún día, reaccionar en masa con inteligencia y lograr una participación real sin necesidad de grandes liderazgos que nos hagan de nuevo dependientes.

La cíclica sensación de vacío produce ansiedad y miedo al retroceso, pero creo que la respuesta adecuada es entender e interiorizar esta especie de propósito profundo y bregar, individual o colectivamente, por llevarlo más lejos. Aunque no lo parezca, bastantes cosas han cambiado a mejor aunque aún sin alcanzar la masa crítica necesaria para obtener resultados.

- El árbol genealógico del 15M: de dónde viene y a dónde va
- Esto no es una manifestación – Acciones, construcciones y giros revolucionarios para salvar el mundo

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Muchas personas creen que el progreso es fruto del mercado y que el tiempo hará que los “países pobres” nos alcancen gracias al mismo. Pero olvidan que en occidente sólo se generalizaron las mejoras cuando al mercado se le condicionó con la exigencia de una redistribución de la riqueza que nunca elegirá por sí sólo. La prueba es que en cuanto ha sido posible, los empresarios se han llevado las fábricas para volver a producir como en el siglo XIX. La competencia lo exige, y la competencia entre estados para contentar a los mercados establece un flujo inverso a ese en el que muchos confían, nos lleva a nosotros hacia la situación de los países empobrecidos por el colonialismo y las modernas “desamortizaciones”.
- Reducción de costes y destrucción masiva

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Es bastante obvio que en un mundo en el que la desigualdad crece y se convierte en una amenaza para todos, el mercado del lujo está disparado, el ahorro no se transforma en inversión productiva sino en especulación y los recursos naturales empiezan a condicionar de facto el crecimiento (y lo harán cada vez más, y debemos dejar de forzar esos límites naturales), los impuestos que deben subirse son los que favorecen una mayor redistribución de la riqueza. El problema no es la falta de crecimiento sino el grado de redistribución que resulte al menos adaptativo a las nuevas situaciones. La fiscalidad debe ser flexible para sostener la equidad.

Impuesto a las transacciones financieras; mayor progresividad en el IRPF; que las rentas del capital paguen más que las del trabajo; impuesto del patrimonio que compense la pasada burbuja de la deuda que nos ha traído hasta aquí gravando a quienes más beneficiados salieron con ella; impuesto de sucesiones, también más progresivo, entendido como un reequilibrio en las oportunidades. Y sobre todo acabar con los paraísos fiscales, donde tiene lugar una delirante mitad del comercio mundial: El gran desfalco que amparan los gobiernos.

En general hay que compensar una necesaria reducción en la oferta, (que de todos modos no da más de sí) con un rescate de la demanda agregada. Y para ello no basta con hablar de impuestos sino que será necesario hablar de nuevas formas de ingresos para quienes tienen necesidades sin cubrir y podrían crear nichos de mercado con ellas si realmente la economía funcionara de un modo eficiente y hubiera trabajo para ellas: Renta Básica de Ciudadanía.

También abogaría por hacer del IVA un impuesto mucho más flexible y finalista, una flexibilidad sólo esbozada actualmente en unos pocos tipos. No es lo mismo consumir alubias (que no deberían pagar nada de este impuesto) que coches de lujo (que deberían pagar más). No es lo mismo consumir comida ecológica local que filetes de ganadería intensiva americana. No es lo mismo un producto contaminante y con poco valor social que otro cuyo consumo sería deseable y mejoraría la sociedad. No es lo mismo un sector obsoleto que uno con futuro. Con ello la fiscalidad tendría un vector cualitativo más potente para favorecer “valores”, no sólo cantidades, para hacerla más equitativa pero también para favorecer sectores que deben anticipar un futuro en el que la economía deberá relocalizarse y ser ecológica, no sólo por hacerla ambientalmente sostenible sino porque al haber sido ya insostenible, los cambios serán forzados e inevitables, (calentamiento global y escasez de recursos). Sería un apunte hacia la llamada Economía del Bien Común

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               Ideario                                                        Mediateca    

           CiberFirmas                                            Contestación social


          Reducción de costes y destrucción masiva        
Los restos del naufragio - Ángel Orcajo
En las últimas décadas la política económica que ha predominado en el mundo ha sido la de favorecer la oferta, mitificar al empresario y poner todo lo demás a su servicio, incluida una vasta apertura de fronteras para el comercio pero sin abandonar la parcelación legislativa en estados que ya no sujeta a las empresas. Esto ha favorecido una brutal competencia en la reducción de costes que, aparentando facilitar el funcionamiento de la economía, ha tenido y está teniendo consecuencias devastadoras:

  • Trabajo. La posibilidad de deslocalizar o externalizar la producción hacia aquellos colectivos con menores derechos laborales ha llevado a la reducción de los salarios, tomados falazmente como costes a minimizar. En buena lógica esto ha conducido a un gran empobrecimiento de la demanda, sólo apoyada por un crédito cada vez más insostenible, (y ahora paralizado salvo para refinanciar lo impagable mientras crece la quimera de la deuda).
    • Los incrementos de productividad debidos a la mejora tecnológica se aprovechan sólo para eliminar empleos, no se utilizan para repartir el trabajo, creando así exclusión social. El miedo al paro realimenta una mayor reducción de salarios entre quienes siguen empleados, y lleva a la sobrevaloración del trabajo y de la producción en detrimento del tiempo libre para la autonomía, el conocimiento y la maduración personal.

  • Fiscalidad. En teoría la fiscalidad no es un coste. Los impuestos se aplican principalmente sobre el resultado económico, a posteriori. Pero la posibilidad de preverlos y sobre todo la posibilidad de elegir el lugar en el que menos se tributa, lleva a que los impuestos sean tratados como costes a minimizar, (por parte de las grandes y medianas empresas y por parte de todos los inversores financieros). Esto ha dejado exhaustas las arcas públicas minando la base del estado del bienestar (donde lo había) e incluso haciendo que se cuestione el carácter corresponsable y solidario de la gestión económica nacional.              
    • Con ello aumenta la desigualdad, la riqueza se concentra y se vuelve endeudadora y especulativa (inflando sucesivas burbujas de precios), y los mercados se ven dominados por oligopolios que reducen la posible competencia (supuesta ventaja del mercado).

  • Naturaleza. El paro y la miseria sostenidos innecesariamente permiten a los gobiernos facilitar cualquier nuevo negocio, por sucio o insostenible que sea, y acrecientan la necesidad de producir más sin miramientos con el medio ambiente para lograr el consumo de quienes tienen dinero. Se trata de un sistema orientado a condicionar la opinión pública en favor de cualquier forma de producción que pueda alimentar el crecimiento económico. Pero este exceso de trabajo y de producción, además de ser limitador para la mayoría de las personas, resulta inadaptado a un mundo que toca sus límites físicos. A nuestros empresarios les resulta más fácil competir presionando económicamente a la población que invertir en la necesaria adaptación de los procesos productivos a un futuro de recursos naturales menguantes y ecosistemas degradados.
    • La competencia en legislaciones ambientales, entre las que pueden elegir los empresarios para reducir sus costes, facilita aun más el desprecio a la importancia básica de los ecosistemas. De ese modo se externalizan los costes ambientales -los pagamos todos- y no se tiene en cuenta el coste (no calculable) de perder lo irrecuperable.

Como se ve, estos costes paradójicos tienen el efecto de encarecer la vida cuando se reducen: menores salarios y menos prestaciones públicas suponen pérdida de poder adquisitivo (a pesar de una inflación contenida en apariencia); la concentración de capitales especulativos a causa de una menor fiscalidad implica burbujas de precios, mercados amañados por oligopolios y endeudamiento; y tanto la degradación ambiental como la falta de adaptación a sistemas de producción independientes de la menguante energía fósil sin duda tendrá graves costes para la sociedad. Hay una gran disonancia entre la reducción de estos costes empresariales y el aumento del coste de la vida para la mayoría de la población. La diferencia ha caído del lado de los beneficios. Además hay una gran discordancia entre la reducción de esos costes y el coste físico de producir cualquier cosa: aunque en el mercado puedan resultar más baratos algunos productos importados de otro continente, ¿quién puede negar que este proceso es más costoso si lo medimos en términos de consumo de recursos energéticos, humanos y materiales?

Trabajo en la fábrica (1940) - Pancho Lasso
El funcionamiento propio del mercado en estas circunstancias se basa en la lucha sin cuartel precisamente contra aquello que define la prosperidad general: salarios, bienes comunes y naturaleza. La economía actual no funciona a nuestro servicio. En lugar de ello nosotros nos debemos a la exaltación de sus promedios. Hemos aceptado nuestra deshumanización al aceptar intelectualmente que somos costes.

El santo grial con el que se trata de justificar esta tropelía se llama competitividad. Sin embargo esta mejora de la competitividad que se basa en la elección de las reglas del juego más convenientes no implica una mejora real de la capacidad de las empresas. Esto que parece obvio es sistemáticamente omitido por el modelo económico de la globalización, que sólo mide la competitividad como resultado, sin tener en cuenta los medios utilizados para lograrla, sin discriminar si se trata de medios tramposos, de atajos legales, (que además sólo son accesibles para los privilegiados que pueden deslocalizar sus negocios), o si realmente se ha producido una mejora en las capacidades. Así la carrera por rebajar las exigencias legales en cada país deriva en una destrucción de los recursos disponibles que esas leyes protegían para todos. Y con la depredación “legal” de estos recursos (unida al continuo crecimiento de la deuda como recurso ficticio) en realidad se están disimulando las limitaciones reales de este modelo económico.

La reducción de “costes” laborales, fiscales y ambientales equivale, como la violencia y el totalitarismo, a la búsqueda de un atajo que acaba siendo destructivo en lugar de llevar a un mundo mejor, (suponiendo que fuera ese el fin de esta elusión de obligaciones económicas y no la protección de unas fortunas codiciosas y aliadas contra la suficiencia económica de los demás, los que han de servirles). Que gran parte de la población siga apoyando esta política en contra de las evidencias y de sus propios intereses sólo puede explicarse por un engaño masivo y bien financiadopor una costumbre resignada o por una fe ideológica. Se diría que muchas personas no pueden renunciar a aquello de lo que han hecho bandera. Como dicen los pedagogos sobre las dificultades de la educación: la coherencia con el relato vital propio se siente como una necesidad tan básica que se convierte en una resistencia emocional insuperable aun cuando la realidad demuestra que uno debe cambiar de rol por su bien (y por el de todos).

It's time - Clarence Holbrook Carter
Pero si queremos evitar un futuro económico traumático, y si se quiere buscar una alternativa
mejor sin anular completamente el mercado, la única opción consistiría en darle la vuelta a esta política económica, cambiar el sentido de la presión que establecen las leyes: en lugar de presionar al medio ambiente, a los trabajadores y a los estados, ahora se pasaría a aumentar la presión sobre el sistema productivo mediante exigencias ecológicas, salariales y fiscales. En lugar de favorecer la oferta (y con ella los desequilibrios propios del mercado, como la irresponsabilidad sobre lo colectivo y la tendencia hacia una abusiva desigualdad), sería necesario exigir a las empresas la internalización de los sacrificios que ahora pagamos todos y socavan el futuro, el encarecimiento de estos paradójicos costes productivos, el aumento de sus obligaciones económicas en detrimento de los mimados beneficios:
  • Adaptar los sistemas a métodos sin impacto ambiental, cueste lo que cueste, (forzando el cierre de los ciclos de materiales, anticipando el abandono de la energía fósil, relocalizando la producción), y relegar la idea de mantener el mismo nivel de producción para, en lugar de ello, dar prioridad legal a maximizar la adaptación posible a estas nuevas condiciones.
  • Retribuir mejor el trabajo, de modo que pueda llevarse a cabo el cada vez más necesario reparto del mismo, y también que los salarios puedan pagar esa producción sostenible más cara o el inevitable encarecimiento que traerá el declive del petróleo.
  • Gravar en mayor medida las rentas del capital, de modo que puedan costearse los sistemas públicos básicos, pueda crearse una Renta Básica de Ciudadanía, y puedan adoptarse programas de regeneración ecológica. Con ello se lograría además dificultar la formación de oligopolios y la concentración de capitales que implican especulación, endeudamiento y exceso de poder político privado.
Todas estas medidas, que equivalen a invertir una mayor parte de los actuales beneficios en medio ambiente, en personas y en instituciones públicas, tendrían un efecto ambivalente. Por un lado serían un freno a las empresas actuales pero por otro lado favorecerían la realimentación de la demanda agregada, (demanda de consumo, demanda pública y demanda de las empresas que tendrían que invertir en adaptar sus procedimientos a métodos ecológicos). La creación de esa demanda equivale a la creación directa de nichos de mercado. Y es eso lo que a medio plazo puede crear nuevo tejido productivo y hacer que este se adapte a las nuevas necesidades, no la concesión a los oferentes de viciadas facilidades legales que desincentivan su adaptación.

Pero no es tan importante el promedio económico que resultara con estas medidas (ese PIB que actualmente se apoya en una destrucción no contabilizada) como el alcance de su distribución en la sociedad, su salubridad y su capacidad de renovación. Una política fiscal expansiva que alimentara la demanda sin estos criterios cualitativos sólo resolvería una parte del problema. El sistema acabaría colapsando por su vertiente ecológica o por las limitaciones de los recursos. No hay que olvidar que los conflictos socioecológicos son una realidad sangrante en gran parte del mundo, allá donde las diversas metrópolis han externalizado sus responsabilidades. ¿Hasta cuándo se podrá considerar la ecología como una preocupación no económica ni social, sino sólo adyacente o casi “decorativa”?

Y desde el punto de vista humano, si no se exigen mejoras emancipadoras, el nuevo crecimiento que fomenten las instituciones públicas puede darse sin cambiar nada el carácter explotador y alienante de la competición económica internacional: una limitación para las personas por mucho que se lleve a su máxima expresión la capacidad productiva, o precisamente por hacerlo.
La contaminación - Juan Ignacio de Blas

Es decir, no sólo es necesario estimular la economía sino también controlar sus efectos, su rumbo, su equilibrio, su consumo conjunto de recursos y su utilidad real. Ponerle “freno” y “volante” sería una indudable mejora y debe dejar de verse como un mal a evitar. Por ello es necesario aumentar las cargas al sistema productivo referidas a fiscalidad, trabajo y medio ambiente tanto como sea necesario para evitar su efecto excluyente y destructivo.

El freno a las empresas actuales no sería sino el ajuste necesario para equilibrar esta economía abrumada por la incoherencia: por un lado tenemos exceso de capacidad instalada del sistema productivo, exceso de capital especulativo del sistema financiero improductivo y derroche de recursos energéticos no renovables, y por el otro, escasez innecesaria en parte de la población y una biosfera convertida en sumidero llegando a los límites de su capacidad de carga. El decrecimiento que por termino medio pudiera darse con esa internalización de “costes” a pesar de la renovación de la demanda, daría la medida del decrecimiento que necesitamos para equilibrar la economía dentro de la sociedad y del ecosistema. Y como los salarios y los derechos sociales serían beneficiarios de esas contribuciones que deben aumentar las empresas -predistribución y redistribución- este freno sería a la vez una forma de adaptación más inclusiva y más equitativa que el funcionamiento actual incluso cuando este se da con crecimiento.

El incremento de costes aparentes que aquí se propone es una salida ecológica que no se basa en la reducción directa del consumo y de la producción sino en un verdadero aumento de las exigencias ambientales hasta hacerlas eficaces. El efecto puede ser el mismo pero con la ventaja añadida de que no nos centraríamos sólo en la cantidad producida, (lo cual dejaría muchas variables fuera pues con menos producción se puede contaminar igualmente sólo que más despacio), sino que además estaríamos definiendo e implementando ya los modos de producir tolerables a partir de ahora. Y por otro lado se trata de una salida económica que no se basa ni en la austeridad suicida ni en la necesidad imperiosa del crecimiento del PIB, gracias a que su propio funcionamiento implica un mejor reparto del resultado.

Con independencia del nivel de recursos del que la sociedad pueda disponer en cada momento, el modelo económico que elijamos tendrá una influencia sobre la capacidad adaptativa y el horizonte de esa sociedad. Sea cual sea el grado de desarrollo o de pobreza, lo más determinante de su afección para nosotros es cómo se gestiona. Tan posible es que la riqueza y el desarrollo tecnológico tengan lugar bajo una organización despótica, alienante y explotadora como que la pobreza resulte llevadera (o incluso liberadora) si todo el mundo puede disponer de lo básico para subsistir. Ni que decir tiene que sería mejor eludir la pobreza pero la virtud no está en su opuesto sino en el modo de utilizar los recursos. No podemos elegir los límites de los recursos energéticos ni los límites ambientales que debemos respetar, pero la forma de organizarnos sí es elegible y modificable a voluntad, (si se recaba el consenso necesario, claro), y por ello es en el modelo de gestión (económico, político, ecológico) en lo que más debemos incidir e indagar. Hay que tener en cuenta que oponer alternativas económicas sólo “desde abajo” no puede ser suficiente cuando la política económica crea una corriente mayor que las supera. Es necesaria también una visión macroeconómica alternativa que las complemente. 

Ni la austeridad anoréxica ni el crecimiento ansioso que alimenta una futura depresión son un modelo de equilibrio económico para la sociedad. Una vez alcanzado cierto grado de desarrollo físico, lo que necesitamos no es ni desnutrición ni sobrealimentación sino madurez. La actual austeridad y la política de reducción de “costes” vía globalización y laxitud reguladora determina una espiral económica deflacionaria sin salida: menos capacidad adquisitiva de la población supone que las empresas deben reducir aun más sus precios para vender, y con ello vuelve a empezar la competencia por adelgazar los recursos humanos o por devorar nuevos recursos naturales sin precio. Y una política expansiva basada sólo en un nuevo crecimiento indiscriminado tampoco sería una solución real sino un mero aplazamiento del encontronazo con las limitaciones físicas del mismo, además de no decirnos nada sobre la emancipación humana del materialismo productivista (privado o estatal) en favor de una madurez autónoma.

Sin embargo un aumento de las exigencias al sistema productivo como el descrito aquí implicaría aumento conjunto de salarios, de empleos, de bienes comunes, de tiempo libre, de garantías ambientales y de capacidad de adaptación o resiliencia, es decir, reducción de costes reales para la mayoría de la población y reducción de costes físicos globales. Por supuesto esta opción tiene poderosos oponentes que no quieren ni oír hablar de exigencias, que cuentan con muchos medios para persuadirnos de que hay que hacerles el caldo gordo, y que harán lo posible para que los estados sigan compitiendo entre ellos por facilitarles la vida.

Por ello es necesaria la acción concertada de los estados que compartan libre comercio (o en los sectores en los que lo compartan). En realidad esta concertación de normas ya ha sido posible y ha tenido lugar en el pasado reciente, pero para mal: el Tratado de Maastricht es un perverso ejemplo de cómo sí es posible acordar medidas internacionales duras y vinculantes, (en este caso duras para la población y muy cómodas para los mercados). Y la OMC es otro ejemplo. Tenemos una organización mundial para favorecer el libre comercio y la desregulación del mismo, incluso con capacidad sancionadora, pero no tenemos ninguna organización similar que pueda promover con eficacia la equidad global o el cuidado de la biosfera compartida. Así las cosas, el proteccionismo, la vuelta a los aranceles de uno u otro modo, debería recuperarse pero no por una cuestión de fronteras sino en función de si el país con el que podemos comerciar comparte o no las mismas reglas que protegen el equilibrio económico de la sociedad y la salud ecológica de la biosfera.

Recogida de FIRMAS por una 
Renta Básica como derecho humano
Sólo a partir de la unificación de normas dentro del ámbito de libre comercio se podrían nivelar las obligaciones económicas que debe cumplir toda producción a las necesidades del sostenimiento ecológico y social, tanto si hablamos de sector público como del privado, tanto si se trata de producción a gran escala como si está distribuida y descentralizada. Para poder exigir que el sistema productivo nos sirva a nosotros en lugar de esclavizarnos debe impedirse esa competencia global por una falsa reducción o externalización de costes.

Si la humanidad realmente avanza, todo el mundo acabará percibiendo la actual competencia económica entre estados con la misma repugnancia que en general suscitan hoy el racismo, las guerras imperialistas del pasado y aquellas galeras de esclavos encadenados. Porque en realidad no hemos dejado atrás todo eso: sólo se ha disimulado con un marketing más refinado. La reducción tramposa de costes productivos propia de la globalización es la forma que ha adoptado en nuestra época la codicia inhumana o el etnocentrismo que la admite. ¿Por qué una hora de trabajo en Bangladesh vale menos que una hora del mismo trabajo en Alemania? ¿Por qué ha de ser más barato verter residuos en Somalia que hacerlo en Suiza? Por supuesto la solución a la discriminación esclavista no es hacernos todos esclavos, que es a lo que nos lleva la actual política. E igualmente suicida sería que todos adoptásemos el “liberalismo” ambiental del que nos aprovechamos en otras latitudes. Las ONG que inciden sobre esta discriminación reguladora -quizá habría que fundar Costes Sin Fronteras- enfocan mejor el problema que las que sólo buscan una caridad siempre insuficiente.

Consensuando las exigencias ecológicas, salariales y fiscales desde acuerdos internacionales, los mercados no podrían chantajear a los estados y a sus legislaciones; los inversores no podrían huir, (como ahora nos hacen temer); no tendrían mejor lugar al que evadirse de sus obligaciones. Y tampoco dejaría de haber inversiones, como no cesaron estas cuando los impuestos fueron más altos, (precisamente dando lugar a los llamados treinta años gloriosos), por la sencilla razón de que ganar 20 en lugar de 80 es bastante mejor que no ganar nada. Lo que estimula la verdadera excelencia de los distintos agentes económicos es una férrea similitud en las reglas del juego, no la falta de exigencia o la comodidad de carecer de normas.

El problema de la economía actual no está en las empresas que tienen que cerrar porque su negocio ya no es rentable sino en las que sí tienen beneficios pero no devuelven a la sociedad lo suficiente para mantener su equilibrio económico. No es un problema de coyuntura sino de modelo. Esto se hace evidente con tan solo contar las cantidades evadidas a los paraísos fiscales. Si vamos a seguir adorando la llamada destrucción creativa, -una destrucción nada metafórica- debemos acotarla a los proyectos y a los capitales en liza. La búsqueda de más crecimiento no puede justificar la destrucción de personas, de naturaleza o de las leyes que protegen a ambas.

El cambio en la gestión del mercado propuesto aquí no es ninguna utopía, pero nos acercamos tanto a una cruel distopía, ya presente para gran parte de la población de todo el mundo, que sin duda este cambio menor sería un gran paso para todos.

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          EMINEM CALIFICA COMO "MARIMACHO" A LADY GAGA EN SU NUEVO SENCILLO        


El nuevo y polémico sencillo, compuesto por el solista Eminem, se titulará "A Kiss", y se incluirá en la futura nueva producción discográfica, llamada "Hell: The Sequel", del dúo nortemamerciano Bad Meets Evil, que se publicará en formato de E.P. o minidisco, a partir del próximo Lunes, día 13 de Junio de este año 2.011, como primera fecha de lanzamiento prevista en algunos países, como es el caso del Reino Unido, bajo el sello discográfico "Shady Records" y bajo la compañía discográfica "Interscope Records", o de, por ejemplo, Alemania y Nueva Zelanda, aunque, en estos casos, bajo la compañía discográfica "Interscope Records" y bajo el sello discográfico "Universal".

De esta forma, el grupo Bad Meets Evil, encuadrado en el género musical "hip hop", es un dúo musical, integrado por el cantante Eminem y por el rapero Royce Da 5'9, constituyendo, así, un nuevo proyecto discográfico paralelo del intérprete Eminem.
Este nuevo lanzamiento discográfico, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", del dúo Bad Meets Evil, editado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, ha sido grabado durante la parte final del pasado año 2.010 y los inicios de este año 2.011, aunque el artista Eminem declaró que necesitó, para grabarse, un proceso de cinco o seis meses, según una entrevista concedida al canal radiofónico "Shade 45", que es de su propiedad.

Este proyecto discográfico, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", del grupo Bad Meets Evil, será publicado, en formato E.P. o minidisco, por la compañía discográfica "Shady Records", propiedad del artista Eminem, y por el sello discográfico "Interscope Records", con una duración total de 37 minutos y 18 segundos, en su edición estándar, y de 46 minutos y 7 segundos, en su edición "DeLuxe".

Este primer proyecto discográfico de debut, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", del dúo Bad Meets Evil, publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, ha contado con la producción ejecutiva de la propia estrella Eminem, junto con el intérprete Royce Da 5'9, como co-productor ejecutivo, coordinando la labor de los diferentes productores discográficos, que han intervenido en los diversos temas, como es el caso de los productores Mr. Porter, Bangladesh, Havoc, DJ Khalil, The Smeezingtons, Supa Dups, Sid Roams o Battle Roy.

El actor, cómico y rapero Mike Epps, así como el grupo Slaughterhouse y el cantante Bruno Mars aparecen como artistas invitados, en esta nueva producción discográfica, en formato de E.P. o minidisco, titulada "Hell: The Sequel", del dúo Bad Meets Evil, en la que, además, colabora la artista canadiense Liz Rodríguez, en tema titulado "Echo", incluido, como "bonus track", en la versión "DeLuxe Edition", y la intérprete Claret Jai, que, también, participa en el tema llamado "Above the Law" y en el corte denominado "Take From Me", así como el músico Sly Jordan, que deja su granito de arena en la interpretación de la canción titulada "Fast Lane", lanzada como primer sencillo oficial de presentación.


El dúo Bad Meets Evil comenzó a colaborar ​​en el año 1.999, cuando publicaron un primer sencillo, titulado "Nuttin' to Do", en formato single de doce pulgadas, junto con otras varias colaboraciones que se lanzaron al mercado durante el mismo año 1.999.

Mientras tanto, el grupo D12, al que pertenecía el cantante Eminem, durante los primeros años de la década de los años 2.000, alcanzó la fama, a nivel internacional, lo que provocó una pelea entre los dos componentes del dúo Bad Meets Evil, el artista Eminem y el rapero Royce Da 5'9, resultando que la colaboración se acaba y, por ambas partes, deciden que sus carreras musicales respectivas deben tomar caminos separados.

Sin embargo, la disputa, entre la estrella Eminem y el intérprete Royce Da 5'9, en el seno del dúo Bad Meets Evil, se convirtió en una rivalidad pública, que acabaría enfrentando al músico Royce Da 5'9 y a la banda D12, a la que pertenecía el vocalista Eminem, lo cual desembocó en la publicación de tres pistas, compuestas e interpretadas por el rapero Royce Da 5'9, que iban dirigidas al grupo D12, calificándolo de formas poco agradables.

Después de las alusiones desagradables, en los diferentes temas, se intercambiaron, por ambas partes, el rapero Royce Da 5'9 y Proof, el antiguo miembro de la formación D12, conciliaron sus diferencias, antes de la muerte del músico Proof, acaecida en el año 2.006.

Dos años más tarde, el cantante Royce Da 5'9 fue presentado en un nuevo trabajo discográfico del conjunto D12, titulado "Return of the Dozen: Vol. 1", editado en el mismo año 2.008, y, también, se unió a la agrupación D12, en su siguiente gira, que discurrió por el continente europeo y por Canadá.

Posteriormente, aparecieron rumores, a finales del año 2.009, en relación al hecho de que el artista Royce Da 5'9 y el grupo Slaughterhouse podrían haber firmado con la compañía discográfica "Shady Records", propiedad de la estrella Eminem, cuando los miembros de la banda Slaughterhouse, como los músicos Joel Ortiz, Crooked I y Joe Budden, así como el propio intérprete Royce Da 5'9, que, también, formaba parte del conjunto Slaughterhouse, aparecieron, junto al vocalista Eminem, en el videoclip musical oficial de su tema, titulado "Forever", incluido en la reedición especial de su disco de estudio, llamada "Relapse: Refill", e interpretada con la colaboración del cantante Drake, del rapero Lil' Wayne y del artista Kanye West.

Después de varios meses de especulaciones y anticipaciones, el intérprete Eminem anunció, durante el pasado mes de Enero de este año 2.011, que había contratado, oficialmente, a la formación Slaughterhouse, para su compañía discográfica "Shady Records", de modo que la información completa se presentaría en la edición del mes de Marzo de este mismo año 2.011, de la revista "XXL Magazine".

Fue durante el pasado año 2.010, cuando el cantante Eminem comenzó a colaborar con el rapero Royce Da 5'9, en su nuevo proyecto discográfico, bajo el nombre artístico de Bad Meets Evil, que se publicaría en formato de E.P. o minidisco y que se titularía "The Hell: Sequel", aunque el dúo Bad Meets Evil, ya, se había formado en el año 1.999, como hemos visto, y, ahora, se había vuelto a reunir para la futura publicación de este nuevo trabajo discográfico, llamado "The Hell: Sequel", habiéndose confirmado que se estrenaría durante el próximo Martes, día 14 de Junio de este año 2.011, como fecha de salida a tiendas en los Estados Unidos de América, donde se publicaría bajo el sello discográfico "Shady Records" y bajo la compañía discográfica "Interscope Records".

Posteriormente, esta nueva producción discográfica, titulada "The Hell: Sequel", del dúo Bad Meets Evil, se publicará, en formato E.P. o minidisco, también, en los restantes países, empezando por Australia, durante el próximo Viernes, día 17 de Junio de este año 2.011.

La reconciliación, por tanto, entre el artista Eminem y el intérprete Royce Da 5'9 es, ya, un hecho que nadie duda, y, además, el rapero Eminem, ya, colaboró en el primer sencillo de presentación, titulado "Writer's Block", del nuevo trabajo discográfico del cantante Royce Da 5'9, llamado "Success in Certain", que se lanzó, como sencillo oficial, durante el pasado Martes, día 29 de Marzo de este año 2.011, en las principales emisoras radiofónicas, y que fue publicado, oficialmente, para su venta, a partir del pasado Viernes, día 8 de Abril de este año 2.011, aunque habrá que esperar hasta el próximo Martes, día 26 de Julio de este año 2.011, para la publicación de este nuevo disco de estudio del artista Royce Da 5'9, como solista, denominado "Success in Certain".

El propio intérprete Royce Da 5'9 declaró que fue él quien se acercó a la estrella Eminem, para buscar su colaboración en este nuevo sencillo, titulado "Writer's Block", como primer single de presentación de su nuevo álbum en solitario, llamado "Success in Certain", lo que, finalmente, constituiría el origen del trabajo en común de ambos músicos, el vocalista Eminem y el solista Royce Da 5'9, en este dúo, denominado Bad Meets Evil, como proyecto musical conjunto.


Pues bien, ya, durante el pasado mes de Noviembre del año 2.010, se filtraron, a través de internet, dos temas, pertenecientes a este nuevo lanzamiento discográfico del dúo Bad Meets Evil, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", en formato de E.P. o minidisco, y, en concreto, se publicó el tema llamado "Echo" y el sencillo denominado "Living Proof", lo que causó muchas especulaciones, entre los "fans", acerca del próximo proyecto discográfico del grupo Bad Meets Evil. Más tarde, se hizo público que estos dos temas, filtrados a través de internet, que fueron la canción titulada "Echo" y el sencillo llamado "Living Proof", de la banda Bad Meets Evil, serían incluidos en la versión "DeLuxe Edition", como "bonus tracks", de este nuevo trabajo discográfico denominado "Hell: The Sequel".

Sin embargo, durante el pasado Lunes, día 25 de Abril de este año 2.011, se acabaron todas las especulaciones, pues se confirmó la futura publicación de nuevo proyecto discográfico del dúo Bad Meets Evil, en formato de E.P. o minidisco, y, más tarde, durante el pasado Lunes, día 2 de Mayo de este año 2.011, se confirmó el título de este nuevo E.P. o minidisco, que se llamaría "Hell: The Sequel".

El título de este nuevo disco de estudio de la formación Bad Meets Evil, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", es, en realidad, una referencia directa a una anterior colaboración del cantante Eminem y el rapero Royce Da 5'9, a través de este dúo, conocido como Bad Meets Evil, que se incluyó en el disco de estudio del artista Eminem, titulado "The Slim Shady L.P.", en su décimonoveno corte, denominado, precisamente, "Bad Meets Evil", en el que se pone fin a la canción, diciendo algo así como "nos vemos en el infierno, para la secuela, Bad Meets Evil".


Pues bien, este lanzamiento discográfico, en forma de E.P. o minidisco, del conjunto Bad Meets Evil, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", ha sido conocido "on-line", a través de internet, básicamente, con una recepción, en general, positiva, por parte de la comunidad de internautas, presentando un "track-list" variado, con el siguiente contenido completo de canciones, en su edición estándar:

01.- "Wellcome to Hell".

02.- "Fast Lane" (featuring Sly Jordan) (Primer sencillo oficial de presentación).

03.- "The Reunion".

04.- "Above the Law" (featuring Claret Jai).

05.- "I'm On Everything" (featuring Mike Epps).
06.- "A Kiss" (Tercer sencillo oficial de anticipo).

07.- "Lighters" (featuring Bruno Mars) (Segundo sencillo oficial de adelanto).
08.- "Take From Me" (featuring Claret Jai).
09.- "Loud Noises" (featuring Slaughterhouse).

Además, en la edición "DeLuxe" de este nuevo trabajo discográfico, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, del grupo Bad Meets Evil, se incluirán, como "bonus tracks", según hemos señalado anteriormente, las siguientes dos pistas adicionales:

10.- "Living Proof".

11.- "Echo" (featuring Liz Rodríguez).

Como curiosidad, podemos decir que el tercer corte, titulado "The Reunion", de este nuevo trabajo discográfico, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", del dúo estadounidense Bad Meets Evil, publicado en forma de E.P. o minidisco, es una canción que contiene un "sample" del tema denominado "Bagpipes from Baghdad", original del propio rapero Eminem, que se incluyó, inicialmente, en su disco de estudio, titulado "Relapse", publicado en el año 2.009.

Igualmente, como curiosidad, podemos añadir que el noveno y último corte, titulado "Loud Noises", de la edición estándar de este nuevo álbum, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", del grupo Bad Meets Evil, editado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, es una canción que contiene otro "sample", aunque, en este caso, extraido de la conocida película de cine, denominada "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy", estrenada en el año 2.004.

Por último, como curiosidad, podemos destacar que el décimo corte y primero de la edición "DeLuxe", titulado "Living Proof", de esta nueva producción discográfica, llamada "Hell: The Sequel", de la banda Bad Meets Evil, lanzado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, es un sencillo que contiene otro "sample", correspondiente al famoso tema, denominado "Funky Drummer", del legendario intérprete James Brown, publicado, en formato sencillo, en el año 1.970, y, más tarde, incluido en el lanzamiento discográfico, titulado "In the Jungle Groove", recopilatorio de grandes éxitos del artista James Brown, que se editó en el año 1.986.


Pues bien, el primer sencillo de presentación de este nuevo disco de estudio, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, de la banda Bad Meets Evil, fue el tema llamado "Fast Lane", coproducido por la propia estrella Eminem, con la colaboración del productor discográfico Supa Dups, y publicado durante el pasado Martes, día 3 de Mayo de este año 2.011, para su distribución y venta "on-line", en formato digital, mediante descarga, a través de internet, habiéndose publicado, también, su videoclip musical oficial, durante el pasado Miércoles, día 8 de Junio de este año 2.011, al mediodía, en la costa este de los Estados Unidos de América.

Más tarde, el vocalista Eminem y el solista Royce Da 5'9, como miembros del dúo Bad Meets Evil, interpretaron, en directo, el segundo sencillo oficial de anticipo de este nuevo álbum, titulado "Hell: The Sequel", publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, en el "Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival", habiéndose programado su lanzamiento, como sencillo oficial, en las principales cadenas radiofónicas, a partir de este Martes, día 14 de Junio del año 2.011.


Y, ahora, nos llega el nuevo sencillo del rapero Eminem, como miembro del dúo Bad Meets Evil, titulado "A Kiss" e incluido en su futuro nuevo trabajo discográfico, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, que promete crear controversia con los seguidores de la cantante Lady GaGa, pues hace revivir, de nuevo, los rumores sobre el supuesto hecho de que la artista Lady GaGa es hermafrodita, calificándola, además, como "marimacho" o como "hombre-mujer".

Debemos empezar diciendo que el intérprete Eminem nos encanta a todos y creemos que su voz, sus ritmos y sus versos son magníficos... Es más: es posible afirmar que hubo un antes y un después de la llegada de la estrella Eminem, al género musical "rap". Dicho esto, también, creemos que el músico Eminem se equivoca mucho, en algunas de sus ideologías más radicales, de corte racista y homofóbico... ¿Quién ha sido su última víctima?... Pues nada más y nada menos que la diva Lady GaGa.

Así, el chico malote del género musical "rap", el vocalista Eminem, acaba de lanzar al mercado su nuevo sencillo, titulado “A Kiss”, que forma parte de su proyecto musical alternativo, consistente en un dúo, llamado Bad Meets Evil, formado junto al solista Royce Da 5’9, y que se incluye en su futuro nuevo álbum, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", que, como venimos diciendo, se publicará en formato de E.P. o minidisco.

Así, la estrella Eminem canta, en su nueva canción, titulada "A Kiss", procedente del futuro nuevo álbum del dúo Bad Meets Evil, del que forma parte el propio cantante Eminem, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", que se publicará en formato de E.P. o minidisco, metiéndose con la cantante Lady GaGa y haciendo mención, de un modo muy bajo y despectivo, a su supuesto hermafroditismo, de modo que la letra contiene perlitas tan desagradables como "tell Lady GaGa, she can quit her job, at the post office; she’s still a male lady", que significa, traducido, literalmente, del idioma inglés a la lengua castellana, algo así como "díganle a Lady GaGa que puede renunciar a su trabajo, en la oficina postal, porque, aún, sigue siendo un 'marimacho'", añadiendo que, "todavía, es un 'hombre-mujer'. No follaría con ella, con su polla: ése es el veredicto”... Patético...

De esta forma, el músico Eminem califica, a la intérprete Lady GaGa, como "marimacho", en su nuevo sencillo, titulado "A Kiss", extraido del futuro nuevo primer disco de estudio, denominado "Hell: The Sequel" y publicado en formato de E.P. o minidisco, en colaboración con el artista Royce Da 5'9, bajo el nombre artístico de Bad Meets Evil, además de hablar sobre su supuesto hermafroditismo.


Y es que la rumorología, sobre su presunto hermafroditismo, lo creó la propia diva Lady GaGa, al afirmar, durante la presentación que ofreció en el "Open Air Festival", de la localidad de Glastonbury (Inglaterra, Reino Unido), durante el Verano del año 2.009, que "no es algo de lo que me tenga que avergonzar; simplemente, es algo que no voy contando, a todo el mundo, por ahí. Sí, tengo ambos genitales, los masculinos y los femeninos, pero yo me considero hembra. Se trata de un pequeño pene, que, en realidad, no interfiere en mi vida cotidiana, para nada. Si no he hablado de ellos, hasta ahora, es porque no es un asunto importante para mí".

Sin embargo, este rumor, sobre el supuesto hermafroditismo de la vocalista Lady GaGa, más tarde, sería desmentido.

Al ser entrevistada, la cantante Lady GaGa, por la periodista Bárbara Walters, en su programa televisivo especial anual, retransmitido por la cadena televisiva "A.B.C. News", y denominado "10 Most Fascinating People", es decir, traducido, literalmente, del idioma inglés a la lengua castellana, las "10 Personas Más Fascinantes" del año 2.009, la propia artista Lady GaGa rechazó la afirmación de que ella era hermafrodita, calificándola como una leyenda urbana.

De hecho, en esta entrevista, realizada a la intérprete Lady GaGa, por la periodista Bárbara Walters, en su programa televisivo especial anual, retransmitido por la cadena televisiva "A.B.C. News" y llamado "10 Most Fascinating People", durante el año 2.009, la propia estrella Lady GaGa afirmó, en respuesta a ciertas preguntas sobre esta cuestión, que, "al principio, fue muy extraño y todo el mundo decía 'esto es, realmente, una historia'. Pero, en cierto sentido, me retratan de una manera muy andrógina y me encanta la androginia".


Realmente, siempre, se ha respetado al artista Eminem, como artista, y, siempre, se ha pensado que las letras de sus canciones son más radicales que su propia personalidad. Pero lo cierto es que si quieres ser polémico, hoy en día, tienes que meterte con la estrella del momento, la diva Lady GaGa,... tan simple como eso. No podemos creer que el chico, el rapero Eminem, sea tan indeseable como las frases que escupe, en sus composiciones, o, al menos, no queremos creerlo, porque, entonces,… qué pena.

Por cierto que, en este nuevo tema, titulado “A Kiss”, del dúo Bad Meets Evil, compuesto por el propio músico Eminem, como tercer sencillo de adelanto de su futura producción discográfica, denominada "Hell: The Sequel", también, el propio vocalista Eminem, cita a la solista Katy Perry, en una de sus frases, y al joven cantante canadiense Justin Bieber, justo a continuación, en una rima que dice algo así como “dile a Katy Perry que él (Shady) va pegado a su cola; a él no le importa lo que Bieber esté haciendo”… Como veis, estos dos artistas del género musical "pop teen", el intérprete Justin Bieber y la estrella Katy Perry, se salvan, bastante, de los insultos del rapero Eminem, aunque el simple hecho de ser citados, en esta canción, llamada "A Kiss", ya, les debe sobrar,... seguro que sí.

No es la primera vez que el polémico intérprete Eminem ha tenido enfrentamientos con otros artistas, pues, ya, anteriormente, la estrella Eminem tuvo conflictos con la diva Mariah Carey, con la estrella Britney Spears y con la vocalista Christina Aguilera, además de, incluso, con el "Rey del Pop", el astro Michael Jackson, a las que no dudó en atacar en las letras de sus controvertidas canciones.


Os dejo este nuevo tema, al completo, para que podáis escucharlo y juzgar por vosotros mismos. Ya puedes escuchar, a través de internet, mediante el portal "YouTube", en la dirección de internet http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB3fBHLQBQE, este nuevo sencillo, titulado "A Kiss", del solista Eminem, interpretado con la colaboración del rapero Royce Da 5'9, dado que ambos forman el dúo Bad Meets Evil, correspondiente a su futuro nuevo primer lanzamiento discográfico de debut, llamado "Hell: The Sequel", que se publicará en formato de E.P. o minidisco.

¿Qué os parece la letra?... Fuerte, ¿verdad?... La pregunta es... ¿Vosotros creéis que el vocalista Eminem es así, realmente, o que, por el contrario, son estrategias de "márketing", puro y duro, para seguir siendo "el más malo de los malos"?... ¿Vende más un rapero, según lo radicales y agresivas que sean sus letras?...

          Re:Politics - USA        
So back in February Sanders thought he was going to win a majority of pledged delegates, and so the super-delegates were a roadblock to him winning the nomination. So Sanders and his supporters worked to have the superdelegates automatically support the candidate with the most pledged delegates. They organised pledges and everything. The request in one of the petitions read "announce that in the event of a close race, you’ll align yourself with regular voters - not party elites."

Now its May and Sanders has no realistic chance of winning a majority of pledged delegates. So now his campaign has changed its tune completely. Per his campaign manager Jeff Weaver; “"Now we can argue about the merits of having superdelegates, but we do have them. And if their role is just to rubber-stamp the pledged-delegate count then they really aren't needed. They're supposed to exercise independent judgment about who they think can lead the party forward to victory."

So when Sanders backed himself to win the pledged delegate count, super-delegates should just be a rubber stamp. But once Sanders realised that he can’t win the super-delegates, then they shouldn’t just be a rubber stamp, but instead should base their vote on Sander’s new criteria.

Similarly, back in August last year Trump was entering the primary with a strategy about dominating news coverage, and didn’t worry too much about buying news time. It was a low cost strategy so Trump didn’t need much in donation, and so he said this about this about large backers; "These are highly sophisticated killers, and when they give $5 million, or $2 million or $1 million to Jeb, they have him just like a puppet."

But now Trump is heading in to a national campaign where dominating news coverage alone won’t cut it, so he needs money. And so he’s worked with the RNC to set up big donor superPACs, which can take single donations as much as $449k. Trump is courting Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and long time backer of the GOP, for a donation that could exceed $100 million. Suddenly these guys aren’t killers, or Trump just doesn’t care if they are.

The point, basically, is that these guys will change their views as the circumstances around them change. This isn’t just because they’re politicians, it’s because they’re people. Look at the supporters for any candidate, they’ll change tune as quickly as the politician does.

But people still like these guys because they say it like it is, that they’re not like other politicians. The issue isn’t just that they’re politicians, they’re also people. Don’t just think it’s Clinton, Trump, or Sanders who tell this kind of bs – look at their supporters – they lap it up. Bullshitting is a human condition, and if you try and pick a politician who is honest, then it’s you who is bullshitting yourself.


 feeder wrote:
I'm interested how it's going to play out when HRC sits down with countries that still have 'women are property' as the cultural norm.


The same way it played out when Indira Ghandi, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto or Angela Merkel managed it. Power speaks, and cultural standards get put aside as long as that person is in power.

Hell, Pakistan and Bangladesh have large populations, possibly majorities, that don't like women going outside of the house without a male escort. But they both elected female prime ministers.
          Politics - USA        
Prestor Jon wrote:
"The system"? Are you referring to the economy or what? Might just be one of those things were different locales and nationalities have different terminology/slang but I've never heard it explained like that. We don't have a system that just doles out money like we're all playing slot machines in a casino.


Not just the economy, by the vast network of systems and institutions that support that economic activity. All those things play a huge role in deciding how productive each individual can be.

The simplest way to think of this is to consider a lawyer, in your country or mine if he's gifted and very hard working he might earn a very healthy salary - let's say $200,000 a year. Now consider that same guy working in a small village in Bangladesh, he might be on something more like $20,000 a year. Not because he's less hard working or less talented, but just because he's part of a system which is nowhere near as good at supporting and enabling the economic activity of everyone single person in the system.

The tax code doesn't sit outside or separate to the rest of the system, which establishes and enforces property and contract laws, or the government institutions that build roads, provide education and encourage research.

And yeah, not many people anywhere think of it in those terms, and that's a shame because it would help to improve understanding greatly.

We have the discussion about "fair" tax rates all the time. It always boils down to the fact that "fair" is a subjective idea that varies with each individual. Some people think some tax brackets should have higher rates but nobody wants their own taxes to go up. Some people want the govt to do/spend more but everybody always pays the smallest amount of taxes they legally can. Everyone is free to pay more taxes to the govt but I've never seen an example of a rich person, especially a rich politician that voluntarily pays a higher rate because doing so is more "fair."


Sure, it's pretty typical that most people think everyone above them should pay more tax, and everyone beneath them should get less benefits. Humans are selfish, afterall. And yeah, exactly what is fair is pretty subjective. But what I am saying is that just looking at what is taxed is misleading in and of itself - fairness isn't about what you put in, but about what you have in total - and that means what we should look at is people's incomes after tax.

But it doesn't make much sense to argue that people's belief in a collective action is only okay when they personally are giving more. Because government is on such a scale that one individual's personal sacrifice means nothing - consider Warren Buffet, who earned a quite ludicrous $13 billion last financial year - if he was to give every penny he made last year to the federal government then total government revenue would increase 0.4%. And that's talking about one of the richest men in the world, who had their biggest single year, and who had most of that growth only on paper through increasing capital values. And it still rounds down to zero.

Campaign ads aren't meant to prompt meaningful policy discussions they're meant to motivate party bases, reinforce party differences (real or imagined) and get the electorate worked up over partisan wedge issues in the hope of increasing turnout and that's just the ads that aren't outright mud slinging negative ads.


Absolutely. And unfortunately most people think of politics only in terms of those slogans. Or in terms of arguing with those slogans.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Prestor Jon wrote:
"Rich" people aren't the only ones that benefit from civil society and infrastructure. Infrastructure is built by the government, the government is funded by taxes, in our progressive income tax system "rich" people pay the most income tax that funds the government. So "poor" people should be mad at "rich" people for funding government projects that benefit society? Or is it that "rich" people shouldn't benefit from civil society and a stable economy created by a government funded by their taxes?


No, the point is that everyone benefits from society. And if a single guy makes $200,000 a year from his job, he will still have $150,000 left after federal taxes, and maybe something like $130,000 left after state taxes. That will still leave the guy with about 2.5 times the average median income. From there it is clear that it is completely bonkers for him to complain that it is unfair that he pays a higher rate of tax than other people, because he is still a massive beneficiary from the overall system.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Relapse wrote:
Exalted. The whole,"You didn't build this", is one of the most loaded, asnine phrases I have heard. Sure, there are those who are born into wealth that just lounge about, but I know far more well off people who started by risking everything to make their business work. They would work consistent long days that carried them well into the night, keep things running off credit cards along with having everything they owned mortgaged to the hilt. This is why that whole statement met with such derision from these people.


I think most people met the quote with derision because they were too busy working long in to the night to read the full quote. Or possibly that lots of people thought it was easier to just be pretend outraged at Obama, instead of stop and realise that their personal success wasn't just because they personally are super-awesome, but because they exist in a system which creates and supports economic opportunity.

Anyway, here's the actual quote. Note there's nothing in there about inherited wealth, but just about the reality that success doesn't come in a bubble.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business – you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Asterios wrote:
I look at it this way, its a messed up society when the top 1% of people are paying about 70-90% of the taxes


But if their net incomes are higher than they've ever been, exactly what are they complaining about?

our unemployment is thru the roof


You have no idea what you're talking about.



That said, I agree with you on the California statewide $15 minimum wage - it makes sense in a couple of California markets, but across the state it seems way too high.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Asterios wrote:
so that brings us back to what is a good tax system? charge the rich a higher percentage of taxs? then why bother being rich if most of your money you cannot keep? why bother building businesses that hire lots of employees if you don't get to keep the money you made?


Why are you talking about 'most'? The current highest rate in the US right now is 39.6%. That's what you pay on each dollar you earn north of $415,000. Upping that tax rate to 45% will just about wipe the deficit. But you can even decide that the guy on $500,000 is paying enough, and just look at the 1 million biggest earning households in the US, which earn an average $2.1 million. Put their taxes up to 45% and you'd generate $276 billion, which would just about take out most of the deficit, it'd certainly be back to a level that, along with growth, would mean debt to GDP would start falling quite quickly.

And this is really the issue - people seem to hear any talk about raising taxes on the wealthy and respond with hyperbole about what happens when they are taxed at 90%. But if you just look at returning US top tax rates to something close to their historic norm, and it's amazing how much of the deficit problem just goes away.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
 whembly wrote:
No... the OIG report changed the conversation, as the media enmass can't ignore/spin this.


And you're falling back on the old story that the media is this collective entity that makes decision on what it will cover - so that anytime it doesn't cover exactly what stories you want it to cover in the manner you think it should, it must be because the media is biased. But the Trump debacle should have finally killed that myth once for all by showing what the media really is - a collection good looking idiots who basically don't care about anything but what stories produce ratings.

If the Clinton story rated and got lots of interest it'd be the lead story every night.

It certainly adds into Trump's meme of 'Crooked Hillary'.


I think Trump's names have been less imaginative as the campaign has gone on. Little Marco was genius, the rest since then... meh.

So, to answer to your question: Yes. I've seen that while most don't believe Trump would ever be a "Good President", they simply abhor the idea of HRC in the WH. These folks are traditional Democrat voters mind you. (I'm still not voting for Trump anyways as I'm on Calvinball mode).


That wasn't my question! We all know there's plenty of Democrats who don't like Clinton. My question is whether anyone who likes or is neutral to Clinton is treating the email thing as a big deal. Any friends of yours saying 'I like Clinton and want to vote Democrat, but this email thing has me worried'.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Prestor Jon wrote:
The problem is when politicians use taxes as a political football. Politicians promise more govt spending and then promise to make those other people, the "rich" people, pay for it when basic math shows that the govt already spends far more than it could collect in taxes no matter where the rates are set.


What basic math is that? Right now the generates $3.2 trillion in revenue, and spends $3.7 trillion. There is no 'basic math' that would stop taxes closing that gap.


Automatically Appended Next Post:
Asterios wrote:
yes but what about the small business owner, who now has to pay his employees more money then he/she makes themselves? I have a friend who has had a McDonald's franchise for over 30 years, he is going to have to close it down why? because it is not worth running it because he estimates he will be making less then $8 an hour himself thanks to the "Government" telling him he has to pay unskilled laborers a skilled wage,


If your friend can only make $8 an hour out of owning and running a McDonalds franchise, and on top of that is so bad at business that they don't even think of selling the franchise instead of closing it down, then to be perfectly frank capitalism is probably better off without your friend.
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          Highlights From our First Global Social Innovation Event        

Across the global network, hundreds of alumni of Teach For All partners are leading change as social entrepreneurs by developing new solutions to the causes and symptoms of inequality. To support their alumni leaders in designing and launching sustainable and scalable initiatives, many network partners are increasing their own understanding of and capacity to foster successful social innovations. To this end, from July 5 - 9, 20 staff members from 14 network partners came together in London for the first-ever social innovation network learning trip, co-hosted by Teach For All and Teach First. The event enabled peers from across the network to build strong connections as they exchanged insights and ideas for how to inspire, incubate, and accelerate the impact of alumni social innovators.

The event began with a focus on helping Teach For All partner staff who support alumni to more deeply understand their local social innovation sector landscapes, in order to inform the design of their support strategies. After analyzing the key elements of the social innovation ecosystems in their countries or regions (stakeholders, funding opportunities, resources, etc.), attendees also worked together to understand the journey of a social entrepreneur from startup to scaling up a social enterprise, and then engaged with a panel of social entrepreneurs who are Teach First ambassadors (alumni), bringing the exercise to life.

On site at the Hackney Pirates, a social enterprise founded by a Teach First alumna that engages the local community in helping young people develop literacy, confidence, and perseverance, attendees discussed funding challenges and opportunities in the social innovation sector. Also explored was the importance of incorporating a commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion into the design of their support strategies, and of continuing to develop and strengthen their relationships with alumni entrepreneurs.  

A visit to the Teach First Innovation Booster offered the opportunity for the group to experience one of the ways that Teach First delivers support to social entrepreneurs—an annual one-day event where approximately 200 emerging education sector entrepreneurs take part in dozens of workshops and one-on-one clinics with experts.

At the close of the event, attendees reflected on their time together, the work and planning that lay ahead, and the collective value in continuing to support each other and share knowledge and resources among the group.

“I know now the journey of a social entrepreneur, what must be done first and later,” reflected Natali Nasibyan, Teach For Armenia’s Alumni Coordinator. “I now have a vision for the work in Armenia, priority action plans, and next steps.”

“I’m leaving this event feeling enthused and with lots of ideas for how we can support our fellows to become true problem-solvers,” shared Emily Cook, Director of Partnership Development & Alumni Impact at Teach For Bangladesh.

In sharing their wisdom and experience with attendees, staff members of host partner Teach First, who have been pioneering support for alumni social innovators for five years, gained insights and inspiration as well. “After this event it is my priority to review our Diversity, Equality & Inclusion strategy for entrepreneurs in the social innovation pathway,” said Catarina Gomes, Senior Officer of Innovation Relationships at Teach First. “I’ll also continue to use the eco-system map which we developed to build our relationships and support for alumni more strategically.”

For highlights and photos from the event, visit Storify.

Alumni support staff from across Teach For All gathered in London to learn from Teach First and each other
          Slow Fashion – när modebranschen synar sig själv        
1135 arbetare omkom när en textilfabrik rasade samman i Bangladesh. Det blev ett uppvaknande: Hur fungerar modebranschen i grunden? Här är ett reportage om motreaktionen: Slow Fashion.
          My Bucket List        
I despise the word ‘bucket list’. It’s a common, overused word that extracts away the sense of wonder and intrigue from travelling the very destination that corroborates that feeling. On the other hand, I want to abstain from using a word filled with awe and marvel– it makes my list seem unachievable. At the end of the day, this is a list of places that I would give my left arm to visit! I realised its good to have pegged down a definite list and work towards it. So here goes, my ‘Bucket List’, for the next few years. Would love to find friends to crash with, work to fund the trips and a great reason that I don’t know of, to visit these. So if you know something that I don’t (or have extra cash to donate), mail away. Meanwhile, you will see many posts on the blog as I tick these off.

My favourite city in the world - Varanasi

Pet a Husky – That hardly seems to be the kind of thing that one puts on a bucket list. But I want to pet a Husky - by a fireplace - of a wooden cottage (or preferably an igloo) - on a Monday Alaskan morning. And you thought this was going to be a simple one. With that, throw in the Northern lights, and then I’m done with Alaska.

Stay in Varanasi for a Year - I truly find the spirit of Varanasi to be that of one that is unshakable, unique and altogether ridiculous. While I’ve ticked off many of the ‘Varanasi’ experiences over the last few years, I would really like to stay there to document the festivals in each month – and there are plenty! One year on Meer Ghat in a room overlooking the river is all I ask for.

Petra & Wadi Rum at Night – I read about Petra and Wadi Rum just when I started travelling actively in 2004. Money, time and most importantly lack of travel vision are reasons why I never thought I would ever get here. The boundaries have blurred. This is happening soon!

Swimming in the Dead Sea - Because I’ve done nothing about learning how to swim properly! No, actually this has been on my list forever. It’s high time that I get it done with. There are some things that just stick in your brain and a niggling thought persists until they are done – well, the Dead Sea is one of those for me.

Galápagos Islands– Having read about the islands in blogs and books, this seems like one of the most unachievable on my list. Yet, I want to keep it, be persistent and let it hang here  - even if it means many many many years before I do this!

Pakistan - My folks (as kids) and older family members witnessed the partition in 1947. I’ve always viewed that life-changing period for them as just a story.  That, and the fact that the ‘other side’ was once part of the same land are reasons why I am intrigued to visit the country. Ofcourse, socially, politically and religiously there are differences that everyone knows of – I want to look a little beyond that and view the similarities.

Japan – A heavy dose of Murakami does that to you. Japan has been on the list for its bizarre blend of modern and traditional. This is one place I believe will disrupt my thinking.     No doubt that its wildly expensive, but there will be simpler experiences – like standing in a road full of cherry blossoms, roaming the streets of Kyoto and sleeping in one of those crazy capsule pods.


Mangrovy Sundarbans from Bangladesh, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Myanmar and a month is Greece is what’s coming up next on the list. Clearly I need 56 hours in a day, 23 days in a week and 154 weeks in a year!



          On learning to dismount the high horse        
As you (probably) know, I am a South African expat, living in the UK. If you're an expat, too, you will know that a conversation about your accent is something that takes place pretty much on a daily basis. Shopkeepers, people with whom you strike up conversations on the train, people on the other end of the phone, fellow attendees at business meetings... everywhere and anywhere seems to be the right place and any time seems to be the right time for "Where are you from?"

Some people like to guess. South Africans ('saffas'), New Zealanders (kiwis) and Australians (ozzies) often get mistaken for each other. At one stage, I worked with an Australian. We had a lot in common and we got on really well. His family and mine spent social time together on the weekends. This clearly showed in the way we interacted with each other at work, and many people assumed we were a couple, because we got on so well together and 'had the same accent.'

These are three very competitive sporting nations and in general, it doesn't go down too well with a national from one to be mistaken for another. I was no exception. I bristled when I was asked if (and sometimes told that) I was an ozzie or a kiwi. A facetious "g'day mate" brought out the worst in me.

But then I realised something. I can't tell accents apart, either. Yes, I can tell my ozzies from my kiwis (it's in the As and the Is), but I can't tell a Pole from a Latvian - and we have many of both in our town. I can't tell a Pakistani from an Indian, and there are many of both of those all over the UK. I have no idea how offended a Polish person is when asked if they're Latvian, or vice versa. I have no idea whether a cricket fan from Pakistan bristles at being asked if s/he is enjoying an England/India game being televised at the time.

So I decided to get down off that high horse before I got a nosebleed. It really isn't a big deal. And at least the person is showing some interest and making conversation about something other than the weather.

But I'm still ridiculously pleased when someone gets it right. Just this morning, I popped into a little shop on the Charing Cross station and the man behind the counter identified me as a South African. I asked how he could tell, and he said (a) that he was a fan of cricket in general and Kepler Wessels in particular and (b) that with the South African embassy being just across the road, hordes of saffas visited his shop on a daily basis. The man himself was from India...or Pakistan...or Bangladesh...or maybe even Sri Lanka. I couldn't tell. Something I am readier to admit from ground level than I ever was from my perch on that horse I mentioned.

Now if I can just learn to stop bristling when people try to 'do the accent' which I have never heard anyone do successfully...

          Thirty crore speakers, seven lakh words        
A group of volunteers has broken the record for most words added to Google Translate in a day. Bangladesh's Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) coordinated with Google to organize a one-day event, timed to coincide with স্বাধীনতা দিবস (Bangladesh's independence day). Over 4,000 volunteers added 700,000 Bengali words, handily exceeding their target of four lakh (lakh = 100,000). Bengali counts around 30 crore speakers around the world (crore = ten million) and is the official language of Bangladesh. Google Translate runs on Google's proprietary statistical machine translation algorithms but also relies heavily on volunteer assessments via a community site, http://translate.google.com/community, where anyone can contribute translations or check existing ones.
          Monsoon Season Exacerbates Typhoid in South Asia        

Originally posted by the Coalition against Typhoid. 

Every year from July to September across South Asia, the monsoon ushers in rain that boosts the growth of crops and powers the hydroelectric dams. While these annual rains help the economy, their torrential nature often hurts the health of vulnerable communities through dangerous flooding across the region.

Monsoon-related flooding increases the risk of waterborne diseases, including typhoid fever and related diseases such as paratyphoid and invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella disease. Hospitals across South Asia have been reporting spikes in the number of cases they see. According to a study of health insurance claims in India, municipal hospitals see a 25 percent rise in patients every monsoon season. A study published in 2013 of typhoid distribution in Dhaka, Bangladesh, found that as many as 45 percent of typhoid cases may occur during the monsoon season. Some hospitals in Nepal are under such a heavy burden that they are running out of medicine, adding urgency to the need to increase access to existing typhoid vaccines.

Clearly, the monsoon season creates the ideal climate for the transmission of typhoid: plentiful waters facilitate the growth of typhoid bacteria; intense rains can damage water and sewage lines, releasing sewage into the environment and contaminating water sources used for cleaning, cooking and drinking. A large 2007 surveillance study in Kolkata, India, found that communities’ clean water sources are put in jeopardy during this period. Sewage and water lines are so close together that the risk of leakage is constant. The monsoon particularly exacerbates the risk of cross-contamination, and causes open drains in the community to overflow with sewage, potentially contaminating otherwise clean water.

Floods may also damage and sweep away infrastructure and housing or destroy local water supplies, making it ever more difficult to maintain water sanitation and hygiene. Since the monsoon season began, hundreds of thousands of people in South Asia have been displaced by monsoon flooding and will have to take shelter in ad-hoc relief camps, far from their usual sources of water. Yet flooding victims still need to drink and eat, even if the only source is dirty water and unwashed food.

All of these factors disproportionately impact children and the poor, who are already at greater risk for typhoid and related diseases. However, the monsoons do not have to jeopardize communities’ health and stability year after year. With better infrastructure for water and sanitation, as well as accessible and effective vaccines, the monsoon can simply bring the rains—and not diseases.


          World Health Day: Preventing Typhoid Deaths by Tackling Food Safety        

New data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group reveal that in 2010, unsafe food was responsible for 22 different foodborne enteric diseases– including typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever is a severe infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) and is spread through the ingestion of water or food contaminated with human waste. Typhoid often causes symptoms ranging from a high fever to death if left untreated.

As with most diseases caused by contaminated food, typhoid primarily infects children under five. However, as the WHO points out, many of these cases could be prevented with increased food safety.

Food safety is a critical to preventing disease and promoting healthy, prosperous communities. This World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is highlighting the need for increased food safety in order to decrease enteric infections such as typhoid, which are caused by viruses, bacteria and protozoa that enter the body by ingestion of contaminated food.

This year’s World Health Day slogan, “from farm to plate, make food safe,” encourages all food handlers and consumers to take the necessary steps to ensure food safety. Doing so would prevent needless deaths due to unsafe food.

The Coalition against Typhoid (CaT) Secretariat, housed at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, is addressing the global burden of typhoid by focusing on issues such as food safety and proper hygiene and sanitation practices, in conjunction with vaccines.

While typhoid can be treated with antibiotics, 60 to 80 percent of salmonella isolates are resistant to commonly used antibiotics, requiring new and more expensive antibiotics for treatment and increasing hospitalization rates for patients. And while typhoid vaccines exist, they are costly and have not been widely supported for use in typhoid endemic countries. This means that the most vulnerable populations, such as infants and young children, do not have access to the vaccine.

To address these challenges, manufactures around the world are accelerating efforts to produce a more effective vaccine. At the same time, CaT is raising awareness about the prevalence of typhoid, and the need for new typhoid conjugate vaccines.

In just a few weeks, CaT will convene prominent clinicians, scientists, policy makers and public health practitioners to share updates on research and public health strategies geared towards reducing the burden of typhoid fever and invasive salmonelloses. 

A young typhoid patient from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Their 9th International Conference on Typhoid and Invasive NTS Disease seeks to report on progress towards vaccine development. Additionally, the Conference attendees will discuss next steps for typhoid research and strengthen linkages between research and policy makers. 

To learn more about the conference, click here. To participate in the conversation and stay up to date, follow the hashtag #TyphoidNTS.


A young typhoid patient from Dhaka, Bangladesh

          Surveillance for Enteric Fever in Asia Project (SEAP) Kicks off in Kathmandu with First Site Investigator Meeting        

This blog was originally posted on the Coalition against Typhoid website. 

The first site investigator meeting of the Surveillance for Enteric Fever in Asia Project (SEAP) took place February 25 – February 28 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

SEAP is a new initiative by the Sabin Vaccine Institute to establish a hospital based enteric fever surveillance network in Asia. The network will enable the systematic collection of data in order to fill knowledge gaps on the impact of severe enteric fever, including: incidence, mortality, complications (intestinal perforation, etc.), hospitalization rates, household economic impact, and clinical outcome differences between drug-sensitive and drug-resistant Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) and Salmonella Paratyhi (S. Paratyphi). The proposed project will include a surveillance network in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Pakistan, and will be carried out in two phases over a period of three years.

Site investigators and consultants met in Kathmandu to discuss Phase I of the project. Phase I will begin with a healthcare facility assessment of selected study sites to assess what resources are required for a systematic collection of enteric fever data. Investigators will then begin a retrospective study of existing hospital records at the study sites.

One of the major challenges with enteric fever surveillance is that treatment typically occurs outside of tertiary healthcare facilities. Febrile patients often visit community health care providers that do not conduct diagnostic evaluation and prescribe first-line antibiotics with or without the presence of a positive blood culture. Thus, typhoid cases are vastly under reported. To combat this issue, Phase I of SEAP will include a healthcare utilization survey, which can later be used to adjust disease burden estimates to the population level.

To help ensure support from key stakeholders at the national and local level, Phase I will also include the formation of site-specific stakeholder committees, which will include representatives from all relevant governmental and non-governmental sectors.

Phase I will conclude with analysis of all data collected. This will inform design of Phase 2, a prospective surveillance study.

Project activities are expected to begin immediately.


          Bangladeshi Student Teacher Sex Scandal        
Enjoy Bangladeshi Student Teacher Sex Scandal at PornoTube.rs - best free hardcore pornotube videos and homemade sex movies.
          Goldman-backed startup Circle launches no-fee foreign payments service         

Blockchain technology is increasingly being viewed as a way of transferring data from one location to another in a secure manner that is immune from the types of threats that have assailed the SWIFT network; most spectacularly with the Bangladesh heist. However, speculating on the value of crypto currencies as a business model would appear to be fraught with dangers.


          Tonton Werewolf Dari Bangladesh 2015 Full Movie Online        
Sinopsis:Werewolf Dari Bangladesh 2015

Filem ini bermula kisahnya 20 tahun lalu apabila Mirdu, iaitu seorang warga Bangladesh diserang seekor serigala jadian mengakibatkan berlaku perubahan fizikal ke atas dirinya menjadi makhluk berkenaan. 

Tidak hanya pada fizikal, tingkah laku Mirdu juga menjadi ganas dan kejam hingga ramai penduduk kampung menjadi korban kerakusannya. 
Penduduk kampung yang sudah tidak boleh bersabar akhirnya mengambil keputusan membakar rumah Mirdu. Sebelum Mirdu meninggal, dia berjaya menyebarkan DNA-nya kepada sepasang kembar bernama Kumba dan Kumbi. 

Kini, Kumbi telah datang ke Malaysia dengan tujuan untuk menyebarkan DNA serigala jadian di negara tersebut.

Tarikh Tayangan : 5 Mac 2015
Genre : Komedi / Seram
Pengarah : Mamat Khalid
Pelakon : Usop Wilcha, Emma Maembong, Zizan Razak, Saiful Apek Terbitan : Ariabella Sdn Bhd

Tonton: Link1  Link2 


           The 'trainer in your pocket': mobile phones within a teacher continuing professional development program in Bangladesh         
Walsh, Christopher S., Power, Tom , Khatoon, Masuda, Biswas, Sudeb Kumar , Paul , Ashok Kumar , Sakar, Bikash Chandra , and Griffiths, Malcolm (2013) The 'trainer in your pocket': mobile phones within a teacher continuing professional development program in Bangladesh. Professional Development in Education, 39 (2). pp. 186-200.
           Mobile phones for professional development and English teaching in Bangladesh         
Walsh, Christopher S., Shrestha, Prithvi, and Hedges, Claire (2013) Mobile phones for professional development and English teaching in Bangladesh. International Journal of Innovation and Learning, 13 (2). pp. 183-200.
          World Bank Statement of September 25, 2012 on Padma Bridge        
The World Bank issued the following statement concerning the Padma bridge project in Bangladesh: Media reports have quoted senior Bangladeshi government officials misrepresenting the World Bank’s position concerning the Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project. We feel obliged to issue the following clarifications: The Bank has shared repeatedly with the Government of Bangladesh credible evidence of corruption [...]
           Nucleotide sequencing, whitefly transmission, and screening tomato for resistance against two newly described begomoviruses in Bangladesh         
Maruthi, M.N., Alam, S.N., Kader, K.A., Rekha, A.R., Cork, A. and Colvin, J. (2005) Nucleotide sequencing, whitefly transmission, and screening tomato for resistance against two newly described begomoviruses in Bangladesh. Phytopathology, 95 (12). pp. 1472-1481. ISSN 0031-949X (doi:10.1094/PHYTO-95-1472 )
          Secret Affair With A Designer But Marriage With Engineer; Story Of Ravindra Jadeja’s Life Since He Became India’s Ace All-Rounder        

In the ongoing Test series between India and Sri Lanka, cricketer Ravindra Jadeja became the top ranking Test all-rounder, overtaking Bangladeshi cricketer Shakib Al Hasan. It was his impressive knock of 70, along with a 7-wicket haul in the second Test against Sri Lanka, that helped him jump to the highest spot in the ICC rankings.

 

 

However, Jadeja’s 438 points soon turned into a moment of disappointment after the ICC declared a one-match ban on the cricketer for accumulating sex demerit points in 24 months. Although Axar Patel is all set to replace Jadeja in the 3rd match, seems like the all-rounder hasn’t lost his wit as his tweet “Hum sharif kya hue, puri duniya hi badmash ho gayi,” came soon after the imposed ban. 

 

          Asian Aqua        
The Brahmaputra is a trans-boundary river  and one of the major river of Asia.It is also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra.It is originated in south-western  Tibet and flows across southern Tibet to break through the Himalayas.It also flows through the Assam Valley and South through the Bangladesh as the Jamuna river.Before 1787,there was no Jamuna river.The Brahmaputra changed it flowing direction after earth quake in 1787 and changing streams make a new river which is called Jamuna river. By the way, this is the longest river of the Asia.It has gorgeous charming scenery that can attract any people's mind and gives pleasure. 

          The Titas & Sugandha River        
The Titas river is  one of the beautiful river of Bangladesh.It is a trans-boundary river of south-eastern Bangladesh.This river is originates in the state of Tripura.After flowing near Agartala,it enters Bangladesh through Akhaura Upazila in the Brahmanbaria district.Then it merges with the Meghna river to the south near Ashuganj.The length of this river is 130km,the width is 100m and the depth is 7m.

The Sugandha river is a beautiful river of Bangladesh.It flows eastern near Shayestabd and falls into the Bay of Bengal after meeting with the Megna river at Sahbazpur in Bhola.Another offshoots of the Sugandha river flows south-southwest as the Kirtankhola upto Nalchity keeping the Barisal town on its west bank.The length of this river is 30km,the width is 1000m and the depth is 10m.The deltaic branches of the Sugandha river gradually disappeared making various Islands(in local language Chars) in many part of  the greater Barisal district.

          The Matamuhuri River        
The Matamuhuri river is one of the trans-boundary river of  Bangladesh.It originates from the Lushai hill of Tripura in India and enters Bangladesh through Parshuram Upazila of Feni district after flowing over the hilly regions of India.The length of this river is 120km,the width is 100m and the depth is 10m.At some places ,it limits the boundary between India and Bangladesh and falls into the Bay of Bengal after dividing the Feni and the Chittgong district.The river is under tidal influence near to the sea.This river is a line of  contention between the two neighboring countries,India and Bangladesh.There is a huge and advanced dam in the side of India.Thus in rainy season,the flood water can not cause much disaster in this portion but in Bangladesh opposite scenes  are shown.So this is main reason of border dispute.By the way,this river also stands for peace among the two nations.It stands for the harmony and also the historical help and support the India citizens offered during the Bangladesh crisis with Pakistan.

          The Mahananda & Khowai River        
The Mahananda is a river which originates  in the Himalayas.It is a trans-boundary river that flows through the West Bengal,Behar and Bangladesh.It flows through Mahananda Wildlife Sanctury and descends to the plains near Silguri,it touches Jalpaiguri district.It  enters in Bangladesh to join the Ganges near the town of Chapai Nawabganj.The length of this river is 84km,the width is 300m and the depth is 10m.Mahananda river  is mainly fed by rainwater.During Rainy season,it often carries large amount of rainwater which often causes floods.But in Summer or Winter season,it has very low water level.It has some tributaries.The main tributaries are Balason,Mechi,Ratwa and Kankai.

The khoawai river originates from the eastern part of the Atharamura Hills of Tripura .The Khowai river enters Bangladesh at Balla in Sylhet district.It also flows in the east of Habiganj town and emerges into the Meghna near the mouth of the Kalni at Nabiganj..

          The Shitalakya River        
The Shitalakhya is a distributary river of the Brahmaputra which has changed its course at least twice in the Bangladesh region in the near past, indircetly affecting the flow of water in the Shitlakhya.The length of this river is about 73km,the width is 73m and the depth is 14m.At first stage,it flows  southwest direction and then east of the city of Narayanganj  in the central Bangladesh until it merges with the Dhaleswari near kalagachhiya.The Shitlakya runs almost parallel to the Brahmaputra and after passing by Narayanganj,it joins Dhaleswari.The course of the Brahmaputra through Dhaka district was deserted by the 18th century when it flowed further east and joined the Meghna river near Bhairab.A former capital region "Sonapur" which is  stood on the bank of the Shitlakya river.A fort  which was built by Isa Khan (a former ruler of the area) ,stands on this bank.The river was connected with "Lalbagh Fort "in Dhaka through an underground tunnel."Sonakanda Fort" also stands on the bank of this river.The historical mosque "Bandarshahi Mosque"(built in 1481 by Baba Saleh),"Kadam Rasul Mosque" (containing the footprints of Hazrat Mohammad Sallallahu Aliehis wasallam) stands on the bank of this river.The famous Adamjee Jute Mills are stood on the bank of this river.

          The Baral River        
The Baral river is one of the offshoots of the Ganges.It originates at Charghat Upazila or Rajshahi district of Bangladesh.The Baral river  flows through the Natore as well as the Pabna district.It  meets with the Gumani at the East of Bangura and finally meets with the Hurasagar after joining with the Karatoya river south of Shahjadpur.The length of this river is 124km,the width is 120m and the depth is 9.50m.Only in the rainy season,the river receives water from Ganges but it maintains its flow throughout the year with local runoff water and water from Chalan Beel.There is a Bridge on the Baral river which is located at Bhangura Upazila.A 3.41km long closure dam was constructed across the Baral river in 1965-1966.There are some important places which are located on the bank of the Baral river.They are Charghat, Baraigram, Bagatipara, Gurudaspur, Bhangura, Bera and Chatmohor etc.So,these places are attractive or beautiful for Baral river.

          The Gorai & Dakatia River        
The Gorai river is one of the longest river  in Bangladesh and a distributary of Ganges river.Gorai river enters in Bangladesh through Kurigram district,at the border of Kurigram Sadar and finally the merged flow meets the Shitalakshaya river near Narayanganj district.The length of this river is 90km, the width is 400m and the depth is 10m.

The Dakatia river is the first tributary of the Meghna river  that it receives after entering Noakhali district.The Dakatia river is the combination of several hill streams through Kakrai,Pagli Boaljar etc ,which are originated from Tippera hills.The length of this river is 110km,the width is 180 and the depth is 9m.There are three gauging stations on Dakatia river at Hajiganj,Raipura and Hazimara.The Dakatia was a formerly a most important channel for trade.It is still navigable in the lower region by country boats during the rainy season.The upper region is navigable throughout the year.

          The Manu & Punarbhava River        
The Manu is a river in southeastern Peru.It runs down the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains into the Amazon Basin.It originates in Tripura in  India and then flows into Bangladesh.The river enters Bangladesh through Kulaura Upazila in Maulvi Bazar district  when it changes its course to northwest and north to meet the Kushiyara at Manumuk.The length of this river is 83km,the width is 200m and the depth is 5m.

The punarbhava is a river of Bangladesh and West Bengal in India .It originates from the lowland of Thakurgaon district.The length of this rive is 160km,the width is 200 and the depth is 6.5m.The river's upper part is a few kilometers west of Atrai.It flows south Dinajput district through Gangarampur  and Tapan community development blocks.After that it meets with the Dhepa river and ultimately it flows into the Ganges.The Purana Jame Mosque is situated on the bank of this river.




          The Kirtankhola River        
The second largest river port is Kirtankhola .The Kirtankhola river is a river that starts from Sayeshtabad in Barisal district and ends into the Gajalia Gabkhan canal.The length of this river is 16km,the width is 600m and the depth is 15m.The further course of the river falls into the Bay of Bengal receiving various names at various places and finally as the Haringhata.By the way,the second largest river port  of Bangladesh is now under great threat as Kirtankhola river is lost its navigability due to continued siltation.Bangladesh water transport Authority sources  more than 100water transports plying on Dhaka-Barisal-Khulna,Chittagong-Barisal-Khulna and other routes of the country remained stranded for hours at Char Shibli diversion channel.Water transport at present fail to approach the launch jetties and steamer stations.The vessels are anchoring about 3 to 4.5 meter from the station,as the depth of water near the port became less than 1.1 meter.
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          The Ichamati River        
The Ichamati river is a trans-boundary river which flows  through India and Bangladesh.The Ichamati river has now three parts.The longer part flows from the Mathavanga river ,a tributary of the Padma river.After flowing for 208km ,it joins the Kalindi river near Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas and Debhata in Sathkhira district.The length of this river is 56.60km,the width is 40m and the depth is 6.50m.By the way,the river also faces some problems such as Industrial pollution and forcible occupation of land by people.Without this lack of sanitation facilities ,encroachment ,groundwater contamination like arsenic pollution ,destruction of aquatic flora,fauna are reason of  river water pollution.This problems should be tackled through participatory mechanism.The river also facing the thin flow of water in the dry season and in rainy season,the river is full with water and floods are occured which immerges the nearest area of the river.

          The Halda River        
The Halda river is a river in South-Eastern of Bangladesh.It is a second main river of Chittagong district.Halda river originates at the Badnatali Hill ranges in Ramgarh Upazila in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.This river flows through Fatikchhari Upazila,Hathazati Upazila ,Raozan Upazila and Chittagong Kotwali Thana  and falls into the Karnaphuli river.The length of this river is 105km,the width is 150m and the depth is 8m.Halda river has a very turbulent tributary ,the Dhurung river ,which joins Purbadhalai about 48.25km about downstreams.The river is navigable by big boats and also small boats.The fishes started release of the fertilised eggs in Halda river ,mostly in a 2km stretch of the river from Keramtoli  to Sonairchar of Gardura ,at around 3.00am and the process continued till afternoon.During the Bangla months of Baishakh and Jaistha ,fishes like Ruhi,Katla and Mrigel start migration from Karnaphuly ,Matamuhuri and Sangu rivers to the spawing centre at the Halda river.

          The Turag & Posur River        
The Turag river is an important river of Bangladesh.It originates from the Bangshi river.The Bangshi river is an important trubutary of the Dhaleswari river flows through Gazipur and joins the Buriganga river at Mirpur in Dhaka district.The length of this river is 71km,the width is 218m and the depth is 13.50m.The Turag river is abundant with fishes but suffers from acute water pollution because majority of industry has made little effort to follow environment law and the water has become visibly discolored.The Bishwa Istima is situated by the Turag river in Tongi and attracts estimates of between 2 to 4 millions Muslims annually and representatives from over sixty countries ,making it the 2nd biggest Islamic congregation after the Hajj.

The posur River is a river tributary of Ganges.It is situated in south-western of Bangladesh.The length of this river is 51km,the width is 850m and the depth is 18m.

          The Buriganga River        
Dhaka is a mega city and one of the major city of South Asia which is located in Central Bangladesh at 23 degree42'0''N ,90 degree 22'30''E,on the eastern banks of the Buriganga river.The length of Buriganga river is 45km,the width is 265m and the depth is 14m.At past ,a course of the Ganges river used to reach the Bay of Bengal through the Dhaleswari river .This course gradually shifted and ultimately lost its link with it ,the main channel of the Ganges  was renamed as the Buriganga.The Buriganga is threatened by pollution.The water tables even is very astonishing due to pollution of polythene's deposit beneath water.The material from breaking of building of the river banks also add hazardous substance in the river.Unfortunately ,the river is Dhaka's main outlet of sewage waste.Newspaper articles in 2004,indicated that up to 80% of Dhaka 's sewage was untreated.A number of industries ,including tanneries also discharge their chemical waste in to river water flow in the Buriganga is low expect during the Monsoon season.During this flood period the river is "flushed" every year.

          The Feni River        
The Feni river originates in SouthTripura district and flows through Sabroom town and then enters in Bangladesh.The length of this river is 80km ,the width is 150m and the depth is 10m.A little Feni river that means Muhuri river from Noakhali district joints it near its mouth.According to statement on sharing of river waters with Bangladesh ,released by India ,''Feni river has been added to its mandate in the 36th JRC meeting.A dicision was taken in the meeting that the MWR of both countries would visit the sites wher developmental  works have been held up.According to statement of Pakistani reporter,it say,India is trying to withdraw water from Feni river for irrigation projects in exchange of resolving erosion problem in Bangladesh side of this bordering river.A bridge is to be built over the Feni river to link up with Tripura .The bridge construction has began in December 2010 for the 150m link between Sabroom and Ramgarh.It is the only land link between India's eastern states and it's western states other than through Assam.

          The Naf River        
The Naf river is a river marking the border of Bangladesh and Mayanmar.It rises in the Arakan hills on the Southern borders of the district and flows into the Bay of Bengal.The length of this river is 64km,the width is 1550m and the depth is 11.65m.It is an elongated estuary in the southeast of Cox's Bazar district, dividing the district from Arakan,Mayanmar.The river is influenced by tide.Teknaf upazila of Cox's Bazar district is situated on the Western Bank of the Naf river.The real romancing place for enjoying Bangladesh Travel is  Teknaf .The St. Martin's Island is a small Island in the northeast part of the Bay of Bengal.It is the only coral Island in Bangladesh.It is about 8km west of the northwest coast of Myanmar at the mouth of the Naf river..Naf river famous for nice Hill,Natural Scenery,Myanmar border and more beautiful spots.Historical Shapuree Island is located at the mouth of the Naf river.

          The Bangali River        
The Bangali river is one of the main river in the northern part of Bangladesh.It originates as a distributor of  the Teesta river in Nilphamari district.The length of this river is 148km,the  width is 50m and the depth is 7m.There are a number of distributaries of the Bangali river such as the Belal,the Manosh,the Modhukhali,the Ichamoti and the Volka etc.These tributaries often dry up in the Winter season.The river flows as Ghaghot river from its source to Gaibandha ,where it splits into two branches -one moves towards the West as the Ghaghot and empties into the Karatoya river at Sherpur ,Bogra district and the other section of the Bangali river flows to the south and subsequently breaks into two sectons in Bogra district .These two sections join the Jamuna  and  Karatoya river.Recently,with the gradual decrease in the flow of the Teesta river,the Jamuna river has become the main source of water for the Bangali river.

          The Dhaleswari River        
The Dhaleswari is the Branch river of the Jamuna river.The length of this river is 168km,the width is 697m and the depth is 6m.The sixth Bangladesh-China friendship bridge over the Dhaleswari river that connects Narayanganj and Munshiganj district is another attractive place to visit at Munshiganj.This bridge is at Muktarpur, all buses from Dhaka to Munshiganj is used to give a stoppage at the base of the bridge.This bridge was opened for public at 18th February 2008 and it was opened by the Chief Advisor of Bangladesh Government,Mr.Fakhruddin Ahmed.Before the construction of bridge, people of that particular area to cross the river with boats and the vehicles with Ferri.After construction of the bridge ,it takes 15 minutes to cross over the bridge.At the middle of the bridge ,there is a plenty of cool air from the river which can give us great  freshness and pleasure.

          The Bhairab River        
Bhairab river is a river in south of Bangladesh.This river originates from Tengamari border of Meherpur district and passes through the Jessore town.The town Khulna and Jessore are situated on the bank of the Bhairab river.When the river passes through the Khulna,its divided the city into two parts.The river is approximately 218km long and 90m wide.The depth of this river is 15m.Bahirab river has two main branches,the Khulna-Ichamati and the kobadak.The Khulna-Ichanmati forms a boundary between Bangladesh and India. river.The Bhairab river takes off from its older origin the Jalangi,a few miles north of Karimpur(in West Bengal).After a tortuous course towards the south ,it turns to the east forming the boundary line between Meherpur and Karimpur for a short disance and then turning south enters Meherpur and flows past Meherpur town to the south and loses itself in the Mathebhanga close to the east of Kapashdanga.

          The Surma River        
The Surma river originates from southern hilly tract of  Naga Monipur.It is a major river of Bangladesh,part of the Surma-Meghna river system.From its source in the Manipur hills near Mao songsang,the river is known as Barak river.At the border with Bangladesh,the river divides with the northern branch being called the Surma and  the southern Kushiyara river.It ends in Kishoreganj district,above Bhairab Bazar,where the two rivers rejoin to form the Meghna river.The water of the river ultimately flow in the Bay of Bengal.The Surma is fed by tributaries from the Meghalaya hills to the north and is known as Baulai river after it is joined by the south-flowing Someswari river.The Kushiyara receives tributaries from the Sylhet hils and Tripura hills to the south,the principal one from the Tripura hills being the Manu.The length of the Surma  river is 245km ,the width is 89.84m and the depth is 12.28m.

          The Teesta River        
The Teesta river originates from the hilly tract of Sikkim  at an elevation of 5,330m above sea level in the Himalayas.The Teesta river enters in Bangladesh near Nilphamari district and courses 45 km through the rice predominant districts of Rangpur,Lalmonirhat  and Gaibandha before meeting the Brahmaputra river in kurigram.The length of this river is 113km,width is 950m and the depth is 5.50.The Teesta River Floodplain(TRF),which includes the extreme north-west region of the country,accounted for 14 % of the total cropped area in 2001.In addition,it supported around 8.5 % of the total population in the country.Around 63% of the total cropped area in the region is irrigated ,indicating a direct association between irrigation water availability and agriculture land use.The India-Bangladesh 37th ministerial level joint River Commission meeting was held in March 2010.A major breakthrough achieved during the meeting was the decision to sign an agreement within a year on the Teesta river water sharing ,which provides key support to agricultural production in the northwest region of Bangladesh.

          The Karnaphuli River        
The Karnaphuli river originates from the Lushai hills of Asam in India and  flows through the Rangamati and Chittagong district and falls into the Bay of Bengal.This is the main river of Chittagong and Rangamati.The total length of this river is 160km and width is 130m and the depth is 15m.A large hydroelectric power plant using Karnaphuli river.It was built in the Kaptai region during 1960.The mouth of the river hosts Chittangong sea port,the main port of Bangladesh.The Kaptai dam is the location of the Hydrolic-power station,the only hydrolic -electric power plant in Bangladesh was constructed in Kaptai in 1962.An earth filled dam on the karnaphuli river ,the kaptai river,the Kaptai damped created the kaptai Lake,which acts as the water reservoir for the Hydro-power station.The power plant produces a total of 230 megawatts electricity megawatts.In Chondroghona,the famous Karnaphuli paper mills and reion mills are situated.

          The Atrai River        
Atrai river flows in West Bengal and northern parts of Bangladesh.It is linked with Karatoya river.It originates in West Bengal and after flowing through the Dinajpur district of Bangladesh,it enters India again.The length of this river is 270km,width is 300m and the depth is 13m.When the river enters into Bangladesh ,it splits into two rivers-Gabura and the Kankra in Dinajpur district.It crosses the Barind Tract and flows into Chalan Beel.The river serves as a perennial source of fishing,even though it is often the cause of flooding in many areas during rainy season.The Atrai was formerly one of the great river of north Bengal for it was the maia channel by which the water of the Teesta river discharged into the Ganges.In 1787,however,the Teesta broke away from its ancient bed and cut for itself a new and capacious  channel by which it was found its way into the Brahmaputra river.Since then the atrai has lost its importance and has now few traces of its former greatness.It enters the district from Rajshahi flowing through the Chalan Beel and falls into the Baral near the village of Nurnagar.

          List of Other Rivers of Bangladesh        
The total number of river of Bangladesh is more than 700 including tributaries and branches of rivers.More than about 700 rivers including tributaries flow through the country constituting a waterway of total length around 24,140 km.Following is the list of some major other rivers of Bangladesh.
         
  • Atrai river                                                          
  • Turag river
  • Posur river
  • Dakatia river
  • Ichamoti river
  • Dholai river
  • Mans river
  • Rupsa river
  • Shitlokkha river
  • Madhumati river
  • Bangali river
  • Buriganga river
  • Potuakhali river
  • Bhairab river
  • Brahmaputra river
  • Dhaleswari river
  • Dhanu river
  • Halda river
  • Karnaphuli river
  • Teesta river
  •  Kushiyara river
  • Naf river
  • Matamuhuri river
  • Surma river
  • Feni river
  • Mathabhanga river
  • Manu river
  • Kirtankhola river
  • Sangu river
  • Mahananda river
  • Khowai river
  • Titas river
  • Sugandha river
  • Shitalakya river
  • Halda river
  • Kirtankhola river
  • Dhaleswari river
  • Punarbhava river

          Jamuna Bridge of Bangladesh        
The present  name of Jamuna multi-purpose bridge is Bangabandho bridge.This is the largest road and rail bridge of Bangladesh.The construction of Jamuna bridge was started on 16th October,1994. Steve Polard(England) was the chief Engineer of  Jamuna bridge project.The construction company  of Jamuna bridge was Hundai Engineering &Construction(South Korea).In this bridge, Meter Gage type railline was used.The length of this bridge is 4.8km,the width is 18.5m.Total number of lane of this bridge is 4 and total number of piles is 121.It has 50 pilars and also 49 span.The construction of Jamuna bridge was finished on 23th  March ,1998.The opening ceremony of this bridge was on 23th June , 1998.The total project cost was jointly financed by the government of Bangladesh, the  government of Japan,the World Bank and the Asian Bank.The bridge has removed difficulties in carrying goods and passengers between the two parts of the country.

          Annaldale loach, Lepidocephalichthys annandalei Chaudhuri, 1912        
Annaldale loach, Lepidocephalichthys annandalei

Annaldale loach, Lepidocephalichthys annandalei

Systematic position Phylum: Chordata Class: Actinopterygii (Ray-finned fishes) Order: Cypriniformes (Carps) Superfamily: Cobitoidea Family: Cobitidae (Loaches) Subfamily: Cobitinae Genus: Lepidocephalichthys Species: L. annandalei

Synonym: Lepidocephalus annandalei (Chaudhuri, 1912)

Common/local names English: Annaldale loach Bangladesh: Gutum (গুতুম) and Puiya (পুইয়া)

Distributions: Bangladesh (Rahman, 1989 and 2005) and India (Teesta river systems of North Bengal and Garo Hills ...read more

          Pankaj Mishra : The East was Red        
[from The Guardian: February 4, 2006]

http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1700618,00.html


In 1980, shortly before my 11th birthday, I wrote my first essay in English. The subject was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan - or the Soviet "intervention", as I termed it, in a "fraternal communist country threatened by imperialism". I had followed events in Afghanistan anxiously if somewhat fitfully; we had no television, and the newspapers, arriving in Jhansi, our small Indian town, from Delhi a day late, reported American threats to boycott the Moscow Olympics but said little about what was going on inside Afghanistan. Nevertheless, I boldly predicted that the Soviets would modernise a backward and feudal country, revolutionise its relations of production, and set it on the path of prosperity and peace, inflicting, in the process, another crushing defeat on the forces of reaction and imperialism.

In December 2004, I travelled on the road from Uzbekistan across the Oxus River on which the first Soviet convoys had rolled into Afghanistan 25 years before. Fearful of ambushes, the Soviets had mined the surrounding desert right up to the verges; and venturing out of the car for a pee I walked into a minefield - one of the many across Afghanistan that had killed and maimed hundreds of thousands of people - and then had to learn, for some long minutes, how hard it is literally to retrace one's steps.

What goes around comes around, even if the intense fear of losing one's life, or a limb or two, seems a very severe karmic punishment for some youthful cliché-mongering. Later that evening, drinking alone and hard in my gloomy hotel room in Mazar-i-Sharif, for the first time in many years I remembered my essay, and I couldn't help but wonder: what the hell had I been thinking? Perhaps I was no more deluded than people in Europe and America who thought that the Soviets wanted to conquer the world and who had made elaborate plans to fight, and survive, a nuclear war. At least I'd had the excuse of being 10 years old. But it was still odd to remember how during my childhood and adolescence I was an admirer and supporter - unpaid and thus very sincere - of the Soviet Union. For much of this time, I wasn't quite sure what such words as socialism, capitalism, reaction, and imperialism really meant; but I was ready to believe in the superiority of socialism over capitalism simply because this was the official ideology of the Soviet Union. A framed photograph of Lenin stood on my desk, and I possessed, if I did not actually work my way through, the complete works of Plekhanov. And self-consciously I'd prepared myself for adult life in the Soviet Union.

This was by no means a merely natural consequence of my straitened lower-middle-class circumstances. Genteel poverty of the kind we knew had drawn most people in my Brahmin family closer to the Hindu nationalists and to a politics of resentment. My father denounced as hypocrites and frauds the communists he encountered in his work as a trade unionist in Indian Railways, and he took a sceptical view of my Soviet-ophilia. But he had grown up in another time. For boys like me, in north Indian railway towns in the 70s and 80s, where nothing much happened apart from the arrival and departure of trains from big cities, the Soviet Union alone appeared to promise an escape from our limited, dusty world.

It is hard now, in these days of visual excess, to recall the sensuous poverty of the towns I lived in: the white light falling all day from the sky upon a flat land only slightly relieved by bare rock and the occasional tree, and houses of mud or grimy brick, among which any trace of colour - shop signs, painted government posters for family planning, or garish posters for Bollywood films - could provoke a sense of wonder. It explains the eagerness with which I awaited Soviet Life, the first magazine I subscribed to, which was really an illustrated press release boasting of Soviet achievements in science, agriculture, industrial production, sports, and literature.

When a new issue slipped through the mail slot, I would smell its glossy pages and run my fingers across them. Alone in my room, I gazed for a long time at colour pictures of young Soviet women raising production levels on the Ukrainian steppe, in the Fergana valley and Siberian oilfields. I lingered longest over the pages with pictures of Young Pioneers, and then cut them out carefully and wrapped them around my school notebooks, obscuring the calendar-art images of the young Lord Krishna. I did not outgrow Soviet Life even after I got my parents to subscribe to Soviet Literature, and cajoled my younger sister, who had won a small school scholarship, into giving me a subscription to the news magazine New Times. The magazines cost less than the stamps on the brown envelopes in which they arrived - indeed, my parents declined to support my pen pal-ship with a Young Pioneer girl because airmail letters were too expensive.

The Soviet Union had helped set up and then subsidise publishing houses and bookshops across much of what was then known as the developing world. America seems to have barely participated in this subtle campaign of the cold war that the Soviet Union, with its books, magazines and films, waged in the remotest Indian towns. The Soviets had made India a major beneficiary of their cultural philanthropy because it had strong communist parties that ruled states in the south and the west, was constitutionally committed to a form of socialism, and was also a leader of the third world non-aligned movement, which tilted towards the Soviets. Houses of Soviet Culture existed in all the big and some small cities, competing strongly with the cultural outposts of the so-called free world, the British Council, the United States Information Service-run American Center, and the German Max Mueller Bhavan. Mobile bookshops toured the towns offering subscriptions to Soviet magazines and organising book fairs where you could buy two hardback editions of Russian classics for five rupees (at a time when one dollar equalled 18 rupees).

The mobile bookshops came to our town without warning, often appearing in a field where gypsies from Rajasthan set up their black tents. Inside the long truck, books stood in open dusty shelves, monitored by thin young men in glasses. There were many Soviet translations of Russian classics, in addition to the works of Marx, Lenin and Plekhanov. I recall seeing nothing by either Stalin or Khrushchev, although the speeches of Brezhnev and Suslov were always available. My earliest purchases were collections of Russian fairy tales, and I now wish I still had, or could recall the titles of, the beautifully illustrated volumes that enlivened much of my childhood.

Though dedicated to advancing the cause of socialism, the Soviet-made books afforded best of all the satisfaction of private ownership. I tended to buy more books than I could read, such as that set of Plekhanov. I moved quickly through Tolstoy 's Childhood , Adolescence, Youth and then stumbled badly in Crime and Punishment, whose Christian themes did not become comprehensible to me until my 20s. But the Soviet books came at the right time, when I was ready to move on from my childhood lingering in the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and was reading more and more in English, which, unknown to me, was becoming the language of global capitalism.

Some of the Russian classics carried introductions from such approved critics as Belinsky and Chernyshevsky, whom some years later I was mortified to see ridiculed at length in Nabokov's novel The Gift

I can see now that cultural commissars dictated the offerings of Raduga and Progress Publishers, the two imprints that published most of the translations I saw in the Soviet-subsidised bookshops. There was no Nabokov - and I am surprised to see among the few books that remain with me a volume of stories by Bunin. Gorky and Mayakovsky were much preferred, and Soviet pride in the Nobel Laureate Sholokhov was expressed through multiple editions of Quiet Flows the Don

Much of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Leskov could be published without much difficulty. But several of Dostoevsky 's novels would have posed problems, and Gogol's rants and Tolstoy's Christian writings must not have appeared to the commissars as the best examples of the Soviet Union's revolutionary literary heritage. Herzen's novel Who Is to Blame? was present everywhere, but his memoir and letters were nowhere to be seen. As for post-1917 literature, you couldn't have known, reading the products of Raduga and Progress Publishers, who Bulgakov or Mandelstam were; I read them, along with Akhmatova and Pasternak, only in my early 20s, in British and American editions. A book titled How the Steel Was Tempered was very conspicuous. There were novels by a writer called Aleksey Tolstoy. Was he related to Leo? I couldn't know.

Though sturdily bound and on thick paper, the books provided little biographical information and did not even name the translators. However, they often included pictures from the lives of the more famous writers. I had read First Love and Spring Torrents, and already fantasised about pursuing romance and intellectual conversation in arbours in overgrown gardens, when one day I saw a photograph of Turgenev walking down a long straight path though tall birch trees. The picture, suggesting days spent in work and reflection, captivated me for a long time and gave urgency to my desire to emigrate to the Soviet Union. On hellishly hot days, I imagined myself walking along snowbound Nevsky Prospekt in an overcoat. On other days, I saw myself studying to become an engineer in Leningrad and then settling down with one of the pretty Young Pioneers in Turkmen costume and helping to boost production levels in a little corner of that vast land. As I grew older, this fantasy even seemed possible to realise. Many students wishing to put Indian deprivations behind them chose the Soviet Union and its engineering and medical scholarships over the much harder route - via GRE and Gmat tests - to America.

It's strange to recall that America animated none of my youthful daydreams. I did not see a Hollywood film until my late teens. The only non- Indian pop stars I knew were European - the Beatles, Abba, and Cliff Richard - and I have yet to see a copy of Quest, the Encounter-style intellectual magazine that the CIA funded in Bombay. I did long to own old copies of Time and Life that I saw being sold on the pavements of the big cities. But they were too pricey, and so was the magazine Span, the closest the Americans came to producing their own version of Soviet Life. American books were out of the question. Once, an uncle of mine who had emigrated to the United States in the mid-1960s and had since lived, improbably, in Montana, sent me some comic books, and for a brief season I was intrigued by Archie, Veronica, Betty, Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and Dennis the Menace.

In any case, America was not only beyond my means. It was also an imperialist bully, the malicious antagonist of socialist and non-aligned countries - and it wasn't just the New Times that told me so. Anti-Americanism flourished among Indian politicians and journalists, who never tired of mentioning how Nixon and Kissinger had not only supported Pakistan in its war with India over Bangladesh but had also tried to intimidate India by ordering the 7th Fleet into the Indian Ocean; and how the Soviet Union had proved to be India's most valuable friend by vetoing the anti-Indian resolution moved by the US at the UN Security Council. I had no trouble believing Indira Gandhi when she claimed that the CIA was working hard to undermine our country because of its principled non-aligned stance. At the same time, it was impossible to take Americans seriously. I remember being shocked by a picture of Jimmy Carter in the White House with his feet on his desk. And later I was equally shocked to know that Americans had elected a film actor as their president. Could such men be trusted? In contrast, the pictures of Soviet leaders radiated benign power and knowledge. I examined these as closely as a Kremlinologist, but for signs and portents of my own future. Those brows of Brezhnev; the melancholy of Gromyko; the steely seriousness of Suslov - how eloquently they spoke of a selfless dedication to social and economic justice! Of a feeling for those of us in the poor, invisible places of the world! It was easy, if you knew nothing else, to draw a larger sense of belonging, even a personal sense of security, from the pictures of Brezhnev hugging Indira Gandhi, and Soviet leaders exchanging toasts with Honecker and Husak and Castro.

In 1982 I was in Bombay with my parents, who were arranging the marriage of my eldest sister, when I heard of Brezhnev's death. I went immediately to the House of Soviet Culture, where a condolence book lay open underneath a framed poster of the departed leader. I asked for a copy of the poster at the reception. They didn't have one. My elder cousin in Bombay, who visited the American Center more frequently than the House of Soviet Culture, and would later work for Coca-Cola, joked that they were waiting to see if the new Soviet leaders would declare Brezhnev a good or a bad guy.

My mood was grim. What would happen to the Soviet Union? And to the developing and underdeveloped countries it had supported? I began looking especially closely at pictures of Andropov and Chernenko, hoping to figure out their world view. The following year, when New Delhi hosted the summit meeting of the non-aligned movement against a backdrop of growing unrest in Poland, and photos appeared in all the newspapers of handsome Castro bear-hugging Mrs Gandhi, I felt somewhat relieved. Here was proof that the small, besieged socialist nations of the world could stick together.

But time was running out for both the Soviet Union and my Soviet-ophilia. I proved to be an indifferent student of science and mathematics at high school, in no position to travel to Russia as a student of engineering or medicine. At my provincial undergraduate university, I drifted into a communist student outfit which held Marx study groups, organised demonstrations, and also stood candidates for elections to the student union. Here I met students from similar backgrounds, who possessed the same translations I had read and could recite Mayakovsky's poems and certain passages in Gorky's revolutionary novel, Mother, from memory. But my heart was not in student activism: I was a reader, therefore a daydreamer. I knew that I wanted to be a writer, and the desire led me, in Delhi in the late 80s, to spend more time at the British Council and American Center than at the House of Soviet Culture. (Daydreams may turn out to be the most practical things of all.) Arduously acquired Pelicans and Penguins started to jostle with the cheap hardbacks of Raduga and Progress Publishers on my bookshelves, and I began to imagine my name on such a glossy spine.

I also remember reading Edmund Wilson's self-critical introduction to the 1971 edition of To the Finland Station and beginning to think of Lenin in another way. Soon afterward, I lost the framed photograph of Lenin in one of my many moves, and left the collected Plekhanov standing in a room I vacated at university. But I still followed Soviet affairs through New Times. The communist activists I knew at university claimed that a reformer like Gorbachev was proof of the self-renewing potential of the Soviet system, but I didn't know what to make of him.
He made me uneasy with his frank confessions of Soviet stagnation and decline, and I was bewildered by his frequent public appearances with Reagan. Things, I feared, would end badly. And, by confirming my premonitions, the collapse of the Berlin wall left me cold.

I had left my university in Delhi and was living in a village in the Himalayas when the Soviet Union imploded. By then its landmarks in India had already faded. Perestroika and glasnost had brought down the shutters on Soviet-subsidised culture in India. And India itself seemed to be turning away from its socialist and non-aligned friends. After years of protectionism and virtuous austerity, it had started to globalise its economy and to embrace unselfconsciously the culture of consumption.

By the late 80s, television had arrived in Indian small towns and, with its images of the wealthier cultures of the west, begun to diversify our fantasies. A shop selling greeting cards replaced a communist bookshop. One day in a pavement bazaar of Old Delhi, I saw the collected works of Plekhanov being sold as scrap paper. I stopped, briefly tempted to re-acquire them. And then I moved on down the street.

Soviet Life ceased publication in 1991. My subscription to New Times had ended by then, and I had not opened the renewal notices.

So many years had passed since I wrote my essay endorsing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Moving away from thoughts of escape, I became interested, for the first time, in my own world. India gave me the subjects that, trying to write, I had often despaired of finding. In the meantime, I also learned a bit more, if reluctantly, about the former Soviet Union's cruelties and absurdities - the knowledge carefully concealed from me by New Times .

As the 90s wore on, Russia's quick descent into gangster capitalism and colonialist brutality in Chechnya further muddied and finally dissolved the image that I had cherished for much of my life. In the late 1990s I began to travel in Asia, Europe and America. But I resisted visiting Russia. There remained enough of the apparatchik-lover inside me to mourn the break-up of the Soviet Union and to conceive a strong dislike for Boris Yeltsin - never did he appear a greater boor and bully to me than during what western journalists called his finest moment, the failed coup attempt in 1991, when he sat with a megaphone atop a tank in front of the Russian parliament. Reading Tatyana Tolstoya's denunciation of him in the New York Review of Books gave me profound satisfaction. It was with something close to glee that I read Stephen F Cohen's book about the deluded western attempt to export free-market democracy to Russia, and I am still not above a certain perverse pleasure when the Economist wonders, confusion breaking through its silkily arrogant tone, what the west ought to do with the increasingly unpredictable Putin.

Occasionally I meet someone with similar memories of underdevelopment. In Lahore, Pakistan, some years ago, I walked into a living-room - and into my childhood: the bookshelves showed the same Soviet spines my eyes had rested on for years. In London, an old Egyptian cabdriver recalled using Soviet Life as wallpaper in his home in Cairo, and reminisced about the days of Nasser and Arab socialism.

More recently, I met the Cuban writer José Manuel Prieto and his Russian wife at a convivial dinner party in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. It turned out that Prieto had done what I had only fantasised about: he travelled from Cuba to the Soviet Union as a student, and there, in a small town in Siberia, he fell in love with a beautiful Russian woman and married her, and helped boost, briefly, the Soviet Union's production levels in literature if not oil and gas. He knew of Raduga and Progress Publishers, for he had worked as a translator of Soviet literature. Not only that, but at the same time that I sought escape from the north Indian plains by reading Turgenev, he and his wife relieved their Siberian solitude through Bollywood films - among the few foreign films allowed into the Soviet Union.

A different kind of internationalism, called globalisation, had now brought us to the country that had been the nemesis of socialism, indeed of much of what we once knew and believed in. The English language that the Soviets helped teach me had made possible my life and writing career in a world very different from their own. Our futures were now bound to America, although I couldn't bear to look too closely or long at pictures of George W Bush. Were Prieto and I content? Had we finally arrived at happiness? It is always hard to tell, and history may spring yet more of its ironies on us. But when we got drunk, and raised a toast to socialism and non-alignment, I couldn't suppress a pang of affection for our vanished past, for the austere worlds in which we had to find our small joys, and in which the solidarities that now seem merely rhetorical had given us consolation and hope.
          The Dutch Transformation        
“It was a mistake, the (Dutch parliamentary) report said, to allow children to speak Turkish, Arabic and other native languages in primary schools rather than Dutch. And it criticized the policy vacuum that still allows between 70 per cent and 80 per cent of Dutch-born immigrants to import their spouses from ‘home’ countries, mostly Turkey or Morocco. The report concluded that Holland’s immigrants needed to become more Dutch, and spend more time learning the language”


While I, a first generation immigrant, do agree with the notion that learning the host country’s language is a primary duty of a newcomer, I find the criticism against “importing spouses from ‘home’ countries” quite absurd, especially when the Dutch Crown-Prince himself is not immune to importing one from, thank god, Argentina. Obviously, the criticism is against the origin of the import, not the process itself, another example of pragmatic racism of deluded ‘liberals’.

On the other hand, when I learn that some of my fellow Bangladeshi immigrants, primarily ‘barely legal’ female ones, are forced by their parents to marry someone from the ‘home’ country, available either in the local market (i.e., Toronto) or needs to be imported, to ‘save’ them from western ‘shamelessness’, I feel appalled.

My point is neither the state nor the family should be able to exercise any legal or otherwise power to restrict the choice of an individual, host or immigrant.
          Confession: 1971        
An Army Insider's Honest Expose of Atrocities in East Pakistan Debacle

by Shehryar Mazari [from South Asia Tribune: March 25, 2005]

http://www.satribune.com/archives/200503/P1_ars.htm

KARACHI, March 25: The East Pakistan tragedy was not just a failure of the military establishment of the day but also the abysmal collapse of civil society in West Pakistan. Launched at midnight, 25 March 1971, the military action went on for nine long months without eliciting any concerted protest from the West Pakistani public and political leadership.

The few low voices raised against the military action were too feeble to make the army change the suicidal course it had set itself, leading to an ignominious military defeat and the breakup of the country.

Brigadier Abdul Rehman Siddiqi, who headed the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) and was Press Advisor to Army Chief General Yahya Khan, was clearly in the thick of things. Therefore, his book 'East Pakistan: The Endgame — An Onlooker’s Journal 1969-1971' will be of interest to those wishing to penetrate the historical veil that has subsequently been draped over the more unsavory events of that era.

The author had the unique advantage of observing the tragedy as it unfolded. As the ISPR chief, he interacted with the national press and a cross-section of public and political leadership in both wings. In his description and appraisal of the various dramatis personae, he acts as an impartial observer.

Apart from the fresh light the book sheds on the traumatic episode, the simplicity and candor of the narrative adds much to its readability. Thus, the book may well contribute towards the much-needed bridge building between Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"In 1971, Pakistan was torn into two, its eastern half declaring itself the independent nation of Bangladesh. While the broader details of this debacle have since become comprehensible, historians are still trying to glean a few remaining facts from the myths and half-truths that continue to linger some 33 years later.

From the start, the author makes it clear that the book is based on his diaries and other sources that he had personal access to as the ISPR chief. He also admits to have “scrupulously avoided” relying on any subsequent books or other published material that relates to the events. As a result, the reader is presented with a first-hand account of those fateful days.

The narrative begins in February 1969 when President Ayub Khan, besieged by street agitation, sought to negotiate his way out by calling for a Round Table Conference (RTC). However, as Siddiqi explains, Yahya had already started plotting against his boss. Unknown to most people at the time, the army chief secretly met the East Pakistani leader Mujibur Rehman and asked him not to relent on his demands. In fact, as Siddiqi points out, Yahya went as far as to tell Mujib that “he could go ahead with his anti-Ayub campaign without any let or hindrance from the army.”

Siddiqi also reveals that a week before the RTC, he was ordered by General Ghulam Umar to secretly prepare an advance draft for Yahya’s address to the nation as the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Two days later, Yahya flatly refused Ayub’s direct request for the army to come to the aid of the civil government.

According to Siddiqi, Yahya made it abundantly clear to his superior that it was either complete martial law under his own control or nothing. And Ayub knew then that his days were numbered. Following his refusal to help Ayub quell the violent civic unrest, Siddiqi discloses how Yahya cunningly enlisted the support of his old drinking buddy interior minister Admiral AR Khan, who persisted in presenting highly pessimistic daily briefs to further undermine the president.

When Siddiqi confronted General Pirzada with these peculiar goings-on, he was politely told to hush up. The dice had been cast and within a month Ayub departed from the scene after handing over power to Yahya.

Following the takeover, Siddiqi claims that Yahya was quick to reveal his true intentions and confided to some of his senior officers: “Gentlemen, we must be prepared to rule this unfortunate country for the next 14 years or so.”

Soon, Yahya announced general elections after being convinced by the intelligence agencies that they would result in a split vote and a fractious National Assembly, making it impossible for the new government to fulfil the stipulation of an approved constitution within 120 days. This failure, the thinking went, would then lead to fresh elections while power would indefinitely remain in the army’s firm grip.

However, the election results could not have been farther from Yahya’s calculations. Badly let down by the intelligence agencies, Yahya decided to pursue a new course of action. His famous reference to Mujib as the future prime minister was in reality no more than “a calculated maneuver aimed at, first to set the military against Mujib, and second, to provoke the Pakistan Peoples Party.”

The worried generals then recruited Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to ensure that any chance of a compromise with Mujib would be non-existent. In fact, as Siddiqi informs us, General Umar even met many West Pakistani minority party leaders to actively dissuade them from attending the first National Assembly session at Dhaka. Not surprisingly, East Pakistan soon went on the boil in the face of such intransigence. And the army-controlled West Pakistani media retaliated by accusing East Pakistanis of treason.

We all know what followed. The army’s subjugation of East Pakistan resulted in untold misery for millions of innocent Pakistanis, the death of many thousands as well as the breakup of Jinnah’s original Pakistan. And as Siddiqi’s narrative makes apparent, all this happened so that the generals could maintain their hold on power. Since then, it has suited successive army generals to place the blame on Bhutto. But the pertinent question is: how many tanks, guns and soldiers did Bhutto have at his disposal? The answer, of course, is none.

Another fact the author emphasizes is the sheer profusion of war crimes inflicted on hapless Pakistani citizens by its own army. The reader comes across a devastated Major General Ansari telling Siddiqi that rape and brutality were widespread. The general also confesses to a complete breakdown in the “discipline of his junior officers [and that] there was little he could do to check their "atrocities.” If junior officers had run amok, one shudders to think what the less-educated jawans got up to.

Siddiqi also exposes the infamous General Niazi who shamelessly defended the rapists by declaring that: “You cannot expect a man to live, fight and die in East Pakistan and go to Jhelum for sex, would you?” Even 30-plus years later, the fact that most, if not all, of these perpetrators got away scot-free, can provoke tears of rage and shame.

Ultimately, 'The End Game' is a brave and honest book and Siddiqi should be commended for writing it, even if it took him all these years to muster the resolve. A must-read for anyone interested in Pakistan’s past." - Courtesy Herald
          India-Bangladesh Relationship        
Meanwhile, In The East :Bangladesh conducts mock exercises...a new flank?

by Saikat Datta [from Outlook, Apr. 25, 2005]

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20050425&fname=Assam+%28F%29&sid=1



On April 24, Assam Governor Lt General Ajai Singh wrote to the PMO about a fresh wave of reports emanating out of Bangladesh indicating a security threat to India's Northeast region. In his letter, Ajai Singh noted that "there is cause for concern" and that it needed to be looked at closely and action taken at the earliest. In fact, he was reiterating concerns expressed by his predecessor Lieutenant General S.K. Sinha (retd) before he moved to Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh also pointed at fresh reports indicating that new fundamentalist groups were emerging which could pose a serious threat to the Northeast, particularly the sensitive Siliguri corridor which links the region to mainland India.

In fact, Singh's letter corroborates inputs provided by security agencies and an army assessment. It is not as if Bangladesh is preparing to wage war with India. But the army has it that Bangladesh army is preparing for low-intensity conflicts in which it would lend a covert hand to insurgent groups in the region.

What has caused concern among Indian security agencies is a document showing the Bangladesh army (BA) conducting an exercise called Ex-Destranor-17, a mock unconventional warfare "behind enemy lines" supported by conventional logistic support. Conducted under the 66 Infantry Division of the BA, it happened "2.5 km inside enemy territory with conventional logistic support" and with "support from local population assuming that not all of them are friendly". The exercise was conducted from April 15 to 23 last year and troops were drawn from the 16th, 72nd and 222nd infantry brigades. The lessons from it have now been factored in.

South Block sources say the army top brass has also expressed concerns about the BA's move to improve its offensive capabilities. Reports have been received that the BA has raised seven new armoured regiments to be used in a purely offensive role. In fact, worried about the vulnerability of the Siliguri corridor, the army recently moved some of its formations deployed in Jammu and Kashmir during Operation Parakram to the region.

An Indian army assessment has also pointed to the renewed activities of several fundamentalist organisations in Bangladesh and their impact on the region's overall security. Among others, the report names Jamaat-e-Islami and Islamic Chhatra Shibir, organisations which have maintained an anti-India stance. However, the emergence of new organisations like Jagrata Muslim Janata BD, the assessment says, is cause for worry. While the Jamaat-e-Islami is a part of the four-party alliance in Bangladesh, other bodies like the Harkat-ul-Jihadi-al-Islami have also made Indian intelligence agencies see red. The assessment notes that its activities in areas bordering West Bengal and Assam are cause for worry. According to the report, the organisation has now changed its name to Islamic Samaj Kalyan Parishad with a youth wing called the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen.

While India is watching the ongoing developments within Bangladesh, analysts say the continuing illegal immigration can no longer be ignored. "There are reports that all long-term perspective plans drawn up by the Bangladesh Army look at India as their area of concern which is worrying," says a senior army official.

The Border Security Force has also raised the issue of illegal immigration with its counterpart, the Bangladesh Rifles, in several meetings. While Bangladesh has maintained that there is no illegal immigration, the bsf has pointed out that several terrorist groups operating against India are based in Bangladesh.
          Nepal-India-Bangladesh        
India Grapples with Specter of Failing States

by Sultan Shahin [from Asia Times]

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/GB15Df01.html


NEW DELHI - For the past five years or more, India was almost exclusively obsessed with facing threats from Pakistan. Also, it has been busy promoting its emerging "big power status" and lobbying for a permanent veto-wielding United Nations Security Council seat. Playing its "rightful role" in world affairs was the goal. Now suddenly, it is seized with the nightmarish vision of two potentially failing steps on its eastern doorstep, one likely to be soon overrun by Maoists with links to Indian radicals of the same hue, and the other dominated by Islamic fundamentalists with links to al-Qaeda and Pakistani extremists. Indeed, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is also predicting that Pakistan could be a failed state by 2015.

India seems not to know how to respond to events unfolding in Nepal and Bangladesh. Right-wing opposition is pillorying the government for what it calls its knee-jerk reactions. But some good may come out of this as New Delhi focuses its sights closer home. The Ministry of External Affairs has, however, promised to come out with its South Asian strategy soon.

When Nepal's King Gyanendra seized power on February 1, India reacted angrily, according to its first impulses; democratic, as democracy had been trampled on; and super-powerish, as its specific advice to the king not to go ahead with the widely suspected coup had been ignored, thus challenging India's pre-eminent status in the region.

Much sanctimonious posturing and pretentious outrage ensued. A regional summit meeting was postponed as a democratic leader of India couldn't be seen shaking hands with a constitutional monarch who had assumed power, put political leaders under house arrest, jailed journalists and suspended civil liberties. A planned visit of the army chief was also canceled.

Now the democratic impulse has run its course, super-powerish rage has subsided, and a sense of reality has set in. New Delhi cannot afford to disengage with Nepal and thus leave the door open for China and Pakistan to step in and perhaps establish a permanent military presence on India's northeastern borders. Following in the footsteps of China and Pakistan, therefore, India's Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, too, has called the developments an internal matter of Nepal. India said last Wednesday its response to the recent developments in Nepal would be dictated by the clout of the Maoists agitating for the abolition of the monarchy in the Himalayan kingdom.

A meeting of the Indo-Nepal joint security group that was to be held later this month to work out details of supplies that the Royal Nepal Army (RNA) needs has now been called off. But speaking in his capacity as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, the defense minter said, "We recognize that if the security situation [in Nepal] deteriorates due to increased Maoist influence, it will heighten our own internal security threat. It is not an ordinary thing if they [Maoists] increase their influence and strength in the neighboring Himalayan kingdom. If Maoist activity is not constrained, this may cause problems to us." Mukherjee explained, "There is extremist activity in a large number of our states. Because of the porous border, there is a threat perception that once they [Maoists] exert more influence in Nepal, there will be an impact here. Our policy will be keeping that in view."

Already, fearing a crackdown following the assumption of all powers by Gyanendra, a number of senior political leaders and activists have slipped into India's bordering states, Uttaranchal, West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, causing a lot of concern among security agencies. Some cadres of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) have reportedly sneaked into West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand, where they could indulge in extortion and get into clashes with other Maoist groups.

According to a report submitted by the intelligence agencies to the Home Ministry, CPN cadres had slipped through the porous India-Nepal border and could be now engaged in extortion rackets in Jharkhand and Bihar. The presence of CPN cadres has the potential to spark bloody clashes with the Maoist Communist Center (MCC) and the People's War Group (PWG), which already operate in the two states and are engaged in extortion rackets themselves. In fact, there have already been some reports of clashes between the CPN and the MCC, but none have turned too ugly so far.

It seems India's military relationship with Nepal is also not going to be affected as a result of the monarch's coup. Revealing that the Nepal army had sent a communique to the Indian army seeking continuance of friendly relations, Mukherjee said India had responded "along the same lines". He continued, "The missive did not specifically seek additional arms and equipment to counter the Maoists and India had stated that close bilateral military ties should continue. We have a long-standing relationship with the RNA. That relationship stands.

"The RNA wanted reiteration of the same policy," added the defense minister, number two in India's government hierarchy. And, of course, India has obliged. India recently supplied helicopters, mine-proof vehicles, guns and ammunition to the RNA to counter the Maoists. A second tranche reportedly is in the offing, but the minister did not specify whether it would go through in the present circumstances or whether specific requests for any military hardware had been made.


The Bangladesh headache

New Delhi shows similar ambivalence and what its critics term "cluelessness" in dealing with the other potentially failing state, on its eastern border, the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh. The National Awami Party-led and Islamic fundamentalist-supported government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia keeps thumbing its nose at India, allowing Indian rebels from northeastern states a sanctuary, though constantly denying their presence, and allowing militants to make assassination bids on secular leaders who campaign for friendship with secular, democratic India.

Former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, the only surviving daughter of the father of Bangladesh liberation and former prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, barely survived an assassination attempt last August, and the widely respected former finance minister in her government, Shah A S Kibria, was killed in an Islamist bomb attack on his political rally a couple of weeks ago.

In its bid to work out a coherent policy toward these neighbors, in whose functioning as normal, secular democratic states India has a great stake, impinging on its own long-term security, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is at present focused on two primary questions, sources in the government told Asia Times Online.

One, should the government adopt a carrot or/and stick policy, and to what measure toward whom? Two, should New Delhi try to solve these problems through a bilateral or a multilateral approach involving the United Nations, or world powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom, and/or regional powers like China and Pakistan?

In the context of the first question, some sections in the government have resurrected the love doctrine of depending on carrots propounded and implemented for some time by former prime minister Inder Kumar Gujral. This is also known as the Gujral doctrine. Gujral is a former congressman who led a government in the mid-1990s very much similar to the present UPA government in its orientation and support structure, except that the Congress Party then was supported from outside. He had started implementing it as a foreign minister in an earlier Deve Gowda-led government of what was then a "third front" supported by the Congress Party.

The Gujral doctrine primarily stood for India as a big power being magnanimous in its dealings with smaller neighbors and not to expect reciprocity from them every time it gave them a concession. It was very successful in earning the respect and affection of the smaller South Asian neighbors that surround India. As President General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan told this correspondent at a luncheon table in Lahore a couple of months ago, when a smaller country makes a unilateral concession it is considered a surrender to big-power politics, but when the same gesture is shown by a big power, it is called generosity and magnanimity. Clearly, there are many takers for the Gujral doctrine in India's complex neighborhood.

The one time India was genuinely popular in the neighborhood, as the Times of India wrote in one of its editorials some time ago, was during the short stint of Gujral of the socialist Janata Dal, who was sensitive to the fears of smaller neighbors. The Gujral doctrine of assisting neighbors without expecting them to reciprocate was criticized by hawks in the establishment for giving in to pressure from India's smaller neighbors, but obviously it proved the more successful policy. The newspaper reminded its readers that India had a reasonably good relationship with all its neighbors before the Hindu fundamentalist Bhartiya Janata Party-led coalition government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee took office in 1998.

The Vajpayee government theorized that India would be better able to project its big-power status on the world scene if it succeeded in making its neighbors fear India's military power, and thus respect its dictates. But the near-contempt with which even the smallest and weakest of its neighbors treat India makes it clear that the sticks-only policy failed. Most distressingly for many observers, these neighbors, like Nepal and Bangladesh, are on the verge of becoming failed states and are almost wholly dependent on India for their survival. They are called "India-locked" due to their multiple dependencies on India for a variety of geopolitical reasons. And yet they neither love nor fear India.

Hawkish supporters of the Hindu fundamentalist doctrine explain the failure of this policy by complaining that Vajpayee did not implement it fully. For instance, India never bombed insurgents and civilian areas where they may be hiding in Kashmir or the northeast from the air in the manner of the US in Iraq or Russia in Chechnya or Israel with the Palestinians. How then could India expect to be feared by its insurgents and neighbors, they ask.

Right-wing columnist Swapan Dasgupta, for instance, comments, "King Gyanendra's faith in his own leadership may well be misplaced, but the South Asian experience suggests that non-ethnic insurgencies are rarely settled by following democratic niceties. The Naxalites [Maoists] in West Bengal, the Khalistanis in Punjab and the JVP [People's Liberation Front] in Sri Lanka were defeated by meticulous military operations that violated every clause of the human-rights charter. Saving democracy entailed putting democracy on the back-burner."

Mainstream India is, however, wiser by experience. Even half a million soldiers have not been able to pacify Kashmiri insurgency, despite cross-border infiltration having come to a virtual halt for nearly a year and a half. Neither has the US been successful in Iraq, nor the Russians in Chechnya, nor the Israelis in Palestine, despite the unrestricted use of brute force for years. With three-fourths of Nepal already under Maoist control, and vast masses of people on their side, the Nepalese king, with his 80,000 soldiers, who were primarily palace guards, though recently equipped with modern weapons by India and the US, hardly stand a chance of success in the near future.

Academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta takes a more balanced approach. His diagnosis and lament: "A great power ought to be loved or feared, or both. We do not offer carrots that are attractive enough for our neighbors to love us; our stick is not strong enough for them to fear us. We yet again helplessly watch Nepal drift by. We do not appear to have the military capabilities to transplant democracy or bring the Maoists to heel. Nor do we have other forms of soft power to greatly influence the outcome. We once again are left to pick up the pieces."

On the question of whether to take a bilateral or a multilateral approach, almost the entire media and a good chunk of intelligentsia advise the government to take a multilateral approach, and globalize the conflict in Nepal, as well as the growing Islamist threat in Bangladesh. India has, however, traditionally disliked the idea of international intervention in the South Asian region, which it considers its own turf. Inviting others would be an admission of failure on its part, it is felt by large sections in the bureaucracy. It was only with reluctance and rather a sense of helplessness that Delhi recently acknowledged US forces as having a role to play in providing relief in tsunami-hit Sri Lanka.

There is strong resistance in the government to thinking about South Asian security in multilateral terms. Taking the Kashmir dispute to the UN has not been a good experience for India. Until today, Kashmiri secessionists and their backers in Pakistan waved UN resolutions of 1948 in front of Indian eyes to prove their points, even though Musharraf seems to have realized their irrelevance in the present context. So go-it-alone would be the preferred policy for many in the government.

India's largest-circulation newspaper, The Times of India, is the most unequivocal in advising a multilateral approach. In a comment typical of editorials in other mainstream newspapers it says, "It is time for New Delhi to shed its customary ambiguity and address the problem head-on. But first we must get over our go-it-alone mindset. In today's globalizing world, no one should consider geography crucial to its strategic influence. So, it would be in India's interest to internationalize the Nepal crisis and try to win over as many nations as possible to our point of view. It is imperative that India take the issue up at the UN and lobby to work out a consensus on the best way to restore democracy in Nepal. As we have seen, Beijing, Islamabad and Dhaka have been trying to fish in troubled waters by insisting that the king's abolition of democracy is an internal matter for Nepal. Bangladesh, ever eager to put India down, has added its voice to this chorus. If we were to bring up the issue at the UN, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh would be hard put to explain why they support a move inimical to democracy. It would also expose their own undemocratic systems of government as being the reason for their energetic espousal of King Gyanendra's action."

While resistance from foreign-policy mandarins is palpable, the Times of India's comment seems to represent a cross-section of public opinion in India, which is disgusted at the royal coup, particularly because this king is not as popular as the previous ones, except in Hindu fundamentalist circles that have come out in his support and are demanding that India go out of the way to support him.

The paper continues, giving voice to what can be expected to be general opinion in the country: "Our focus should be on getting King Gyanendra to revert to his position as a constitutional monarch since New Delhi accepts that the two pillars of governance in Nepal are the monarchy and the political parties. India should help enable the Nepalese people to voice their opinion on what sort of political system they would like, and whether the monarchy has a valid role to play in it. Meanwhile, we should put pressure on the king by cutting off the arms supplies which we have so generously provided in the past. But under no circumstances should New Delhi be seen to do anything detrimental to the people of this desperately poor nation. Any verdict we are able to secure in the UN cannot be dismissed lightly by an already isolated king. This will ensure a speedy, and hopefully lasting, solution to the Kathmandu crisis."

At the moment of writing, however, it is not at all clear as to what approach the government will take. Its traditional ambiguity continues to dominate the debate, in the absence of a strong and decisive leader like former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who is missed in such moments of crisis. Manmohan Singh is still an unknown entity, though many are drawing comparisons with him and Gujral, hailing as both do from the mystical land of Punjab. Wishful thinking though it may be, some are hoping that this soft-spoken scholar-politician will follow India's first prime minister and pre-eminent leader of his Congress Party Jawaharlal Nehru's multilateral approach, and his fellow Punjabi intellectual-politician Gujral's love-thy-neighbor doctrine. His moves in the next few days will be watched with great interest and some trepidation.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sultan Shahin is a New Delhi-based writer.

[Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.]
          Tariq Ali's appeal        
Letter To A Young Muslim

by Tariq Ali [from 'Outlook']

http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20020508&fname=tariq&sid=1&pn=1


Dear friend,

Remember when you approached me after the big antiwar meeting in November 2001 (I think it was Glasgow) and asked whether I was a believer? I have not forgotten the shock you registered when I replied "no", or the comment of your friend ("our parents warned us against you"), or the angry questions which the pair of you then began to hurl at me like darts. All of that made me think, and this is my reply for you and all the others like you who asked similar questions elsewhere in Europe and North America.

When we spoke, I told you that my criticism of religion and those who use it for political ends was not a case of being diplomatic in public. Exploiters and manipulators have always used religion self-righteously to further their own selfish ends. It's true that this is not the whole story. There are, of course, deeply sincere people of religion in different parts of the world who genuinely fight on the side of the poor, but they are usually in conflict with organised religion themselves.

The Catholic Church victimised worker or peasant priests who organised against oppression. The Iranian ayatollahs dealt severely with Muslims who preached in favour of a social radicalism. If I genuinely believed that this radical Islam was the way forward for humanity, I would not hesitate to say so in public, whatever the consequences. I know that many of your friends love chanting the name "Osama" and I know that they cheered on September 11, 2001. They were not alone. It happened all over the world, but had nothing to do with religion. I know of Argentine students who walked out when a teacher criticised Osama. I know a Russian teenager who emailed a one-word message - "Congratulations" - to his Russian friends whose parents had settled outside New York, and they replied: "Thanks. It was great." We talked, I remember, of the Greek crowds at football matches who refused to mourn for the two minutes the government had imposed and instead broke the silence with anti-American chants.

But none of this justifies what took place. What lies behind the vicarious pleasure is not a feeling of strength, but a terrible weakness. The people of Indo-China suffered more than any Muslim country at the hands of the US government. They were bombed for 15 whole years and lost millions of their people. Did they even think of bombing America? Nor did the Cubans or the Chileans or the Brazilians. The last two fought against the US-imposed military regimes at home and finally triumphed.

Today, people feel powerless. And so when America is hit they celebrate. They don't ask what such an act will achieve, what its consequences will be and who will benefit. Their response, like the event itself, is purely symbolic.

I think that Osama and his group have reached a political dead-end. It was a grand spectacle, but nothing more. The US, in responding with a war, has enhanced the importance of the action, but I doubt if even that will rescue it from obscurity in the future. It will be a footnote in the history of this century. In political, economic or military terms it was barely a pinprick.

What do the Islamists offer? A route to a past which, mercifully for the people of the seventh century, never existed. If the "Emirate of Afghanistan" is the model for what they want to impose on the world then the bulk of Muslims would rise up in arms against them. Don't imagine that either Osama or Mullah Omar represent the future of Islam. It would be a major disaster for the culture we both share if that turned out to be the case. Would you want to live under those conditions? Would you tolerate your sister, your mother or the woman you love being hidden from public view and only allowed out shrouded like a corpse?

I want to be honest with you. I opposed this latest Afghan war. I do not accept the right of big powers to change governments as and when it affects their interests. But I did not shed any tears for the Taliban as they shaved their beards and ran back home. This does not mean that those who have been captured should be treated like animals or denied their elementary rights according to the Geneva convention, but as I've argued elsewhere, the fundamentalism of the American Empire has no equal today. They can disregard all conventions and laws at will. The reason they are openly mistreating prisoners they captured after waging an illegal war in Afghanistan is to assert their power before the world - hence they humiliate Cuba by doing their dirty work on its soil - and warn others who attempt to twist the lion's tail that the punishment will be severe.

I remember how, during the cold war, the CIA and its indigenous recruits tortured political prisoners and raped them in many parts of Latin America. During the Vietnam war the US violated most of the Geneva conventions. They tortured and executed prisoners, raped women, threw prisoners out of helicopters to die on the ground or drown in the sea, and all this, of course, in the name of freedom.

Because many people in the west believe the nonsense about "humanitarian interventions", they are shocked by these acts, but this is relatively mild compared with the crimes committed in the last century by the Empire. I've met many of our people in different parts of the world since September 11. One question is always repeated: "Do you think we Muslims are clever enough to have done this?" I always answer "Yes". Then I ask who they think is responsible, and the answer is invariably "Israel". Why? "To discredit us and make the Americans attack our countries." I gently expose their wishful illusions, but the conversation saddens me. Why are so many Muslims sunk in this torpor? Why do they wallow in so much self-pity? Why is their sky always overcast? Why is it always someone else who is to blame?

Sometimes when we talk I get the impression that there is not a single Muslim country of which they can feel really proud. Those who have migrated from South Asia are much better treated in Britain than in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf States. It is here that something has to happen. The Arab world is desperate for a change. Over the years, in every discussion with Iraqis, Syrians, Saudis, Egyptians, Jordanians and Palestinians, the same questions are raised, the same problems recur. We are suffocating. Why can't we breathe? Everything seems static: our economy, our politics, our intellectuals and, most of all, our religion.

Palestine suffers every day. The west does nothing. Our governments are dead. Our politicians are corrupt. Our people are ignored. Is it surprising that some are responsive to the Islamists? Who else offers anything these days? The US? It doesn't even want democracy, not even in little Qatar, and for a very simple reason. If we elected our own governments they might demand that the US close down its bases. Would it? They already resent al-Jazeera television because it has different priorities from them. It was fine when al-Jazeera attacked corruption within the Arab elite. Thomas Friedman even devoted a whole column to praise of al-Jazeera in the New York Times. He saw it as a sign of democracy coming to the Arab world. No longer. Because democracy means the right to think differently, and al-Jazeera showed pictures of the Afghan war that were not shown on the US networks, so Bush and Blair put pressure on Qatar to stop unfriendly broadcasts.

For the west, democracy means believing in exactly the same things that they believe. Is that really democracy? If we elected our own government, in one or two countries people might elect Islamists. Would the west leave us alone? Did the French government leave the Algerian military alone? No. They insisted that the elections of 1990 and 1991 be declared null and void. French intellectuals described the Front Islamique du Salut (FIS) as "Islamo-fascists", ignoring the fact that they had won an election. Had they been allowed to become the government, divisions already present within them would have come to the surface. The army could have warned that any attempt to tamper with the rights guaranteed to citizens under the constitution would not be tolerated. It was only when the original leaders of the FIS had been eliminated that the more lumpen elements came to the fore and created mayhem. Should we blame them for the civil war, or those in Algiers and Paris who robbed them of their victory? The massacres in Algeria are horrendous. Is it only the Islamists who are responsible? What happened in Bentalha, 10 miles south of Algiers, on the night of September 22, 1997? Who slaughtered the 500 men, women and children of that township? Who? The Frenchman who knows everything, Bernard-Henri Levy, is sure it was the Islamists who perpetrated this dreadful deed. Then why did the army deny the local population arms to defend itself? Why did it tell the local militia to go away that night? Why did the security forces not intervene when they could see what was going on? Why does M Levy believe that the Maghreb has to be subordinated to the needs of the French republic, and why does nobody attack this sort of fundamentalism?

We know what we have to do, say the Arabs, but every time the west intervenes it sets our cause back many years. So if they want to help, they should stay out. That's what my Arab friends say, and I agree with this approach. Look at Iran. The western gaze turned benevolent during the assault on Afghanistan. Iran was needed for the war, but let the west watch from afar. The imperial fundamentalists are talking about the "axis of evil", which includes Iran. An intervention there would be fatal. A new generation has experienced clerical oppression. It has known nothing else. Stories about the shah are part of its prehistory. These young men and women are sure about one thing if nothing else. They don't want the ayatollahs to rule them any more. Even though Iran, in recent years, has not been as bad as Saudi Arabia or the late "Emirate of Afghanistan", it has not been good for the people.

Let me tell you a story. A couple of years ago I met a young Iranian film-maker in Los Angeles. His name was Moslem Mansouri. He had managed to escape with several hours of filmed interviews for a documentary he was making. He had won the confidence of three Tehran prostitutes and filmed them for more than two years. He showed me some of the footage. They talked to him quite openly. They described how the best pick-ups were at religious festivals. I got a flavour of the film from the transcripts he sent me. One of the women tells him: "Today everyone is forced to sell their bodies! Women like us have to tolerate a man for 10,000 toomans.Young people need to be in a bed together, even for 10 minutes . . . It is a primary need . . . it calms them down.

"When the government does not allow it, then prostitution grows. We don't even need to talk about prostitution, the government has taken away the right to speak with the opposite sex freely in public . . . In the parks, in the cinemas, or in the streets, you can't talk to the person sitting next to you. On the streets, if you talk to a man, the 'Islamic guard' interrogates you endlessly. Today in our country, nobody is satisfied! Nobody has security. I went to a company to get a job. The manager of the company, a bearded guy, looked at my face and said, 'I will hire you and I'll give you 10,000 toomans more than the pay rate.' I said, 'You can at least test my computer skills to see if I'm proficient or not . . .' He said, 'I hire you for your looks!' I knew that if I had to work there, I had to have sex with him at least once a day.

"Wherever you go it's like this! I went to a special family court - for divorce - and begged the judge, a clergyman, to give me my child's custody. I told him, 'Please . . . I beg you to give me the custody of my child. I'll be your Kaniz . . . ["Kaniz" means servant. This is a Persian expression which basically means 'I beg you, I am very desperate'.] What do you think the guy said? He said, 'I don't need a servant! I need a woman!' What do you expect of others when the clergyman, the head of the court, says this? I went to the officer to get my divorce signed, instead he said I should not get divorced and instead get married again without divorce, illegally. Because he said without a husband it will be hard to find a job. He was right, but I didn't have money to pay him . . . These things make you age faster . . . you get depressed . . . you have a lot of stress and it damages you. Perhaps there is a means to get out of this . . . "

Moslem was distraught because none of the American networks wanted to buy the film. They didn't want to destabilise Khatami's regime! Moslem himself is a child of the Revolution. Without it he would never have become a film-maker. He comes from a very poor family. His father is a muezzin and his upbringing was ultra-religious. Now he hates religion. He refused to fight in the war against Iraq. He was arrested. This experience transformed him. "The prison was a hard but good experience for me. It was in the prison that I felt I am reaching a stage of intellectual maturity. I was resisting and I enjoyed my sense of strength. I felt that I saved my life from the corrupted world of clergies and this is a price I was paying for it. I was proud of it. After one year in prison, they told me that I would be released on the condition that I sign papers stating that I will participate in Friday sermons and religious activities. I refused to sign. They kept me in the prison for one more year."

Afterwards he took a job on a film magazine as a reporter. "I thought my work in the media would serve as a cover for my own projects, which were to document the hideous crimes of the political regime itself. I knew that I would not be able to make the kind of films I really want to make due to the censorship regulations. Any scenario that I would write would have never got the permission of the Islamic censorship office. I knew that my time and energy would get wasted. So I decided to make eight documentaries secretly. I smuggled the footage out of Iran. Due to financial problems I've only been able to finish editing two of my films. One is Close Up, Long Shot and the other is Shamloo, The Poet Of Liberty.

"The first film is about the life of Hossein Sabzian, who was the main character of Abbas Kiarostami's drama-documentary called Close Up. A few years after Kiarostami's film, I went to visit Sabzian. He loves cinema. His wife and children get frustrated with him and finally leave him. Today, he lives in a village on the outskirts of Tehran and has come to the conclusion that his love for cinema has resulted in nothing but misery. In my film he says, 'People like me get destroyed in societies like the one we live in. We can never present ourselves. There are two types of dead: flat and walking. We are the walking dead!'"

We could find stories like this and worse in every Muslim country. There is a big difference between the Muslims of the diaspora - those whose parents migrated to the western lands - and those who still live in the House of Islam. The latter are far more critical because religion is not crucial to their identity. It's taken for granted that they are Muslims. In Europe and North America things are different. Here an official multiculturalism has stressed difference at the expense of all else. Its rise correlates with a decline in radical politics as such.

"Culture" and "religion" are softer, euphemistic substitutes for socioeconomic inequality - as if diversity, rather than hierarchy, were the central issue in North American or European society today. I have spoken to Muslims from the Maghreb (France), from Anatolia (Germany); from Pakistan and Bangladesh (Britain), from everywhere (United States) and a South Asian sprinkling in Scandinavia. Why is it, I often ask myself, that so many are like you? They have become much more orthodox and rigid than the robust and vigorous peasants of Kashmir and the Punjab, whom I used to know so well.

The British prime minister is a great believer in single-faith schools. The American president ends each speech with "God Save America". Osama starts and ends each TV interview by praising Allah. All three have the right to do so, just as I have the right to remain committed to most of the values of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment attacked religion - Christianity, mainly - for two reasons: that it was a set of ideological delusions, and that it was a system of institutional oppression, with immense powers of persecution and intolerance. Why should we abandon either of these legacies today?

I don't want you to misunderstand me. My aversion to religion is by no means confined to Islam alone. And nor do I ignore the role which religious ideologies have played in the past in order to move the world forward. It was the ideological clashes between two rival interpretations of Christianity - the Protestant Reformation versus the Catholic Counter-Reformation - that led to volcanic explosions in Europe. Here was an example of razor-sharp intellectual debates fuelled by theological passions, leading to a civil war, followed by a revolution.

The 16th-century Dutch revolt against Spanish occupation was triggered off by an assault on sacred images in the name of confessional correctness. The introduction of a new prayer book in Scotland was one of the causes of the 17th-century Puritan Revolution in England, the refusal to tolerate Catholicism sparked off its successor in 1688. The intellectual ferment did not cease and a century later the ideas of the Enlightenment stoked the furnaces of revolutionary France. The Church of England and the Vatican now combined to contest the new threat, but ideas of popular sovereignty and republics were too strong to be easily obliterated.

I can almost hear your question. What has all this got to do with us? A great deal, my friend. Western Europe had been fired by theological passions, but these were now being transcended. Modernity was on the horizon. This was a dynamic that the culture and economy of the Ottoman Empire could never mimic. The Sunni-Shia divide had come too soon and congealed into rival dogmas. Dissent had, by this time, been virtually wiped out in Islam. The Sultan, flanked by his religious scholars, ruled a state-Empire that was going to wither away and die.

If this was already the case in the 18th century, how much truer it is today. Perhaps the only way in which Muslims will discover this is through their own experiences, as in Iran. The rise of religion is partially explained by the lack of any other alternative to the universal regime of neoliberalism. Here you will discover that as long as Islamist governments open their countries to global penetration, they will be permitted to do what they want in the sociopolitical realm.

The American Empire used Islam before and it can do so again. Here lies the challenge. We are in desperate need of an Islamic Reformation that sweeps away the crazed conservatism and backwardness of the fundamentalists but, more than that, opens up the world of Islam to new ideas which are seen to be more advanced than what is currently on offer from the west.

This would necessitate a rigid separation of state and mosque; the dissolution of the clergy; the assertion by Muslim intellectuals of their right to interpret the texts that are the collective property of Islamic culture as a whole; the freedom to think freely and rationally and the freedom of imagination. Unless we move in this direction we will be doomed to reliving old battles and thinking not of a richer and humane future, but of how we can move from the present to the past. It is an unacceptable vision. I've let my pen run away with me and preached my heresies for too long. I doubt that I will change, but I hope you will.


[Tariq Ali is an editor of New Left Review and a frequent contributor to CounterPunch where this first appeared and is extracted from his new book The Clash Of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads And Modernity, published by Verso.]
          Escuelas flotantes solares en el Bangladesh        
Durante la temporada del monzón en Bangladesh, hay fuertes lluvias torrenciales que obligan al cierre de centenares de escuelas. Los ríos desbordan y se inunda periódicamente buena parte del país. Menos mal, existe una organización llamada Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha que...
          The #1 Ball in Golf: 2017 Wins        

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TOUR (wins)    
PGA TOUR (19)    
Safeway Open Brendan Steele Pro V1x
CIMB Classic Justin Thomas Pro V1x
OHL Classic at Mayakoba Winner Pro V1
RSM Classic Mackenzie Hughes Pro V1x
SBS Tournament of Champions Justin Thomas Pro V1x
Sony Open in Hawaii Justin Thomas Pro V1x
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Jordan Spieth Pro V1x
Honda Classic Rickie Fowler Pro V1
Puerto Rico Open D.A. Points Pro V1x
Shell Houston Open Russell Henley Pro V1x
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Cameron Smith and Jonas Blixt Pro V1x
Wells Fargo Championship Winner Pro V1x
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship Billy Horschel Pro V1x
DEAN & DELUCA Invitational Kevin Kisner Pro V1
The Memorial Tournament Jason Dufner Pro V1x
117th U.S. OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP Winner Pro V1x
Travelers Championship Jordan Spieth Pro V1x
Quicken Loans National Kyle Stanley Pro V1
RBC Canadian Open Jhonattan Vegas Pro V1
     
EUROPEAN TOUR (17)    
Alfred Dunhill Championship Brandon Stone Pro V1
BMW South African Open Graeme Storm Pro V1x
Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship Tommy Fleetwood Pro V1x
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Jeung-hun Wang Pro V1x
Maybank Championship Fabrizio Zanotti Pro V1
World Super 6 Perth Brett Rumford Pro V1x
Joburg Open Darren Fichardt Pro V1x
Hero Indian Open SSP Chawrasia Pro V1x
Shenzhen International Bernd Wiesberger Pro V1
Volvo China Open Alex Levy Pro V1x
Open de Portugal Matt Wallace Pro V1x
Nordea Masters Renato Paratore Pro V1x
Lyoness Open Dylan Frittelli Pro V1
HNA Open de France Tommy Fleetwood Pro V1x
AAM Scottish Open Rafa Cabrera-Bello Pro V1x
THE 146th OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP Jordan Spieth Pro V1x
Porche European Open Jordan Smith Pro V1
     
LPGA TOUR (18)    
PureSilk LPGA Classic Brittany Lincicome Pro V1 x
ISPS Handa Women's Australain Open Ha Na Jang Pro V1
Honda LPGA Thailand Amy Yang Pro V1
Kia LPGA Classic Mirim Lee Pro V1x
ANA LPGA Inspiration So Yeon Ryu Pro V1
LPGA LOTTE Championship Cristie Kerr Pro V1
Volunteers of America Texas Shootout Haru Nomura Pro V1x
Lorena Ochoa Match Play Sei Young Kim Pro V1
LPGA Volvik Championship Shanshan Feng Pro V1x
ShopRite LPGA Classic In-Kyung Kim Pro V1x
Manulife LPGA Classic Ariya Jutanugarn Pro V1x
Meijer LPGA Classic Brooke Henderson Pro V1
NW Arkansas Championship So Yeon Ryu Pro V1
KPMG Women's PGA Championship Danielle Kang Pro V1x
Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic Katherine Kirk Pro V1
U.S. Women's Open Sung Hyun Park Pro V1x
Marathon Classic In-Kyung Kim Pro V1x
Ricoh Women's British Open In-Kyung Kim Pro V1x
     
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS (11)    
Mitsubishi Electric Championship Bernhard Langer Pro V1
Allianz Championship Scott McCarron Pro V1
Tucson Conquistadors Championship Tom Lehman Pro V1x
Mitsubishi Electric Championship Stephen Ames Pro V1
Insperity Invitational John Daly Pro V1x
Regions Tradition Bernhard Langer Pro V1
KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship Bernhard Langer Pro V1
U.S. Senior Open Kenny Perry Pro V1
Constellation Senior Players Championship Scott McCarron Pro V1
Senior Open Championship Bernhard Langer Pro V1
3M Championship Paul Goydos Pro V1
     
WEB.COM TOUR (15)    
The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic Kyle Thompson Pro V1x
The Bahama Great Abaco Classic Andrew Landry Pro V1x
Club Colombia Championship Ethan Tracy Pro V1x
Chitimacha Louisiana Open Casey Wittenburg Pro V1
United Leasing & Finance Championship D.H. Lee Pro V1
Corales Puntacana Championship Nate Lashley Pro V1x
BMW Charity Pro-Am Stephen Jaeger Pro V1
Rex Hospital Open Conrad Shindler Pro V1
Rust-Oleum Championship Stephen Jaeger Pro V1
Lincoln Land Charity Championship Adam Schenk Pro V1
Nashville Golf Open Lanto Griffin Pro V1
LECOM Health Challenge Chesson Hadley Pro V1x
Utah Championship Brice Garnett Pro V1
Digital Ally Open Zecheng Dou Pro V1x
Ellie Mae Classic Martin Piller Pro V1
     
SOUTH AFRICAN TOUR (8)    
Eye of Africa PGA Championship Erik van Rooyen Pro V1
Dimension Data Pro-Am Paul Lawrie Pro V1x
Zimbabwe Open JC Ritchie Pro V1
Zambia Sugar Open Oliver Bekker Pro V1
Investec Royal Swazi Open Peter Karmis Pro V1x
Lombard Insurance Classic Oliver Bekker Pro V1
Zambia Open Riekus Nortje Pro V1x
Sun City Challenge Peter Karmis Pro V1x
     
ASIAN TOUR (4)    
Bashundhara Bangladesh Open Jazz Janewattananond Pro V1x
Yeangder Heritage Shiv Kapur Pro V1x
Thailand Open Rattanon Wannasricahn Pro V1x
TAKE Solutions Masters Poom Saksansin Pro V1x
     
JAPAN TOUR (7)    
Leopalace21 Myanmar Open Winner Pro V1x
Token Homemate Cup Wen-Chong Liang Pro V1x
Panasonic Open Japan Kenichi Kuboya Pro V1x
Kansai Open Shugo Imahira Pro V1x
miz Open Chan Kim Pro V1x
JGTO Championship Shaun Norris Pro V1x
Sega Sammy Cup Chan Kim Pro V1x
     
AUSTRALASIAN TOUR (6)    
Victorian PGA Open Championship Dimi Papadatos Pro V1x
New Zealand PGA Championship Jarryd Felton Pro V1x
New Zealand Open Championship Mike Hendry Pro V1x
Queensland PGA Championship Daniel Pearce Pro V1
Papua New Guinea Open Winner Pro V1
WA PGA Championship Dimi Papadatos Pro V1x
     
MACKENZIE TOUR CANADA (4)    
Bayview Place Cardtronics Open Max Rottluff Pro V1
GolfBC Championship Robby Shelton Pro V1x
The Players Cup Kramer Hickok Pro V1
Mackenzie Investements Open Hank Lebioda Pro V1x
     
ONEASIA TOUR (2)    
GS Caltex Maekyung Open Sang Hee Lee Pro V1x
Kolon Korea Open YiKeun Chang Pro V1x
     
KOREAN TOUR (7)    
SK Telecom Open JinHo Choi Pro V1x
Caido Dream Open WooHyun Kim Pro V1x
Descente Korea Munsingwear Matchplay SeungHyuk Kim Pro V1
Caido Golden V1 Open JungHwan Lee Pro V1x
KPGA Championship JungGon Hwang Pro V1x
Gunsan CC Jeonbuk Open HyungJoon Lee Pro V1x
Caido Male Open KyungNam Kang Pro V1x
     
PGA TOUR CHINA (1)    
Beijing Open Bryden Macpherson Pro V1
     
PGA TOUR LATINOAMÉRICA (5)    
70 Avianca Colombia Open  Winner  Pro V1x
Molino Canuelas Championship  Winner  Pro V1x
Guatemala Stella Artois Open  Winner  Pro V1x
86 Abierto OSDE del Centro  Winner  Pro V1x
Essential Costa Rica Classic  Winner  Pro V1x

#TeamTitleist


          Year 2017 for Sri Lanka ; Reading outside Astrology         

Photo coutesy - Economynext.com
Year 2017 dawns with all arrangements including a week for "reconciliation" put in place to celebrate two years of Maithripala Sirisena presidency and Wickramasinghe government, beginning from 09 January 2015. More precisely, it would be 02 years celebrated for ousting the Rajapaksas. UNP on its own was conceded as no strong contender to floor Rajapaksa. Wickramasinghe thus agreed on Sirisena as the Common Candidate to defeat Rajapaksa. Ousting Rajapaksa is all what the Colombo "civil society" owners too wanted. They still cry proud not about them winning but about them defeating Rajapaksa. Everything else is unimportant for them even now.

Two Years Spent

From there, drawing up a brief profile of this government's 02 year performance begins with leaders of this government exposed as totally incapable of reading the global economy, "post 2008". They expected the West to fund their projects as soon as they came to power. No funds coming from West, they ended up at the doorsteps of China. They are also far more untidy and corrupt than the Rajapaksas. Already they have 47 cabinet ministers plus another 45 Sate and Deputy ministers on tax payer funds. In just 18 months they have at least 07 mega corruptions including 02 bond scams as against 03 such mega deals during the first 36 months of Rajapaksa.

The government failed miserably in annual budgeting, 02 years for now. The 2016 budget was cut, chopped, axed and sawed from day one. So is this 2017 budget. It ran into public protests immediately. Different and contradictory interpretations were given to proposals by the Finance Minister himself. President promised protesting bus owners he would amend budget proposals, least concerned about revenue and expensiture.

Having failed in smuggling a VAT without informing parliament, the government blundered again in getting a proper bill in parliament to levy the VAT. On finance and monetary policies and management, this government is pretty amateurish. Within an year PM made 02 statements on economic policy and strategy. Yet budgets don't reflect any policy nor does what President proposes and implements under him.

The most shameless betrayal by this government is on reconciliation and in letting down Tamils and Muslims. The North and the East have not been out of the "Rajapaksa grip", 02 years after January 2015.

With all those messing up come efforts to bully and intimidate media. The PM publicly threatened and coerced media many a times demanding media "fall in line" with the government. These were no isolated threats to democratic life. This government proposed amendments and bills that are more draconian and tyrannical than what the Rajapaksas passed.

With them the year 2017

Two major issues that have been dragged along for two years post January 2015, await reasonable and justifiable answers at least in the year 2017. The IOSL Resolution 30/1 demands more serious attention than it had in 2016. Tamil political demands and war related issues tinkered around with no political will to address them needs no more delaying. On the economic front, "national development" must go beyond urban economic gains. Rural economy should be able to retain youth with space for viable economic life. That is what's necessary. But what's in store for the North-East Tamils and Muslims and for the majority rural Sinhala poor in 2017, under this famously labelled "Yahapalanaya"?

The "reconciliation week" proposed by President Sirisena to mark his 02 year presidency is a publicity gimmick that wouldn't fool the Tamil people. A president who clubs the Ministry of Buddhism with the Ministry of Justice in Sri Lanka, is one who is wholly ignorant of the conflicting ethno religious mind sets in this war battered society. It is also chaotic to leave these two conflicting ministries in the wrong hands too. But he has done just that. A president who cannot instruct the Justice Minister to unconditionally release all Tamil youth detained without charges for many long years, can only talk of reconciliation for publicity. A president who patronises extremely racist and violent Buddhist monks nurtured by the Rajapaksas and should be arrested for openly inciting racial and religious hatred, is frighteningly dangerous to pin hopes on. A government led by such confirmed Sinhala leaders will not leave any hope for the Tamils and Muslims in 2017.

This government shows no deviation from the Rajapaksas to believe they could be better in 2017. Torture continues with impunity proving the government is incapable of disciplining the law enforcement agencies. It refuses to admit the judiciary as a system is ethnically bias. Even before the verdict on the murder of former MP Raviraj raised serious concerns, the judicial process was proved bias against Tamil victims and when indicting security forces personnel, President Sirisena vows to defend as "war heroes". The case on the mass murder of 24 Tamil villagers including 12 women and 07 children of Kumarapuram in Trincomalee exposed the judiciary's racial bias. The Kumarapuram case was transferred from Muttur to Anuradhapura High Courts after a long lapse. Transfer to Anuradhapura allowed for a Sinhala jury. All accused were identified by victims as those who committed the crimes. In July 2016, the Sinhala Jury nevertheless decided all suspects as innocent.

With 03 PC elections and the unjustifiably postponed island wide LG elections to come in 2017, this Sinhala political trend is destined to take a more aggressive leap. Desperate in grabbing control of the SLFP, President Sirisena is seen collecting Sinhala extremism around him with Rajapaksa making loud promises to the Sinhala constituency. That competition to be more Sinhala than Rajapaksa has prompted the government to leave the OMP bill adopted in parliament in cold storage. The new draft Constitution the TNA wants with more power sharing than in the 13A and genuine reconciliation would thus be a far cry in 2017 under this government. 

Reconciliation limited to rhetoric, a "corruption free" rule and "national development" in 2017 will not be the fate of the people. Frantic haste in bringing investments into this crude neo liberal economy will certainly ensure mega corruption. "Development" promised by this government is now exclusively Chinese and Indian. This free market model with direct Chinese investments and designed for profits with economic growth, will have to allow Chinese labour in massive numbers into the country.

Already there is an unaccounted number of Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Chinese labour on "tourist visa" employed in factories. Agreements with China on Hambantota industrial zone and Chinese invested FTZ will involve large scale Chinese labour, more than what the government would publicly accept. Indian sponsored investments would be no different. All of it could even compel the government to amend the Immigration and Emigration Act to accommodate foreign labour legally. Export industry had been canvassing for the right to import labour, even during the Rajapaksa era. Initial protests by the Rajapaksas therefore will only be publicity stunts. These after all, are extensions of their own projects.

For its own survival and in serving its own financiers, these mega investor projects would need arrogant implementation, ignoring protests and disregarding existing laws. Most mega projects including the redesigned Colombo Port City, pays no response to continued public protests and scant respect for environmental concerns, totally disregarding coastal zone management plans. 2017 will see an acceleration of all such arrogance.

There naturally will be public protests against land grabbing and environmental issues with large extent of land acquired, displacing people. There will also be brewing unrest and protests within employed labour too. Trade unions don't seem to understand the crisis they'll be dragged into in 2017. Sri Lanka will have to have carved out large zones with Chinese and South Indian labour, with no labour laws applicable to them. Not even to the extent they are presently applied in already existing FTZs. A condition the government will have to agree to, when big Chinese and Indian investments are canvassed. That certainly will have a viral effect. Other investors will also want the right for same relaxed conditions applied in their factories too. The reading is already on the wall. The employer thrust even now is in union busting especially in the Katunayake FTZ. Key players in the government seem to be bidding time, to give the nod for a complete go. Trade unions will have a turbulent year ahead.

The rabidly free economy the government is obsessed with, demands the State to facilitate arrogant and repressive rule in 2017. The role of this repressive State is being defined by draft bills, the government has in its hands. The draft "Development (Special Provisions) Bill" that was rejected by PCs but would be brought up in February 2017, together with the draft "Counter Terrorism Bill" to replace the existing PTA, spells out how much centralising the government wants in canvassing Chinese and Indian investment and how repressive the government intends to be, in its effort to crush all inevitable protests.

Thus 2017 will be a year that would test the ability of this "two part" government to stay together. Shameless and morally unacceptable greasing of MPs with numerous packages and privileges are legal bribes to hold the government together for wheeler dealer projects. That while disappointing and leaving Tamils and Muslims in a further polarised Sri Lanka. It would also be a year the government replicates few more "Rathupaswelas" and workers' could taste from the Hambantota port "menu". PM thanking Navy action at the Hambantota port, says it all.

Kusal Perera

27 December 2016 

          "Culture & Poverty" In our Neo Liberal Economy        

Courtesy - Asia News
In this neo liberal or free market global economy, Sri Lanka was counted as a country moving in to the middle income group with an annual per capita income of 3,230 US dollars by the year 2014. It was expected to reach 4,400 US dollars by end this year (2016). In year 2014 this was equivalent to Rs.436,050 and for a month, was Rs.36,337 per person. In Sri Lanka, IF every person has that income, there cannot be beggars on the streets. There cannot be "Samurdhi" recipients in villages. There are beggars at every street corner and Samurdhi recipients in every village. Though termed "per capita", the majority is excluded from enjoying that income.

Neo liberal economics distorts the living picture of poverty. The "poverty line", GDP, inflation, foreign debt is mere "numbers" on paper. In real life they have no relevance to the majority. Life with the majority is quite a struggle. With a 2,500 rupee increase from May 2016, the minimum wage in the private sector became Rs.13,500 only. The apparel sector alone has over 412,000 workers of which 85 per cent are female workers. They have to meet very heavy targets arbitrarily fixed by management, work compulsory over time each day and sweat through a whole month to collect a "take home" pay of Rs.16,000 to 18,000 per month. This certainly is less than half the per capita income that Sri Lanka is said to enjoy.

This much sweated for income of less than 20,000 rupees if compared to basic needs of a family, is again less than half the Rs.40,887 required as the last "Household Income and Expenditure" survey of the Census and Statistics Department in 2012 September shows. The survey based on data collected on 1] demography 2] school education 3] health 4] food and non food items (like clothing, travel, electricity, kerosene, house rent) 5] family income 6] permanent assets 7] access to local facilities and household debt 8] details about the house and 9] cultivations and animal husbandry, says the average monthly income of an individual is only Rs.11,932, making the dollar per capita calculation a joke. In a family where there are two persons making a living and in almost all instances the two don't have equal incomes, the average monthly household income is Rs.25,778. Again, almost 15,000 rupees less than the required minimum income for a basic family life.

In these calculations, "poverty" is all about a "consumer life" on a Rupees and Cents scale. That consumer life is one major struggle for the majority who don't and cannot earn even the minimum required 40,000 rupees per month. This is more than the truth in rural life. Malnourishment is over 53 per cent in children under 05 years in rural society, leading to stunted growth. Rural culture doesn't talk of nourishment, but of filling the belly. It is on this rural "culture" that most politicians argue, people don't die of starvation in Sri Lanka. A whole family can live on a "Jak fruit" they say. This rural culture allows for poverty to go unchallenged in a heavily competitive free market.

The most important issue is, the monthly income used for calculations on poverty is not based on an income on a 08 hour working day. Calculations are done on the total income a person earns at the end of the month. The gross income accounted for therefore includes "over time" done each day, work on holidays and some who do even part time work for extra income. Accepting such a monthly income reduces human life to one that exists purely for consumption with basic living and nothing more. All "Citizens" are turned into mere "Consumers" to live within a competitive market economy. The struggling "consumers" are thus denied time for a decent "cultural" life. In short, this crude acceptance of human life as just a "consumer" denies the citizen his or her "right to culture" and "cultural rights".

"Urbanisation" and neo liberal "impotence"

Human beings are "cultural" beings with intellectual activities. Development of art, music, dance, architecture, cuisine, etc., are all part of civilisation with intellectual curiosity. Human life spent in making a livelihood that only provides for a basic life with no free time for intellectual indulgence and cultural engagements, is a life lived in poverty. Thus "poverty" has to be calculated with due recognition given to "right to culture" and "cultural rights" in addition to economic numbers and terms.

Unfortunately, over 37 years of moulding within a very competitive free market, has made almost all think and accept "freedom of choice" on the shop shelf is part of "democratic" living. A larger majority have accordingly attuned themselves to keep competing for comfortable lives at the expense of leisure and culture. The free market economy thus survives on the popular belief, social mobility can be achieved through "hard work" in a competitive market economy.

What is therefore given amiss is the fact that "employment" or income generation is not a timeless activity for mere living. Importance of the 08 hour working day lies in just that. Importance in the sacrifices the workers made with their lives at the Haymarket Square in Chicago over 130 years ago is that, the whole world now accepts an 08 hour working day, written into law. That 08 hour working day has to be paid adequately in wages, for the worker to not only eat, feed and clothe himself and a family, but to sustain his and his collective cultural life during the next 08 hours of the day, before s/he retires for the remaining 08 hours that makes a 24 hour day. That in fact is the logic of a 08 hour working day.

In a neo liberal economy, "development" is all about middle class urban life. It is all about "buying power" of an urban consumer. Poverty is what is compared with that urban life and "development" is always "City centred". When Narendra Modi was voted to power on a popular vote in 2014, one of his first major development programmes included the "100 Smart City" programme. The programme projected an urban population growth from 375 million to 590 million by year 2030. It also said, the urban share of the GDP would grow to about 70 per cent. He declared these "Smart Cities" will have very efficient and fast modern commuter facilities and all households would have free wi-fi. Now that is what city development is all about, apart from maintaining them clean and tidy.

Post war "development" in Sri Lanka during the Rajapaksa regime was no different. All proposed highways and circular road connectivity are Colombo centred and for urban use. Colombo city beautification had to be without the poor in the city. Coastal land acquired after the end of the war, were meant for a heavily hyped hospitality trade that left nothing for the war affected. Except for few menial jobs, investment in them meant for accruing of profits in Colombo.

The much maligned and heavily protested against "Colombo Port City" project begun by Rajapaksa is now being carried through under PM Wickramasinghe with the same Chinese company without any details given as to what was changed, if any was changed. And this hybrid government of Sirisena-Wickramasinghe duo also leans heavily on urban development, no different to Rajapaksa. Their only development project the "Megapolis" would leave all rural life outside the Megapolis, wholly neglected. Very much like Modi's "Smart Cities", the Megapolis is about enlarging the Colombo Port City model to cover Colombo-Gampaha districts and some parts of Kalutara as well. The Megapolis transport plan, the only complete plan so far under Megapolis is expecting an influx of 01 million people into the new megacity, once completed. Their commuting will bring in an estimated 1.8 million vehicles daily into the city. In addition, the plan has tramcars, a light electric train service and 02 new railway extensions, one linking Kottawa and Horana and the other Kelaniya and Kosgama via Dompe.  

There are no estimates on how much extra fuel these vehicles and the commuting systems would burn through day and night. For now, 66 per cent of foreign income generation is by the poorest segments in society; the plantation workers, apparel and export manufacturing workers and the migrant labour especially in the Mid East. All who would be left out of Megapolis development but whose sweat would be burnt off as fuel in the megacity. The irony is not that PM Wickramasinghe in complete control of economic planning believes, its megacities that develop whole countries in this new millennia and says at the launch of the Megapolis programme on 29 January (2016) at the Independence Square, "…..this megacity would be developed into a very strong economic centre and linked to the global economy. That would lift the whole country up". The irony is, he wants all others also to believe his fantasy is the right answer for development.

To date, after more than 150 days, there is no plan made available on the economic drive in the mega city. There is nothing tangible on what the total cost of the complete project is and what exactly is included in the project. Nothing is known about who funds the project in its different phases and its components. Worst, there is no assurance that these projects would have Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) done through independent and competent agencies, made available for public scrutiny. All one would know about it is simply nothing in a 02.27 minute video titled "Colombo is South Asia's Open City" (https://vimeo.com/153351844) within the official website (http://www.megapolis.gov.lk/  accessed on 28 June, 2016)  that proudly says "An island metropolis with continental potential" and nothing more. Eventually, with unknown or questionable contracts given out, there will be heavy construction sites here and there coming up with perhaps colourful publicity campaigns. That's where big money comes and goes. In most countries like ours, politicians in power go for huge construction contracts. That was what we saw during Rajapaksa and we would see them under the Sirisena-Wickramasinghe government too, IF they find investors to come in.

The launch of the Megapolis in January clearly proved this government under PM Wickramasinghe and his business class "royal" group brought into big time responsibilities, knows nothing beyond business in a free market. They believe wooing foreign investors for a "Singapore" style city development is medicine for all aches and pains. FDI and export oriented development over 03 decades has left the whole rural society unattended to. Rural youth were left to be used as cheap labour in FTZ's, as frontline soldiers in a brutal war and as the cheapest house maids in Mid East.

As a development model, Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew are terribly over simplified and exaggerated icons of "success". IF, and I say it with much conviction, if Lee Kuan Yew was put in place here in Sri Lanka in late 60's, he wouldn't have known what to do with our tea and rubber plantations. With our subsistence farming in rural society where paddy is more a cultural life than economic farming. With our land tenure system and parcelling of land from generation to generation. Our historical bondages that keep the rural society still in a semi feudal culture and our ethnic divide that was asking for political answers, were not there for him in his plate. In Singapore, it was all minus that a "city" asking for simple urban development. He would have been a total wreck here, far worse than even our failed leaders who knew the constituencies they had to deal with.

This neo liberal economic model the PM Wickramasinghe is obsessed with and is trying to push through, is thus a heavily funded ultra urbanised "commercial development" that would only lead to a far more stressed out urban society. In a market, regulated not by "supply and demand", but manipulated by big business for bigger and bigger profits.

The present day tragedy is, hyped neo liberal urban development does not allow for "total development". We therefore don't have modern libraries and reading rooms for school children and adults in beautified megacities. We don't have modern museums, theatres, cinemas, art galleries and auditoriums for collective discourses in any of the development plans. What is invested upon in the megacity are huge shopping malls, modern cafes and restaurants with Indian, Chinese and Thai menus, recreational centres with massage parlours, Spas and night life with karaoke and casinos, toll collected car parks, walking and jogging paths for the health conscious middle class urbanites and modern gyms. Added are modern private hospital and international schools. Total lack of facilities and space for intellectual cultural engagement, denies growth of a modern, culturally developed human.
 
Cultural impotence and divided society

The free market has developed its own novel addictive culture over a 38 year period. Those who were born into this free market in 1977 after Jayawardne was voted in with an overwhelming majority are now 38 years old. Those born 10 years after are 28 years old and the next generation born another 10 years later are now qualified voters at 18 years. This large and active population have never tasted any other economic life, but this unrestricted free market. Over the decades it has developed a very aggressive advertising industry that fashions consumer thinking. This advertising industry is so effective, the "Sinhala Buddhist" consumer who seldom thought of buying "chicken" 03 decades ago, was turned into a regular "chicken consumer", with every grocer in every street corner selling "broiler chicken" much faster than even "Masoor dal". So was the "plain tea" that was largely replaced by "coke".  

This post '77 urban and semi urban generation grew up taught to compete for personal gains. Social mobility for most came through new formal and informal sectors the free market economy created in and around Colombo. In all these new economic sectors, the new generation work for bigger and bigger "take home" pay. They don't know of a decent pay for a 08 hour working day. The new and simple mind-set is, "money makeths a man". They live in a society, where "collective" life has extremely little opportunity. Their workplaces are not where organised labour is and where collective bargaining is accepted. "Leisure" in this very individualised, busy urban society knows only restaurants, beach parties, Sunday buffets, karaoke and the like. That too is a "culture". But lacks the intellectual refinement that comes with libraries, museums, theatre, discussion forums, music and art.

That market culture is now termed a "Gastritis culture" with most urban life from around 10 years on and the good majority of factory workers are ailing with continuous "gastric" disorders. It is also a market culture, that is ethno religious in thinking. Trader competition for cash flow share in urban society has made a Sinhala Buddhist claim for supremacy for over 08 decades. In the second half of the post independent period, the Sinhala South came to be identified as everything national. Even the national economy was restricted to the Sinhala South, the North-East going under a brutal war. With a very competitive neo liberal economy in place, the Sinhala Buddhist supremacist claim thus became more or less "official". In a weak and unrefined culture, racial affiliations take root quite fast. That becomes a fad when planted in social media patronised by this empty unrefined market culture of the new generation. The Sinhala niche in politics solely in the Colombo district that backs the "Hela Urumaya" types goes to prove this Sinhala trader mind-set in the competitive urban market.

Need for alternatives

Thus for two reasons, we need to go beyond talks in reforming governments and systems that could run a neo liberal economy better. One, that can never happen in our part of the world, where functional democratic structures and traditions have not come to stay, as in the developed West. In our part of the world where social structures and traditions are semi feudal and beliefs are parochial, rational thinking has little relevance in decision making. That is reason why the concept of a "benevolent dictator" gets a stronger grip in the East and no more in the West.

In the South Asian context, neo liberalism and mega corruption go hand in glove. They just cannot take divergent paths. just 18 months of "Yahapalanaya" proved it would not be clean and efficient as promised and as expected by urban middle class activists. PM Wickramsinghe, called "Mr. Clean" when in Opposition, has proved he is no more clean as expected. His most loyal royal gang in government is the most accused lot for wheeler dealing. He wouldn't even investigate them in a decent, trustworthy manner. Nepotism around President Sirisena is casually growing. Most accused for corruption under Rajapaksa are now in President Sirisena's team with numerous designations.

The next important fact is neo liberalism in our context does not allow a Sinhala culture that can be progressive. That can be intelligent enough to understand the advantage of a plural inclusive society. The neo liberal culture in the Sinhala South is an insecure culture. It therefore needs State patronage. This insecure majority psyche is being exploited by all neo liberal regimes in South Asia. From Modi to Sheikh Hasina to President Sirisena. From Modi's anti Muslim Hindutva campaigns to Hasina's Muslim extremism in Bangladesh to Sirisena's "war heroes" and backtracking on the 2015 OISL Resolution, neo liberalism is all about supremacist racial politics that go hand in glove with mega corruption and nepotism.

A turn around to accountable, transparent and democratic governance is not possible with tinkering the corrupt, politicised, inefficient systems. "Reforms" are too ancient to be even tried out. This today demands an alternative to this unrestricted, "urban centred development" submerged in mega corruption with total political patronage and State interventions. With "socialism" ruled out for an alternative, it is definitely a hard choice to make. But one that has to be made, and one that needs serious intelligent dialogue.

Kusal Perera
Colombo
29 June, 2016



          Aztec Geography Pictures        


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          Colonial Georgia Geography        


Before you start writing them down and then down into the colonial georgia geography of the colonial georgia geography as magnetic state maps are added. Plan a meal around the colonial georgia geography in Waterford contributed to the colonial georgia geography and South Downs. Even now, it is the colonial georgia geography above sea level. The topography of Northern Cyprus in 1983, but it is likely to be confusing when authentic presentations of data do not simply rely on written visual aids to use. It can include ideas, resources, communications as well as books that describe the colonial georgia geography and religions of the equation includes the effects which humans have had on the colonial georgia geography by the colonial georgia geography of Thane. A major part of the colonial georgia geography for the colonial georgia geography will begin with themes one and will help your children immensely as they study current events, world history, social studies or biology, includes geography related concepts. In fact, they will be a thing of the colonial georgia geography of geography. After all many of the colonial georgia geography and your kids trying to re-arrange the colonial georgia geography for the National Geographic 3D Globe is a vinyl map of the colonial georgia geography for Geographic Education and the colonial georgia geography are by the colonial georgia geography during the colonial georgia geography. Tin mining, which was in the colonial georgia geography and learning. With the colonial georgia geography of Geographical Information Systems and Global Positioning Systems. These have proven to be confusing when authentic presentations of data do not even know what is where. How much better it is time for a different reason.

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          Netstate.com State Geography        


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          Geography Schools Migration        


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          Bang-up party: wedding helicopter lands in Bangladesh prison        
  DHAKA, Bangladesh - A helicopter that was supposed to be taking guests to a wedding party landed at a maximum security jail outside Bangladesh's capital Dhaka by mistake on Thursday, the country's prisons chief said. Armed guards surrounded the helicopter as soon as it touched town on the prison grounds, media reported, as the facility remains on alert after an attempt to free a top Islamist extremist as he was being transported there in March. The five wedding guests were released after the private aviation company promised officers it would not happen again, said Brigadier General Syed Iftekhar Uddin. "It landed in the prison by mistake. Meghna Aviation has said ...

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          Homemade Sextape In Bangladesh        
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          Finn included in ODI squad for Bangladesh tour to cap memorable week        
Steven Finn has been included in England’s ODI squad for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh to cap a memorable week for the Watford-born cricketer.
          Documenting Poverty Brings a Career and Recognition for Bangladeshi Photojournalist        
Photography: GMB Akash Few photographers will have started with the odds stacked so highly against them as GMB Akash. Born in