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Showing posts from 2006

Saddam's last hours

The Guardian is reporting that Saddam Hussein is going to be hung as soon as this weekend.

Saddam Hussein's execution was imminent last night as senior Iraqi officials finalised details of his hanging and indicated that it would probably take place shortly before dawn this morning. The Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, signed the former dictator's death sentence and at a late night meeting with US officials agreed the execution formalities.

River Bend has a strong article on the destruction of Iraq.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Sunnis and moderate Shia are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Shia leaving Sunni areas and Sunnis leaving Shia areas- some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at check points or in drive by killings… Many colleges have stopped classes. Thousands of Iraqis no longer send their children to school- it's just not …

Children of Men

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We saw Children of Men last night, it is so depressing and grim. London in 2027 looks like a war zone, with terrorism, police violence and bombs going off everywhere. Women and men are infertile and no more babies are being born. The movie centers around Clive Owen, who promises his ex girlfriend (Julianne Moore), that he would accompany the only pregnant woman to safety.

Here is a review in the Guardian.

What will the end of the world look like? As shabby and nasty as the way it looks here is my guess. This explosively violent future-nightmare thriller, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and adapted from the novel by PD James, has simply the most extraordinary look of any movie around: a stunningly convincing realisation of a Beirut-ised London in the year 2027, in which terrorist bombs have become as dreary and commonplace as cancer.

Death by Sodas!!

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Joshua Frank describes how dangerous sodas are. Guess i should try and start giving them up in the New Year!
I heard that they are so toxic that they are given to patients to break down kidney stones.

Drinking one soda a day could cause you to gain 15 pounds a year. Other related health risks include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bowel cancer and nerve damage.

Fortunately there is a growing movement across the country to ban sodas from schools. Indeed the feisty Killer Coke campaign, which focuses on the company's labor abuses and not Coke's negative health implications, has been successful is banning the product from over 10 major universities in the United States. But it would be wise to not just focus on the company's alleged murders in Colombia, and instead broaden the struggle against the soda industry by pointing out their complicity in the obesity epidemic worldwide
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James Brown RIP

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James Brown, the Godfather of soul, died yesterday, at the age of 73.

The funk Mr. Brown introduced in his 1965 hit “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” was both deeply rooted in Africa and thoroughly American. Songs like “I Got You (I Feel Good),” “Cold Sweat,” “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “Hot Pants” found the percussive side of every instrument and meshed sharply syncopated patterns into kinetic polyrhythms that made people dance.

By the late 1960s Mr. Brown’s funk was part of pop, R&B and jazz: in his own hits, in songs by the Temptations and Sly and the Family Stone, and in the music of Miles Davis. It was also creating a sensation in Africa, where it would shape the Afrobeat of Fela Kuti, the juju of King Sunny Ade and the mbalax of Youssou N’Dour.

Musicians who left Mr. Brown’s bands would also have a direct role in 1970s and 1980s funk; the saxophonist Maceo Parker, the trombonist Fred Wesley and the bassist Bootsy Collins were part of George Clinton’s Parliament…

Whats wrong with Cinderella

Peggy Orentstein writes in the NYT magazine, about the Princess ideal that young girls are subjected to in American society.

when my own girl makes her daily beeline for the dress-up corner of her preschool classroom — something I’m convinced she does largely to torture me — I worry about what playing Little Mermaid is teaching her. I’ve spent much of my career writing about experiences that undermine girls’ well-being, warning parents that a preoccupation with body and beauty (encouraged by films, TV, magazines and, yes, toys) is perilous to their daughters’ mental and physical health. Am I now supposed to shrug and forget all that? If trafficking in stereotypes doesn’t matter at 3, when does it matter? At 6? Eight? Thirteen?

The Pursuit of Happyness, The Holiday and Dhoom 2

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The holiday movie that I recommend watching is The Pursuit of Happyness and maybe The Holiday.Dhoom 2 i do not recommend.

Pursuit deals with poverty and hardwork and sheer grit that leads Chris Gardner (Will Smith) and his son Christopher (Jaden Christopher Smith) out of poverty in San Francisco in the 1980's. What was interesting was the representation of a father son relationship within the African American community, where the father did not disappear from the scene, but was actively trying to take care of his child. A review of “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Jeanne Aufmuth here

“You got a dream, you gotta protect it. If you want something, go get it. Period.” Words of wisdom passed from struggling medical supply salesman Chris Gardner (Smith) to his 5-year old son Christopher (real-life son Jaden Christopher Syre Smith). The sentiment bears heavy meaning considering the hardships facing Gardner as a suddenly single parent endeavoring to break off a piece of the American dream b…

Nadine Gordimer, No Cold Kitchen

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Interesting conflict between Nadine Gordimer and her biographer Ronald Suresh Roberts detailed in the N.Y.T.. His book "No Cold Kitchen", was originally under contract to Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the United States and Bloomsbury in Britain , both houses — which also publish Gordimer — declined to publish it after Gordimer expressed objections to the manuscript and accused Roberts of breach of trust. “We weren’t satisfied with some aspects of the book,” said Jonathan Galassi, the president and publisher of Farrar, Straus, who acquired the book in 1998. “We asked for revisions and we haven’t heard from him.” Instead, Roberts published the book last fall in South Africa with STE, a self-described black empowerment publishing house.

The Gordimer-Roberts dispute is emblematic of the larger political situation in South Africa, highlighting in particular the uncertain role of white anti-apartheid activists now that the African National Congress has become the government. Gord…

To Do Lists: Give Birth before New Years.

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Scary article in N.Y.T. about parents planning to give birth before the new year in order to get a bigger tax break. My Lamaze teacher, mentioned that, but it is horrid to see how mainstream it has became.

In the last 15 years, there has been a huge increase in the number of births that are induced with drugs or come by Caesarean section. In either case, parents or doctors can often schedule a baby’s arrival on a day of their choosing.

Not surprisingly, they tend to avoid weekends and holidays, when doctors have other plans, hospitals are short of staff and the possibility of an unfortunate birthday — Christmas Day, anyone? — looms. During holiday weeks, births have become increasingly crowded into the weekdays surrounding the holiday.

Over this same period — since the early 1990s — the federal government has been steadily increasing the tax breaks for having a child. For parents to claim the full amount of any of these breaks in a given year, a child must simply be born by 11:59 p.m. on…

Wake Up, Employers: Working Moms Are Giving Up

Alternet has an article by Courtney E. Martin, on why working moms are leaving the workforce. According to her the fault lies with rigid and inflexible work rules, rather than any Martha Stewart fantasies.

While old guard feminists have been busy pointing fingers at young, frivolous co-eds, ignorant of the legacy they have inherited, they should be placing the blame where it is most deserved: in the boardrooms where inflexible and sometimes even inhumane work/family policy is established and in the government offices where little legislation is ever written to protect working parents.

The true oath

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Inspiring story in the outlook about urban educated doctors going into rural areas in India and providing much needed medicare.

These highs and lows are woven into the daily life of a very small number of doctors scattered across the country who've opted to offer cheap, high-quality care to rural populations caught between "quackery and crookery", as Prof Amartya Sen once put it. In settings like Ganiyari, or Sittlingi in rural Tamil Nadu, where doctors Regi George and Lalitha Regi work among adivasis, you see doctors as you may never have done: non-intimidating, empathetic, humbled by their patients' struggle to make a living off the land; maintaining detailed case notes for the hundreds of patients who flock to their clinics.

Nicaragua the next tourist destination

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Nicaragua
seems to be an upcoming tourist destination. Daniel Ortega's recent victory not withstanding. I visited Nicaragua in 1990-91 and loved it, the people were warm and friendly, and i got a lot of practise in speaking Spanish. I hope the tourist influx does not spoil the environment and make the people into husslers for the American dollar.

1282 workers arrested in meatpacking plant raids

Immigration News Briefs
Vol. 9, No. 43 - December 15, 2006

Special Issue: 1,282 Arrested in Meatpacking Raids

1. Mass Arrests in Six States
2. Singled Out by Skin Color
3. The Investigation
4. The Union's Response
5. Why Now?

Immigration News Briefs is a weekly supplement to Weekly News Update on the Americas, published by Nicaragua Solidarity Network, 339 Lafayette St, New York, NY 10012; tel 212-674-9499; fax 212-674-9139; wnu@igc.org. INB is also distributed free via email; see below or contact nicajg@panix.com for info. You may reprint or distribute items from INB, but please credit us and tell people how to subscribe.

*1. Mass Arrests in Six States

On Dec. 12, some 1,000 US Immigration and Customs
Enforcement (ICE) agents carried out simultaneous dawn
raids at six meat processing plants in six states and arrested
a total of 1,282 immigrant workers, most of them Latin
American. (AP 12/12/06, 12/14/06; ICE News Release
12/13/06) The raids took place on a day celebrated by
Mexic…

A pregnancy journal

Getting pregnant and then being pregnant has been an incredible journey. I have read and learnt a lot, visited quite a few doctors and now a midwife. I want to share what I have learnt, so that it can help other women challenge the norm and look within, for their own wisdom to come to the fore.

Getting pregnant was not as easy as I had expected. It was hard work to figure out when in my cycle I was fertile and then doing something about it. I read Toni Weschler’s wonderful book, Taking Charge of your Fertility. This book deals with natural birth control and pregnancy achievement. I learnt about checking cervical fluid, taking my temperature every morning and then recording the thermal shift that occurred to show that ovulation had happened. Also checking the cervical position that changes to a high, open and soft position to indicate fertility. I also bought a kit that you pee on in the morning and it tells you when you are about to be most fertile.
There is a great website called fe…

Sex Lit

Interesting article in Alternet about the proliferation of literature about strippers and colleges teaching Porn studies.

In this latter-day phase of stripper chic, academics such as Barton churn out doctoral dissertations about peep shows and shimmering poles. Middle-class 20-something smarties write memoirs about ditching drone jobs in cafes and offices for "the penis gallery," to quote prep-school grad Cody, whose Pussy Ranch blog led to a six-figure advance for Candy Girl, and who is now a millionaire screenwriter working on a project with Steven Spielberg. Ex-ballerina Barton toyed with but finally tossed the idea of "doing participant observation' by stripping, herself: "I had a 'good' body," reflects the author, who teaches at Kentucky's hilariously named but perfectly ordinary Morehead State. Married hipster Cody confides: "I desperately wanted to be a stripper."

Wine and Yoga anyone?

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The NYT has an article on Yoga retreats combining wine drinking as part of them. I don't think it works for me, but i guess as long as people are moderate in drinking it is ok.

knowing the enemy: the anthropology of insurgency

George Packer has written an interesting article in the New Yorker on the role of social scientists to help redefine the war on terror.

David Kilcullen, an Australian who has a doctorate in political anthropology from the University of New South Wales, wrote on the Darul Islam conflict, a Muslim insurgency movement in Indonesia during the 1950's and 1960's. During his study he saw similar behavior and similar problems in an Islamic insurgency in West Java and a Christian separatist insurgency in East Timor. He felt the problem was not Islam but human social networks and the way that they operate. People get pulled into insurgency through friends, family and associates.

Kilcullen noted after watching Bin Laden tapes, that Bin Laden was creating an implicit association between himself and the Democratic party, for he believed that Bush’s strategy on the war on terror was sustaining his own global importance. “Al Qaeda’s core leadership had became a propaganda hub. If Bin laden did…

Jain Festival

Great photographs of a Jain festival in South India.

Isabel Allende on Augusto Pinochet

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Isabel Allende writes in the Independent about the death of Augusto Pinochet of Chile. It seems she was related to him as well as Salvator Allende.

Muhammad Yunus

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Muhammad Yunus's speech after recieving the Nobel Prize.

Albers & Moholy-Nagy

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The whitney has an exhibit of two modernist graphic artists Josef Albers and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy. Albers works was focussed on the interactions of colors with each other. Moholy-Nagy used geometric shapes like circles and lines intersecting with each other, and the colors that were created. Both artists were part of the Bauhaus School in Germany.

The Tate Modern hosted this exhibit before the whitney. This article talks about the exhibit.

Josef Albers and László Moholy-Nagy were two of the greatest pioneers of modernism in the twentieth century. This exhibition focuses on their individual accomplishments as well as the parallels in their work and examines their groundbreaking development of abstract art beginning in the early 1920s. Though their paths only overlapped for the five years between 1923 and 1928 when both were teaching at the Bauhaus, their artistic practice was informed by similar concerns, including an emphasis on material properties, the subversion of traditional boundaries…

Kiki Smith A Gathering 1980-2005

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Kiki Smith A Gathering 1980-2005

I visited the Kiki Smith’s exhibits at the Whitney Museum, and was excited by her originality and her interaction with the human form, more often the female form and its various manifestations.

“Best known for her descriptions of the human form-both in anatomical fragments and in full figure-she is a remarkable innovator in sculpture, printmaking and drawing...she uses the body as a metaphor, drawing upon science, faith and folklore to consider our strengths and frailties”
She uses diverse materials like Nepalese handmade paper, paper mache, glass, terra-cotta, plaster, wax or bronze.

The first image, is the All Souls exhibit. The numerous images of the fetus reminds me of lots of ultra sounds drawn and celebrates the birth of the human baby.
All Souls
1. 1988
screen print on handmade Thai tissue paper
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Riva Castleman Endowment Fund, 2003
Smith has always been concerned with the human body, and among her earliest preoccu…

Orhan Pamuk & Salman Rushdie

Here is Orhan Pamuk’s speech while accepting the Nobel Prize for literature.

Salman Rushdie was on Charlie Rose last night. His book, Shalimar the clown is out in paperback, so he was discussing it. He writes about Kashmir, because it is like a paradise that has been lost. When he visited their in 1987, he met folk theater people. His book was inspired by their lives. His book deals with universal themes, like a love triangle, death, and a murder. Kashmir was a place where different cultures and religions learnt to get along, similar to what Bosnia and the Middle East used to be like. India is a great success story for religious tolerance, but Kashmir has been caught in the crossfire between Indian Army, Pakistan Army and the jihadists.

He grew up with a secular upbringing, with not much need for religion in his life.

When asked if Islam needed to go through more debate.

He responded and said that it was already happening but not vocally enough. The modernizing movement is happening oft…

words of wisdom

Though countless stars illumine the night
And the moon brightly ornaments the earth,
Only the sun provides light for the day
And gives meaning to the terms "east" and "west."

The man who accomplishes completely
One single act
Excels all sentient beings.
The moon when full illumines the earth ­
The multitude of stars have not this power.

~ Nagarjuna

Glenn Beck

CNN has been going downhill for some time now, but this seems to prove it can go no lower. It's new Headline News host Glenn Beck, has threatened Muslims with concentration camps.

Fair has given examples below.

Flirting With Fascism on CNN Headline News
Host Glenn Beck threatens Muslims with concentration camps

12/5/06

The New York Times (12/4/06), profiling new CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck, called him "brash" and "opinionated," with an "unfiltered approach." The conservative talk-radio host-turned-cable news announcer, the paper reported, "take[s] credit for saying what others are feeling but are afraid to say."

The Times mentioned one of the things Beck has said recently, to newly elected U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim: "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." But as press critic Eric Alterman pointed out (Altercation, 12/4/06), as offensive as that question is, it doesn't begin to suggest th…

Little Hotties Barbies & Bratz

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Margaret Talbot, has a fascinating article, in the New Yorker, on the Barbie doll and her close competitor with 40% of market share the Bratz doll.

Bratzdolls have large heads and skinny bodies; their almond shaped eyes are tilted upwards at the edges and adorned with thick crescents of eye shadow, and their lips are lush and pillowy, glossed to a candy apple sheen and rimed with dark lip liner. They look like pole dancers on their way to work at a gentleman’s club. Unlike Barbie, they can stand unassisted.

Bratz dolls feed and play upon this culture’s obsession with girls being sassy (euphemism for sexy) and therefore discarding traditional toys at a younger age. The dolls tend to look ethnically indeterminate with names to match like Nevra, Kiana, Jade and Yasmin.

M.G.A or Micro Games of America is run by an Iranian immigrant, Isaac Larian, and he owns the Bratz doll copyright. He thinks that Barbies represent a “mommy figure” and young girls don’t particularly want to play with their…

Oprah and burnout

I happened to hear Oprah today, and she was interviewing women in their 40's, who had through suffering reached a level of transformation. The first was Ellen Burstyn, followed by Sheryl Crow and then Dana Buchanan. Ellen, an actress, had faced poverty, and abusive relationships, patterns she kept repeating until she meditated and with the help of therapy changed her mindset. Sheryl Crow, a musician, was about to get married to Lance Armstrong (a cycling champion), but things did not work out, and they broke up and two weeks later, she realized she had breast cancer. She saw this as an opportunity to wake up. Dana Buchanan a fashion designer, had she thought a perfect life, until she had a daughter who was learning disabled. She kept up the facade of being a perfect career woman, perfect mother, perfect wife, until she suffered a panic attack, that made her feel that she was dying. This was her opportunity to find her true self.

All the women spoke about the roles that society impo…

big sugar: sweet, white and deadly

Here is a review of a documentary I saw on the role of Sugar through history. The living conditions of the slaves used to work the plantations in the 18th century Caribbean, and the Haitians used now in the big plantations seemed hauntingly similar. Sugar is heavily subsized in the U.S. and the whole junk food industry is composed of sugars.

Big Sugar explores the dark history and modern power of the world's reigning sugar cartels. Using dramatic reenactments, it reveals how sugar was at the heart of slavery in the West Indies in the 18th century, while showing how present-day consumers are slaves to a sugar-based diet. A lost chapter of Canadian history is discovered, illustrating how 18th century sugar lobbyists in England used blackmail and bribes to determine the fate of Canada.

Toronto writer Lisa Codrington visits Barbados to investigate her family's connection to the Codrington plantation, where the ruthless slave master was also a sexual predator. Meanwhile, writer Carl…

Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist

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I am glad that the Bombay courts have acquitted Indian actor Sanjay Dutt of terrorism charges under T.A.D.A (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1987). This act was similar to the U.S.’s patriot act. T.A.D.A. was enforced for many years in India, often framing innocent Sikhs, Muslims, People from the North East and anyone challenging the India State.

Here is some background on the judgement and the actor in the outlook here and here

Sanjay Dutt gets a dream judgment — all charges dropped under TADA and convicted only under Indian Arms Act, for which he would face a maximum of three years in prison, out of which he has already served 16 months.

Judge P D Kode of the TADA court announced, "During my reasoning I have not found him (Sanjay Dutt) to be a terrorist," there was a collective sense of justice having been finally delivered.

The judge went on to say, "Considering matters in his confession and also taking into account certain admissions from other evidence, I acce…

Casino Royale and Babel

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I saw Casino Royale on Thanksgiving, and did not like it much, but according to the people that I saw it with, it was a new Bond for a changed world. Here is a review that called it pure testosterone pleasure.


The verdict is in: the deliciously brooding Daniel Craig is an edgy and eclectic James Bond, deftly grabbing the reins from perennial uber-Bond Sean Connery.

No gimmicky nuclear warheads, extreme heli-skiing or Pierce Brosnan’s namby-pambies; this 007 is all business – hungry, raw and irrefutably willing to lay it down for queen and country.

This go around James is tackling the money man for the world’s most notorious terrorists. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) is a criminal mastermind with an unquenchable thirst for hard currency. A series of explosive events lead Bond and the creepy Le Chiffre to face off in a high-rollers poker showdown at the luxurious Casino Royale in posh Montenegro.

Aiding Bond in his quest to vanquish evil is gorgeous Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a br…

In the Land of the Taliban

The undefeated why the taliban have returned, by Elizabeth Rubin


Elizabeth Rubin has written a detailed analysis in the New York Times magazine on the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Her thesis is that Pakistan is responsible for the rebirth of the Taliban.

The reasons are

1. The Durand Line, the boundary drawn by the British in 1893 to separate the Pashtun tribes who were revolting against the British. Afghanistan has never recognized this arbitrary line. Pakistan wants it recognized in return for stability in Afghanistan.

2. Musharraf needs to appease the religious parties to extend his power. He bought them off, by giving them control of the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan and let them use the Taliban.

3. Pakistan wants Afghanistan to remain it’s client state, and not pursue as Karzai is doing, business dealings and security with India and the U.S

Living without fear

Living without fear

I went for a wonderful lecture at the Sivananda Center, titled Living without Fear. It was taught by Gauri Devi.

Changes cause fear. It is what we do, not what we say. Action has magic. The world is our challenge. Mediation leads to contentment and that spreads happiness and honesty.

Fear is a negativity that we need to counter with its opposite which is courage.
We need to use our breath in every situation, it helps to calm the nerves.
When we mediate we exercise concentration. This enables us to thin out thoughts, leading to one thought. The goal is to have less and less wandering thoughts.

Yoga is the place where there are no thoughts. It is a chance to let go of the ego. The ego is the identification of who we are. We need to go beyond the limitations of our life and reach the stage of Brahman or complete bliss.

When we are fearful we need to go back to the affirmation that we are more than the limiting experience of fear. And instead see the emotion as a natural fl…

Eqbal Ahmad Terrorism Theirs and Ours

Here is an article by Eqbal Ahmad, titled Terrorism their and ours.

Terrorism: Theirs and Ours
By Eqbal Ahmad
(A Presentation at the University of Colorado, Boulder, October 12, 1998)


In the 1930s and 1940s, the Jewish underground in Palestine was described as “TERRORIST.” Then new things happened.

By 1942, the Holocaust was occurring, and a certain liberal sympathy with the Jewish people had built up in the Western world. At that point, the terrorists of Palestine, who were Zionists, suddenly started to be described, by 1944-45, as “freedom fighters.” At least two Israeli Prime Ministers, including Menachem Begin, have actually, you can find in the books and posters with their pictures, saying “Terrorists, Reward This Much.” The highest reward I have noted so far was 100,000 British pounds on the head of Menachem Begin, the terrorist.

Then from 1969 to 1990 the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, occupied the center stage as the terrorist organization. Yasir Arafat has been des…