Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
PEPFAR and Warner Bros. Entertainment are proud to present the trailer for “Saving Lives reating Hope.” Developed through a public-private partnership between PEPFAR and Warner Bros., the engaging new trailer gives audiences a sneak peek of PEPFAR's “Saving Lives Creating Hope” documentary.
"Saving Lives Creating Hope" is an unforgettable tale of the human spirit: of bold leadership and the transformational power of partnerships in the fight against global AIDS. In the documentary, government, faith, community and private sector leaders from Haiti, Rwanda and Tanzania share inspiring stories of the impact of PEPFAR.
Today, in partnership with the American people, leaders around the world are saving the lives of their countrymen and women. They are creating hope for a brighter future for millions. They are helping to turn the tide of the pandemic.
Just five years ago, many wondered whether prevention, treatment and care could ever successfully be provided in resource-limited settings where HIV was a death sentence.
President George W. Bush led the American people and the world to act with PEPFAR - a five-year, comprehensive approach to fighting HIV/AIDS around the world. It is a commitment based in hope and faith in the courageous leaders in nations devastated by HIV/AIDS.
Here is a link to the 15 minute documentary.
Nearly 3,000 participants from over 125 countries are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to exchange lessons and experiences in the fight against child sexual exploitation, review progress, and reinforce commitments.
“Sexual exploitation leaves children with psychological and at times physical scars, and diminishes their hopes of leading a life of dignity,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “No country or region is immune, and there are no innocent bystanders.”
Sexual exploitation is a violation of a child’s right to care and protection. The Congress will look at various types of sexual exploitation of children, including sexual exploitation in the family, child marriage, sexual exploitation of child domestic laborers, the commercial sex industry, as well as child pornography and sexual exploitation of children in cyber space.
Predators continue to use new tools to target children, including cyber space and new generation mobile phone technologies, and adults can prey on children in chat rooms and use the internet to post or download pornography.
Seven years after the last World Congress in Yokohama, Japan in 2001, which focused exclusively on commercial sexual exploitation of children, the Brazil Congress will also discuss strategies for combating non-commercial forms of child sexual exploitation, including the sexual exploitation of children in their homes, by religious leaders, by teachers, by peacekeepers and by armed groups in war zones.
“Sexual exploitation is the ultimate abuse of power,” said Veneman. “A couple of years ago, I met a 16-year-old girl in Rwanda who asked me a very direct question; ‘What are you going to do to stop the rapes?’ It is a question that we must answer collectively and with a renewed sense or urgency.”
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
In every country that has some democratic values there is usually some protection of the individual included. It may be in some way a right to live in a peaceful and healthy manner as we imagine in a democracy. While our law enforcement is attempting to do their work, they are constantly hammered by the judicial system. Perhaps the difficulty with these gangs is in the way they are being handled. Could our political leaders, look at putting in place "national laws" that turn the tables, so that the gangs are dealt with more severely? Instead of slapping them on the hands and putting them back on the street let's put them some place less comfortable. Our Constitutions/Charters say that an "enemy" will not be tolerated, whether internal or external.
It is time to take on the "gangs" that cause so much of the violence and death in our democratic countries. Their continued "Criminal acts" are intended or calculated to provoke a state of fear in the general public. These acts of violence are created by a group of persons in order to reduce the freedom of the citizens of a country. Let's reduce their freedom and cause the gangs a lot of fear.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The cost a a barrel of oil started jumping a year ago this past September all the way up to nearly $150.00 per barrel. Did we get so distracted that the prices now are a lot higher than a year ago? Yes, things must raise in price over a year or at least that is what we are told. It seems that prices of everything jumped, all of course, blaming the high price of fuel. All those new "fuel surcharges" that were added on are still there even though the cost has dropped dramatically.
It would be interesting to hear from people on whether you have noticed any price drops recently. For the past months the media has spent so much time on elections, I wonder if that took our minds off the cost of living.
This video is about gas prices in rural versus urban areas. What about food costs?
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Only peace protects freedoms in post-9/11 world
It is not economic prosperity but peace that guarantees press freedom. That is the main lesson to be drawn from the world press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders compiles every year and from the 2008 edition, released today. Another conclusion from the index - in which the bottom three rungs are again occupied by the “infernal trio” of Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd) and Eritrea (173rd) - is that the international community’s conduct towards authoritarian regimes such as Cuba (169th) and China (167th) is not effective enough to yield results.
“The post-9/11 world is now clearly drawn,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Destabilized and on the defensive, the leading democracies are gradually eroding the space for freedoms. The economically most powerful dictatorships arrogantly proclaim their authoritarianism, exploiting the international community’s divisions and the ravages of the wars carried out in the name of the fight against terrorism. Religious and political taboos are taking greater hold by the year in countries that used to be advancing down the road of freedom.”
“The world’s closed countries, governed by the worst press freedom predators, continue to muzzle their media at will, with complete impunity, while organizations such as the UN lose all authority over their members,” Reporters Without Borders added. “In contrast with this generalized decline, there are economically weak countries that nonetheless guarantee their population the right to disagree with the government and to say so publicly.”
War and peace
Two aspects stand out in the index, which covers the 12 months to 1 September 2008. One is Europe’s preeminence. Aside from New Zealand and Canada, the first 20 positions are held by European countries. The other is the very respectable ranking achieved by certain Central American and Caribbean countries. Jamaica and Costa Rica are in 21st and 22nd positions, rubbing shoulders with Hungary (23rd). Just a few position below them are Surinam (26th) and Trinidad and Tobago (27th). These small Caribbean countries have done much better than France (35th), which has fallen again this year, this time by four places, and Spain (36th) and Italy (44th), countries held back again by political or mafia violence. Namibia (23rd), a large and now peaceful southern African country that came first in Africa, ahead of Ghana (31st), was just one point short of joining the top 20.
The economic disparities among the top 20 are immense. Iceland’s per capita GDP is 10 times Jamaica’s. What they have in common is a parliamentary democratic system, and not being involved in any war. This is not the case with the United States (36th domestically and 119th outside its own territory) and Israel (46th domestically and 149th outside its own territory), whose armed forces killed a Palestinian journalist for the first time since 2003. A resumption of fighting also affected Georgia (120th) and Niger, which fell sharply from 95th in 2007 to 130th this year. Although they have democratic political systems, these countries are embroiled in low or high intensity conflicts and their journalists, exposed to the dangers of combat or repression, are easy prey. The recent provisional release of Moussa Kaka, the Niger correspondent of RFI and Reporters Without Borders, after 384 days in prison in Niamey and cameraman Sami al-Haj’s release after six years in the hell of Guantanamo serve as reminders that wars sweep away not only lives but also, and above all, freedom.
Under fire from Belligerents or Intrusive Governments
Countries that have become embroiled in very violent conflicts after failing to resolve serious political problems, such as Iraq (158th), Pakistan (152nd), Afghanistan (156th) and Somalia (153rd), continue to be highly dangerous “black zones” for the press, places where journalists are targets for murder, kidnapping, arbitrary arrest or death threats every day. They may come under fire from the parties at war. They may be accused of taking sides. Any excuse will do to get rid of “trouble-makers” and “spies.” Such is the case in the Palestinian Territories (163rd), especially the Gaza Strip, where the situation got much worse after Hamas seized power. At the same time, in Sri Lanka (165th), where there is an elected government, the press has to face violence that is only too often organized by the state.
Bringing up the rear are the dictatorships - some disguised, some not - where dissidents and pro-reform journalists manage to open cracks in the walls that enclose them. The year of the Olympics in the new Asian power, China (167th), was the year that Hu Jia and many other dissidents and journalists were jailed. But it also provided opportunities to those liberal media that are trying gradually to free themselves of the country’s still pervasive police control. Being a journalist in Beijing or Shanghai - or in Iran (166th), Uzbekistan (162nd) and Zimbabwe (151st) - is a high risk exercise involving endless frustration and constant police and judicial harassment. In Burma (170th), run by a xenophobic and inflexible junta, journalists and intellectuals, even foreign ones, have for years been viewed as enemies by the regime, and they pay the price.
In Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s Tunisia (143rd), Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya (160rd), Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus (154th), Bashar el-Assad’s Syria (159e) and Teodoro Obiang Nguema’s Equatorial Guinea (156th), the leader’s ubiquitous portrait on the streets and front pages of the newspapers is enough to dispel any doubt about the lack of press freedom. Other dictatorships do without a personality cult but are just as suffocating. Nothing is possible in Laos (164th) or Saudi Arabia (161st) if it does not accord with government policy.
Finally, North Korea and Turkmenistan are unchanging hells in which the population is cut off from the world and is subjected to propaganda worthy of a bygone age. And in Eritrea (173rd), which has come last for the second year running, President Issaias Afeworki and his small clan of paranoid nationalists continue to run Africa’s youngest country like a vast open prison.
The international community, including the European Union, endlessly repeats that the only solution continues to be “dialogue.” But dialogue has clearly had little success and even the most authoritarian governments are still able to ignore remonstrations without risking any repercussions other than the inconsequential displeasure of the occasional diplomat.
Dangers of corruption and political hatred
The other disease that eats away at democracies and makes them lose ground in the ranking is corruption. The bad example of Bulgaria (59th), still last in Europe, serves as a reminder that universal suffrage, media pluralism and some constitutional guarantees are not enough to ensure effective press freedom. The climate must also favor the flow of information and expression of opinions. The social and political tensions in Peru (108th) and Kenya (97th), the media politicization in Madagascar (94th) and Bolivia (115th) and the violence against investigative journalists in Brazil (82nd) are all examples of the kinds of poison that blight emerging democracies. And the existence of people who break the law to get rich and who punish inquisitive journalists with impunity is a scourge that keeps several “great countries” - such as Nigeria (131st), Mexico (140th) and India (118th) - in shameful positions.
Certain would-be “great countries” deliberately behave in a manner that is brutal, unfair or just disturbing. The examples include Venezuela (113th), where President Hugo Chávez’s personality and decrees are often crushing, and the Putin-Medvedev duo’s Russia (141st), where state and opposition media are strictly controlled and journalists such as Anna Politkovskaya are killed each year by “unidentified” gunmen who often turn out to have close links with the Kremlin’s security services.
Resisting the taboos
The ranking’s “soft underbelly” also includes countries that waver between repression and liberalization, where the taboos are still inviolable and the press laws hark back to another era. In Gabon (110th), Cameroon (129th), Morocco (122nd), Oman (123rd), Cambodia (126th), Jordan (128th) and Malaysia (132nd), for example, it is strictly forbidden to report anything that reflects badly on the president or monarch, or their family and close associates. Journalists are routinely sent to prison in Senegal (86th) and Algeria (121st) under repressive legislation that violates the democratic standards advocated by the UN.
Online Repression also Exposes these Tenacious Taboos.
In Egypt (146th), demonstrations launched online shook the capital and alarmed the government, which now regards every Internet user as a potential danger. The use of Internet filtering is growing by the year and the most repressive governments do not hesitate to jail bloggers. While China still leads the “Internet black hole” ranking worldwide, deploying considerable technical resources to control Internet users, Syria (159th) is the Middle-East champion in cyber-repression. Internet surveillance is so thorough there that even the least criticism posted online is sooner or later followed by arrest.
Only a few countries have risen significantly in the ranking. Lebanon (66th), for example, has climbed back to a more logical position after the end of the bomb attacks on influential journalists of recent years. Haiti (73rd) continues its slow rise, as do Argentina (68th) and Maldives (104th). But the democratic transition has halted in Mauritania (105th), preventing it from continuing its rise, while the slender gains of the past few years in Chad (133rd) and Sudan (135th) were swept away by the overnight introduction of censorship.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Example. The Conservatives, Liberals and NDP have had many years to fulfill their promises. The newly formed Green Party is promising to take another big piece of your "net income". When did you give any politician the authority to take over 50% of your earnings? Everything you earn from January 1st until July 15 goes to pay taxes.
Are you aware that you have no right to Freedom of Speech? Are you aware that the CBC/CTV have censored you out of the political process? Are you aware that a few people own all the newspapers and magazines in Canada? This is censorship and deception at it's all time low!
All 4 major political parties are telling you they have "innovative new jobs". Really? Where are these jobs located? Why don't they want to tell the people how these jobs are going to be created? If they exist, why is the business community not providing them?
What are they hiding from Canadians? In response to hundreds of letters, they refuse to come out in the open, and debate. Debate with Canadians and not their deceptive "televised debates". Those "debates" are nothing more than more "questions" from the censored media.
This is a response from emails and phone calls as to why they are not visible on "video websites" such as YouTube.
"We have more innovative technologies available than YouTube or any other video website on the Internet..." WHERE?
YouTube has millions of Canadians on the website every day. Did you know you can watch videos from the world's most prominent people on YouTube? Did you know that there are Channels of freely available news from every country on the planet? Did you know that the CBC and CTV have no Channels available? Did you know that NONE of our political parties have Channels available, where a Canadian can write a response, or offer a video response? There are hundreds of Channels by Canadians open to you.
It is easy to see that some Channels for Canada are censored by party members. NONE of them will "approve" your response unless it agrees with them.
First Video is Mother Murphy from Nova Scotia. A senior citizen on an open Channel.
Election Canada 4 - More Taxes
Wake up Canada!!
Monday, September 29, 2008
They have built a giant wall of civil servants who make decisions without ever meeting a person in real life. Are you disabled? Prove it!! Do you require any extra medical care? Prove it!! Only the politicians and their civil service get the full benefits of our medical system through our tax dollars. We now have over 2 Million of this group collecting over $190,000,000,000.00 (that is 190 billion dollars) from the Canadian taxpayers with every benefit imaginable.
When a Canadian that is not a part of this exclusive club, faces a medical problem, the cost of the prescription is not affordable. The vast majority of Canadians gets the "we are sorry but your Blue Cross Plan does not cover that...". Universal Health Care in Canada is a complete "MYTH" for most Canadians. You can pay into an extra medical plan for life and be told that you are not covered for a prescription. These costs in one case, will cost a retired Mother over $1000.00 a month to keep her from going blind. She cannot afford the medication. In another case the prescription will cost nearly $500.00 dollars per month for a person living on $900.00 a month.
Canadians can send a message to this group of bandits by voting for anybody except the Liberals and Conservatives. A House of Commons filled with Independents and people from any other party, with a mandate to rid Canada of at least 30% of the civil service. Join us on YouTube as we make our views known. (Yahoo does not give any credence to Canadians so do not waste your time) We have no fear of these law breakers and criminals who accept envelopes of money. Yes it is a documented fact the former Prime Minister Mulroney accepted envelopes filled with cash. How many more never got caught, although he paid no cost, as he could afford to surround himself with highly paid lawyers.
Message from Tony
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Why are the Canadian taxpayers now being asked, to clean up the mess left behind, after the corporations made the mess? Part 2 of Election Canada with expert opinion!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
Teaming up with a range of actors, from artists and students, to cell phone companies and chess enthusiasts, the United Nations is celebrating the International Day of Peace, which this year holds special meaning since 2008 also marks the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“We know that human rights are essential to peace,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to mark the Day, which is observed every year on 21 September.
“Yet too many people around the world still have their rights violated – especially during and after armed conflict. That is why we must ensure that the rights in the Declaration are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere,” he stated.
Mr. Ban kicked off this year's celebration of the Day at the traditional peace bell ringing ceremony in New York on Friday, joined by four UN Messengers of Peace. During the event, the Secretary-General sent a text message for peace, as part of a UN campaign that urged cell phone users to compose peace messages to be published on a website and delivered to world leaders gathered for the General Assembly this week.
Assembly President Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, in his message, said it is fitting that the Day closely coincides with the opening of the body's new session each September. “This is when representatives of the 192 Member States gather to renew their commitment to work together in the quest for world peace, the eradication of poverty and to pursue the progressive advancement of human rights,” he stated.
“We must never delude ourselves, or let others pretend, that peace is merely the absence of war or some exalted state of impassivity,” he added. “ World peace will only be achieved through active resistance to all that negates and diminishes human dignity, and waging peace, is therefore, eminently political and oftentimes provocative.”
Noting that this year also marks the 60th anniversary of UN peacekeepers, Mr. D'Escoto urged support for the Organization's efforts to bring calm to conflict-ridden areas and for the over 100,000 soldiers, police and civilians deployed worldwide to keep the peace, prevent conflicts, and safeguard fragile peace processes.
The UN's peace operations around the globe are also commemorating the Day with various activities. For example, children in Naqoura were invited to paint their visions of peace on the walls of the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
In Juba, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) and its partners are celebrating the Day a photo exhibition entitled “Images of Peace,” focusing on similarities and differences in the cultures of Southern Sudan and aiming to foster better community dialogue and understanding.
Meanwhile, communities across Afghanistan are marking the day with sports events, marches and gatherings, all part of what the UN mission there – known as UNAMA – has described as an “unprecedented” campaign in the run up to the Day. In addition to the many events, teams of health workers fanned out across the country in the most ambitious Peace Day polio vaccination effort to date, aiming to reach 1.8 million children.
Other UN-organized activities taking place around the world include a peace walk in Accra, an observance in cooperation with Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, a peace bell ceremony in Mexico City, and a traditional UN Cup Chess Festival entitled “sports for peace” in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.
In addition, 60 students from Belgrade, Ljubljana, Podgorica, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Zagreb are gathering together today in the Austrian capital for a forum entitled "Uniting for Peace," organized by the UN Information Service (UNIS) and the City of Vienna.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Rising prices have plunged an additional 75 million people below the hunger threshold, bringing the estimated number of undernourished people worldwide to 923 million in 2007, FAO said today.
High food prices have reversed the previously positive trend towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of people suffering from hunger worldwide by 2015, according to new figures just released by the UN agency in advance of next week’s General Assembly session on the MDGs.
The achievement of the World Food Summit goal of halving the number of hungry people is even more remote, FAO said.
FAO estimates had put the number of people suffering from chronic hunger worldwide in 2003-05 at 848 million, an increase of 6 million from the 842 million in 1990-92, the World Food Summit baseline period.
Soaring food, fuel and fertilizer prices have exacerbated the problem, the organization said. Food prices rose 52 percent between 2007 and 2008, and fertilizer prices have nearly doubled over the past year.
“The devastating effects of high food prices on the number of hungry people compound already worrisome long-term trends,” said Hafez Ghanem, FAO Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development. “Hunger increased as the world grew richer and produced more food than ever during the last decade.”
For net food buyers – which includes nearly all urban and a large share of rural households, there has been a negative short-term impact of high food prices on household income and welfare. The poorest, the landless and female-headed households have been hardest hit.
These negative trends in the fight against hunger imperil efforts to realize many of the other MDGs, according to Ghanem.
In addition to the devastating social cost of hunger on human lives, empirical evidence points to the negative impact of hunger and malnutrition on labour productivity, health and education, which ultimately causes lower levels of overall economic growth.
“Hunger is a cause of poverty, not just a consequence of it,” says FAO economist Kostas Stamoulis. “The economic cost of hunger in terms of both resources needed to deal with its effects and the value of productivity and income losses is estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars a year.”
The debilitating effect of hunger on human productivity and income leads to a hunger trap, Stamoulis says, with extreme poverty causing hunger which then perpetuates poverty.
Breaking the hunger-poverty trap
“Reducing the number of hungry people by 500 million in the remaining 7 years to 2015 will require an enormous and resolute global effort and concrete actions,” said Ghanem.
To break the hunger-poverty trap, action is urgently needed on two fronts, FAO says – making food accessible to the most vulnerable, and helping small producers raise their output and earn more.
FAO’s twin-track approach aims to create opportunities for the hungry to improve their livelihoods by promoting agricultural and rural development. It also involves policies and programmes, such as social safety nets, which enhance direct and immediate access to food by the hungry.
In December 2007 FAO launched its Initiative on Soaring Food Prices to help vulnerable countries put in place urgent measures to boost food supplies and provide policy support to improve access to food.
The Initiative includes emergency projects, either ongoing or planned, in at least 78 countries worldwide. Immediate activities include distribution of seeds, fertilizer, animal feed and other farming tools and supplies to smallholder farmers.
“Urgent, broad-based and large-scale investments are needed to address in a sustainable manner the growing food insecurity problems affecting the poor and hungry,” Ghanem said. “No single country or institution will be able to resolve this crisis on its own.”
According to FAO, the countries hardest hit by the current crisis, most of them in Africa, will need at least US$30 billion annually to ensure food security and revive long-neglected agricultural systems.
But hunger reduction has big payoffs and should be a top development priority, says Stamoulis.
“Reducing the incidence of hunger worldwide will greatly improve the chances of meeting the MDGs related to poverty reduction, education, child mortality, maternal health and disease,” he said. “Public spending on reducing hunger is an investment with very high returns.”
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
On the eve of the European Union-Central Asia security summit which the French government, the current holder of the EU rotating presidency, is hosting tomorrow in Paris, Reporters Without Borders draws attention to the lack of press freedom in Central Asia, especially Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
“Despite the international community’s initiatives and despite leadership changes, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan continue to lag far behind Europe and the rest of the world in respect for freedom of news and information,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“A high price is paid in these countries for any attempts at independent or critical reporting,” the press freedom organization continued. “Arrests, violence and harassment of journalists and their families are the methods habitually used by the authorities whenever they are criticized.
“Europe must not discuss efforts to combat terrorism or drug trafficking with these countries without also raising the human rights situation. Otherwise it would mean abandoning all those who have been struggling, often for many years, for an improvement in human rights. We have a duty to defend them.”
Two years have gone by since Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty’s Turkmenistan correspondent, journalist and human rights activist Ogulsapar Muradova, 58, died from the blows she received in prison while serving a six-year sentence for helping a French TV journalist to prepare a report. There has been no proper investigation into her death despite the international community’s many appeals.
Two other activists - Annakurban Amanklychev and Sapardurdy Khajiyev - were arrested at the same time as Muradova and, like her, were sentenced to six or seven years in prison at the end of a trial held behind closed doors without any defense lawyers. There has been no news of either of them since the trial.
President Saparmurad Niyazov’s death in December 2006 and replacement by Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov did not usher in the hoped-for liberalization. There are even reasons for thinking that control of news and information has been reinforced, despite the opening of a few Internet cafés.
An RFE correspondent was arrested and tortured on 20 June, at the very moment that the EU and Turkmenistan were holding talks on human rights in Ashgabat. The journalist was finally released after an intense international campaign on his behalf. But the journalists still active in Turkmenistan say they are being harassed more than ever.
The situation is hardly any better in Uzbekistan, where the few remaining independent journalists are constantly hounded. A few political prisoners have been released this year, but journalists and government opponents continue to be harassed. Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, a correspondent of the news website Uznews.net and author of many articles on the environment, human rights and corruption, is being held in the western city of Nukus.
Arrested on 7 June, on the eve of an international conference in Tashkent, Abdurakhmanov was initially accused of using and trafficking in drugs. When they authorities realized they could not pass Abdurakhmanov off as a drug consumer, the charges were changed to “trafficking of a large quantity of drugs” under article 25-273 of the criminal code, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Abdurakhmanov continues to insist on his innocence and says he knew nothing about the 114 grams of marijuana and 5.8 grams of opium which the police claim to have found in his car. Prosecutors presented the charges against him when his trial opened on 12 September but the police officers who supposedly found the drugs were not in court. The trial is due to continue tomorrow.
Although the situation in the three other Central Asian countries is far from ideal, they have nothing like the same level of media control and violence against journalists. Kazakhstan ranked 125th out of 169 countries in the 2007 Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index, Kyrgyzstan ranked 110th and Tajikistan ranked 115th. Both Uzbekistan (160th) and Turkmenistan (167th) were in the last 10.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
A friend of mine recently became angry over the idleness of a 19-year-old male. "He's doing nothing." he said bitterly.
Road rage, office rage, and even relationship rage are familiar to us. But now idleness rage has emerged. Frequently I hear people complain about the idleness of young people. Often their complaints reach a feverish pitch.
What's behind this rage? Some people fear we're spawning a generation of slackers. But it's more likely that our fast-paced culture blinds us to the need to slow down.
In his book "In Praise of Slowness," journalist Carl Honor?? writes about Harry Lewis, who was dean of undergraduate studies at Harvard University seven years ago. During that time, Lewis wrote an open letter to first year undergraduate students after observing that they were disciples of hurry.
In his letter entitled "Slow Down," Lewis wrote how it was important to get plenty of rest and relaxation in academic life.
He also stressed the importance of cultivating the art of doing nothing. "Empty time is not a vacuum to be filled," he said. "It is the thing that enables the other things on your mind to be creatively rearranged, like the empty square in the 4x4 puzzle that makes it possible to move the other fifteen pieces around."
The art of doing nothing isn't likely to be warmly received by those who emphasize speed, competition, and efficiency. But what Lewis said in his letter shouldn't be ignored. Too often students crowd too much into their lives.
Recognizing benefits in the art of doing nothing doesn't diminish achievement and hard work. Instead it should remind us that creativity frequently comes from moments of idleness. That's not to say we don't have layabouts in our society. Contemplation can be a cover for laziness. But in our gotta-keep-up culture it would be a mistake to impose negative traits on those who need to slow down.
It's possible idleness is ultimately viewed as a subversion of the work ethic. That would explain the rage. But the work ethic is often misinterpreted. Consider how many individuals live to work rather than the other way around. In our hurry-up culture a healthy reassessment of work wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Recent studies have revealed that North Americans take significantly less vacation time than people in European countries. The same studies indicate that people have a hard time leaving work behind when they go away. It seems there's always another e-mail to check or a telephone call to make. This has consequences for family life. And it points to a deep fear: We'll be punished if we stop working.
The art of doing nothing could seem peculiar to some. But in our wired world it's not easy to slow down. Sometimes it takes mental discipline to be idle.
Multitasking and instant communication have given us many benefits. But they also produce frazzled nerves, sleep problems, strained relationships, irritability, and drug dependencies. That's why it's important for people to rejuvenate themselves by slowing down.
If we value healthy living, creativity, and peace of mind, we should recognize the need to be idle. By doing so, we may discover the benefits of simply watching a sunset.
Gerry McCarthy is editor of The Social Edge, an online social justice and faith magazine
SkyPilot says; The author fails to mention in the book or the story that young people are faced with parents who do nothing. Parents constantly complain about everything thing and blame everybody else for their failures in life. They complain about politicians and never vote. They complain about their job but never seek better employment. For all their years in school they hear from unhappy teachers. Young people are placed in front of a television set for entertainment and handed large sums of cash by detached parents.
Young people hear this from a very age and for as long as they remain at home. Is there any surprise that this kind of direction leads to bewilderment? It is also the message from the author that he is speaking about the majority of young people. Again, the confusion is in being selective about who the author is speaking. Perhaps this is new world of bullying younger people, by an adult who makes himself dollars by attacking them, rather than praising them?
The OSCE Special Representative for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings, Eva Biaudet, urged OSCE participating States today to put victims' rights at the center when investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases.
"The victim-centred approach means taking the needs of the trafficking victim to be protected, assisted and ultimately empowered to live a dignified life, as the fundamental starting point during all phases of criminal proceedings," Biaudet said at the opening of a high-level conference in Helsinki.
The conference, titled "Successful Prosecution of Human Trafficking" and co-arranged by Biaudet's Office and the Finnish OSCE Chairmanship, aims to enhance national capacities to prosecute cases of human trafficking. The high-level event, including Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Finnish Justice Minister Tuija Brax as speakers, brings together policy makers and experts from more than 40 OSCE countries.
"We need to find ways to ensure that traffickers can no longer operate with impunity and that victims are ensured easy access to justice in a manner that ensures a respect for the victims' human rights," Brax said.
Biaudet asked participants whether the low rate of victim identification is caused by a lack of resources for investigations and understanding of the seriousness of the crime.
"Are our societies indifferent or even becoming tolerant to trafficking and exploitation? To what extent is prejudice and blaming the victim still part of the problem?"
A high number of victims all over the OSCE region still are being treated as criminals, she added, saying that officials and others often blame the victims for the exploitative conditions they are facing.
Pietro Grasso, Chief Anti-mafia Prosecutor of Italy and a keynote speaker, proposed improving the criminal justice response:
"I believe a better future for international co-operation in this area will come only with the establishment of joint investigative teams and other forms of concrete collaboration between police forces and the judiciary. Without developing such co-operation between countries of destination and origin, we will continue tackling the small fish without reaching those who direct and organize the hideous trade in persons and without touching their huge profits."
Biaudet added: "There is a clear need to develop effective legislation that makes people accountable for exploitation. I want to remind all States present that they have committed themselves to introducing a thorough discussion on how to strengthen legislative, social and cultural measures for reducing demand. The criminalization of demand is of course only one measure - but can be a most effective measure in this regard."
Monday, September 8, 2008
Lawlessness has spread in the ‘buffer zone’ controlled by Russia between Tskhinvali and Karaleti and forced many to leave even from there. When several houses and apartment buildings in Gori were hit by Russian rockets a further wave of displacement took place.
The return of displaced persons has now started but is delayed for the majority of them as safety has not been guaranteed. The ‘policing vacuum’ in the ‘buffer zone’ is unresolved. Large areas must also be de-mined from cluster bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances which now threaten ordinary people including those who normally work in the fields.
”There is certainly a need for political solutions and clear decisions on security arrangements in order for human rights to be protected”, states Commissioner Hammarberg. ”However, several important steps can be taken already now by the parties themselves and by the international community to meet the most urgent human rights requirements.” He presents six principles for urgent protection of human rights and humanitarian security:
1. The right to return of those who fled or were displaced must be guaranteed. This requires that their safety is protected and that their homes are made livable again. The repair of damaged houses is an urgent priority. Affected persons have the right to be informed about relevant developments and no one must be returned against their will.
2. Those who fled or were displaced must be ensured adequate living conditions until they can return home. This requires competent coordination of the assistance from both governmental and intergovernmental actors. Not only material needs but also psychological and psycho-social damages must be addressed.
3. The whole area affected by the warfare must be de-mined. Cluster bombs, mines, unexploded ordnances and other dangerous devices must be located, removed and destroyed. Until this is done the targeted terrain must be marked and the population clearly informed about the dangers. The parties to the conflict need to declare what type of weapons and ammunition were used, when and where. International contribution to this effort will be required and should be welcomed by both parties.
4. Physical assault, torching of houses and looting must be totally stopped and persons responsible for such crimes apprehended and held to account. The problem of the ‘policing
vacuum’ in the so-called buffer zone between Tskhinvali and Karaleti must be resolved urgently.
5. Prisoners of War, other detainees and persons stranded in unsafe situations must be protected and rescued through continued humanitarian efforts. The established mechanism for dialogue and mutual exchanges of such cases should be kept in place and fully supported, also by the international community. There is a need to establish a coordinated system for assembling and acting upon information on missing persons.
6. International presence and assistance are needed in the area affected by the conflict. The programs of UNHCR, UNICEF, ICRC and other agencies should be supported and the OSCE be given authority and resources to expand its mission. Apart from cease-fire observers and police presence there is a need for specialized human rights monitors – who could also operate in coordination with the domestic ombudsmen. The protection of minorities must be a key priority and positive inter-community relations must be encouraged.
During the mission Commissioner Hammarberg met President Saakasvili, Foreign Minister Tkehshelashvili and three other ministers and two deputy ministers of the Georgian government in Tbilisi and with the Speaker of the Duma, the Chairman of the Council of the Federation and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in Moscow. He also had a special telephone exchange with Foreign Minister Lavrov representing President Medvedev. During his travel he also met the de facto Prime Minister of South Ossetia, Boris Chochiev.
He cooperated closely with the Russian ombudsman Vladmir Lukin, the Georgian public defender Sozar Subari and the de facto ombudsman in South Ossetia, David Sanakoev. The latter – together with the Georgian parliamentarian Givi Targamadze - played a key role in the exchange of the more than 100 detained persons which took place with the assistance of the Commissioner.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Europe is heavily armed with nuclear weapons. Both Britain and France possess their own nuclear forces and the United States has a long history of keeping nuclear weapons on European soil. Britain’s nuclear force is estimated at under 200 weapons, with approximately 150 deployed on four Vanguard submarines and the remainder kept in reserve. France is thought to have approximately 350 nuclear weapons in its Force de frappe (strike force). The US keeps some 200-350 nuclear weapons in six countries: Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, Turkey and the UK. Recent unconfirmed reports indicate that the US has pulled its nuclear weapons out of the UK. If this is correct, approximately 240 US nuclear weapons remain in five European countries.
On the NATO website, it states, “NATO has radically reduced its reliance on nuclear forces. Their role is now more fundamentally political, and they are no longer directed towards a specific threat.” This is a rather enigmatic statement, leaving one to ponder how nuclear weapons are used in a “fundamentally political” role. The NATO website adds, “NATO's reduced reliance on nuclear forces has been manifested in a dramatic reduction in the number of weapons systems and storage facilities. NATO has also ended the practice of maintaining standing peacetime nuclear contingency plans and as a result, NATO's nuclear forces no longer target any country.”
Given the fact that NATO does not target any other country with nuclear weapons, one wonders what role they still serve. Again, the NATO website provides an answer, which is “to maintain only the minimum number of nuclear weapons necessary to support its strategy of preserving peace and preventing war.” But this still leaves one wondering with whom one is “preserving peace and preventing war.” Although nothing is stated, it would seem that the answer is likely to be Russia. This might explain why NATO has expanded up to the Russian western border, despite earlier US promises to Russia not to do so, and also why the US continues to pursue the placement of missile defense installations in new NATO states Poland and the Czech Republic, despite continuing Russian protests.
NATO reasoning for maintaining nuclear weapons seems very flimsy. If there is anything that is clear about nuclear weapons, it is that they cannot protect their possessors. All of the nuclear weapons in Europe cannot protect any European city from a nuclear attack by an extremist organization. Reliance upon these weapons provides an incentive for nuclear proliferation, increasing the possibilities that these weapons will fall into the hands of such an organization and will be used.
If European nations want to provide true security to the citizens of their countries, they should end NATO’s reliance upon nuclear weapons by taking the following steps:
Call for the removal of all US nuclear weapons from Europe.
Call for the US to remove its missile defense installations from the Russian border
Negotiate the removal of all tactical nuclear weapons from Europe and the western regions of Russia.
Create a global treaty to bring all weapons-grade fissile material under strict and effective international control.
Call for the NATO nuclear weapons states (US, UK and France) to fulfill their obligations under the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament.
Take a leading role in initiating negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, setting forth a roadmap for the phased,
verifiable, irreversible and transparent elimination of nuclear weapons.
Join Russia and China in negotiating a ban on space weaponization.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Zare is the sixth juvenile offender Iran has executed this year. No other country is known to have executed a juvenile offender in 2008. Since January 2005, Iran has executed at least 26 juvenile offenders. During the same period, only four other countries – Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, and Pakistan – are known to have executed any juvenile offenders, with a combined total of six such executions in the four countries.
"Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders" said Clarisa Bencomo, researcher on children's rights in the Middle East at Human Rights Watch. "Everywhere else, countries are moving to end this abhorrent practice, but in Iran the numbers of death sentences seem to be increasing."
Branch 5 of the Fars Criminal Court had sentenced Zare to death on November 13, 2005, for a murder committed on April 21, 2005, when he was 16. Branch 33 of the Supreme Court upheld the ruling on May 14, 2007. Authorities at Shiraz Prison executed Zare on August 26, 2008.
Zare's family and his lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, only learned of Zare's execution after the fact, although Iranian law requires that the lawyer be notified 48 hours before the execution. Zare's family and lawyer had been trying to reach a settlement with the victim's family at the time of the execution.
Zare's execution closely follows the execution of juvenile offender Seyyed Reza Hejazi at Isfahan Central Prison on August 19, 2008. Branch 106 of the Isfahan General Court had convicted Hejazi of murder on November 14, 2005, for his role in a 2003 fight involving several people. Hejazi was 15 at the time of the crime, and repeatedly told authorities that he had not intended to kill the victim.
As in the case of Zare, the authorities did not notify Hejazi's lawyer, also Mohammad Mostafaei, 48 hours prior to the execution. Instead, Mostafaei learned of the pending execution from a journalist the night before. Prison authorities refused to allow Mostafaei to visit Hejazi the morning of the execution, and he eventually left after a prison official told him the execution had been stayed. Instead, prison officials executed Hejazi an hour later.
"Killing people for crimes committed as children provides neither justice nor safety for Iranian society," Bencomo said. "The Iranian authorities' willingness to lie to lawyers and to deprive families of a last chance to see their loved ones only underscores the depravity of these executions."
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Saturday, April 26, 2008
The Hiroshima bomb was a very small one compared to the power of the newer, faster, greater and best kill ones today. Everyone of them was tested at some point along the way. The largest ever tested was 110 Megatons. The Hiroshima bomb was 22 Kilotons. In other words the biggest Nuclear Test was 5,000 times the size of Hiroshima.
In general classifications of bursts: air, high-altitude, underwater, underground, and surface bursts. Temperatures of a nuclear explosion reach those in the interior of the sun, about 100,000,000°.
Sent into the high stratosphere includes the Ozone Layer, which we were told was being destroyed by our underarm spray. Here is how it works in the Nuclear digests; 70% of the scientists believe that 30% of the Ozone Layer was destroyed by Nuclear testing, while the other 30% of the scientists believe that 70% was destroyed. Is anyone surprised that the ice is melting at higher altitudes and at the North and South poles of our planet?
The cows were blamed because they fart too much, humans for breathing and trees for dying. Yes, the furnaces of industry are causing a problem that we always called pollution. Not good for breathing and makes a mess of the water and just about everything.
This is what I found in a Nuclear Testing report written during the time when tests were being made almost every day. "Nitric oxides. These oxides are carried into the upper atmosphere, where they reduce the concentration of protective ozone depletion produce changes in the Earth's climate. This would allow more ultraviolet radiation from the Sun through the atmosphere to the surface of the Earth, where it could produce dangerous burns and a variety of potentially dangerous ecological effects..."
What does 5,000 tons of Nitric Oxide produced from every Megaton mean? We are talking an estimated 2,000,000+ tons of this deadly substance in the higher atmosphere. It takes 1000s of years for it to disappear, although nobody knows for certain that it will ever disappear.
Plutonium 239 has a half-life of "24,400 years" so what does that mean? This particular poison is in our Water, Air and Ground forever.
It is easier for the media and the climate change groups to tell a lie, rather than tell the truth. All of the talks are a terrific joke when looked at through a simple childhood experience.
Was it not much easier for a parent to give us a slap in order to tell us we had done something wrong? We were too busy crying than ask the question "why did you do that to me?"
Here is a short 5 minute video that puts Nuclear Testing to the question. What did the 1000s of Nuclear Tests truthfully do to our planet? What you are hearing is an edited version of an actual Al Gore speech.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Friday, March 14, 2008
This is the first of a series of video and/or slide shows on unsigned and independent musicians. Mike Dignam, a very hot musician from Preston, U.K. begins this series. He plays in all sorts of venues and his music is very appealing.
As I Hear It is a way of letting you hear music that is new and refreshing.
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, who released a report on her findings Wednesday, said more than 60 per cent of the files contained in a database of criminal intelligence information should not have been stored there.
In addition, more than 50 per cent of the files in a database about national security investigations were inappropriate. "These databanks have been crowded with tens of thousands of files that should not have been there," Stoddart said in a written statement.
Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that tens of thousands of secret files are inappropriately stored in RCMP databanks. Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart, who released a report on her findings Wednesday, said more than 60 per cent of the files contained in a database of criminal intelligence information should not have been stored there.
In addition, more than 50 per cent of the files in a database about national security investigations were inappropriate. "These databanks have been crowded with tens of thousands of files that should not have been there," Stoddart said in a written statement. "The large number of documents held in these exempt banks when their inclusion was unwarranted is disturbing."
Both of the databanks are called "exempt databanks," meaning they are highly secretive and are supposed to contain only the most sensitive information. RCMP can refuse to confirm or deny the existence of information in an exempt databank when someone asks to see it.
But Stoddart said some people have become the subject of information contained in the banks by simply talking to the wrong person or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Man on File for making Hijacking joke
She cited the case of a man on a bus tour who was reported to U.S. customs for joking that maybe he should "hijack" the bus to get even with a chronically tardy tour guide. Some five years later, the incident was still in RCMP exempt files, even though it was clearly a bad joke and not a security threat, Stoddart told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
Stoddart, in her written statement, said another file is based on a tipster's police call to report that a man had gone into a rooming house and was involved in drug activity. Police investigated and determined the man had in fact only stopped to have a cigarette outside after dropping his daughter off at school.
Despite police having cleared the man of any wrongdoing, his file still exists seven years later, Stoddart said.
Stoddart said the storing of the information in the databanks could have negative consequences. "Being named in a national security exempt bank file could have a harmful impact, particularly in a post-9/11 environment," she said. "For example, it could potentially affect someone trying to obtain an employment security clearance, or impede an individual's ability to cross the border."
She said that is especially troubling is that Canadians cannot get access to the information about themselves that is stored in the banks. She said only information that could seriously threaten national security, international affairs or criminal investigations should be stored in such a secretive way.
She noted that she found the alarming number of inappropriate files still present even after an RCMP internal review resulted in the purging of more than 45,000 files last fall.
Police call numbers Misleading
The RCMP on Wednesday said they are working closely with Stoddart to improve the force's databanks over the next two years.
But RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Killam said the audit numbers are "a little misleading." While he conceded that more than half the files examined by Stoddart breached RCMP policy, he stressed that only a "single-digit percentage" of those actually broke the privacy law.
"That's not to say that we shouldn't be respecting our own policy as well. Hence, that's why, when this process was going on, we were working closely with her."
New Democrat MP Pat Martin chided the Mounties for their lapses. "People have a right to know if they're on these lists," said Martin, a member of the Commons ethics, information and privacy committee. "It's fundamental in any western [sic] democracy. This is serious stuff. This is secret police stuff. This is no laughing matter whatsoever."
Stoddart announced she would be doing an audit of the RCMP's databanks in 2005 at the Maher Arar inquiry, where the issue of police information sharing was central.
Arar, a Canadian citizen who was born in Syria, was stopped at a New York airport on his way home from a vacation in September 2002. U.S. officials accused him of links to al-Qaeda and deported him to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured for months. Arar was found innocent after a costly battle with the Canadian government. Torturing a Canadian is now fashionable with the backing of all the news media and police in Canada.
Will anything be done about it?
Not likely, as Canadians have no way of correcting or even looking at corrupt data held in a police state. The Canadian media would rather report ad nausea about a "pregnant rat", rather than hammer the "rights and freedoms" note.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Once again the United States is going to spy on the social networking websites under new "laws". Under these new "laws" any person using certain websites can be prosecuted under the U.S. law and everyone on the planet knows what that means. The United States has displayed it's lawlessness to the world over the past 7 years with hidden accusers, no trial, no charge, no justice, inhuman torture and deporting people to be tortured. This new "law" is not about "child protection", it is about getting their foot in the door without warrant or just cause. At what point did these "law makers" in the United States appoint themselves as the Internet Police? They make these laws so vague, as to appear legal, in a nation that has no justice for its own people and absolutely no regard for International Law.
Their New Spy Law
New York state's Attorney General and legislative leaders present legislation to keep people online safe.On January 29, New York's attorney general and state legislative leaders put forward a bill whose objective is protecting people from sexual predators on the Internet. Facebook, MySpace and Yahoo offered their support.
In a press conference, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver made known legislation they referred to as "groundbreaking" in what concerns its intended restraints and controls of sexual offenders' activities on the Internet.
"Today I believe we're proposing the most comprehensive, smartest, toughest law in the nation to keep people safe online, especially minors," Cuomo declared.
The Electronic Security and Targeting of Online Predators Act (e-STOP) comes as a response to the extensive activity of the sexual offenders on the Internet, especially through social-networking sites, which involve stalking and abusing people, particularly minors.
e-STOP would make a specific request for convicted sex offenders to register their e-mail addresses, instant message screen names and any other online identifiers with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The purpose of this would be the availability of such data to social-networking companies and other online services in order that they will be able to block access to sexual criminals and not allow them on their sites.
Additionally, the bill demands allowing sentencing courts and the state's Parole Board to limit the online activities of those who have used the Internet to indulge in sexual offenses, abused a minor or are expected to relapse into their wrongdoings. The bill would especially interdict the use social-networking sites by numerous sex offenders.
As WashingtonPost informs us, there are currently over 627,000 registered sex criminals in the U.S., about 25,000 of whom are in New York.
State attorneys general gave voice to their concern over online safety, especially of minors who fall victims to sexual offenders on social-networking sites, which are very popular with youth.
It wasn’t seldom that the attorneys general have brought critics to Facebook, MySpace and other sites for, in their opinion, not becoming more involved in protecting minors, but the two parties have lately appeared to reach common ground and have come up with several mutual security initiatives, partnerships and accords.
The need for such an e-STOP bill is quite imperious in that it can help social-networking companies protect their sites and users better.
MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam had the same opinion and stated that laws must match the times and technology. "We hope [e-STOP] becomes a model for other states to follow," he added.
In Cuomo’s view, preferably, legislation like e-STOP would be broadly endorsed in U.S. states and also at the federal level.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Perhaps that is one of the reasons, that many people believe everything they see via television, xbox, ps2, nintendo, newspapers and magazines is reality.
I take a different approach to see if we are seeking war, or are we, truly seeking peace. A world where we can lay back and do what we want without having to be brought up as a killer.
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Having kept a diary or journal since my 14th year I thought it may be a way to express some ideas with others. A section of my overall journals is called Dear Diary where I would address a thought or idea to a friend. It appeared to be a good idea while I was writing them although none of the letters were ever actually sent.
The complete journals to this date amount to over 5 million words. The original hand written books took several years to input onto the computer.
These video segments have no pretense of being made for Hollywood. They are made by a real person in different settings wherever I happen to be at the time. Learning what the camcorder is capable of doing is a fun experience. Sometimes the picture quality is great and the sound is off and then sometimes the picture quality really sucks.
I hope we can have some fun with this and it would be great to see video responses. Of course you are always welcome to leave a comment.
A short backgrounder for your information. I have been active in politics all of my life and very active in human/civil rights issues. Obviously I have been writing for many years in articles, books and Internet Websites.
After writing several articles that appeared in print and the Internet I came under attack by my government for opposing any action in Iraq. Before I realized what was happening there were almost 400 phone calls and over 500 letters to me from various government departments. Only three times did I ever meet someone face to face without a solid explanation as to why it was happening. It was brought to my attention once that I would be "wise" to cool down what I was writing or there could be consequences.
After three years of the attacks on me, these unknown person destroyed my reputation, my business and in the end took away my home.
I see the world from a very different point of view today and find the glorification of war appalling. I am tired, scared, sleepless, often hungry and on the move for almost 6 months for fear of my life. Call me "Sky Pilot" as it seems fitting for the times we live in.