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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lunch Party in Qatar's Sheikh Palace

Swimming on 55th Floor Pool 3 time larger than Olympic Size!

He'll definitely want to make sure he doesn't swim too close to the edge.
This man is the first lap swimmer in the world to enjoy such a view - 55 stories over the city of Singapore.

The £4billion Marina Bay Sands tourism development opened in the city yesterday, and the 150-metre long pool - three times the length of an Olympic swimming pool - was a highlight.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Having a profound conversation can boost happiness levels, but trivial chatter can be depressing, scientists say.

Psychologists investigated whether happy and unhappy people differed because of the types of conversations they engaged in.

Volunteers wore an unobtrusive recording device to monitor conversations with friends and colleagues for four days.

Researchers then listened to the recordings and identified them as trivial small talk or substantive discussions.

In addition, the volunteers completed personality and wellbeing assessments.
Reporting the findings in the journal Psychological Science, the researchers said the recordings revealed some startling findings.

Greater wellbeing was related to spending less time alone and more time talking to others. The happiest participants spent 25 per cent less time alone and 70 per cent more time talking than the unhappiest.

But the researchers were surprised to discover that the type of conversations people took part in also affected their happiness levels.

The happiest participants had twice as many deep and meaningful conversations and one third as much small talk as the unhappiest.

Matthias Mehl, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Arizona, said: "These findings suggest that the happy life is social and conversationally deep rather than solitary and superficial."

The researchers conclude that profound conversations may have the potential to make people happier.

They said: "Just as self-disclosure can instill a sense of intimacy in a relationship, deep conversations may instill a sense of meaning in interaction with partners."

It’s All about the Calories!

1. Total calorie needs are determined based on a number of factors, including basal metabolic rate, gender, age, muscle mass, exercise, and voluntary movement.

- Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories that you need at rest for those functions that are not under your voluntary control. This includes your heart rate, digestion, respiration, maintenance of blood pressure, and body temperature.

- BMR is responsible in most of us for approximately 60%–75% of the calories we need per day.

- Your muscle mass determines your BMR, so men have a higher BMR than women because men have more lean muscle mass.

- Another source of calorie burning is the thermic effect of food, which means the calories it takes to digest your food. Depending on what foods you eat, this makes up about 10%–30% of your total energy expenditure.

- Exercise can augment or facilitate this dietary-induced thermogenesis.

2. How many calories do we require?

- Total energy intake is the number of calories you take in, composed of protein, fat, and carbohydrate.

- Your total energy expenditure is determined by your BMR, the thermic effect of food, and your physical activity.

- To estimate your basal energy expenditure: Calculate your ideal body weight by using the Hamwi equation; then multiply your ideal body weight by 10 to get the calories you need per day for your BMR.

- You have to add back into this the amount of calories you are burning through purposeful activity and through nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT).

3. Most people outeat their exercise.

- If you walk 3 miles, you burn around 300 calories, but if you eat a 450-calorie cookie, you outeat your exercise.

- In general, you should not account for the amount of calories you are taking in during average physical activity.

4. How do you add exercise into your caloric needs?

- Exercise and movement can be quantified by adding about 30% to your BMR if you are sedentary.

- If you are unbelievably active, you could double your BMR calories.

- If you fall in the middle, you can add about 50% to your basal energy needs.

5. The best calorie-burning activity is whatever you enjoy and will be able to sustain.

- The benefits of regular exercise far exceed controlling weight.

- The biggest benefit can come to people who are currently doing nothing; they get the greatest blood pressure lowering effect just from starting any activity.

- Keep in mind that you need to lift weights to maintain functional lean mass.

- It takes burning 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of body fat.

- To lose 1 pound of body fat, at 100 calories per mile, you have to walk 35 miles.

- The challenge is sustaining an activity, enjoying it, and making it consistent.

6. Frequently asked questions.

- Can I rev up my basal energy needs? Yes: The more functional lean mass you add, the higher your basal metabolic rate.

- The Hamwi equation is for adults, but what are standards for children? Children require more energy than adults per pound of body weight. The best advice will come from your pediatrician.

- What are the best calorie-burning exercises? Whatever you enjoy!

- What are the best activities for someone who is wheelchair bound or on crutches? They can stay fit with physical therapy.

- The challenge for all of us is always going to be staying lean and fit.

Pedigree Dentastix Commercial

Amazing Freestyle Juggler

Symphony of Science: The Poetry of Reality

Folding a Piece of Paper 100 Times

If you take a newspaper and repeatedly fold it in half about 100 times, how thick will it end up being?

It will be thicker than the entire universe. Folding means exponentiation. 2^100 = a truly massive number.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The real Avatar story: indigenous people fight to save their forest homes from corporate exploitation

In James Cameron's newest film Avatar an alien tribe on a distant planet fights to save their forest home from human invaders bent on mining the planet. The mining company has brought in ex-marines for 'security' and will stop at nothing, not even genocide, to secure profits for its shareholders. While Cameron's film takes place on a planet sporting six-legged rhinos and massive flying lizards, the struggle between corporations and indigenous people is hardly science fiction.

For decades real indigenous tribes around the world have faced off with corporations—mining, logging, oil and gas—determined to exploit their land. These corporations, much like the company in the film, usually have support from the government and access to 'security forces', sometimes in the form of ex-military or state police. Yet unlike the film, in which the indigenous group triumphs over the corporate and military invaders, the real-life stories of indigenous tribes rarely end justly: from Peru to Malaysia to Ecuador their struggles continue.

Spears versus guns

Kayapo Shaman in Brazil
In Avatar the indigenous tribe, called the Na'vi, use poison-tipped arrows to defend themselves against the guns, gas, and explosions used by the human invaders. Art imitates life: in June of this year, violence erupted in Peru as heavily-armed police clashed with indigenous protestors, some carried spears, others were unarmed.

The indigenous tribes were protesting nearly 100 new rules pushed through the Peruvian government—led by President Alan Garcia—that made it easier for foreign companies to exploit oil, gas, timber, and minerals on indigenous land. The violent skirmish that followed led to the deaths of 23 police officers and at least 10 indigenous people—with indigenous groups saying the government went to great lengths to hide/dispose of bodies to make it appear that fewer natives were killed. Bodies were allegedly dumped in rivers.

What is known is that 82 protesters suffered gunshot wounds and 120 in total were injured in the melee. Protesters say tear gas was used; in addition some say machine guns—shown in photos—were fired at them.
Peruvian security forces killing indigenous protesters in Peru.
Just weeks after the bloody incident, Texas-based Hunt Oil, with full support of the Peruvian government, moved into the Amarakaeri Communal Reserve with helicopters and large machinery for seismic testing. A scene not unlike Avatar, which shows a corporation entering indigenous territory with gun ships. The seismic testing alone involves 300 miles of testing trails, over 12,000 explosive charges, and 100 helicopter land pads in the middle of a largely-untouched and unknown region of the Amazonian rainforest. The reserve, which was created to protect native peoples' homes, may soon be turned into a land of oil scars. Indigenous groups say they were never properly consulted by Hunt Oil for use of their land.

Many of the rules put forth by the government that led to the protest have since been determined unconstitutional, while Garcia has rescinded two rules. Still Garcia says—as evidenced from Hunt Oil—that he plans to move forward with controversial oil and gas development on tribal lands in the Amazon.
Photos of an uncontacted tribe in the Terra Indigena Kampa e Isolados do Envira, Acre state, Brazil, near the border with Peru, caused a stir when they were released by Survival International, an NGO, in May 2008. The indigenous group is said to be threatened by oil exploration in the area
Areas of the region slated for development are also home to uncontacted Amazonian tribes. Garcia has repeatedly called into question the existence of any such tribes, though aerial photos recently showed uncontacted natives armed with spears near the area in question. The leases under protest are a part of the Free Trade Agreement signed by both the United States and Canada.

In the film the Na'vi are dismissed as "blue monkeys" and "savages" by the corporate administrator. Both the corporation and their hired soldiers view the Na'vi as less than human.

In Peru, President Alan Garcia has called indigenous people "confused savages", "barbaric", "second-class citizens", "criminals", and "ignorant". He has even compared tribal groups to the nation's infamous terrorists, the Shining Path.

There is no end in sight in the struggle between the indigenous people of Peru and government-sanctioned corporate power.

Decades of oppression in Borneo: violence, rape, murder
In March 2006, the bulldozers belonging to Interhill, a Malaysian logging company, reached Ba Abang, a Penan village in the Middle Baram region.

In March 2006, the bulldozers belonging to Interhill, a Malaysian logging company, reached Ba Abang, a Penan village in the Middle Baram region.

Since the late 1980s, Interhill has been cutting down rainforests in a 55,000 hectare timber concession in Sarawak's Middle Baram region. Photos and captions by the Bruno Manser Fund Across the world, another people are fighting to save their homes from corporate exploitation. The Penan people of Malaysian Borneo have suffered greatly from industrial loggers entering their ancestral home: not only has the tribe lost forest land and important tribal sites, including burial grounds, to bulldozers and chainsaws, but the Penan people have faced violence, rape, and even alleged murder.

The struggle began when industrial logging first appeared in the area in the 1980s and today shows no sign of abatement or resolution. In fact, a new threat has risen in recent decades as logged forests are swiftly turned into industrial oil palm plantations, excluding any chance of the natural forest returning after logging or of natives receiving their land back.

The Penan—some of whom live as nomadic hunter-gatherers in the forest—have fought corporate loggers through lawsuits and road barricades. In turn they faced violence from Malaysian police and security forces hired by powerful logging companies. Some even fear for their lives. In 2008 longtime Penan chief, Kelesau Naan, was allegedly murdered for his long activism against logging on tribal lands. When his body was finally found—after two months—it was discovered that several of his bones were broken, leading the Penan to believe he was murdered for his opposition to the destruction of his tribe's traditional lands. Prior to this, two Penan activists disappeared mysteriously in the 1990s and Swiss-activist, Bruno Manser, who fought long and hard for Penan rights, vanished in the region in 2000.

Recently, Penan girls have come forward to say that they were raped, beaten, and sexually abused by logging employees. A 110-page report released this year by the Malaysian Ministry for Women, Family and Community Development has documented their stories, while a government team investigating the matter stated that at least eight allegations of rape or sexual abuse were "certainly true". Girls as young as ten were assaulted and raped, some becoming pregnant. The Penan girls, who receive rides to-and-from school by loggers, have said that it was common to be sexually abused during these rides. Yet a probe by the police into the matter went nowhere due to lack of evidence.
Former regional Penan chief of the Upper Baram region, James Laloh Keso (center)
Just this month the rapes were dismissed by government official, James Masing, the Sarawak Minister for Land Development. The Minister told the BBC that in regards to the rapes the "Penan are very good story tellers. They change their stories, and when they feel like it."

Most recently, the Penan people have tried a new strategy to preserve their dwindling home. Seventeen tribes of the Penan declared a 'peace park' covering 163,000 hectares of their ancestral home in order to bring light to their situation and pressure the government to halt plans for logging in the area. The government refused to recognize the status of the peace park and logging is slated to continue.

Few indigenous people have faced more tragedy, despair, and humiliation over the past thirty years than the Penan.

The curse of oil

A battle of a different kind is ongoing in Ecuador. Oil giant Chevron is currently in a $27 billion lawsuit with Ecuadorian indigenous tribes for environmental damage caused by Texaco, a company acquired by Chevron in 2001. In court Texaco has admitted to dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic waste inside Ecuador's rainforest from 1964-1990. A court expert found contamination at every one of Texaco's former well sites, estimating oil damages 30 times larger than the infamous Exxon-Valdez spill and spanning an area the size of Rhode Island.

The case, known to some as the 'Amazon Chernobyl', involves 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorian plaintiffs. The toxic spill impacted six indigenous tribes, one of which has vanished entirely. The court has found that over 1,400 people have suffered untimely deaths from cancer due to contamination from the oil spill.
World of Avatar: in real life January 13, 2010
A number of media outlets are reporting a new type of depression: you could call it the Avatar blues. Some people seeing the new blockbuster film report becoming depressed afterwards because the world of Avatar, sporting six-legged creatures, flying lizards, and glowing organisms, is not real. Yet, to director James Cameron's credit, the alien world of Pandora is based on our own biological paradise—Earth. The wonders of Avatar are all around us, you just have to know where to look.
Despite these facts, Chevron has gone to great lengths to avoid reparations for environmental damage. In 2008 it was revealed that Chevron hired key political players, including former Senate majority leader Trent Lott and John McCain fund-raiser Wayne Berman to lobby United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab, members of Congress, and Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to threaten suspending US trade preferences with Ecuador until the lawsuit was dropped. But the corporation's attempt to use US political power to disenfranchise 30,000 indigenous people failed.

Then this September Chevron released a video that it said proved Ecuadorian officials, including the presiding judge, were taking bribes on the case. However, the video turned out to be a fake: the business man in the video is in fact a convicted drug felon and another person in the video is an Ecuadorian contractor who has received payments from Chevron. Both the bribe and the bribers in the video were faked and others appearing in the video say the footage was heavily edited. Chevron denies that they were in any way involved in making the video.

The lawsuit has been ongoing since 2003 and a ruling has not yet been made. But Chevron has stated publically that even if it loses the case it won't pay any damages.

"We're not paying and we're going to fight this for years if not decades into the future," according to Chevron spokesman Don Campbell.

This year a documentary Crude detailing the struggle by indigenous people to hold Chevron accountable was released in theatres. Chevron's responded with a PR campaign to disparage the film-maker and the indigenous victims [Editor's note: Chevron's PR efforts included posting comments on articles].

No happy Hollywood ending
Oil and gas blocks in the western Amazon. Solid yellow indicates blocks already leased out to companies. Hashed yellow indicates proposed blocks or blocks still in the negotiation phase. Protected areas shown are those considered strictly protected by the IUCN (categories I to III). Image courtesy of PLoS ONE
While the film Avatar ends with the indigenous aliens securing their home from corporate and military invaders, in reality that outcome is rare. Often these conflicts drag on for decades with the indigenous tribes, despite best efforts, tragically losing their home bit-by-bit. Forests are decimated, biodiversity lost, carbon released into the atmosphere, and the tribe is slowly weakened and destroyed from without, their culture and traditions attacked at the same time as their territory is knocked down.

Despite the repeated unjustness, rarely do these stories reach the mainstream media in the industrial world. Companies act with impunity, devastating forests and homes in part to feed the insatiable appetites of developed and emerging economies for furniture, oil palm, gas, and crude oil.

While Avatar is a fun, showy film that many may view as simple sci-fi entertainment, the film clearly alludes to struggles and injustices that one doesn't need to travel across the galazy to see, but are occurring right here on planet Earth.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Israel's Nuclear Arsenal - Espionage, Opacity and Future (July 7, 2010)

What do newly declassified documents about weapons grade uranium and dual-use technology diversions from the US reveal about the role of espionage in building Israel's secret arsenal? Did Israel's proposed nuclear weapons sales to apartheid South Africa signal they are still for sale if the partner and price are right? Do FBI and CIA cover-ups of investigations into Israeli nuclear espionage signal official US government approval or political acquiescence? Did cooperating with Israel's policy of "strategic ambiguity" ever make sense for the United States? Is the era of 'nuclear opacity" now coming to an end? Are Israel's nuclear weapons of strategic benefit to the US? The following panelists tackled these questions.

Sasha Polakow-Suransky is editor of Foreign Affairs magazine at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the 2010 book "The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa."

John J. Mearsheimer is the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and the co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago and author of the book "The Tragedy of Great Power Politics" and coauthor of "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy"

Grant F. Smith is director of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep) and author of the books "Spy Trade", "America's Defense Line" and "Foreign Agents."

Moderated by Middle East analyst Jeffrey Blankfort, host of the Northern California public radio station KZYX international affairs program, "Takes on the World".

High-definition video of the July 7 IRmep conference at the Spy Museum "Israel's Nuclear Arsenal: Espionage, Opacity and Future" is now available online from the Internet Archive (IA):

Viewers may watch specific segments, share, comment on and email this unedited, uncut HD video using IA's online tools. Highlights include:

00:01:00 Jeffrey Blankfort discusses US government refusals to acknowledge Israel's nuclear arsenal.

00:08:01 Why the Israeli, Apartheid South Africa, and ADL spied on US activists.

00:18:43 Grant F. Smith highlights the significance of the declassification and May 6, 2010 release of the GAO report "Nuclear Diversion in the US? 13 Years of Contradiction and Confusion."
00:23:09 Who established Israel's US nuclear diversion and funding network?
00:32:00 Is there any evidence the US officially collaborated in arming Israel with nuclear weapons technology?
00:37:15 Why aren't any high level Israeli or American arms smugglers ever prosecuted in the US?
00:48:52 Sasha Polakow-Suransky reveals South African yellow-cake uranium transfers to Israel's military.
00:56:31 New revelations about NUMEC diversions to Israel that were released after his book was published.
01:09:35 When will Israeli citizens be allowed to openly discuss the implications of their nuclear weapons?
01:14:26 John J. Mearsheimer reviews why states acquire nuclear weapons.
01:15:05 Debunks the argument that Iran would project power over the Gulf with nuclear weapons.
01:28:00 "Strategic ambiguity" doesn't matter since Israel isn't held accountable in the US.
01:31:49 Why Israel's nuclear weapons undermine US interests.
01:38:25 Q&A with US military, government agency, foreign and domestic press, diplomats, NGOs and students.

Any cable operator, public access show, documentarian, citizen journalist, news organization or other producer may freely download, edit and rebroadcast derivatives of the IA production quality 3.6 GB MPEG-4 under the Creative Commons copyright waiver (CCO 1.0 Universal).

Crazy French Cannibal eats cell mate and gets only 30 years jail

A French convict who killed his cellmate and ate his lung was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Thursday.

Nicolas Cocaign and Thierry Baudry had a fight when Cocaign asked Baudry to wash his hands after he had used the toilet during the night of January 2, 2007. Cocaign strangled Baudry and cut open his chest with a razor blade.

Thinking it was the heart, Cocaign then ripped out a piece of Baudry’s lung and ate part of it raw before cooking the rest.

“What I did, I liked doing,” said Cocaign, 37, who has a shaved head and whose face is covered in tattoos.

He will have to serve at least 20 years of his sentence.

Aware of his impulses, Cocaign had requested psychiatric help in 1998 and asked to be placed in isolation in 2006.

“It’s exceptional to see a psychologically disturbed person say: I have to be treated,” said defense lawyer Fabien Picchiottino, noting the “failure of the psychiatric, penitentiary and social system.”

First ethnic statistics ever published in France reveal 54% of babies born in Paris are Black

In France, ethnic statistics are forbidden.

But they left a flaw in their system: drepanocytosis is a genetic illness that only affects Blacks.

Today, a map showing the “risk population” for drepanocytosis has been published: thus, the “Black population”.

This is the first time ever that we have such ethnic statistics in France.

And the results are… alarming.

This only counts for BLACKS… Arabs are the other half…

France’s Niqab (Veil) Bill Shows Its Blatant Religious Intolerance

France’s Niqab Bill Shows Its Blatant Religious Intolerance
Dr. Habib Siddiqui

There was a time in my life when France loomed big in my radar screen of the countries that I needed to visit. In my teenage years, I occasionally met French tourists, mostly college going students. Most of them spoke very little English. And yet that language barrier did not hinder these young French tourists from visiting the new independent state of Bangladesh. They appeared inquisitive and fun-loving.

Years later when I came for my graduate studies in North America, I had few classmates that had come from France. They were good students, not the kind you see amongst today’s French politicians. At the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, one of the externals for my Ph.D. dissertation committee was a French professor who taught instability phenomena in the aerospace engineering department. He was a brilliant man who later returned to France to care for his ailing mother. I also met many French-speaking North African students who had a love-hate relationship with everything French. While they were bitter about their colonial experience, I could see their eyes shine every time they had the opportunity to speak in French, especially with someone from France or the province of Quebec in Canada. While some of us made fun of such unmistakable mood changes amongst our French-speaking friends, which we viewed as a flaw, they would remind us that ‘civilized people speak French and not English.’ There was definitely that nostalgia about being ‘civilized’, in spite of the memories of a bitter past that their parents had to endure against the French colonizers!

While the French Republic gave us the notions of liberty, equality and fraternity, the non-European natives – the colonized people – were never included in that formula. They were for conquer, colonization and carnage. And the French colonizers were a tough bunch -- ruthless killers, criminals and marauders -- who fought tooth and nail before ceasing their control of the former colonies.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second largest in the world behind the British Empire. Its influence made French the fourth-most spoken colonial European language, behind English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The French rule of Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962. Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, known as colons and later, as pieds-noirs (meaning “Black-Foot”). These colonists accounted for ten percent of the population in Algeria, before the country achieved its independence in 1962. In Algeria, the native Muslims were not considered French and did not share the same political or economic benefits as those enjoyed by the pieds-noirs.

Politically, the Muslim Algerians had no representation in the Algerian National Assembly and wielded limited influence in local governance. To obtain citizenship, they were required to renounce their Muslim identity, a bigotry-ridden litmus test, whose ramification in terms of certain Muslim-related legislative measures cannot be overlooked or ignored in today’s so-called secular France. Since this renouncement would constitute apostasy, only about 2,500 Algerian Muslims acquired citizenship before 1930.

Following a French Justice Ministry decree, décret Crémieux, in 1870, all Sephardic Jews -- who had settled in Algeria (Tunisia and Morocco) after the Spanish Inquisition as a welcome gesture from the Ottoman Empire -- quickly became French citizens and came to be regarded by the natives as the pieds-noirs.

Like in other former colonies, the nationalists in Algeria wanted equality, if not liberty, which were denied to them. During a reform effort in 1947, the French government created a bicameral legislature with one house for the Pieds-Noirs and another for the Algerians but made a European’s vote equal seven times a native’s vote. In response, Algerian paramilitary groups such as the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) appeared which demanded independence from the French rule. This led to the outbreak of a war for independence, the Algerian War, in 1954, in which over the next eight years more than a million Algerians were killed by the colonists and the French government.

After General Charles de Gaulle assumed leadership in France in 1958, he attempted peace by visiting Algeria within days of his appointment and by organizing a referendum on January 8, 1961 for Algerian self-determination. The referendum, organized in metropolitan France, passed overwhelmingly. Pieds-noirs viewed this referendum as betrayal and formed the Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) and began attacking institutions representing the French state, Algerians, and de Gaulle himself. They terrorized and tortured the Muslim population of Algeria and bombed places of worship, business, schools and housing. The bloodshed culminated in 1961 during a failed Algiers putsch that was led by retired generals to topple de Gaulle. After this failure, on March 18, 1962 de Gaulle and the FLN signed a cease-fire agreement, the Évian Accords, and held a referendum. In June 1962 the French electorate approved the Evian Accords by an overwhelming 91 percent vote. On July 1, 1962, Algerians voted 5,992,115 to 16,534 to become independent from France. De Gaulle pronounced Algeria an independent country on July 3.

As noted earlier, Algerian independence had been bitterly opposed by the pieds-noirs and many members of the French military, and the anti-independence OAS. A "scorched earth" policy was declared by the OAS to deny French-built development to the future FLN government. This policy climaxed June 7, 1962 as the OAS Delta Commando burned Algiers’ Library, with its 60,000 volumes, and blew up Oran’s town hall, the municipal library, and four schools. In addition the OAS was pursuing a terror-bombing campaign that in May 1962 was killing an estimated 10 to 15 people in Oran daily.

The Evian Accords stipulated that Algerians would be permitted to continue freely circulating between their country and France for work, although they would not have equal political rights to French citizens. It is no surprise that many of the Muslim migrants to France are from Algeria.

After independence of Algeria, many Pieds-Noirs settled in France, while others migrated to New Caledonia, Italy, Spain, Australia, North America, Israel, and South America. As hard-core racists, many of them remain hostile to Muslim migrants in France and elsewhere.

The post-9/11 xenophobia against Muslims in France owes a great deal to racist and bigoted elements within the French society that have not come to terms with their losses in Algeria. They see the Muslims as aliens and unwanted, and would like nothing better than a litmus test, much like the failed attempt in colonial Algeria more than a century ago. To them, the French Muslims must prove their adherence to the French way of life by renouncing their Muslim identity. Interestingly, President Nicolas Sarkozy, a crypto-Jew with roots in Ottoman-ruled Salonika, is at the head of such a xenophobic campaign against Muslims in Europe.

Last week, on July 13 the French lower house of parliament approved a bill banning wearing garments such as the niqab or burqa, which incorporate a full-face veil (with eyes open), anywhere in public. It envisages fines of 150 euros for women who break the law and 30,000 euros and a one-year jail term for men who force their wives to wear the burqa. While the bill is showcased as a touchstone for the Sarkozy administration’s policy of integration, most Muslim women do not fit the stereotype of marginalized, oppressed women. Many of the 2000 niqab-wearers in France are new converts to Islam. They wear it as a choice, as a sign of their modesty, and not out of forced compulsion from anyone. The French bill is opposed to religious freedom and is highly discriminatory. It proscribes what to wear and what not to wear on the streets.

In a BBC interview, a French Muslim woman said, “Liberty means freedom of conscience, of expression.” Would Sarkozy and his justice minister, Michèle Alliot-Marie, who said on the eve of Bastille Day that the vote was a “success” for the Republic, ever have the moral courage to listen to those French Muslims -- why they wear it? Can these French legislators, the closet bigots -- I must point out, answer the following questions: what is it about the invisibility of a woman’s face that is so challenging to French identity? What is so important about the niqab that gives the state the right to intervene? As the Guardian editorial wisely noted, “Users of the metro or underground learn instinctively to avoid looking each other in the eye. It is regarded as an intrusion. And yet no state legislature would think about passing a law that bans the wearing of sunglasses indoors on the grounds that it poses a threat to national security. So what is it about the niqab, worn by so few, that threatens so many? And what values, exactly, are being protected?” (July 15)

The French bill banning niqab and burqa has only shown how weak the French society is. It is rotting from within like Holland and Belgium. Rather than fixing its inner weaknesses, it is trying to pass a law that would terrorize a small minority that proudly dons burqa or niqab as their personal choice. France talks about secularism, religious freedom and liberty but the essence of such messages has never penetrated its soul.

Sarkozy and his gang of secular fundamentalists ought to know that they can never expect to be respected for upholding flawed values that promote bigotry, instead of pluralism or multi-culture in a world that is increasingly becoming diverse.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Friedman’s Disingenuous Columns Hide Israel’s Crimes

Friedman’s Disingenuous Columns Hide Israel’s Crimes
Dr. Habib Siddiqui

Thomas Friedman is an Op/Ed columnist for the New York Times. He writes on a variety of subjects, including the Muslim world. In a recent article “Letter From Istanbul,” he wrote about the much visited city in Turkey. In his June 15 column, he wrote, “I like the people, the culture, the food and, most of all, the idea of modern Turkey — the idea of a country at the hinge of Europe and the Middle East that manages to be at once modern, secular, Muslim, democratic, and has good relations with the Arabs, Israel and the West.”

Yes, a Turkey that has looked westward, often discarding and ridiculing its rich past since the overthrow of the Ottoman Empire, should appear endearing to anyone who is insensitive and, worse still, hostile to Turkey’s Islamic heritage. Not to be forgotten in this context is the opposition of Sultan Abdul Hamid, the last of the Muslim Caliphs to rule this once great empire, to the very idea of Zionism. When the Zionists offered to give him 150 million pounds of gold to buy up and then turn over the Ottoman debt to the Sultan's government in return for an Imperial Charter for the Colonization of Palestine by the Jewish people, the Sultan told them, “If you offer me gold of the world adding it to your 150 man, I won’t agree to give you the land. I have served Islam and the people of Muhammad (S) for more than 30 years, and I won’t cloud the Islamic history, the history of my fathers and grand fathers – Ottoman Sultans and caliphs.”

It is no secret that the Sultan’s uncompromising opposition to the Zionists and Freemasons, who by the early 20th century, have taken effective control of the Young Turks and the Committee of Unity and Progress, paved the path for his overthrow and the ultimate abolishment of the Ottoman Caliphate. They insisted on his agreement to form a national Jewish state in the sacred land of Palestine. But in spite of their obstinacy he strongly refused them. [For details, see this writer’s article: The Case of Jerusalem - The Holy City Between Zionist Claims and Justification of Apartheid, Palestine Media Center (2005).]

This part of the Ottoman history, although unfamiliar to many students of history, is not unknown to most Zionists, including Friedman. What happened to Turkey over the next hundred years since the fall of the Ottomans is actually a matter of celebration for them. Not only the modern and secular Turkey was able to disrobe its Ottoman heritage, ban Islamic dresses in public places, pass laws that were hostile to its Muslim population, and distance itself from its co-religionist neighbors to the south and the east, it became one of the most ardent supporters of the Jewish state. The way things turned around, the Sultan probably would have been better off relenting to the Zionists!

As a pro-Israeli Zionist, the cause of Israel has always been central to Friedman’s writings. In his praise or censure of a country or culture, he has a simple litmus test: is it for or against Israel? Thus, it is not difficult to understand his rather cynical comment “it is quite shocking to come back today and find Turkey’s Islamist government seemingly focused not on joining the European Union but the Arab League — no, scratch that, on joining the Hamas-Hezbollah-Iran resistance front against Israel.” Tom is fully aware of his exaggerated claims and concerns, and thus admits swiftly that Turkey’s eastward tend in recent days owes in part to the failure of the European Union (E.U.) to embrace the Muslim country.

Nearly five years and a half ago, in an article -- “What’s next for Turkey: the Marathon?” -- I pointed out Christian overtone of the E.U., “The decision by the European commission shows that Europe is still not ready for pluralism and is worried about inclusion of a Muslim majority country. They can preach about the wisdom behind secularism, but religion still matters. So, the Turkish constitution can be the most secular on earth, and upheld doggedly by its military to the extent of even unseating its elected government, but is no guarantee for admission into the E.U. Pure and simple!” (Media Monitors Network, January 5, 2005)

Such clear cut E.U. hypocrisy, visible to any keen observer of modern Europe, was conveniently ignored by western pundits like Friedman. Now after all these years, Friedman admits that the E.U.’s rejection of Turkey was a hugely bad move, which has been a key factor prompting Turkey to move closer to Iran and the Arab world. He wrote, “After a decade of telling the Turks that if they wanted E.U. membership they had to reform their laws, economy, minority rights and civilian-military relations — which the Erdogan government systematically did — the E.U. leadership has now said to Turkey: ‘Oh, you mean nobody told you? We’re a Christian club. No Muslims allowed.’”

I believe if it were not for Turkey’s criticism of Israel in recent months, beginning with Prime Minister Erdogan’s lambasting Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, over the Israeli military’s brutal tactics in the Gaza campaign and the IDF’s cold-blooded murderous orgy of Turkish activists in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, and dissenting vote against the Iran-sanction in the UN Security Council, we probably would not have seen Friedman’s remarks in the New York Times. He now bemoans Turkey’s south and eastward drift to patch up relationship with the Muslim world. However, as usual, he belittles Israel’s savagery or its accountability to souring relationship with the secular Turkey, and instead blames the latter for, what he calls, “loudly bashing Israel over its occupation and praising Hamas.” He is troubled by the fact that Mr. Erdogan has decried Israelis as killers. To him, the killers can only be the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, and not the Zionists, even though they have been committing worse crimes since the establishment of the Jewish state.

Such reactions from one of the most vociferous supporters of the rogue state of Israel should not surprise anyone.

In his second part of the ‘Letter from Istanbul’ (June 18), Friedman is upset about Prime Minister Erdogan’s accusations that the Israelis are behind the PKK terrorism inside Turkey. If he is serious to unearth the truth, Tom would learn that Israel has been financing the Kurdish separatist groups, not only inside Turkey but also inside Iraq, for many years. It is all part of a very calculated strategy on the part of the rogue state to better position itself as the only trusted friend of the USA in the region, let alone to weaken those Muslim majority countries with internal strife.

It was all part of this scheme of doing things which led to the 9/11 when, as many credible analysts have shown, the Israeli leaders did not share intelligence information with their American counterparts. They knew the plan and the planners, and yet to extract maximum gains out of evolving situation in the aftermath of 9/11 chose not to share such critical information with the USA.

Friedman believes that the ruling party (AKP) is getting unpopular inside Turkey. His observations belie ground realities inside Turkey. Under Erdogan’s leadership, the Turkish nation has been able to clearly see what has been so obvious to many outside observers in that it need not run the extra miles on Marathon to prove its case for joining the E.U. It is better off today than ever before in its Republican history. Turkey is now a vibrant, competitive democracy with an economy that would rank as the sixth largest in Europe. It has become the center of its economic space, stretching from southern Russia, all through the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and down through Iraq, Syria, Iran and the Middle East. In 1980, Turkey’s total exports were worth $3 billion. In 2008, they were $132 billion. There are now 250 industrial zones throughout Anatolia.

Turkey’s cell phone users have gone from virtually none in the 1990s to 64 million in 2008. If that is not an economic success story, what is?

While Friedman is all agog to find faults with the Turkish Prime Minister today, he should know that like most Turkish leaders of the past, Mr. Erdogan was not unfriendly to Israel either when he began his official duty as the prime minister. He encouraged closer ties with Israel, and even took a planeload of businessmen to Tel Aviv in 2005. The first sign of unease probably can be attributed to the reign of Ehud Olmert, then Israel’s prime minister. Mr. Erdogan was mediating talks between Israel and Syria when Israel began without warning the bombing of Gaza. This was seen by many analysts as a sign of Israeli arrogance that cares less about its benefactors just as it did a few months ago with vice president Biden’s visit to Israel. The flotilla attack was another such scheme by the Israeli policy makers to test America’s unwavering allegiance to the pariah state and breed tension and uneasy relationship between the USA and Turkey. As the UN debate later revealed, the Obama administration was not willing to chastise Israel for her heinous crimes. No punitive measures will be taken against Israel! To president Obama and secretary Clinton, Israel is once again more important than Turkey, a NATO partner.

In my 2005 article on Turkey, I asked, “Wouldn’t it be better for them [the Turks] to look south and eastward and reclaim their leadership position as they once held?” I am glad to report that from its bitter experience on failed membership in the E.U. and American and Israeli insensitivity towards Turkish lives, Turkey is learning its lessons fast. It has learned that its true identity cannot be an imported, fake and imposed one by its enemies. Just as 70 years of Soviet communism could not wipe out Russian Orthodox Christianity, the Kemalist experiment with hardcore secularism minus Islam is rejected by the vast majority of Turks. The modern Turkey is comfortable with its Islamic heritage that values human rights, dignity, progress and pluralism.

Turkey is finding its footing in its own backyard, a troubled region that has been in turmoil for years, in part as a result of American policy making and the Israeli factor. Turkey is no longer comfortable with its puppet role in the world scene. It has become forthright honest about things it likes and dislikes. Thus, it is not shy of telling Israel that she has been committing heinous crimes against the Palestinians living in Gaza. Nor is Turkey shy of saying that the UNSC voting sanctioning further harsh measures against Iran suggest that the USA has not gone beyond its cold-war mentality. This new vigor may come as a surprise, and even irritation, to the likes of Freidman, but not to most Turks who are tired of clearing up the mess left in the region by the USA and her regional partner in crime - Israel.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1 Out Of 7 Latina Teens In The Usa Try Committing Suicide, lets discuss why we think why

By Courtney Yager

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Twelve-year-old Francisca Abreu was anxious. It was February 20, 2007, and she laid her head down on her desk in her seventh-grade science class.

Trapped between two worlds, Francisca Abreu became depressed. At 12, she says she wanted to kill herself.

"I was crying; I was very depressed. I had written a note to myself," Francisca remembers. "I just said I can't do this anymore. I want to kill myself."

Francisca's school called home, and her mother, Isabel Valdez, learned for the first time that her daughter was in serious trouble.

"I never told her," says Francisca. "I never bothered her; she probably never bothered to notice."

Such a disconnect between mothers and daughters is what Dr. Luis Zayas, a psychologist at Washington University, suspects is leading an alarming number of Latina teenagers to want to end their lives.

One out of every seven Latina teens, or 14 percent, attempts suicide according to a 2007 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of high school students. And Latina high school students have higher attempted suicide rates than white non-Hispanic (7.7 percent) or black non-Hispanic (9.9 percent) girls their age, the CDC reports.

Zayas has spent the last 25 years trying to find out why. He says the typical Latina teen who attempts suicide is 14 or 15, the daughter of immigrant parents, lives in a low-income setting and is caught in an intense battle with her mother over Latino and American cultures.

Research conducted by Zayas has found the girls' parents hold strictly to traditional Latino values, while teens who grow up in America learn "very different models about what girls should do, can do and are permitted to do."

Zayas is nearing completion of a five-year study of more than 200 Latina teenagers who live in New York City. More than half of those studied have attempted suicide, including Francisca Abreu, who is now 15. Francisca talks about falling into a deep depression »

In 1997, Francisca's mother, Isabel, left the Dominican Republic for the promise of work in the United States. Desperate to find a better life for her three children -- she left them behind. Francisca, who was 3 at the time, says she was devastated.

"I used to tell her, you always say you're going to come but you never do. You always say you're going to call but you never do," Francisca says. "I used to be very depressed because I thought she wasn't going to come."

Four years later, Isabel went back to get Francisca and her brothers to bring them back with her to the United States. But Francisca says life with her mother in the Bronx wasn't what she thought it would be. Her mother worked three jobs, and Francisca barely saw her.

As she spent time with her new American friends, the distance grew between Francisca and her mother. When her mother wasn't at work, Francisca says they were fighting.

"There are many girls who are well-behaved," Isabel says. "But there are others who are on the wrong path. They like to flirt. They like hanging out. They like to stay out late. These are not the friends I like for my kids."

Francisca says her mother wanted her to stay home, learn how to cook and clean the house. She says she wasn't allowed to hang out with her friends.

"I did want to do what I want, be outside, not too late, but be outside period. Be able to go to the pool, regular stuff like other kids," Francisca recalls.

The conflict between mothers and daughters is what Zayas says is driving many of the Latinas he has studied to the brink. Francisca reads her poem

"Teenagers have certain freedoms; they don't need to consult with their parents to make certain decisions," Zayas says. "That's the culture that's here, and inserted in that is the Latino family that says the family is much more important than the individual."

"I would cry about my dad, not being with him. How I missed my country. How I wish I wasn't like this with my mom, or my mom wasn't like this with me," Francisca recalls. "Like she wouldn't be mean to me, [she'd] tell me mean stuff like 'I wish I could put you back in my belly. ... I wish you weren't born.' "

Isabel says she remembers a difficult child who wouldn't open up.

"She would throw things, stomp her feet. When she got home, all she wanted to do was sleep. She didn't talk and was rude to her brothers and me," Isabel says. "Maybe I wasn't very understanding with her. I don't know."

Trying to escape the pain, Francisca made a desperate choice and decided to take some of her mother's pills.

"I was tired of being another burden in my mom's life," Francisca says.

But the pain didn't go away. A year later, Francisca was admitted to a psychiatric hospital after a teacher found the note she wrote at school. Three days later she was released and started counseling.

Several weeks later, Francisca met 15-year-old Xavier Cardona at school. She says their connection was instant.

"The first time we were ever together, he hugged me, and I felt like, 'Oh my God, that felt so good.' I felt so safe, I felt secure," Francisca says. "It felt good to have someone hug you that way with such meaning."

Breaking all her mother's rules, she skipped school to spend time with Xavier. Then, two days after her 14th birthday, Francisca came home with devastating news -- she was pregnant.

"I felt like I was going to die," Isabel remembers. "I was embarrassed when it came to the rest of the family. What were they going to say? That I was the one who didn't take care of her?"

In November, Francisca gave birth to a baby girl. She named her daughter Destiny, and slowly she says she began to understand her mother better.

"All she did was be a good mother, sacrifice her life for us," Francisca says. "That's all she did."

Today with the help of therapy, Francisca says she's learning to cope with her depression. In June, she shared her experiences about growing up Latina at a fundraising gala for her counseling center. Before hundreds of people, she thanked her mother.

"I came to this country not knowing the language, the people or how it is here," Francisca told them. "But at the end of the day, my mom was my biggest support."

Francisca says she now understands her mother, and Isabel says she understands the struggles of growing up Latina in America.

"At least now she knows I tried to do the best I could," Isabel says. "Times change. My times are different from hers, and I have to understand that.

American Soldier Speaking On The Iraq War

American Soldier Speaking On The Iraq War

Global Priorities

Given $50 billion to spend, which would you solve first, AIDS or global warming? Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg comes up with surprising answers.

Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg heads the Copenhagen Consensus, which has prioritized the world's greatest problems -- global warming, world poverty, disease -- based on how effective our solutions might be. It's a thought-provoking, even provocative list.

About Bjorn Lamborg:

Bjorn Lomborg isn't afraid to voice an unpopular opinion. In 2007, he was named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time magazine after the publication of his controversial book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which challenged widely held beliefs that the environment is getting worse. This year, he was named on of the "50 people who cold save the planet" by the Guardian newspaper. His newest book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, further analyzes what today's science tells us about global warming and its risks.

In 2004, he convened the Copenhagen Consensus, which tries to prioritize the world's greatest challenges based on the impact we can make, a sort of bang-for-the-buck breakdown for attacking problems such as global warming, world poverty and disease.

It begins from the premise that we can't solve every problem in the world, and asks: Which ones should we fix first? The Copenhagen Consensus 2004 tapped the expertise of world-leading economists, as well as a diverse forum of young participants; collectively, they determined that control of HIV/AIDS was the best investment -- and mitigating global warming was the worst.

Lomborg summarized these findings in How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place. In spring of 2008, Copenhagen Consensus will convene, assembling over 55 international economists, including 4 Nobel laureates, to assess, prioritize and brainstorm solutions for the major global challenges of today.


Peter Oborne

Author’s Note by Peter Oborne
Every year, in a central London hotel, a very grand lunch is thrown by the Conservative Friends of Israel. It is often addressed by the Conservative leader of the day. Many members of the shadow cabinet make it their business to be there along with a very large number of Tory peers and prospective candidates, while the Conservative MPs present amount to something close to a majority of the parliamentary party. It is a formidable turnout.

This year’s event took place in June, with the main speech by Tory leader David Cameron and shadow foreign secretary William Hague in attendance. The dominant event of the previous twelve months had been the Israeli invasion of Gaza at the start of the year. So I examined Cameron’s speech with curiosity to see how he would handle that recent catastrophe.

I was shocked to see that Cameron made no reference at all to the invasion of Gaza, the massive destruction it caused, or the 1,3701 deaths that had resulted. Indeed, Cameron went out of his way to praise Israel because it “strives to protect innocent life”

I found it impossible to reconcile the remarks made by the
young Conservative leader with the numerous reports of human rights abuses in Gaza. Afterwards I said as much to some Tory MPs. They looked at me as if I was distressingly naive, drawing my attention to the very large number of Tory donors in the audience.

But it cannot be forgotten that so many people died in Gaza at the start of this year. To allow this terrible subject to pass by without comment suggested a failure of common humanity and decency on the part of a man most people regard as the next prime minister.

To praise Israel at the same time for protecting human life showed not merely a fundamental failure of respect for the truth but also it gives the perception, rightly or wrongly, of support for the wretched events which took place in Gaza. That is not to condone or excuse the abhorrent actions of Hamas, but to overlook Israel’s culpability is undoubtedly partisan.

It is impossible to imagine any British political leader showing such equanimity and tolerance if British troops had committed even a fraction of the human rights abuses and war crimes of which Israel has been accused. So that weekend, in my weekly Daily Mail political column, I criticized Cameron’s speech to the CFI, drawing attention to his failure to mention Gaza and his speaking of Israeli respect for the sanctity of human life. Soon I received a letter from Stuart Polak, the longstanding CFI director: “Peter, the snapshot of our lunch concentrating on the businessmen and David’s alleged comments was really unhelpful.” The CFI political director, Robert Halfon, wrote saying that my letter was ‘astonishing’ and accusing me of making a ‘moral equivalence’ between Israel and Iran.

I wrote back to them citing a number of reports by international organizations such as Amnesty International highlighting breaches of codes by the Israeli army. I resolved then to ask the question: what led David Cameron to behave in the way he did at the CFI lunch at the Dorchester Hotel last June? What are the rules of British political behaviour which cause the Tory Party leader and his mass of MPs and parliamentary candidates to flock to the Friends of Israel lunch in the year of the Gaza invasion? And what are the rules of media discourse that ensure that such an event passes without notice?

On a personal note I should say that I have known both Stuart Polak and Robert Halfon for many years and always found them fair-minded and straightforward to deal with. Indeed in the summer of 2007 I went on a CFI trip to Israel led by Stuart Polak.

No pressure was put on me, at the time or later, to write anything in favour of Israel. The trip, which was paid for by the CFI, certainly enabled me to understand much better the Israeli point of view. But we were presented with a very full spectrum of Israeli intellectual and political life, ranging from disturbingly far right pro-settler MPs to liberal intellectuals consumed with doubt about the morality of the Zionist state. The trip was also balanced to a certain extent by a meeting with a leading Palestinian businessman and with the British consul in East Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, the job of a political journalist is to try and explain how politics works. Ten years ago I exposed, in an article for The Spectator headlined “The man who owns the Tory Party”, the fact that the controversial offshore financier Michael Ashcroft was personally responsible for the financial 
survival of William Hague’s Conservatives. I asked how legitimate Michael Ashcroft’s contribution was, how much he spent, and did my best to investigate how he used his influence.

Now I want to ask a question that has never been seriously addressed in the mainstream press: is there a Pro-Israel lobby in
Britain, what does it do and what influence does it wield?

By James Jones and Peter Oborne

In 2007 two US academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, published a study of what they called the US Israel lobby, exploring in particular the connection between the domestic power of the lobby in the United States and US foreign policy.

Read On ...... The Pro-Israel Lobby in Britan

What You Didn't Know About The War..

I’ll Let Gays Serve Openly In Military, Barak Obama

He's been criticized by some advocates for not moving faster on their issues

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama pledged to end the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military in a speech Saturday, but acknowledged to a cheering crowd that the policy changes he promised on the campaign trail are not coming as quickly as they expected.

"I will end 'don't ask-don't tell,'" Obama said to a standing ovation from the crowd of about 3,000 at the annual dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay civil rights advocacy group. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to end the ban, but did not give a timetable or the specifics that some activists have called for.

The law was passed by Congress in 1993 and signed by President Bill Clinton, who also promised to repeal the ban on homosexuals in the military but was blunted by opposition in the military and Congress. Obama said he's working with Pentagon and congressional leaders on ending the policy.

"We should not be punishing patriotic Americans who have stepped forward to serve the country," Obama said. "We should be celebrating their willingness to step forward and show such courage ... especially when we are fighting two wars.

Obama said it was no secret "our progress may be taking longer than we like." He followed this by asking supporters to trust his administration's course.

"I appreciate that many of you don't believe progress has come fast enough," Obama said. "Do not doubt the direction we are heading and the destination we will reach."

Advocating for a timeline
Some advocates said they already have heard Obama's promises — they just want to hear a timeline. Cleve Jones, a pioneer activist and creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, said Obama delivered a brilliant speech, but added "it lacked the answer to our most pressing question, which is when."

"He repeated his promises that he's made to us before, but he did not indicate when he would accomplish these goals and we've been waiting for a while now."

Obama also called on Congress to repeal the Defense Of Marriage Act, which limits how state, local and federal bodies can recognize partnerships and determine benefits. He also called for a law to extend benefits to domestic partners.

He expressed strong support for the Human Rights Campaign agenda — ending discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people — but stopped short of laying out a detailed plan for how to get there.

"My expectation is that when you look back on these years you will look back and see a time when we put a stop against discrimination ... whether in the office or the battlefield," Obama said.

Focusing on war, economy
Obama's political energies are focused on managing two wars, the economic crisis and his attempt to reform the health care system.

Girl Grows New Kidneys

A girl has stunned doctors by growing two new kidneys to replace ones that had failed and left her seriously ill.

Five-year-old Angel Burton went for surgery after being beset by kidney problems since birth.

But surgeons at Sheffield Children's Hospital were astonished to find she had a pair of perfectly-formed organs sitting on top of the old ones.

Furthermore, the extra organs had taken over the work of the originals - so instead of suffering kidney failure, she could look forward to a bright, healthy future.

Angel's mum, Claire Burton, told the Daily Mail: "It's a real miracle. We're just so grateful to have Angel back to her happy, healthy self."

She said the surgeon told her he was "stunned" regular scanning over a five-year period had failed to pick up on the extra organs.

It is thought they were not detected as the new kidneys were sitting just above the originals and tests showed them as one.

Surgeons cut open girl, to fix failing kidneys only to find two new ones growing in their place

Angel, from Louth in Lincolnshire, suffers from duplex kidney, a rare condition where the organs are fused together in the middle. They either share or have their own ureters taking urine to the bladder.

In an even rarer occurrence, both of the organs were duplex, giving her four kidneys and four ureters.

Angel's health deteriorated almost as soon as she was born.

After being diagnosed with bilateral reflux - which means urine was leaking into and infecting her kidneys - a scan had revealed the organs had been badly damaged.

It was during an operation to create an artificial valve in October 2007 that doctors found the extra kidneys.

Angel is now eight and on course to make a full recovery.


Voting Russian Style

The Russian government continues to portray itself as democratic - even though critics say its elections are carefully stage-managed, opposition is barely tolerated and the media is almost fully controlled.
Political leaders point to the parliament or Duma as evidence of democracy in action. But now they will have to think again.
In a rare moment of revelation - a television camera crew has managed to film what really happens inside the parliament when it is time to vote on the burning issues of the day.

Ignorant West

The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world. The Center for Disease control says that one-third of girls get pregnant before the age of 20., a site managed by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, states that there are "750,000 teen pregnancies annually. Eight in ten of these pregnancies are unintended and 81 percent are to unmarried teens."
Educating teenagers about contraception makes them more likely to use contraception when they begin having sex, but it doesn't lower the age at first intercourse. Why? Probably because the decision where and with whom to become sexually active is a very complicated one, and may be rooted in family, peers, religion, the media and individual personality factors. 

Facts on Teen Pregnancy:
• Teenage mothers are more likely to drop out of high school
• Be and remain single parents
• Score lower in math and reading into adolescence

If you are a teen thinking about having sex, the best way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy is to educate yourself about different forms of contraceptive. The Public Health Agency of Canada states that 25 percent of young women who have intercourse without using a method of birth control will become pregnant within one month.

If you are a parent, it is important to talk to your teen about sex .

If you or your teen becomes pregnant there are several resources that can help. Make sure you see your physician if you have any questions about pregnancy or contraceptives.

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