| Wednesday, March 28, 2007
| THE HUMAN COST OF WAR
|Four years after President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, U.S. armed forces have served a combined total of about 1 million tours of duty. More than 3,200 have been killed in the process and at least 50,000 have been injured in some way.
2nd DEADLIEST DAY:
3rd DEADLIEST DAY:
Where They Died In Iraq
Since the start of the war in March 2003, an average
of two U.S. service members have been killed each day.
More than 60 percent of those deaths took place in or
near Anbar and Baghdad provinces.
DIED ELSEWHERE AFTER BEING WOUNDED IN IRAQ
Bahrain .................................... 5
Germany ................................ 45
Kuwait .................................... 41
Qatar ........................................ 6
Spain ......................................... 1
United Arab Emirates ................ 1
United Kingdom......................... 1
United States .............................74
Deaths from attacks in International Waters ...... 6
A Snapshot of the American Dead
While the effects of war are far-reaching, statistics show that some
Americans are paying a disproportionate price.
26.8 years is the average age of the U.S. troop killed in Iraq.
23 percent of U.S. troops who died in Iraq came from rural areas.
The death rate among those troops was 60 percent higher than
among those from urban areas.
75 percent of those killed came from U.S. towns where the per capita income
was below the national average of $36,350.
75 percent of the military dead were white. Yet whites make up only 64 percent
of the U.S. military overall.
How They Were Killed
Suicide bomb 0.9 percent 27
Vehicle bomb 4 percent 135
Air crash 6 percent 192
Mortar / RPG 6 percent 192
IED 36 percent 1,153
Other 20 percent 630 (Note: due to rounding figures may not equal 100%)
Non-hostile 16 percent 506
Small arms 10 percent 329
Number of Wounded
2003 ......... 2,408
2004 ......... 8,000
2005 ......... 5,946
2006 ......... 6,382
2007 ......... 681
(Source: Abstracted from NEWSWEEK MAG Hear excerpts from Michael Martino's journal at xtra.Newseek.com)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 11:13 PM
| Monday, March 26, 2007
| THE BIBLE IN POP CULTURE
|Even our superficial pleasures are enhanced by a background in the Good Book.
In the Bible, survivors of the Great Flood displeased God when they tried to build a tower toheaven, and he gave each one a different language so that they could no longer understand one another. The people in the four different cultures portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film share a modern-day version of undue pride and the inability to communicate.
Talking past one another, then and now
Jor-el. Did you know that el means God in biblical Hebrew? The comic about the all powerful Kryptonian's son, whose arrival on Earth coincides with a major astronomical event and is raised among men, was a fun, reductivist postwar Jesus gloss. The 2006 movie version in this saga about a man with supernatural powers who saves humanity hit the Jesus comparisons harder than its predecessors did.
No crucifixion, but certainly a brief to save the world
THE DAVINCI CODE
There are people who regard Dan Brown's story about Jesus and Mary Magdalene as Gospel. But read the Gospels, and you will know it plays off later, nonbiblical sources.
The hit Broadway musical was inspired by the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a satirical rendering of King Arthur and his knights' search for the cup Christ used at the Last Supper.John Cleese makes a taped appearance as the voice of God.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARIA
C.S. Lewis was a famous Christian popularizer. Asian the lion was Jesus. Grab your new testament and take it from there.
LEFT BEHIND SERIES
Supposedly a fictionalization of events in the Book of Revelation, but it's actually based only on interpretation of that text. Is it the right one?
ONE TREE HILL
Their battles may play out in calculus or at the junior prom, but sibling rivalry between half brothers Lucas and Nathan on thsi CW teen drama echo the birthright struggle of Cain and Abel.
Samuel L. Jackson's charater Jules invokes Ezekiel before killing people: "You will know I am the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you." But he undergoes a personal crisis framed in the same language. Is he the "righteous man" Ezekiel lauds? The "shepherd" who helps the weak? He fears that instead he serves what Ezekiel calls "the tyranny of evil men". When he spares another potential victim, he says, "I'm tryin real hard to be the sheperd." The Bible is real for him.
You almost have to watch trilogy with Scriture in hand to catch all the biblical resemblances in the Wachowskis' retelling of the Ressurrection, with Keanu Reeves as you-know-who. Of course, then you would have to start in on nearly as important secular source.
The more you watch, the more Christian it gets.
(Source: Abstracted from:TIMEMAG by: David Von Drehle)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:23 PM
| Thursday, March 22, 2007
| QUINTESSENCE : The Quality of Having "It".
Oh, Oh, Oreo
Nabisco claims it's the world's most popular cookier, and why not? The Oreo has been around since 1913, when it made its debut as the Oreo Biscuit. In 1921 it was renamed the Oreo Sandwich and renamed yet again in 1948 when it became the Oreo Creme Sandwich, its current designation.
The Oreo is more than a cookie (as profound a thing as a cookie is); it is a form of peronal expression. You can eat it straightfowardly as a sandwich inviolate; or you can lift the top off, eat that, then give the bottom wafer to someone you're not that crazy about. Or you can eat the top wafer and then the cream and second wafer together. Or you can eat the cream first and throw the cookie away. Or you can.....
The quintessentiality of the Oreo is mysteriously and precariously balanced; witness the failure of the spinoff Oreo Double Stuff, the Jaws II of cookies, in which the white cream is laid on twice as thickly as it ought to be: a classic case of fixing something that isn't broken. The real Oreo, having twice the biscuit as icing, brilliantly fulfills a fundamental requirement for the quintessential cookie; It absolutely demands to be eaten with milk.
The invention of 99 and 44/100 percent pure Ivory soap was 100 perdent pure accident.
A worker at Proctor and Gamble plant left the mixing machinery on during lunch break, which whipped a lot of air into the soap ingredients. Unknowingly, Proctor and his cousin, Gamble, shipped out a batch of floating soap. And, if it's to be believed, the story behind the naming of the soap is 100 percent pure, period. The year is 1879, Harley Proctor is sitting in church, half listening to the sermon, half pondering what to name his company's new White Soap (its highly unoriginal name). Then, in a perfect confluence of conscious and subconscious, he hears the preacher read the Forty-fifth Psalm: "All thy garments smell of myrrh and aloes and cassia out of ivory palaces whereby they have made thee glad," Whereby they have made Harley glad.
In December 1882, after naming his soap, Harley Proctor sent samples to a member of chemists asking them to compare it to the competition. One of those chemists found that Ivory had only 56/100ths of a percent of impurities (even less than castile, the most popular soap of the day), and one of the great slogans of all time was born. Ivory is still just what Proctor wanted it to be -- dependable, and economical. Its wrapper is cheerful, innocent, and, above all, clean -- the white bar floats between blue waves, with a single red wave to catch your eye like a flag. Even the waxiness of the paper echoes what's waiting secruely within. The shiny white bar lathers into an instnat slithery richness. Wash with a bar of Ivory and there's no question that something is working. After you've washed your hands and dried them, your hands smell clean -- not disinfected or perfumed -- just clean. All this and....it floats. And swims and bobs and comes back up from the depths. A bath toy that no can make fun of.
The STEINWAY Piano
If there's one thing you don't associate with a Steinway, it's the kitchen.
But to those in the piano-know, the two are indeed related. For the so-called kitchen piano is the forerunner of the modern piano. And it is so named becayse a piano Englehard Steinwig built it in his kitchen in Seesen, Germany. By the time he came to America and founded a piano company, with his sons in 1853, Steinwig had become Steinway. A Steinway (to say Steinway piano is almost a redundancy) is known as "The Instrument of the Immortals". And so it is. It is the piano of choice for (among many others) Rudolf Serkin, Andre Watts, Misha Dichter, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Lili Kraus, Vladimir Horowitz. And was the piano of choice for the late Artur Rubinstein.
No matter where in America a pianist has a concert, he can find a Steinway within a finger's reach. The company maintaines 305 of tem (about $7 million worth) expressly for performance use. The artist must pay to have the piano tuned up and moved to the hall, but the use of Steinway is free. (It's been reported that if a pianist should ever elect to play on anything other than a Steinway, Steinway will forever refuse to deliver one of its concert pianos to him). Only immortals may play these instruments on concert stages, but even mere mortals can own them. But with a price tag as high as $28,000 (that's for their very best, the Model D Concert Grand) and a wait maybe as much as a year,it's hardly an impulse purchase. A Steinway is a serious investment, and well it should be. It's one of the most carefully crafted instruments in the world. These ivories are not for tickling. No ticklers need apply.
The MONT BLANK DIPLOMAT PEN
If you have only one life to sign away, for self-pity's sake do the deed with a tool worthy of the momen, the Mont Blanc Meisterstuck No. 149 - a.k.a. the Diplomat (though the pen is indeed mightier than the sword, that pen is surely the Diplomat. Everything about it is significant, from its howitzer shell heft to its profound blackness, from the six-pointed trademark snowcap (left off pens sold in Arab countries because of its resemblance to the Star of David) to the 14 karat gold nib engraved with the number 4810 - the height in meters of Mont Blanc.
Consider the difference between preparing to write by pressing a ball points' button and slowly unscrewing the top of a Diplomat, removing it an replacing it at the other end, then pausing just another moment in an attitude the manufacturer nicely calls "classical pensiveness". If by then your banker is not ready to extend far more credit than you're worth, theman is dead to style. (Te effect on subordinates of this stern swagger stick of pens is daunting in the extreme. The tiny "Germany" engraved on the pen's uppermost gold rign comes as no surprise.)
The Mont Blanc Company began manufacturing fountain pens very much like the Diplomat in 1905, when the company's president, a certain Herr Dzianbor, grew tired of traveling around Germany with a bottle of ink to dip his pen in. In those days the written word was king, the typewriter was a slightly contemptible convenience, and the time was not envisioned when the act of writing would be brutally parodied by "word processors" capable of neither blot nor blessing. With the Diplomat poised, even today, there is still no need to think about such things.
The HARLEY-DAVIDSON ELECTRAGLIDE MOTORCYCLE
An engineer will tell you that two cylinders don't make sense anymore. A perfromance freak will tell you that the imports can eat it up. Don't argue; they probably would'nt understand that on the shimmering blacktop of the id, every man rides a Harley.
More than seventy years ago, William Harley and three Davidson brothers turned out their first V-twin, 61-cubic-inc dream machine, establishing a basic design pattern that has never changed, by 1922, the 74-inch JD model had emerged from their Milwaukee shop and created the line currently embodied by the massive 80-inch ElectricGlide.
Alomg the way certain amenities have been added - overhead valves came in with the 1941 "knucklehead", hydraulic forks and an electric starter appeared in the fifties and sixties (all of which did nothing to lighten the mood of the dour highway patrolmen who ride these battle chargers). But even with its limousine ride and middle American stolidity, the ElectraGlide still retains its primal elan; blasting by at full bore it sounds just like a dinosaur gargling.
The ZIPPO LIGHTER
In a dispirited world of dull, charmlessly efficient butane sticks hissing at the cigarettes of conscience strickenm smokers, basic Zippo model 2000 is an unashamed feast for the sense, as good and generous a machine as any America has produces. From the unmistakable kerchung of its lid being opened, to the heady aroma of the fuel vapors trapped underneath, to the soft blue and yellow billow of its flame, is a flawless blend of art and utility.
Though the clean lines of the Zippo might easily have sprung from the mind of a Mies van der Robe, its creator was, inf act, George G. Blaisdell, co-owner of the Blaisdell Oil Company in Bradford, Pennsylvania, who in 1932 redesigned an Austrian army lighter and brought smoking into the modern age. Blaisdell believed so emphatically in his product that he promised to repair any Zippo - damanaged in any way, no questions asked free of charge. The offer still goes, with the result that almost half a million lighters come back to Bradford every year for restoration, and they are invariably turned around within forty-eight hours.
When it comes to evocative power, the Zippo has no equal. Fire one up in a high wind to light a crackling Camel and you can dream anything you want; Tobruk, bomber command, the Mermansk run, Bogie's lip, Ingrid eyes.....
It was a long, inconvenient road from the codpiece to the Kenosha Klosed Krotch, an X-shaped overlapping opening incorporated into union suits in 1910 by S.T. Cooper and Sons of Kenosha, Wisconsin. This welcome innovation allowed men minor relief without the necessity ofm ajor disrobing. Thank God Almighty, free at last! But the age of truly modern underwear wasn't yet imminent. Not until after World War I did long underwear lost its dominant popularity, spurned by veterans whose army summer issue had been short shorts. Then in 1934 someone with Cooper Underwear saw an abbreviated swimsuit on the French Riviera and brief Style 1001 was born. This was soon replaced by the more streamlined Style 1007, known today as the Jockey Classic Brief. It's hard to imagine life without Jockey briefs. They seem ancient in their wisdom - soft, white, dependable, with their brand name stitched around the waistband like a news-flash in Times Square. Perhaps the ultimate recognition of Jockey's eminence is the fact that one of America's quintessential derivative designers has chosen to market his own verson, virtually indistinguishable from the original except for the name on the band (and the price on the tag), a product with all the integrity of the Nashville Parthenon. Out, out, brief Calvin! Onward, Kenosha Klassical Konsciousness!
COCA-COLA SOFT DRINK
"Coke is it!" No quetion. In one of the few trademark cases ever reviewed by the Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, upheld he Coca-Cola trademark, stating,"The name now charaterizes a beverage to be had at almost any soda fountain. It means, a single thing coming from a single source and wll known to the community". Since that opinion in 1920, the community has expanded to 155 countries. that's because things most definitely do go better with Coke.
The miracle of Coke began in a brass pot in abackyard in Atlanta, Georgia, on a May day in 1886, when a pharmacist named Dr. John Styth Pemberton brewed a distinctive, experimental syrup. He then took the potful to Jacob's Pharmacy whee it was combined with soda water and sold for a nickel a glass. Pemberton's partner, Frank M. Robinson, contributed the name (based, some claim on a dash of cocain) and the flowing Spencerian script of the logo. And then, having set themselves on the path to greatness, the two sold out.
One Asa G. Chandler knew a pause that paid off when he tasted it, and he bought up all the rights ti Coke for a mere $2,300. Chandler not only knew a goodthing, he knew how to exploit it. Under Asa's directin, Coke became the most popular drink in the world.
If, like some, you're delighted by incalculable and unfathomable statistics, then you'll want to know that if all the Coke ever produced were poured in 6 1/2 ounce bottles and they were laid end to end, they could go to the moon and back 1,045 times. (who thinks these things up?) The sheer, astounding fact is that 260million glasses of Coke are gulped down every day, because nothing works like Coke does. Not even water.
And not only does it taste wonderful but it still occasionally can be sipped from those wonderful bottles and glasses. The hobbleskirt green glass bottle was designed in 1916 by the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, and the graceful fountain glass with its flowing white script appeared in 1919. No question - Coke is the Real Thing. Coke is it!
M&M's CHOCOLATE CANDIES
M&M's is one candy that doesn't have to pander to extraterrestials or evn hollywood moguls.
It mybe forever famous for being the candy that didn't melt in E.T's mouth. (M&M's didnt choose to get involved in the merchandising of E.T., so E.T. got stuck eating Reese's Pieces instead.) These little lapidary buts of confection, in their rather sober brown bag, are simply the perfect snack, fulfilling the desire for sometghing sweet without leaving you with the guilty feeling that ypu've overindulged.
M&M's have been around since 1941. There's a story, perhaps apocryphal, that they were created expressly for the army so that GIs could carry them into battle, providing a quick pick-me-up but leaving trigger fingers itchy but not sticky. M&M's were the creation of Forest E. Mars, Sr. (son of Frank C.Mars, creator of the Milky Way, Snickers, and Three Musketeers). Mars and his associate Bruce Murrie (the M and M of M&M) formed their own company on this one candy alone. (M&M's peanut version didn't come along until 1954). But M&M's were so unlike any other candy that their popularity was immediate and everlasting.
M&M's are fun to eat. You can gobble them up, scoopful by scoopful, cracking the many-colore sugar coating between your teeth with a gratifying crunch. Or you can mete them out, one by one, and suck on them, savoring the hard coating as it slowly yields to the softer, sweeter center within. And M&M's are pretty. A handful of these multicolored, perfectly-shaped ellipsoids are still lovely to behold. And so delicious. Maybe in E.T. II....
(Source: Abstracted from the book: "QUINTESSENCE The Quality of Having "IT"
by: Betty Cornfeld and Owen Edwards)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:17 PM
| HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING TO ANSWER
|1. The capital city of Conakry is an important port for which West African country?
2. The Chuuk and Yap Islands are part of what country in the Pacific Ocean?
3. The summits of the world's five highest volcanoes are located in which Western Hemishpere mountain system?
4. The Java Sea is surrounded by numerous islands that are part of what country?
5. What country on the Gulf of Honduras was formerly known as British Honduras?
ANSWERS: 1). Guinea 2).Federated States of Micronesia 3).Andes 4).Indonesia 5).Belize
(Source: NatGeoMag Supplement)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:20 AM
| Wednesday, March 21, 2007
| WAR IN IRAQ
|A WAR OF WORDS
Since invadingIraq in March 2003, Bush has gradually revised the way he refers to the war to reflect the worsening conditions on the ground.
"OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM": "This will not be a campaign of half measures, and we will accept no outcome but victory ".
UNDER "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED BANNER": "Major combat operations in Iraq have ended".
ON "STAYING THE COURSE": " These killers (terrorists) don't have values. They want to shake our will... But we will stay the course".
"STRATEGY FOR VICTORY IN IRAQ": "Every man and woman who volunteers to defend ournation deserve an unwavering commitment to the mission - and a clear strategy for victory".
"OPERATION TOGETHER FORWARD": "Obviously, the violence in Baghdad is still terrible, and therefore there needs to be more troops".
"NEW WAY FORWARD" IRAQ STRATEGY: "This violence is splitting Baghdad into sectarian enclaves, and shaking the confidence of all Iraqis... Where mistaked have beenmade, the responsibility rests with me."
Can We 'Take Back' Iraq?
Bush's plan aims to lay much of the foundation for a self-sustaining Iraq in an estimated 12 to 18 months. Our part of the deal -- and the Iraqis':
-- Send 17,500 additional U.S. troops to Baghdad. The first brigade arrives Jan. 15. The remaining groups arrive every 30 days.
-- Commit 4,000 more Marines to the Anbar province, a mostly Sunni insurgent stronghold.
-- Expand the embedding of U.S. advisers into Iraqi security forces.
-- Request $5.6 billion to pay for commitment of new troops.
U.S. FUNDS FOR RECONSTRUCTION
-- $414 million to help with rebuilding by expanding current provincial reconstruction teams and adding support teams.
-- $400 million in quick - response funds for civilian problems.
-- $350 million for the Commander's Emergency Respond Program, which gives commanders money to solve local problems such as providing electricity or water.
-- Provide three brigade for Baghdad. The first arrives on Feb.1. The remaining two arrive later that month.
-- Support U.S. and Iraqi troop authority to pursue all insurgents regadless of sect.
-- Finalize an oil law for the quitable distribution of oil revenue.
-- Reform de-Baathification laws and establish a fair process for considering amendments of Iraq's Constitution.
-- Hold provincial elections to bring Sunnis back into the political process.
-- Take responsibility for security in all of Iraq's provinces by November 2007.
-- Match U.S. efforts to create jobs with sustainable Iraqi programs.
IRAQI FUNDS FOR RECONSTRUCTION
-- $10 billion to assist in reconstruction efforts.
(Source: Abstracted from NEWSWEEK MAG/by Jessica Ramirez: Figures are a combination of new deployment and extended tours. Sources: Whitehouse, Dept of Defense, U.S. Central Command,News Reports, PBS.Org)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:13 AM
| Tuesday, March 20, 2007
| STEM CELLS
1). WHERE THE STEM CELLS COME FROM
Until recently, there were two main sources of cells. Now amniotic fluid may priovde another option. How the different methods stack up:
Amniotic-fluid stem cells are collected by amniocentesis, in which some of the fluid surrounding the fetus is drawn out through a hollow needle inserted into the uterus. The cells can also be taken from the placenta or from tissues shed after birth.
PROS AND CONS:
Amniotic cells are hardy and pluripotent (they can grow into a variety of cel types), and reproduce quickly in the lab. Additionally, the way they're collected may allow scientists to sidwstep ethics debates. But amniocentosis carries a slight risk for the mother and child.
Typically gathered from the inner cell mass of a 4 to 5 day old embryo (still a microscopic ball of cells at that stage), the embryonic cells are taken only from embryos that were fertilized in a lab and donated for research.
PROS AND CONS:
Their major drawback involves ethics: removing embryonic stem cells destroys the embryo. Otherwise, the cells are pluripotent and multiply rapidly.
Source: In an adult's body, stem cells work to maintain and repair the tissues in which they're found, such as the brain,liver, bone marrow, skeletal muscle and blood vessels. But the cells are relatively rare, and collecting the large numbers needed for research can be difficult.
PROS AND CONS:
Adult stem cells are often able to grow only into their tissue of origin, making them less versatile.
2). HOW STEM CELLS WORK
By directing the way stem cells become specialized (called differentiation), scientists can choose which type of cells they create.
HARVESTING THE CELLS:
The stem cells are first gathered by one of the methods above. The number of cells collected depends on the method used.
A small number of stem cells can yield millions after several months. Large numbers of cells are needed for any practical use.
Scientists use chemicals or modify the cell's genes to induce the stem cells to become the desired type of specialized cells.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
Scientists are currently exploring the ways in whcih stem cells can be used to replace damaged cells with healthy ones. But among the most promising areas of research is how stem cells maybe used to rejuvenate tissues in patients with degenrative diseases such as Parkinson's. Though a remedy remains far off, stem-cell research offers some hope and insight into how a cure might work.
(Source: Abstracted from NEWSWEEKMAG/National Institute of Health News Reports)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 9:10 PM
| Monday, March 19, 2007
| SCREEN TEST
|Quick! Brush on your pop culture before tongiht's cocktail party. Nobody likes a guest who doesn't know her Kabbalista.
1.) Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie have celebrated the Jewish holidy of Purim by dressing as all but which of these?
a). A flapper and a cop, in 2007.
b). A nun and a Pontiff, in 2005.
c). Sonny and Cher (him), in 2004.
d). A French maid and an Indian in 2006.
2). Which potentially career threatening injury befell soccer star David Beckham, who just signed a $250 million contract?
a). He banged his head while attempting to snowboard and text message simulatneously in Utah.
b). He hurt his right knee- roughly $125 million worth of his equipment - while playing in Madrid.
c). His nose got out of joint when he and wife Victoria were'nt invited to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' Oscar party in Malibu, Calif.
d). He threw out his back while trying to bend it, old school, on the dance floor of Brooklyn.
3). FBI agents recently visited Steven Spielberg because:
a). There were allegations he had tampered with Oscar ballots to help Martin Scorsese finally win the award for Best Director.
b). He discovered he owned a Norman Rockwell oil painting that had been stolen more than 30 yeas ago in St. Louis. Mo.
c). The wanted to settle a bet about the release date of the fourth Indiana Jones movie.
d). They had a script they thought he might be interested in.
(Answers: 1). C; 2). b; 3). B )
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:12 AM
| Sunday, March 18, 2007
| TOP TEN BEST SELLERS OF 2027
We look ahead at the books that will top the charts 20 years from now.
1. wednesdays with Rummy
an old man,an older man, and life's greatest lesson
2. My Presidency
by: Jenna Bush
3. Noam Chomsky Is A Big Fat Liar
by 2024 G.O.P. Presidential Candiate
4. THE NEW AXIS OF EVIL
Andora. Ecuador. Fiji.
by: Ann Coulter
5. The iBrain
1,001 Great Applications
by: Steve iJobs
6. Occupying Middle Eastern Countries for DUMMIES
A Reference for the Rest of Us!
7. MOMMY, WHAT WERE POLAR BEARS?
8. If I Did It Once Again
by: O.J. Simpson
9. The Best Water Parks & Shopping Centers Of The Amazon Rain Forest
10. The Smartest Guy in Cell Block Three
How Jeffrey Silling Bankrupted The Entire U.S. Penal System
by: Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind
(Source: Abstracted from:TIME MAG by Teddy Wayne and Mike Sacks)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:48 AM
| Saturday, March 17, 2007
| UNITED STATES IMAGE WORLD WIDE
|Hearts and Minds
A recent poll asked people in 27 countries to rate the infouence of other nations on the world. The U.S. has fallen on sharply in world esteem over the past three years.
Thumbs Up for the U.S
(..... the U.S. is mainly a positive influence in the world)
................................................... Nigeria 72%
................................................... Kenya 70%
.................................................... Philippines 72%
Thumbs Down for the U.S.
(the U.S. is mainly a negative influence in the world)
................................................... 51% Negative in the States
.................................................... 30% Positive in the States
.................................................... 19 % Neutral in the States
Thumbs Down for the U.S.
(the U.S. is mainly a negative influence in the world)
..................................................... Canada 56%
..................................................... Mexico 53%
..................................................... Brazil 57%
..................................................... Chile 51%
..................................................... Argentina 64%
..................................................... Portugal 55%
..................................................... Britain 57%
..................................................... France 69%
..................................................... Germany 74%
..................................................... Greece 78%
..................................................... Egypt 59%
..................................................... Turkey 69%
..................................................... Lebanon 58%
..................................................... United Arab Emirates 57%
..................................................... Russia 59%
..................................................... China 52%
..................................................... Indonesia 71%
..................................................... Australia 60%
..................................................... South Korea 54%
THE MOST ADMIRED....
(5 countries viewed most positively)
Canada ..................................... 54%
Japan ....................................... 54%
France ...................................... 50%
Britain ...................................... 45%
.......AND THE LEAST
(5 countries viewed most negatively)
Russia ......................................... 40%
North Korea ................................. 48%
U.S ............................................... 51%
Iran .............................................. 54%
Israel ............................................ 56%
(Source:Abstracted from TIMEMAG and BBC World Service poll conducted by Globescan, with 28,389 interviews in 27 countries. Margin of error per country ranges from 13.1 to 14.9 percentage points)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:07 AM
| Thursday, March 15, 2007
| H-1B VISAS FOR FY 2008
EMPLOYERS SEEKING TO EMPLOY A FOREIGN NATIONAL on an H-1B visa for fiscal year (FY) 2008 should begin preparation at this time so as to be able to file visa petitions with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on April 1,2007. The cap for GY 2007 closed on May 26,2006, well before the fiscal year began on October 1,2006. Due to the limited availability of initial H-1B visas, many large corporations are already prepairing thousands of petitions for immediate filing in April. Accordingly, we advise all employers to file H-1B visa petitions for prospective employees on April 1,2007, or immediately thereafter as the cap is anticipated to close early again.
Congress authorizes the USCIS to issue a maximum of 65,000 new H-1B visas per fiscal year with some exceptions. The first 20,000 H-1B visas issued to alien workers with U.S. master's degree or higher are exempt from the 65,000 cap. H-1B visas issued to such individuals subsequent to the first 20,000 are then counted agains the overall 65,000 cap. Some Senators have proposed increasing the cap, but such legislation has not yet been passed by Congress. Foreign nationals in lawful H-1B status who are seeking to extend their visa or change employment are not affected by the annual limit.
Employers should also be aware that if their prospective employee is currently in the U.S., and wants to change status to H-1B, that foreign national's current non-immigrant status will expire prior to October 1,2007, the foreign national must either extend his/her status, which maybe difficult, or return to the home countryu and concular process the H-1B visa.
H-1B visas are only issued to foreign nationals employed in a "specialty occupation" or as a fashion model of distinguisehd merit and ability. The regulations defines "special occupation" as an occupation that requires theoretical and practical application of a body of specialized knowledge and attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific specialty as a minimum qualification for entry into the United States. Examples of H-1B occupations include teachers, physical therapists, accountants, computer programmers and engineers. H-1B workers must receive wages and benefits comparable to their U.S. counterparts so as to not adversely affect wages and labor conditions for U.S. workers.
H-1B workers are subject to a limitation of six years, upon completing six years' employment in H-1B status, they must depart the U.S. for one year before commecing new H-1B employment. The American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act of 2000 ("AC21") permits H-1B workers to extend their employment beyond six years if certain requirements are met. A new memorandum released by the USCIS also clarified that any time spent as an H-4 dependent will not count towards the six-year limitation in H-1B status. This memo also provided that a foreign national who was in the U.S. in valid H-1B status for less than the six-year maximum period of admission, but has since been outside the U.S. for more than one year elect to either (1) be re-admitted for the "remainder" of the initial six-year admission period without being subject to the H-1B cap if previously counted, or (2) seek to be admitted as a "new" H-1B alien subject to the H-1B cap.
Employers seeking to employ a foreign national on an H-1B visa for FY 2008should begin processing their professional labor needs and prepare visa petitions for submission on April 1,2007, the date that filings for initial H-1B visas will be accepted by the USCIS. As obtaining H-1B visas has become increasingly complex and timeliness of filings is critical, employers seeking to petition foreign workers on H-1B visas should consult a knowlegeable and experienced immigration attorney.
(Source: Abstracted from FILIPINASMAG by Attys Robert L. Reeves and Elsie H. Arias)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 1:00 AM
| Wednesday, March 14, 2007
| 2007 THE YEAR OF THE..........
|Every year is the Year of the Something, and 2007 is no exception. A few examples:
THE YEAR OF THE DOLPHIN
The survival of the dolphin has become increasingly uncertain because of unsafe marine habitats, but the U.N. and other organization have built an alliance for 2007 to focus on protecting them.
THE YEAR OF THE PIG
Associated with fertility, chivalry and pureness of heart in Chinese culture, this year is considered lucky for bearing a child.
THE INTERNATIONAL POLAR YEAR
More than 60 ntions are involved in this large scientific program foucsed on the in-depth examinations of the Arctic regions.
THE INTERNATIONAL HELIOPHYSICAL YEAR
A U.N. sponsored project focuses on advancements in all aspects of the heliosphere - the entire solar-planetary system - and its interaction with the interstellar medium.
THE YEAR OF RUMI
This year honors the 800th anniversary of the legendary Sufi poet's birth.
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG by: Elisabeth Salemme)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 2:29 PM
| MILESTONES AND OTHER INFORMATIONS
|MARCH 25..... Britain marks the 200th anniversary of its abolition of the slave trade in the former British Emopire.
JULY 27........ The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally adopted a name for AIDS 25 years ago. The disease was discovered in 1981.
SEPT.25......... Fiftieth anniversary of desegragation at Arkansas Little Rock Central High School, after U.S. troops escorted nine African-American students to class.
OCT. 4............. The space race began 50 years ago with the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik.
DEC. 2............. In 1982 Barney Clark became the first recipient of an artifiicial heart.
U.S. Iran Talks?
Iraq summit presents opening
Nearly a dozen countries attend a security conference in Baghdad March 10 to discuss Middle East unrest. This could be the first direct U.S.-Iran contact in more than two years.
No Junk on TV
Britain bans some food ads
By the end of next year, British broadcasting regulator Ofcom will phase out all commercials on children's prgramming that promote junk food containing high fat, sugar and salt.
Child remedies maybe unsafe
Responding to a petition filed by top pediatricians, the FDA will determine if stricter regulations are needed for over-the-counter cold and cough medicicines given to children under 6 years old.
Three for Spidey
Japan scores sneak peek
Sony Pictures Entertainment announced that the third installment of the Spider Man series will debut in Japan on May 1. The rest of the world must wait three more days for the webbed wonder.
Geico cavemen to star in sitcom
Acting is so easy - even a caveman can do it. The characters in Geico's commercials will star in an offbeat comedy about age discrimination that will begin produciton this spring.
(TimeMag/Glenn Weiner-Zuma Press)
17.8% Percentage the Chinese military budget will rise this year, to just under $45 billion, which prompted the U.S. to call for the Chinese government to be clearer about the scope and intent of its rapitd arms buildup.
$481.4 billion Proposed U.S. Defense Department budget for the next fiscal year. China argues it spends only a fraction of what the U.S. spends.
85.5 Years of life expentancy for Japanese women in 2005, up by nearly a year from 2000 and longest in the world.
33.2 Years of life expentancy for women in Swaziland, where the HIV infection rate is nearly 40% and life span are the lowest on earth.
$100 million Estimated amount that Gap, Apple and Motorola have spent on marketing RED Campaign, launched a year ago to benefit the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
$18 million Amount the RED campaign has raised worldwide.
36 Days that Jennifer Mee, a St. Petersburg, Fla. teen, suffering from constant hiccuping that stopped only when she slept.
50 Times that Mee hiccupped per minute
(Sources:NewYorkTimes,Associated Press,BBC,Advertising Age,TimeMag)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 6:17 AM
| Monday, March 12, 2007
| CHINA COUNTS .... AND COUNTS
|TOTALLING UP MORE THAN A BILLION PEOPLE IS JUST THE BEGINNING,THERE'S STEEL PRODUCTION,(25%) makeup sales (up 19%) and the number of "large domestic animals" that suffered from a shortage of drinking water last year (29.36 million). From rice harvests to sports medals, China's new census quantifies all the ways a poor country is getting rich. The U.S. leads the economic race, but China is sprinting to catch up.
CHINA(pop. 1,314,480,000)..............................USA(pop. 301,325,000)
GDP...$2.7 Trillion $2,054 per person......................... GDP...$13.2 trillion $43,950 per person
$486 billion $370 per person....................................... $2.5 trillion $8,297 per person
BALANCE OF TRADE
$177.5 billion surplus.................................................... $225 billion deficit
CELL PHONE USERS
461 million 35 per 100 people ...................................... 219 million 73 per 100 people
CABLE TELEVISION SUBSCRIBERS
139 million 11 per 100 people ........................................... 100 million 37 per 100 people
160 million ........................................................................ 658 million
22 million 9% from the U.S.................................................. 51 million 1% from China
11.5 million 9 per 1,000 people .......................................... 136.4 million 450 per 1,000 people
DEATHS IN TRAFFIC ACCIDENTS
89,455 ................................................................................ 48,433
1.97 million 15 per 10,000 people ......................................... 745,000 25 per 10,000 people
FEATURE FILMS PRODUCED
330 ........................................................................................ 699
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG Notebook by Jackson Dykman)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 3:04 PM
| HOLLYWOOD VERSUS JESUS
|The tomb controversy rematches Christians with the town they love to hate.
IN THE MOVIES, IF YOU WANT TO HOOK AN AUDIENCE,you throw them a surprise while telling them a story they've heard before. James Cameron knows how to hook an audience. Appearing in New York City with a limestone coffin that he claimed had held the remains of Jesus, Cameron attacked a central Christian tenet - that Christ rose bodily from the dead. Yet he confirmed another article of faith: that Hollywood blaspemers are out to get Christians.
The furor over the documentary The Lost Tomb of Jesus,which Cameron is producing, was caused by an unholy alliance of two Christian-right bugbears: science and Hollywood. (If only Hilary Clinton could have benn involved too - Pat Robertson's head might well have exploded.) But while critics picked apart the theory's science, it was clear which half of the alliance really irritated the faithful. "Over the years, Hollywood has attacked and mocked Christianity", said National Clergy Council president the Rev. Rob Schenck in a statement. Now, a "Hollywood filmaker is denying divinity of the Son of God".
Christianity normally reserve this vehemence for a different place name beginning with H. But this was war. Hollywood, no longer satisfied with trying to undermine Christianity, was taking a shovel, pickax and video camera and trying to physically destroy it. The man who showed us Kate Winslet's breasts in Titanic was boasting that he brought God to Manhattan in a box and DNA tested him like a dinosaur femur.
The dustup aggravated old, sometimes ugly, tensions between Christians and Hollywood - including, yes, that one. "It is an evident and clear truth that Jews control Hollywood productions", wrote a respondent to a post on the New York Times the Lede blog, while others made anti-Semitic insinuations about Israeli-born Tomb directorSimcha Jacobovici. Meanwhile, in a debate following the TIME.com blog post that reported first word of the documetary, some defenders of the film taunted Christians as "weak and defeated".
And yet Hollywood and Christianity may have more in common in this case than it seems. Certainly - without judging the vanlidity of the claim - there was a showbizzy. Al Capone's vault feel to the documentary's announcement and promotion. But it relies on itw own appeal to faith, basing a bold claim on disputed 2,000 year old evidence (the film is not called The Lost Tomb of Jesus or Some Guy with the Same Name). Some an ardor and will to believe that seem, dare I say it, religious.
Likewise - without judging the validity of religion - the great religious texts of history are compelling in part because they are, well. Hollywood: that is, great stories with conflict, pathos and magic. A man steals fire from the gods; a father is commanded to kill his son; gods disguise themselves as animals.
And Christianity relies on Hollywood - ar, at least, parts of Christianity thrive and define themselves in opposition to pop culture. There is a vast Christian entertainment industry, complete with wrestlers,comedians, noels, rock musice and movies. The trumped-up campaign to "defend" Christians has become a cottage industry for cultural commentators and Fox News personalities. And a narrative of cultural persecution among Christian political-activtivist groups-despite belongings to the U.S.'s majority religion and having a born-again President-keeps money and volunteers flowing to those groups.
Hollywood is agressively secular and materialistic, and it does stereotype Christians (and Muslims, single women, gay men, fat kids, and, for that matter, Hollywood celebrities). But it also needs Christianity, maybe more than Christianity needs it. No one thanks Carl Sagan at an Oscar podium. The rich imagey and mystery of Catholicism made The Da Vinci Code (and its burgeoning knockoffs) possible. And while Christmas movies and TV shows may not involve many mangers, they quietly-and profitably-ratify Christianity as the default U.S. religion, as any Jew or Hindy can attest in December.
This symbiosis will continue after the documentary airs, the blog wars die out and the godless TV networks air their Easter specials, which is probably just as well for everyone, including James Cameron. If he really managed to destry Christianity, his most enraged enemies would'nt be saying Mass at the Vatican. They've be doing lunch at the Ivy.
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG CULTURECOMPLEX by: James Poniewozik)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 7:36 AM
| Wednesday, March 07, 2007
| APPAREL TAKES ROOT
|SCIENTISTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA - LINCOLN are developing ways to make textiles from farm leftovers like rice straw, chicken feathers and corn husks. These newfangled fabrics are part of a trend of ec0-sustainable synthetic materials. In fact, clothes made from things you might eat are already in stores. Here are a few ways to get some fiber in your fibers.
Bamboo In Your Pants
As a crop, bamboo is both flood and drought-resistant and fast growing. As a fabric, it's naturally antimicrobial, making for soft, nonstinky workout gear. Desginer Carol Toung uses it to make denim trousers.
Activewear purveyor GoLife offers recycled polyester shirts reinforced with odor-absornbing carbon from coconut shells. The shirts also provide sun protection and absorb moisture twice as fast as traditional polyester.
Toking jokes aside, hemp has been cultivated for frabric since 2800 B.C. and was grwon by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and in the 1940s, 4-H Clubs. The fiber makes durable and breathable clothes.
Soy textiles are made from the dregs left over from producing soybean oil and tofu. From those humble beginnings come high-end silky tops, dresses and especially soft baby clothes and blankets.
Ingeo is made from corn, resulting in a fabric that is not only sustainably grwon but also biodegradable. It's showing up in hiking socks from Teko and in chich fashions from designers like NaturesvsFuture.
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG by Lisa McLaughlin)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 9:14 PM
| Tuesday, March 06, 2007
| THE MUSLIM WORLD
|The schism goes back more than 1,300 hears. Now the fighting in Iraq may spread, unleashing generations of grievances and hatred between Islam's two main sects.
ISLAM'S SCHISM BEGAN IN A.D. 632, IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE PROPHET MOHAMMAD DIED WITHOUT NAMING A SUCCESSOR AS LEADER OF THE NEW MUSLIM FLOCK.
Some of the followers believed the rold of the Caliph, or viceroy of God, should be passed down Muhammad's bloodline, starting with his cousin and son-in-law, Ali ibn Abi Talib. But the majority backed the prophet's friend Abu Bkr, who duly became Caliph. Ali would eventually become the fourth Caliph befor ebeing murdered in A.D. 661 by a heretic near Kufa, now in Iraq. The succession was once again disputed, and this time it led to a formal split. The majority becaked the claim of Mu'awiyah, Governor of Syria, and his son Yazid. Ali's supporters, who would eventually be know collectively as Shi'at Ali, or partisians of Ali, agitated for his son Hussein. When the two sides met on Oct. 10, 680, Hussein was killed and decapitated. But rather than nipping the Shi'ite movements in the bud, his death gave it a martyr. In Shi'ite eyes, Hussein is a just and humane figure who stood up to a mighty oppressor. The annual moruning of Hussein's death, known as Ashure, is the most poignant and spectacular of the Shi'ite ceremnies: the fiathful march in the streets, beating their chests and crying in sorrow. The extremely devout flagellate themselves with a sword and whips.
Those loyal to Mu'awiyah and his successor as Caliph would eventually be known as Sunni, meaning followers of the Sunnah, or Way, of the prophet. Since the Caliph was often the politcal head of the Islamic empire as weel as its regligious leader, imperial patronage helped made Sunni Islam the dominant sect. Today, about 90 percent of Muslims worldwide are Sunnis. But Shi'ism would always attract some of those who felt oppressed by the empire. Shi'ites continued to venerate the Imams, or the descendants of the Prophet, until the 12th Imam, Mohammadal-Mahdi (the Guided One), who disappeared in the 19th century at the location of the Samara shrine in Iraq. Mainstream Shi'ites believe that al-Mahdi is mystically hidden and will emerge on an specified date to usher in a reign of justice.
Shi'ites soon formed the majority in the areas that would become the modern states of Iraq. Iran, Bahrain and Azerbahjuan. There are also significant Shi'ite minorities in other Muslim states, including Saudi Arabia,Lebanon and Pakistan. Crucially, Shi'ites outnumner Sunnis in the Middle East's major oil producing regions - not only Iran and Iraq but also eastern Saudi Arabis. But outside Iran, Sunnis have historically have a lock on political power, even where Shi'ites hae the numeral advantage. (The one place where the opposite holds true is modern Syria, which is mostly Sunni but since 1970 has been ruled by a small Shi'ite subject known as the Alawites). Sunni rulers maintained their monopoly on power by excluding the Shi'ites from the military and bureaucracy; for much of Islamic history, aruling Sunni elite treated Shi'ites as an underclass,limited to manual labor and denied a fair share of state resources.
The rulers used religious arguments to justify oppression. Shi'ites they said, were not genuine Muslims but heretics. Devised for political convenience, this view of Shi'ites solidified into institutionalized prejudice. Sunnis likened reverence for the Prophet's bloodline and the Shi'ites fondness of some of the Imams to the sin of idolatry. Shi'ites rituals, especially the self-flagellation during Ashura, were derided as pagan. Many rulers forbade such ceremonies, fearing that large gatherings would quickly turn into political uprisings. (Ashura was banned during most of Saddam Hussein's rule and resumed only after the downfall in 2003) "For Shi'ites, Sunni rule has been like living in apartheid",says Vali Nasr, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Shia Revival: How Conflictsd Within Islam Will Sape the Future.
But religious respression was uneven. Sunni Caliphs in Baghdad tolerated and sometimes contributed to the development of Najaf and Karbala as the most important centers of Shi'ite learning. Shi'ite Ayatullahs, as long as they refrained from open defiance of the ruling elite, could run seminaries and collect tithes from their followers. The shrines of the Shi'ite Imams in Najaf, Karbal, Samarra and Khademiya were allowed to become magnets for pilgrimage.
Sectarian relations worsened in the 16th century. By then the seat of Sunni power had moved to Istanbul. When the Turkish Sunni Ottomans fought a series of wars with the Shi'ite Safavids of Persia, the Arabs caught in between were sometimes obliged to take sides. Sectarian suspicions planted then have never fully subsided, and Sunni Arabs still pejoratively label Shi'ites as "Persians" or "Safavis" The Ottomans eventually won control of the Arab territories and cemented Sunni dominance. The British, the next door power in the Middle East, did nothing to change the equation. In the settlement after the World War I, they handed the newly created states of Iraq and Bahrain, both with Shi'ite majorities, to Sunni monarchs.
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG by: reporters Charles Crain/Baghdad, Scott MacLeod/Beirut, Aryn Baker/Kabul and Ghulam Hasnain/Karachi)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 10:47 PM
| HOW TO TELL SUNNIS AND SHI'ITES APART
|In addition to belief in the same god, Iraq's Sunnis and Shi'ites have a great deal in common: ethnicity, language, cuisine and apparel. The ways in which they differ are subtle and vary from region to region. There are some unwritten rules that govern how each sect practices its faith, names its children and decorates its homes. But differentiation is not an exact science, and mistaken identity is commonplace.
Here are some examples of how Iraqis distinguish the two:
The vast majority of Islamic names are common to Sunnis and Shi'ites. But some names carry sectarian markers. Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman were early Caliphs who, in the Shi'ite version of events, were hostile to the Prophet Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali. Men with those names are almost certainly Sunni. Those called Abdel-Hussein and Abdel-Zahra are mostly likely Shi'ite. Some tribal or family names tend to be Sunni (Dulaimi,Samarrai,Bakri) or Shi'ite (Sa'aedi, Moussawi, Rubaie). But there are also many large tribes that have members of both sects - like the Januri, Shammari and Khfaji.
Typically, Sunnis pray with one arm folded over the other, just below the rib cage. Shi'ites prefer to keep their arms straight down at their sides. During prayer, members of both sects kneel, bend and touch their forehead to the ground. Devout Shi'ites touch their head on a small clay tablet, known as the turba and made in the holy city of Najaf. Over time, the turba can make a small callus on the forehead. Some Sunnis develp calluses from rubbing their forehead agains the prayer mats.
Islam requires Muslims to say their prayers five times a day. Sunnis have five separate prayer times. Shi'ites have the option to pray three times, doubling up on the prayer on two occassions.
When calling the faithful to prayer, Sunni mosques invoke God and the Prophet Muhammad. Shi'ites additionally mention Ali, the prophet son-in-law.
The call to prayer is made at different times, with Shi'ites typically a few minutes behind the Sunnis. During the fasting month of Ramadan, in Iraq the sects break their fast at slightly different times too. And they observe the 'Id celberations a day or two apart. (The Shi'ite dominated Iraqi government earned Arab condemnation for hanging Saddam Hussein on Dec. 30, the first day of 'Id al-Adha for Sunnis; for Iraqi Shi'ites, the festival didn't start until the following day.)
There are other differences in the way the two sects practices their common faith. The somber ceremony of Ashura is uniquely Shi'ite: it commemorates the killing of Alo's son Hussein by Sunni enemies. On this occassion, many Shi'ites beat their chest in mourning. Some flagellate themselves with swords and whips, a practice Sunnis consider distasteful.
Shi'ites required to pray two kinds of tithes - khums, or a fifth of their income, and zakat, a smaller payment. Sunnis pay only zakat.
Sunni mosques tend to have domes and minarets. Shi'ites often worship at Husseiniyas, which combines the function of a mosque and community center and don't necessary have domes. Shi'ite places of worship in Iraq are usually festooned with traditional green and black flags and are decorated with protraits of Ali and someimtes of Hussein. Sunni mosque tend to be more austere, and portraits of any kind are regarded as a form of idolatry.
Shi'ites clerics in Iraq are often more elaborately attired than their Sunni counterparts, wearing white , black of green headgear. The Sunni clergy usually wear white headgear.
The Shi'ites fondness for portraiture extends to their homes, where the image of Ali often hangs on the walls of their living room. Sunnis tend to favor calligraphy - quotations from the Koran. During important religious occasions, Shi'ites may unful colorful flags on their roof. Some Sunnis in Iraq display a white flag when theur have returned from the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
5. ACCENTS AND DIALECTS
Since southern Iraq overwhelemd Shi'ite, in Baghdad anubody speaking with a pronounced southern accent is automatically assumed to be Shi'ite. The patois of the Anbar province identifies the speaker as Sunni.
As with their homes, devout Shi'ites will often have pictures and stickers of Iman Ali on their cars, especially in their rear windows. They may hang religious amulets (like the Alek, a strip of green cloth) from their rearview mirror.
In Iraq now, such overt sighs of faith can be fatal: Sunni insurgents have been known to stop cars with stickers of Ali and murder the passengers. Vehicles are also given sectarian designations by their license plates - cars with plates from Anbar are assumed to be owned by Sunnis, while those with plates from Basra or otehr southern provinces are automatically believed to be driven by Shi'ites. The safest plate to have is from Baghad.
(Source: Abstracted from;TIMEMAG by Bobby Gosh)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 11:24 AM
| CHINA GETS A MAKEOVER
|YES, BEIJING IS GETTING READY to host the 2008 Olympics, but even that can't explain why the government just spent some $56,000 painting southwest China's Laoshou Mountain green to cover up scars left by a strip-mining operation. Here are some of China's other "beautification" campaigns that are in the works.
NO MORE SPIT SHINE
The country has tried for years to get residents to stop spitting in lublic, but in February, Beijing got tough and imposed a $6.50 fine - a day's salary - for anyone caught doing so.
China, still alaggrd in environmental issues, is responding to a 40% drop in the fish population of the polluted Yellow River with a plan to dump in 6 million new fish each year.
THE END OF HISTORY
Thousands of Beijing 's historic hutongs (house-tiled alleys) are being bulldozed to make way for new constructions while 20,000 home facades are being repaired.
YEAR OF THE PIG STY
Shanghai's week-long spring festival kicked off the Year of the Pig Feb. 19. Reverlers set off so many boxes of fireworks - 380,000 - that the city hired 20,000 people to clean the streets each day.
(Source: Abstracted from TIMEMAG/ by Anita Hamilton)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:46 AM
| Monday, March 05, 2007
| HAIL CESAR: THE DOG WHISPERER
|CESAR MILAN, the star of the National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer, Milan helps biters, barkers, and other problem cannines learn to behave.His method, using the 'power of the pack'. His celebrity clients are Will and Jada Pinker Smith, Vin Diesel, Nicolas Cage, Denise Richards and Oprah Winfrey.
Milan's Tips for A Better Dog.
Give your dog exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order.
Master the walk; the dog should be next to you or behind you.
Enjoy the dog park, but don't use it as a substitute for the walk.
Be a pack leader first, not a friend; display leadership on a daily basis.
Understand that discipline is not punishment. Don't do it when you're frustrated or angry.
INTERVIEW WITH CESAR: THE DOG WHISPERER
Q: What are the key things about working with dogs?
A: Exercise,discipline, and affection, in that order. People are too affectionate with dogs. They're animals, not children or friends. People need to get off their butts and walk their dog.
Q: Is there a right way and a wrong way to walk the dog?
A: You need to touch the leash with positive energy and mater the walk. The dog should be next to you or behind you. When the dogs are in front, they're excited and dominant; when they are submissive, they're always behind you.
Q: You talk about pack leader. Why is that so important?
A: Dogs want a pack leader. Their first pack leader is their mother. After two months, the father takes over. Control is not a bad thing. A dog owner needs to be a pack leader first, not a friend. You need to display leadership on a daily basis.
Q: They call you the dog whisperer. When a dog talks, what is it saying?
A: If your dog starts whining, he's showing anxiety. Barking is his effort to dominate. Baring his teeth is commincation that says,"Stay away from my spot". Howling is a message for dogs to get together as a pack.
Q: What emotional state shoild dog owners strive to put their poochies in?
A: The ideal behavior state for a dog is "calm submissive".No tension, no anger.
Q: When should an owner discipline his dog?
A: Do not do it when you're frustrated or when you have angry energy. Discipline is not punishment. Hold your anger, especially if you don't catch him in the act. Don't get angry if he's on the couch. You need to claim the couch. Use eye contact, and move toward the dog. Show him who the pack leader is.
Q: Do you prefer people or dogs?
A: Dogs. They have all these qualities like honesty, loyalty and integrity. Dogs don't plot. Motivating humans is much harder than dogs. And I don't work as hard as dogs. And I can't live with you to motivate you to keep a healthy relationship with your dogs. I can only show you the way.
Q: Do you have any tips for getting a dog ready to go on a plane?
A: To get a dog ready for the flight, the best sedative is a long walk. And have the dog fly on an empty stomach.
Q: What is an example of treating a dog the wrong way?
A: Some people treat their dogs like accessories. Some celebrities say they're dog lovers. But they need to walk their dogs before they put them in the Louis Vuittim pocketbook or in the limo.
Q: Do you get criticism that you're physically hard on animals?
A: I'm not harsh. I'm firm. You can't negotiate with dogs. The touch is the same things as saying no. That helps make the dog ha[py and well-adjusted.
Q: Are you ever afraid -- for instance, when you volunteer with abused dogs that have been tortured to become fighting dogs?
A: To me, fixing a dog that's unstable is a rush, like surfing a 30-foot wave. I would never do that, but I would look into the eyes of a pit bull.
(Source: Abstracted from :HEMISPHERE MAG/ By: Michael Goldstein, a California-based journalist, screenwriter and media trainer)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 7:04 AM
| POSTCRIPTS ON THE PAST CHINESE NEW YEAR
(Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, until the new moon comes. So, here are some more info about the Chinese New Year. "Gong Hei Fat Choi", "Bo Bo Go Sing", "Sun Tai Geen Hong","Hok Yeep Jun Bo")
Firecrakers, lion dances, red envelopes, red clothing. What's going on? Chinese people all around the world are celebrating the New Year. No, they haven't confused their dates. The lunar calendar is based on the wax and the wane of the moon, with the arrival of the new moon signalling the first day of the month. This year, Chinese New Year lands on Febraurary 18 and celebrations continue for 15 days until the full moon appears.
WELCOME THE PIG
In the Chinese calendar, 2007 is the Year of the Pig. That does'nt mean the whole year is dedicated to eating pork or celebrating pigs. The pig us one of the 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac, each representing a lunar year (rather than a month as used in the Western Zodiac). There are many stories about how the animals came to be chose, one of which has the Jade Emperor telling the rat to call all animals together for a banquet. On the big day, anxious to enjoy the promised spread of delicacies or driven by their competitive natures, teh animals arrived determined their place in the Chinese zodiac. The pig grew tired and decided to take a break and enjoy a mini feast of his own before continuing, only to find himself the 12th and last among the animals in the Chibese zodiac.
According to legend, the celebrations were not simply to celebrate the New Year. On New Year's Eve, a man-eating beast called Nian came out from hiding and attacked innocent victims. People used loud firecrackers and bright red objects to scare him away, then celebrated their victory. Those noisy celebrations are the originas of the Chinese New Year festivities, where firecrackers resound through busy streets and the color red is everywhere.(Fireworks are banned in Hongkong, but you'll see plenty of fake firecrackers). The phrase "guo Nian" in Mandarin literally means "passing of Nian" and is used to describe the whole Chinese New Year period.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
Whether you miss them or not, Chinese New Year is a time for family reunions. It is a period of massive migration as people rush to join their families for the big New Year's feast. A;; the dishes are specially chosen to represent luck and wealth, and ensure the coming year will be a good one. Because its Chiense character is similar to that of "leftover", fish is always eaten to ensure there will be spare money in the coming year.
MAKING THE ROUNDS
On the first day of Chinese New Year, families visit their relatives to wish them a Happy New Year. There is a strict hierarchy within Chinese familiesm, which means you can't run first to a favorite uncle or best friend. Traditionally, families visit their relatives in order of seniority although with family members now living in different areas, it's common to schedule according to convenience.
During this period, it's important to greet everytone from close famly members to acquaintances. It's a period where blessings are given freely, so soak them up. Sometimes, tea ceremonies are conducted when visiting important family members. Usually a simple gesture of presenting a cup of tea with both hands. "Lai See", a red envelope containing money, is given in return as a gesture of thanks and good luck.
MONEY IN AN ENVELOPE
For children and single family members, receiving "lai see" is one of the highlights of Chinese New Year.Although the sim, isnt' supposed to matter, the amount of the money in the packet usually varies with the closeness of your relationship with the giver: the closer you are, the fatter the "lai see"It is given by married people to their unmarried relatives and friends - so until you tie the knot, you'll be receiving thise red envelopes of financial happiness during the Chinese New Year.
Historically, most Chinese people were poor peasants but New Year was the one time of the year when extravagant dishes were prepared to ensure plentiful year. Today, sweet condiments still flow freely to signify a sweet year ahead - so tuck in. But steer clear of meat. On the first day of the New Year, only vegetarian dishes should be eaten to ensure good karma throughout the year.
(Source:WHERE MAGAZINE/HONGKONG ISSUE)
|posted by infraternam meam @ 12:04 AM