Archive for September, 2008

Wisdom of the Day

September 29, 2008

Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. NIRVANA is the greatest joy.

Dhammapada

Tourism Day

September 28, 2008

Yesterday was World Tourism Day. I just found out there was such a thing. Tourism happens to be a more complex phenomenon than it might appear to be. I have heard the German film director, Werner Herzog, quoted, “Tourism is Terrorism.” But I love to travel. The quotes below sum up many of my feelings about why I travel and the more positive side to tourism.

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
Jawaharlal Nehru

A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.
Lao Tzu

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere,
but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.
R L Stevenson

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds
in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Mark Twain

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
Helen Keller

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
Miriam Beard

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
James Michener

Slate has a nice series on Mongolia that I am still making my way through.

Split on Polar Bears

September 27, 2008


Governor Palin of Alaska has attempted to sue the Federal Government for putting the polar bear on the endangered species list as “threatened.” Palin is quoted below:

“We are suing the federal government recognizing that the endangered species act is not a place to kinda mess around with in terms of listing a species that right now is very, very healthy. In fact, the number of polar bear has risen dramatically in the last 30 years. Our fear being that the extreme environmentalists will use this tool — the ESA — to curtail or halt North Slope production of very rich resources that America needs. And we need that oil. We need that gas.”

At least Palin doesn’t hold back that her real motive here is energy production. Funny thing is that she and John McCain seem to hold a real difference of opinion on this matter. McCain is quoted below:

“The polar bear is now obviously listed as an endangered species. I think it should have happened long ago. I strongly support it. It is clearly one of the thousands of consequences of climate change. I think that now the first step of listing the polar bear is important. But there’s got to be a lot of work to be done and at the end of the day it will be seriously addressing the issue of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Hopefully will stop and someday reverse the polar ice cap and the changes that are taking place. They were traditionally for thousands of years the habitat for the polar bear. I’ve been to the Arctic, and I’ve never seen a polar bear, I freely admit, but I certainly observed the affects of climate change whether it be in Svalbard, Norway or whether it be on the Arctic Circle or a native Alaskan village or whether it be. I’m glad that the polar bear’s been — the decision has been made by the administration. Secretary Kempthorne made the announcement, and I support it strongly. I’m sorry it didn’t happen a long time ago.”

Seems the two should hold some high level talks with each other to come to a conclusion on what the real state of the polar bear population is. At least McCain is admitting that climate change is caused by humans. This link has more. This LA Times article has in depth coverage of the Polar Bear listing in May 2008.

CNN has a recent piece on polar bear cannibalism.

VP Candidate Foreign Policy Experience: Compare and Contrast

September 23, 2008

Republican VP Candidate, Sarah Palin met for the first time with a world leader yesterday.

Here is a list of the world leaders Democratic VP Candidate Joe Biden has met with.
As of September 23, 2008

Iraq
Prime Minister Iyad Allawi (May 2004 – April 2005)
Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (April 2005 – May 2006)
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (April 2006 – Present)
President Jalal Talabani (June 2005 – Present)
Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani (June 2005 – Present)
Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani (March 2006 – Present)

Israel
Prime Minister Golda Meir (March 1969 – June 1974)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (July 1992 – November 1995)
Prime Minister Shimon Peres (November 1995 – June 1996)
Prime Minister Menachem Begin (June 1977 – October 1983)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (October 1986 – July 1992)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (June 1996 – July 1999)
Prime Minister Ehud Barak (June 1996 – July 1999)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (March 2001 – April 2006)
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (April 2006 – Present)
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (January 2006 – present)

Palestinian Territories
Chairman Yasser Arafat (September 1993 – November 2004)
Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (November 2004 – Present)
Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad (June 2007 – Present)
Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (October 2003 – March 2006)

Jordan
King Hussein (August 1952 – February 1999)
King Abdullah (August 2005-Present)

Egypt
President Hosni Mubarak (October 1981 – Present)
President Anwar Sadat (October1970 – October 1981)

Libya
Prime Minister Col. Muammar Qaddafi (March 1977 – March 1979)

Lebanon
Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri (October 1992 – December 1998)
Prime Minister Najib Mikati (April 2005 – July 2005)

Bahrain
Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (March 1999 – Present)

Syria
President Bashar al-Assad (July 2000 – Present)

Turkey
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (March 2003 – Present)
President Ahmet Sezer (May 2000 – August 2007)
Prime Minister/President* Abdullah Gul (November 2002 – March 2003, Current President)
Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit (January 1999 – May 1999)
Prime Minister Demirel (November 1991 – June 1993)

Greece
President Kostis Stephanopoulos (March 1995 – March 2005)
Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis (March 2004 – Present)
Prime Minister Kostantinos Mitsotakis (April 1990 – October 1993)
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou (October 1981 – July 1989)
(October 1993 – January 1996)

Cyprus
President George Vassiliou (February 1988 – February 1993)
President Glafcos Clerides (February 1993 – February 2003)

Afghanistan
President Hamid Karzai (December 2001 – Present)

Pakistan
President Asif Ali Zardari (September 2008 – Present)*
Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani (March 2008 – Present)
President Pervez Musharraf (June 2001 – August 2008)
Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto (December 1988 – August 1990, October 1993 – November 1996)
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (November 1990 – July 1993, February 1997 – October 1999)

India
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (May 2004 – Present)
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (May 1996 – June 1996)
(March 1998 – May 2004)

Sri Lanka
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe (May 1993 – August 1994)
(December 2001 – April 2004)

Russia
President Vladimir Putin (May 2000 – May 2008; current Prime Minister)
President Boris Yeltsin (July 1991 – December 1999)
Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev (March 1990 – December 1991)
Soviet Union President Andrei Gromyko (July 1985 – October 1988)
Premier of the Soviet Union Alexey Kosygin (October 1964 – October 1980)
Premier of the Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev (May 1960 – July 1964)

France
President Jacques Chirac (May 1995 – May 2007)
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin (May 2005 – May 2007)
President Francois Mitterrand (May 1981 – May 1995)

U.K.
Queen Elizabeth (February 1952 – Present)
Prime Minister Tony Blair (May 1997 – June 2007)
Prime Minister John Major (November 1990 – May 1997)
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (May 1979 – November 1990)

Ireland
Prime Minister Bertie Ahern (June 1997 – Present)
Prime Minister John Bruton (December 1994 – June 1997)
Prime Minister Albert Reynolds (February 1992 – December 1994)
Prime Minister Charles Haughey (December 1979 – June 1981)
(March 1982 – December 1982)
(March 1987 – February 1992)

Germany
Chancellor Angela Merkel (November 2005 – Present)
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (October 1998 – November 2005)
Chancellor Helmut Kohl (October 1982 – October 1998)
Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (May 1974 – October 1982)

Italy
Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (June 2001 – May 2006)
(May 2008 – Present)
Prime Minister Romano Prodi (May 2006 – May 2008)
Prime Minister Cossiga (July 1989 – April 1992)

Serbia
President of Serbia Boris Tadic (July 2004 – Present)
Prime Minister of Serbia Vojislav Kostunica (March 2004 – Present)
Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Djindjic (January 2001 – March 2003)
President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic (May 1989 – July 1997)

Yugoslavia
Premier of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito (January 1953 – May 1980)

Croatia
President of Croatia Franjo Tudjman (May 1990 – December 1999)

Slovenia
Prime Minister of Slovenia Janez Drnovsek (December 2002 – Present)
President of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova (March 2002 – January 2006)
President of Slovenia Milan Kucan (October 1991 – December 2002)

Bosnia and Herzegovina
President of Bosnia Haris Silajdzic (November 2006 – Present)
President of Bosnia Sulejman Tihić (October 2002 – November 2006)
President of Bosnia Alija Izetbegovic (March 1992 – October 2000)

Kosovo (as an independent nation)
President Fatmir Sejdiu (January 2008 – Present)
Prime Minister Hashim Thaci (January 2008 – Present)

Poland
President Lech Walesa (December 1990 – December 1995)
Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (October 1993 – March 1995)

Czech Republic
President Vaclav Havel (February 1993 – February 2003)

Hungary
Prime Minister Gyula Horn (July 1994 – July 1998)
President Arpad Goncz (August 1990 – August 2000)
Prime Minister Viktor Orban (July 1998 – May 2002)

Finland
Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen (April 1995 – April 2003)

Romania
President Ion Iliescu (December 1989 – November 1996)

Georgia
President Mikheil Saakashvili (January 2004 – Present)
President Eduard Shevardnadze (October 1995 – November 2003)

Kazakhstan
President Nursultan Nazarbayev (December 1991 – Present)

Ukraine
President Viktor Yushchenko (January 2005 – Present)

Canada
Prime Minister Paul Martin (December 2003 – February 2006)
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (September 1984 – June 1993)

NATO
Secretary General Lord George Robertson (October 1999 – January 2004)
Secretary General Javier Solana (December 1995 – October 1999)
Secretary General Manfred Woerner (July 1988 – August 1994)
Secretary General Lord Peter Carrington (June 1984 – July 1988)

China
President Jiang Zemin (March 1993 – March 2003)
Premier Zhu Rongji (March 1998 – March 2003)

Hong Kong
Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa (July 1997 – March 2005)

Taiwan
President Chen Shui-Bian (May 2000 – Present)

Korea
President Kim Dae Jung (February 1998 – February 2003)

Singapore
Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (June 1959 – November 1990)
Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong (November 1990 – August 2004)
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (August 2004 – Present)

Indonesia
President Megawati Sukarnoputri (July 2001 – October 2004)
President Bambang Yudhoyono (October 2004 – Present)

Australia
Prime Minister John Howard (March 1996 – December 2007)
Prime Minister Paul Keating (December 1991 – March 1996)

Philippines
President Gloria Arroyo (January 2001 – Present)
President Fidel Ramos (June 1992 – June 1998)

Vietnam
Prime Minister Phan Van Kai (September 1997 – June 2006)

East Timor
President Ramos Horta (May 2007 – Present)

Tibet
The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (1950 – Present)

Colombia
President Alvaro Uribe (August 2002 – Present)
President Andres Pastrana (August 1998 – August 2002)
President Cesar Gaviria (August 1990 – August 1994)

Mexico
President Vincente Fox (December 2000 – December 2006)
President Ernesto Zedillo (December 1994 – November 2000)

Bolivia
President Jaime Paz Zamora (August 1989 – August 1993)

South Africa
President Thabo Mbeki (June 1999 – September 2008)
President Nelson Mandela (April 1994 – June 1999)

Liberia
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf (January 2006 – Present)

Lesotho
Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan (July 1965 – January 1986)

United Nations
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (January 2007 – Present)
Secretary General Kofi Annan (January 1997 – January 2007)
Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali (January 1992 – January 1997)

Vatican City
Pope John Paul II (October 1978 – April 2005)

Slovakia
President Rudolf Schuster (June 1999 – June 2004)

Turkmenistan
President Saparmurat Niyazov (October 1990 – December 2006)

*Senator Biden met with leader before he or she became head of state.

Which would you rather have?

Collapse of The Empire

September 23, 2008

According to Iran’s President Ahmadinejad the US empire is nearing collapse. Ahmadinejad addressed the UN today and once again did not hold back to expose the US government for what it really is. Here are some of his quotes:

‘American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders,”

”A few bullying powers have sought to put hurdles in the way of the peaceful nuclear activities of the Iranian nation by exerting political and economic pressures against Iran,”

”The U.S. government has made a series of mistakes in the past few decades. ‘The imposition on the U.S. economy of the years of heavy military engagement and involvement around the world … the war in Iraq, for example. These are heavy costs imposed on the U.S. economy.”

”The world economy can no longer tolerate the budgetary deficit and the financial pressures occurring from markets here in the United States, and by the U.S. government.”

I find it interesting that when a political leader dares to actually speak some truths that most political leaders would never say because they are busy kissing the asses of the empire, he is shunned and portrayed as some kind of maniac. I most definitely do not believe everything Ahmadinejad is true, but some things he says do make a lot of sense. Quotes are from this article in the New York Times.

I wrote this post about his address to the UN last year.

Happy Autumn

September 22, 2008

Today is the Autumnal Equinox. The exact time was at 15:44 today GMT. What does this mean? An equinox is the moment in time (not a whole day) when the centre of the Sun can be observed to be directly above the Earth’s equator, occurring around March 20 and September 22 each year. Wishing all of you a lovely transition into winter (and if you happen to live in the Southern Hemisphere have a great summer!).

Political Junk Food Nation

September 21, 2008

My father directed me to this article, McCain Feeds American People a Junk Food Diet With Palin Choice, in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer which he thought put the current state of the election into perspective. My father, as does the author, believe that McCain’s shockingly irresponsible choice of VP candidate will ultimately backfire on him. Here is what the author, Steven Katz, is referring to as political junk food:

Small-town white-female mayor who bullies librarians and museum directors, lobbies Washington to obtain federal funds and claims that she is against “pork barrel politics,” is elected governor of the state with one of the smallest populations in the country, so small that she can afford to work from home for most of the year and charge the taxpayers for working from home as a “duty-station,” lives closer to the melting Arctic ice caps than any other governor in the country but does not believe in global warming, cracks the whip in dog-sled races and in retaliation towards state officials who she thinks have wronged her family, and turns otherwise right-wing fundamentalist social vices into Republican political virtues.

Katz shames McCain for making this choice and believes a large portion of voters are upset with his choice. His opinion piece shows a strong disgust with McCain’s choice. He rejects the junk food diet the McCain campaign is producing and calls for a more substantive diet; a diet of leadership, statesmanship, understanding and intelligence and he believes, as do I, that Obama and Biden are the team to deliver it.

Religious Wars in India

September 17, 2008

Just been reading up on some of the recent violence between Christians and Hindu communities in Orrisa, a state in Eastern India. Emily Wax has a good article in the Washington Post. This article states:

The recent violence was triggered by the Aug. 23 killing in Orissa of a shadowy octogenarian figure known as Laxmanananda Saraswati, who had been linked with a Hindu radical group. He was actively trying to re-convert Christians to Hinduism. A letter left at the scene claimed that Maoist rebels had carried out the attack. Federal investigators agree that Maoists were to blame, but many Hindus blame Christians.

The article also claims that:

All told, as many as 4,000 Christian homes and 115 churches were destroyed in the region. Amid the lush corn and rice farms of Kandhamal district, more than 35 people were killed for their faith, the All India Christian Council reported; government officials estimate 18 deaths.

It appears that Hindus are upset over the high rate of convert of tribal people to Christianity and have resorted to violence to show their discontent. The article also states that:

Conversions to Christianity have been happening fast among impoverished tribal communities in Kandhamal, a remote district with few links to the outside world or state services. The Christian population here, largely made up of traditionally nature-worshiping ethnic groups, has swelled from 6 percent in 1971 to 27 percent today, according to government census data.

Some people who convert often get better access to schools and health clinics run by Western Christian groups. But they lose their official status with the government as members of a disadvantaged caste and with it jobs and university seats reserved under the affirmative action program.

Christians among one such ethnic group, the Panos, have recently been agitating to continue to collect those benefits anyway. Some Hindu activists see this request as ridiculous. They say that Christians have rejected the Hindu-sanctioned caste system and should not get the benefits.

“The violence is in the name of religion. But what is really fueling it is jealousy over who is getting education, reservations and status,” said Golden Kumar Naik, a Christian convert who works in development and whose 11-room home was burned. “People are still very poor in this country; there are not enough jobs. There is fear that there won’t be enough for the Hindus, too.”

It seems people are just trying to make a better life for themselves and religion has become a means to more economic advantages. But what the article fails to mention is the scope of the missionary work in this region and who is actively trying to convert the tribal people. I don’t condone violence and it seems what is happening to these communities is tragic, but we must look for the root of the problem and I have a gut feeling that the age old tactic of a proselytizing religion which seeks to save the souls of those who have not been shown the Truth may be at fault.

Here is one Hindu man’s opinion quoted in the article:

“The church uses cash to steal souls,” Chauhan said. “It’s destroying Hindu culture.”

Another Proud Obama Supporter

September 14, 2008

Women Against Palin

September 13, 2008

My sister asked me to post a link to this blog of a movement of women who are against Sarah Palin.