|Mother and daughter (93 and 73 years old), Belarus|
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
“I've come to the frightening conclusion that
I am the decisive element in the classroom.
It's my daily mood that makes the weather.
As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power
to make a child's life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration.
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides
whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and
a child humanized or de-humanized."
~ Dr. Haim Ginott
This quote was sent to me in email by my teacher. Read about him here.
Friday, February 11, 2011
"We will soon see a new Middle East materialising without America and the 'Zionist' regime and there will be no room for world arrogance (the West) in it," Ahmadinejad told the cheering crowds, who gathered despite the cold and cloudy weather.
In a speech directed in good part at the Arab uprisings, Ahmadinejad said Egyptians needed to be careful of the United States.
"They (the United States) have adopted a friendly face and say 'we are friends of the people of North Africa and Arab countries', but be watchful and united. You will be victorious... but your path of resistance is a lengthy one," he said.
"The Iranian nation is your friend and it is your right to freely choose your path. The Iranian nation backs this right of yours."
Iran, which has no diplomatic ties with Egypt, has backed mass protests there, now in their 18th straight day, with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urging the people to establish an Islamic regime in the Arab world's most populous nation.
The expressions of support came despite the deadly crackdown launched by the Iranian authorities when hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Tehran and other cities to protest against official results giving Ahmadinejad a second term in a June 2009 presidential election.
Dozens of Iranians were killed, hundreds wounded and scores arrested by security forces during the protests which shook the pillars of the Islamic regime.
The Iranian authorities have also been jamming the BBC's Persian-language television channel, the broadcaster said on Friday, linking the move to its coverage of the protests in Egypt.
Ahmadinejad appealed to the messianic beliefs of Iran's majority Shiite faith, saying the world was witnessing a revolution overseen by Imam Mehdi -- its 12th imam who disappeared as a five-year-old in the 10th century and who the faithful believe will return before judgement day. (a cult sect!!!)
"The final move has begun. We are in the middle of a world revolution managed by this dear (12th Imam). A great awakening is unfolding. One can witness the hand of the Imam in managing it," said Ahmadinejad, wearing his trademark jacket.
He hit out at the United States, calling it an "accomplice to the oppression of the Zionist regime."
"If you want people to trust you, first of all do not interfere in affairs of the region, including in Tunisia and Egypt. Let them be by themselves," he said.
"Come and take away the Zionist regime which is the source of all crimes... take it away and liberate the region. Free the region and give it to the people and take this regime, which is the child of Satan (the United States), out."
Chants of "Egyptians, Tunisians, your uprisings are just and we are with you," and "Hosni Mubarak 'mubarak' (congratulations) on the uprising of your people!" rang through the streets as the crowds marked the anniversary of the 1979 revolution which toppled shah Mohammad Reza, a key US ally.
Diplomatic relations between Tehran and Washington were broken off soon after and remain so to this day.
During last year's anniversary rally, Iran's opposition attempted to stage anti-government demonstrations which were crushed by the authorities.
Since then opposition supporters have stayed off Tehran streets but their leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have sought permission to hold a rally on Monday in support of the Arab uprisings.
Its time the world understand what a lunatic (but dangerous one) Ahmadinejad is with his apocylips view of the world. He for certain wants to help to make his 'prophecy' come true...
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Why is the tribunal important?
It is the first ever fully international terrorism tribunal. The reason the case is not being brought before the International Criminal Court in The Hague is because this court only deals with cases involving genocide and crimes against humanity, and not terrorism. The Hariri tribunal is jointly financed by the United Nations and the state of Lebanon.
Who is on trial?
The people or persons behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri will be tried. The perpetrators are almost certainly members of the extremist Lebanese Hezbollah movement. The formal charge is secret. As is the identity of those to be tried. A so-called 'pre-trial' judge will decide whether or not there is sufficient evidence to start the trial. Only then will the suspects be arrested and the charges made public. This information is being withheld because if it were made public it could hamper the investigation and arrest of the suspects. Proceedings in the Yugoslavia tribunal was made more difficult by this kind of information coming out before the trial.
Hezbollah has asked the new Lebanese government to withdraw its support for the tribunal.
Is the trial still in with a chance of success?
Hezbollah regards the tribunal to be a political trial, set up by the United States and Israel to put the organisation in a bad light. Last month, the organisation withdrew from government, forcing new elections. As a result, Rafik Hariri’s son, Saad al-Hariri, who was prime minister has been succeeded by Hezbollah-backed Najib Mikati. Hezbollah has asked the new prime minister to withdraw his support from the tribunal.
However, I do not think it is likely that this will happen.
The Lebanese government will not actually withdraw its support from the tribunal, because the government is cooperating with the UN Security Council. The tribunal was set up on the basis of an agreement between the Security Council and the Lebanese government in 2006. It already exists and will certainly continue. However, there are fears that naming possible Hezbollah members could lead to increased tension and fighting could break out in Lebanon.”
What is the objective of the tribunal?
As a result of its turbulent political history, Lebanon has a long list of political assassinations, for which in almost every case no-one has been prosecuted. The Hariri tribunal has to break this pattern. The prosecution of the people behind the assassination is meant to act as a deterrent.
Why is the term terrorism only being defined now?
The international tribunal is a unique project. It will partly be based on Lebanese law and partly on international law. This is why all kinds of terms have to be redefined..
Terms like conspiracy, terrorism and assassination have not been adequately defined in international law. So the terms have to be clearly defined first in consultation with the judges, the defence, and the prosecution. Only once this has been done, can the charges be formulated and made public.”
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Monday, February 7, 2011
Sunday, February 6, 2011
In order to reverse female circumcision, the surgeon first has to see whether there is still healthy tissue under the scars.
The reconstruction of the clitoris involves drawing the internal part outward and covering it with mucous membrane from the inside of the vagina. The injuries to the labia are covered with skin from the buttocks.
Isaad underwent a far-reaching form of genital mutilation, sometimes called pharaonic circumcision or infibulation, in which the clitoris and the labia are removed. In Sudan having your daughter circumcised is almost compulsory, she explains. “If you don’t, the girl will be bullied at school and her parents will become social outcasts.”
The ritual is barely a matter for discussion in Sudan despite the risks involved and a legal ban on infibulations, in force since 1946.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 90 percent of Sudanese women have been circumcised. If a girl survives the mutilation, it affects her entire life, both psychologically and physically. The procedure leaves her with such a narrow opening that urinating and menstruating become difficult.
Isaad lost her first baby during childbirth because she did not receive the special help she needed.
She speaks candidly about her physical mutilation and its effects on her sex life. “I’m often reluctant to have sex,” she confides. “Sometimes I manage to reach a climax, but only because my husband helps me. We try hard to create the right mood.”
But she is not content with only having occasional orgasms. “I would like to feel complete, both physically and emotionally. I want to overcome my inferiority complex.” She is considering having an operation to reverse her circumcision.
Since 2010, an Amsterdam hospital has specialised in reconstructive surgery for circumcised women. The operations are a relatively new development in plastic surgery. The hospital team therefore works closely with Pharos, a Dutch knowledge centre specialising in refugee and migrant healthcare, and the Dutch gynaecology association (NVOG).
Dr Refaat Karim, the man behind the surgical team, has now carried out two of the operations, the first of their kind in the Netherlands. There is little medical literature on the subject and the long-term effects on the patient are unknown.
Quality of life is expected to improve, but this will probably vary according to the individual. And not every woman is a suitable candidate for surgery. In some cases it’s considered irresponsible to operate for medical or psychological reasons.
Deciding whether or not to have the operation is a tough call for Isaad. Despite the problems she encounters due to her mutilation, reconstruction is still very much taboo, even among well-educated women from Darfur. She cannot even contemplate getting any support from her family in Sudan. “They would never approve. I wouldn’t even tell them.”
One of the women operated on in Amsterdam is a friend of Isaad. She says she feels better and is now able to enjoy her sex life. But Isaad continues to have her doubts.
“I’m afraid to lose what it’s taken me so much trouble to achieve, especially in my sex life. A doctor in Belgium is already performing these operations, but they’re not always a success. It’s a 50-50 chance. What if the operation goes wrong, or if I end up not feeling anything anymore?”
I a curious what the PM of Turkey his opinion about this since he's a good friend with the Sudanese President (and war criminal)
Saturday, February 5, 2011
It seems a bit strange that a Dutch bank should be concerned about honey bees. Director of the Rabobank Dirk Duijzer explains that his company always takes a keen interest in issues concerning food production. The bank, which started off as a bank for farmers, is seriously worried about the shortage of bees and the consequences for the agricultural and food sectors. The bank has joined forces with scientists, businesses and the government in an attempt to change the tide. Dirk Duijzer:
“This means that we always investigate important matters which occur. This may be a shortage of water, or the increase of the world population from six to nine billion. We have also examined a new issue: the numbers of bee populations worldwide. This is connected with problems large almond growers we met in California were experiencing. For years, they had been facing low pollination results.”
Bee populations are in decline because they are affected by a varroa mite. This mite weakens a bee colony, which eventually dies. The insects that do survive have to work extra hard because people want to eat more and more luxury products, not only in the West, but also in developing economies.
As the demand for coffee, nuts and fruit grows, so does the size of the plantations. According to honey bee expert Tjeerd Blacquiere from the University of Wageningen, that’s the problem. The plantations are becoming so large that the bees can’t reach all the flowers in the area. Take large-scale coffee plantations.
“For the pollination of coffee there need to be different kind of pollinators. So it's not only whether there are enough of them to visit the flowers that matters. The result is better when one type of bee visits the crop first and then another type. This improves pollination. This can only happen if there are enough little corners of forest left around the plantation where the insects can hide and find enough additional flowers. They need this to live.”
Mr Blacquiere thinks in the future agriculture should be organised on a smaller scale. Things went completely wrong in Brazil:
“Lots of melons are grown in Brazil, watermelons too. Pollination used to take place all by itself, but plantations have become so large that it’s become a problem. Pollination along the edges of the fields is fine, but in the middle of the fields in particular, it just doesn’t take place. Pollinators do not usually fly very far. The creatures just don’t have a large range, so large-scale pollination is not possible.”
And there is another problem with large plantations. Relatively more plant protection products (PPPs) are used. Sometimes they are harmful to bees. Take the cultivation of green beans in Kenya, where beans are grown for the European market.
“Well, in the cultivation of beans, they have to look good, that's what we are used to, and that means plant protection products are used. Plant protection products are tested worldwide with European honey bees in mind. We do not even know whether the tests mean PPPs are safe for the bees in Kenya. They may be much more sensitive, but they could be less sensitive, we just don’t know."
According to Tjeerd Blacquiere, too little attention is being paid to the problem. He thinks much more research is needed to find the cause and possible solutions to secure food production in the future.
.Meanwhile the Rabobank wants to continue to play a role. Especially, now that food shortages are leading to riots, as we have seen recently in the Middle East
Friday, February 4, 2011
Thursday, February 3, 2011
"I think I knew since a very early age. It felt quite isolating. Like, I didn't see people or kids around me feel the same way."
In Pakistan, homosexuality is outlawed and in theory gays and lesbians can be jailed and fined. But in practice it's not the law they fear, Fatima told me at a cafe in the Pakistani city of Lahore. It's family and neighbours, whom she suspects murder many gays and lesbians in honour killings.
"From the time that I've known this about myself, every day that I've felt that I'd wish I was just like everybody else," Fatima says.
Her attraction to women became undeniable when she found herself in love with her best friend at high school.
After years of a secret romance, Fatima's girlfriend suddenly left her, saying there was no future for them in Pakistan. She married a man. Fatima says she can understand why her girlfriend made that decision.
"I mean, I think from the time that you're born you're socialized into believing that homosexuality is unnatural," she says. "It is a disease, and it is completely prohibited."
Shortly after, Fatima also married a man, in an attempt to conform to Pakistani values. But only a few months into her marriage she met another woman, Kiran, and the two fell in love.
Under the radar
After months of begging, Fatima's family finally agreed to let her get a divorce.
Fatima and Kiran now live together and they say that even though Pakistani society isn’t very open to gays and lesbians, as long as they stay under the radar, not many people will ever suspect that they are lesbians.
"Yeah, it's not within the realm of possibility," Fatima says. "People don't usually contemplate two women living together, that they are into each other. Good for us."
"Because in our society, women don't have sexual needs, desires, drives, whatever. And those that do, run brothels," Kiran says.
"Either you are a nice girl, or you are a fast girl. So if we are fast girls, it means that men come and visit us. If we are nice girls, it means that girls come and visit us, which works out."