Showing posts from 2004

The Year the Earth Fought Back

The Year the Earth Fought Back By SIMON WINCHESTER ondon — LIKE two bookends of calamity, earthquakes at Bam in Iran and off Sumatra in Indonesia have delineated a year of unusual seismic ferocity - a year, one might say, of living dangerously. Twelve months, almost to the very hour, before Sunday's extraordinary release of stress at the India-Burma tectonic plate boundary, a similar jolt at the boundary of the Arabian and the Eurasian Plates devastated one of the most celebrated of Persian caravan cities. The televised images of Bam's collapsed citadel and the sight of thousands of bodies being carried from the desert ruins haunted the world then just as the images of the drowned around the shores of the Bay of Bengal do today. But that has not been the half of it. True, these two disasters were, in terms of their numbers of casualties, by far the most lethal. But in the 12 months that separated them, there have been many other ruinous and seismically

Unceremonious Tsunami

Sometimes, the words just dry up, like the severe droughts. Sometimes, painful images of natural disasters, wars and violence, make one cringing or exhaling indomitable sigh, amidst the barren eyes and the choking lungs. Earth wobbled around its axis of rotation as that devastating earthquake and the following tsunami ripped apart and washed away thousands and thousands of human beings and other animals, the counting is still climbing up with an all knowing alarm. This time around last year’s earthquake in Bam, Iran unfolded, as if replaying its previous cruel destruction this year, but in grandeur stage with leaping ferocity. For a person with little or no faith in any religion or divine being, this catastrophic episode is a random event, a natural phenomenon, and a small blip in the geological time scale. Seismologists and the geophysicists explain that the Indian plate dived below the Burma plate and lifted it up, causing the colossal tectonic plate fracture that created tre

Will Her Voice Ever Be Heard?

Common Sense dictates promoting freedom in nations where the dissidents mostly pay heavy price for just speaking out against the rigid theocracy, blatant or hidden injustices and all forms of suppressions. Shirn Ebadi has been a valiant fighter for many decades of her life, even when she was not in the lime light as she is now after receiving the prestigeous Nobel Prize for peace, she was one of the forefront women in the struggle for human rights in Iran. Preventing Ms. Ebadi from publishing her book in the United States is a major blunder and it should be corrected without any delay. Regards, Sohel Will Her Voice Ever Be Heard? By Ellen Goodman Saturday, December 11, 2004; Page A23 BOSTON -- Ever wonder what happened to the State Department's chief of propaganda? The head of public diplomacy was supposed to win the hearts and minds of the Muslim street. After all that fanfare, the PR seat has been empty lo these many months. Is it possible

The Pictures of Resistance

"To quote the words of Shahidul Alam, the man who established Drik and who remains its driving force, "Resistance has been there in different forms and against various established norms -- political organisations, religious zeal, media propaganda and commercialism to name a few." "And throughout this resistance, pioneer photographers have continued their struggles amidst adversities to create an identity for professional photography in Bangladesh," continues Alam. His reference is to the struggle that led to independent Bangladesh and to the people's resistance to oppressive regimes." Read the full article with excellent photos from this The Daily Star Link .

Clouds of Injustice: Bhopal disaster 20 Years on

How can a corporation deny its responsibility from one of the world's massive industrial disasters? And how come a democratic government elected by its own people does not take adequate steps in protecting and compensating its own citizens from the apparent maleficence of multinational company? The Dow Chemical that had purchased Union Carbide in 2001 now says the following in its website: "Dow never owned or operated the Bhopal plant." -- Is it so easy to wash one's hands by just restructuring or rearranging a corporation? Till to date, not a single upper echelon person is held responsible for this horrendous episode? How could that be? Amnesty International states the following: "The Bhopal case illustrates how companies evade their human rights responsibilities and underlines the need to establish a universal human rights framework that can be applied to companies directly. Governments have the primary responsibility for protecting the human rights of com

Solving Kashmir requires India to offer up more than cash

A dismal condition for the Kashmiris for so many years, and so many deaths, thousands of them, in addition to rapes, disappearances of civilians, that a solution to this lingering problem is the key for a lasting peace in the Indian subcontinent. Let's see what the South Asian politicians do in resolving this issue, or whether it would be the same empty promises and decorated maneuverings for their own political gains, will be observed by the international community. Regards, Sohel Solving Kashmir requires India to offer up more than cash Simon Tisdall Wednesday November 24, 2004 The Guardian Kashmir will be the elephant in the room when Pakistan's prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, meets his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, in Delhi today. Both sides know that, without a Kashmir settlement, the peace process launched this year cannot succeed. But neither has a clear idea how to proceed. The temptation is to ignore the elephant. Mr Aziz is the highest-rankin

The New Iron Curtain

This is not to ignore that there are plenty of dissimilarities between 1946 and 2004. The Cold War is considered a thing of the past. The old Soviet Republic were fragmented in dozens of smaller nations, even mother Russia does not show the same super power status as it used to in its hay day of cold war. But, arguably, things have beginning to taken the shape of old history, as if 1946 is turning the screw of time in a new clothe. Anne Applebaum observes the following on the recent Ukrainian election disputes: "Polls taken before and after the vote showed a large margin of support for Viktor Yushchenko, a pro-Western liberal. Nevertheless, victory has been declared for Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Moscow candidate. He has already received warm congratulations from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who backed him with praise, money and, possibly, some advice on how to steal elections. It can't be a coincidence that if the Ukrainian election is settled in Moscow's fa

Earth's Uncanned Crusaders: Will Sardines Save Our Skin?

Here is Dr. Ellen Pikitch's comment: "This study demonstrates that overfishing of one species of fish, such as sardines, can profoundly alter an entire marine ecosystem". When Sardines are abundant, they eat up phytoplankton in larger quantity than when there are less Sardines in any particular area. If there are phytoplankton uneaten, they sink to the bottom and eventually get decomposed and produce large clouds of Hydrogen Sulfide and Methane gas that surface to the atmosphere above the water line. Why is this important to note? Because "methane is arguably worse, at least for world climate. Pound for pound methane traps 21 times as much heat as carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas." Next time we open a can of delicious sardine to make our salivating appetitie pacified, perhaps we need to think of the consequences. Regards, Sohel Earth's Uncanned Crusaders: Will Sardines Save Our Skin? By CORNELIA DEAN Scientists working off t

Of Mice, Men and In-Between

Of Mice, Men and In-Between Scientists Debate Blending Of Human, Animal Forms By Rick Weiss Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, November 20, 2004; Page A01 In Minnesota, pigs are being born with human blood in their veins. In Nevada, there are sheep whose livers and hearts are largely human. In California, mice peer from their cages with human brain cells firing inside their skulls. These are not outcasts from "The Island of Dr. Moreau," the 1896 novel by H.G. Wells in which a rogue doctor develops creatures that are part animal and part human. They are real creations of real scientists, stretching the boundaries of stem cell research. Biologists call these hybrid animals chimeras, after the mythical Greek creature with a lion's head, a goat's body and a serpent's tail. They are the products of experiments in which human stem cells were added to developing animal fetuses. Chimeras are allowing scientists to watch, for the first time, how

Overthrow Tehran? Hey, Not So Fast

A more democratic Iran is desired by many, especially by the Iranians, in their home and abroad, but that democracy should be coming from within their own political process, not by guns and tanks or military planes flying overhead, bringing deaths and destructions as it is continually unfolding in Iraq. Regards, Sohel Overthrow Tehran? Hey, Not So Fast *Iranian Americans are dismayed by glib neocon talk of regime change. By Jeet Heer and Laura Rozen, Based in Toronto, Jeet Heer frequently writes for the Boston Globe and the National Post. Laura Rozen reports on foreign affairs and national security issues from Washington, D.C. With President Bush elected to a second term, and the neoconservative architects of the Iraq war firmly in the driver's seat of U.S. foreign policy, Iranian Americans are contemplating a stark choice similar to that faced by Iraqi Americans a few years ago — whether they want to work with Washington to liberate their home country. Although

On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

November 14, 2004 FRANK RICH On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide AREWELL to Swift boats and "Shove it!," to Osama's tape and Saddam's missing weapons, to "security moms" and outsourced dads. They've all been sent to history's dustbin faster than Ralph Nader memorabilia was dumped on eBay. In their stead stands a single ambiguous phrase coined by an anonymous exit pollster: "Moral values." By near universal agreement the morning after, these two words tell the entire story of the election: it's the culture, stupid. "It really is Michael Moore versus Mel Gibson," said Newt Gingrich. To Jon Stewart, Nov. 2 was the red states' revenge on "Will & Grace." William Safire, speaking on "Meet the Press," called the Janet Jackson fracas "the social-political event of the past year." Karl Rove was of the same mind: "I think it's people who are concerned about th

Arctic Thaw

Now that the election in U.S. is over, perhaps the Bush Administration could depoliticize its disastrous environmental policy, to make it come to term with the growing environmental anxieties resulting from all the available scientific data. The impact from the arctic thaw mostly arising due to global warming will be catastrohpic unless the course of our world is altered drastically, especially lessening dependance on fossil fuel that is one of the major culprits in contributing greenhouse effect. The Christian Science monitor listed the trend of Arctic thaw in this report as the following: • Rapid melting of Arctic glaciers, including the vast sheet of ice that covers Greenland. The sheet locks up enough fresh water to raise sea levels by as much as 27 feet over the course of several centuries. The group calculates that during this century, Greenland temperatures are likely to exceed the threshold for triggering the long-term meltdown of the island's ice sheet. • Arctic

Hunting with Firefox

It will be a tough battle, but the battle has already begun. Consumers needs more choices in browser market that has so far been overwhelmingly dominated by Microsoft's Internet Explorer with its all sorts of security holes unplugged. The best thing about Firefox and Mozilla overall is that it is free with lots of features that can compete with Microsoft nicely. Hunting with Firefox Today marks a milestone in the history of the "open source" movement, the extraordinary unpaid community of volunteers all over the world who work together to produce software which is placed in the public domain without commercial gain. Today sees the official launch of Firefox ( ), a free internet browser that is daring to take on Internet Explorer, owned by Microsoft, which until recently had a market share of over 95%. It roundly beat Netscape (originally known as Mosaic) during the late 1990s in what became known as the browser war. W

Puritanism of the Rich

<>George Monbiot's perspective is refreshing, shedding light on least understood issue of our time, that most think is synonymous to fascism. Probably it is not. Monbiot writes, "Puritanism was primarily the religion of the new commercial classes. It attracted traders, money lenders, bankers and industrialists. Calvin had given them what the old order could not: a theological justification of commerce. Capitalism, in his teachings, was not unchristian, but could be used for the glorification of God. From his doctrine of individual purification, the late Puritans forged a new theology. <>At its heart was an "idealisation of personal responsibility" before God. This rapidly turned into "a theory of individual rights" in which "the traditional scheme of Christian virtues was almost exactly reversed". By the mid-17th century, most English Puritans saw in poverty "not a misfortune to be pitied and relieved, but a moral fail

“An Inadvertent Partner to America's Sworn Enemies”

“An Inadvertent Partner to America's Sworn Enemies” By Mahbubul Karim (Sohel) October 27, 2004 “A new age of proliferation is just beginning, and George W. Bush is its father.” A new kind of brutal world is emerging, and George W. Bush is its executioner. These are not my words. And these are not election time hyperbole either. With each blundering aggressions and stubbornness shown by this “God” toting administration, the rest of the world reacts accordingly. Bush’s preventive war doctrine which is softly called as the preemptive war just for making it more palatable, are raising the urgency among the nations around the world to adopt their own preventive / preemptive measures. And what can be more preventive than going nuclear like the big brother already had gone along with other open and covert members of growing nuclear club? The debates between Kerry and Bush highlighted a few issues that generally do not get much attention in the press. One of them is the issue of N

New Holy Alliance -- How to Make New Enemies

When Zbigniew Brzezinski speaks his mind, many listens with respect. After all, he was the national security adviser in the Carter administration. Mr. Brzezinski is also one of the few prominent American citizens who dared to come forward a few years ago against the impending war when the American media and most liberal politicians had shown nothing but their cowardice and self-denial rhetorics. There are many points one may not agree with Mr. Brzezinski, including his suggestion of solving Israel and Palestinian crisis in a way that would deprive many Palestinians of their basic rights, like return to their ancestral land from which they were evicted, even no formal planning of compensation or alternative arrangements for these distressed refugees scattered around in Jordan and other parts of Middle East was presented. However, there are some critical points Mr. Brzezinski made that urge further exploration. Here is one of them: " President Bush's "global war on ter