My dreams

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

India-Pakistan peace talks set.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- Ending an 18-month lapse in formal discussions, delegations from India and Pakistan will meet in Islamabad next month for talks covering a broad range of issues, the Indian and Pakistani Foreign Ministries announced Tuesday.

According to Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna, the meetings will be held February 16-18. The nations' foreign secretaries will meet February 18.

Earlier this month, India and Pakistan announced in a joint statement that they had agreed to start a broad dialogue about a range of issues including Kashmir, following a ground-breaking meeting between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

A year ago, relations between India and Pakistan were so bad the annual summit of South Asian nations was canceled.

Since February 1999, the nations have almost gone to war twice over Kashmir.

But Vajpayee has said he wants to make a final push for peace in his lifetime, and ties have gradually warmed over the past year.

India and Pakistan have resumed air, rail and bus links, restored top-level diplomatic relations and enforced a total cease-fire between forces lined up on each side of Kashmir.

In March, the two countries are set to resume cricket competitions against each other for the first time in 14 years.

Prior to the cease-fire, Indian and Pakistani forces routinely traded salvos across the U.N.-drawn Line of Control that separates Kashmir.

More than a dozen guerrilla groups have been battling Indian rule in Kashmir almost since independence from Britain and the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

Indian officials estimate 38,000 people have been killed during the 11-year military insurgency and blame Pakistan for stoking the conflict, a charge Islamabad has denied.

India has said Pakistan trains, arms and funds the militants and orders them to attack Indian military and civilian targets.

Pakistan has said it only extends moral support to groups campaigning for the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination.
Peacekeeper killed in Afghanistan blast.

A Canadian peacekeeper has been killed and three others injured when explosives were detonated near their patrol.

An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy of soldiers was patrolling the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Tuesday when a bomber approached them and detonated explosives, said Afghan interior ministry official Aroun Assefi.

At least nine Afghan civilians were also injured in the attack. Kabul's deputy police chief Khalil Aminzada said the Afghans hurt were pedestrians. The bomber was killed in the attack which took place near a Canadian base on the southern outskirts of the city.

Canada has about 2000 soldiers in the 5700-strong multinational force, making it the largest contingent.

The ISAF troops from 18 different countries were deployed after the US-led 2001 campaign to topple the ruling Taliban.

Tuesday's was the second attack on foreign peacekeepers in Kabul since their deployment.

Last June, four German peacekeepers were killed and 31wounded in a car bombing in Kabul.

In the most recent attack in the city, five Afghan security officials were killed when a man they had detained blew himself up near the city's airport.

Monday, January 26, 2004

'Return of the King' dominates Golden Globes.

(CNN) -- Hollywood's A-list turned out Sunday for the Golden Globes -- the ceremony often seen as a precursor to Oscar success -- and "The Return of the King" walked off with four awards.

The epic fantasy won in every category in which it had been nominated. Its haul included best dramatic film and best director. "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" also won for best original score in a motion picture and best original song.

Director Peter Jackson, accepting the best director trophy, said he was "honored" to be in the company of Sofia Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Anthony Minghella and Peter Weir, who were competing in the same category.

Charlize Theron won the trophy for best actress in a drama for her role in "Monster," in which she portrayed prostitute-turned-serial killer Aileen Wuornos.

Sean Penn won the best actor-drama award for his role as a grieving, vengeful father in "Mystic River."

It was also a winning night for Sofia Coppola, whose "Lost in Translation" earned three globes. It took home best musical or comedy film, as well as best screenplay, which went to Coppola, and best actor in a musical or comedy, for Bill Murray.

Coppola, daughter of "The Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola, thanked her family and her father, whom she described as "a great screenwriting teacher."

"There are so many people taking credit for this that I don't know where to begin," Murray said. He also thanked director Sofia Coppola "for writing a film that was so good that everybody in this room says, 'That lucky son of a bitch: It could have been me.' "

Diane Keaton was named best actress in a comedy or musical for "Something's Gotta Give."

The Golden Globes, which are given out by the 90 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, is one of the most-watched awards shows in entertainment, and winners often go on to earn Oscars, the U.S. film industry's top honors, handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on February 29.

Tim Robbins won the first globe of the night for his supporting role in the drama "Mystic River."

"Every day has been a joy on this movie," Robbins said in accepting the honor.

"Cold Mountain" had a leading eight nominations, including best drama. Its only globe went to Renee Zellweger, who won best supporting actress.

"Sex and the City" star Sarah Jessica Parker took the prize for best actress in a television drama series.

"My God, it's happening, thank you, thank you very much," she said.

One of the big surprises of the night was a British victory in the competitive American TV field.

Ricky Gervais was honored for his role as a smug, annoying boss in "The Office," a BBC America series that has attracted a cult following.
Gervais, mimicking the role for which he got the prize, said during his acceptance, "I'm from a little place called England ... We used to run the world before you."

Friday, January 23, 2004

Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browsers.

An Israeli rabbi has composed a prayer to help devout Jews overcome guilt after visiting porn web sites while browsing the Internet.

"Please God, help me cleanse the computer of viruses and evil photographs which disturb and ruin my work..., so that I shall be able to cleanse myself (of sin)," reads the benediction by Shlomo Eliahu, chief rabbi in the northern town of Safed.

Eliahu, quoted by Israel's largest daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, said he had responded to a deluge of queries from Orthodox Jews worried that the lure of Internet sex sites was putting family relationships at risk.

The rabbi recommends that Jews recite the prayer when they log on to the Internet or even program it to flash up on their computer screens so they are spiritually covered whether they enter a porn site intentionally or by mistake.
Hospitals Plead for Their Clothes Back.

Western Canadian hospitals are losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year as staff pilfer medical uniforms that have become a fashion statement thanks to U.S. television shows "ER" and "Scrubs," officials said.

Now, one medical agency is trying to cure the problem facing an already cash-strapped public health system by offering amnesty to doctors and nurses who return the blue medical uniforms, commonly called scrubs.

Edmonton's Capital Health Authority said its losses in the form of unreturned scrubs piled up to more than C$250,000 ($195,000) last year.

Hospitals in Calgary, Alberta, and Vancouver, British Columbia, are also seeing high volumes of the casual, loose-fitting garments disappear as they become permanent fixtures in wardrobes of medical professionals.

The Edmonton agency said it was encouraging staff to return uniforms to hospitals and clinics throughout the city by Feb. 6 with no questions asked.

"Scrubs are very comfortable, and they've been popularized as a fashion item through TV shows like 'ER'," said Wendy Hill, Capital Health's chief operating officer.
"As part of this initiative, we want to work with our staff to make them more aware of the operational impact of scrub availability and cost implications associated with replacing scrubs."

Money spent replacing Edmonton's missing medical attire would fund more than 500 MRI tests, two pediatric heart transplants or about 75 individual visits for chemotherapy, Hill said.

The city's two main hospitals have also installed scrub dispensing machines that require staff to return the uniforms before they can receive a new set.
Dems target Bush.

Candidates proclaim they're ready for a fight.

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- In their final debate before the New Hampshire primary, the Democratic presidential candidates promised Thursday that they could withstand attacks from President George W. Bush on tax cuts and social values, as they sought to quell concerns among Democrats about the party's hopes of winning back the White House this fall.

Looking weary after three weeks of nonstop campaigning, and appearing subdued, the seven Democrats said they were prepared to take on Bush on social issues, such as the ones he raised in his State of the Union address Tuesday, as well as tax cuts.

"That's a fight I look forward to," said Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts when asked whether he feared that the White House would label him a tax-and-spend Democrat because of the call by Kerry and his rivals to repeal the tax cuts put in place by Bush.

"If George W. Bush wants to stand there beside me," he said, and defend cutting "taxes for people who earn more than $200,000 a year -- which are the only people who might be argued will have a tax increase by rolling back the Bush tax cut that they rushed through -- instead of giving all of America health care and education so we truly leave no child behind, that's a fight we deserve to have in this country. That's a fight we will win."

And Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, said he had no fear of challenging Bush on social issues. Dean noted his own opposition to gun control and his advocacy while governor of balanced budgets.

The remarks came at the start of a debate that was notably restrained, as all the candidates -- for different reasons -- sought to resist attacking one another just five days before New Hampshire's primary. At one point, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut made joking reference to this as one of the questioners, Peter Jennings of ABC News, tried to push him to criticize Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Kerry for positions on social issues that might make them vulnerable as Democratic presidential candidates.

Lieberman chuckled, but would not take the bait.

"Let me put it this way: This is a time to be affirmative," he said. "I'd say, nice try."

The debate came just two days after the State of the Union address, a speech that seemed to a large extent aimed as much at the Democratic presidential candidates -- and attacks they have been making for a year -- as at the American public.

The debate was sponsored by WMUR, Fox News and The Manchester Union Leader. It came five days before the primary and was being viewed by strategists as particularly important for Dean, after his difficult week, and for Kerry, who Democrats and some polls suggest has jumped to the lead in New Hampshire.

Dean, at the first opportunity, raised the matter that has clouded his candidacy this week: the loud and rowdy concession speech he made in Iowa on Monday night, an episode that his own aides say has threatened the viability of his campaign.

"You may notice that my voice is a little hoarse," he said. "It's not because I was whooping and hollering at my third-place finish in Iowa. It's because I have a cold."

Dean, speaking softly and with reserve, returned to the issue again a few minutes later. "You know, I'm not a perfect person," he said. "I think a lot of people have had a lot of fun at my expense over the Iowa hooting and hollering, and that's justified. But one thing I can tell you is that I'm not kidding about what I say."

The debate featured a smaller cast of candidates than in the past, with Carol Moseley Braun and Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri out of the race.

The debate echoed Bush's State of the Union address, as the candidates, in one example, answered questions about their position on gay marriage. Bush suggested in his speech that he might support a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.

On Thursday night, only the Rev. Al Sharpton disagreed with the assertion by the other candidates that marriage for homosexuals should be left for the states to decide.

"I am unilaterally opposed to any civil or human right being left to states' rights," he said. "That is a dangerous precedent. I think the federal government has the obligation to protect all citizens on a federal level." He added: "If we start going back to states' rights, we're going back to pre-Civil War days, and I think that that, in its nature, is wrong."

In asserting that he was not out of the mainstream on social issues, because his state had approved civil unions, Dean noted, "We chose not to do gay marriage. We chose to do civil unions. I think that position, actually, is very similar to Dick Cheney's, who thinks every state ought to be able to do what they want."

In the debate, Gen. Wesley Clark repeatedly defended his Democratic credentials, as he sought to explain why he had voted for Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

"I voted for Bill Clinton and Al Gore," he said. "When I got out of the military, I looked at both parties. I'm pro-choice, pro-affirmative action, pro-environment, pro-labor. I was either going to be the loneliest Republican in America or I was going to be a happy Democrat."

Clark also sharply criticized Bush, saying he had failed to take adequate measures to protect the nation from the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"Before 9-11, he did not do everything he could have done to keep this country safe," Clark said. "After 9-11, he took us to a war we didn't have to fight, and Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida is still going strong. We were at terrorist condition orange."

The Democrats, all of whom support repealing at least some of the Bush tax cuts, said they were not concerned that Bush would try to use that position to undercut them, the way Republicans have done to Democrats in a series of elections.

"There was no middle-class tax cut in this country," said Dean, who supports rolling back all the cuts. "Somebody has to stand up and say we cannot have everything. We can't have tax cuts, pay for health care, pay for No Child Left Behind and pay for an adequate defense."

Kerry said he would counter attempts to paint him as a liberal. "I am a veteran," he said. "I fought in a war. I've been a prosecutor. I've sent people to jail for the rest of their life." He added that he had voted to overhaul the welfare system, and that he owned guns.

Asked what he would say to Republicans who tried to challenge him for being too liberal, Dean said: "Well, let's talk first about money. The president of the United States can't balance a budget." He added, "I'm much more conservative with money than George Bush is." He also said he did not support gun control as much as other Democrats.

"Finally, I'd challenge this president on values any day," he said. "When a president of the United States uses the word 'quota,' which is a race-coded word designed to appeal to people's fears they're going to lose their job to a member of a minority community, that president has played the race card."

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Someday I Will Miss . . .

by Beatrice Adler, Teacher, Guatemala (1991-1993) It is 5 a.m. and I awake to the sound of steel wheelbarrows clattering over the cobblestones in the street. There is also the soft murmur of voices of various street vendors greeting each other as they head for the plaza where they set up their daily market. Some mornings, these gentle sounds are punctuated by firecrackers in celebration of someone's birthday, but not this morning, thank heaven. I have heard and seen enough firecrackers to last a lifetime.

It is time to get up. I turn on the faucet in the hope that the town water will be turned on soon and I can collect my water supply for the day before I have to leave. The morning is cool, the only time of day that is refreshingly cool.
I dress, have coffee and a slice of homemade bread for breakfast. In preparation for my hike up the mountain, I fill a canteen with drinking water, pack an orange, some peanuts, and the charts that are my teaching materials. By now, the water has started to dribble out of the faucet. It partially fills the pila then stops. I turn off the faucet--it is enough for the day. Perhaps, I think, we will get some more later in the afternoon.

I head out and up the mountain before the sun is up high. This is best: the trails are steep and shade sparse. As I leave the village, others are arriving, some bent over from carrying a heavy load of wood on their backs that they bring to sell at the market. Others are going to school, or buying supplies (if they have been able to earn some cash). Most people are barefoot, or, in the case of some men, they wear sandals made from used tires and tied on with leather straps. Many people stop and ask me where I am going, where I have come from, why I am there, what time it is-and I ask the same of them, except for the time. The men touch their hats as we go our separate ways.

Finally, after walking one to three hours, I reach the school. If school hasn't started, I play soccer with the little boys. They are startled to discover that the gringa likes to play soccer. They laugh at my enthusiastic but clumsy efforts. There is rarely a real soccer ball-the boys play with an old can or a plastic bottle, whatever they can find that works. Other times, I look for beetles, birds, a squirrel or some other wildlife with which to start a conversation. Since most Guatemalans fear or kill wildlife, I try to point out why we should protect them. They are skeptical.
Before school starts, the children sweep in the door and straighten up the classroom. The rural schools are supposed to provide grades one through six, but only grades one, two and three are filled, and the definition between grades is vague. The students drop out before they get very far. They take off from school to help during the planting and harvesting seasons, or to help their mothers with new babies. Sometimes they simply can't get to school during the rainy season when the rivers are up.

Education is a disconnected process. Sometimes the students only speak their indigenous language and the teacher speaks Spanish. This doesn't lead to great understanding, but some children persevere and eventually learn Spanish and what the teacher is talking about. Sometimes, a teacher doesn't show up and then we hold our classes outdoors in front of the school with the children holding up the charts. It works out just as well.

School is over at noon. I walk slowly back towards my village. The children accompany me until, one by one, they peel off to their homes. I enjoy the hiking through the countryside. I just wish there was more shade on the trail. The local folks cut down the trees along the trail for firewood. Sometimes I gather seeds along the way for my Peace Corps friend who is in the agricultural program. I also carry my binoculars to check out birds along the way. I am compiling a bird list for the area.

It is early afternoon when I reach my house. If the market ladies are still there, I may buy some bananas or other fruit, vegetables, or beans. It is a great daily market. After lunch, I relax in the hammock and read. It is too hot to do anything else. The town is quiet in the afternoon heat.

Later on I do some homework or prepare more charts for my classes. Since most of the students can't read, I draw pictures. I am terrible at drawing, but the students love the charts and they are a useful tool. Then I go to the plaza to visit with friends, practice my Spanish, and do some errands.

Occasionally, a group of Chorti women will come to sit in my living room and visit. Spanish is their second language as well as mine. When they giggle and speak to each other in Chorti, I ask what they are talking about. I discover they are laughing at my weak-looking blue eyes. They feel sorry for me. Who knows what else they are saying? Then, bashfully, they ask if they can go out in my backyard to pick out some bottles or cans that I have thrown out for recycling. After making a careful selection, they ask if they can pay me. When I say no, they give me a banana, an egg, a mango or whatever they have. They leave and walk back to their village three miles away.

Supper is black bean soup and garlic bread or stir-fried cabbage or other vegetables on rice, or perhaps homemade banana bread for dessert.

I spend the warm evenings reading or visiting friends. I go to bed early. For the most part, everyone here goes to bed early and gets up early-great for me, as I am truly a morning person. My bed is a wooden frame with ropes strapped across it to support the foam mattress. When it is really hot, I dispense with the mattress and just sleep on a sheet stretched over the ropes. It's not very comfortable, but much cooler.

Another day has gone by. Someday I will miss all this-the people, the mountains, the relaxed way of life, and the friends I have made.
The Center of The Earth

By Herman Nibbelink There once lived a farmer. In the planting season, he would plow his fields and sprinkle the earth with seeds of wheat. When the days grew longer and the sun burned brighter, he would water the crops and tend them, picking off stray bugs, and protecting his fields from wild pigs and runaway goats. At harvest time, he would thresh the wheat, separate the grains, then grind them into flour.

The farmer's wife worked alongside her husband. Every morning she would wake before sunrise and pick the choicest fruits from the garden. Then, with a tin bucket in hand, she'd enter the stable and greet the couple's finest treasure, a golden cow. Tugging at the cow's udders, she'd whisper, "please," and the cow would fill her bucket with the sweetest, creamiest milk in the land.
One year, very little rain fell. The stalks of wheat that once stood proud and strong now crumbled to ashes at the slightest breeze, and the fruit of the lemon trees turned from green to brown, never having enjoyed even a moment of yellow ripeness. The treasured cow, too, became tired and thin. Each morning the farmer's wife continued to kneel before her, whispering "please." And though the cow would have liked to have helped the farmer's wife, all she could manage was a few drops, barely enough to fill a teaspoon.

One night, the farmer could not sleep. The supply of wheat was dwindling, and soon the farmer and his wife would be without food for the coming year. The next morning, just as his wife was returning from the stable, he approached. "Any milk?" he asked. When she shook her head, the farmer grabbed his cloak and staff.

"I am going to the village," the farmer told her. "I must sell the cow. She is too dry to give milk, and is of no use to us. We have only a few kilos of wheat left for the coming year. It is all I can do."

The farmer led the cow across the dry fields, dusty plains, and forest-covered mountain to the village. The cow moved very slowly, and the farmer, fearing that the cow would not make it to the village, pleaded in her ear "please."
When the farmer and the cow finally entered the village, the farmer asked a young boy if he knew of anyone who would be interested in buying a cow.
"That merchant, over there," answered the boy, pointing to a store where a man was sitting outside.

Approaching the store, the farmer greeted the merchant and said, "I hear that you are looking for a cow. I would like to sell you my cow for fifty kilos of grain."
At this the merchant laughed as if the farmer had just told him the funniest joke.

"You are a fool," said the merchant, catching his breath. "That cow can barely stand, let alone give milk."

"She is weak now," the farmer replied, "but that is because she needs care that I cannot afford." The farmer was not in the mood for the merchant's humor.
"I will give you one kilo of grain," said the merchant.
"I am not a fool," replied the farmer. "She is worth more than that."

"Farmer, you are not familiar with the ways of the world," the merchant said slowly. "This is the usual price."
The merchant and the farmer began to bicker back and forth, their voices growing louder and angrier with each exchange.
Finally the merchant screamed, "You know nothing!"

"I know many things!" the farmer yelled back. "What things do you know, fool?" asked the merchant.
In an outburst, the farmer heard himself saying, "I know where the center of the earth is and I know how many stars there are in the sky."

"Now you are making a fool of me," said the merchant, who was about to raise his fist to the farmer, when two men from the village interceded and stopped the fight. One man grabbed the farmer by the elbow, and one man grabbed the merchant by the collar. Together they led the merchant and the farmer to the judge's house. By this time, evening was fast approaching. The judge was just about to take a nap before dinner when the merchant and the farmer appeared at his doorstep. After listening to the complaints of the merchant and the farmer, the judge said, "It is too late to settle this case today. Leave the cow in my stable tonight, and we will settle the argument in the morning."
Reluctantly, the farmer left the cow in the judge's stable, and, with a heavy heart, traveled back across the forest-covered mountain, dusty plains, and dry fields. When he finally arrived home, his wife had a steaming stew of lentils waiting for him. But as the farmer sat down, he pushed the stew away. Dropping his head into his hands, he said,
"I am a fool." He told her what had happened that day.

"I claimed I knew where the center of the earth was, and how many stars there were in the sky. What should I do?"

For a few moments the farmer's wife was silent. Then she spoke: "I know what you must do..."

The next morning, when the farmer arrived back at the village, the judge, the merchant, and the golden cow were waiting for him.
"Are you ready to prove you are not a fool?" said the merchant.

"I am," said the farmer.
The farmer then picked up his staff, ran ten steps, and jabbed the staff down into the ground.

"This is the center of the earth. If you do not believe me, measure it for yourself," said the farmer. The merchant and the judge were silent.
He then picked up a handful of dust. "The grains of dust in my hand are equal to the number of stars in the sky. If you do not believe me, merchant, count them for yourself."

The merchant knew then that he had no case, and the judge ruled firmly: "This farmer is no fool. Merchant, pay the farmer the rightful cost of fifty kilos of grain for this cow."
But the farmer decided he no longer wanted to sell the cow, who seemed to have grown stronger and fatter overnight.

Herman Nibbelink (Eritrea, 1962-64) taught seventh and eighth grade English at Adi Quala Middle School, Eritrea. He credits his student, Araia Asefaw, with the riddle upon which "The Center of the Earth" is based.
"Riddling duels were very popular among my students and neighbors," says Nibbelink.

"Someone would challenge an opponent with the question, 'Whose question first, yours or mine?' and the games would begin."
Visit the Water In Africa Web Site http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/water/africa/index.html . It reflects the connection of water to all aspects of life in African countries-a concept we have tried to capture in the
resources and learning units featured on this site.

Monday, January 19, 2004

I found a couple of great hardrock forums here.. Nice Google!
Highwaystar.com - my favorite Deep Purple's fansite ask for donates!
Here is the donate section.
I have a dream, my lifetime dream, a dream for all mankind, That one day there'll be peace on Earth that'll last for all of time. And in my dream each one of us would be equal to the rest, In my dream every one of us would strive to do their best.   I have a dream not for myself, but a heartfelt dream, for all mankind, That we'd all love one another, and our hearts would be pure and kind. That babies wouldn't be born crying, but singing; loud and clear, And every mother would love her baby, a precious miracle, so dear.
Today, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq reached to 500.
But no one even mentioned that, it was the “Bremer Dinar” scandals day
The Iraqi Dinar lost 50% of its value over a night (from 950 – 1400), after discovering that our CG is selling Billions of Dinars to the world under the brand new operation called “screw up your self, your neighbors, and your national currency”.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

My first posting

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