Thursday, August 30, 2007

Is Arsenic in YOUR Drinking Water?

A drink of water and a scoop of rice could poison over 140,000,000 people worldwide. Researchers show the deadly agent is arsenic in drinking water or potable water used for crops. Scientists expect cancer rates to increase as a result. Where the water originates and the lack of consistent testing is setting the world up for a shock as more people intake carcinogens in their water and food. Sources for the water in developing nations, wells and ancient aquifers, have elevated risks. Even the UK and the US have had problems with arsenic in its drinking water.
Arsenic consumption leads to higher rates of some cancers, including tumours of the lung, bladder and skin, and other lung conditions. Some of these effects show up decades after the first exposure.

"In the long term, one in every 10 people with high concentrations of arsenic in their water will die from it," observed Allan Smith from the University of California at Berkeley.

"This is the highest known increase in mortality from any environmental exposure."

The international response, he said, is not what the scale of the problem merits.

"I don't know of one government agency which has given this the priority it deserves," he commented.

With a middle class and developed world so mobile, this affects those with extended stays in the known areas where the water is known to contain arsenic absent any precautions. It is a cumulative effect to the arsenic in the water, rather than a singular dose or mouthful of rice. prevention options and arsenic removal options are still being explored in a marketplace clamoring for new water technologies. It is estimated that over fifty million people are affected in Bangladesh alone. The problem is known to exist in over 70 nations.

"Most countries have some water sources with dangerous levels of arsenic, but only now are we beginning to recognize the magnitude of the problem," Smith said. "It is the most dangerous contaminant of drinking water in terms of long-term health risks, and we must test all water sources worldwide as soon as possible."

Speakers at the conference predicted that new arsenic pollution would occur in parts of southeast and southwest Asia, the western parts of south and central America, and some areas in Africa.

Underground aquifers in many nations have not been tapped, but a recent increased spate of new wells taps into an underground water source filled with porous rocks, a natural source of arsenic. Arsenic, a metal, naturally occurs in soil as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) has global guidelines & standards for parts per billion of arsenic in drinking water.

At a whopping $114.00 a book, the WHO produces a full syllabus on the scope of the issue with Arsenic in drinking water. WHO will be a principal leader in defining the problem in developed, developing and third world nations. It is a valuable piece of research as the world will be hearing more as the health issues overwhelm existing systems. Fred Pearce gives great examples in a much more reasonably priced paperback in When the Rivers Run Dry, one of my first book reviews.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wonder of the World City Suffers Attack

It is a renowned monument to architecture sixteen years in the making, built from love, for love and about love from a heartbroken Emperor Shah Jahan to his most favorite beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, after she died in childbirth. Years ago, the late Princess Diana famously sat achingly alone on a white marble bench, in front of the building committed to being the most famous symbol of Love. Today, in the city of Agra, tourists and residents are urged by local police to stay indoors as rioting follows a traffic accident. The Taj Majal remains open through two of its three gates.
Police imposed a curfew Wednesday in parts of the northern Indian city of Agra that is home to the Taj Mahal and advised tourists and residents to stay indoors after rioting that followed a fatal truck accident, officials said.
Rioting occurred after a speeding truck, (lorry) careened into a group of pedestrians, killing four Indian Muslims. Riot police reacted killing one person. Crowds turned violent throwing stones and other objects at police at the chaotic scene of the traffic accident. Out of a sense of caution, the Taj Majal was shuttered, then reopened shortly afterwards. Tourism at the world famous landmark is expected to remain unaffected by today's incident, but the site of many vehicles burning is not going to prompt tourists to explore the cityscape of Agra. Schools are closed for the next three days in reaction to the violence and to allow tempers to cool. (Picture from AFP)

Take a magnificent virtual tour of the Taj Mahal, considered one of the Eight Wonders of the World, and its garden with all of its breathtaking enchantments.

Or read a beautiful architecture book, giving the history and evolution of Islamic architecture in a variety of settings in Islamic Art and Architecture: From Isafan to The Taj Mahal from Henri Stierling.

The Complete Taj Mahal: and The Riverfront Gardens of Agra by Ebba Koch is just an exquisite book in elegance and beauty devoted to the history of the treasure that is the Taj Mahal.

Hurricane Katrina Remembered & Now What

We were told it was a direct hit headed right at the Gulf Coast. President Bush attended a birthday party with cake with luscious white frosting and navy blue lettering for Senator John McCain. We knew the magnitude. We saw the size of the storm. We herded people into the Louisiana Superdome as a place of last resort. There were people who had no gas money or would not leave their precious pets behind. Many people waited for the last check of the month so they could pay for medications.

And then Katrina hit...

August 29, 2005 exposed an American way of life to the world in all its shame and glory. And today most of the 9th Ward in Louisian still looks like this:

In Mississippi, the Gulf Coast is struggling.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"What I Meant Was Something Else"

Communication covers a universe of theories and emotional stuff with results that may confirm, affirm or deny the original intent. When the striped-pants crowd says things like, "deeply troubling" its diplomatese for somebody is in deep doggy do a bit before starting sanctions or bombs falling on other nations. Diplomats have an exact language and say words conveying dual dire meanings which sound innocuous, but they really just SHOUTED in Internet speak. It takes time and patience to understand, acknowledge and mirror back for confirmation the nuances that derive a nations policies and positions. No wonder a good number of Nobel Peace Prizes have gone to those beleaguered few engaged in diplomacy on the Israel & Palestine issue.

Organizations set up communication departments or teams to translate business/mission speak for their employees. Dilbert mocks the majority of those efforts every day. Today's media gorges on entertainment "news" focusing its trite communication efforts there because its a money maker. Rudy Giuliani gets credit for communicating effectively during 9/11 and failing grades when he panders to an audience, overstating how long he participated at Ground Zero. Same subject matter, but the reason for communicating changed.

At the individual level, we may need just a wee bit more moments of silence, or not. We have a a family values Idaho senator explaining he was not guilty today after pleading guilty to disorderly conduct a couple of months ago, after miscommunication his intentions of why he was in the airport's bathroom stall. We have a verbally challenged president having a hissy fit because his loyal aide de camp must exit the Justice department on the wings of shame, while Bush undermines his own credibility by conflating Iraq and 9/11 once again confusing his message. In the glare of the lights a Miss South Carolina gives an amazingly dumb answer is still being talked about today. She gave it another go on morning television.

During last week's pageant, Miss Teen South Carolina Lauren Caitlin Upton was asked why one-fifth of Americans couldn't find USA on a map.

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps," she said tentatively.

She also made random references to South Africa, "Asian countries" and "the Iraq", and said they needed support from the American educational system.

Upton told South Carolina's The State newspaper she "completely misunderstood" the question and "didn't do anything wrong". "I wasn't expecting (the question). I lost my train of thought."

Ah, the essence of communication - sometimes you have it - sometimes you don't.

Here is a very short cool personal test to see how you communicate.

One of my all time favorite great books on communicating is Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson et al.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Night of the Red Moon

A rare eclipse coloring the moon blood red is slated for this evening. Australia will get the first show.
Stargazers can expect the moon to shift between shades of red, orange and yellow, as the atmosphere filters out most of the blue light.
The colours will depend on the extent of volcanic gas and dust in the atmosphere filtering the light. (Picture from Florida/Reuters)
Powerful telescopes, long lensed cameras and professional binoculars are part of the equipment load for the sky sighting. If you are on the west coast of the USA the show starts at a dizzying 2:52 PM and ends about an hour later.

Myths about the evening and the meaning of a Red Moon abound. Some feature Christopher Columbus and his astute use of the eclipse to sway Jamaicans to further assist and supply his voyage.

The story goes that in 1504, Christopher Columbus frightened native leaders in Jamaica by predicting a total eclipse of the moon and attributing the blood-red natural phenomenon to angry gods.

The Caribbean island's inhabitants, even more impressed with the explorer's supposed ability to convince the gods to return the moon to its normal shining state, then provided him with the provisions to continue his voyage.

This an amazing line up of the Sun, Moon and Earth which provide the spectacular effect. This is a great educational guide to The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and How to See Them: Observing Eclipses, Bright Comets, Meteor Showers, and Other Celestial Wonders by Fred Schaff.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Collectors Warned In Asian Art Boom

Being nouveau riche in any culture, brings a certain steep learning curve to sophisticated cultural palettes. Those new to art collecting bring bundles of cash, but not nearly as much knowledge about valuing art or making wise long term investments in the medium. Must have art today may not hold its value longer than a few months based on emerging trends. New artists are not always aware nor the best judges of how much history's patina adds to a style or body of work.
Art consultant Joy Loh, owner of Eagle's Eye Art Gallery, said modern artists are fighting back at art collectors' pre-conceived ideas of art.

"The young generation artists are into contemporary art. Their paintings are much more conceptual. They would talk about their own ideas and their own childhood experiences and what make them paint the way they do, disregarding how other people view their works," she said.

Besides shaking off preconceived notions of art, art collectors must also learn to discern the exotic from flavour-of-the-moment art trends.
Chinese Art is attracting an intense amount of attention and money in the art world. China and much of southeast Asia are spouting an extraordinary number of new millionaires. One of the advantages to ready capital in Asia is the ability to act quickly in a hot art market. Prior to the Olympics in 2008, everything China has a certain cachet attractive to novice art collectors. A true question is, will the trend last beyond 2008, and during China's woes with toxic pollution and the effects of global warming. (Picture by Sara Krulwich/New York Times)

Keeping cultural artifacts within its borders is also important to China and other southeast Asian nations. If pieces become collected by museums a slow shift in tourism dollars can cause havoc for an economy as well.

In an interesting cultural acknowledgment for "Art Beijing", South Korean art galleries in Seoul, display the newest of young Chinese art talent. The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi province will feature emerging art talent from around the nation in one of its largest exhibits and cultural art fairs in September. Chinese art is a worldwide phenomenon with European art mavens selecting some of the artists to be featured. In a cooperative effort, Korea will host gallery showings and display the art works of some of the young talent available in China.

Meanwhile, at the National Museum of China, located in the heart of Beijing, works of 15 young Korean artists will be exhibited from Sept. 7-28 under the title ``Wonderland.''

It is an exchange exhibition that comes with ``Floating,'' an exhibition featuring young Chinese artists, currently underway at South Korea's MOCA in Gwacheon. Korean artists to be featured in ``Wonderland'' include Jung Yeon-doo, who was designated as ``Artist of the Year'' by MOCA this year, Lee Hyung-koo, whose works were exhibited in South Korean pavilion at this year's Venice Biennale, and Hong Kyoung-tack, whose work ``Pencil I'' earned a record price of 770 million won at Christie's auction in Hong Kong in May.

Modern art appeals to a certain sensibility and an appreciation for the immediate. This work by Du Xinjian is available as a screen saver along with art works by other contemporary artists.

More modern connoisseurs will enjoy the powerful Mahjong: Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection by Feng Boyi, Christopher Heinrich, Uli Sigg, Li Xiantang, Hou Hanru and Matthias Frehner.

My art preference leans towards the calligraphy masters and beautiful period pieces from prior dynasties. Lisa See's books cover some of the gorgeous historical details.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Greece Fires

Greece is now declaring a national emergency! Origins for the flames engulfing the south of Greece remain unknown, but arson is suspected. A tragic loss of life continues to climb as the fires are fought in the worst weather conditions imaginable, high winds and heat. Greece is calling on the European Union for assistance. High winds make firefighting from the air precarious.

Desperate people called television and radio stations pleading for help that they feared would not arrive in time.

“I can hear the flames outside my door,” one caller from the village of Adritsaina told a Greek television station, according to Reuters news service. “There is no water anywhere. There is no help. We are alone.”

In a month Greece's embattled Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis , stands for election. Five hundred soldiers have been mobilized to fight the uncontrolled fires mostly concentrated on the Peninsula. Other fires broke out closer to Athens which were quickly brought under control. Drought is taking a toll with the firefighting effort. Mourning is terrible and the true horror is sinking from harsh images after surviving a terror filled night.

It's a tragedy," another witness told Greek television.

"I can see the burnt bodies of a mother holding her child in her arms. Further away there are more bodies. It's terrible."

A villager living near Zaharo, Stathis Kokaliaris, directed his anger towards the authorities.

Greece is the home of Western civilization. The Peloponnese have a history codified in the best of the ancient traditions tracing back to Thucydides and his chronicles of the Peloponnesian War.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Hillary's Dumb Remark

Foreign policy is the subject that most Americans tanked on in a recent survey. Most Americans just don't care for the discussions the survey showed. America's national security is tied to foreign policy.
Two-thirds of US adults admit to being in the dark about political issues outside the United States, and only a third are well-versed in US politics, the results of a poll published Tuesday showed.

Global political knowledge was minuscule, with just three percent of women and 14 percent of men saying they are extremely knowledgeable on world politics.

One reason for the knowledge gap is lack of interest, according to the poll. (emphasis mine)

In light of that, primary voters pay attention to the borrowed and patently untrue rhetoric of republicans would win in 2008 if there is a terrorist attack blowing out of Hillary's mouth. Why, oh why, grant an undeserved sacred status to republicans on national security. As a sitting junior senator from New York, it is hard to miss that republicans were in charge when 9/11 occurred with every policy they have touched swimming in a vast cesspool of incompetence. So, why would a smart Hillary use republican talking points?

The stinging criticism of Hillary's fellow Democratic presidential candidates is well deserved after this remark saying a terrorist attack would give the edge to republicans in 2008. A few national polls showing her in the lead may make her sloppy early, playing a prevent defense. That is something no one wants to see. Leading in the polls now is akin to predicting American Idol after the first show of the season - see some exhibit relic named Sanjaya. Hillary can't mail it in when there is a viable alternative readily available.

There have been a number of chatty books about Hillary out on the bookstore front tables. One that tries to paint her fairly and in sharp relief to her careful public persona is from Carl Bernstein half of the famed Watergate duo. He authored A Woman In Charge.

Universe Has An ENORMOUS Hole In It

An empty donut hole in the universe smacks of a cosmic wit. The hole is long, stretching like super spandex jeans one billion light years across. Imagine packing for a space tourist trip examining the void, traveling at the speed of light it would take a billion years to get to the other side. A rip in the universe lends itself to infinite questions with precious few details for answers. Like what's in the hole - nothing, no matter, it is a vast wasteland, just there.

Impassioned scientists are urgently discussing or dissing all theories dark - matter and energy. NASA gives an explanation in 101 terms. What would have the type of gravitational pull that would Hoover the space clean? Mysteries of the cosmos has the science world abuzz and awaiting Lawrence Rudnick's paper in Astrophysical Journal.
Not only has no one ever found a void this big, but we never even expected to find one this size," said study lead author Lawrence Rudnick of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
This is an exciting discovery dating the universe's incredible age to billions of years based on the CMB or Cosmic Microwave Background - the leftovers from the big bang. But there are those among us who fervently believe the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old. A focus on this science brings into sharp relief the universe's expansion, anomalies with the existence of the "ancient light" embedded in the CMB.

To find out more about the mysterious dark matter or what make mass in the universe we have books with a variety of theories. In Search of Dark Matter by Geoff McNamara and Ken Freeman is a book that describes the intricacies of our universe. There are some who believe we have multiverses.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Princess Masako Controversy Drives Threats & Sales

Storied histories, fabled horrors and snagging a Prince is conjured up by the feminine power of one word, Princess. Pick any country with a royal heritage and the stories are there for all to see or read in fairytale scripts or in lurid color at a tabloid newsstand. An Australian writer did that, receiving a bona fide death threat for his scribing efforts in Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne. Tough review from Japanese royal watchers for Ben Hills, not at all appropriate for the book jacket, but wow, will it drive book sales.
Hills said he had received the anonymous death threats via email. “They were saying things like, ‘Die white pork!’ They were quite racist,” Hills said.
Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun. It is a closed Asian culture wedded to ancient traditions and modernity. The Chrysanthemum Throne has existed for a thousand years into the 21st century. Marrying into the family is a disappearing act for the Princess, never to interact with beloved family and friends as the Princess ascends into the royal family. The Imperial Household Agency, nothing like Merry Maids Cleaning Service, have all the power and the skills to use it as courtiers and managers of every royal matter. Nary a word that has not been prearranged shall drip from the tightly held pale lips of the royal family. There lies the backdrop of what the Australian author has the temerity to speak of with the riff raff public, what happens when not in public for Japan's Crown Princess.

Tales of conception and nervous breakdowns are not new for Japan's royal family. Princess Masako's mother-in-law, Empress Michiko has suffered as well. Imagine the shock to an admission of alcoholism by a prince in the line of succession.

The book on Princess Masako is about to go on sale in Japan as a translation. It is doing well enough in America, Australia and other English speaking countries. Japan's royal dishing is old hat to the Windsor family and a quick review of the Continent's royal escapades are the stuff of modern legend. In comparison, Japan royal shenanigans are downright boring. It is just that they have never been in the public eye before and the initial dousing in the cold waters of reality takes some adjustment.

Ben Hill says he has no apologies to make for his book. Many in Japan beg to differ.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Question of Faith

Faith is present or omnipresent in a vast number of subjects in today's marketplace of ideas and ideals. Faith or the lack of it is a subject of intense questioning for US politicians as they court faithful and non-believers alike for votes. An ever present debate about the separation of Church and State goes to biblical times if one is a Christian. Some health care practitioners believe Faith helps during recoveries from illness or accidents. Islam places the poor above collecting fees for financial services. A sense of personal Peace comes to believers in times of trouble out of a healthy respect for the unexplained good and generosity that resides in the human spirit and shines through on many occasions.

Self-determination for country and individual alike flies in the face of fundamentalists who believe their religious construct is what everyone else should adopt. Those who resist will be assimilated, much like Star Trek's Borg. For the past few days, CNN's Christiane Amanpour is highlighting the dominance of Faith as practiced by the hardest liners of three major religions; Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Much joy and much evil has sprung from the shared roots of dogma in each religion exhorting their practitioners to violence, ostracism and a divine belief that there Way is the Only Way.

Abraham is the father of the three religions locked in combat and obstructing Peace on Earth. There are circumstances in history when the three faiths existed side by side in harmony. To our eternal shame, history records evil perpetrated in the name of religion by all three. No one is a complete saint and none are a complete sinner. The fundamentalist arguments have been about the degree.

God's Warriors is the result of visiting eight countries in eight months seeking understanding. Christiane's struggle to cover herself appropriately for Islam with the Imam never once looking her directly in the eye makes the point that respect is a driving tradition for each of the faiths. Each wants respect for their Faith. Watch the clips and note the care and attention paid to understanding the hard core beliefs embedded in practice and the origins of the thoughts.

Faith for those who have a little, for those who have an abundance and for those who just accept the day's gifts as they are may have Grace to accept and tolerate others and allow it to be a guiding Principle. Happy Birthday CJ, you are Loved and the struggle for Faith endures.

In the spirit of the CNN program is a great book looking at the issues of Faith shared by Abraham, yet resolves nothing while illuminating the land of the beginning. It is by Bruce Feiler, entitled Where God Was Born: A Journey by Land to the Roots of Religion.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ice Melts Reveal Islands

Melting soggy arctic ice creates a sovereign real estate quandary as well as intensifying the debate over the UN's computer projections on the rate of global warming. Norway's arctic ice is melting at a fast rate, unsettling polar bears and seals from their known Svalbard environments. In this ecosystem's food chain, polar bears hunt seals, with seals needing a stationary place to nurse their young. Polar bears are struggling to stay alive and find solid ground to raise their cubs. In early 2008, the Bush administration will decide whether to list the bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Islands are emerging from the ice that have never been mapped or claimed. Recent shrill pronunciations of owning the North Pole's Arctic Seabed emanated from the highest levels in Canada, Russia, Denmark and the US. A French oil company, Total, is putting its resources in the Arctic to map the oil and natural gas fields. The United Nations is the referee in the match.

Norway has extended an invitation for the policy makers in the US to come see the ice dissolve for themselves. US Congressional members are making Greenland the new "in" ice junket. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was recently in Greenland. It is turning into a tourist location which does not preserve the environment. Norway claims tours offered by Russia are the epitome of destructive environmental practices.

U.S. senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain, among contenders to take over from President George W. Bush in 2009, visited in 2004. Since then Nordic prime ministers, tourists, climate students and Arctic researchers are coming too.

Tourists, many on cruise ships, spent a total of 70,000 nights in the islands last year, up from almost zero 20 years ago. Bergstrom said tourists were rich, and so could be influential when they returned home. (emphasis mine)

Companies are also bringing people in to see the effect of the glaciers melting. The issue is what to do after powerful, rich and policy making people visit as tourists. Melting occurs during the summer is referred to as "melt season". Knowing that the projections are for the arctic ice to be gone by 2100, (some say by the middle of this century or even 2030), many are rushing to see the glacier remnants and the new archipelago during the "season". Extreme surfers are now surfing after a chunk of ice drops into the Arctic Ocean creating monster waves.

Earth Under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World by Gary Braasch is due for publication in October of 2007. It chronicles the effects of global warming on areas rarely traveled all over Earth.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Middle East Mysteries

Camels are croaking at an alarming rate in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom's Agriculture Ministry is confining the mystery camel deaths to hundreds. Many Bedouins regard camels as a necessity for keeping the quality of their way of life. Camels are bred for transportation, milk, and an ability to bear people or heavy loads. They are indigenous to a harsh desert climate with sweeping sandstorms and little fresh water. The catastrophic losses are critical matters of state for King Abdullah.
"The disease has to be limited to one place to prevent it spreading and then they have to find a serum," said camel breeder Hamad al-Harthy, who talked of hundreds of deaths.
No identifying cause for the deaths of so many animals has been made. Many camel owners in Saudi Arabia are speculating as to whether there is an infectious disease running rampant in the camel population. The Kingdom is offering payment and their initial belief is that there is a problem with the feed used. But the mystery remains.

In Egypt, they believe they have found the oldest human footprint to date. Of course, Dr. Zahi Hawass explains the find in his inimitable style known to lovers of Egyptian antiquities:

"This could go back about two million years," said Zahi Hawass, the secretary general of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities. "It could be the most important discovery in Egypt," he told Reuters.
Archaeologist are on a quest to find the tomb of the Lost Queen. The program from the Discovery Channel gives glimpses into the busy lives, family perils and fatal petty jealousies at court.

“The discovery of the Hatshepsut mummy is one of the most important finds in the history of Egypt,” Hawass notes. Indeed identification of Hatshepsut’s mummy is being billed as the most important event in Egyptology since the discovery of King Tutankhamen. The mere identification of a mummy seems to pale in comparison, but Hatshepsut isn’t just another mummy. She was one of the more remarkable rulers of ancient Egypt and certainly the most remarkable queen. ...

...The search for Hatshepsut has raised more questions than it answered. While scouring for clues that could lead to her whereabouts around her monuments and tombs, teams stumbled across love letters from her chief architect, bringing up questions about the nature of their relationship. Her daughter’s tomb was also discovered, as were indications that she was being groomed to take the throne after her mother.
The entire link is worth the read as the implementation of a Mummy DNA lab and identification has caused its own rifts and accusations in modern times.
For more on Egypt's considerable contributions in archeology read Valley of the Golden Mummies by Dr. Hawass. It is a pictorial feast. Many of the stunning pictures are from his personal collection.

Bedouins and Nomads: People of the Arabian Desert by Etienne Diehu shows a stunning portrait of the cultural richness alongside immense hardships. This book was published in 2007.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hurricane Dean Havoc & Typhoon Terror

"Come to Jamaica and feel all right..."

Jamaica's Tourism Board and famous hospitality resorts are rethinking that phrase today in light of the ominous swift approach of gatecrashing Hurricane Dean.

A Category 4 on the way to 5 Hurricane has also cut short Endeavour's first space outing since 2002. The astronauts at the space station could clearly see the immense scope of Dean while orbiting in space.

The latest URGENT Jamaican advisories are bracing for a direct hit on the Greater Antilles Island at Kingston.
Based on Dean’s official forecast track, the eye of the hurricane is expected to begin moving over the waters just south of Jamaica early this afternoon before tracing a path adjacent to the coastline throughout the rest of the day. During this period, hurricane-force winds are likely to be experienced by most of the island, generating dangerous storm surges and battering waves initially along northeastern coastal areas and then along the southern coast.
Jamaica's poor have the worst shelters with few resources and will need aid and the world's assistance immediately. While everyone waits, the eye of the storm is that eerie time when sound returns to normal long enough to increase the anxiety as the backside of the storm has yet to pass whipping everything in the other direction. My sister has beautiful pictures from just over a week ago in Jamaica. May those pictures be in abundance in the future along with an outpouring from the international community in Dean's aftermath.

The Yucatan tourist mecca also lies directly within the cone of Hurricane possibilities and Dean will have strengthened to a full force Category 5 after traveling over the warm bathtub seas of the Caribbean.

On the south coast of China, Typhoon Sepat has killed and dislocated over 900,000 in evacuations. The Philippine's killer Typhoon Egay is on track to hit China.
Typhoon "Egay'' unleashed heavy rain with gusty winds in extreme northern Luzon as it weakened and exited the Philippine area of responsibility and moved toward China.

It weakened even further after crossing the mountainous terrain of Taiwan. As it moved northwest toward China at 11 kilometers per hour (kph), the typhoon's center winds slackened to 120 kph, and its gustiness waned to 150 kph, according to Pagasa (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration).

And we are just hitting the halfway point of Hurricane season in the West, while the East has almost another month before the Typhoon season is officially over.

For further updates:
Australia - global feeds at Australian Weather Watch Radar Network
USA - NOAA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration has Hurricane Center
United Nations - Met Office (Meteorological) links to each country, nation or kingdom

Peace and hope to all affected!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Double Oh! Oprah & Obama

Obama stops traffic in Iowa and Kenya. Oprah is the most famous billionaire black woman philanthropist for the planet. Two gravitational forces of personality are coming together for a mammoth fundraiser, scratch that, in Oprah parlance, "A Celebration" of this place and time in history. Oprah Winfrey does not endorse candidates. But Lady O is all in for Barack Obama and American political pros acknowledge the media maven's historic influence.

There was no hiding the mutual love-in when Sen Obama appeared on Winfrey's sofa last October, culminating in his gushing line: "Oprah, you're my girl". She has now repaid the compliments, referring to the senator as "my favourite guy" and "my choice".

"Oprah's support is much more than the usual celebrity endorsement," said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist and veteran election-watcher. "Most stars are just a name, but she can deliver votes in the crucial categories of women and African-Americans.

Meanwhile Barack's wife, Michelle, rocked Council Bluffs, Iowa. Sasha,9, and Malia age 6, did the petting zoo and great fun was had by all.
"I am really worried that we won't make the right decision this time around. And I'm really going to put everything that I have into making sure that people understand what's at stake and that we are thinking with our heads and not with fear."

The Obamas and Oprah go way back. Two years ago, Oprah and Obama traveled to the Houston Astrodome to comfort displaced, mostly black, poor victims of Hurricane Katrina. Both caused international paparazzi pileups as Oprah opened a world-class leadership school for young ladies in South Africa and Barack had an AIDS test in Kenya. A year later on the Audacity of Hope book tour, Obama and Michelle sat in front of the klieg lights facing a grilling about whether President Obama was in the offing.

What is different this year, is black folks are setting agenda and fundraising records. Neither Clinton believed Obama would fundraise with the deft skill and big money results of an incumbent president. No one thought diversity would factor so heavily in a presidential race. For Americans, this is the equivalent of the next Queen of England, Chinese President or Pope being Black. Always possible, never probable. Oprah & Barack are making strides to change the course of History.

Oprah reads and recommends other people's books. Needless to say she loved both of Barack's efforts. A natural gifted writer he is painfully truthful in Dreams of My Father and forward thinking in Audacity of Hope.