Sunday, August 31, 2008

Barack Obama In America's Story - Part 1

This past week was really hard for me to write about Barack Hussein Obama, Junior. As a student of history it hurts and heals to write about the events as they rolled down like Justice from all the Good and Evil that came before. The Obama Family will stride into the pages of world history forevermore, with possibilities as the American First Family. Their pictures will be so different than all those on the walls of the White House, on official Holiday cards, or upon entering any federal building and seeing Barack Obama's likeness there. Context requires a stinging trip down memory lane's gutters reviewing some of the racial practices and policies describing how it began. It is a small attempt to put context in understanding the truly historical significance of what happened since Jamestown.

One place to begin is with a map made by two ambitious brothers to the New World for travel by sea, rather than overland to acquire bulk Asian goods more easily after the 1453 fall of the Ottoman Empire. Christopher Columbus received the 1492 patronage of Spain's King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Castilian warrior Queen, Isabella, to go forth and conquer as it were with the Santa Maria, La Niña & La Pinta. The Spanish treasury was depleted from the latest round of European Wars. Imperial Empire. Fateful decisions. Columbus forcibly imported Haitian people specimens to show off in Seville upon his 1493 return. His second trip was brutal with killing and the practice of bringing back human chattel for Europeans to purchase for their own amusements.

America's First People called Indians or Native Americans endured many attempts by Europeans to establish a foothold on their land and to convert them to Christianity. The 1607 attempt that made America, started in founding Jamestown.
Thanksgiving sprouted as a concept. As a tobacco farm prospered, Matoaka - renamed Pocahontas, was made to marry John Rolfe who issued her the new name, Lady Rebecca. Battles continued between the developers/plantation owners and the Powhatan, ending with the murder of Pocahontas's brother, the Chief, while in custody. No one truly knows her interpretation of events, though many Europeans mythologized her, especially after she died in England.

Slaves became fashionable and necessary to farm huge plantations, especially as indigenous peoples died from disease and famine brought by the usurpers. The Europeans also brought the idea of commerce, representative governments for the aristocratic white men and the horrors of the Middle Passage. America embraced the land grab and purchased a Louisiana package, ratcheting up the need for people and those
that would be made to serve the richest of many of them. Slavery, America's original sin and permanent stain.

Our Constitution was written without a resolution to slavery, with the sweat, blood and tears of each slave and slaveholder mixed in all that follows. Thomas Jefferson wrote, he trembled to fear that God was Just. Yet, economic politics held sway. Incorporated by the Founding Fathers, each black man was counted for census purposes as

3/5ths of a person

A potato famine saw an influx of Irish immigrants to the eastern shores of the United States. The only saving grace for them integrating into the American fold was that they were white. Those of Chinese descent working on the American railroads and mining for gold in California suffered other indignities. Mexico suffered a grievous defeat at the hands of Americans in 1848. The loss of land crystallized
on this content a harsher vision of eminent domain. Texas considered itself a nation in its own right until the US annexed it in 1845. Harriet Tubman suffered a horrible head injury from an enraged slave master, yet still managed to use the legal system and found the Underground Railroad. White abolitionists took to visceral arguments stirring strong resentment in southern states.

The 16th president, ambivalent, sometimes hostile to the cause of Negroes, issued the sweeping Executive Order to free slaves during the Civil War in one fell swoop pertaining to statuses resulting from war. Abraham Lincoln had no power to free all in every state as the Emancipation Proclamation makes clear. Lincoln sustained a reputation for hard nosed pragmatism, bucked up by his friend Frederick Douglass, The Lion of Anacostia, a free bi-racial ex-slave, inspiring millions of modern Americans with his bicentennial looming as a celebration in 2009. How many will know that Victoria Woodhull was the presidential candidate with Frederick Douglass, her running mate on the Equal Rights Party Ticket?

Huddled masses yearning to be free greeted millions of immigrants as they processed through Ellis Island, overlooked by France's gift of The Statue of Liberty,
having their names anglicized, but moving into culturally similar neighborhoods. years prior, ethnic groups of Dutch, Irish, Polish, German and Scandinavians among indentured servants and others, moved en mass to take advantage of the Homestead Act which displaced many Native Americans from lands they farmed or held for buffalo for centuries. Indians were placed on supposedly sovereign reservations. Immigration became a hot button after the 14th Amendment was interpreted by an 1898 Supreme Court decision to conclude people born on American soil were citizens. At the turn of the century, restrictive laws targeting Asians escalated with the Geary Act. Not repealed until after segregating Japanese in the 48 states in internment camps during the middle of World War II. Japanese immigration to Hawaii

Jim Crow laws took effect following the abysmal reconstruction era presidency of Andrew Johnson. The Ku Klux Klan tried to impose the will of a white superiority mimicked by Europe's Hitler with for an Aryan world. Americans tried to turn inward and isolate itself from the world. The assassination of an Archduke by a Bosnian Serb triggered a terrible war that ended with the 1918 Treaty of Versailles orchestrated by one of the most racist presidents ever, Woodrow Wilson, a
Democrat, who previewed the racist tripe of Birth of a Nation in the White House. Hitler garnered power seeking to impose his white, exclude any one of semitic origin, will on the world, even after Jesse Owens won a gold medal in Germany.

Japanese imperialism made their presence known by bombing the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, a base placed on a multi-cultural US territory after the US triggered the overthrow of Hawaii's Queen. Millions of Americans of all colors and creeds joined to fight for the cause of freedom because the day that lived in infamy inspired all to sacrifice for the war effort. Barack Obama's grandmother riveted and his grandfather
marched. They were not alone. Japanese surrender came after Harry S Truman ordered the Enola Gay to drop The Thin Man and Fat Man atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In the Negro community, culture prospered while injustices propagated wantonly. Quality of life issues stayed separate and supposedly equal as outlined in the Dredd Scott case before the Civil War. After WWII, the US military was integrated by presidential action. A young civil rights lawyer took civilian cases for the NAACP involving education. In 1953, Brown versus the Board of Education became the law of the land per the Warren Court. A picture of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall hangs in Senator Obama's office on capital Hill.

A young seamstress and Alabama NAACP secretary was tired when she got on a bus and sat where there was an open seat. The white driver told her to get up. She refused. Rosa parks emboldened a 27 year old preacher to lead a year long boycott of a bus company that went darn near broke trying to keep black folks in their place at the back of bus. Separate drinking fountains, lunch counters infuriated young people both black and white and they embarked on Freedom Rides as part of the Children's Crusade. The unifying factor
was the call for nonviolence no matter the provocation of fire hoses, snarling German Shepard dogs and the beatings, oh the beatings. Firebombs and Molotov cocktails were launched, Edgar Medgars was shot in his driveway in Mississippi, yet the Civil Rights movement would not stop.

A bundle of joy arrived in Hawai'i. His parents were of Kenyan and Irish American stock. Their baby was born in the the brand new state of Hawaii in 1961. His name was Barack Obama. Two years later, while he was learning to walk and run, that young preacher gave a seminal speech on the steps Of the Lincoln Memorial on while a young President looked on with his brother Bobby. Some how many of the threads in this nation's history wind into an American flag made from the trials and tribulations of so many.

Out of all this, peoples' Hopes, no matter how thin the string, held to believe that the next day would be better than the last in America. Part II coming.

Narrative of the Life of a Slave from Frederick Douglass retains its power. Now in Paperback for less than $5 US.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Ancient Urban Cities Found in Amazon

Imagine losing all sense of direction in São Paulo, Brazil a skyscraping vertical city brimming with well over 10,000,000 paulistanos or people. Makes it mush easier to understand how a series of antiquated urban complexes were lost throughout the ages under the density of the green foliage and trees of the interior of the Amazon's rain forest. People have traveled up and down the Amazon river for centuries seeking "lost" cities of gold, untouched civilizations or a place to hide amongst the anacondas, spiders and certain species of the fabled flesh-eating swarms of piranhas. (Science/AAAS, Claire Leimbach/Robert Harding World Imagery)

And no one has found lost cities in the Amazon forests. Twentieth-century anthropologists concluded there weren't any, believing that "urbanism" in pre-Columbian South America existed only in the Andes Mountains.

Scientists working in Brazil say hold on — they've found the remnants of several clusters of towns built as long as seven centuries ago.

Michael Heckenberger from the University of Florida has been excavating in a region of the southern Amazon called Xingu.

"The real kind of head-ringer," he says, "is the fact [the villages] never occur alone."

Simultaneously, I am excited and kind of horrified. The Amazon rainforest already disappearing at a horrible clip to raise cattle and farms and build roads through the rainforest for biofuels is creating havoc with nature, the Earth's collong system and sustainability. More people will want to study the area's findings, meaning more degradation of the environment that the planet can ill afford. MatoGrosso has already lost half its trees as seen by satellite images. Pre-columbian finds in the upper Xingu River, a tributary that feed into the Amazon, are establishing a pattern of sophistication and organization that were not credited to the area until the rise of the Incas.

These finds whet the appetite for more knowledge of how they planned each city of 50,000 with specified areas for fertilizer or waste, roads on a northwest to southwest axis in each community and community plazas located in the center of town just like their ancient Greek counterparts. It opens up a breathtaking panorama of opportunity for speculative theorizing and upsets the scholarly applecart of some places claiming intellectual preeminence. Genetic markers will show the continuity of the people of the region.

"They have quite remarkable planning and self-organisation, more so than many classical examples of what people would call urbanism," he said.

Although the remains are almost invisible, they can be identified by members of the Kuikuro tribe, who are thought to be direct descendents of the people who built the towns.

The tell-tale traces included "dark earth" that indicated past human waste dumps or farming, and concentrations of pottery shards and earthworks.

The researchers also made use of satellite images and GPS navigation to uncover and map the settlements over the course of a decade.

The communities consisted of clusters of 60-hectare (150-acre) towns and smaller villages spread out over the rainforest.
South America is becoming a bigger hotbed of archaeological finds supporting a quality of life better than historians estimated. More old myths of European superiority are crashing everywhere as the elimination of the tribes is thought to have happened with Europe's colonization efforts and the range of diseases they brought with them. The Brazilian anthropologists and a local member of the indigenous people had their proof of concept paper published in Science. Those who won the battles wrote the first histories and now the truth is starting to emerge more fully right before our modern urban eyes.

A true view and flavor of the Amazon's ecology and indigenous peoples can be found in Bruce M. Beehler's contemporary Lost World: Adventures in the Tropical Rainforest for less than $20US. It takes you to the rainforest without all of the bug repellent and gives the supreme rationales of conserving an area vital to the health and well being of 6,000,000,000 folks on our shared planet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Have a Dream - The Beginning

August 28, 1963 from hills and hamlets across the American land came people together in common cause for Civil Rights for all of God's Children. Martin Luther King Jr., laid down markers and challenges for America to fulfill. Washington DC filled the roads with buses and people walking, then marching - 200,000 pairs of feet walking and marching for Freedom.

The Dream Lives On. What a world 45 years later. Reverend King gave us a starting point.

Now is the Time...

Martin Luther King "I Have A Dream"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gustav Deluges Caribbean, Oil Market Next?

Haiti, already suffering the tortures of the damned, watched precious crops go under the stalled onslaught of water from Hurricane Gustav. A trash filled Port-au-Prince and other populated areas are starting to see floods and no emergency assistance in sight. During the deluge, outbreaks of food price protests are still rocking the capital - literally! The Haitian people are throwing rocks in Les Cayes wearing plastic bags as raincoats. Havana, Cuba is watching it streets and beaches become at one with the water as rainfall will be somewhere between 6 to 12 inches just two weeks after Fay. The Dominican Republic sees mudslides turning tragic with a mounting death toll.

Gustav was moving slowly, an ominous development for Haiti where hillsides have been stripped of trees and heavy rains frequently cause disastrous mudslides, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

At least two people were killed on Tuesday in a mudslide in Haiti.
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, eight people -- seven from the same family -- were buried under mud when a hillside collapsed just north of Santo Domingo.

Havana, Cuba 26 August, 2008 (Photos Reuters)
Gustav was rated a tropical storm, but could return to Hurricane status at any time once out over the warm waters of the Gulf Of Mexico. Jamaica issued tropical storm warnings along with all of the Cayman Islands. Haitians are being told to prepare evacuate. Floridians are not taking anything for granted anymore when former hurricane, Tropical Storm Fay made a record breaking 4 landfalls just sitting there dispensing rain and misery on each visit. Eastern Cubans are being warned that Gustav is packing a more powerful punch than Fay.

There's nothing but cash induced adrenalin in the hearts of oil speculators as the price of oil wobbles with the Gulf filled with oil rigs and the potential for disaster to oil supplies making the prices jump like a wet cat.
Concerns that Hurricane Gustav would strike installations in the Gulf of Mexico in coming days sent energy prices higher. Crude futures climbed $1.16 to $116.27.

Gustav is "still a long way from oil and gas infrastructure, but gas traders will be keenly focused on direction/magnitude of this summer's first storm to potentially impact energy markets," securities firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. told its clients Tuesday morning.

All around the Gulf coast people are eying reports with trepidation as Gustav is expected to regain Hurricane strength. The map lines represent Gustav's possibilities with Florida heaving up prayers of relief.

It is already a deadly and active hurricane season as we come up on the anniversary of America's most devastating hurricane to human and national reputation alike, Katrina, on 29 August. New Orleans sits well within the possibilities as Gustav slowly moves back out to sea where refueling could supersize the storm into a monster hurricane.

Mummy Season in Peru, Italy, Egypt

(Photos Reuters Mendivil)

Ancient mummies from thousands of years ago capture attention in the midst of the modern world. Automatically, Egypt takes pride of place when mummy find announcements are made. But Peru is unraveling the conventional wisdom with the news that archaeologists in the middle of the capital city of Lima, have unearthed a 1300 year old lady mummy. Unraveling the intricacies of the pre-Columbian Wari culture uses these burial rituals will consume anthropologists for years. What stays consistent through the years are the human scavengers through out history that rob the tombs. sometimes its the professionals that consider them a find and put the treasures on display for all to see and marvel over. What makes a bit of difference is the intent on opening the grave and the permissions granted. There is a reason 1925 discovery began the great King Tut curse affecting prominent curators and explorers alike after seeing the sarcophagus. The blue eyes in this map mock up are rather creepy but the 1300 year old mask had them pinned on, leading the archaeologists to name her The Lady of the Mask.

The woman was from the Wari culture, said archaeologist Isabel Flores, who heads work at the Huaca Pucllana, a mud-brick complex several blocks large located in the Miraflores district of Lima.

"It is an important find, because we have found over the years several tombs that have been looted, but never one that was intact," Flores told AFP on Tuesday.

"It is a woman because in the surrounding area we found offerings and textile items like those of a (female) weaver," Flores said. The archaeologists also found ceramics and the remains of children who were offered as sacrifices to accompany the dead person in the afterlife.

The Wari robe found has an intriguing pattern design on it. More interesting, is that the accomplished road building culture came before the Incas. This find may yield insights for years to come.

The Lima grave had three mummified adults, but its clear that the lone child found was part of the common ritual sacrifice of the Wari culture to the sea and their land. Peru is also finding more cultural treasures and artifacts in the Andean highlands making a strong case for placement in the pantheon of cradle of civilization titleholders.

In Egypt, finds in King Tut's tomb bring questions such as paternity of the 2 fetuses found in a box, nowadays they would be called preemies, or why were the girls were inside Tut's tomb the first place from a cultural standpoint.

Then, there is the German couple, Helmut and Erika Simon who in 1991, climbed Simulaun Glacier in Italy when much to their surprise, discovered a body
on ice. Shock set in when the classification of the remains are carbon pinpointed as prehistoric. The Italian city government of Bolzano sponsored the gingerly intricate removal of the Mummy, authenticates it with national resources, takes possession of it, releases pictures of the mummy, makes it available for public tours, earns millions of euros over time, but gave a chintzy offer to the couple of 5000 euros for their trouble. Both nations laid claim to The Iceman. Finally, German couple sued Italy fourteen years ago and are just now coming to a settlement after a chintzy offer by the Italians. What is it with Italy demanding their stuff, like art works, but not giving rights to others for making a discovery or keeping ancient treasures they officially looted in the name of fascism? (Photos EPA)
For years, Bolzano's provincial administration have been offering the Simons 50,000 euros.

In spurning the fee, the Simons cited the estimated four million euros a year the Iceman generates for restaurants, hotels and souvenir-sellers in Bolzano alone - not to mention a worldwide industry of TV programmes, documentaries and books.

They filed suit to establish who found the prehistoric hunter and who should get the proper reward.

Italian law lays down a finder's fee of 25% of a discovery's value.
More interesting, The Iceman is now said to be cursed after seven people mysteriously died under curious circumstances. Helmut Simon died in a mountaineering accident in 2004.

Filmmaker turned author Hugh Thomson, spent years trekking across Peru, yet touches the spirit that the key to understanding country is to acquire knowledge of it ancients roots. As a testament to that he brings his love of lore and his historical wanderings to paper in A Sacred Landscape: The Search for Ancient Peru. I'll say it again one of the best books to be found on pre-Columbian history is 1491 from Charles Mann. It is a must have for any well stocked library.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Coming Soon: Mystery of the Black Hole

Dire predictions, nails bitten to the quick and nerd joy at the prospect of finding and proving some of physics deepest secrets will play out in on computers in a science red carpet moment. In a monster opening box office, September 10th looms large for Doomsday prognosticators, science watchers and CERN citizens will watch with bated breath as the curtain pulls back and a shaky finger pushes the go live button on the world's largest particle physics lab. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) fires up to smash atoms faster and harder in a cool horror flick kind of way while the search for making Earthly black holes climbs to a new level. There are some nervous nellies freaking out that the world will be instantly sucked into the vortex of a man-made black hole beyond the event horizon to save ourselves from becoming a tossed space particle salad. Somebody wanted to hold the nuts...
Battle of the Colliders
Much larger CERN versus the older Femilab - may the best atom slayer win....
But near Chicago, Illinois, the US Department of Energy's Fermilab is saying, look at us, we have the capacity with Tevatron's 170 giga electron-volts to find the God Particle too, if it exists, except, the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN is is the almost $4 billion USD Godzilla of the particle collider realm. Sequels already. It will be a notable international event about who and where the origins of life are found as atom guts are examined ad nauseum. Dark Matter will star as studies and dissertations do mortal combat to prove the existence of other dimensions tearing asunder current belief systems. The Higgs boson has captivated one man for nearly forty years and is one of the remaining theories that the atomic colliders are focused upon. CERN's LHC is brand new.
“We don’t know what we’ll find,” said Abra­ham Sei­den, di­rec­tor of the San­ta Cruz In­sti­tute for Par­t­i­cle Phys­ics at the Uni­ver­s­ity of Cal­i­for­nia, San­ta Cruz, a U.S. par­ti­ci­pant in the proj­ect. About half the U.S. ex­pe­ri­men­tal par­t­i­cle-phys­ics com­mun­ity has fo­cused its en­er­gy on the col­lider’s two larg­est par­t­i­cle de­tec­tors, called AT­LAS and CMS, ac­cord­ing to Sei­den.

LHC is huge in eve­ry way—its size, the en­er­gies to which it can ac­cel­er­ate par­t­i­cles, the amount of da­ta it would gener­ate, and the size of the in­terna­t­ional col­la­bora­t­ion in­volved in it. The pow­er­ful beams of par­ti­cles are to cir­cu­late around the 27-km (16.8-mile) un­der­ground tube at CERN, the Eu­ropean par­t­i­cle phys­ics lab based in Ge­ne­va. Af­ter some test­ing, the beams are to cross paths in­side the de­tec­tors to make the first col­li­sions.

Sci­en­tists say the de­bris from those crash­es—show­ers of sub­a­tom­ic par­t­i­cles—will rev­o­lu­tion­ize our un­der­stand­ing of na­ture. A key hoped-for mile­stone is disco­very of the Higgs bos­on, a hy­po­thet­i­cal
par­t­i­cle that would fill a gap in the “s­tan­dard mod­el” of par­t­i­cle phys­ics by en­dow­ing fun­da­men­tal par­t­i­cles with mass. This should oc­cur by 2010, Sei­den said, if the Higgs ex­ists at all; na­ture may have found an­oth­er way to cre­ate mass. “I’m ac­tu­ally hop­ing we find some­thing un­ex­pect­ed,” he said.

Black holes are delicious Hollywood diva stories waiting for their closeup. The flying spaghetti monster is what nonbelievers called believer's God or Higher Power in the Universe and science is seeing what makes the noodles flop about in space. Touched by his noodly appendage What happens when one or an entire star like the sun is sucked into the stuff of cosmos conflict - only black holes are theorized at the creation/destruction of particle levels.

Dr. Hawkings, the as-yet non Nobel winning brilliant physicist has some strong feelings on the subject. In an interesting newly released book from Stanford professor Leonard Susskind, The Black Hole War: My Battle with Stephen Hawking to Make the World safe for Quantum Mechanics details the intricacies of the arguments between the generalists and the string theory practitioners over the years culminating in verbal fisticuffs over what happens inside a black hole. Buy & Read the book first, the movies always screw it up.

Happiest of Birthday's CJ - the world of science will make many great things probable, but your Faith shall make all things possible!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stockholm Hosts World's Biggest Water Fight

It's another conference about water, mainly everybody's waste water. Much of the world's population, 2.5 billion people go to the bathroom leaving behind much of the water unfit for human use because a toilet does not exist. An epidemic of over 1.4 million kids die all over the world from diseases directly associated with the lack of clean water, year in and year out. Everybody needs to get a little pissed. With over 2500 water experts from 170 organizations debating and discussing the issues of fresh water, sanitation and hygiene in Stockholm, its bound to get a bit tense over a lack of urgency on issues related to water. That is happening at the World Water Week again in Stockholm this year at the annual conference. Most of the globe's population remains oblivious that conservation is about to take over all our lives as water resources dwindle and issues about who controls it makes the world military powers have itchy trigger fingers.
"We've had a luxurious lifestyle during the last 25 years, not caring at all about the environment. It's necessary to change the way people consume, buy, eat," said British professor John Anthony Allan, winner of the 2008 Stockholm Water Prize.

Almost half of the world's population lacks proper toilet facilities, a situation
that can have dire consequences on public health and which poses a challenge to resolve since water is becoming an increasingly
scarce resource.

"Sanitation is one of the biggest scandals of all times. It's something that we have to put on our radar screen," insisted Prince Willem-Alexander of the
Netherlands, who heads up the UN Secretary G
eneral's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. (Photo Prince Willem-Aexander)
Biofuel discussions are causing mental meltdowns as many scientists urge people to eat less red meat. Even in the US, vegans versus vegetarians versus carnivores is no joke as animal waste is causing massive food recalls from outbreaks of E coli and other waterborne diseases. Royals are piping up all over the world on food and water issues. Organic farmer, Bonny Prince Charles himself went nuts over genetically modified foods, calling them an environmental disaster and an experiment gone seriously wrong was roundly criticized for his remarks.

The conference will also look at the problem of increasing water stress throughout the world in the wake of global warming, with climate scientists estimating 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity by the year 2025. High on the agenda will be the effect human beings are having on the world's climate.

"We have to understand that what we eat and the products we buy have an immediate implication for the availability of the world's water resources," Blenckner said.

Plus this:

A British professor, John Anthony Allan, said the effect of the growing use of biofuels "is too frightening to even begin to realize."

Allan, 71, of King's College, London, was awarded the 2008 water prize for his concept of "virtual water," which measures amounts of
water used in the production of food and industrial products.

He also urged people to cut down on meat consumption, saying it was "bad for the environment."

"Nonvegetarians consume five cubic meters" or 176 cubic feet, "of water per day; your bath is a tiny puddle compared to that. It is the water for food that is the big problem," Allan said. "Be rational and eat less meat."

UNICEF declared 2008 the International Year of Sanitization. In western nations with sewage infrastructure in place, the unpleasantness of being human and the disposal is taken for granted on a large scale. Almost 40% of the world's population does not have the same luxury, leading to shortened life spans and a drain on everyone's resources for aid and large migrations of people fleeing war torn areas as fights over perishing fresh water continue in earnest. Nobody is shying away from the tough stuff at the conference either. India, China and Vietnam regularly use waste water in their agricultural practices. Just don't expect something so important and basic to get carried on the US evening news.

The meeting, which opens Monday and is entitled "Progress and Prospects on Water: For a Clean and Healthy World," will focus in particular on the dangers that the lack of adequate toilets and hygiene facilities presents to 2.6 billion people.

"It's not very popular to talk about toilets and excrement and where to go when you are menstruating. This is something that makes people feel uncomfortable," Stephanie Blenckner, spokeswoman for the Stockholm International Water Institute that is organising the event, told AFP.

Last year's post: World Water Week in Sweden Affects Us All. This year's annual water fest ends 23 August, 2008. Mark your calendar's Global Handwashing Day is 15 October, 2008 for the entire world. Everyone must have clean water to wash their hands.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Pakistan Powder Keg, Musharraf Impeachment Threat

Pakistan's ruling parliament made the I-word, impeachment, threat to former general President Musharraf implicit. Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi repeated, resign or watch us strip you of what's left of your coalition's power publicly in less than a week. Multi-tiered fascination abounds. Musharraf anointed himself president in a military coup, while the Pakistani army essentially says we do one coup per guy. Musharraf used his freebie already and the army is currently spouting noble words on how this is a civilian situation. Enfeebled President Pervez Musharraf who pinned on his general stars and knife edged ironed his army outfit for the last time six months ago for public consumption, is trying cut a deal with anybody who will listen as the ground erodes beneath his feet, Wyl E. Coyote style. No ability to use hard power renders Musharraf impotent in today's Pakistan, and for the worsening situation in Kashmir, even for protecting sporting events and their players. On cue, Al Qaeda's Zawahari utters his two cents.
However, Mills told The Press newspaper that nothing the taskforce or Lawson said had allayed the players' fears, adding that the situation in Pakistan was changing daily and had worsened even after the delegation had visited New Zealand.

He conceded the security plans were impressive on paper and some of the best he had seen.

"But the fact remains they are untested and we have doubts whether Pakistan could deliver on those plans," he said.
The foreign policy inept Bush Administration ensured the US government had all its chips in the "democratically" elected Musharraf's presidency. They doubled down on Musharraf being able to quell dissent like they did with a fake riot in Florida the US press hyped and hoped that if they just believed Musharraf would just muscle his way through this. The problem is, who exactly has control of Pakistan's nukes now and who exactly will have control after Musharraf has all his possessions eradicated from the halls of power. India and the US are both deeply concerned with a resurgence of al Qaeda in Pakistan, an up tick in religious violence in Kashmir from inside Indian controlled areas over a toilet installation at a sacred shrine and from the border, Afghanistan's paralysis of a surge of Taliban fighters and policies and Pakistan's adroit and powerful intelligence agency, ISI, getting even cozier with covered in US, India & China's money, an ascendant Saudi Arabia. Bush has no friends with real power or diplomatic network in place to work through the issues. Condi Rice gets State Department frequent flyer miles, not progress. (AP photo/Yasmin in Kashmir)
Bajaur, like other tribal district, is believed to provide sanctuaries for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters launching cross-border attacks on US-led international forces in Afghanistan.
Let's see, Russia is busy slapping around upstart Georgia while Vladimir Putin spit in Bush's eye at every turn after Bush claimed to have seen Pooty-Poot's soul when gazing deeply into his eyes. Notice, Putin was at the Olympics, not the president, but Putin exited after the opening ceremonies to act as Russia's Commander in Chief. President Musharraf suffered a loss of his tattered prestige earlier this year with the assassination of popular political rival Benazir Bhutto, the spectacle of departing the former prime minister, the declaration of Martial law, the firing of the Pakistani Supreme Court and the jailing of dissidents while the middle class's power is out during a heat wave. The kicker is Musharraf was seen as a key voice of settling violence in the Kashmir region. How Bush like as other areas see rise in religious violence as Musharraf plans his next steps.
Local newspapers said that Taliban militants from the neighbouring North Waziristan tribal zone had entered Kurram to back the Sunni tribes involved in the fighting, now in its 12th day.
Residents said Sunni tribesmen torched three villages belonging to Shiite tribes and both sides used rockets, heavy machine guns and mortars in the fierce clashes.
"In today's and yesterday's clashes at least 23 people have been killed on both sides and 28 others were injured," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Pakistan is a powder keg atop long range nuclear missiles with a shifting alliance three-way internal struggle between secular, fundamentalist religious forces and Sunni and Shi'a fighters for control of rural tribal villages. The fighting won't stop, even if Musharraf became the ex-president in the next five minutes, but somebody who is not a friend of the USA or India will have their hands on nuclear weapons while Bush frets about Iran & Iraq and Saudi Arabia, who don't yet have them. They have something else though, money to buy them or the technology.

Further critical reading can be found from a number of subject matter experts on the tangled ties between America, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India. The Pakistani Army has never before been
chronicled so well in Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army and the Wars Within from the scholarly author, Shuja Nawaz.

Descent into Chaos: The United States and the Failure of A Nation comes from the best selling author expert, Ahmed Rashid, as he painstakingly charts how a dangerous Bush focus in Iraq ignored the larger context in southeast Asia where the real problems exist.