Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2007 by Karin

A time of reflection

A time of prayer

A time of devotion

A time of rememberance

A BLESSED RAMADAN TO ALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS AROUND THE GLOBE
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SHANA TOVA U’MEVURAH TO THOSE WHO STRIVE FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE!
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Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2007 by Karin

A time of reflection

A time of prayer

A time of devotion

A time of rememberance

A BLESSED RAMADAN TO ALL MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS AROUND THE GLOBE
~
SHANA TOVA U’MEVURAH TO THOSE WHO STRIVE FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE!
~

No Mercy in Bethlehem

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2007 by Karin

Date posted: September 10, 2007
By Amira Hass

The five daily prayers helped Nader E’bayat calculate how many days had passed during his first weeks of detention at the interrogation division of the Palestinian Preventive Security Service in Bethlehem. Toward the end, when he was transferred to the interrogation cells at the Bituniya headquarters, he started to lose count. Altogether, E’bayat spent 47 days in detention, from June 30 to August 15. He was released on the order of the Bethlehem magistrate’s court after no evidence was presented to prove accusations that he had participated in Hamas’ operative force in the West Bank.

E’bayat is one of some 650 Hamas members who have been arrested by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces in the West Bank since the middle of June, Hamas says. Palestinian human rights organizations estimate that 80 to 120 Hamas activists are currently detained in various interrogation facilities throughout the West Bank. Many of those who were released are afraid to give written testimony about their ordeal, while the rumor mill has it that Hamas activists have been instructed to spread orchestrated lies about torture in detention.

MORE >>>
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By the Same Author:
* No Mercy in Bethlehem
* Candy at the Checkpoint
* Three Governments and One Closed Crossing
* A Pattern Of Closure
* Gaza Residents Tell of Demeaning Interrogation by Shin Bet
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In 9/11 remembrance, a turning to good deeds

Posted in Uncategorized on September 11, 2007 by Karin

REMEMBER 9/11 forever!

September 11, 2006 – Five Years Later

By Alexandra Marks

On Sept. 11, Jacob Sundberg of San Antonio has pledged to make eye contact and smile at everyone he meets.

Kaitlin Ulrich will bring goody baskets to the police and fire departments in and around Philadelphia. And 100 volunteers from New York – 9/11 firefighters and family members among them – are going to Groesbeck, Texas, to rebuild a house destroyed by a tornado last December.

This is a minute sampling of the hundreds of thousands of people who have pledged to memorialize those killed on 9/11 by doing something good for others.
The heroic acts of all those killed trying to save others that September morning has spawned a growing grass-roots movement. The goal is to ensure that future generations remember not just the horror of the attacks, but also the extraordinary outpouring of humanity during the days, weeks, and months that followed.
“It was the worst possible day imaginable, and in some ways, a remarkable day, too, in the way in which people responded,” says David Paine, cofounder of myGoodDeed.org. “We need to rekindle the way we came together in the spirit of 9/11: It would be almost as much a tragedy to lose that lesson.”
Sept. 11 has inspired dozens of philanthropic efforts – from groups dedicated to building memorials to foundations designed to improve education in the Middle East. But myGoodDeed has a more universal goal: to turn 9/11 into a day dedicated to doing good – from small, simple things like Lisa Scheive’s pledge to help stranded turtles cross the road in Pompano Beach, Fla., to lifesaving efforts, such as John Feal’s decision in New York to donate one of his kidneys to help a seriously ill 9/11 worker.
The idea has been endorsed by members of Congress, and at myGoodDeed’s urging, President Bush for the first time this year included a call for volunteering in his annual 9/11 proclamation.

After major disasters, Americans have historically tapped a deep reserve of compassion and reached out to others. But in the months and years that follow, those compassionate and civic urges tend to recede. Studies at Harvard’s Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement in America found that in as few as five months after 9/11, most Americans had gone back to their daily lives and were not more engaged as they said they’d hoped to be. Part of the goal of turning 9/11 into a national day of service is to remind Americans of the inherent joy of giving and to hopefully spur volunteering and charitable acts throughout the year.

“I don’t know of any research that’s been done on one day of service, but studies have shown that people who do volunteering in high school are more likely to volunteer throughout their lives,” says Thomas Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar.
The idea of turning 9/11 into a day of service, charity, and good deeds came from the family and friends of one man: Glenn Winuk, a volunteer fireman and lawyer who worked a block and a half from the World Trade Center. After he helped evacuate his Broadway law offices, he grabbed a medic’s bag and ran toward the smoke pouring from the South Tower. That’s where his remains were found after the towers fell. Mr. Paine and Glenn’s brother Jay had been friends for years.

They decided that turning 9/11 into a day of service was best way to memorialize Glenn.

“It completely reflects the way my brother lived his life, and it also specifically reflects how he died,” says Mr. Winuk, myGoodDeed.org. cofounder. “He laid his life on the line for other people that day.”
In 2002, Paine and Winuk sent e-mails to friends and family and suggested they do a good deed, such as donate a day’s pay on 9/11. Then the idea evolved, and they founded myGoodDeed.org. In 2004, 100,000 visited their website and pledged to do a good deed on 9/11. This year, those pledging number more than 250,000.
“A lot of people don’t know what to do on 9/11,” says Paine. “This hits people in their heart and their soul. It connects with something that’s fundamental.”
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Bush, Iran and Israel’s Hidden Hand

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2007 by Karin

Nuclear Hypocrisy in the Middle East

By KATHLEEN and BILL CHRISTISON
Former CIA Analysts


The internet is loaded these days with reports of the inevitability of a U.S., or a U.S.-Israeli, attack on Iran. Some writers allege that the attack is imminent. Others, including the writers of this article, argue only that the attack will happen sometime before January 2009, when the Bush administration leaves office. Many of these stories have by now been picked up by the mainstream media. In fact, it is probably safe to say that today a majority of the traditionally cautious and so-called respectable foreign policy experts in the U.S. think it is at least possible that Bush will attack Iran before he leaves office.

Such is the power of recollection with respect to how Bush bulled his way into invading Iraq in 2003 that many people simply accept that he might gamble on doing it again. He has made it clear that in this “War on Terror,” victory means everything to him. He might also believe that a win in Iran could reverse current setbacks in Iraq and also bring victory closer for the U.S. and Israel in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine. And he has already shown that he is willing to accept the killings of hundreds of thousands or even a million people in the hope of going down in history as a great commander-in-chief.

The people of the United States are the only ones with a chance of stopping him, and it can only happen if a powerful majority of voters will join in a maximum effort to impeach both Bush and Cheney right now. This has to happen before the U.S. and/or Israel undertake any expanded military efforts against Iran.

All of this will be difficult, and many will think it impossible. We citizens of the U.S. who do not want our country to become involved in a greater war with Iran will not have most of the print and TV media with us, nor the military-industrial complex that wants more wars. The Israel lobby will desperately oppose efforts to impeach Bush and Cheney, because it will recognize instantly that the two top U.S. leaders are the lobby’s strongest backers of war with Iran. At the same time, most of the Democratic Party leadership and all but one or two of the Democratic presidential candidates will be reluctant to support impeachment because they are competing with the Republicans in an effort to show that each party supports Israel more strongly than the other.

But the people of this country have plenty of power to defeat all these forces if they will use it to support justice, particularly in the Middle East, which is today the highest priority area where U.S. and Israeli foreign policies play a major role, and the area where those policies are the most unjust. We believe it will be by no means impossible to persuade a majority of American voters, given their already established distaste for U.S. failures in Iraq, to rip off the cocoon of pleasant but apathetic consumerism in which they have encased themselves, and participate more seriously in the political processes of our country than they ever have in recent years.

The impeachment itself will have more to do with the past than the future, since a legal action can only indict (impeach) and then convict a person for past actions, not for actions that may be likely in the future. So impeachment will concern Iraq and domestic policies of the Bush administration, not Iran. But at the same time, once we get their interest, people should have a heightened awareness of future planned acts as well as of past policies of the government. If we can move fast, we will have time to show how the plans to attack Iran create a greater need than ever for an impeachment effort to succeed, and to succeed now.

The first point to make in persuading people is that Iran itself claims it has no nuclear weapons now, and no intention to produce them in the future. The first part of this statement is true; the supporting evidence is overwhelming. But Iran’s claim that it will not in the future develop nuclear weapons is subject to doubt, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has found no evidence to the contrary. The other nations in the Middle East and South Asia that have been developing nuclear weapons over the last 50 years — Israel, India, and Pakistan — all lied to the U.S., the U.N., and other countries, claiming that they were not building nuclear weapons when in fact they were. Iran might well do the same.

More important is the sheer logic of the situation. As one nation-state in a world of nation-states, Iran knows that it has every bit as much right to develop nuclear weapons as the U.S., Israel, and other present nuclear powers. Compared to Israel, Iran has both a population and a land mass that are much larger. So why is it permissible for Israel to have several hundred nuclear weapons and impermissible for Iran to have any? The answer given by Israel supporters that Israel never signed the NonProliferation Treaty of 1970 while Iran did, is spurious. The NPT is, for practical purposes, a dead letter. Under the treaty, the U.S. and other signatory states already possessing nuclear weapons promised to begin serious negotiations to eliminate their own weapons, but they have never done so, or even tried, in the years since 1970. If Iran were in fact discovered to be developing its own weapons, Iranian officials could say, hand on heart, that they would be pleased to quit violating the treaty when the U.S. did.

Since the U.S. right now is embarking on a program to upgrade its nuclear weapons and delivery systems capabilities, and shows absolutely no intention to negotiate toward eliminating those capabilities, Iran would seem to have quite a strong legal case. Iran might also argue that the situation has so changed in its region of the world (with Israel, India, and Pakistan all now having their own nukes) that it must withdraw from the treaty and obtain its own deterrent force. It has not done that yet because it still claims that it does not want any nuclear weapons, but that option is always, and quite legally, open to it. By the way, any argument that Israel is a more moral and “better” country than Iran — and thus more deserving of nuclear weapons — is a bit of sanctimony worthy only of being rejected out of hand.

The key point here is that Iran’s nuclear capabilities are not now, and will not be at least for a few more years, a significant threat to the U.S., although over the same period they could be seen in Israel as a somewhat greater threat. Therefore, to the extent that Iran’s nuclear weapons potential is at all a real cause of present U.S. and Israeli aggressive policies toward Iran, these aggressive policies are being carried out more to benefit Israel than the U.S. It is actually likely that the main motive behind U.S. and Israeli policies (as was the case in Iraq) has nothing to do with nuclear weapons but is rather to bring about regime change in Iran and strengthen the joint dominion of the U.S. and Israel over the entire Middle East. This raises the broader question of whether such joint dominion is truly in the best interest of the United States, or whether it is favored in Washington mainly because it is being pushed by the Israel lobby.

Another point needs to be made that should also help persuade U.S. voters to oppose a war against Iran with all their strength. Bush is fond of saying that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Of course, when he says this, he never tells his listeners what his definition of terrorism is. In fact, we cannot recall any occasion or speech since the so-called War on Terror was launched in which Bush has spelled out what he means when he uses the word.

The best definition of terrorism is “the use of violence against civilians for a political purpose.” If one buys this definition, which is widely used, Bush’s statement that Iran is the leading state sponsor is plainly false. Using any criterion you choose that covers all civilians — killings, destruction of homes, shootings or beatings or mistreatment of the sick at checkpoints — what governments would you say were the leading purveyors of terrorism in the last five years?

Hint: creating “shock and awe” is a good definition of at least one form of terrorism using aircraft, modern bombs, and missiles. Sniper shootings of children in Gaza is another. Destroying the olive trees that provide basic income for an entire family and then forcibly confiscating the land on which the olive trees stood is yet another form. But then, there are numerous others, including the use of torture on prisoners.

It is so easy, yet so reprehensible to list Iran as the number-one terrorism culprit. At a minimum, we Americans must understand that many others around the world regard us as far worse terrorists than any in Iran. For pushing “terrorism” as a justification for waging war against Iran when the U.S. is just as guilty of even greater terrorism, Bush and Cheney must beyond question be impeached and convicted with all possible speed, so that they can never start that war.

Bill Christison was a senior official of the CIA. He served as a National Intelligence Officer and as Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis.

Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.
They can be reached at kathy.bill.christison@comcast.net

Popcorn addicts risk lethal lung condition, doctors warn

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2007 by Karin

Thursday September 06 2007

Popcorn, the favourite snack of millions of Americans, can cause a potentially fatal health condition known as popcorn workers’ lung, an alarmed public is discovering.

A love of microwave buttered popcorn caused a relatively healthy 53-year-old American to develop severe breathing problems. The cause of his illness was tracked down to the microwave popcorn he loved so much that he would inhale steam from the bag as it came out of the oven.

The link between the man’s illness and popcorn was established by Dr Cecil Rose, who had been dealing with popcorn workers’ lung for years as a consultant to the food industry. “I said to him this is a very weird question but bear with me, are you around a lot of popcorn?”

“His jaw dropped,’ she told The New York Times, ‘How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr Popcorn. I love popcorn’,” the patient replied. He had eaten buttery microwave popcorn at least twice a day for the past 10 years. When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much,” Dr Rose said.

“That’s heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers’ studies is the highest risk.”
Dr Rose found levels of diacetyl in the man’s Colorado home after he made the snack were similar to those in microwave popcorn plants. She put him on a microwave popcorn-free diet.

Six months after his diagnosis, the man has lost 50lb and his lung function has improved.
Synthetic butter or diacetyl inhaled as a vapour has damaged or destroyed the lungs of hundreds of workers in the food industry.
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Hat tip ROBIN

Opera Great Luciano Pavarotti Dead at 71

Posted in Uncategorized on September 7, 2007 by Karin

Luciano Pavarotti performs before a sell-out crowd of 12,000 to christen the new Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino Events Center on the Las Vegas Strip, Saturday, April 10, 1999. Pavarotti, whose vibrant high C’s and ebullient showmanship made him one the most beloved tenors, has died, his manager told The Associated Press Thursday Sept. 6, 2007. He was 71.
(Las Vegas News Bureau, Brian Jones/AP Photo)


‘The Babe Ruth of Opera’ Had Fans Far Beyond the Opera House

By BILL BLAKEMORE and TOM GUBAR
Sept. 6, 2007

Italian opera star Luciano Pavarotti has died at his home in Modena, Italy, the singer’s manager said.

The legendary tenor, who was among the world’s most celebrated and beloved singers, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2006. He was 71 years old.

At his side were his wife, Nicoletta; his daughters, Lorenza, Cristina, Giuliana and Alice; his sister, Gabriela; and his nephews and close relatives and friends, according to a statement issued by manager Terri Robson.

His last public performance singing the aria “Nessun Dorma” from Puccini’s opera “Turandot” was at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, in February 2006 and his last full-scale concert was in Taipei, Taiwan, in December 2005.

In the months preceding this, he had given worldwide farewell concerts in Central and South America, the United States, Spain, France, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia, Japan, China, Russia, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, according to Robson’s statement.
He had such outsized talent, that his appeal reached far beyond opera lovers.

“Luciano Pavarotti is the Babe Ruth of the opera world,” Joseph Volpe, Pavarotti’s longtime friend and former general manager of New York’s Metropolitan Opera, told ABC News before the singer’s death. “There isn’t anywhere Luciano wouldn’t be recognized incredible charisma, smile and his sense of humor!”

Volpe also knew that Pavarotti’s magic with the crowds was great business, “People would pay the high price for an entire season’s series of 10 operas just to hear Pavarotti in one of them,” he said.

If opera is all about the emotions made supreme, Pavarotti was a master and his voice was the ultimate instrument for it, Volpe explained, recalling the raptures he and thousands of other opera lovers felt.

“The warmth of his voice, it was kind of like being out on a beautiful summer day. You feel this warmth, you feel relaxed, feel this is what life’s about,” he said.
If opera is all about the drama and the tragicomedy of life, the very image of Pavarotti was all about that too and very Italian.

He loved to eat, loved to gather a giant table of family and friends and really loved to sing.


Son of a Singing Baker & Deep in the Heart of Opera Country


Pavarotti was born in Modena, Italy, deep in the heart of opera country not all that far from Milan with its world-famous opera house, La Scala.

His father was a baker and amateur tenor, with whom a young Pavarotti sang in choirs and choruses.

Pavarotti had dreamed of being a soccer player, but then “that voice” emerged and his music just took over. They say people born with great voices just love to sing, have to sing. Pavarotti was soon concentrating all his spare time while teaching school and selling insurance to make money on studying the fine points of phrasing and repertoire and foreign language pronunciation for those operas in languages other than Italian.

Pavarotti’s opera stage debut was in 1961. He caught the attention of diva Joan Sutherland, who asked him to join her tours in 1965. He gathered experience and notice and finally got a big break on the concert stage in “La Boheme.” Pavarotti sang the part of a passionate young artist who had found his muse, and the opera world found a new star.

Then he did something astonishing and totally unexpected.

There is a passage in the opera “Daughter of the Regiment” where nine high C’s follow close upon one another.

No tenor had ever even attempted it.

“Pavarotti was always challenging himself, always looking for something new to try,” said Volpe, who was there the night Pavarotti tried it at the New York Met. He remembers the pandemonium that ensued.

Pavarotti has written of it, telling how his nervousness and self-rebuke soared in the hours and minutes before he would go on stage and try it. “Why am I doing this to myself?!”

Then he stepped out on stage. The music soared, the passage arrived and before he knew it, it was over and he had done it. He hit all nine high C’s in a row. Perfectly. He even made it seem easy.

The opera house went wild.

A superstar was born.


Not Just the High Notes


But it wasn’t just his mastery of the high notes that made Pavarotti’s voice so extraordinary, as Volpe explained.

“Luciano focused all his expression in the voice, the singing,” said Volpe, acknowledging that Pavarotti didn’t make that much of a mark with his acting, as some opera stars try to do.

“What was it you were hearing? His voice? Or did you say, My God! This guy really believes this!” Volpe said.

“He could sing and break your heart that’s what it was.”

“That voice” attracted whole new opera audiences around the world. Half a million gathered to hear him one night in New York’s Central Park.

When he asked Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to join him in “The Three Tenors,” it made opera part of pop culture:

They broke sales records for classical music worldwide.

Looking back on it all, Pavarotti explained it like this: “It’s not to make myself popular,” he said in a 1981 BBC television interview. “It’s to make the world of opera popular. I think it’s the certain way to give back what God gave to me the only way [to] please as many people as possible.”


Inexplicable Magic

Volpe remembers the inexplicable magic like love itself that materialized between the superstar with his great toothy smile and his audiences with their suddenly pregnant yearning when Pavarotti appeared.

“He walks on stage. Just the way he would walk on and smile, the audience would sometimes go crazy just for that. He hadn’t even done anything yet, “said Volpe. “He just walked out there.

That charisma, that personality, that somehow reached so many people.”

As his fame grew, so did his girth and so did the rumors of amours.

Late in life, when his marriage of many years fell apart as he left his wife for a young assistant, it all seemed to many fans like part of the opera. They didn’t seem to mind.

“One thing is for sure. The audiences react to what you give them,” Pavarotti said in the BBC interview. “I love people, and I think people understand that.”

In his most famous and acclaimed aria performance “Nessun Dorma,” he sang about love’s ability to conquer all. So it was with Pavarotti between the singer and those he sang to a love affair to the end.

SOURCE
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The beauty of Luciano Pavarotti, RIP 1935-2007

… and one of my alltime favourites – NESSUN DORMA

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