Archive for December, 2010
“He shut down parliament, suffocated political life, banned trade unions, and made Chile his sultanate. His government disappeared 3,000 opponents, arrested 30,000 (torturing thousands of them) … Pinochet’s name will forever be linked to the Desaparecidos, the Caravan of Death, and the institutionalized torture that took place in the Villa Grimaldi complex.” – Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, National Review
Military leader General Pinochet seized power of Chile on Sept. 11, 1973, in a bloody military coup that toppled the Marxist government of President Salvador Allende. He then led his country into an era of robust economic growth. However, Pinochet soon made it clear that he had little use for political parties, banning all of them. He also dissolved Congress and scrapped the Constitution. He blamed the democratic political system for having allowed a coalition of Socialists and Communists to take control of the government. In a 1973 news conference, he asserted that Chile would require “an authoritarian government that has the capacity to act decisively” and would not return to the traditional political party system for a generation. It was a vow he kept.
Under Pinochet, the Chilean press was censored, and labor strikes and unions were banned. A fearsome security apparatus known as the National Intelligence Directorate, or DINA, persecuted, tortured and killed Pinochet opponents within Chile and sometimes beyond its borders. A government-commissioned report issued in 2004 concluded that almost 28,000 people had been tortured during the general’s rule and it is estimated that more than 3,200 people were executed or “disappeared” by Pinochet.
Pinochet managed to block virtually all attempts to prosecute members of his security forces for human rights abuses. Through intimidation and legal obstacles, he sought to ensure his own immunity from accountability and in fact was never brought to trial. But in an astonishing turn of events nearly a decade after he stepped down, he was detained in Britain and then, on his return to Chile, forced to spend his retirement years fighting a battery of legal charges relating to human rights violations and personal corruption.
During those last years he lived in near seclusion, mostly at his home in Bucalemu, about 80 miles southwest of Santiago, scorned even by many of his former military colleagues and conservative civilian ideologues. Many were disillusioned by revelations that he held, at the least, $28 million in secret bank accounts abroad. He died in 2006, at the ripe old age of 91.
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The Irish have their potatoes, the Koreans have their Kimchi and the Sri Lankans have their… coconuts. Sri Lankan authorities have been forced to step in to control the sharp increase in the price of coconuts — a dietary staple — by setting a ceiling price and arranging imports to ease supply and demand. So important is the coconut to the national cuisine that shortages in the past have had serious political implications and even been held responsible for the downfall of several governments.
The coconut (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing up to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4–6 m long, and pinnae 60–90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly, leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut.
The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropics for decoration, as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm can be utilized by humans in some manner. Culinary uses of the various parts of the coconut include:
• The nut provides oil for cooking and making margarine.
• The white, fleshy part of the seed, the coconut meat, is edible and used fresh or dried in cooking.
• The fleshy part can be desiccated to produce coconut milk in making curry dish and other dishes using coconut milk.
In order to prevent a national crisis, the Sri Lankan government set a ceiling retail price of 30 rupees (27 US cents) per nut in a network of state-owned stores, but stocks quickly sold out and then reappeared at more than double the price on the black market. The government has now decided to import coconuts from India and Malaysia to end the shortages. This is big news in Sri Lanka, where coconuts have traditionally been a key export, after tea and rubber, but the conversion of plantations for housing development and increased consumption has led to severe shortages in recent times.
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Founded over 500 years ago, The Sikh religion today has a following of over 20 million people worldwide and is ranked as the worlds 5th largest organized religion. It is a monotheistic religion founded in fifteenth century Punjab on the teachings of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and ten successive Sikh Gurus (the last one being the sacred text Guru Granth Sahib Ji). Sikhism preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. Sikhism is open to all through the teachings of its 10 Gurus enshrined in the Sikh Holy Book and Living Guru, Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Sikhism’s traditions and teachings are associated with the history, society and culture of Punjab. Adherents of Sikhism are known as Sikhs (students or disciples) and number over 26 million across the world. Most Sikhs live in Punjab, India although there is a significant Sikh diaspora. Until India’s partition, millions of Sikhs lived in what is now Pakistani Punjab.
The principal belief of Sikhism is faith and justice, in Waheguru—represented by the phrase ik ōaṅkār, meaning one God. Sikhism advocates the pursuit of salvation through disciplined, personal meditation on the name and message of God. The followers of Sikhism are ordained to follow the teachings of the ten Sikh gurus, or enlightened leaders, as well as the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib Ji, which, along with the writings of six of the ten Sikh Gurus, includes selected works of many devotees from diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds.
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“Revenge is a dish best served cold.” –Ancient Pashtun saying.
Pashtunwali, “the way of the Pashtuns,” is a non-written pre-Islamic honor code that is followed by the indigenous Pashtun people that inhabit much of Afghanistan-Pakistan. Pashtunwali governs and regulates nearly all aspects of Pashtun life, ranging from tribal affairs to individual “honor” (nang) and behavior.
By adhering to Pashtunwali, a Pashtun possesses honor (izzat); without honor s/he is no longer considered a Pashtun, and is not given the rights, protection, and support of the Pashtun community. It is governed by the concepts of chivalry (or bravery, courage) (ghayrat or nang), hospitality (melmastia), gender boundaries (purdah or namus) and council (jirga).
With the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, some aspects of Pashtunwali have attracted criticism from the West, particularly with respect to its impact on women’s rights. Pashtun men are expected to protect Zan, Zar, Zameen (women, gold and land), and “losing face” is viewed as tantamount to tragedy.
A woman’s honor is closely tied to that of her husband and male family members in Pashtun society. If a woman earns a bad reputation, her whole family, which includes the men, is irreparably sullied. Thus, complete chastity among female relatives is essential to preserve the reputation of the family. Thus, women are restricted to private, family compounds in much of the province. Unfortunately, Pashtun injustice towards women doesn’t end there; women are frequently awarded as compensation in blood feuds, murdered in honor killings and are deprived of educational and health resources in the name of preserving female “honor.”
I don’t know about you, but an ethos that demands the subjugation of half of its population, by dint of one’s gender at birth, doesn’t seem very “honorable” to me….
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Hormonal contraception refers to birth control methods that act on the endocrine system to prevent pregnancy. They are made up of female sex hormones: estrogen and progestin (a synthetic form of progesterone). Birth control pills—combined and progestogen-only—are the most common form of hormonal contraception in the world, especially in developed countries, where they account for 25% of contraceptive use. In fact, 4 out of 5 adult American women will take the birth control pill at some point in their lifetime.
The first birth control pill, Enovid, was launched in the United States in 1960. Many joyful women rushed to their doctors to get a prescription for this new “miracle pill,”, which offered them the unprecedented opportunity to exert real control over their reproductive lives. However, the first birth control pills contained high hormone levels, and came with a host of side effects, including significant weight gain, mood swings and even strokes. As a result, birth control pills have been tweaked and refined over the past half-century, and can now boast that they have far fewer negative side effects than the first oral contraceptives. However, fewer side effects do not mean there aren’t any side effects, as a recent German study appears to indicate.
According to a study of female German medical students published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, women taking non-oral and oral hormonal contraceptives were at highest risk of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Researchers are not sure exactly why, but they believe that the hormones used to inhibit ovulation may also interfere with the production and release of the hormone testosterone, which regulates libido.
“This is a very important research investigation,” stated Dr. Irwin Goldstein, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Sexual Medicine. “There are hundreds of millions of women, in particular young women at the beginning of their sexual lives, who regularly use hormonal contraception for many years. The irony is that these women are provided a medication that enables freedom from reproductive worries but these same women are not provided information that there are significant adverse sexual effects that may ensue. Agents that interfere with the hormonal milieu of women may adversely affect their sexual lives.”
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In the broadest sense, a “weed” is any plant growing where it is not wanted. However, all “weeds” are not created equal- they can be native or non-native, invasive or non-invasive, noxious or not noxious.
Legally, a “noxious weed” is any plant species designated by a Federal, State or county government as injurious to public health, agriculture, recreation, wildlife or property. Invasive plants are not necessarily noxious weeds, even though most noxious weeds are invasive. Invasive plants include not only noxious weeds, but also other plants that are not native to this country or to the area where they are growing. Apparently, weeds can be way more menacing than the unfairly maligned dandelion had led me to believe….
Noxious weeds tend to grow aggressively, multiply quickly without natural controls (native herbivores, soil chemistry, etc.), and adversely affect native habitats, croplands, and/or are injurious to humans, native fauna, and livestock through contact or ingestion. Some invasives can even change ecosystem processes such as hydrology, fire regimes, and soil chemistry. These invasive plants have a competitive advantage because they are no longer controlled by their natural predators, and have the potential to spread completely unchecked.
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Bullying can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal abuse or a combination thereof. It can involve one child bullying another, a group of children against a single child or groups against other groups (such as gang wars).
A recent report from the American Medical Association on a study of over 15,000 6th-10th graders estimates that approximately 3.7 million youths perpetrate, and more than 3.2 million are victims of, moderate or serious bullying each year.
Research indicates that “bullies” have personalities that are rigidly authoritarian, coupled with a powerful compulsion to control or dominate others. Some studies indicate that envy and resentment towards their victims often acts as an unconscious motivator for bullying behavior. This theory certainly helps to explain why eggheads catch so much flack from dumb jocks in elementary school….
Bullying behavior usually starts in early childhood and develops slowly and steadily. Thus, it is crucial that the aggressive behavior of a fledgling bully is nipped in the bud as early as possible, before it solidifies into an enduring personal trait and becomes habitual.
Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behavior and domestic violence in adulthood.
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