daily archive: 09/20/2005
Now You Have No Excuse...
the world-class, Bloggie-recommended web browser is now freeware!
No ads. No registration fee. Whee! Go get a copy and just give it a try, for shits and giggles.
Opera is moving away from charging end-users for most things, to turning their browser technology into a platform. All the latest products from Macromedia and Adobe use Opera as their internal rendering engine. At the same time as they're having success selling their rendering engine to desktop application vendors, Opera's mobile edition is making giant strides with cellphone makers. Meanwhile, Minimo
is trying to turn a cow into a ballerina, with predictable success.
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Your Ordinary 'Not-To-Do-List'
Today is the day you start your project.
Wake up. Make your coffee. Sit down. Get to work.
Now, it should be that simple. Wake up and get to work.
But there are many distractions. Mental and otherwise.
So this is NOT a to-do list. This is a not-to-do list. You don't need to check anything off, because these are things YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO.
Do not check your email.
Do not go to nytimes.com.
Do not decide to organize your cd rack.
Do not turn on the television.
Do not clip your nails.
Do not stare at your bald spot in the mirror and begin to calculate how much time your hair has left.
Do not start catching up on the DVDs that have arrived from Netflix.
Do not update your Netflix queue.
Do not Google all your Exes.
Do not Google yourself.
Do not dust the house.
Do not sweep the floors.
Do not take out the trash.
Do not get sucked into the argument when your significant other starts screaming about the fact that you drank the last of the milk and even though you said you would get more you didn't. Just apologize, apologize, and then apologize again. (But don't be tempted to apologize "for being such a horrible person" – that is a sign that you are getting drawn into a bigger dust-up. Stay on target with your apology, explain that you have serious work to do, and get back to your project.)
Do not decide to make yourself an elaborate lunch.
Do not take a nap.
Do not change the cat litter.
Do not decide to figure out the calorie count of your recent meals.
Do not pay your bills.
Do not balance your checkbook.
Do not freak out that you have no money.
Do not go into the bathroom and give your Academy Award acceptance speech.
Do not put on Prince and party like it's 1999. (Well, okay, maybe ONCE, just to get you fired up about your project.)
Do not start going through your closet.
Do not decide to floss.
Do not organize your spice rack.
Do not update your address book.
Do not make a list of things to do.
Do not watch Oprah.
Do not listen to NPR.
Do not start to think you don't have what it takes to actually do your project.
Do not read any further on this post – caught you! Stop reading now and get to work on your project.
Can't get enough? Read the rest inside.A Not-To-Do List
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Child rapists running amuck in madrassas
Islamic schools under abuse scrutiny
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- The accounts are disturbing: beatings, forced sex and imprisonment with shackles and leg irons. Abuse accusations from hundreds of children sent to study at Islamic schools are prompting growing calls from parents and rights groups for a full-scale investigation.
But officials have moved slowly and cautiously in probing the charges of mistreatment in Quranic schools, or madrassas -- pointing to a paradox across much of the Muslim world. It's often easier to tackle Islamic militants than to confront the cultural taboo on publicly airing alleged sex crimes and challenging influential clerics.
Still, if Islamic institutions ever face a reckoning over sexual abuse -- such as the Roman Catholic upheavals in recent years -- it could begin in Pakistan where institutions already are under unprecedented scrutiny by anti-terrorism agents.
"We are forcing people to look this problem in the eye," said Zia Ahmed Awan, whose group Madadgaar, or Helper, compiles reports of sexual abuse of children in Pakistan. "It is not anti-Muslim. It is not anti-cleric. We are looking out for the most vulnerable in society."
Last year, a Pakistani official stunned his nation by officially disclosing more than 500 complaints of sexual assaults against young boys studying in madrassas. Children's rights advocates were elated, feeling their long-standing claims had been validated. They also hoped Pakistan's actions would open related inquiries in other Muslim nations -- similar to the domino effect through parishes after the Catholic abuse scandals broke in the 1980s.
But there's been little progress since.
There have been no significant arrests or prosecutions involving alleged sex abuse in madrassas. Also, the official who made the revelations -- Amir Liaquat Hussain, the deputy minister for religious affairs -- now refuses to discuss the issue after reported death threats and harsh criticism from Islamic leaders. He turned down repeated interview requests by The Associated Press.
Every discussion about Pakistan's madrassas leads eventually in an uncomfortable direction for authorities: the potential problems of leaning too hard on Islamic schools.
The madrassas have ties to influential religious and political groups. The core of madrassa funding is a tour of powerful networks: government aid, Saudi donations and zakat, the traditional Islamic practice of giving alms.
The schools also serve as a social safety net in a nation with a galloping birth rate and nearly one-third of the population under the poverty line -- meaning they cannot afford basic necessities.
Poor families often count on the nation's more than 10,000 madrassas to take one or more young sons to ease financial strains at home. The boys typically receive little more than Quranic studies for an education. But the big dividend for families is the housing, clothes and meals offered the boys. The schools, which have up to 1 million students, operate with almost no official oversight.
"The mullahs think they are above the law," said Asma Jehanghir, chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, a nongovernment agency. "We have to break this wall of silence."
An Interior Ministry official confirmed that police are investigating some cases of alleged sex abuse by madrassa instructors. He declined to give further details or to be identified by name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Hanif Jalandhri, the head of the Federation of Madrassas, the main overseeing agency in Pakistan, acknowledged that abuses could occur, but disagreed it is a widespread problem.
"I cannot rule out isolated incidents of sex abuse at madrassas, but I reject reports that hundreds of students are being subjected to sexual attacks at madrassas," he told AP. "It is wrong."
Pakistani rights groups are encouraging parents and children to speak out and document abuse. Dozens of allegations of abuse in madrassas are being compiled -- part of a wider campaign to draw attention to child abuse in a culture where domestic violence is common but rarely reaches the public's attention.
"The difference now is that no one can deny (abuse) is happening," said Manizeh Sano, executive director of Sahil, a group assisting child victims of sexual abuse. "The leaders of madrassas cannot turn their back on this problem anymore. That's a first step."
A madrassa teacher and two others are jailed awaiting trial in the port city of Karachi for an acid attack on a 14-year-old boy in 2002 after he allegedly refused to have sex with a cleric. The boy was blinded and badly disfigured. The suspects deny the charges.
In December, in another part of Karachi, Muhammad Askoroni's mother noticed a bite on the 10-year-old boy's neck. The child started crying and vomiting when asked what happened, said his mother, Dil Jauher. The boy's claim: a cleric at his madrassa sodomized him after evening Quran classes, according to a complaint filed with police and the rights group Madadgaar.
Jauher claims a madrassa official and village elders offered her a bribe to keep the incident quiet. "But I want justice for my son," she told AP.
There have been no arrests yet in the case.
Acid attacks, rape, beatings and torture...what a charming way to get your child an education. It's not just Pakistan, either:
A 2003 survey by the Thailand-based group ECPAT -- or End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes -- raised concerns about madrassa teachers in Mauritania forcing students to beg on the streets and hand over the money.
In Bangladesh, rights groups have increased calls for madrassa investigations after a teacher was arrested in March and charged with raping girl students, who are allowed to attend the schools that in many other countries are male-only.
In the Middle East, few activists have demanded investigations into conditions in Islamic schools, but that could change as groups increasingly challenge traditional centers of influence.
"Pakistan is now a center of the showdown between modernizing Islam and forces resisting change," said Irfan Khawaja, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who follows Islamic affairs. "The madrassa issue is part of this. It will spread around the Islamic world."
Amnesty International and the Human Rights Council of Pakistan have recounted cases in Pakistan of students shackled to prevent escape and noted growing allegations of sex abuse.
"Leaders of religious parties resent official probing into the functioning of the madrassas and threaten retaliation if they are more closely controlled," Amnesty wrote.
The London bombings in July, meanwhile, could hasten the end to the madrassas' traditions of secrecy and autonomy in Pakistan.
At least one of the attackers visited a Pakistani madrassa. Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, has vowed to stamp out "extremism and militancy" in madrassas and has threatened to close schools that refuse to register with authorities by the end of the year.
We'll see if this promise is worth as much as Musharraf's other promises.
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A fantastic example of complete and utter stupidity here. A news Muslim centre is due to be opened in Cardiff (United Kingdom), and the press obviously have been questioning the types of students to be taught there. An 'expert on Islam in Britain' makes her defence thus.
Dr Gilliat-Ray said people should not worry about Cardiff's centre attracting radical Muslims."They [students] already have to have a good degree in order to study here. We want people with a 2.1 or above and we interview everyone who comes," she said.
Obviously, if you have a 2.1 or above in your degree course and you can pass an interview you're not a potential terrorist. It begs the question whether MI5 have been going about things the wrong way. Instead of racial profiling, surveillance and undercover sting operations perhaps it would've been more effective to send suspected extremists to a University interview. Those who failed would instantly be arrested and sent to Belmarsh. Silly isn't it. I'm sure she would've welcomed both Osama bin Laden and Mohammed Atta with open arms, after all they were intelligent graduates.link to story
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One time, my (insert relative here) ...
All right, we've been laughing too much lately, and laughter is not always good for you - ask Dances With Typos if you don't believe me. So it's time that we think of something very serious and come down from the ceiling. And I mean it! I want us all to think serious thoughts, and here, I'll give the good example (since I always get blamed for everything anyway even when *everyone* knows it's evariste's fault).
One time, we were having this huge family dinner ('cause we're a huge family) and we were all sitting around the table and my gramma* had gone to the kitchen to bring a platter with food. She was very short and round (and indistinguishable from my other gramma) but anyway, she was bringing the food and she slipped on the parquet and fell on her butt, and slid all the way to the table still holding the food. LMAO!! Ooops, sorry... I mean, it was terrible!
Thank goodness for her soft round butt, she didn't break anything and she laughed a lot. How could she not laugh, none of us could get up from the table to help her get up because we were busy laughing our asses off! Ooops, sorry... I mean we were in shock!
Anyway, your turn to tell a family story. And make it serious!
*this post is not meant to make fun of any grammas on any other blogs. Only my own two grammas.
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US-Iran War: Connecting the Dots
Piecing together the bits of the jigsaw one may guess the outline of Tehran's scenario for what it believes is an inevitable clash with the US:Amir Taheri: Iran Readying for Conflict with U.S.
# The diplomatic tussle over Iran's nuclear plans goes to the Security Council that will fail to take a decision thanks to Russian and Chinese vetoes.
# The US, after much huffing and puffing launches air strikes against Iran's nuclear installations. (Tehran loves Israel to also participate because that would give the Islamic Republic a better claim to be fighting on behalf of Islam as a whole.)
# Iran retaliates by ordering the forces it controls inside Iraq to attack American and British troops. At the same time the Lebanese branch of the Hezbollah launches massive rocket attacks against Israel while Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, whose leaders spent the past month in Tehran meeting Khamenehi and his aides, organize a wave of suicide operations against Israel from Jerusalem and the West Bank.
# The US and its British allies, stationed in southern Iraq, launch a three-pronged attack, from Shalamcheh, Hamroun and Shatt Al-Arab to seize control of Khuzestan, the province that accounts for 70 percent of Iran's oil production.
# Iranian Special Forces attack Iraq from the Zaynalkosh salient, south of the Kurdish provinces, some 80 km from Baghdad's first defenses in Ba'aqubah.
# Hazara Shi'ites strikes against Kabul, the Afghan capital, from Maydanshahr while Pushtun warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the remnants of the Taleban, some of whom are under Iranian protection, attack across Afghanistan.
# The Americans and their allies attack Khuzestan.
# Iran closes the Strait of Hormuz.
# The Americans attack the Iranian provinces of Kermanshahan and Kurdistan.
# US-led forces attack across the Mandali-Ilam axis. The Iranians retreat to the Zagross mountain range, the first line of Iran's natural defenses. (To fight along the Zagross the IRGC is building new bases at Khorramabad, Pessyan, Borujerd, Zagheh and Malayer in the province of Luristan. The bases would assure the logistics of a quarter of a million troops, and provide temporary shelter for half a million refugees from the border. These bases will complement older ones further west, at Sahneh and Kangavar. )
# Oil prices top $100 and the global economy plunges into a crisis.
# Americans launch cruise missiles against "regime targets" in Tehran. But the regime is already in Mash'had.
# Global TV networks air images of "indiscriminate carnage" and "wanton destruction" in Iranian cities.
# The Security Council meets in emergency and orders a cease-fire while the American media and Congress revolt against President George W Bush and his "pre-emptive" strategy.
# Anti-Bush marches in Washington and dozens of other cities with Hollywood figures and other celebrities calling for Bush to be overthrown.
# Bush accepts a UN-brokered cease-fire and withdraws his forces.
# The Islamic Republic emerges victorious from what Ahmadinejad sees as "a clash of civilizations."
# The Americans leave Iraq and Afghanistan as Bush becomes a lame duck for the rest of his presidency.
# The Islamic Republic gains new domestic legitimacy and proceeds to crush its opponents as "enemies of the nation and of Islam."
# Iran can speed up making its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles without being harassed by Washington.
# Iran becomes "the core power" of a new "Islamic pole" in a multipolar system with China, the European Union and Latin America, Under the Bolivarist leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez emerging as other "poles".
# Bush's successor acknowledges Iran's new status and sends Bill Clinton, who apologized to Iran for "our past misdeeds" in 2000, to Tehran to offer another formal apology on behalf of Bush's successor and offer Ahmadinejad "a grand bargain".
# The Islamic Republic is now free to proceed to address what Khamenehi has described as its "greatest historic task" which is the destruction of Israel.
Sounds outlandish? Well, it is. The Islamic Republic is a fragile structure in a zone of political earthquakes. Logically, the last thing it should want is war. Nevertheless, former President Muhammad Khatami has warned that Tehran may be boxing itself into a position in which it will either have to surrender or fight.
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To have and to hold, from this day forward
Romeo and Juliet, Love Story, these are the pictures we have in mind when we dream of getting married. As a young girl, you most likely would wonder if you actually did want to marry, then as you got older, you wondered who you would marry. Dreams of silky white wedding gowns, beautiful flowers, a radiant smile, the dashing groom. Some day you would find someone to share the rest of your life with, someone who will love you like no one else ever has or ever will. Someone who will have children with you and grow old with you. Sounds good, doesn't it?
Lifestyles and choices have changed dramatically over the past 50 years, yet the desires of the heart haven't. There are people who marry another without the desire to give 100% of themselves to the marriage, therefore pushing the job of building the marriage onto the partner. As a woman, I am more emotional than a man, but I am also wired to be a nurturer and caregiver. My emotions help me to comfort and soothe a hurting heart or skinned knee. I am able to relate to a friends anguish and to know when to say something or nothing at all. Men are wired to be leaders and protectors. As a man, he is built to be able to physically attend to work and provide for his family. He is made to be the head of his family, not by abuse, but by loving, tender leadership. He is the one to discipline and teach the children to obey and respect their mother. Mom, in turn, has the job of respecting dad. Yet, when one person refuses to do their part, what you have left is a one sided relationship that doesn't grow and puts the burden of doing both partners jobs on one person. If the marriage doesn't grow in a healthy way, it's going to be empty real soon. Some people determine to make it work and run themselves down trying to light the fire. The problem comes when the other person is not tending that fire and lets it die daily. What is the answer?
Counseling is good, yet both people need to be upfront and honest. If you're willing to open your heart and participate, good things can come of it. Separation? Divorce? Separation can help, but it will only be good if both parties meet on a common ground of what needs to be changed. Divorce used to be such a black word and you were looked down on if you were divorced. Yet, there are people who have been abused in their marriages that have had an easier time getting a divorce instead of feeling as if they should stay and endure it all. Also, there are people who refuse to commit to any relationship and go from marriage to marriage.
I don't know the answer, a perfect Donna Reed family would be just that...perfect. But, that's t.v. and not real life. Maybe the answer in part would be to have manditory counseling for a few months, but would that really work? I really wish I knew what answers there are, there are so many marriages falling apart when they really don't have to be.
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