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NEWS -- 2011.01.01.Saturday -- Happy New Year

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  • James Martin
    1 1 11 01/01/2011 For the Bible Tells Me So... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vbpu6ne5-cQ ... Fundamentalists and Nazis have a highly developed ability to not
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2011
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      For the Bible Tells Me So...


      Fundamentalists and Nazis have a highly developed ability to not listen -- to hear only themselves.

      Odd thing is, that seems to be what some Idealists do too.


      Tea off: India's farmers say climate changing brew- AP


      In this humid, lush region where an important part of the world's breakfast is born, the evidence of climate change is -- literally -- a weak tea.

      Wasbir Hussain, Associated Press, On Friday December 31, 2010, 12:41 pm EST
      GAUHATI, India (AP) -- In this humid, lush region where an important part of the world's breakfast is born, the evidence of climate change is -- literally -- a weak tea.

      Growers in tropical Assam state, India's main tea growing region, say rising temperatures have led not only to a drop in production but to subtle, unwelcome changes in the flavor of their brews.

      The area in northeastern India is the source of some of the finest black and British-style teas. Assam teas are notable for their heartiness, strength and body, and are often sold as "breakfast" teas.

      "Earlier, we used to get a bright strong cup. Now it's not so," said L.P. Chaliha, a professional tea taster.

      Rajib Barooah, a tea planter in Jorhat, Assam's main tea growing district, agreed that the potent taste of Assam tea has weakened.

      "We are indeed concerned," he said. "Assam tea's strong flavor is its hallmark."

      Tea growers want the Indian government to fund studies to examine the flavor fallout from climate change.

      Assam produces nearly 55 percent of the tea crop in India, a nation that accounts for 31 percent of global tea production. But tea production has dipped significantly, and plantation owners fear it will drop further as temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change.

      Assam produced 564,000 tons of tea in 2007, but slipped to 487,000 tons in 2009. The 2010 crop is estimated to be about 460,000 tons, said Dhiraj Kakaty, who heads the Assam Branch Indian Tea Association, an umbrella group of some 400 tea plantations.

      The drop in production has squeezed consumers. Prices have gone up about 10 percent over the past year.

      Mridul Hazarika, director of the Tea Research Association, one of the world's largest tea research centers, blames climate change for Assam's shortfall in production. He said the region's temperatures have risen 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last eight decades.

      Scientists at the Tea Research Association are analyzing temperature statistics to determine links between temperature rise, consequent fluctuations in rainfall and their effect on tea yields.

      "Days with sunshine were far fewer during the (monsoon) rains this year," Kakaty said, "leading to a shortfall in production and damp weather unfavorable for tea."

      Dampness also aggravates bug attacks on the tea crop. Kakaty said a pest called the tea mosquito bug thrives in such weather and attacks fresh shoots of the tea bush. Restrictions on pesticide use because of environmental concerns have added to the planter's woes.

      The tea industry employs about 3 million people across India. Most live just a few steps above the poverty line.

      They are not the only farmers in India suffering because of the weather. Warmer temperatures have cut sharply into wheat farmers' yield in northern India -- their crops are maturing too quickly.

      Nor are tea growers alone in their concern about how the climate is changing the taste of their product. French vintners, for instance, have seen the taste and alcohol content change for some wines, and are worried they could see more competition as climate change makes areas of northern Europe friendlier to wine-growing.

      The U.N. science network foresees temperatures rising up to 6.4 degrees Celsius (11.5 degrees F) by 2100. NASA reported earlier this month that the January-November 2010 period was the warmest globally in the 131-year record. U.N. experts say countries' current voluntary pledges on emissions cuts will not suffice to keep the temperature rise in check.

      India has proposed a system for sharing technologies between rich and poor countries designed to free up funding and technologies for poor nations that need help coping with a warmer world. These projects include building barriers against rising seas, shifting crops threatened by drought, building water supply and irrigation systems, and improving health care to deal with diseases.

      Industrial countries have pledged $30 billion in emergency funds through 2012 to help poor countries prepare for climate change, and promised to raise $100 billion a year starting in 2020. Developing countries say at least half of those funds should go to adaptation measures, and the other half toward helping their economies shift to low-carbon growth.

      The United States has long refused to join the rest of the industrialized world in the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 adjunct to the climate treaty that mandated modest emissions reductions by richer nations. The U.S. has said it would hurt their economy and exempt emerging economies such as China and India.


      Lots of comments at the URL.


      My comment ---
      When tea goes, so goes the rest.


      Acrobats strip for Pope Benedict XVI, perform topless in Vatican



      'Dancing Boy' Scandal Taints Both Americans and Afghans
      By Shirin Sadeghi, New America Media
      Posted on December 28, 2010

      Every culture has its dark secrets, the practices that many people on the outside would frown on or shudder at. There's Mormons and polygamy. Hindus and sati. Muslims and virgin brides. And many other cultures that have very specific practices associated with them.

      The list is endless but it's also not comprehensive. Not all Mormons practice polygamy -- in fact a comparatively few percentage of them do. The same for Hindus and sati or Muslims and virgin brides. Over time, increased awareness of these issues and any problems associated with them, has led to laws that provide rights to the victims of these practices. But even more effective than laws are social changes. Society's rejection of these practices are a more powerful enforcement against them than laws can ever be, it seems. Which is why public awareness is critical to changing these practices from the ground up.

      This week, the WikiLeaks cables publicized another culture's dark secret: the Pashtuns and bacha bazi, the ancient practice of pedophilia by men against boys. Not all Pashtuns practice it, but like other dark secrets in other cultures, it is an inescapable fact that it exists and is strongly associated with Pashtuns.

      When the issue arises, so does the sensitivity. No one wants their culture to be known for a horrible thing. But the subject cannot and should not be avoided. Bacha bazi -- literally "playing with children" -- is practiced amongst Pashtuns in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Not all of them do it, but it is acceptable among certain sections of Pashtun culture, which is why it is openly practiced. And also why, as the WikiLeaks cables demonstrated, the American contractor DynCorp took advantage of the practice to appease local Pashtuns in an area of Afghanistan in which they needed to rein in the locals to be able to continue their work there.

      It was very easy for DynCorp to bankroll bacha bazi parties for those local Pashtuns who practice it. They arranged for the boys to be purchased, for the venue, and for the guests who would attend the party. Some Pashtuns came. They saw. And they partied.

      Children were abused on American military dollars. The cables are undoubtedly an embarrassment to the war effort. Whereas previously bacha bazi was used in the media to stress the necessity of the war effort - "these people need to be liberated," so the theory went - the WikiLeaks cables have completely reversed that notion. Americans are clearly not liberators if they are promoting child abuse instead of preventing and prohibiting it.

      But the bigger picture remains that bacha bazi was there to be exploited.

      It exists, and Pashtuns need to talk about it so they can make the changes from within. Pedophilia is not a phenomenon exclusive to one culture. It tends to thrive in any situation where males and females are segregated, whether that is a religious institution, a culture of segregated boarding schools, or a closed society. Bacha bazi is particularly troubling to many people because it is not only pedophilia but culturally accepted pedophilia - amongst those Pashtuns who accept and practice it openly. The sensitivities are even greater because of this but the fact that they exist suggests that many Pashtuns realize the practice is problematic.

      The WikiLeaks cables are just as damning to the war effort as they are to the Pashtuns whose silence allows this practice to continue. Many Pashtuns are speaking up, but clearly, many more still need to.

      Shirin Sadeghi is an Iranian-American writer and Middle East expert. She formerly worked as a journalist for the BBC World Service and Al Jazeera English.


      Washington Post

      'Don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn't be on campus.

      By Colman McCarthy
      Thursday, December 30, 2010

      Now that asking and telling has ceased to be problematic in military circles, ROTC has resurfaced as a national issue: Will universities such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools be opened to Reserve Officers' Training Corps since colleges can no longer can argue that the military is biased against gays and therefore not welcome?

      The debate reminds me of an interview I conducted over parents' weekend at the University of Notre Dame in 1989. I sat down with Theodore Hesburgh, the priest who had retired two years earlier after serving 35 years as the university's president. Graciously, he invited me to lunch at the campus inn. During our discussion, he took modest pride at having raised more than a billion dollars for Notre Dame, and expressed similar feelings about the university's ROTC program. More than 700 student-cadets were in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Few universities, public or private, had a larger percentage of students in uniform then. The school could have been renamed Fort Hesburgh.

      When I suggested that Notre Dame's hosting of ROTC was a large negative among the school's many positives, Hesburgh disagreed. Notre Dame was a model of patriotism, he said, by training future officers who were churchgoers, who had taken courses in ethics, and who loved God and country. Notre Dame's ROTC program was a way to "Christianize the military," he stated firmly.

      I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ's teaching of loving one's enemies?

      The interview quickly slid downhill.

      These days, the academic senates of the Ivies and other schools are no doubt pondering the return of military recruiters to their campuses. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, which oversees ROTC programs on more than 300 campuses, has to be asking if it wants to expand to the elite campuses, where old antipathies are remembered on both sides.

      It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

      They can stand with Martin Luther King Jr. and his view of America's penchant for war-making: "This madness must cease," he said from a pulpit in April 1967. Even well short of the pacifist positions, they can argue the impracticality of maintaining a military that has helped drive this country into record depths of debt. The defense budget has more than doubled since 2000, to over $700 billion. They can align themselves with colleges such as Hobart, Earlham, Goshen, Guilford, Hampshire, George Fox and a long list of others that teach alternatives to violence. Serve your country after college, these schools say, but consider the Peace Corps as well as the Marine Corps.

      Will the Ivies have the courage for such stands? I'm doubtful. Only one of the eight Ivy League schools - Cornell - offers a degree in peace studies. Their pride in running programs in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies is well-founded, but schools have small claims to greatness so long as the study of peace is not equal to the other departments when it comes to size and funding.

      At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn't afford ever-rising college tabs.

      To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

      ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

      Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools.


      Lots of comments at the URL


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