Sunday, October 31, 2010

This Is Halloween

Halloween (or Hallowe'en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, primarily in Canada, Ireland, the United States and the United Kingdom. It has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain and the Christian holiday All Saints' Day, but is today largely a secular celebration. (read more)

"That's All Folks"

Mel Blanc (May 30, 1908 – July 10, 1989) was an American voice actor and comedian. Although he began his nearly six-decade-long career performing in radio commercials, Blanc is best remembered for his work with Warner Bros. during the "Golden Age of American animation" (and later for Hanna-Barbera television productions) as the voice of such well-known characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Wile E. Coyote, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble, Mr. Spacely, Speed Buggy, Captain Caveman, Heathcliff, and hundreds of others. Having earned the nickname "The Man of a Thousand Voices," Blanc is regarded as one of the most influential people in the voice-acting industry. (read more)

Alan Watts - Who Guards the Guards?

Mother Hale

Clara McBride Hale was born on April 1, 1905 in Philadelphia. Hale’s mother had four children and welcomed the children from the neighborhood. She was mulatto and according to her daughter, could have “passed” for white. Hale’s grandmother was a slave and she conceived a child fathered by her master; that child was Hale’s mother.

Hale remembers her mother advising her children, “I want you to hold your head up and be proud of yourself. We were brought over and we were enslaved all this time, but it’s over now. You’re supposed to be free, but you aren’t free. Remember that.” Her mother’s love, generosity and understanding of the African American experience had a profound influence on Hale and the direction her life would eventually take. Her father had died when she was a baby.

Hale had three children, Nathan, Lorraine and Kenneth, who were very young when their father died. As an African American widow her employment options were strictly limited to domestic service; she chose to become a foster parent and to take in other people’s children. Although the arrangement with the parents was to care for the children five days out of the week, many of the children didn’t want to go home. She came to an understanding with the parents of these children; they gave her an additional dollar each week and she kept them with her all the time. She raised forty children in this way. All of these children went on to college and graduated. They all ended up with meaningful careers and led successful lives. Hale was always supportive. As a result, some became singers, dancers, preachers and “…things like that.”

By 1969, at the age of 64, she decided to retire from foster care no longer love and nurture children. That determination would soon change when her daughter sent her the baby of an addict; her name was Amanda. Although she was reluctant, at first, to assume this new responsibility, within two months she had twenty-two babies living in a five room apartment. Hale’s viewpoint can best be described in her own words, “Angels must have him – the baby’s name was Tiny Ty – the night his mother pitched him in the dumpster. It was filled with broken wine bottles and splintered furniture. Yet he fell on the one soft thing in it; a piece of discarded carpet that smelled of wine. Fortunately, only a few mosquitoes and roaches had bothered him…

“It was truly a miracle that he had beaten the odds of dying from exposure those critical first hours of his young life.

“And now he needed us to help him beat a more determined foe: heroin, his birth companion, the monkey on his back.”

It is important to remember that 1969 was a terrible and ominous time in the nation’s history – Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy had been recently assassinated. To the people of Harlem it was a desperate time in which nascent hope were shattered and that at its nadir resulted in horrific riots that devastated the region.

In 1973, Mother Hale opened the Hale House and started the Center for the Promotion of Human Potential; it was a brownstone in Harlem with the purpose of providing a safe and nurturing environment for the babies of young drug-addicted mothers. The success of this operation has been spectacular – hundreds of babies have returned to health as a result of their stay in Hale House which is now administered by her daughter, Dr. Lorraine Hale.

According to Mother Hale, “It’s been over six hundred addicted babies. We hold them and rock them. They love you to tell them how great they are, how good they are. Somehow even at a young age, they understand that. They’re happy and they turn out well.”

Her philosophy may best be summarized in her own words, “Being black does not stop you. You can sit out in the world and say, ‘Well, white people kept me back, and I can’t do this.’ Not so. You can have anything you want if you make up your mind and you want it. You don’t have to crack nobody across the head, don’t have to steal or anything. Don’t have to be smart like the men up high stealing all the money. We’re good people and we try.”

She decided to open up a place for children with AIDS in the 1980s when she was in her mid seventies, knowing that these children were destined for an early death. AIDS had a crippling in Harlem, leaving many AIDS-infected children without parents. She hoped that, “… one day there will be no Hale House, that we won’t need anybody to look after these children, that the drugs will be gone. I’m not an American hero. I’m a person that loves children.”

She remained active and involved until her death. Clare McBride Hale died on December 18, 1992 – a remarkable woman. She lived a truly exemplary life filled with an abundance of love for the human kind. She exhibited an extraordinary kind of courage and a generosity of spirit that is difficult to fathom. He Hale House Center is still extant and continues to serve children as it has done for over forty years.

Look Into My Eyes

The Nightmare

The Nightmare - 1781
Henry Fuseli (1741–1825)


Harry Houdini (born Erik Weisz; March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926) was a Hungarian-born American magician and escapologist, stunt performer, actor and film producer noted for his sensational escape acts. Harry Houdini died on Halloween. (read more)

America and Obama Hit Bottom:

Pressuring Child Soldier to Plead Guilty to Murder Violates International Law and Basic Common Decency

Omar Khadr at age 15, the time of his capture by US forces

As the author of The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), I never thought in my lifetime that I would see a president reach the depth of moral decay and depravity of President George W. Bush, but sad to say, our current president, Barack Obama, has managed to do it, and what makes it worse, as a former Constitutional law professor, he knows better.

This president’s moral nadir was hit yesterday, when he allowed a military tribunal based at Guantanamo to pressure Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured, gravely wounded, and arrested at the age of 15 in Afghanistan, and held at at Guantanamo now for nine years, to plead guilty to murder.

Khadr’s crime? He was in a house that was struck by a US air strike and then raided by US special forces during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. The gravely wounded Khadr was accused of tossing a grenade at advancing US troops, which killed US Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, and caused another soldier to lose an eye

Although Khadr, after nine years of harsh confinement at Guantanamo, and facing a military tribunal, has pleaded guilty in a plea bargain, after insisting for nine years that he did not throw the grenade (there is no living witness to his having done so), one issue here is that even if he did toss it, that action would have been seen as that heroic act of a gravely-wounded young fighter facing a superior enemy force, but for the fact that the US is claiming Khadr was not a legitimate soldier, but rather a “terrorist.”

This is a rather spurious claim, since the US says it went to “war” in Afghanistan to go after Al Qaeda forces there, who had been set up with CIA assistance initially to help the Mujahadeen fight the Soviet occupiers. So the force that Khadr was supposedly fighting with was a legitimate fighting force once, but became not a fighting force when the enemy was the US. Clearly, such fine distinctions would have meant nothing to a 15-year-old boy who had been “drafted” into the war at 14 by his Al Qaeda-member father, who was later killed by US fire. Note too that the US can say its soldiers, who have been killing a prodigious number of civilians in Afghanistan, cannot be charged with murder or manslaughter because they are soldiers, but the enemy they are fighting can be charged with murder if they fight back, because they are supposedly not legitimate soldiers.

But Alice-in-Wonderland semantic games aside, in any case, the biggest outrage in this case is that Khadr was 15 when he was captured. Under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that was signed by the US and that is thus part of US law, all children under the age of 18 captured while fighting in wars are to be offered “special protection” and treated as victims, not as combatants. (more)

Global Strike - 24th November 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Appointment with Death

From the day you are born...

you have an appointment with death

The Fall of Adam and Eve

The Fall (1467-68)
Hugo van der Goes

"You will not surely die,"
the serpent said to the woman.
"For God knows that when you eat
of it your eyes will be opened,
and you will be like God,
knowing good and evil."

Genesis 3:4-5

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Great Divergence

"All my life I've heard Latin America described as a failed society (or collection of failed societies) because of its grotesque maldistribution of wealth. Peasants in rags beg for food outside the high walls of opulent villas, and so on. But according to the Central Intelligence Agency (whose patriotism I hesitate to question), income distribution in the United States is more unequal than in Guyana, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, and roughly on par with Uruguay, Argentina, and Ecuador. Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic. The main difference is that the United States is big enough to maintain geographic distance between the villa-dweller and the beggar".....Timothy Noah.
(read more) (watch video)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Stephen Downing began his twenty-year police career in a squad car and finished as a deputy chief of police. As Commander of the Bureau of Special Investigations at one point, the Administrative Narcotics Division was one of the divisions within his scope of authority. His vast experience in law enforcement has led him to the conclusion that the War on Drugs can never be worth the human and fiscal costs.

Founded on March 16, 2002, LEAP is made up of current and former members of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities who are speaking out about the failures of our existing drug policies. Those policies have failed, and continue to fail, to effectively address the problems of drug abuse, especially the problems of juvenile drug use, the problems of addiction, and the problems of crime caused by the existence of a criminal black market in drugs.

Although those who speak publicly for LEAP are people from the law enforcement and criminal justice communities, a large number of our supporting members do not have such experience. You don't have to have law enforcement experience to join us.

By continuing to fight the so-called "War on Drugs", the US government has worsened these problems of society instead of alleviating them. A system of regulation and control of these substances (by the government, replacing the current system of control by the black market) would be a less harmful, less costly, more ethical and more effective public policy.

Please consider joining us and helping us to achieve our goals: 1) to educate the public, the media and policy makers about the failure of current policies, and 2) to restore the public's respect for police, which respect has been greatly diminished by law enforcement's involvement in enforcing drug prohibition. (read more)

Gregory Isaacs - Hush Darling

A Red Rose, with my love, for Gregory

The Art Of Healing

The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole

Mother Seacole was a healer at the time of the Crimean war, she has little in the way of modern medicine, what she had were:

An understanding and insistence upon Hygiene and cleanliness.

A desire to give comfort, warmth and feelings of home

Empathy and an open loving heart

Energies for all, equally, freely given

A basic understanding of herbs and natural medicines

Sunday, October 24, 2010

His Arms Wide

"Darmok on the ocean.

Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

The beast at Tanagra.

Kadir beneath Mo Moteh.

Kiteo, his eyes closed.

Temba, his arms wide/open.

Temba, at rest.

Mirab, with sails unfurled.

Shaka, when the walls fell.

Sokath, his eyes uncovered/opened.

The river Temarc in winter.

Zinda, his face black, his eyes red.

Rai and Jiri at Lungha. Rai of Lowani.

Lowani under two moons. Jiri of Ubaya.

Ubaya of crossroads, at Lungha.

Lungha, her sky gray.

Uzani, his army with fists open.

Uzani, his army with fists closed."

Public Campaign

Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping campaign reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of big special interest money in American politics. Public Campaign is laying the foundation for reform by working with a broad range of organizations, including local community groups, around the country that are fighting for change and national organizations whose members are not fairly represented under the current campaign finance system. Together we are building a network of national and state-based efforts to create a powerful national force for federal and state campaign reform. (read more)

Church Of All Worlds

The Church of All Worlds (CAW) is a neopagan religious group whose stated mission is to evolve a network of information, mythology, and experience that provides a context and stimulus for reawakening Gaia and reuniting her children through tribal community dedicated to responsible stewardship and evolving consciousness.

The key founder of CAW is Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, who serves the Church as "Primate", later along with his wife, Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, designated High Priestess. CAW was formed in 1962, evolving from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by a fictional religion of the same name in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; the church's mythology includes science fiction to this day. The headquarters are presently in Cotati, California.

CAW's members, called Waterkin, espouse pantheism, but the Church is not a belief-based religion. Members experience Divinity and honor these experiences while also respecting the views of others. They recognize "Gaea," the Earth Mother Goddess and the Father God, as well as the realm of Faeries and the deities of many other pantheons. Many of their ritual celebrations are centered on the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. (read more)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The known universe

Benoît B. Mandelbrot (20 November 1924 – 14 October 2010) was a Franco-American mathematician. Born in Poland, he moved to France with his family when he was a child. Mandelbrot spent much of his life living and working in the United States, acquiring dual French and American citizenship.

Mandelbrot worked on a wide range of mathematical problems, including mathematical physics and quantitative finance, but is best known as the father of fractal geometry. He coined the term fractal and described the Mandelbrot set. Mandelbrot extensively popularized his work, writing books and giving lectures aimed at the general public.

Mandelbrot spent most of his career at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and was appointed as an IBM Fellow. He later became Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Yale University. Mandelbrot also held positions at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Université Lille Nord de France, Institute for Advanced Study and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.

Friday, October 22, 2010

No Mind

A Samurai’s Creed
Anonymous, Circa 1300

I have no parents;

I make the heaven and earth my mother and father.

I have no home;

I make awareness my dwelling.

I have no life and death;

I make the tides of breathing my life and death.

I have no divine power;

I make honesty my divine power.

I have no means;

I make understanding my means.

I have no magic secrets;

I make character my magic secret.

I have no body;

I make endurance my body.

I have no eyes;

I make the flash of lightning my eyes.

I have no ears;

I make sensibility my ears.

I have no limbs;

I make promptness my limbs.

I have no strategy;

I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy

I have no designs;

I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my design.

I have no miracles;

I make right action my miracle.

I have no principles;

I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.

I have no tactics;

I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.

I have no talents;

I make ready wit my talent.

I have no friends;

I make my mind my friend.

I have no enemy;

I make carelessness my enemy.

I have no armor;

I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.

I have no castle;

I make immovable mind my castle.

I have no sword;

I make absence of self my sword.


Thursday, October 21, 2010


In what other lands or lives
Have I known your lips
Your hands
Your laughter brave
Those sweet excesses 
That I do adore.
What surety is there
That we will meet again, 
On other worlds some
Future time undated.
I defy my body's haste.
Without the promise
Of one more sweet encounter
I will not deign to die.

Maya Angelou

A Rose By Any Other Name

There is much talk of Aliens, UFO’s and we hear of Governments about to disclose the truth about Aliens. As if Governments ever disclose the truth about anything. Stories that there are more and more alien sightings and that we can expect more contact in the future.

I decided to look into this for myself, certainly I had seen pictures of “Greys” heard the abduction stories, but, somehow I had never found these stories credible, however an in depth search was what I decided upon, I followed the trail, Greys, Reptilians stories of the human race being waylaid, subverted and prayed upon by turns frightened, angered me or left me feeling despondent and chilled to the bone.

I could see for myself that much of the “evidence” was just man made craft, wishful thinking or perhaps even a deliberate smoke screen, I could see fraud, could smell a rat and knew things were far from how they appeared on the surface. It was then that a beloved and trusted friend gently caught my fall, he told me to wait, just a little while, and meanwhile take a look at some links.

I followed the links and found the link above, I sat back in amazement, I knew these creatures, not as Aliens, I called them Sprites, and there they were, doing exactly what I see them doing, doing exactly what they do when they help me, I am familiar with these wonderful floating sprites, nymphs or aliens. I KNOW them and work with them!

I first became really aware of them when I moved to London, they make me smile, I went out shopping one day and they were all around, I wondered if other people could see them but carried on with my business, In Sainsbury’s . At the check out a beautiful Asian couple, clearly in love and happy qued behind me, the elderly English lady in front of me was being served and the Asian lady at the till spoke to her in an Asian language, the English lady replied in English, then the check out lady spoke again, in English, this time the English lady spoke in an Asian tongue, I was amazed and turned to the Asian couple to see if they had heard, they nodded and laughed. I laughed too!

Speaking in tongues! Very impressive, I paid for my goods and as I left the beautiful Asian couple called out to me “See you later!” It was a promise. That’s how it felt, a certainty, of seeing them again.

Since then these sprites help me to clear chem.trails to keep the skies over London clear, some how they almost seem to eat energy, they love it, they generally have a happy, bubbly energy, tho’ yesterday when I was playing with the clouds, trying to write S.O.S. they seemed sad, and it rained shortly after.

I can only speak as I find, whatever these are, they exist, they are helpful, do not have a spaceship but do understand energy, and, I believe help to enhance psychic awareness and communications. I know them as Sprites, Fairies or Nymphs, a rose by any other name……………..

What the Elites Fear the Most

Claim back your own Divinity

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Language of Love

We welcome with utmost humility 

Mashal Sahir
a brilliant and inspiring Pakistani poet.

Her principal asset is knowledge combined with compassion , something extremely rare in Pakistan.

The real word to describe her does not exist in Urdu but a Farsi word "Dilsoz" describes her.

She possesses both a mind which can analyse and a heart that  feels so she sees both the tragedy and the comedy that Albert Camus described life as .

Her subject matter are the weak , the oppressed , the nameless ! Not Pakistans shameless elite both civil and military that only deserves to be shot without a trial !

Her book is available in market :--

Love The Un Spoken Language A Poetic Love Story
By: Mashal Sahir
ISBN: 9698238166
Publisher: Pak Book Empire
Price: PAK. Rs 250 = PAK Rs. 250
You Save : PAK Rs. 0 .
Special Price: PAK Rs. 250

PH # 92-51-2651656-8(3Lines), FAX # 92-51-2651660

Reproduced below is a book review about her book of poems written by Mr Intizar Hussain in Daily DAWN:--

Agha H Amin-

books-and-authors Column: The language of love By Intizar Husain
Sunday, 10 Jan, 2010 | 09:48 AM PST |

This book of love poetry ends with the realisation that:

Love can never be expressed in words
It can only be felt, for love truly is an unspoken

But this truth only dawns on the poet or the lover after a long discussion about love. In fact from time immemorial poets and lovers have been talking much about love as they experienced it. And each time they realise in the end that the experience has remained unspoken.

But let me first say a few words about the writer of these poems. She is a 17-year-old girl named Mashal Sahir whose collection of poems has been published under the title Love, the Unspoken Language. But as we go through these poems we are wonderstruck. These love poems give the impression that the author of these lines is a seasoned person, who has seen much of life and is now in a position to probe the depth of the emotion of love which holds a central place in the scheme of human emotions.

But this is nothing to be wondered at. The factors of age and experience of life are not very relevant in this respect. You may wonder who else but a lover is competent enough to talk wisely about this phenomenon of love. But lovers have rarely been seen to gain the status of poets competent enough to produce genuine love poetry. Poets are the ones who have taken upon themselves to unravel this mysterious phenomenon of human life.

As is evident from these poems, Mashal is really a poet; emotionally capable for delving deep in the phenomenon of man-woman relationships and feeling intensely. She is possessed with a poetic imagination which helps her to identify with the souls entangled in the maze of such emotions.

The poems have been conceived in a way that the soul in love undergoes a number of emotional stages, which taken together go to make a coherent love story. The first is the stage when the two souls coming nearer to one another feel intensely and develop a love relationship. But soon comes the stage when the girl develops a fear, the fear of losing him:

The reality that I will have to let go of you someday is my greatest fear Soon comes the day when she feels:

Distances are growing
between us
I don’t know what to do.

Also comes the moment she was apprehensive of:

I wish it didn’t have to end this way
I wish breaking the heart was a crime
Let’s not waste these precious moments we are left with;
after all this is the last time

It is transference from the bliss of intimacy to the pangs of separation. It is now she realises that ‘love knows not its depth till the hour of separation.’

What has been defined as hijr in Persian and Urdu poetry and birha in Hindi songs is the most painful period in the process of love. But at the same time it is the most fruitful season in the ever-changing seasons of love. It is during this season that the birhan finds herself in an acutely pathetic situation. But at the same time, while under the sway of the ebb and flow of emotions, she discovers in herself the depths and intricacies of the mysterious emotion called love.

In the present collection too this emotion finds a more effective expression in poems devoted to the depiction of separation. The poor soul suffering from the pangs of separation is being tossed among the cross-currents of emotions. While in a fit of anger she feels ‘I wish I did not love you.’

Lost Generation

The Empathic Civilisation

The Story of Your Enslavement


"Everything is burning.

What is burning?

The eyes are burning.

Everything seen by the eyes is burning.

The ears are burning.

What is burning?

Everything heard by the ears is burning.

The nose is burning.

Smells are ablaze.

The tongue is burning.

Tastes are ablaze.

The body is burning.

The mind is burning."


D. Max Moerman, scholar: "We’re on fire; we may not know it but we’re on fire and we have to put that fire out. We’re burning with desire, we’re burning with craving. Everything about us is out of control."

W.S. Merwin, poet: "The Buddha goes on to talk about the three poisons: greed, and anger, and ignorance, and how the three poisons are what is making the fire, and the way out of doing this is not to deny the three poisons, but to recognize that if you turn them around, you come to their opposites."

Instead of greed, you have generosity; instead of anger, you have compassion; and instead of ignorance, you have wisdom.

(read more)

Aung San Suu Kyi

The people of the country of Burma, otherwise known as the Union of Myanmar, have been subjected to horrific oppression at the hands of a military junta under the leadership of Than Shwe . The person who has become synonymous with the struggle for peace and social justice in Burma is Aung San Suu Kyi.

Aung San Suu Kyi was born in 1945; she was the daughter of Aung San, Burma’s national hero. Her father was assassinated in 1947 just prior to the time Burma achieved national independence. Kyi was educated in Rangoon, New Delhi, Oxford University and the University of London and worked for the United Nations. Kyi married Dr. Michael Aris from the United Kingdom and raised her family in England. Her husband died in 1999.

Kyi returned to Burma in 1988 to tend to her dying mother. Her return coincided with the outbreak of a spontaneous revolt against twenty-six years of political repression and precipitous economic decline. This turn of events dramatically changed the course of her life. The fact that her father was regarded as a national hero and martyr for the cause of Burmese independence and freedom put her in a position that would ultimately lead her to become leader of the movement. She achieved electoral victory in 1990 to become Burma’s national leader. This victory was short-lived due to the intervention of the junta. Despite the fact that she has faced periodic house arrest, Kyi remains undaunted in her fight to help gain political freedom for her people.

Burma is, in fact, the largest country in Southeast Asia and is bounded by China, Laos, Thailand, Bangladesh and India. It is a country with a long and remarkable history. A cursory examination of its recent past is offered below.

Burma has a history that dates back over two thousand years. We will examine the colonial and post-colonial period. The British were involved in three Anglo-Burmese Wars that lasted sixty years. As a result of these conflicts, the British consolidated their colonization of Burma in 1886, and immediately added the conquered territory to India. Using their well-tested colonial policy of divide and conquer, the British favored some groups including the Karen – an ethnic people that comprise 7% of the Burmese population and who live in the South and Southeast part of the country - for key military and administrative positions.

Protests against foreign domination were launched by the Buddhist Monks and intelligentsia beginning in 1920 and by 1935 the student union at Rangoon University was involved in a movement for national independence. Among the students, Aung San, Kyi’s father, who was pursuing a law degree, became its predominant leader.

In 1941 at the beginning of World War II, Aung San and 29 of his comrades formed what was referred to as the “Thirty Comrades.” They understood that the British colonial presence was considerably weakened by the Second World War and took the opportunity to travel to Japan for military training. The Japanese promised an independent Burma if they prevailed over the British. Over time, this group recognized that the Japanese were disingenuous. As a result of this realization, they switched allegiance and pledged support to the British. Aung San successfully negotiated an agreement with the British to grant Burmese independence if the British prevailed over the Japanese. As a consequence, Burma was afforded total independence from the British in January 1947.

Aung San was able to convince the diverse and often opposing ethnic groups throughout the country to reach agreement; this was no small achievement. On July 1947, in the midst of the creation of the new constitution, Aung San was assassinated along with members of the newly formed Cabinet by an opposition group. As a consequence, U Nu was chosen to fill the leadership vacancy. Finally, Burma achieved complete independence on January 4, 1948. In just ten short years, U Nu was summarily removed from office and was replaced by a supposed caretaker government under the leadership of General Ne Win. Ne Win subsequently staged a coup and became Burma’s military dictator and formed the Revolutionary Council. Using his extraordinary authority and power, he brutally repressed the communist ethnic-minority opposition. For the next three decades, the Burmese government under Ne Win’s direction, pursued a disastrous course that ultimately left the country in social and economic ruin.

In July, 1988, Ne Win announced that he was prepared to step down. Recognizing the possibility of a profound change in direction, demonstrations were organized throughout the country during what has been called, “Democracy Summer.” This was short-lived, for on August 8, 1988, government troops brutally retaliated over four days killing some 10,000 demonstrators.
In response, thousands of political opponents moved to the border regions that were under ethnic control and formed alliances with sympathetic groups. These groups included the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma (NCGUB), the All Burma Student Democratic Front, the Democratic Alliance of Burma and the National Democratic Front (NDF). These groups formed an umbrella organization called the National Council of the Union of Burma.

Coincidentally, these event were unfolding while Kyi was in Burma. As daughter of the beloved national hero, she was persuaded to use her influence to bring change to her troubled country. As a result, Kyi along with sympathetic colleagues formed the National League for Democracy (NLD). Sensing that this movement would rapidly gain popular support, Ne Win took back full control of the country by staging a successful coup.

On September 18, 1988, the control of the country was placed effectively in the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) consisting of 19 members. In July 1989, Kyi was placed under house arrest and kept there for six years. The SLORC realized that the country’s image abroad was seriously impacting foreign investment and announced multi-party elections to be held on May 27, 1990. Despite severe political repression, the NLD and Kyi were victorious gaining 82% of the vote. In response, the SLORC dismissed the results and retained their grip on the country. Kyi was released from prison in May of 2002. She continues to be in the forefront of the struggle for peace and social justice.

The conditions in the country remain onerous with continued civil war especially in the border regions, economic stagnation, millions of refugees and extensive evidence of human rights abuses.

In regards to the upcoming elections in November 2010, the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) - backed by the military junta and formed from a junta-backed mass organization called the Union Solidarity Association founded in 1993 and drawing its support from the country’s vast civil service - claims that it will, "practice the multiparty democracy system, market-oriented economic system and independent and active foreign policies." According to Htay Oo, agriculture minister and the party's secretary general, his party will guarantee people's "rights and liabilities ... in line with the constitution." It is interesting to note that Prime Minister Thein Sein and twenty-six of his cabinet resigned their military posts In April of 2010 to make them eligible to take part in politics.

The general elections to be held on Nov. 7 are the first in 20 years. However, since Kyi was not allowed to assume power following her decisive electoral victory in 1990, many of her countrymen have decided to boycott this year's elections, charging that the process is unfair and undemocratic.

Kyi's now disbanded National League for Democracy party was “legally” dissolved on account of its alleged failure to reregister to run in the election. Kyi has been locked away for 15 of the past 21 years. Her latest term of 18 months' house arrest is due to expire on Nov. 13, just days after the scheduled polls.

Aung San Suu Kyi comes from a strong Buddhist spiritual tradition and was profoundly influenced by her father’s example and his politically-motivated death. Despite her continued suffering, she remains profoundly dedicated to helping liberate her country and its people. As an international tribute to her struggle, she was awarded the nobel Peace Prize in 1991. The acceptance speech was delivered by her son, Aris on December 10, 1991 for she was under house arrest at the time. The following is an excerpt from that speech.

“ Firstly, I know that she would begin by saying that she accepts the Nobel Prize for Peace not in her own name but in the name of all the people of Burma. She would say that this prize belongs not to her but to all those men, women and children who, even as I speak, continue to sacrifice their wellbeing, their freedom and their lives in pursuit of a democratic Burma. Theirs is the prize and theirs will be the eventual victory in Burma's long struggle for peace, freedom and democracy.
Speaking as her son, however, I would add that I personally believe that by her own dedication and personal sacrifice she has come to be a worthy symbol through whom the plight of all the people of Burma may be recognised. And no one must underestimate that plight. The plight of those in the countryside and towns, living in poverty and destitution, those in prison, battered and tortured; the plight of the young people, the hope of Burma, dying of malaria in the jungles to which they have fled; that of the Buddhist monks, beaten and dishonoured. Nor should we forget the many senior and highly respected leaders besides my mother who are all incarcerated. It is on their behalf that I thank you, from my heart, for this supreme honour. The Burmese people can today hold their heads a little higher in the knowledge that in this far distant land their suffering has been heard and heeded.
We must also remember that the lonely struggle taking place in a heavily guarded compound in Rangoon is part of the much larger struggle, worldwide, for the emancipation of the human spirit from political tyranny and psychological subjection. The Prize, I feel sure, is also intended to honour all those engaged in this struggle wherever they may be. It is not without reason that today's events in Oslo fall on the International Human Rights Day, celebrated throughout the world.”

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book of the Century

Samuel Langhorne Clemens
(November 30, 1835 – April 21, 1910)

Mark Twain’s Autobiography or The Autobiography of Mark Twain refers to a lengthy set of reminiscences, dictated, for the most part, in the last few years of American author Mark Twain's life and left in typescript and manuscript at his death. The Autobiography comprises a rambling collection of anecdotes and ruminations rather than a proper autobiography.

The first edition of the entire manuscript is scheduled for publication in November 2010, the 100th anniversary year of Twain’s death, edited by the The Mark Twain Papers and Project of The Bancroft Library at University of California, Berkeley and published by University of California Press.

Twain first started to compose an autobiography in 1870, but proceeded fitfully, abandoning the work and returning to it as the mood took him. In a 1904 letter to William Dean Howells, he wrote: "I’ve struck it! And I will give it away—to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography." By 1904 Twain had embarked on what he called his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. However, after 1907 he again seems to have let the book languish; in 1908-9 he hardly added to it at all, and he declared the project concluded in 1909, after the death of his youngest daughter Jean. His innovative notion — to "talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment" — meant that his thoughts could range freely. Twain thought his autobiography would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-sequential order.

Twain outlined a plan in 1899 for an autobiographical work which was to be published (according to different accounts of the episode) either "100 years from now" or "100 years after his death." A manuscript note in the Mark Twain Papers (UC Berkeley) indicates a 100-year ban was what he was contemplating. Twain did produce a preface 'From the Grave' claiming that the book would not be published until after his death, which allowed him to speak with his "whole frank mind." (read more) (nytimes)