Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
A new Lunar year 1430 shines today...with Muslims parying God for a peaceful year, away from bullets and blood that is all over Gaza strip in Palestine!
Egyptians sadly welcome the new lunar year..while crossing fingers that the attack on Gaza may end soon..which has started the day after Christmas (26 Dec.), leaving more than 300 Palestinian dead, and more than a 1500 wounded so far, in a brutal massacre, not to mention the demolished houses, the power shutdown, the shortage of all kinds of supplies...and only rocks as weapon...and Gaza is all plunged into darkness (lietarally and figurateively)!!
In such holy days, proceeding Christmas, Lunar Year of Muslim celebration, the forthcoming 2009, then the Orthodox celebration of Christmas on the 7th of Jan.... all our hearts is in solemn prayer for the children, women and men who die...cannot find medecine nor supplies, who are helplessly praying for life in a peaceful home they cannot find!
The current status in Egypt is quite in tension...! The citizens are quite frsutrated towards the world negative stance towards the massacre that's taking place in Palestine, and no hand stretched towards them to end this brutality! Egyptians are also at rage from their government that seems to be helpless towards what's going on...not facilitating matters to help our fellow Palestinians! However, Egyptians are still hurrying to donate blood, money, or whatsoever needed, on hope that these may be dilevered through the borders between Egypt and Palestine!
Demonstrations strike every now and then in many countries...calling upon their governments to lend a listening ear to the bullets that shoot a child every minute now!
as for today...Muslims prefer to welcome the new Lunar (Hijri) year by fasting the day.. in a subtle holy celebration of the day...with prayers of a better, peaceful world!
Just as the innocent people everywhere..are used as fuel of wars, tensions, disputes, decisions....their hearts is still kindled with hope of a better day..with no oppression of any kind!
May Peace prevail upon our world!
Friday, December 26, 2008
First at all, I wish a peaceful and happy Christmas season, even though you are religious or not, considering this time as a time to share with our relatives a good time.
To describe you all, a lilttle bit about our traditions, our country is a mixture from several countries, traditions, religions, languages, and we can see these influences in every detail. We are customized to decorate with lights, a lot of them, trees as pines, some of them real pines from Canada, other artificial pines, all them decorated with ribbons, braids, shiny balls, butterflies, little dolls, elfs, whatever looks cute. But a very important and traditional decoration are the ceramic figures that resemble the Holy Family and the time that Jesus was born.
Fir Dinner we prepare Ham, Turkey or Porc´s leg, acompanied by rice with chicken or gandules*, potato salad and rum cake. A beverage well famous in this season is known as ¨Saril¨ made from a flower called Flor de Jamaica. Is made with the flower boiled in water with ginger, cinammon, spice cloves and sweetened with sugar.
Most of the people plays loud music at home, organize parties in the neighborhoods and throw fireworks. Children open their gifts at midnight and plays until late with them.
Families have been preparing and saving all year for this day, and it comes and goes fast, but it is season to forgive, to give, to share and to laugh, to say how much we love each other, and sweet memories remain fresh in our hearts.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
In the 1940s, America was introduced to ballet vignettes of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker of Nuremburg. This short version was not terribly popular, but it sparked the imagination of some notable choreographers who staged the full-length ballet. complete article
Since then, it has become an annual Christmas production of local ballet companies across the USA, much to the delight of families and young ballet students. In Alabama (my state) alone, there are six venues to watch this delightful ballet.
And if you cannot get to a live performance, there are numerous film versions to enjoy at home.
Also, wishes for a Joyous Holiday for everyone and a peaceful New Year. Jane
Sunday, December 14, 2008
"Chusingra" is one of the most familiar stories in Japan.
Forty-seven Samurai(soldier) inflicted upon the foe "Kira" for their master "Asano Takumino Kami".
Demember 14 is the day they accomplished their ardent wish.
They were sentenced to death "Seppuku", cutting their own stomach with a sword by themselves.
This is not a fiction.
People everywhere praised their loyalty and this story has been dramatized ever since.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Here's an image I shoot in a Romanian farmer's market. In fact is the farmer's market that's taking place every day in my neighborhood. In every city/town there are several like this one. People come here, expose their merchandise..and negotiate for the whole day. They sell everything from tasty and healthy food to flowers and all sort of small gadgets.. you know, like in a real farmer's market. Romania is one of the few countries I know that runs these kind of markets every day of the week. And I am glad I can buy healthy, organic food at a decent price..
..whenever I want. The downside of the Romanian "new society" is that I/we don't care so much about healthy food. Or at least I think so because everybody is buying the nice looking, not so healthy food from the supermarkets. If you want to go in a supermarket to buy just a six-pack and some snacks in a Saturday afternoon or in any other evening, you will end up spending whole 2 hours "running" in the supermarket to get your products and pay them. It is so crowded that you feel like being in a car jam on the highway.. The supermarket and the fast-food trend is very successful these days. Or at least I think so. The great advantage we have compared with other countries is that we still have alternatives.. farmer's markets.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
The Speaker of the House of Commons is a very old job, presently inhabited by one Micheal Martin. A former sheet metal worker from Glasgow, he has attracted his fair share of flak, some of it in connection with the very considerable expenses that go with the role.
Now it seems that a Conservative MP has been receiving, on a regular basis, privileged information from a Home Office official. The Home Office official would be bound by his terms of employment not to divulge information in this way and will clearly be breaching those terms, if not the ordinary law of the land. The Conservative MP appears to have been aiding and abetting this activity. I don't know if that amounts to a crime.
The Home Office got rather cross about the leaks and asked the police to look into the matter. Their enquiries led them to the Conservative MP and they thought it would be an idea if they searched his various properties and offices. One of these was his office in the House of Commons, itself a rather privileged place. But the Speaker gave the police permission to search this office. Massive row in the press. Breach of parliamentary privilege. End of parliamentary democracy as we know it. Certain Labour MPs, who used to do exactly the same sort of thing themselves when in opposition, get very sancitimonious about this aiding and abetting. Calls for the Speaker to resign.
In the midst of all this, very little discussion about the information which has been leaked. That is not really the point here! Plus, after being the hot topic for a week or so, all died down now. The papers have found some other hare to chase.
By Christopher Ambe Shu
Christopher Tambe Tiku(pictured), South West Regional Secretary of the National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) of Cameroon, yesterday, December 10 in the town of Buea, used the 60th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to announce his decision to run for Cameroon’s next presidential election, billed for 2011.
This year’s anniversary was celebrated under the theme “Dignity and Justice for all”
It was unclear why Mr. Tambe Tiku chose but the Human Rights anniversary to make public his political and presidential ambition. It was not also known under which political party he would be running and the reason for his very early announcement, which took many people by surprise.
Mr. Tambe Tiku, a lawyer and pioneer Secretary of NCHFR in the South West Region, announced his candidature in his formal opening address at a conference marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in his office.
“ I have decided to run for the 2011 presidential elections in this country in a bid to exercise my rights guaranteed by the Cameroon Constitution”, he said in his speech, drawing applause from the assembly.
Journalists, lawyers, Human Rights advocates, magistrates, University Students,security operatives and a cross section of the local population attended the conference.
Also in attendance was Njonjo John Njie, Deputy State Counsel (deputy prosecutor) for Buea, who expressed satisfaction at the inquisitiveness of the audience on Human Rights concerns
In presenting his two-year report of activities as NCHRF pioneer Southwest Regional Secretary Mr.Tambe Tiku said his regional office experienced a steady increase in the number of complaints about Human Rights abuses filed in.
“For example in 2006 the office recorded 45 complaints. The number of complaints increased to 96 in 2007 and in 2008 there are already 120 complaints. Altogether, the regional office has received a total of 261 complaints since its inception,” he disclosed
He added that about 80% of the complaints were disposed of by mediation, a mode of conflict resolution deemed “faster, informal, non-confrontational, relatively cheaper and more suitable for the majority of clients who fall within the lower income bracket and are among the most vulnerable groups in our society”
Mr. Tambe Tiku justified that his office played a pivotal role in the crusade against corruption in the Southwest region, investigating numerous complaints of corruption, abuse of office and conflict of interest
“My office…insisted on the dismissal of a certain police officer at the Judicial Police for extortion. This officer was suspended for six months and subsequently transferred,” he disclosed
The Regional Secretary noted that their determination to do more in human rights promotion was handicapped by the paucity of funds. “Lack of adequate financial resources limited the office’s ability to organize more training workshops and seminars,” he noted.
But Mr Tambe Tiku faulted the Commission’s Permanent Secretariat in Yaounde for not doing much to help his regional office.
“We are highly disappointed by the fact that the Permanent Secretariat in Yaounde concentrated its promotional activities in Yaounde and Bamenda”, he fumed, suggesting that more sensitization activities be focused in the regions and peripheries where people are still ignorant of their basic rights.
A question -and -answer session as well as a donation and an exhibition of human rights books to participants characterized the conference
The National Commission on Human Rights and Freedoms (NCHRF) of Cameroon was set up in 2004 and charged with the promotion and protection of Human Rights. But its Southwest Regional Office was established October 2006.
Also check http://www.recorderline.blogspot.com/
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Reposted from my personal blog:
The situation in Zim has reduced me to tears. What hurts the most, I think, is that this is not because of some natural disaster, or because of some really serious thing that we couldn't control...
The images of malnourished children coming out of Zim now are so shocking to me. Growing up, we were always told to finish the food on our plates so we didn't become like the kids in Somalia or Ethiopia, because of course that's where those images used to come from in those days. To see that here brings home the reality of that kind of suffering to me, and makes me sick to my core. I just cannot believe what's going on now, and most Zimbabweans can't either. It's as if whenever I stop to have a conversation with anyone, that's what we're talking about: how did we get here?
I can't even talk about the unspeakable situation in Harare without getting angry... Someone told me that if I had plans to visit, I should postpone my trip, because it is truly unlivable there. I know the last time I was there, in May, things were pretty dire. Had gone to a friend's wedding, and they had had no water for a week (yes, imagine that, with children and visitors in the house). All their water was collected from another friend who lived nearby (another suburb), in 25L and 50L water containers; that's ALL the water for bathing, cooking, washing.. Not a drop out of the tap. People in Greendale, Harare, have lived like that for a while... Other areas too. Now it's so much worse that the images on TV are true: people scooping water out of ditches, and where there's been a water pipe burst... Even from a distance, you know that water shouldn't be anywhere near a human being, and more often than not it's children collecting it.
And then the cholera... Dear Lord. That's what makes me a little incoherent. Why, why, why? Something so preventable, something that .. yes, happens every rainy season, to some degree, but could be prevented by access to clean water? And at the very least, is eminently treatable, and yet we have no health system to deal with it? Zimbabwe, that once had such an enviable health system? I last worked in government hospitals in 2002; we had shortages of gloves and saline "drips" (IV fluids) then, but at least we had medicines and health professionals. A true sign of what things have become is that doctors and nurses actually took to the streets two weeks ago and again last week, to complain about the state of things in the hospitals.. Something pretty unheard of here. Never mind the stories I've had from patients about the terrible corruption in hospitals.. From x-ray technicians demanding bribes before you can get an x-ray done IN A PUBLIC HOSPITAL, to paying surgeons in foreign currency (AT A PUBLIC HOSPITAL) before you can have an operation done.. Someone told me about a nurse in Harare who is diverting public patients to a private doctor (who charges USD100, unimaginable money for your average Zimbabwean) for a fee (about USD25). Disgusting.
This is not to spread "fear and despondency"; I think the SABC does that very well. (There is almost a kind of maniacal glee when they talk over and over about an Ethiopian man who visited Zimbabwe and fell ill in South Africa a day later... That I call sensationalism, no matter how true it is). I am intensely irritated by a lot of the idiotic and totally useless rhetoric (including Tutu's, Odinga's, and Sentamu's- you are NOT helping us, or the situation!), but I am reduced to such depths of despair by the fact that I don't know what we ought to do. The situation here is truly, truly dire... And that legendary Zimbabwean ability to cope with anything that's thrown at us (we "make a plan") is not only stretched past enduring, it has become inappropriate.
I am upset, I am emotional, I am angry.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
This land of volcanic eruptions and devastating earthquakes was occupied by indigenous Indian factions as early as 1500 BC, and the remains of their civilizations are strewn across the land.
The Spanish arrived in 1524 and the native tribes aggressively fought back; those invaders retreated, but they returned the next year and the locals were simply overpowered by Spanish military weapons.
By mid-century the city of San Salvador was up and running and the district of El Salvador was under the control of the Spanish Kingdom of Guatemala.
Over time the Spanish colonial system flourished here, and quite typically of all regional colonies, the indigenous Indian population was stripped of their land, and through abuse and repression were relegated to a rural, lower-class status.
After the overthrow of the Spanish King by Napoleon, El Salvador and others declared their independence from Spain in 1821. Then, El Salvador, as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua formed the United Provinces of Central America, but that federation quickly dissolved, and El Salvador became an independent republic in 1838.
Across the Americas, all of the new independent states experienced power grabs (revolutions), mostly fed by land-greed and for control of natural resources; El Salvador was no exception.
Serious problems began in 1932 with a coup, and for most of the remaining 20th century, El Salvador totally unraveled; its people suffered through decades of military rule, out-of-control death squads and the bloodshed of a 12-year civil war that all but destroyed the country.
That civil war finally ended, but then Hurricane Mitch paid a surprise visit in 1998; widespread flooding and landslides were the result, infrastructure was washed away, hundreds died, and over 50,000 Salvadorans were rendered homeless.
To make matters worse, on Saturday, January 13, 2001, a 7.69 earthquake struck; more than 1,000 died, and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. Today, the cost of rebuilding has now surpassed 3.5 billion dollars.
The small country of El Salvador is certainly a work in progress. On the positive side, and over the last ten years, the country has instigated a strong move toward democracy, countrywide modernization, and an greatly improved tourism industry.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
Thursday, December 04, 2008
The Financial Times’ guide to Europe’s finance ministers offers an imperfect but insightful league table of economic and political skills. This year it has been expanded to cover non-eurozone countries, and designed to reflect the broad range of skills need at a time of exceptional financial and economic turmoil.
Now in its third year, the FT survey benchmarks performance, to reveal who is the best performing and most respected – as well as potential future stars. The challenges this year were greater than ever.
There was, however, one last man standing. Finland’s Jyrki Katainen has emerged as winner of this year’s competition. Although small, Finland is a rarity among European economies – stable financially and expected next year still to be running a healthy budget surplus.
The competition methodology, which falls into three parts, reflects the many tasks facing finance ministers.
The economic rankings:
• Test 1: Public sector balance as a percentage of gross domestic product, 2009 forecast, cyclically-adjusted. Ranked by size of surplus.
• Test 2: Percentage point change in public sector balance since 2004.
• Test 3: Overall tax burden as percentage of GDP, percentage point change 2002-2007
• Test 4: Change in ”tax wedge” or difference between labour costs to employer and net take home pay of employees, 2002-2007
• Test 5: Percentage point change in overall tax rate on dividend income, 2003-2008
Sources: Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, European Commission
The political tests, based on voting by an eight-strong panel of economists and commentators, rank the ministers according to the following attributes: lucidity. (swiftness in realising the extent of the global banking crisis), leadership skills (including role played at a European level) and élan (effectiveness domestically).
Political indicators based on voting by: Marco Annunziata chief economist, Unicredit; Jacques Delpla, Member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, Paris; Robert Bergqvist, chief economist, SEB, Stockholm; Daniel Gros, CEPS, Brussels; Gilles Moec, Bank of America; Erik Nielsen, Goldman Sachs; John Thornhill, Financial Times; Peter Vanden Houte, chief eurozone economist at ING
The stability test looks at how financial markets’ perceptions of countries have changed since the start of the financial market crisis, based on the cost of buying insurance against default on money borrowed by the government.
The final ranking is a weighted average of the three sections, with economic tests account for half the weighting, and the political tests 30 per cent.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Honorable Ayah Paul Abine(pictured), CPDM MP for Akwaya and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Cameroon’s National Assembly has, fearlessly, tendered his letter of resignation as chairman of the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
But his resignation will only take effect as from the next session of the National Assembly in March 2009, during which period a new bureau of the House and committee chairpersons are elected.
Hon Ayah, by the time of posting this report, could not be reached even by telephone for confirmation
But very reliable sources close to this out spoken MP who confirmed they saw the letter, told this reporter that, Hon Ayah Paul submitted his letter of resignation, last November 30, to the National Chairman of the ruling Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM), Paul Biya (who is also Cameroonian head of State), via the president of the CPDM parliamentary Group leader.
The CPDM hierarchy is yet to react to Hon Ayah’s letter of resignation
The sources added that Hon Ayah chose the March 2009 session for his resignation to take effect because if he resigned now- during this on-going session, it could impede the smooth functioning of the House
What motivated Hon Ayah’s letter of resignation? Our sources disclosed that the out- spoken MP who is a career magistrate of exceptional class,had repeatedly complained to his party hierarchy that, he was not treated well by the Bureau of the House because of his critical stance on issues of national interest. He said Hon. Ayah considered his mistreatment by the Bureau of the House as a betrayal of the confidence the party bestowed on him and so judged it wise to give up his functions as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. But he remains an MP
Even as chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was observed that Hon Ayah was hardly on trips abroad not of his liking but as kind of a punishment for being too overtly critical of the ruling party’s anti –people policies and decisions.
It would be recalled that, on Hon Ayah was the only CPDM MP who was against the recent amendment of the Cameroon’s constitution scraping off presidential term limit
The CPDM has a crushing majority in the Cameroon National Assembly, which is currently in session to examine and adopt among other things, the country’s 2009 national budget.