Sunday, December 31, 2006
The Za-Ji Acrobatic Troupe was founded in 1956 in the Anhui Province of China, and have performed throughout China, winning many awards and titles in national acrobatic competitions.
In China, acrobats are revered much as prima ballerinas or opera singers are revered in the West, and it takes years of rigorous training to achieve the excellence demanded by this ancient art form. Children hoping to become acrobats begins their training as young as four or five years old.
The Ladies With Chairs act (seen in the photo)is an extraordinary feat. It involved seven young women building a strange and precarious free-standing chairway to heaven with wooden seats, and then doing handstands on it without either structure or acrobats toppling.
Chinese acrobatics is characterized by feats of strength and daring performed cleverly, precisely and accurately, and the ability of retaining balance in motion. They have to improve their bodies' strength and flexibility to achieve and maintain such high standards.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
During Sadam's rule he used to be seen in the public often firing a gun, a symbol of the type of power that he weilded over his subjects.
Once an ally to the United States, he was supported by the US in the seven year war that he waged beginning in 1980 with his neighbour Iran which cost a million lives.
Kuwait had heavily funded the Iraqi war against Iran. By the time the war ended, Iraq was not in a financial position to repay the $14 billion which it had borrowed from Kuwait to finance its war. Frictions began to build up with Kuwait from this point on.
The table was turned against him when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. This time a coalition of military forces led by the United States defeated Sadam Hussein and liberated Kuwait.
Saddam's refusal to subsequently comply with the ceasefire terms of the Kuwait war and his refusal to allow to UN inspectors into his many palaces and his obstructions were provocative to the international community.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the US decided to take pre-emtive action against terror. The US decided to regime change in Iraq as they believed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, the central reason for a US- led international force to invade Iraq. This case has not been proven as no WMD was found.
Saddam's brutal arrogance and folly led to his own downfall. The man who was used to palatial extravegance was finally hunted down to a hole in the ground. He gave up without a fight.
Critics of the US foreign policy that deposed Saddam say that the execution of Saddam Hussein serves not justice, but the political purposes of the Bush administration. They argue that Iraq is worse off now than they were under Saddam.
Whatever is the merit of that argument, one thing is certain. More than two decades of distrust and violence under Saddam has left a legacy of bitter sectarian divide and age-old ethnic hatred among an impoversihed community that will experience his bitter legacy for a long time.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
The death of the United States 38th president has focused the media and public attention on his time in the White House. Over and over again you hear commentators saying that he was a good and decent man.
Ford was the only occupant of the White House never elected either to the presidency or the vice presidency.
He was sworn in as president Aug. 9, 1974, elected not by the people but on constitutional grounds when President Richard M. Nixon resigned in disgrace as a result of the Watergate scandal.
"With his quiet integrity, common sense, and kind instincts, President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the Presidency," President Bush said last night in a statement.
A month after Ford took over the Presidency, he gave Nixon the controversial, unconditional pardon, avoiding a divisive criminal trial of a disgraced president.
He managed to calm the anguish, of a deeply divided nation caused by the tumultuous period of the Vietnam War and the nasty politics of Watergate which brought down President Nixon.
In an embargoed interview with journalist Bob Woodward the former President Gerald Ford said that President George W. Bush and his top advisers made a "big mistake" in their justification for invading Iraq.
This news comes at a time when the Americans are debating the merit of invading Iraq. In the tape-recorded interview, Ford was critical not only of Bush but also of Vice President Cheney _ Ford's White House chief of staff _ and then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who served as Ford's chief of staff and then his secretary of defense.
Ford had the ability to see beyond the moment. He lived his principles beyond the ambitions of politics, a quality that is in short supply in the US politics today.
He came from humble beginnings. Everything in his life, he had earned the hard way. He was an authentic person. He was uniter and a great leader.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Andy went to rock concerts or football matches like other patrons from the pub where he frequented, only more often.
He was a volunteer at the Islington branch of Britain’s Labour Party. Besides having a bit more substance to his opinions than the other drinkers, the main difference between Andy and the rest was that Andy was blind.
Andy, who is 54, is in Australia on a long holiday during which he’s going to the cricket and the races, and catching up with friends.
Andy says he’s always been entranced by sport. His interest began during the English cricket team’s tour of Australia in 1958–59, when he was six.
His fanaticism for sport led him to lie in bed at boarding school—he went to a school for the blind—with his radio under the pillow, listening to broadcasts of title fights from the United States.
He listened to the great fights of the 1960s between heavyweight champions Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali.
When asked whether his blindness frustrated him as a child, Andy says yes, of course it did. He had to learn to accept it.
Part of his acceptance was promising himself he would live life to the full. "You’ve just got to do it," he says. "You don’t get a second chance."
There is nothing called an ISLAMIC JEANS or UNISLAMIC JEANS, these are the new strategies of marketing used by business firms to make money.
A company in Italy has begun selling jeans that are tailor-made for Muslims who find the regular jeans uncomfortable as they need to bend down to pray several times a day.
The trousers, licensed by an Udine-based firm named Al Quds, are the brainchild of Luca Corradi, an Italian stylist.
"The idea behind the jeans is not political, ideological or religious at all. It is a cultural act," said Susanna Cavalli, chief of product development for Al Quds Jeans.
This sounds a fascinating idea for market economy. 'Find a niche and build an image.' This is what this company has emabrked on. It remains to be seen whether this idea will catch on with the Muslim faithful.
Finally, Italy's 700,000 Muslims may have found their fit, jeans made by Muslim hands.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
As a teenager playing the pubs and clubs of Dublin with his fledgling band, Bono became aware of the power of performance in tackling social and political causes.
Now after 20 years of charity work and lobbying on debt relief, the the global rock star and frontman of U2, Bono will be knighted by the Queen.
The 46-year-old will receive the honour in Dublin early in the new year.
In 2003, Bono was presented with France's Legion D'Honneur by President Jacques Chirac, while in 2005 he was voted Time magazine's person of the year for his work promoting justice and equality, along with Bill and Melinda Gates.
Officially, only British nationals can get the "Sir" when they're knighted.
For your great humanitarian work and inspiration, Well Done Sir Bono.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
With Christmas approaching, many people are in the spirit of giving including donating to their favourite charities to help the less fortunate.
The 21st century is a new “golden age of philanthropy” and in the year 2006 Warren Buffet, the world's second richest person revealed that he was donating about $37bn to Bill Gates' (the world's richest person) charitable foundation.
Warren Buffett has pledged to give more than double the lifetime total given away by two of the philanthropic giants of the past, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, put together.
The picture on the right is the 23-year-old woman who has paid £210 in an eBay auction in August this year, for the privilege of slapping a stranger around the face with a wet fish.
Ben Fillmore,24, gave the opportunity, to raise money for charity. He had begun an auction on the eBay website to raise money for the UK Stroke Association.
As this example shows, you don't have be super rich to help, indeed there are some unique ways of doing it. Fillmore hopes to raise £10,000 for the charity.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Individualism refers to a moral, political, or social outlook that stresses human independence and the importance of individual self-reliance and liberty.
In modern culture, narcissism is fuelled by the obsessive focus on the realization of the self. Internet and blogs which is the citizen media has created a very personalized culture inflating individual egos.
America, as the land of diversity and promise, glorifies the 'individual', and praises those select few who can follow their own path, but in reality very few people ever choose to step away from society.
In 'Self-Reliance,' the famous American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson describes his vision of the individual as a man dependent on himself and refusing to conform to social standards and expectations.
Authoritarianism construed as the opposite of individualism is a far more dangerous form of social control characterized by strict obedience to the authority of a state or organization.
Clearly people like Emerson in a different time in history saw the importance of realising the individual value. It would be wrong to assume that in such thinking nothing outside yourself matters and everyone was unto themselves to do as they pleased.
There are universal values of what is considered as right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and these traits will have to be borne out to rein in the excesses of the individual which can harm the society.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,for your life, for your strength.Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to foolsand robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die,be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more timeto live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."
Tecumseh(1768-1813) Shawnee Chief
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner was given a second chance Tuesday by billionaire Donald Trump who who co-owns the Miss USA and Miss Universe contests and was widely expected to fire Conner.
Allegations of blond beauty queen Conner partying and underage drinking at bars and nightclubs in New York -- where the legal drinking age is 21 -- began surfacing last week. The former Miss Kentucky USA turned 21 on Monday.
A teary Conner told reporters "I wouldn't say that I am an alcoholic that would be pushing the envelope a little bit. I don't have a problem with anything like that."
Donald Trump said Conner would enter rehab although he failed to say for what.
If she doesn't believe she has a problem with drinking then why is she entering a rehab? From what she said, she hasn't even come clean.
More importantly what kind of a message does this send to other young girls who aspire to walk down the same path.
It is certainly gracious for Trump to forgive but whatever to happened to personal responsibility and accountability of actions.
This sets up a contradiction that is both confusing and dangerous to young people, particularly women.
Donald Trump said he believed she could be a "great example for troubled people."
It remains to be seen what kind of a role model she turns out to be, given the prevailing commercial culture which glorifies sexist poses of Paris Hilton and the increasing popularity of Britney Spears who is becoming increasingly unclothed.
Christmas is celebrated in most countries around the world, owing to the widespread Christianity and Western culture.
At this time of the year children look forward to the enduring red-faced Santa Claus to bring them gifts. The Christmas tree decorated with Christmas lights is a popular symbol that is seen in many homes and public places.
The United States has experienced a controversy over the nature of Christmas, and its status as a religious or secular holiday. Some considered the U.S. government's recognition of Christmas as a federal holiday to be a violation of the separation of church and state.
The phrases "Season's Greetings," or "Happy Holidays" as opposed to "Merry Christmas," have been made a popular form of greeting to suit the many non-Christians.
The US no.1 retailer Wal-Mart and other major stores who in the past greeted their customers with "Merry Christmas" resorted to the generic form of greeting such as "Happy Holidays."
But this year Wal-Mart has decided to go back to "Merry Christmas" again and told its employees that it's OK to greet shoppers by saying "Merry Christmas" this holiday season instead of the generic "Happy Holidays
Walmart's decision comes a year after religious groups such as The American Family Association and The Catholic League boycotted retailers including Wal-Mart last holiday season for excluding the word "Christmas" from products sold in stores.
In many countries, Christmas is the biggest shopping season, increasingly making it a commercial affair beyond the religious traditions.
So to many people, whether it is "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" what is important is the spirit of the message.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Big Give will give out cash to 10 contestants who must use it to help other people. The challenge will be to find the most powerful, sensational, emotional and dramatic ways to give to others.
Your Money or Your Life, which is in development, features families who are confronted by a crisis and must change or risk being 'consumed by disaster'.
Oprah's media empire already expands into magazine publishing, film and radio broadcasting as well as her top-rated daily chat show.
Reports said that Shanthi was picked up for a 'test' at the Games, after a fellow athlete 'doubted her of being a woman' and lodged a complaint.
The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) has decided to withdraw the medal from the Indian athlete causing embarrasment and gloom to the Indian athletics.
Santhi's failing the gender test came close on the heels of Doha-bound discus thrower Seema Antil reportedly testing positive in a dope test at a preparatory camp in Muscat a few days before the Asian Games.
The Tamil Nadu athlete had earlier competed and won the silver in the 800 metres in the Asian championships in Incheon, Korea, last year. In August this year, she also won the 1500m gold and the 800m silver in the South Asian Games in Colombo.
This is a sad ending for Shanthi's Doha games. Sportspersons are not subjected to gender verification tests before participation in major international competitions. In order to avoid this type of embarrasing and controversial decisions, sports organisations should do such tests upfront before athletes are allowed to participate in games.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
You can never drown in the Dead Sea, you can only float there. The Dead Sea is facing massive evaporation and there are fears that the sea may dry up in another three decades. The river has lost so much volume because it is used to supply the farms and cities of Israel, Jordan and Syria with water.
There is a study to divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea but no one is sure what would happen if waters from two different bodies of salt water are mixed. The Dead Sea needs a fighting chance to survive. Increasing political tensions in a thirsty middle east may give no easy answers to raise the receding levels of this 'sacred river.'
Time magazine has announced that ‘YOU’ are its ‘Person of the Year.’ Yes, you read that right. Time magazine has declared anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web as the winner, making us all victorious.
Person of the Year is an annual issue of U.S. newsmagazine TIME that features a profile on the man, woman, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or worse, has most influenced events in the preceding year."
This is not a title of honour. It has had its controversial moments when people such as Adolf Hitler have been granted the title. The selection is not a democratic process. The Time editors mull over who or what has made the maximum impact that year and the managing editor makes the call.
Winners for 2005 were: The Good Samaritans: Bono , Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Imagine knowing what the future holds, that's exactly what Nostradamus seemed to know, as his secrets continue to be unearthed many years after his death.
In the recent times, the world has seen the rise of politics based on religious identity. The miidle east continues to remain the volatile hotspot.
Centuries old dormant battle lines are emerging as we see in the conflict in Iraq between sectarian factions, mainly between the sunni and shiite muslims.
Both the planet earth and the resident human species are facing tough challenges. Pollution of the atmosphere by man and ensuing global warming and sea-level rises pose serious threat to the survival of low lying countries.
In a recent interview Britain's Royal Society for scientific achievements' highest award winner, the distinguished Stephen Hawking said that humans will have to colonize planets in far-flung solar systems if the race is to survive.
"The long-term survival of the human race is at risk as long as it is confined to a single planet," he said. "Sooner or later, disasters such as an asteroid collision or nuclear war could wipe us all out. But once we spread out into space and establish independent colonies, our future should be safe."
Friday, December 15, 2006
Every individual can make a difference and it does make an impact on the bottom line of financial statements. Hence, organisations are shifting from exploiting their workers not only for altruistic reasons but more importantly to increase their own profits and their survival.
Like-minded individuals are now acting to put pressure on their local officals or governments to formulate public policies that incorporate their aspirations to a fulfilling life. Individuals are no longer feeling overwhelmed by the top-down system which has itsef become obsolete.
In his book The World is Flat, Thomas L Friedman describes how our world is being flattened by historical events and forces that in the last 15 years have resulted in the globalised, connected, speed-orientated world in which we live.
Not only are the times changing, so is the workforce. Life-long learning has become a way of life. We now keep hearing that loyalty to a company is obsolete. The new generation has moved away from their forebearers.
Generations X and dot-com are also gender-blind and quite open-minded about racial and cultural diversity. In fact, many people in these generations feel they have more in common with their peers across the world than with their parents or people of the baby boomer/ World War II generations.
Competition is the buzzword. Companies and countries are competing against each other in a do-or-die situations. Individual entrepreneurship is in high demand, with talented individuals creating a world of work dependent on themselves, their skills, their networks and their own attitude.
As we move into an economy based on connecting with our customers, suppliers, shareholders and employees, we are learning that our businesses will succeed or fail on their ability to connect.
Jobs-for -life do not exist any more. The global trend is the emergence of what Tom Peters calls the "professional service firm" (PSF). The old loyalty-based contract is hindering the development of new opportunities that favour the talent inherent in our blue-collar workforce, creating tensions between blue-collar and white-collar employees.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
With the availability of Wikibooks, traditional publishers are now exploring this mechanism for delivering their products.
Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia is the advisor to this project. He believes the project may usher in a new model for how book publishers can acquire, create and market their content.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Grameen issues colateral-free loans to the poorest people. Grameen methodology is not based on assessing the material possession of a person, it is based on the potential of a person.
Grameen believes that all human beings, including the poorest, are endowed with endless potential.
According to an article on FT.com , personal wealth is distributed so unevenly across the world that the richest two per cent of adults own more than 50 per cent of the world’s assets while the poorest half hold only 1 per cent of wealth.
It appears that the free market by itself does not alleviate poverty. More social businesses such as the Grameen need to step up to help the poor to bring about their own development.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
More than 1,500 Malaysians, mostly women, stood patiently for more than three hours on the first night waiting for the stars at the TGV cineplex, adjoining the Petronas Twin Towers, one of the world's tallest buildings.
Almost all events have started more than an hour late. The media, a majority of them from all local newspapers, TV channels waited for more than two and a half hours for the stars to address a press conference on Thursday at the Palace of Golden Horses Hotel.
Event organisers Entertainment Popcorn misjudged their planning by arranging three events involving the stars on a single day (Thursday). These included the press conference with the stars, red carpet walk of the stars at the TGV cineplex and later the world premiere of Ravi Chopra's Baabul.
"Apparently in Indian time, two minutes meant 20 and at close to 6 pm the all important Mr Khan - accompanied by about 10 burly men in black- deemed it a suitable time for him to come down from his suite," the widely read New Straits times paper said.
Adding insult to injury, just as the first question was to be asked by a journalist, Ravi Chopra's mobile rang and he decided to take the call, really upsetting all the media personnel in the room.
Bollywood produces about 1,000 films a year, making it the world's most prolific film centre, and markets them to a growing band of non-Indians who have fallen for the genre as well as the vast Indian diaspora.
Indeed, Bollywood is exporting their unique brand of entertainment, music and dancing and that is good. They certainly can do without the negativity that comes along with callous indifference to feelings of other people.
Their event organisers will have to much better than how the Malaysian media has felt this time, if they are to be taken seriously by a worldwide audience.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
The City and County of San Francisco is the fourth most populous city in California and the fourteenth-most populous in the United States.
San Francisco is also one of the most visited cities in the world, luring travellers with its inviting landscapes, including beautiful hillsides, accompanied by a mild climate.
All the modern amenities for fast living from fast foods to convenience stores and postal services are available at every corner.
One person is also bringing books to the homeless who get barely enough food to eat. Mr. Challa an imigrant to the US from Cameroon who also knows what it is to be homeless is giving something back to the community.
The Roving Library is a project of the Tenderloin Reflection and Education Center (TREC), which is located on that ninth floor of the main San Francisco YMCA at Golden gate and Leavenworth.
People can donate books, or help in any other way. Mr. Challa is available at the TREC during the working hours unless he is carting away books to the folks who can't afford the books to read. He gives the books free to them.
One man's dream and a determination to help is a real inspiration.
Friday, December 08, 2006
The British owner, The Rank Group has sold the Hard Rock chain of cafes for $965m .
The Seminole, which earns 90% of its revenues from gaming, already owns two Hard Rock concessions in Tampa and Hollywood which have made it one of the richest native American tribes in the US.
Hard Rock International operates 124 Hard Rock Cafe restaurants, seven combined hotels and casinos and one stand-alone casino in 45 countries.
The Seminole tribe's first contact with white men was when a Spanish slave ship reached the Florida peninsula in 1510.
Recognised as a sovereign nation by the US in the 1950s, it now numbers 3,300, some living on reservations scattered across Florida's inland swamps. Since 1979, it has built bingo halls and casinos - outlawed elsewhere in the state.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Wendy’s International Inc. and Colonel's KFC have already switched to a zero-trans fat oil, and McDonald’s Corp. is considering the change.
Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil -- a process invented in the late 19th century to help lengthen the shelf life of food products. The added hydrogen also makes frying oil last longer.
Partially hydrogenated oil "raises the bad blood cholesterol (LDL) while lowering the good cholesterol (HDL)," says Marion Nestle, the author of What to Eat and a professor in the nutrition department at New York University.
New York is the city that banned smoking in restaurants three years ago. Now they are going another step further. Health officials are talking about prohibiting something they say is almost as bad: artificial trans fatty acids.
The New York health department unveiled a proposal Tuesday that would bar cooks at any of the city’s 24,600 food service establishments from using ingredients that contain the artery-clogging substance, commonly listed on food labels as partially hydrogenated oil.
The most insidious problem with drugs is that the human body develops a tolerance for them and requires larger and larger doses to achieve the same effect.
The same is true with self-pity. The more you allow yourself to indulge in it, the more you will require. Soon, self-pity will become a habit, one so debilitating that you will rob yourself of all the potential you possess.
Happily, there is a cure. If you truly analyze the situation, most often you will find that the problems that have driven you to pity yourself are mostly of your own creation.
It follows, then, that the best person to remedy the problem is the person who created it: you yourself.
This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. http://www.naphill.org.
Monday, December 04, 2006
According to a report from The American National and Community Service, a Federal Agency, the number of Americans who volunteer to mentor students, beautify neighbourhoods and pitch in after disasters is at a 30-year high, fueled in part by a boom in teen participation.
According to World Volunteer Web, in Europe, Wales has the highest level of volunteering in Europe with around 54 per cent of all adults engaged in some kind of volunteering activity.
In almost all modern societies, the most basic of all values is people helping people and, in the process, helping themselves.
But tensions do arise between volunteerism and the state-provided services, so most countries develop policies and enact legislation to clarify the roles and relationships among stakeholders, and to identify and allocate the necessary legal, social, administrative and financial support.
The increasing influence of volunteer agencies such as the NGOs (non-governmental agencies) has made it necessary to hold them accountable under acceptable guidelines. They still remain independent and flexible making it possible for far greater outreach into different areas of the community unlike the beauracracy of the state organs.
Volunteering helps to build more cohesive communities, fostering greater trust between citizens, and developing norms of solidarity and reciprocity which are essential to stable communities.
The social capital represented by volunteering plays a key role in economic regeneration, as activities undertaken by volunteers would otherwise have to be funded by the state or by private capital.
Where poverty is endemic to an area, poor communities have no friends or neighbours to ask for help, so voluntary mutual aid or self-help is their only safety net.
So it is heartening to know that volunteerism is on the increase reflecting a modern society that is not only economically vibrant but on a more humane level it is also becoming more caring.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
IF YOU HAVE NO MAJOR PURPOSE, YOU ARE DRIFTING TOWARD CERTAIN FAILURE.
Not having a major purpose for your life is like trying to navigate without a chart. You may eventually get somewhere you like, or you may drift aimlessly, always hoping-but never finding-the place where you would like to be.
As you grow as a person, so will your major purpose. It is the natural order of things that, when you reach the top of one mountain, you will look around for higher peaks to climb.
In life, either you are moving forward or you are going backward. When you plot your course carefully and thoughtfully, you can ensure that you are going in the right direction.
This positive message is brought to you by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. http://www.naphill.org/.