27 February 2006

Days of the Weak: Production Meeting "Art" (and indoor soccer)

I know what you're thinking: "That must have been some looooong meeting". It was. I'm kind of proud of what I created today. Too bad I don't have a way to animate it, make all of the shapes squirm and flagellate. What do you think? Toss it into the "circular file"?
Gotta go for now. I have a soccer game tonight. Wish us luck. More later...

Okay I'm back, it's three hours later. We played our hearts out and lost the game, but not by a huge margin. Afterwards, we shared a few pitchers of beer and talked about tactics and strategy and had a pretty good time. Someone mentioned that my play has improved and G-d bless him, those few words gave me such a boost in morale, I'm really happy. I actually gave myself the same assessment for tonight. I played defense exclusively, never crossed mid-field and I did my job as well as could be expected of one who hasn't kicked a ball in 25 years. I was aggressive and I think I did a great job of being a nuisance to the offense, forcing mis-fires and causing poor passing. The other team's score might have doubled if it weren't for me tonight. Okay that's a stretch, but that's how I feel. Yeah I'm feeling good and trying to savor it. Since I rarely ever drink, two dixie cups of beers certainly helped to lift my spirits! Have you ever seen the movie "Jerry Maguire"? Remember the scene where he's completely stoked and looking for a song to go with the triumphant feeling he was swimming in? "Freefallin" by Tom Petty did the trick, didn't it? Tonight on the way home from the game I had my UB40 cd in the pick-up and I blasted the Elvis cover "I Can't Help Fallin' In Love With You". Yeah pretty strange but it worked for me. Sports can have such a euphoric effect- those of you who avoid sports are really missing out on the natural high. Well this entry couldn't possibly be any cornier, so I'd better bow and exit before I make any more of an arse out of myself. It's tempting to remove the ridiculous doodling I have shown to you, but that would be like lying to myself. You can't run from who you are...

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26 February 2006

Rays of Light Do Fall Upon Afghanistan

So what's on everyone's mind? Many events of this past week were sad and depressing. To wit: The mudslide in the Phillipines, the roof collapse in Russia, the sectarian violence in Iraq, the mine accident in Mexico, the terrorism aimed at the Saudi refinery... among untold numbers of other stories. Where's the silver lining? Is there ever any news that might lift our spirits or give us hope?

I've found a superb compilation of good news from none other than: Afghanistan. The country where soccer fields once served as gladiator style arenas of public execution, where Giant Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban, where the Soviets pillaged and laid waste during their fruitless and brutal occupation. Afghanistan is a re-born nation steeped with excellent news of re-building, reform and an improving quality of life.

Just a few examples:

A crowd of 600 Afghan clerics gathered in front of an historic
mosque yesterday to strip the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar of
his claim to religious authority, in a ceremony that provided a significant
boost to the presidency of Hamid Karzai.


Hundreds of young men, fed up with the ethnic animosities that
have long divided Afghanistan, are traveling the country preaching peace and
brotherhood.


A Taliban splinter group, widely regarded as a moderate camp,
on Monday pledged support to the Afghan government led by President Hamid
Karzai.


Darulaman Palace, a symbol of national unity and independence
since 1929, is being rebuilt after being left a shell of a building by years of
civil war.


One key provision in the new Juvenile Code, which was formally
adopted by the Afghan cabinet in February 2005, is the increase in the age of
criminal responsibility from seven to 12 years, as well as recognizing the
definition of a child as being anyone under the age of 18.


From the corner of a Kabul basement, next door to a barber
shop, come high-pitched and most unusual sounds. A small posse of Afghan girls
shout "heey-ya!" as they practice karate jabs, kicks, and punches.


The Afghan National Television . . . switched over
to a new digital system. The conversion from analogue to a digital system took
two years and was finalised with financial assistance of $7.44 million from the
government of Japan.


Music was anathema to the Taliban, but now a programme of
music charts broadcast by a private radio station every Friday has become a
"must listen" for Afghans.



This is truly just the tip of the iceberg. Please click here for the rest of the good news from Afghanistan. The best part? This story is nine months old! (as reported by Arthur Chrenkoff on June 6, 2005) Admittedly, I'm a day late and a dollar short, but that doesn't mean that such good news isn't worth repeating.

To bring yourself more up-to-date on the good news from Iraq and Afghanistan, the blog of Arthur Chrenkoff is THE source, look no further. Even though his last post was on September 13 2005, this blog will no doubt "echo in eternity". Read Arthur Chrenkoff's work here.

3,167,343 visitors can't be wrong! (Accumulated during the site's abbreviated 23 month life span) This is not an endorsement of his site or his work-I've read too little of it to call myself a fan. Instead I am simply sharing my discovery of a site where news of good events were reported. As much as the US invasion of Iraq disgusts me, we clearly need to move on. We should embrace and celebrate whatever good has come of these wars, be it in Afghanistan or in Iraq.

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24 February 2006

Planet's Population to Hit 6.5 Billion Saturday

According to this article, the world's population has DOUBLED since 1960, and QUADRUPLED since the turn of the century. On Saturday, one person's ratio to the rest of the population will equal 0.00000000015 : 1, if that makes any sense.
Another statistic which blind-sided me was this: each and every second, on average, 4 to 5 babies are born! Every second! If we assume that a typical woman endures the misery of labor for about two hours, this means that there are up to 36,000 women world-wide who are in the throes of unspeakable pain [and joy] at any given moment, any given second. There are also [almost] 36,000 anxious and/or happy fathers lighting cigars and kissing relatives, such as the 144,000 grandparents who also celebrate the new arrival. That's a lot of happy people! (It goes without saying that every baby born does not necessarily survive, nor is perfectly healthy, but humor me for a moment)
Of course, with my gorilla math it's impossible to avoid the things which should go without mention. If 4-5 babies are born every second, there must 4-5 women becoming pregnant every single second as well! So that would mean that a staggering number of people the world over are...having great fun?!?! Gaaah!!! Waaaay too much information!!!!!
One of the most frightening and powerful episodes of sleep paralysis took hold of me last night and today my brain is like pudding... so please forgive my rambling. Remember the last time I told you about my problem? Last night I thought I was going to end up in another dimension by the time I snapped out of it.

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23 February 2006

Interview With An Honest Boss

This very funny interactive will appear instantly. Hilarious! Thanks to my mom Kiymet for forwarding to me.

Click here: Interview With An Honest Boss

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Fantastic Pictures of Tugba Karademir performing for Turkey at Turin Winter Olympics

All of Turkey is beaming with pride! She has made it to the finals!

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23: Tugba Karademir of Turkey performs during the women's Free Skating program of figure skating during Day 13 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 23, 2006 at Palavela in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23: Tugba Karademir of Turkey waves to the crowd during the women's Free Skating program of figure skating during Day 13 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 23, 2006 at Palavela in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Tugba Karademir, of Turkey, during her performance in the Women's Free Skate in Turin, Italy during the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 23: Tugba Karademir of Turkey performs during the women's Free Skating program of figure skating during Day 13 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 23, 2006 at Palavela in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21: Tugba Karademir of Turkey performs during the women's Short Program of the figure skating during Day 11 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2006 at Palavela in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)

TURIN, ITALY - FEBRUARY 21: Tugba Karademir of Turkey reacts after performing in the women's Short Program of the figure skating during Day 11 of the Turin 2006 Winter Olympic Games on February 21, 2006 at Palavela in Turin, Italy. (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Read more about Tugba at Turkish Torque , We Are The Turks , Figure Skating Blog , Kiti Fantastico , Click for her STATS ,

Here are links to all of the Turkish athletes who are competing:
Athlete Sport
Aydin, Kelime Cross Country
Karademir, Tugba Figure Skating
Kizilarslan, Muhammet Cross Country
Oglago, Sabahattin Cross Country
Sare, Hamit Alpine Skiing
Ulusoy, Duygu Alpine Skiing
Yurdakul, Volkan Alpine Skiing

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Muslim corpses are burned by Christian youths on streets of Nigerian city

Is there any place in the world where Muslims aren't involved in violent protest, suicide bombing, or indiscriminate killing? In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country with 130 million (wow), Muslims are bearing the consequences of the atrocities they recently committed against Christians in the north. Two wrongs don't make a right, except when you're reeeaaallllyyy pissed off. Isn't organized religion great?

146 killed in religious rioting

Thursday, February 23, 2006


ONITSHA, Nigeria (Reuters) -- Christian youths burned the corpses of Muslims on Thursday on the streets of Onitsha in southeastern Nigeria, the city worst hit by religious riots that have killed at least 146 people across the country in five days.
Christian mobs, seeking revenge for the killings of Christians in the north, attacked Muslims with cutlasses, destroyed their houses and torched mosques in two days of violence in Onitsha, where at least 93 people have died.
"We are very happy that this thing is happening so that the north will learn their lesson," said Anthony Umai, a motorcycle taxi rider, standing close to where Christian youths had piled up the corpses of 10 Muslims and were burning them.
More...

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Turkish Office Buildings Collapse in BURSA

Feb 23, 11:30 AM (ET)
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ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - Two eight-story office buildings collapsed Thursday in the western province of Bursa, officials said. The complex had been evacuated because of landslides and there were no immediate reports of casualties.
People ran from the area in panic as the buildings in the town of Osmangazi caved in, private SkyTurk television said. Reports said several cars parked outside were crushed.
"We have had no reports of any deaths up to now. I hope it continues this way," said Bursa Mayor Hikmet Sahin.
Eyewitness Fatih Kaymakci told the Anatolia news agency that he saw people either waiting inside their cars or walking nearby when the buildings went down.
But Sahin said the building started to shake about 10 minutes before coming down, giving people enough time to vacate the area.
Firefighters climbed on top of the pancaked buildings to make sure no one was inside, SkyTurk television said. Ambulances rushed to the scene.
The buildings had been evacuated after a landslide destroyed an adjacent wall a week ago, said Cihat Ozkan, a spokesman for the mayor's office.
Bursa is 155 miles south of Istanbul.


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22 February 2006

Days of the Weak: Lately, there's some truth to this title

These past few days and weeks my morale and energy has been on a downward death spiral. I blame it on work more than anything else, but it's probably also because my last vacation was in May of 2005. Plus the long winters of New England have a numbing effect- sometimes I wonder why I don't just move to California or Georgia or Florida, places where the outdoors isn't off-limits for 6 months a year. My recent hand injury playing soccer was another buzz-kill which frustrates me. At work, I am managing 8 different construction projects totaling about $6 million, and each of them has a team of owners, contractors and architects which I must cater to and keep thanklessly satisfied. Needless to say, each day is an exercise in the art of swallowing pride and tolerating incompetence. Co-workers? Let's not even go there- my teeth and fists clench at the thought of them. You know, it's a small miracle that I have no chemical dependences- no smoking or drinking or pain killers or pot or heroine or cocaine; not even herbal tea. My highs and lows are all-natural. On the bright side, perhaps these are the times when we need to be counting our blessings. It's shamefully easy to forget how lucky we are. I swear you people in California and Florida had better be happy and giddy year round. You don't know how much it sucks to get bundled up just to take out the trash.

Spring fever gives me a natural high; it opens the flood gates of dopamine. Spring and summer couldn't be here soon enough!

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Oh, The Places You'll Go! and other recommended titles


A co-worker turned me on to this children's book by Dr Seuss. He said that it's the only Dr Seuss book which adults can appreciate. I immediately found a used copy on ebay and bought it cheap. How right he was! Oh, The Places You'll Go! is a book I pick up every now and then when I need to lift my spirits. If you find yourself in a bookstore or library, please pick this up and read it, slowly and with your undivided attention. You might just want to own a copy afterwards.

Another children's book which I hunted for on ebay is called Bang Bang You're Dead, by the late Louise Fitzhugh. Published in 1969, it's a hard to find work of art that might be out of print. I picked up a pristine copy on ebay for about $15. The copy one you see pictured is in rough shape and offered on ebay for $36! This illustrated book haunted me for years. It has disturbing scenes of violence which I don't believe that children younger than thirteen should see. I read this book dozens of times when I was 7-8 years old, and I think it messed me up a little. A must-read which I am saving for little Reis when he is old enough. Here's a link to this ebay listing: Bang Bang You're Dead It's one of the two which turned up in search results. As I said- hard to find!

This is the third book which I recommend for no home to be without. The stunnung illustrations are by the author. A classic tale of mischief and fantasy, through the eyes of a child sent to bed without any supper. Even The Simpsons did a spoof on the charming monsters in this book. I bought mine brand new at the bookstore last Bayram for my little Reis, along with...

Yertle the Turtle, another highly regarded book I bought for him- contains the classic story Gertrude McFuzz and The Big Brag- all three are hilarious stories with excellent morals for adults and children alike) "I'm Yertle the Turtle, oh marvelous me, for I am the ruler of all that I see..." This is one of Dr. Seuss' few politically inspired works. Own a copy NOW, you'll inevitably looking for it when you have children! How can you resist a book with a character named "Lolla-Lee-Lou"?! (I told Ebru that if we have a girl one day, that I wanted to name her "Lolla-Lee-Lou!", including the exclamation point) Yes I love Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element as well! Damn that Bruce Willis gets all the luck.

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20 February 2006

Man Gets Three Years in Holocaust Denial: Insult Muslims=Acceptable: Insult Jews=Unacceptable.

This headline is astonishing. Laws against holocaust denial are REAL and punishable in certain EU states!!!- or is it in all of them? At any rate, this is in stark comparison to the laws in Turkey, where the REVERSE is an offense against the state. Whatever- apparently it’s considered lawful ‘freedom of speech’ when 1.5 billion Muslims are offended, but you’re in big trouble when you insult a few million Jews. I expect to see another round of protests by Muslims, against the imprisonment ‘historian’ David Irving. I am strictly pro-Israel, but I have little tolerance for such hypocrisy. -AT

Feb 20, 12:44 PM (ET)

By VERONIKA OLEKSYN VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Right-wing British historian David Irving pleaded guilty Monday to charges of denying the Holocaust and was sentenced to three years in prison after conceding he was wrong to say there were no Nazi gas chambers at the Auschwitz concentration camp.

Irving, handcuffed and wearing a navy blue suit, arrived in court carrying a copy of one of his most controversial books - "Hitler's War," which challenges the extent of the Holocaust.

"I made a mistake when I said there were no gas chambers at Auschwitz," Irving told the court before his sentencing.

He had faced up to 10 years in prison.

19 February 2006

Michael J. Totten's Middle East Journal: "The Dream City of the Kurds"

I want to draw your attention more to the comments than to the article itself. Readers seem completely amazed that such housing or such 'Western-looking" construction developments could exist in this part of the world. Some of the readers seem to believe that the single family 'villas' pictured, are a reality for every Kurd in Northern Iraq. Give me a small break.

Western style homes are being built in Turkey for the past 25 years. Ever heard the term 'Amerikan kapi'? (it's a cheap immitation raised panel door made from pressboard), or 'Amerikan siding'? (it's the cheap vinyl we use over here to clad our homes' exteriors), or 'satin duvar' (it's the Turkish name for gypsum board, sheetrock, if you like) These building materials, among untold others, have been in Turkey for decades, and they will only reach Northern Iraq through purchase and transport from vendors in Turkey. It would also interest these commentors to know that the drinking supply of Northern Iraq flows south out of Turkey, and is controlled by a series of enormous high tech dams. Food for thought. Don't call me a stick in the mud for pointing out the truth.

The reality is that even the densely built apartment buildings are out of reach for most Northern Iraqis, forget the single family residences being set forth as part of the "Dream City". Those homes will be the exception, not the rule. Want to see expensive single family homes in Turkey? Check out ReMax Turkiye.

My point is not that Kurds do not deserve to have such dream homes, or to deny that they ever will, it is that I am stunned by the ignorant bliss of the many who are misled to believe that Northern Iraq is the first place where such residences are being erected in the Middle East.



Kurdish Turks (Kurds who live in Turkey) have every means and opportunity as any other Turk, at their disposal, to own such homes in Turkey. But Turkey receives no 'street cred' for this fact, or any sympathy for fighting the PKK for decades. So hearing: "Wow! Western style homes in Northern Iraq! I don't believe it! Hallelujah! The Kurds DESERVE all the best!" is grinding my gears a little bit, sorry.

Now let's examine the February 15th entry by Michael J. Totten: The Dream City of the Kurds As I said, it's a good piece, but many of the comments which follow it are pieces of...

Take your time reading the comments, and look out for the one which made me bust out laughing at it's raw obsenity. (It's in Turkish, it's not pretty and I don't condone it, but hearing sucha long string of Turkish curse words is hilarious to one who rarely ever hears such street talk here in the US).

For those who wish to re-visit my previous entries which give an idea of where I stand on the issue of "Kurdistan". Please forgive the chest-beating:
"The Kurdish Problem" or "The Kurdish Goal" Which is worse?8 Jan 2006
Mis-placed Accountability- Bird Flu Among Kurds Blamed on ...7 Jan 2006
Northern Iraq = Southern Kurdistan?5 Jan 2006
Orhan Pamuk- Renegade or Pioneer?24 Dec 2005
Un-Turkish Ethnicity versus Turkish Nationality17 Dec 2005


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Ten Ways Dick Cheney Can Kill You

I found this while toggling through Blogger blogs, on a site that is somewhat "unwholesome". When I discover the name of the person who came up with this original idea, I will let you know.

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18 February 2006

Another chance encounter on Cable TV: Garden State: Frou Frou: Powerball jackpot $365 million


Short and sweet:
We missed the first 10-15 minutes of Garden State, but it only took a couple of minutes to decide we'd watch it until the end. It wasn't anything spectacular, but the characters were pretty interesting. Natalie Portman looked emaciated though and would have looked better with another 10 pounds on her bones. Garden State was written and directed and co-stars Zach Braff. At the end during the credits, the tune "Let Go" by the duo froufrou was perfect, captivating enough for me to wait until the music credits rolled past. The soundtrack has apparently won a Grammy for 'Best Compilation Soundtrack Album'. This film is steeped with maternal and paternal issues. An intelligent and interesting c-flick.

Powerball drawing is tonight (about 20 minutes from now). We bought 10 tickets and I'm also in the office pool, which includes about 40-50 tickets. The jackpot is an obsene $365 million, last I heard. If there are no winners tonight, this is going to reach 1/2 billion dollars for sure. If I win, I promise to buy every single member of our Amerikan Turks Yahoo Group, a top of the line pc of their choice. That's an easy promise to make, as the odds of my winning are 1 in 146,000,000. Plus I can always deny winning if anyone of them asks. (J/k) Hey who knows, maybe lightning will strike. Wish me luck

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Eurovision Song Contest: Looking Back at Sertab and Athena: Looking Forward to Athens May 20


May is a very special month, and perhaps it's the most popular favorite month of the year, for good reason: Our garden will be in full bloom, the bike racing season will be underway, the weather will be warm, no more heating oil bills draining our finances, my wife's birthday and our anniversary, I could go on and on. But there's more. The Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Athens, Greece on May 20th. We'll be watching it on satellite Turkish television, and I'm not sure how else it is possible to view it here in the US. This year we will have Sibel Tuzun performing for Turkey. I'll have to 'plead the fifth' here and tell you I've never heard of her before. I hope someone does a blog-bio of Sibel in support of her big day in Athens.

Who can forget the drama and suspense of the 2003 Eurovision contest, won by Sertab Erener and her song "Every Way That I Can"? It was a close race to the very end, and kept us on the edge of our seats. Ebru and I were jumping up and down when the final votes were tallied.

You can view the actual performance here. (Clicking should launch your Media Player- check volume first!) I get goose pimples every time I see this performance or hear the song. Do you? Watch the video and let me know.

The following year, ESC was held in Istanbul, a privilege traditionally given to the previous year's winner, which was Turkey of course. The popular Turkish band ATHENA Turkey, and did a fine job with their performance of "For Real", which I can't find a video feed for. (I'll add it here if someone cand find me a link) We almost finished on the podium in 2004, with Athena taking a very respectable 4th place in the competition. The winner "Wild Dances" by the Ukrainian artist RUSLANA, was a surprise winner in my book. I thought the theme of their performance was pretty hokey.

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16 February 2006

In Cod We Trust: Iceland was Denmark's Hawaii


Driving home tonight I was listening to a story about Iceland on NPR (I retained nothing from that piece, but it will come back to me) Aside from Bjork's "Stick Around For Joy" album, all I really knew about Iceland is that it was a cold and remote island of peaceful Nordic people, kind of like Hawaii. After about 5 minutes of Googling I have learned enough to tell you all about Iceland. Okay not really, but here's what stuck, off the top of my head:
  • Population of about 300,000 (all Icelanders would all fit into four large stadiums) and land area the size of Kentucky (that's about 2 people per square kilometer).
  • It's either dark or light most of the day, depending on season (yeah- just like Alaska!)
  • Fishing is the main source of income, and in 1975 Iceland extended it's fishing/water boundaries far enough to piss off the UK and start the "Cod War" (which ended without so much as a chipped nail)
  • No military! (aside from Coast Guard) Interestingly, the US has a base there for security and it's know as the "IDF" (Icelandic Defense Force- no connection to the Israeli Defense Force)
  • Icelanders use their father's first name with a suffix added, for their last name. There are so many in Iceland with the same name that the white pages lists professions in order to tell people apart. (A friend of my wife is married to someone in Turkey named "Ufuk Boy". This is bad enough, but if they had a kid in Iceland I shudder to think of how his/her name would sound)
  • Reykjavik is the cleanest city in the world, with over 50 museums and galleries
  • Iceland is expensive! So much is imported that it's no surprise (Just like in Hawaii!)
  • Icelanders have 99.9% literacy and 80 year life spans. (Their hot dogs are made of lamb!)
  • 200,000 of Iceland's 300,000 residents use the internet.
  • Iceland had the first ever female president in the world (I need to check my source on this)
  • United with Denmark in 1918, independent from Denmark since 1944, joined the UN in 1946, NATO in 1949.
  • Their governement is called the "Althing" (cree-eepy, but would make a good name for any fine Ikea product!) Althing was created in the year 930, abolished in 1800, re-established in 1843.
  • Publishing is BIG in Iceland. This begs the question: Did Iceland newpapers publish the Muhammed cartoons? Apparently, no one knows or cares and Iceland's history with Denmark isn't widely known in the Muslim world, or else we might have seen flags of Iceland (very attractive flag, btw) being burned in the recent violent protests.

My short term memory is pretty sharp- I only cheated twice by referring back to my two main sources. Iceland: the Hawaii of the Arctic.

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Disparity of Muslim Values: Relief for Suffering Children Should Supercede Muhammed Cartoon Rallies

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I have a soft spot for children and babies, in case you didn't notice. It's apalling that Muslims are demonstrating against cartoon images of Muhammed while these kids suffer from the lack of basic daily necessities such as food, shelter, medicine, education... This is what really matters and this is where all Muslim resources and energy should be directed. I'll bet anything that the overall number of Muslim cartoon protesters outnumber those who sent money to victims of the earthquake in Pakistan. Prove me wrong. -AT


Turkish doctor Karahan Hakan examines a Kashmiri baby at the Turkish Red Crescent hospital in the earthquake-devastated city of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir February 15, 2006.
A Kashmiri refugee child stands at the entrance of a tent on a rainy day at Nisar camp in the earthquake-devastated city of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir February 14, 2006. Winter weather has made life more difficult for survivors of last year's massive earthquake in South Asia, where more than two million people have been living in tents or crude shelters patched together from ruined homes.
One-year-old Kashmiri baby Bisma, who is suffering of pneumonia, sleeps in the arms of his mother at the Turkish Red Crescent hospital in the earthquake-devastated city of Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir February 15, 2006.
A homeless Indian man sleeps with his child near a highway at Fuleshwar village, about 40 km (25 miles) from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, February 15, 2006. Although India is expected to grow at more than 7 percent in the year ending March 2006 with finance planners in New Delhi highlighting its record foreign reserves, rising middle class incomes and booming stock market, around 26 percent of its population, 260 million people, live below the poverty line.

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14 February 2006

Two Dead in Pakistan Cartoon Protests: Donkey Rally: Lawmaker Strike


Pakistani donkey owners take part in a rally to condemn the publication of cartoons depicting Islamic Prophet Muhammad in Karachi, Pakistan, Tuesday, Feb 14, 2006. There have been a series of mostly peaceful protests across Pakistan against the cartoons, and last week Parliament adopted resolutions condemning the drawing. Lawmakers also called for a nationwide strike on March 3. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) - Two demonstrators were shot dead and angry mobs attacked Western fast food outlets as Pakistan suffered its most violent protests yet against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. More...

I hope the donkeys are okay. This is classic. -AT

13 February 2006

Khaled Hosseini: Kite Runner: Afghan orphans: NATO


Afghan children clap as they watch a performance by a clown at the Afghan Red Crescent Society Orphanage in Kabul February 12, 2006. Italian troops with NATO-led International Security Assistance Force distributed school equipment, clothes and shoes to the Afghan orphans on Sunday. 12 Feb 2006 REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

If you have already read the best selling book, Kite Runner written by Khaled Hosseini, I salute you. If you have not, you are really missing out, and probably don't fully appreciate this image of smiling Afghan orphans. It melts my heart looking into those eyes, begging me to re-read the book, or any book about orphaned babies and children. I also salute the Italian troops of NATO, who have contributed to the cause. -AT

Heads up for the Kite Runner movie, expected in 2007.

12 February 2006

A Round-up of Worldwide Protests against Mohamed Cartoons published in Danish Newspaper: Feb 10-11

What follows is a very comprehensive collection of recent images from around the world, showing the collective rage being directed towards Denmark, the United States, Europe in general, and even Israel. The pictures are posted by country, in no particular order. This has been a weekend of tired feet, throats sore from shouting and presumably, scorched arm-hairs. -AT

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Danish Cartoon Protesters in Gaza, at Al-Aqsa...

Palestinians wave green Hamas flags during a demonstration against caricatures depicting the Prophet Mohammed inside the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's Old city February 10, 2006.

A Palestinian boy who is an Islamic Jihad supporter holds up a copy of the Koran during an Islamic Jihad rally against cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad published in several European newspapers, in Gaza February10, 2006. Islamic Jihad threatened on Friday to "burn the ground" beneath nations that continue to publish cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammad, saying apologies from governments were not enough.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Malaysia march toward Danish embassy


Malaysian Muslims march towards the Danish embassy to protest the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in Kuala Lumpur February 10, 2006. About 1,000 Muslims marched peacefully to the Danish embassy in the Malaysian capital after Friday prayers. Malaysia has slapped a blanket ban on circulating or even possessing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad after it closed a local newspaper for printing the same caricatures that have enraged the Islamic world.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in France...




A Muslim woman carries a banner reading "Leave my Prophet Alone!" during a demonstration in central Paris, February 11, 2006, against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which appeared in the French press recently


French Muslims protest against cartoons of Prophet Mohammad published in several European newspapers in Strasbourg February 11, 2006. The cartoons have sparked protests across the Muslim world. The banner reads "Islamophobia".

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Caracas Venezuela march and chant...


Muslim protesters march and chant slogans as they protest against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in front of the Danish embassy in Caracas, Venezuela February 10, 2006. Hundreds take part in the demonstration, the first one against Danish embassy in Latin America.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Tehran Iran...





Iranians shout anti-U.S. and Denmark slogans as they carry U.S. flag during a demonstration to mark the 27th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution in Tehran February 11, 2006. Tens of thousands of Muslims have demonstrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa over cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad first published in Denmark, then other countries in Europe and elsewhere

Iranian demonstrators burn the U.S. flag during a demonstration to mark the 27th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution in Tehran February 11, 2006.

Iranian demonstrators shout anti-U.S. and Denmark slogans as they carry the U.S. flag during a demonstration to mark the 27th anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution in Tehran February 11, 2006. Tehran may reconsider its membership of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if it feels its enemies are using the accord to put unfair pressure on Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday.

Danish Cartoon Protester in Amman Jordan shouts anti-Denmark slogans


A veiled Jordanian woman shouts anti-Denmark slogans in Amman February 10, 2006, during a protest against offensive cartoons of Prophet Mohammad published in a Danish newspaper and several other European newspapers.The furore over cartoons of the prophet has unleashed passions in the Muslim world and Europe that can be yoked to causes as varied as al Qaeda's global jihad and blocking Turkey's path into the European Union.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Kabul Afghanistan shout slogans


A young Afghan boy with a prayer mat on his shoulder shouts slogans during a protest against cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan February 10, 2006. In the latest Afghan protest against cartoons, a crowd of about 1,000 people gathered on the outskirts of Kabul after Friday prayers and tried to march into the city, witnesses said. Police stopped the protesters, who were chanting anti-American and anti Danish slogans, before they reached the city centre.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Pakistan burn effigy and chant slogans



Kashmiri protesters shout slogans as they burn an effigy of Danish Prime Minister during a protest in Srinagar February 10, 2006. Thousands of Muslims on Friday protested against the cartoons published in European newspapers depicting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Pakistani Muslims chant slogans during a rally in Karachi February 10, 2006. They were protesting against the cartoons published in European newspapers depicting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Colombo Sri Lanka walk on a Danish flag


Sri Lankan Muslims walk on a Danish flag during a protest outside a mosque in Colombo, Sri Lanka February 10, 2006. The protesters were demonstrating against cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad first published in Denmark, then other countries in Europe and elsewhere.

Danish Cartoon Protester in Bilbao Spain carries the Koran


A woman from the Assabil Islamic centre carries a copy of the Koran, in Bilbao, northern Spain, February 11,2006, during a protest against cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, published in various European newspapers.

Danish Cartoon Protester in London arrives in Trafalgar Square


A Muslim woman arrives in Trafalgar Square in central London as thousands of demonstrators converge to protest about the publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad in newspapers February 11, 2006.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Iraq chant slogans and wave flags


Iraqis chant slogans and wave flags during a rally, protesting against cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad published in several European newspapers, in Baghdad February 11, 2006.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Bangladesh march towards Danish embassy



Police try to stop Bangladeshi Muslims members of the "Hizbut Tahrir" Islamic group from heading towards the Danish embassy during a protest rally against the Western newspapers that published cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in Dhaka February 10,2006. The protesters called for the boycott of Danish and European goods, the banning of the offending newspapers and the punishment of their publishers on Friday. Police in Bangladesh beat back about 10,000 angry protesters marching on the Danish embassy in the capital Dhaka.

Bangladeshi Muslims members of the Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh's biggest Islamic political party and an alliance of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, shout during a rally protesting against Western newspapers that published cartoons on Prophet Mohammad in Dhaka February 11, 2006. Bangladesh's biggest Islamic political party called on Saturday for exemplary punishment of those involved in printing cartoon images of Prophet Mohammad which have outraged Muslims around the world


Danish Cartoon Protesters in Bhopal India take part in silent march


Indian Muslims take part in a silent march during a protest in the central Indian city of Bhopal February 10, 2006. Thousands of Muslims on Friday protested against the cartoons published in European newspapers depicting caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Danish Cartoon Protesters in Jakarta Indonesia Shout Slogans


Indonesian Muslim women shout slogans as they carry placard during a protest against cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad in Jakarta February 11, 2006. Indonesia's President on Thursday called on the media to draw a lesson from the publication of cartoons that have sparked Muslim protest worldwide. The placards read "Only with Islamic leadership the infidels will not dare to insult the Prophet and Islam" .

Danish Cartoon Protester in Turkey burn Effigy of Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Protesters chant slogans under an effigy of the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen which is in flames during a demonstration after Friday prayers in Beyazit Mosque in Istanbul February 10, 2006. Around two thousand Muslim protesters chanted slogans and burnt flags of Denmark, France and Israel in protest against the cartoons printed by Danish and European media.

Kurdish Demonstrators Protest in Support of Ocalan


Kurdish demonstrators hold a flag with the portrait of their leader Abdullah Ocalan as they demand for him to be set free in Strasbourg February 11, 2006. Some 10,000 demonstrators protested in support of the leader who was captured February 15, 1999, and is serving a life sentence in jail in Turkey.

11 February 2006

Disturbing Images of Shiite Flagellation


The first time I learned the word 'flagellate' was in middle school biology class. Paramecia are parasites which have flagella which are used for mobility, not for self-inflicted gashes and bleeding (going from memory here, correct me if I'm wrong). Avoiding judgment on this one is difficult. Jainist monks go on parade with push-brooms to avoid harming or killing any unfortunate insects in their path. I can't help but compare one extreme against another. The Shi'ites are scary because one can't help but think: "if they can do this to themselves, how do they treat those who cross them?" Different strokes for different folks. Would a cartoon spoof of this procession elicit a reaction similar to the reaction against the Danish newspaper cartoons depicting Mohamed? Find the rest of the flagellation pictures here


Caption: An Iraqi Shi'ite devotee flagellates himself at the Imam Hussein shrine in Kerbala, 110 km (70 miles) south of Baghdad February 8, 2006. The Iraqi holy city of Kerbala was shrouded in black on Wednesday as hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims converged to mourn the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson here 1,300 years ago.03 Dec 2005 REUTERS/Thaier Al-sudani

Mozart's Turkish March made from chocolate and 107 diamonds

South Korean patissier Jeong Hong-Yeon carefully puts a diamond on a musical score of Austrian composer Mozart's Turkish March made of chocolates next to a security guard in Tokyo February 10, 2006. The chocolate piece, using 107 diamonds and priced at 500 million yen ($4.25 million), was created to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth.
10 Feb 2006 REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

The puke factorof this tribute to Mozart is hard to deny, but at least they showcased the correct piece...

AIRPANE! is on HBO as I type. How did they keep faces straight during filming? What a classic! Filled with satire, puns, cliches, innuendo and metaphors- Airplane! set the bar pretty highly for spoof-themed follow-ups such as Police Academy and Naked Gun. -AT