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Friday, November 24, 2006

sealed candy jar on a cold afternoon: can spring be far off?

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carpet of flame
descending from the trees
passers by buttoned up
gloved hands in hands
lovers scanning
sealed candy jar
behind the store window

wafting aroma from
the kiosks - hot dogs
roasted chestnuts
mixed with the whiff
of freshly brewed coffee
floating in the nostrils

do folks walk faster in fall?

bundled up kids
chasing puppies in the park
with a zest in their voices
weather not a deterrent
to their calendar

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having completed the poem
the fingers refuse to move on

there are tremors
from gaza, baghdad, darfur
and neoconzix rats
jumping ships in midterm

even on a quiet day
disquieting news drifts in
clouding spring

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Day To Celebrate Dead

A drizzling rain falls like tears on the Mourning Day;
The mourner's heart is going to break on his way.
Where can a wineshop be found to drown his sad hours?
A cowherd points to a cot 'mid apricot flowers. - Du Mu

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A day between October 31 to November 2 is celebrated in parts of Latin America and Asia as a day to commemorate those who passed away. Día de los Muertos was an Aztec custom originally and is a national holiday in Mexico now.

It is not a day to mourn, rather to celebrate life. Death for them is continuation of life. Graves and graveyards are cleaned up, families bring flowers for the dead, toys for the young ones. It is a day to joyfully remember the deceased.
``We can't fear death,'' said Sylvia Ornelas, a member of Teatro Familia Aztlan, a theater group that does plays for Day of the Dead and whose members included the friendly skeleton playing with the children at the festival.
``Death is a shared destiny,'' Ornelas said. ``When you can recognize that, you can celebrate life.''Leslie Griffy

Friends and family recall the wonderful memories and good times they had. Mariachi bands play songs, tequila is imbued. If there are poets in the family they write calaveras "short poems mocking epitaphs."

It is also a national holiday in Brazil. In Phillipines this is called Araw ng mga Patay. In both countries it is celebrated more solemnly than in Mexico. In Poland this is called Zaduski

The Chinese have Qing Ming Festival which is veneration of the ancestors. It is usually celebrated in early April.

And here the Roman Catholics celebrate All Saints Day on November 2.

The sub-continental Muslims celebrate Shab e Barat, in mid Sha’baan with a twist. They visit the graveyards to offer prayers for the deceased. I don't know if there is a similar event in Hinduism.

Death and Life are part of the same cycle. We live to die: die to live.

bird on a leafless tree branch
musing rumi like
undaunted by warring truths

each person's truth
estranged in a cacophony
unabashed, proudly owned
wandering friendless in sky

the sun rays denied comfort

truth, volition and violation
owned by zealots
in the company of living
smile at death
the surviving truth - fullmoon blanket

Friday, November 17, 2006

in a few words

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kun fa ya'kun
a welled tear
abhi mut jao
light within light
kaash waq't thum ja'aye

say more
with less
her smile

a flash freezes
that moment
-- long hours
of discourses
fail to discern

a grin, glare
smile, frown
even silence
conveys more
i'll be silent

Thursday, November 16, 2006

arundathi roy - afzal guru

In 'And His Life Should Become Extinct' Arundhati Roy investigates the trial and tribulation of Afzal Guru. It is long and well researched:

Eventually, both the high court and the Supreme Court set aside Afzal's confession citing 'lapses and violations of procedural safeguards'. But Afzal's confession somehow survives, the phantom keystone in the prosecution's case. And before it was technically and legally set aside, the confessional document had already served a major extra-legal purpose: On December 21, 2001, when the Government of India launched its war effort against Pakistan it said it had 'incontrovertible evidence' of Pakistan's involvement. Afzal's confession was the only 'proof' of Pakistan's involvement that the government had! Afzal's confession. And the sticker-manifesto.Think about it. On the basis of this illegal confession extracted under torture, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were moved to the Pakistan border at huge cost to the public exchequer, and the subcontinent devolved into a game of nuclear brinkmanship in which the whole world was held hostage.

Big Whispered Question: Could it have been the other way around? Did the confession precipitate the war, or did the need for a war precipitate the need for the confession?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Media Roundup: Kings and Pawns, Mid-term Adjustments, Champions No More

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St. Louis Cardinals has won the Championship convincingly beating out Detroit. Both India and Pakistan are out of the ICC Champions Trophy. Former heavyweight champion Trevor Berbick is dead.

And while India and Pakistan are out, and Berbick is down, Fidel Castro is up and walking. In an echo of Mark Twain he said, "They've declared me moribund prematurely''. The other bad news for Bush is from Iraq, where Saddam Hussain, commented on his forthcoming Nov. 5 trial verdict dismissed it as a pre election "propaganda" ploy.

Andrew Sullivan writes on the mid term November elections:
The polls don't help. They suggest an imminent drubbing, and the newspapers and blogosphere have been full of what are termed "pre-mortems" or "precriminations". When a ship looks like it's sinking, it gets harder to enforce discipline. But the Republicans are coming to terms with the fact that their very success in expanding their party over the past two decades, compounded by the pressure of what appears an all but lost Iraq war, has led to fractures they can no longer paper over.

It is premature to predict a huge change in the Congress on November 7. Republican discipline could still hold on by a squeak. But a big Democratic victory could happen. And if it does, it will be Republican and conservative voters who deliver it.

Apollo has written on the subject of media and blogging here. Now Amnesty International calls for bloggers too stand up for freedom:

"Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege - but it's a right that needs defending. We're asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticising the government.

"The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is bothered about free expression online and willing to stand up for it."

Amnesty International is calling on governments and companies to ensure that human rights – particularly the rights to freedom of expression, association and the right to privacy - are respected and protected.

Robert Fisk writes about evidence of Israel's use of Uranium in bombs:

We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Asked by The Independent if the Israeli army had been using uranium-based munitions in Lebanon this summer, Mark Regev, the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "Israel does not use any weaponry which is not authorised by international law or international conventions."

The underlined says it all.

B Raman writes about the penetration of ISI in Indian Army:

The two non-commissioned officers (NCOs) of the Army---one posted in Leh and the other in New Delhi-- arrested by the Delhi Police during the last three days on a charge of passing on classified information relating to the Army to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) are not the first moles of the ISI to be detected. Nor will they be the last. Penetration of the Indian Armed Forces and other sensitive establishments such as the Ministries of Defence, Home and External Affairs, the Atomic Energy and Space Departments has always been a top priority task for the ISI.
All intelligence agencies undertake penetration operations in other countries---whether friend or foe---for intelligence collection. Even while posing as India's strategic partner, the USA's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) penetrated the IB, the R&AW and the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS). Even in the unlikely event of an improvement in India's relations with Pakistan, the ISI's penetration operations for intelligence collection will continue. We have to be on guard.

Mata Hari is dead. Long live Mata Hari!

These are costs of doing business and as Raman says all modern governments engage in the business.

Let us talk about some romance now. Pawn to King four? Michael Durda reviewing The Immortal Game: A History of Chess by David Shenk says:
Chess may or may not be the most intellectual of all games, but it is certainly the most romantic. Say the word "chess," and the images start to flicker through our minds: black-cowled Death hunched over a chessboard with the crusader in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal"; Alice adventuring through the Looking Glass; the thin-lipped grandmaster Kronsteen planning the destruction of James Bond in "From Russia with Love." Some lucky readers will remember Beth Harmon, the abused young girl who discovers her lonely destiny in Walter Tevis's superb novel The Queen's Gambit; others will recall the darker fate of Luzhin in Nabokov's The Defense. Then there's the legendary Paul Morphy -- the Edgar Allan Poe of chess -- who dazzled the world in his early 20s before sinking down into delusion and paranoia. More recently, 1997 headlines announced the defeat of a human world champion, Garry Kasparov, by the implacable machine-intelligence of the computer known as Deep Blue.

You know what is common in zero and chess?
Uri Avnery continues with chess analogies in his column about Iran and Israel:
The annihilation of Tel-Aviv would inevitably bring about the annihilation of Tehran and the precious treasures of the ancient and glorious Persian culture. In chess terms, it would not be an exchange of queens, but an exchange of kings. It is much more reasonable to assume that between Iran and Israel a "balance of terror" will be established, like the one that prevented World War III between the US and the Soviet Union, and that is now preventing a renewal of the Indian-Pakistani war.

Do you remember Rachel Corrie?

rachel corrie, true jihadi
you are face of US we salute
we pray you rest in eternal peace
how ironic that in the wake of
your peace efforts, Hope is misty eyed
on the first day of spring this year
hussain plays flute, bush gives frank
go ahead to rain bloody holi
on the other innocent victims

rachel corrie true jihadi
you are face of US we salute
t - March 2003

Jonathan S Tobin writes in the Jerusalem Post:
But My Name Is Rachel Corrie is a polemic with a clear purpose: the creation of a secular saint. And not just an ordinary saint. It is a hagiography of a particular kind of saint: the victim of a Jewish blood libel.
The Israel that Corrie passes briefly through on her way to Gaza is a blank slate. Though she disavows anti-Semitism, the Jewish state is for her, and for the play's authors, merely an extension of evil American foreign policy and military power. This pilgrim's only reaction to signs of Jewish life is to note that she has never before seen a Star of David used as a symbol of "colonialism." As for Corrie's take on the other side of the ledger, the deaths of a thousand Jews at the hands of her nonviolent buddies aren't worth mentioning.

As it comes from the author and the paper the slant is obvious and understandable - to a degree...but this takes the cake - casting aspersions and insinuating that Carrie was a liar and somehow liars by implications can he shoved under a monstrous caterpillar without remorse by state machinery.

But it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of a lie, even one so transparent as Rickman's and Viner's mythical version of the misguided Corrie.
There is a tradition of using theater as a political bully pulpit, and you can easily imagine this farrago having a long shelf life, touring the provinces and college campuses where untold numbers of naive audience members will grieve anew over the death of innocent little Rachel at the hands of the rapacious Jews.
Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner - and all those who applaud their work - want you to believe that Rachel Corrie died for America's Middle East sins.

In the games of political chess played out today we should hope for a lot of draws. A win by any side, anywhere, would be a catastrophe for the world: gods and pundits aside.

Now some medical news.

Lung Cancer can be detected with CT scans earlier on:
In a finding that could change the landscape of lung cancer diagnosis and treatment, new research shows that annual screening using computed tomography (CT) detected lung tumors at their earliest stage in 85 percent of patients.

And when followed quickly by surgery, the 10-year survival rate for this most deadly of cancers soared to 92 percent, according to a study appearing in the Oct. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

This is not a plug for continuing to smoke.

Full Face Transplants?

n what promises to be a watershed event in medical history, a British hospital could perform the world's first full face transplant within months after it was given the go-ahead on Wednesday by the facility's ethics committee.

Consultant plastic surgeon Peter Butler said he was "delighted" to have been given permission for the pioneering surgery by the committee at the Royal Free Hospital in London.

The medical researchers perhaps should focus on brains rather than faces. And there they don't even have to worry about transplating brains – just rewiring should do the trick.

Punctuation is Dying:

Before I proceed any further and before any accusations of misplaced arrogance, I'd like to make it clear that I concede to being as guilty as anyone else on occasion. I'll litter commas throughout text with complete abandon, I'm as scared as anyone else of the semicolon and I'm forever mixing double and single quotation marks. That said, my failings pale in comparison to some of the atrocities I see on a daily basis; and I, at least, am aware of them.

The problem, I think, is that people have begun to forget the importance of punctuation. Traditionally, reading a book - or any printed word, for that matter - is a rather involved process. As you read, you are listening to the words in your mind. The book remains static in your hands; on your lap; on the desk; forcing you to move your eyes to each consecutive word. Knowing the arduous process the book has been through - editing, proof-reading, typesetting, etc. - instills a sense of trust in the words before you; someone put a hell of a lot of work into making this book, just for you. The cost of books also instills pride of ownership.

This is painful. We spend a lifetime communicating our dreams, desires, anguish, fervour, feelings. Not all of them verbally. Link 1 and Link 2. But the onus is far greater when using words. Once we dress our thoughts and feelings in words we lose them to posterity. The moving finger writes….

Speaking of words Subash Gatade writes about a Delhi bookseller who is in trouble with the authorities:

The recent happenings at a book stall put in by a well known publisher 'Daanish Books' at the Deeksha Bhoomi of Dr Ambedkar in Nagpur are a case in point.A random list of books which the police perceived to be 'dangerous' and which it duly confiscated from their book stall makes intersting reading. According to a widely circulated email :

"The books seized by the police for containing dangerous , anti state material include books like Marathi translation of the Thoughts of Bhagat Singh, Ramdeen Ka Sapna by B.D. Sharma, Jati Vyavastha- Bhartiya Kranti Ki Khasiyat by Vaskar Nandy, Monarchy Vs Democracy by Baburam Bhattarai, Nepali Samargaatha: Maowadi Janyuddha ka Aankhon Dekha Vivaran (The Hindi edition of eminent American Journalist Li Onesto's celebrated book Dispatches from the People's War in Nepal, Translated by Anand Swarup Varma), Daliton par Badhati Jyadatiya aur Unka Krantikari Jawab, Chhapamar Yudhha by Che Guevara and books on Marxism and Leninism and people's struggles. "

One gathers that if by their sixth sense these police personnel perceived that the writers scribblings may lead or add to 'social anarchy', they had no compunction in even confiscating such books even though such books are freely available in the market and have not been banned or declared offensive by any state agencies.

Could it be that the Delhi Police is collecting books for their library?

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