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Index December 2006

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Historical Perspectives …

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Found on countercurrent.org: Historical Perspectives On Latin American And East Asian Regional Development, By Noam Chomsky, 26 December, 2006.

There was a meeting on the weekend of December 9-10 in Cochabamba in Bolivia of major South American leaders. It was a very important meeting. One index of its importance is that it was unreported, virtually unreported apart from the wire services. So every editor knew about it. Since I suspect you didn’t read that wire service report, I’ll read a few things from it to indicate why it was so important.

The South American leaders agreed to create a high-level commission to study the idea of forming a continent-wide community similar to the European Union. This is the presidents and envoys of major nations, and there was the two-day summit of what’s called the South American Community of Nations, hosted by Evo Morales in Cochabamba, the president of Bolivia. The leaders agreed to form a study group to look at the possibility of creating a continent-wide union and even a South American parliament.

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Why I am an Atheist?

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Linked with Bhagat Singh – India (1907 – 1931), and with Bhagat Singh and the Revolutionary Movement.

Written 1930 by Bhagat Singh, and published on boloji.com on June 18, 2002.

(Read all of this huge long article on boloji.com) … or here after:

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Bhagat Singh and the Revolutionary Movement

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Linked with Bhagat Singh – India (1907 – 1931), and with Why I am Atheist.

Published on Revolutionary Democracy, around April 1997, by Niraja Rao.

Bhagat Singh was an outstanding revolutionary and martyr of the Indian anti-colonial movement. He represented the youth who were dissatisfied with Gandhian politics and groped for revolutionary alternatives. Bhagat Singh studied the European revolutionary movement and was attracted to anarchism and communism. He became a confirmed atheist, socialist and communist.

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murder of human rights lawyer

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Investigate murder of human rights lawyer Dionisio García in Honduras

De: RCValle e-mail,  [ajouter au carnet d'adresses]
Date: 12/12/2006

Please copy, paste the letter and put your name at the end of it. READ THE NEWS BELOW THE LETTER.
COPY AND PASTE IN THE “TO” FIELD:

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Des musulmanes repensent la place des femmes dans l’islam

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Trouvé dans La Croix du 5 novembre 2006, par Agnès ROTIVEL, à Barcelone:
Des fidèles de nombreux pays musulmans ont débattu durant trois jours des lois discriminatoires envers les femmes. Ce courant féministe, qui compte aussi des hommes, reste minoritaire.

En Occident, on connaît le féminisme, on ignorait encore qu’il puisse exister un féminisme islamique. Et pourtant, c’est la deuxième année que des femmes de plusieurs pays musulmans se réunissent en Espagne pour un congrès international sur ce thème, à l’initiative de l’Association islamique de Catalogne.

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Prison for TV watch

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Published on Voltairenet.org, November 24, 2006 – Two United-Stators incur 110 years imprisonment for having watched al-Manar TV:

Javed Iqbal and Saleh Elahwal, two American citizens, were arrested by the FBI, the first one in August and the second on November 20th, 2006. The two persons face 110 years in prison.

Their crime? Both men set up a satelite dish which allowed them, and others, to watch the Hezbollah television channel Al-Manar. Indeed, this channel was classified as ” a terrorist organization ” by the United States, and the act of watching it or helping in its broadcasting is considered by the United-Stator justice as complicity with a terrorist organization.

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Islam Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation !

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Source Press Support Netherlands – Press release, Islam Outlaws Female Genital Mutilation!

SENSATIONAL Resolution of the Scholars’ Conference at Azhar University in Cairo on 22 and 23 November, 2006:
Ten of the highest ranked scholars from all over the world met at the Azhar University under the patronage of the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Prof. Dr. Ali Goma’a. After listening to several international physicians, they pronounced the sensational decision to classify the custom of female genital mutilation (FGM) as punishable aggression and crime against humanity. As a result, the custom can no longer be practiced by Muslims. Now awareness of this decision has to be spread in the 33 affected countries.

The religous scholars at the conference were the following: Grand Mufti and Patron of Al-Azhar: Prof. Dr. Ali Goma’a; the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar: Prof. Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawi; the Minister of Religion of Egypt: Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk; Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi from Qatar; Sheikh Hissein Hassan Abkar from Chad; Imam Mahammadou Diallo from Mali; Imam Bal El Bechir from Mauritania; Sheikh Mohamed Darassa from Ethiopia, and Imam Tarafa Baghrajati from Austria. Reports were given by medical experts from Egypt, Ethiopia, and Germany.

The German human rights organization had invited “TARGET-Ruediger Nehberg” to this conference. Its two presidents, Ruediger Nehberg and Annette Weber, have been engaged in fighting FGM on location in Africa since 2000. They brought into being a “Pro-Islamic Alliance”, because they regard Islam as their strongest partner in ending this cruel tradition with the ethics and the power of Islam. At so-called TARGET desert conferences, they had already been able to achieve great successes in Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Mauritania. The conference at the Azhar is the greatest highlight so far. Most of all, it also shows the strong positive forces in Islam.

On the “International Day against FGM”, ARTE shows a film about the work of TARGET in Africa: “Campaign against a taboo” / “la chose – campagne contre un tabou”, 6 February, 07, on ARTE, at 8:40 p.m.
For further information: TARGET, Germany, Annette Weber, e-mail. LOVE Aresh.

Iranian Nuclear Issue, a Reappraisal

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The Stand-off on the Iranian Nuclear Issue– A Reappraisal Before the Final Countdown, by General Vinod Saighal, India.

For the Indian general Vinod Saighal, President Ahmadinejad’s provocations will not succeed in dissuading the United States to destroy Iran. The war is programmed in Washington, to conquer oil fields, to strengthen Bush presidency and to satisfy Israel at the same time. Nothing can stop it, and Teheran is wrong to believe in its friends’ protection, whether they are Muslims, Russians or Chineses. In such circumstances, the wisdom would be the discretion.

My comment: I am actually in India, here General Vinod Saighal’s statement is discussed controversially. To read his whole statement, go to Voltairenet.org.

ATTAC Schweiz 12/2006

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Copleft (L) ATTAC-Schweiz Rue des Savoises, 15 1205 Genf – Tel: ++41 22 800 10 40, Fax: ++41 21 625 34 45, e-mail. Kopien erlaubt, sofern die Internetseite http://www.suisse.attac.org/ erwähnt wird.

Rundbrief Dezember 2006:

(den angefangenen Abschnitt bitte jeweils auf dieser ATTAC-Webseite weiterlesen). (http://www.suisse.attac.org/index-fr.php3)

Das Andere Davos 2007 steht vor der Tür [Online am 3. Dezember 2006]:
“Shaping the Global Agenda”, so lautet der Arbeitstitel der nächsten Ausgabe des Weltwirtschaftsforums (WEF). Das informelle Jahrestreffen der Reichen und Mächtigen findet vom 24. bis zum 28. Januar 2007 in Davos statt. Dem Anspruch des WEF, über den Zustand der Welt zu bestimmen, wollen wir mit der Organisation der internationalen Anti-WEF-Konferenz “Das Andere Davos” wieder Analysen und Alternativen “von unten” entgegen setzen. Die von attac schweiz initiierte Konferenz lebt von der Unterstützung …

attac gegen G8 [Online am 9. Dezember 2006]:
Die grosse Mobilisierung gegen den G8-Gipfel in Genua vom Juli 2001 ist nicht vergessen. Bei der grossen Demonstration vom 21. Juli 2001 prangerten 300 000 die Politik der am G8-Gipfel versammelten Regierungschefs an. Die grosse Mobilisierung gegen den G8-Gipfel in Genua vom Juli 2001 ist nicht vergessen. Bei der grossen Demonstration vom 21. Juli 2001 prangerten 300 000 die Politik der am G8-Gipfel versammelten Regierungschefs an. Der ungeahnten Polizeibrutalität fielen dutzende …

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Policies for Cultural Creativity

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Linked with Nestor Garcia Canclini – Mexico, and with The Future of the Privatization of Culture.

By Néstor García Canclini, a long case study published on ‘The Power of Culture’, not dated. You may also read only their summary.

A small excerpt of a long case study: … One should also note the harmful effects of recent innovations such as technological discoveries which are diverted towards developing the armaments industry, or which increase air and water pollution, or cause large-scale unemployment when combined with economic policies which ignore the social needs of the majority. The risks involved in the possibility of manipulating genetic codes, and the use of medical and psychological advances in violation of human rights, create a whole set of danger zones in which creativity does not appear to be the best way to employ or regenerate natural and cultural resources. Here we must analyze creativity in the context of the new conditions of interculturality, globalization and the reorganization of the links between nature and society, and between local traditions and regional and worldwide integration processes.

Another look at the opposition between public/private, national/foreign:

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The Future of the Privatization of Culture

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Linked with Nestor Garcia Canclini – Mexico, and with Policies for Cultural Creativity.

Conference Summary by Nestor Garcia Canclini, Published April 1998 – Translated by George Yudice. (nyu.edu).

Excerpt: … A Completed Modernity? – To evaluate this recent change, it is necessary to review at least briefly the four major tendencies of the modern project. Firstly, that project aspired to an emancipatory process through the secularization of the cultural fields: once art, culture, science and technology were liberated from religious and metaphysical guidance, the future was imagined as the self-expressive and self-regulated expression of the practices of individuals and societies.

Secondly, modernity aspired to the combined expansion of all individuals and all societies. Through the increasing knowledge and possession of nature, and the diffusion of material and symbolic commodities to all of society, it was hoped that human potential would be expanded.
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human rights of persons with disabilities

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Learn more about this topic in Human Rights Education Associates HREA’s study guide on the human rights of persons with disabilities:

13 December 2006 – The General Assembly today (13.12.06) adopted a landmark disability convention, the first human rights treaty of the twenty-first century and one that United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said represents the “dawn of a new era” for around 650 million people worldwide living with disabilities.

Mr. Annan, along with Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa and other UN officials, as well as members of civil society that lobbied for the pact, urged all 192 Member States to quickly ratify the convention, which covers rights to education, health, work and a raft of other protective measures for people with disabilities.

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International Migrants Day

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HREA /Human Rights Education Associates – Learn more about International Migrants Day, 18 December 2006.

BEIJING (ILO Online), 14 December 2006 – Brain drains rob developing countries of valuable human talent, as their best and brightest people go abroad to study and opt to stay in the developed world. For many years, the People’s Republic of China has been no exception to this phenomenon.

In recent years, however, tens of thousand of people trained abroad have been returning to China, the ILO article says. Close to a quarter of the more than 930,000 students who went abroad for studies between 1978 and 2005 returned. And the numbers of returnees are growing: from about 6,000 in 1995 to almost 35,000 in 2005, according to the China Statistical Yearbook 2006.

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war crimes committed in the Sudanese region of Darfur

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HREA /Human Rights Education Associates – 14 December 2006 – The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) informed the Security Council today that he is almost ready to bring cases about some of the worst war crimes committed in the Sudanese region of Darfur during the past three years. Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he will submit evidence to ICC judges by February at the latest and, ahead of that step, he is now introducing measures to protect victims and witnesses. According to the text of his statement to the closed-door Council meeting, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that his first case will focus on a series of incidents in 2003 and 2004, when conflict emerged in Darfur as Government forces and allied militia clashes with rebel groups seeking greater autonomy. “The evidence provides reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals identified have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the crimes of persecution, torture, murder and rape, during a period in which the gravest crimes occurred in Darfur,” he said.

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The War on Iraq and the Occupation

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Linked with Caroline Lucas – England, and with ECONOMIC JUSTICE.

Published on her website, Position Statement on Iraq from Caroline Lucas MEP.

“In the wake of the devastating and illegal war on Iraq, it is of paramount importance that a provisional Iraqi administration is set up as soon as possible to oversee and ensure the safety of all Iraqi people, their heritage and infrastructure. It is also vital that civil security as soon as possible so that electricity and safe water supplies can be returned to the Iraqi people.

It is the responsibility of the US, UK, and their allies to meet the costs of direct war damage. However, successful reconstruction must depend on local ownership and leadership by Iraqis, alongside long-term support, including aid and debt, from the international community led by the UN. Effort is needed in economic and social reconstruction, support for civilian protection, gender equality, and civil society.

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“Full-spectrum” human rights

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Re-Published on Open Democracy: Amnesty International rethinks, by Stephen Bowen ,3 – 6 – 2005 – The interdependence of the modern world is leading the human rights organisation Amnesty International towards a fresh conception of its work, explains its UK campaigns director, Stephen Bowen.

Amnesty International recently highlighted a case concerning water protestors in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. On 17 May a large group of men, women and children went to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation office in Bhopal to complain that clean water had been denied them, despite a Supreme Court of India ruling in 2004. Ground-water had been contaminated after the infamous 1984 explosion at the former Union Carbide plant in Bhopal. Clean water, the protestors claimed, was their due.

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Geoff Mulgan’s Spring Conference 2006

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Linked with Geoff Mulgan – England, with Demos, and with Background-Report on Cities in Transition.

Published on Policy Network.net (not dated).

Excerpt: … I think all of our parties and think tanks and so on need to become much more focused on how practical innovation on the ground, involving social entrepreneurs and communities and others is in fact the key way to re-energise our politics, not to see it in a very top-down way as all about abstract ideas and words and arguments.

There is also a very important aspect of this for public service reform. Too often, we believe reform is something you impose from top-down, even when it hasn’t been proven and tested, and the logic of social innovation is whatever your new ideas, try them out in a small way first, don’t try them out on whole populations at once when the costs of putting them right will be so much higher than otherwise.

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Women in Slums, an UN study

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Published on UN Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs, by Dulal Biswas Bangladesh, 13 Jan 2005.

A large portion of the city dwellers of Dhaka and other urban cities of Bangladesh are Young Slum Women. Sudden increase of the demand in the export of the garments in the 80’s and early 90’s, many entrepreneurs had been becoming interested to set up new and new garment factories in the major cities with transportation facilities to abroad. Dhaka and Chittagong were mainly chosen for the purpose and as a result a huge influx of typical Young Slum Women s had been observed in those establishments from different areas of the country.

The typical Young Slum Women s are mainly girls and women of young age. It is usual feature in the streets of Dhaka and Chittagong City to observe large number of those workers in the morning and evening going and returning from the factories. Undoubtedly this group of inhabitants deserves especial attention in the different perspectives of social interactions.

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a soldier out of Iraq tells …

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Put this URL into your browser http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=-5587990522549547050&q=iraq

or click on this link, and listen what an US soldier tells you.

You can also put this URL into your brouwser
http://video.google.co.uk/

to choose any other Google video, or same, click on this link.

Rethinking resettlement in Mumbai

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Linked with other publications on our different blogs, some links being added later to this date:

Links with Texts and Reports, like Women in Slums, an UN study, with Background-Report on Cities in Transition, with W.O.M.E.N., with Hope in the slums: women’s work in Bangladesh, with Slums & Money – one, with Slums & Money – two, and with Mumbai pavement dwellers finally get their homes, also with NGO’s like Ankur, with SHACK, Slum Dwellers International SDI, with TERI The Energy and Resources Institute, and with Nirbhay Bano Andolan, finally also with persons like Shanta Devi – India, and with Leena Joshi – India.

Rethinking resettlement in Mumbai: published first by Sheela Patel, Celine d’Cruz and Sundar Burra, see on SHACK (not dated).

Must municipalities use force to relocate people living in the path of urban infrastructure projects? Does eviction always result in poverty? How can people who are evicted be protected from the demoralisation and poverty often suffered by those whose homes are judged to lie in the way of progress?

Research from the Indian housing rights organisation SPARC describes an unusual resettlement programme in Mumbai in which 60 000 people moved, without being forced, to make way for improvements to the city’s railway system. Analysing the approach taken by civil and state agencies involved in the resettlement, the paper draws out relevant lessons for cities struggling to manage population displacements taking place in response to globalisation.

Land shortages in India’s commercial and financial capital are the result not only of market and population pressures but also of the city’s location on a peninsula. The railway system has helped shaped the creation of a long, linear city. The land immediately next to the tracks was illegally occupied by low-income households who were attracted by the proximity to a source of income. Their presence led to frequent accidents and speed restrictions that made it hard for the system to serve commuters.

The Mumbai Urban Transport Project (MUTP) was designed to get the trains moving by laying new lines, enlarging platforms to allow longer trains and removing the 19′000 households living on platforms or within 10 metres of the tracks. Project funding from the World Bank was given on the condition that civil society took part in their resettlement. SPARC, the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan (a union of women pavement and slum dwellers) took the lead in helping affected communities gain decent alternative accommodation.

There have been some initial problems such as restricted employment opportunities in resettlement sites, transport costs to get back to former jobs, schools unable to cope with increased student numbers and difficulties in accessing subsisided goods in ration shops. However, most people are happy to be in secure better quality accommodation with piped water, sanitation and electricity.

Key elements behind the success include:

  • flexibility from the World Bank, which awarded socio-economic survey contracts to those most qualified, instead of putting them out to tender.
  • the willingness of Mumbai planners to give community organisations the power to make eligibility and allocation decisions.
  • a two-phase resettlement strategy which gave the railways authorities quick access to the land while assuring those who were given transit accommodation the guarantee that they would eventually be adequately rehoused.

The report suggests that the success of the MUTP might bring citizenship one step nearer for the urban poor. It urges policy-makers to:

  • reconsider resettlement as part of development, rather than a result of under-funded, top-down, poorly organised management of the ‘cost’ of development.
  • gain commitments from governments, donors and lenders to minimise the need for resettling populations.
  • fully involve those who have to be moved in the design, implementation and management of the resettlement.
  • give women a central role: with their experience of running households on a tiny budget, poor women quickly take to project management when given the training and opportunity.

My comment: all this is nice effort, but slums are growing. Every possible place is used by newcomers, like on this picture below: small ‘housings’ build against a wall in the mid of a normal nice Kandivali street. The families living there make also small business’ for their survival. Once you live a week there, all this becomes normal.
JD800062 redim 15p.JPG

Mumbai pavement dwellers finally get their homes

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Linked with SHACK, Slum Dwellers International SDI.

Letter to the The Ward Officer, Mumbai- 400008, 24th April, 06.

Subject: Handing over Sophia Zubair and Dimtimkar pavements back to the Mahanagar Palika

Dear Mr., Mahila Milan is an organization of pavement and slum women leaders all over the city of Bombay. SPARC which is our support NGO has been working very closely with Mahila Milan to build its capacities to negotiate with the city for land for their future house.

In all these years we have learnt that it is as much our responsibility to steer our own development and not just wait for the city to find solutions. In the same spirit we have in the last 20 years managed to save money and plan and design our future relocation.

We have now reached the end of that journey and for the first time in the history of the city we will shift the first phase of pavement settlements to a relocation site at Mankhurd.
The pavement structures on Sofia Zubair and Dimtimkar road at Nagpada Junction will be cleared and the pavements will be handed over to the municipal corporation by the 27th April.

We would like the E ward office to take charge of the pavements and make sure that there are no future encroachments so that the motto of the city to transform the city is truly achieved.

We, the women of Mahila Milan would like to participate in the city’s development and take responsibility to make our city work for all.

Read also: UN report of 01/10/2003: UN-HABITAT’s new Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, to be commanded, for 40.- $, on this UN website:

The world’s slums are growing, and growing, with the number people living in such dire conditions now at the 1 billion mark – making up 32 per cent of the global urban population, according to UN-HABITAT’s new Global Report on Human Settlements 2003. The report published this month entitled, The Challenge of Slums, says the crisis is such that the world will see this figure double in the next 30 years unless a concerted effort is undertaken to alleviate the situation.

Kashmiri Pandits demand quotas in education, jobs

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Received by mail:
Monday, December 11, 2006, Source: IANS – Blog this story!

New Delhi: Shouting slogans and carrying banners, around 100 Kashmiri Pandits took to the streets of the capital on the occasion of the Human Rights Day to demand reservations in educational institutions and in government jobs.

“We want justice. We were forced out of our homes 17 years ago and still, the government has not done enough to provide us with jobs. We want reservation in government jobs so that we can return to our own state,” said Puran Pandita, who has been staying in a refugee camp in Jammu after being displaced from Baramulla in 1989.

“There were around 16,000 Kashmiri Pandits in government jobs in 1990 but now, this figure has come down to 5,708. We want these jobs so that we can go back to our own state. We have lost everything due to militancy,” he added.

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Peace

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Picked up in a newsletter of Birdman’s (e-mail) ‘Elder’s Meditation of the day’, on December 11, 2006:

“Peace… comes within the souls of men when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the Universe dwells Wakan-Tanka, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.” (Black Elk (Hehaka Sapa) OGLALA SIOUX).

If we are to know peace we must look within ourselves. In order to do this, we must learn to be still. We must quiet the mind. We must learn to meditate. Meditation helps us locate and find the center that is within ourselves. The center is where the Great One resides. When we start to look for peace, we need to realize where it is within ourselves. When we experience conflict we need to pause for a moment and ask the Power within ourselves, “How do you want me to handle this? What would you suggest I do in this situation?” By asking the High Power for help we find peace.

Kofi Annan’s final speech

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For the whole speech,

Go to this BBC link.

With only two excerpts: …

1). My fourth lesson – closely related to the last one – is that governments must be accountable for their actions in the international arena, as well as in the domestic one.

Today the actions of one state can often have a decisive effect on the lives of people in other states.

So does it not owe some account to those other states and their citizens, as well as to its own? I believe it does.

2). These five lessons can be summed up as five principles, which I believe are essential for the future conduct of international relations: collective responsibility, global solidarity, the rule of law, mutual accountability, and multilateralism.