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Index February 2008

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Neo-Fundamentalism

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Linked with Olivier Roy – France.

Published on Social Science Research Council SSRC, by Olivier Roy, not dated.

2 excerpts: More than twenty years after the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran, the wave of Islamic radicalism that has engulfed the Middle East since the late 1970s is taking a different course. The mainstream Islamist movements have shifted from the struggle for a supranational Muslim community into a kind of Islamo-nationalism: they want to be fully recognized as legitimate actors on the domestic political scene, and have largely given up the supranational agenda that was part of their ideology. On the other hand, the policy of conservative re-Islamization implemented by many states, even secular ones, in order to undercut the Islamist opposition and to regain some religious legitimacy has backfired. It has produced a new brand of Islamic fundamentalism, ideologically conservative but at times politically radical …

… While Islamists do adapt to the nation-state, neo-fundamentalists embody the crisis of the nation-state, squeezed between infrastate solidarities and globalization. The state level is bypassed and ignored. The Taliban do not care about the state – they even downgraded Afghanistan by changing the official denomination from an “Islamic State” to an “Emirate.” Mollah Omar does not care to attend the council of ministers, nor to go to the Capital.

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Love in the time of want

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Linked with Baba Amte – India (1914 – 2008).

Published on Indian Express, by Neena Sharma, 18 January 1998.

Her life is indeed stranger than fiction. Sadhanatai Amte, wife, confidante and companion of Baba Amte, is a frail, unassuming woman. But when she says that she has lived many lives in her lifetime, you realise her resilience. It is little wonder then that the formidable Baba Amte fell in love with her some 52 years ago, despite his vow of celibacy. He first appeared at her home in Nagpur in a hermit’s robe. The purpose of the visit was to finalise the marriage of her elder sister to a friend of his. During those two weeks he spent at her home, she felt herself – then just 19 – inexorably drawn to this non-conformist.

But what caused Baba Amte to change his mind on matrimony? What made him feel that he would find happiness in the company of an ordinary-looking, conservative girl?

An excerpt from a letter he wrote to her at that juncture explains all: …

… Immediately after marriage Baba decided to give up legal practice and stay in the Dalit People’s Sewashram, a colony of outcastes in Warora, where there was a common kitchen catering to 20 people — the very dregs of society. For Sadhanatai, who had grown up in an orthodox Brahmin home, this came as a shock. The first people to welcome the newly-wed couple was a Dalit family. Soon their relatives stopped visiting the couple for hobnobbing with untouchables … (full text).

Some beautiful videos out of the deep

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On the website of the french TV Planet Thalassa you’ll find many videos.

Click first on the blue link PLONGEE TV, and in the new opened window on any of the links in the right column. You’ll find many videos making you dream.

This morning I watched some made by Xavier Delas:

  • Le tombant (with hypocampes), 11.19 min;
  • Le tombant 2 (with hypocampes), 9.35 min;
  • Observation des Seiches (cuttlefish /Sepiida), 7.19 min;
  • Observation des poulpes (octopus vulgaris), 17.11 min;
  • Port de la vigne, 5.22 min;
  • Fond de vase et sable, 6.43 min.

UN Humanitarian Intervention in East Timor, a critical appraisal

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(Intervención Humanitaria de la ONU en Timor Oriental. Una visión crítica)

Linked with Eumed.net, and with Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed – England & Bangladesh.

Published on Eumed.net, by Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq, 19 pdf-pages, Fall 2006.

Abstract: This paper is an attempt to critically assess the 1999 United Nations intervention in East Timor, including subsequent peacekeeping and administrative operations, in order to ascertain firstly whether the intervention can be categorized as a humanitarian operation, and secondly whether the intervention can be judged as a humanitarian success based on adherence to humanitarian principles. My thesis is that the UN intervention in East Timor fails dismally on both counts, in terms of humanitarian intent and humanitarian success… (full text, 19 pdf-pages).

82 Countries endorse strong ban on cluster munitions

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Received by mail:

From: HREA – Human Rights Education Associates and its Newsletter
Date: 25/02/2008 02:03:03

Human Rights Watch Press release

Final Treaty Negotiations Set for Dublin in May 2008

(Wellington, February 22, 2008) – Eighty-two nations endorsed a strongly worded draft treaty on cluster munitions, moving the world closer to a ban on weapons that cause horrific civilian casualties, Human Rights Watch said today at the end of a week of diplomatic talks in Wellington, New Zealand. The push for a comprehensive ban on clusters, which harm civilians during and after conflict, came despite efforts to water down the text by a handful of states with stockpiles of the weapon.

More than 100 states attended the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions from February 18-22, 2008 to discuss a draft treaty prohibiting the use, production, stockpiling, and trade of cluster munitions. Eighty-two endorsed the Wellington Declaration, which commits states to participate in the formal negotiations in Dublin, Ireland, from May 19-30, and to conduct the negotiations on the basis of the text developed in Wellington. Others are expected to endorse the declaration ahead of the Dublin meeting.

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The Human Development Report HDR 2007-2008

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Published on UNDP/Tanzania, by UNDP, 2007.

Foreword: What we do today about climate change has consequences that will last a century or more. The part of that change that is due to greenhouse gas emissions is not reversible in the foreseeable future. The heat trapping gases we send into the atmosphere in 2008 will stay there until 2108 and beyond. We are therefore making choices today that will affect our own lives, but even more so the lives of our children and grandchildren. This makes climate change different and more difficult than other policy challenges.


Download the 31 pages
.

Some more reports:

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The Arctic Human Development Report AHDR

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The AHDR is the first comprehensive assessment of human well-being covering the entire Arctic region.

Mandated under the Arctic Council’s 2002 Ministerial Declaration as a “priority project” designed to provide a “comprehensive knowledge base” for the work of the Council’s Sustainable Development Programme, the AHDR was a centerpiece of the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Arctic Council during 2002-2004 … (full text, November 2004).

Download the report (Cover, Foreword etc., Chapters 1 to 13):

Excerpt of the Conclusion – The AHDR and the future: As we have emphasized throughout this report, the AHDR is a scientific assessment. Unlike projects featuring original research (e.g. the Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA)), our project has had neither the mandate nor the resources to generate new data concerning the wide range of topics addressed in the individual chapters. Rather, we have sought to synthesize existing knowledge, draw inferences from this knowledge regarding many aspects of human development in the Arctic, and identify areas where we need to know more.

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ODM-K’s best bet is Raila

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Linked with Jerry Okungu – Kenya.

Published on JALUO dot kom, by Jerry Okungu, July 24, 2007.

… Hayo confessed to us that he was a very happy man. He was happy because he had come to terms with the reality of his condition! We got a little concerned and uneasy! What condition was he talking about? Did he have the big one? Two ladies sitting next to us were even more agitated. We held our breath. The usual Jim wasn’t bothered by our changed mood. He was laughing his head off. Then he looked at us. He didn’t understand why we wore gloomy faces.

Undeterred, he continued with his story. He told us that, he had only one wish to ask God the day he would die. He would tell God that should he be given a second chance to come back to life after death, and by mistake, God wanted him to come back as a Kikuyu, Luhya, Mkamba, Kalenjin, Indian or Muzungu, he would look God in the eye and say: “ Sir, thank you for the offer, but I cannot accept your generosity. I would rather remain here dead than go back to earth in any form except as a Luo!”

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Rebuilding Kenya

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Giving people a voice

Published on ReliefWeb, by Action Aid, Febr. 21, 2008.

2 excerpts: … Since the peace talks began, there has been an uneasy calm in the country, although amongst those who are living in deplorable conditions in relief camps, there is still a palpable sense of fear, anxiety and insecurity. Tellingly, the plight of the poorest people is slipping down the agenda.

Back page news: …

… An opportunity to move forward:

On the economic and political front, all investments and development funds must be treated as opportunities to rebuild peace and to act as an insurance against any further conflict. Most importantly they should not be used to amplify the violence.

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Burundi: Solution for outcast children

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Published on Terre des hommes Tdh, not dated.

More than 600′000 children in Burundi are orphans, their parents killed during the civil war, or victims of Aids. Terre des hommes (Tdh) is committed to improving the situation of these orphans as well as other marginalized children, whether in a street situation or minors in conflict with the law.

Orphans – In rural regions, Terre des hommes furthers groups of women who look after orphans and offer them both psychological and material support. These children get food, medicines and school books. Host families are formed to take care of very young and single children. These groups of women encourage the children’s integration in the community and help the older ones to get job training.

Children in a street situation – In the capital, Bujumbura, Terre des hommes works towards reintegration in their own families. The youngsters who cannot go back to their homes are helped towards a self-reliant life by learning a trade. All decisions are taken together with the child concerned. Tdh works within a network so as to coordinate activities and to profit from synergy.

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UNSC RESOLUTION 1325 ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY

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Linked with Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom WILPF,

Published on PEACEWOMEN.ORG, a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

(In February 2003, PeaceWomen began compiling existing translations and calling for and welcoming new translations of Resolution 1325. Thanks to individuals and organizations who have shared their translations with us, the number of available translations on PeaceWomen.org has increased, since February 2003, from 9 to 82. If any of you have translated UNSC Resolution 1325, know of existing translations, would be interested in translating, or know of others who would, please contact us by mail.)

On this page, find the translation of UNSC RESOLUTION 1325 ON WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY, available now in 82 languages.

How do you solve a problem like sharia?

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Rowan Williams has shown us one thing: why multiculturalism must be abandoned

Linked with Johann Hari – England;

Published on JohannHari.com, by Johann Hari, Febr. 9, 2008.

3 excerpts: … bashing the bishop has become a national sport. But this row shouldn’t be just about the pitiful contortions of the head of a dying Church. Rowan Williams has shown us why the doctrine of multiculturalism needs to abandoned.

If you really believe that Britain is comprised of a smorgasbord of “cultures” that need to be preserved, promoted and respected as an end in itself, then this proposal is perfectly logical. Different cultures should have different courts, and rules, and schools.

We don’t need to speculate about what these British sharia courts would look like. They already exist in some mosques across Britain, as voluntary enterprises …

… The argument that women will only have to enter these courts if they freely choose to shows a near-total disconnection from the reality of Muslim women’s lives. Most of the women who will be drawn into “consenting” are, like Nasirin, recent immigrants with little idea of their legal options. Then there are the threats of excommunication – or violence – from some families. As the Muslim feminist Irshad Manji puts it: “When it comes to contemporary sharia, choice is theory; intimidation is the reality.”

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More on conspiracy theories …

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Warning to elites: elites risk exclusion from their status by fellows if they claim conspiracy theories being true. All other humans may risk only a sleepless night.

Linked with Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

Listen to an audio full with conspiration theories on the economic level, but also about secret societies and all what’s linked with, a long interview with the Canadian Benjamin Fulford, living in Asia/Japan, on the Jeff Rense website.

Links for more Conspiracy theories:

Benjamin Fulford, Canada:

Henry Makow, Canada:

David Vaughan Icke, USA:

Discover the networks.org;

My comment:
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Conversation with a Loner

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Linked with Jayati Chowdhury – India.

Published on Boloji.com, by Jayati Chowdhury, October 24, 2004.

3 excerpts: My husband works with a multinational company and very recently we relocated to Brussels, Belgium. Europe, as I had imagined was even more picturesque. For the first few days my mind refused to attend to household chores, but to only capture the lush green surrounding. Our apartment is in the hill top and the view from the balcony is simply breathtaking. It was like a dream come true …

… It was that day I met this elderly gentleman Mr. Jones (deliberately I have not disclosed his name), who asked me details about the huge cake, like for whom did I buy, how old is my son….. He then abruptly asked me to blind guess his age. He looked quite upright and I unquestionably guessed that he was around 65 or so…. He laughed at me and said the day before he celebrated his 55th marriage anniversary and that he is 85 years old. I was taken aback! Anyway, our conversation continued as we were heading the same direction. I learnt that his wife is suffering from Alzheimer and is bed ridden and he takes care of everything. He has two daughters leading their respective lives …

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Citizenship Education Policies and Programs

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Received by mail:

From: HREA – Human Rights Education Associates and its Newsletter
Date: Febr. 15, 2008

Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices, Consultant on Evaluation of Citizenship Education Policies and Programs, March 15 – December 31, 2008

Terms of Reference – Background:

The Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices was officially adopted by the Ministers of Education of OAS Member States at the IV Meeting of the Ministers of Education in Trinidad and Tobago, August 11 – 12, 2005. The Program has three components: (1) Research (2) Professional development and educational resources, and (3) Cooperation and information exchange.
For more information on the Inter-American Program see Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices, (en espanol).

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Council of Europe – CPT

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European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment CPT

Visit its many country reports regarding torture.

The Jean Piaget’s Genetic Epistemology

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… Appreciation and Critique

Linked with Jean Piaget – Switzerland.

March 27, 2006: This is a revised version of two lectures presented at the Institute of Objectivist Studies Summer Seminar, Charlottesville, VA, July 7 and 8, 1997.

Published on Dept of Psychology, Clemson University.

Part One:

[01] Developmental psychology owes a great debt to a Swiss thinker named Jean Piaget. Without his contributions, it is fair to say that the discipline would not exist. Piaget’s active career in psychological research lasted 60 years. His output of essays and empirical studies was prodigious. If all that mattered about Piaget was that he was the first psychologist to ask children whether two equal rows of eggs still have the same number after one of the rows is stretched out; or the first to ask children how many ways there are to get from one end of a room to the other–he would have done enough to merit our admiration.

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Student reflects on MLK message

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Published on The Herald-Dispatch, Feb 02, 2008.

3 excerpts: … Students from across the Tri-State submitted their essays for the Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Competition. This year’s theme was “Rising from the Dark … To the Sunlit Path of Racial Justice.” Today, The Herald-Dispatch will feature the university winner …

… Psychology – a Euro dominated thought

In terms of the study of psychology, Wilhelm Wundt, Jean Piaget, B.F. Skinner, John B. Watson, Sigmund Freud and so on are taught religiously in the universities. Without a thorough investigation, one would believe that Euro-Americans are the only group that has contributed to psychological thought. Sumner Francis was the first African American to earn a degree in psychology in the United States, in the year 1920, from Clark University. Why doesn’t he have more than a mere paragraph in The History of Psychology textbook?

Sumner Francis’ contribution to the history of psychology includes 45 publications on topics such as perception, advertising and the psychology of religion. He also presented strategies for the higher education of African Americans that aroused tension in the majority group because of the spirit of segregation. The education, life and death of the first Europeans who stepped their feet in the waters of psychology are discussed to the point of redundancy, but only a brief paragraph for Dr. Sumne …

… The reshaping of a nation

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INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND PHILANTHROPY, Colonialism by other means?

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Linked with Rebecca Adamson – USA.

Published on Alliance.org, Vol 11/No 4, by Rebecca Adamson, December 2006.

Indigenous people will tell you time and again that they do not think in sectors, economic development, health, education, conservation. When indigenous organizations are funded under narrow programme guidelines, they often divert funds to meet other needs, and the donors object. Sometimes charges of corruption occur. These misunderstandings come from donors encountering a world view that sees the interrelatedness of problems and solutions. Indigenous peoples are inherently brilliant systems thinkers, seeing, analysing and constructing interrelated problem-solving strategies. At First Peoples Worldwide, for example, grants focus on indigenous assets. This allows the community to identify the primary asset, be it water, fish, forests, traditional knowledge, youth, etc, and to decide how they will build their capacity to increase their control and derive tangible benefits for the community from that asset …

… Adapting their culture, not sacrificing it

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Europeanisation, not Islamisation

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Bassam Tibi argues for Euro-Islam as a bridge between civilisations

Linked with Bassam Tibi – Syria.

Published on Sign and Sight, by Bassam Tibi, March 22, 2007.

… The reasoning about the potential of a Europeanisation of Islam in the European Diaspora took a further development at Cornell University. As stated above, Peter Katzenstein chaired the project “Transnational Religion and Accession,” dealing not just with Islam, but also with Eastern Orthodox Christianity. A key assumption of the project is that “accession” – the inclusion in the political culture of the EU – presupposes a “Europeanisation” in the limited sense described above, that is for the territory of the EU. According to secular standards, Europeanisation is separated from religion and ethnicity and linked solely to the values of democracy, individual human rights and civil society. That this concept is not Eurocentric is amply illustrated by the possible synthesis of Islam and Europe in Euro-Islam, an idea I have been advocating for over 15 years summarized in the Cornell formula cited above and published most recently in the book edited by Peter Katzenstein and Timothy Byrnes “Religion in an Expanding Europe”. Are the findings of the Cornell project, which argues for Europeanisation as a criteria not only for accepting the Turks of the Diaspora as European citizens, but also Turkey in the EU, acceptable for the Turks? The Turkish magazine Turkish Policy Quarterly did not see in this idea any European arrogance published 2004 my essay “Euro-Islam. The quest of Turkey and Muslims to become Europeans”. This text met with general approval, although neither the governing Islamists, nor the German Islamic Council under Milli Görüs approve of it, because they are against Europeanisation, a fact corroborated by the enlightened Turks I have spoken with on my repeated visits to Ankara.

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The Limits Of Individual Morality

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Published on Countercurrents.org, by James Rothenberg, February 12, 2008.

If we as individual citizens are to remain allegiant to the abstraction known as the United States of America, do we have to alter our innate sense of morality where it seems at variance with the morality of the state? Or, in a weaker version, to what extent do we have to alter our innate sense of morality in order to bring it into line with the morality of the state?

Thanks to a new entity known as Wikileaks and the anonymous leaker, ‘Peryton’, we are provided another formal measure of the moral capacity of our government, specifically in how it relates to our conduct in our role as invader and occupier of Iraqi sovereign territory.

The leaked document in this case is the US Forces Rules of Engagement for Iraq, classified Secret. Protocol concerning the authorization for the use of force is specified for circumstances where there can be expected a level of collateral damage.

Leaving aside the moral ambiguity inherent in the use of deadly force in an area where even “no collateral damage” is expected (but may occur), there remain the two higher classifications of expectation, “low collateral damage” and “high collateral damage”.

Dealing with the most obvious dimension of collateral damage, that of non-combatant casualties, we’re taught how to distinguish between the two. The “high” assessment occurs when there is a probability of ten percent that the damage would amount to an estimated 30 or greater non-combatant casualties (sometimes known as “innocents”).

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Islam and the Enlightenment: Between Ebb and Flow

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Linked with Abdelwahab Meddeb – Tunis & France.

Published on Logos, by Abdelwahab Meddeb, not dated.

Islam can be doubly associated with the spirit of the Enlightenment. Long before, as early as the middle of the eighth century, it produced the premises of the Enlightenment; afterwards, starting in the nineteenth century, it experienced its effects.

Between 750 and 1050, authors made use of a surprising freedom of thinking in their approach to religions and to the phenomenon of belief. In their analyses, they bowed to the primacy of reason, honoring one of the basic principles of the Enlightenment. This phenomenon took place during a period of effervescence, of intense intellectual exchange, that Islam experienced a little more than a century after its advent, when its followers were seeking to develop a tradition capable of confronting much more sophisticated systems of thought. This was also a time when newcomers to Islam continued to remember theological systems and questions raised by the beliefs that had seen them come into being or evolve (like Judaism, various Christian sects, Manicheism, or Zoroastrianism) …

… Faced with the ebbing away of the Enlightenment, I would like to insist on the role that Europe can play in its reactivation. I mentioned earlier that Western gap between the principles of the Enlightenment and the actions that ruined its universal dissemination. But the European individual, in these last few decades of peace, of work on self, of ethical vigilance, seems at last capable of producing deeds that are in keeping with his principles. I know that this good example is difficult to maintain in practice, especially when it is not easy to detach it from positions that distinguish between dominant and dominated, strong and weak, rich and poor.

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UN: Displaced Kenyans Can’t Return Yet

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Pulished by AP, by KATHARINE HOURELD, Febr. 11, 2008.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — A senior U.N. official warned Sunday that a vast majority of the hundreds of thousands of Kenyans displaced by the postelection violence will not be able to return home any time soon because of the fear of more violence …

… John Holmes, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief, warned that Kenya has a long, hard task ahead in dealing with the hundreds of camps scattered across the country that have absorbed people fleeing attacks on one tribe or another. He said that a political compromise was needed to bring an end to the violence.

“Clearly what we all hope is that people will be able to go home as soon as they can, but it’s clear from talking to people, for many of them, for a vast majority of them it’s not something that we can contemplate in the near future,” Holmes told reporters in Kenya’s capital after visiting several of the camps.

The response to the humanitarian crisis has been “reasonably satisfactory,” Holmes said, but basic services were still only sporadically available in many places. About $22 million of a pledged $42 million has been given so far through the U.N. for humanitarian assistance, he said …

… More than 1,000 people have been killed since the election. The fighting has pitted members of Kenya’s rival ethnic groups against one another, gutted the economy and left the country’s reputation as a budding democracy and a top tourist destination in tatters. (full text).

(Associated Press writers Katy Pownall and Heidi Vogt in Nairobi, Osinde Obare in Sianda and Philip Mwakio in Mombasa contributed to this report).

Global warming, a hotly debated issue

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Linked with Philip Stott – England.

Published on The Guardian, by Philip Stott, March 19, 2001.

I am no supporter of Mr Bush nor of “smokestack utilities” (Leader, March 16), but I am passionate about truth and honesty in science. In the last three months, a series of heavyweight scientific papers have appeared in journals such as Nature and Climate Research, showing incontrovertibly the “incomplete state of scientific knowledge” about climate change.

The critical focus has been on the role of water vapour, which is unquestionably the most important “greenhouse” gas, not carbon dioxide; the geological relationships between carbon dioxide and temperature; the many missing, or little-known variables, in the main climate models, including soot and “Pacific” vents; and the need to correct many temperature measurements, especially those over the oceans. One paper from the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian center for astrophysics, concludes that: “Our review of the literature has shown that GCMs [climate models] are not sufficiently robust to provide an understanding of the potential effects of CO2 on climate necessary for public discussion” … (full text).