Archive for June 1st, 2011
By the time Tom Hanks had won an Oscar in 1994 for portraying a gay man dying of AIDS, 270,000 Americans had died from the disease — most of them gay men. It had been thirteen years since an obscure medical publication reported a mysterious syndrome that caused a rapid, terrifying collapse of the immune system in a handful of gay men. That was June 5, 1981, thirty years ago this week.
Because of who the initial victims were, the disease was initially tagged with one of the most misleading names in medical history: Gay Related Immune Deficiency. It was largely ignored by the federal government and mainstream media (continue reading…)
This post was written by Raza Habib Raja
Over the years, U.S. bashing has become a national pastime in Pakistan. This trend is dominant almost everywhere, ranging from drawing room discussions to media talk shows, and in recent months has assumed alarming proportions due to host of events such as Afia Siddique verdict, Raymond Davis’s capture and subsequent release, incessant drone attacks and above all, the recent killing of Osama bin Laden.
Although it would be an exaggeration to say that everyone in Pakistan mistrusts and hates the U.S., a substantial majority does. Several surveys have revealed that majority of Pakistanis consider USA as an enemy rather than a friend (continue reading…)
“While on top of Everest, I looked across the valley towards the great peak Makalu and mentally worked out a route about how it could be climbed,” Sir Edmund Hillary told me once during an interview. “It showed me that even though I was standing on top of the world, it wasn’t the end of everything. I was still looking beyond to other interesting challenges.”
He sure was. This week not only marks the 58th anniversary of his first ascent of the 29,035-ft (continue reading…)
I have told the story many times since Sunday, a little over a week now, about Peace Lutheran Church, a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in Joplin, Mo. The church building was completely leveled by a tornado there May 22.
I have been told by a therapist-pastor that sharing that story is a way of living with guilt over what happened in Joplin and to me.
As the interim pastor of Peace Lutheran, I stay in Joplin only three days a week, commuting from my home in Kansas City, Mo. So I rode out the tornado in the motel basement. The motel was south of the storm’s path.
But my therapist-pastor friend was right (continue reading…)
By John Fiske
The Library Book, an historical novel set in the design and construction of the New York Public Library’s landmark library on 42nd Street, first published in 2006, and in the NYPL’s permanent collection (JFE-97-43), is a surprising reaction to an actual experience. The Author’s Note explains that I went scuba diving in abandoned marble quarries in Vermont, and wondered where all the marble had gone. That’s the truth. I did not manufacture this story for some literary reason (continue reading…)
Did you know the most common woman’s dress size in the United States was a size eight in 1985 and is now a size 14? The average American woman’s weight has increased 11 pounds (from 152 to 163) in the 10 years between 1990 and 2000, while height has remained the same. Men have also increased their weight by an average of 10 pounds from 180 to 190 pounds, while remaining essentially the same height, 5′ 9″. A more recent study by the National Center for Health Statistics shows further increase in weight in men, women and children.
Today, an estimated 100 million people in the U.S (continue reading…)
Yesterday, the House voted for a clean debt limit increase. If you’re one of those people worrying about the fragility of the economic recovery, or one of the many more actually struggling with it, this might have sounded promising to you. In fact, a clean increase is the way to go.
Yes, we need to get on a sustainable budget path, and yes, that’s going to take some serious haggling between the parties. Such haggling needs to occur, but it takes time, and the clock is ticking.
In the interest on not endangering an economy that really doesn’t need anything else to worry about, first raise the ceiling, then debate the budget (continue reading…)
Jane Espenson started off her writing career by writing a spec script for M*A*S*H, and never sending it. Since then, she’s been a writer and/or producer for almost every popular scifi/geek show out there. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Caprica, Warehouse 13 and more. (Take a look at her IMDB page and marvel!) She wrote the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, and critics across the board have called it the best episode yet (continue reading…)
On a recent visit to my local library, I ended up in an unfamiliar aisle on a shortcut to somewhere else, and a book almost leapt off the shelf at me. The title all but screamed out, “Read me!” I looked at the books surrounding it and realized that I’d ended up in the human sexuality category, not somewhere you’d normally find me. Because I believe in serendipity, I listened as the book kept asking me to take it home. The book, “The Myth of Monogamy,” seemed an unlikely subject to ever attract my attention (continue reading…)
Being a sport means you are willing to play. Willing to play means you are involved or alive to the situation in which you exist, and that is the essence of life. If there is anything that is truly close to a spiritual process, in the normal course of life, that is sports. Swami Vivekananda went to the extent of saying, “In kicking a ball or playing a game, you are much closer to the Divine than you will ever be in prayer.” You can pray without involvement, but you cannot play sports without involvement, and involvement is the essence of life.
But when people involve themselves in what they do, they often get entangled (continue reading…)
Have you ever sworn you were going to change a habit — for example, you promised yourself that you would stop eating sugar, relax instead of fret, meditate bright and early every morning or shut up the voice in your head that judges others? And then, despite your greatest determination, your spoon scooped up the ice cream, your stomach churned when you thought about your diminishing bank account, you slept late and missed meditation time or you found yourself grumbling about a friend, a mate, a boss? Well, if you have had this or any number of other similar experiences, you are not alone. We have many intentions for “self improvement,” some successes and lots of frustrating repetitions of bad patterns.
When we repeat patterns we dislike, we often go into shame. And what good does that do? If I feel bad about eating the wrong things, I might feel so distressed, I just have to eat to make myself feel better! If I get upset about fretting, I’m just fretting about my fretting. If criticize myself for not meditating, I might not be able to focus on the meditation when I do get to it (continue reading…)
A piece of advice: If you are a writer, think carefully about what you write about, because it’s quite likely you’ll soon be tested on it. After posting on embracing life’s extremes, you could say the past week has been a master class in putting my money where my mouth is.
The night after my essay published, I dreamt I was woken from sleep in a courtly chamber, summoned by someone of importance. In the dream, once awake, I had to walk down a very long corridor past a large audience lining both sides to get to the one calling me.
Only problem was, I was completely naked (continue reading…)
A growing number of physicians and medical centers are suggesting meditation as a holistic practice to relax the body and relieve stress. It’s exciting to see this form of mind, body and spirit connection given the credence and attention it deserves. The act of meditation is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give to yourself, yet for many the concept is daunting. There are some people who enter into meditative practices, which evolve into an entire lifestyle, but for those who have never tried to meditate, the idea of sitting in an uncomfortable position in complete silence is enough to discourage even the slightest attempt (continue reading…)
The Liberal Party of Canada checked into public relations rehab this week. In fact, the party took a page directly from the Lindsay Lohandbook (horrible pun, I know) when it announced its interim leader last Wednesday.
Just like Lohan, the Liberal Party sat humbled in front of the media, milked a fading celebrity status, and promised wholeheartedly to change. Bob Rae even shielded his party from scrutiny like a pair of D&G sunglasses as he calmly projected a message of hope.
It was vintage Lohan, I’m telling you.
The similarities were so real that I am convinced the Liberal Party of Canada has adopted the public relations strategy of a celebrity who hit rock bottom.
I can see them in their war room now, proclaiming that the Liberals will be more sought-after than Bret Michaels after The Apprentice! As respected as Mickey Rourke after The Wrestler! Or even as popular as Downey Jr. after Ironman!
Now, with the press conference taken care of, the Liberal Party need follow three remaining steps to reach the rehabilitation pinnacle.
Step one: Seek endorsement from someone outside the conflict.
This is done constantly in Hollywood (continue reading…)
Women are still undervalued — at home and at work. Even though women now fill 49% of all professional and managerial-level jobs, women CEOs lead in only 15 of the FORTUNE 500 companies, or 3 percent. The reasons are complicated but among them is the reality that traditional family structures, social norms, and established business practices prevent many women from reaching their potential. Clearly, these need to be reevaluated and redesigned — but shifts of this type and magnitude take time (continue reading…)
Can you solve this medical riddle? What strikes one in five Americans, raises their risk of death and disability, and doubles their health care costs?
If you said depression, congratulations, you were correct. If you said heart disease (America’s leading cause of death), you were also correct.
These devastating diseases have much in common. The difference is that unlike heart disease, depression frequently goes undetected and under-treated, particularly in older adults (continue reading…)
The US is working on a plan to categorise cyber-attacks as acts of war, says the New York Times newspaper.
In future, a US president could consider economic sanctions, cyber-retaliation or a military strike if key US computer systems were attacked, officials have said recently.
The planning was given added urgency by a cyber-attack last month on the defence contractor, Lockheed Martin.
A new report from the Pentagon is due out in a matter of weeks.
"A response to a cyber-incident or attack on the US would not necessarily be a cyber-response (continue reading…)
Protests in Syria were reinvigorated this week, after a wrenching video documenting the alleged torture and killing of a 13-year-old boy went viral online. The boy was separated from his parents at a protest against the Assad government, which allegedly mutilated, castrated and killed him, then returned the corpse to his family, who risked their lives to produce the video. The boy’s father is now reportedly missing as well. By Tuesday, however, the video that shot from the web to Al Jazeera to the streets of Syria — where people marched carrying signs emblazoned with the deceased child’s portrait — had been blocked on YouTube, the very site where it first launched.
The temporary blockage of the brutal video, which YouTube has since restored, is another reminder that the same social media platforms which help spread protests can also seriously hinder activists (continue reading…)
What was Timothy Geithner thinking back in 2008 when, as president of the New York Fed, he decided to give Goldman Sachs a $30 billion interest-free loan as part of an $80 billion secret float to favored banks? The sordid details of that program were finally made public this week in response to a court-ordered Freedom of Information Act release, thanks to a Bloomberg News lawsuit. Sorry, my bad: It wasn’t an interest-free loan; make that .01 percent that Goldman paid to borrow taxpayer money when ordinary folks who missed a few credit card payments in order to finance their mortgages were being slapped with interest rates of more than 25 percent.
One wonders if Barack Obama was fully aware of Geithner’s deceitful performance at the New York Fed when he appointed him treasury secretary in the incoming administration. The president was probably ignorant of this particular giveaway, as were key members of Congress. “I wasn’t aware of this program until now,” Barney Frank, D-Mass., who at the time chaired the House Financial Services Committee, admitted in referring to Geithner’s “single-tranche open-market operations” program (continue reading…)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has condemned the murder of a Pakistani journalist who had recently written an article about al-Qaeda infiltration in Pakistan's navy.
Saleem Shahzad's body was found on Tuesday two days after he went missing.
Earlier a Human Rights Watch researcher said he had "credible information" that Shahzad was in the custody of Pakistani intelligence.
Pakistan has ordered an immediate inquiry into his kidnapping and murder.
"The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad," Ms Clinton said in a statement.
"His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan's stability," she said.
Mrs Clinton also welcomed the investigation into the killing.
Mr Shahzad's funeral will take place in his native city of Karachi on Wednesday. His article about al-Qaeda infiltration in Pakistan's navy was recently published (continue reading…)
EBay founder Pierre Omidyar is known for the “venture philanthropy” of his Omidyar Network, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to support micro-finance, governmental transparency, and social media in developing countries. Now he is also venturing into the arts with a gift of $3 million to the Louvre for research and educational projects on Persian art.
The Louvre Museum in Paris, France / Courtesy Flickr
A fund will be established in the name of Omidyar’s mother, Elah Mir-Djalali Omidyar, who is the founder and president of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, which supports research and education on Persian art and culture. The American Friends of the Louvre will help with the gift’s disbursement.
“Thanks to Elah Mir-Djalali Omidyar’s generosity and commitment, long-term projects will allow for the unprecedented promotion of the Louvre’s Persian collections, within the museum’s eastern antiquities and Islamic arts departments,” Louvre director Henri Loyrette said in a statement. The gift comes at an opportune time for the institution, whose new Islamic arts department will open next year.
President and founder of eBay Pierre M (continue reading…)
An email entitled “Lies of Eskov in HP AOL Ariticle” (sic) was received this morning by the Campaign For America’s Future and forwarded with the comment, “Here’s a nice complimentary one … geez.” Hate mail comes with the job and this note was unexceptional, but it got me thinking anyway.
What follows isn’t “work safe.” The email began this way (but with the words unredacted):That article defended contributions veterans have made to this country, and suggested that cutting their Social Security or Medicare would be a poor way to repay them. So the email writer’s apparently angry about social benefits being given wounded veterans or families of the fallen.
But the web of his hostility clearly includes government itself, hence the word “socialism.” That’s interesting – because without government he never could have written that email (continue reading…)