Blank Page No. 14

Luz in Mexico is flying solo with John in London joining in on Sunday and the rest of the moderators playing a supporting role. A team of many talents I’d say. If you’d like to moderate a Blank Page, let me know.

311 Responses to “Blank Page No. 14”

  1. 1 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 19:32

    Hi everyone! I am thrilled to moderate the Blank Page this weekend. I am new at this, so please be patient 😉

    Here, in Monterrey, Mexico, is raining which is very odd since summer is supposed to be the driest and hottest season of the year. I suppose I have to “thank” the much needed water to climate change, but in the long run not good…

    So, a couple of interesting topics:

    The political consequences of Betancourt´s rescue from FARC


    Is it the end of FARC?

    How her rescue will play in the region´s politics? Especially, the role of Chavez as mediator and Uribe’s increasing popularity after the rescue.

    Although, I am completely against terrorism and guerrillas, like FARC, I have to wonder why they exist? I think that in the case of FARC, one of the primal contributing factors is social/economic/politic inequality in Colombia. So, maybe the solution and prevention lies in eradicating inequality.

    Another topic, regarding nuclear weapons…

    Disgraced scientist AQ Khan has said that Pakistan transported nuclear material to North Korea with the full knowledge of President Musharraf.


    Enjoy your weekend.
    Happy 4th of July to the Americans!

  2. 2 selena
    July 4, 2008 at 19:39

    Hey Luz Ma


    It is very hot here! We don’t usually get weather this hot.

    I think I am going to be around if I can be of assistance.

    Have fun!

  3. 3 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 19:52

    Thanks Selena!

    I have to say that I am enjoying the coziness of a rainy day 🙂

  4. 4 1sunfight
    July 4, 2008 at 19:52

    Good Luck with moderating, Luz Ma.

    The weather in Atlanta is hot and humid, but what’s new about that? It’s live living in a wet sauna. I like the springs here the best. We have a lot of flowering trees, shrubs, and other flowering plants. The weather is warm, not humid. The combination of the two of the two makes for picture perfect living!

  5. 5 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 20:05

    Thanks 1sunfight! It is fun (moderating).

    I lived for 6 years in Montreal. I miss the weather there. The winter was long and really cold, but it was the preamble to a beautiful spring. What I miss most is the change of seasons. We don´t have that in Mexico.

    So, I´ll take note that the best time to visit Atlanta is during springtime 😉

  6. 6 Tino
    July 4, 2008 at 20:06


    About time. I do think, however, religion should be a factor not race. Investigating Arab Christians is a waste of time, as they are not committing terrorist acts unlike their Muslim counterparts. It is about time profiling is recognized for what it is – good police work.


    Idiot. This is an awful idea as Sharia law is nothing short of awful and repulsive to our standards. Funny how people in their countries cannot abide by English or American law, no?


    An oft made comparison – not just in Britain. Hear it all the time in the US. I am having quite a bit of trouble finding British hate crime stats. I have checked the FBI ones and in the US Jews are still targeted WAY more (66% vs 12% if I remember correctly). Canada is roughly the same. I assume Britain follows that model, so this guys claim is most likely ridiculous.

    PS: If anyone gets their hands on British stats for hate crime please link them.

  7. 7 Julie P
    July 4, 2008 at 20:13

    Luz Ma,

    It is I, Julie. I am playing around with my new account. I decided to give it a whirl.

  8. 8 steve
    July 4, 2008 at 20:18

    Arrived on Long Island about an hour ago. Only a few near death experiences on the highway. It’s amazing how badly people can drive. When I left a tollbooth on the Jersey Turnpike someone from the opposite directed swerved at me, crossed the media, and went the wrong way towards me and I had to swerve out of the way to avoid this idiot. Pray for the sun to come out, I wanna go to the beach!

    My first long driving trip since november, and I saw fewer SUVs than normal, and many people were driving the speed limit, so I see the effects of the gas price increases a lot more than I have in the past.

  9. July 4, 2008 at 20:20

    Hi Luz Maria,

    It’s good to see you, as the first Latino, moderating this page. With you, the blank page has now been moderated from all the continents: Africa, Asia, America (North, and Central), Europe and Australia. I think now you’re familiar with the blog and its familiar “occupants”.

    Concerning FARC and any terror organisation, there is no justification for kidnapping innocent people to make a political point or to put pressure on governments. What can settle political problems in a country are democratic process and negotiations, not intimidation.

    The IRA has given the example by engaging in peace process which has been beneficial to all the Irish, Catholics and Protestants. But there are still other terror organisations like Al Qaeda whose terror is worldwide. It includes mass killing, kidnapping and beheading hostages. This kind of terror is transcontinental. In comparison FARC looks less threatening even regionally as it focuses just on the Colombians.

    In short, terror will continue to exist as long as it has a breeding grounds. How to end it is the responsibility of the governments and peoples to kill it in its nest before it hatches.

  10. 10 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 20:35

    Julie P

    Be my guest 🙂

  11. July 4, 2008 at 20:40

    Hello my Precious Luz Ma… How are you doing today ?! Very well Inshallah… A very good luck to you and also to Precious John in London in your moderation task over the weekend… Happy American Independence Day… And also today marks exactly a year since my beloved Scottish hero, the former BBC’s Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston had been released by his kidnappers after spending 114 days in captivity in the Gaza strip… To me Alan is a hero, a role-model, a very precious friend, and a source of huge pride to his career, to the BBC, and to his country… Dennis, Amy, Shirley, Zainab, Selena, Brett, Abdelilah, Will, Kathi, Bob, Steve, Mike, Vanessa, Anthony, Julie P, Peter, Nick, Hannah, Laura, and all of you my Precious WHYSers, I do love you all soooooo much ! :-)… And BTW my Precious Tino, I have to admit that I was a little bit surprised to read on the WHYS blog a week ago that you’re actually interested in cooking… You may be interested in googling Dolma ! :-)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  12. 12 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 20:41


    It is a honor being the first latin american moderating 🙂

    About your comment on guerrillas and terrorism, I think you are completely right. The solution is preventing and tackling the breeding grounds. Do you think is possible given the state of the world nowadays?

  13. 13 Julie P
    July 4, 2008 at 20:46

    Luz Ma,

    I’m on my site now. I’ve been thinking about what I would like write about. Often times I think about the daily things that I find either funny, or whimsical, which I thought I’d write about. The other day I wanted to write about the cat downstairs from me. I have really grown to dislike the cat, so I thought about writing a running commentary on the beast. I have two of my own, but if they start crying like that one they will become dinner.

  14. July 4, 2008 at 20:48

    @ Luz Ma,

    I think violence has always existed in one form or another. There are terrorist groups as there are states sponsoring terrorist groups. For them these groups are a tool to exercise more pressure although they officially deny supporting them. Terrorism remains the weapon for those who don’t have an army. They rely on “simple” tools like a human body and explosives to get for a kilo of explosives tons of concrete an,d for a single suicide dozens if not hundreds of deaths.

    It’s a crazy world in which we live as (indiscriminate) killing is still considered as an option to resolve problems.

  15. 15 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 20:51

    You forgot Antartica. We need a scientist out there to develop a new hobby.

    Querida Luz:
    We’re nearly shivering up here where we are normally roasting in the heat and baking under the sun. It is so strange. I remember the story of my grandfather experiencing a snowfall on 4th July many, many years ago. We’re nowhere near that, but it is indeed unseasonably chilly.

  16. 16 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 20:56

    Dolma! I forgot to try to find this out. My famiy has a grape vine out in the backyard. How do I turn those leaves intowraps for rice and meat? Is basmati rice better, or American rice? I miss Korean sticky rice…

    Salam, Lubna. Let me know how the test goes. Do you have more classes after these tests?

  17. 17 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 20:57


    I am having a really good day. It is raining outside; my daughters are watching Dora The Explorer (which gives me quiet time); and my husband and I are puting together photo albums (we had all our family photos in a box since 2002!).

    My husband is really interested in international cuisine, he is quite good. So, if you have a good receipe from home, please send it! 😉

  18. 18 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 21:05

    @Julie P

    I don´t like cats. I am dog person. When I was growing up, my mom had cats to keep mice and bugs away from our house; several times they kept me awake with their cries…ugh!!

  19. 19 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 21:07


    “It’s a crazy world in which we live as (indiscriminate) killing is still considered as an option to resolve problems”

    😦 sadly you are right 😦

  20. July 4, 2008 at 21:07

    @ Shirley,

    There may be some listeners in Antarctica. But so far no one there has volunteered to moderate from this part of the world. If they do, all of us will be thrilled, especially Ros Atkins and Mark Sandell.

    After all, it’s the luckiest continent on the globe as it isn’t affected by the world’s current problems except for the threat of climatic change and the prospect of drilling for its natural resources! Happy are those living there!

  21. 21 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 21:13

    Where do you live?

  22. July 4, 2008 at 22:14

    Al Salaam Aleikum Shirley my love… Thanks a million sweetie for asking about me… Actually I’m going to have my last final year exam on Sunday Inshallah, after that my rather long summer holiday will begin… And by the way my Precious Tino, my most Precious girlfriend who’s at the same time my colleague at college, Maryam is an Iraqi Christian citizen… She’s an original Eastern human being, very traditional… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

  23. 24 selena
    July 4, 2008 at 22:22

    I suppose this is one way to set the cat amongst the pigeons.


  24. 25 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 22:34


    About your post “Alleged neo-Nazi’s kids taken”… this is a tough one. The line between freedom of speech and hate speech is usually thin and blurred.

    I think State´s interference in child rearing matters should be donevery carefully, since it involves children -one wrong call could led to a lot of trauma and suffering. I hope in this case they have enough evidence to take away these children fromtheir parents.

  25. 26 selena
    July 4, 2008 at 22:52


    Canada is probably over cautious because of a number of high profile cases in the past few years.

    Yes, it is a tricky situation and one needs the wisdom of Solomon.

    There is a nasty debate going on here. The facts, whatever they are, have gotten lost in the swastika issue.

  26. 27 Robert
    July 4, 2008 at 22:54

    Good evening. I hope all is well across the world, even for the Antarctica bloggers if there are some lurking in the cyber shadows.

    It seems that many internet content providers and suppliers are giving away our information whenever we use the internet because of the demands of the copyright holders.



    This is something I’ve been seeing more and more off in the last few months and was wondering what other peoples thought are on this?

    In the case of U- Tube I would understand if the order forced the disclosure of the uploaders of the material, they have after all violated copy right laws. But what do they want to achieve by getting the disclosure of information about viewers? Will they chase the viewers of the videos as well? As I understand copyright laws its the copier of the data that’s done wrong, not the person who has watched it.

    In the Virgin case, what right does the ISP have to send information to the music industry telling them that I am using a file sharing program? If there is evidence that my IP address has been sharing music, then get a court order to disclose my details. But if I just have the legal software on my machine why should my details be disclosed without due process and evidence that its been used illegally. I have used such programs in the past for legal transfers of my own photos and files. Why shouldn’t I be allowed to use this software to complete a perfectly legal and legitimate transfer even if the majority of the traffic is illegal.

    Understand I am not advocating breaking of copyright rules, My query is what role should the ISP be playing on the internet? Should they be providing just the infrastructure, allowed only to penalize users who compromise the integrity of the network (e.g. very large downloads restricting the bandwidth to others or virus infected computers), or should they be acting as the online police service, providing our private information simply because somebody asked for it?

    Given the rather accidental nature of the way the internet as developed, I foresee many more questions like this appearing over the coming years. If the internet is to become the center of our life’s these are important questions we need to solve.

  27. 28 Shirley
    July 4, 2008 at 22:59

    If the cat sounds like a tornado siren, then it is a she, and she is in heat. If the owners are remotely human and have the resources, they would spay her. It costs between $150 and $200, though. If the cat sounds like a baby, then it is a Siamese. Beautiful to look at, but mind your earplugs. A large fan might help, too. I am a cat fan. As far as dogs are concerned, it really depends on the type. I love puppies of all kinds. I enjoy the relative intellectt and sensibility of collies and shelties. However, I have ben subjected to the bad manners and comparative uninteligence of a couple of terrier mixes the past few months. It has disaffected my views on dogs to an obtuse degree. I think that most of my complaints against them stem from the fact that their owner spoils them terribly and fails to assert himself as the leader of the pack. The dogs are even a touch overweight because of the spoiling.

    Lubna, I know that Luz asked for recipes in general, but I am especially curious about how to work with the leaves on our grape vine. Do we pickle them before wrapping up the rice and meat? Or doe we just cook them? If anyone else has suggestions, please let me know.

    I pulled off a buttons and bows recipe today that tasted awesome in spite of mistakes that I made. It is a pastry of sorts made form Bisquick. I fear that I and the family are going to ruin our supper on them.

  28. 29 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 23:24


    I know they are really careful. I think is one of the top-countries regarding the protection of children rights.

  29. 30 Julie P
    July 4, 2008 at 23:28

    As a cat owner of three cats, one now deceased, I know all about them. I had both of the girls spayed and my one boy neutered the first chance I got. I had thought the cat downstairs was a female in heat. The loud meowing had gone on for so long I had decided the people downstairs from me could not afford to have the cat spayed. It was at the point when the cat kept me all night that I started down the stairs to offer the people to take the cat and her spayed at my expense. I’ve got $200 to ensure that I will get a good night’s sleep. One of their friends came out of the apartment as I approached it. I struck up a polite conversation with the person in an effort to learn about the cat first. It turns out it is a male cat, an orange tabby.

  30. 31 Luz Ma
    July 4, 2008 at 23:41


    I think dogs are not the problem, but dog owners. We have a 4 year old dachshund. When we adopted him, my husband read dog training books and followed all the instructions. It was a lot of work, but now our dog –Elvis- is so well-behaved that it is wonderful having him around. He is a great companion for us and our daughters. He is very playful and fun.

    I agree with you. I don’t like spoiled dogs. It is so sad and frustrating.

  31. 33 Shirley
    July 5, 2008 at 00:17

    Julie, I am so sorry, but I am laughing. It is so comical to hear of a yowling male kitty. Have you tried earplugs? Fans? Surround sound TV and radio? I am so sorry. Is it possible that he is yet intact and is trying to attract females?

  32. 34 Virginia Davis
    July 5, 2008 at 00:20

    @ Luz Ma

    Welcome to your first stint of moderation.

    From Virginia, also on the left/west coast.

    I like dogs, but have two cats. A large male (18 pounds) and a smaller female (10 pounds about). Both spayed, of course. The female is keeping me company by gazing out and down to the street. Sitting on a part of a long table.

    It is warm, hazy from the California smoke and also cloudy.

    I like all the seasons in Portland – fall especially and if I don’t miss it, spring.


  33. 35 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 00:24

    Talking about cats…

    “Crazy cat that frightened an entire neighbourhood has mended its ways”

  34. 36 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 01:01

    Do you think profiling or practices like the one described in the following article are effective to prevent terrorism and crime? Or they only feed stereotypes that divide and alienate, making the situation worse?

    “Italy gypsies find echoes of Nazism in fingerprinting move”

  35. 37 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 01:13

    @Luz Ma

    I have often wondered why someone doesn’t take up the cause of the Gypsies. They have been persecuted as much as any other people in history.

    And now this?

  36. 38 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 01:22


    I know! I took a class on International Protection of Minorities when I studied my Masters. My profesor, a very bright Sudanese, put in the casebook the Gypsies problematic. I didn´t know much about them,only that they were fortune-tellers and robbed children, which was, obviously, a horrible stereotype. Studying their case was an eye opener for me. I think they have suffered a lot throughout history, but they are not regarded as a “worthy” cause to deffend. Very sad.

  37. 39 Tino
    July 5, 2008 at 01:50

    I definitely think profiling would help in the fight against terrorism. Focusing on those most likely to commit it makes sense when we have limited resources. Focus on Muslims who commit the vast, vast majority of terror. Very simple.

    As for the Dolma, I would love to try it soon, perhaps this weekend.

  38. 40 Shirley
    July 5, 2008 at 02:13

    There is much stereotyping against gypsies in Europe. Some of what has been passed off to me about them as standard “fact” is nothing more than trumped up fairy tales. The forced loss of parental rights reminds me of how the U.S. used to break up Native American families – still does, most likely – and pass the children around to white families so that they would be raised outside of the context of native American culture. It is a form of genocide, in my opnion.

  39. 41 Shirley
    July 5, 2008 at 02:53

    I did a bit of Googling and came across this article.
    In the Eye of the Beholder: Contemporary Perceptions of Roma in Europe Larry Olomoofe, the author, says of his article, In this article, I intend to present an analysis of current perceptions of “Roma” that are being deployed in a variety of ways and occasions to explain particular “cultural”, “social”, “political”, and “behavioural” trends associated with contemporary Europe’s many Romani communities.

    Something that Larry wrote struck me. He said, In many cases, I have observed people explicitly “denying” the Romani person standing in front of them by claiming that these people are not really Roma and that they are unrepresentative of Romani people generally. I remember commenting once on WHYs that it is all too easy for someone outside of a culture or a religion to impose his own view of what truly represents that culture onto a discussion, even when members of that culture are participating in said discussion, and then expect others to hold to that same opinion as if it were factual. We bring our own perceptions of what is happening and what should happen. How willing are we to change our perceptions as a result of dialogue with others?

  40. 42 Zainab
    July 5, 2008 at 02:59

    Salam alycom,
    how are you all, how are you Luz Ma? and John, i wish you the best in moderating this week blank page.
    @Shirley, how are you dear? Look about Dolma it is very tasty, it could be with basmati or American rice, though I prefer it with A’nbar rice ( a famous kind of rice here in Iraq) with a very delicious smell.
    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  41. 43 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 03:11


    I think it’s the strangest thing to have a yowling male cat too. My boy likes to meow more than girl, and is hopelessly co-dependent, but nothing like that one. So far, today I haven’t heard a peep out of him. Hopefully he became part of someone’s Fourth of July celebration. Roasted cat over open pit! 🙂 I’ve started a section on my blog called “The Beast Downstairs”. I’m going to keep it comical, because it is! I would like some peace and quiet though.

    Sorry it took so long to respond. I went to a fireworks display tonight at the local country club. They do a very impressive display. It’s probably one of the better ones I’ve been to. Milwaukee has a great display over Lake Michigan and I saw fireworks on the Fourth over the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, that was cool! Literally.

  42. 44 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 03:13


    “We bring our own perceptions of what is happening and what should happen.”

    This is why I am wary of profiling and practices like that. The world is filled with stereotypes, most of them erroneous, that often make matters worse. We don´t try to understand the “other”. We want them to assimilate our culture, practices, beliefs.

  43. 45 Virginia Davis
    July 5, 2008 at 03:21

    re Roma, Gypsies, Travelers:

    The oldest settled community in Istanbul is in the process of being “resettled.” Land now wanted for development – a new community being built quite far away. (CS Monitor article)

    In Ireland, people are called Travelers. There is some genuine concern for their welfare.

    In Hitler’s Germany, gypsies and the mentally ill were targeted for elimination even before the Jews.

    I almost became a gypsy wife to Siegfried Diego Martinez. However, he was quite adamant that we would have seven children. I backed out. He left me his grandfather’s blanket which went south with a Basque lover who told me to stay put in Portland and gave me a lovely bust of a woman who is looking out the front windows at this very moment.


  44. 46 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 03:24

    Morning all and welcome to the wonderful world of Blank Paging, Luz Ma. It’s interesting that you’re having rain…down here in Australia it’s winter which is usually our dry season–but we have rain today as well!

    Regarding prejudice against Roma/Gypsey people, I should say I have a vested interest in this since my wife is of Roma descent. My thought is that a lot of the prejudice against gypsies is actually aimed at people who could better be described as “new age travelliers”. Certainly this is often the case in the UK where many of the people travelling around in caravans, leaving a mess behind them and often involved in petty crime are NOT Roma by origin. However, the name “gypsy” has been applied and stuck even though it’s not accurate.

  45. 47 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 03:46

    Good morning, Bob! Send some of that rain my way, we could use it. We’re in a terrible drought. Last fall we came within 90 days of running out of water. I am so glad we had a typical rainy winter weather.

    As for the article on Romas in Italy. Wow! I thought that went out with the dinosaurs. There are stereotypes of them in the US, but it’s been so long since I’ve heard them I don’t even think about it.

    The “Us vs. Them” mindset really needs to stop.

  46. 48 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 04:12

    Sorry Julie P! We need the water too. Australia has officially been in “drought conditions” for about 5 years, the with area where I live particularly badly hit. Reservoirs here are presently at about 11% of their maximum capacity.

    Actually, although I don’t have a specific question formulated yet, I think “water” may make a good WHYS topic. Water is essential to human life (Doh! talk about stating the obvious!) and, as it gets into short supply I can see it being a major cause of strife in the future. Since rivers have a habit of crossing borders, the possibility of “water wars” is quite real.

  47. 49 portlandmike
    July 5, 2008 at 04:25

    Good evening everyone from Portland, Oregon, where the light is beginning to fail and the sporadic firework explosion is driving my Border Collie nuts. She’s hiding now in the closet in the spare bedroom.

  48. 50 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 04:32

    Oh, Bob! Sniff! Sniff! I guess I’ll have to wait for tropical storm Bertha to make her debut along the east coast.

    Seriously, I think you are right. I’ve held that position about water for a long time, especially growing up next to Lake Michigan. The seven US governors and the one Canadian governor have been referred to as “the blue eyed OPEC” since they are the protectorates of 25% of the world’s fresh water supply. My brother has told me about the US Corp of Engineers are/had been working on a project there that has caused water to drain out of Lake Michigan. (I don’t remember the specifics.) He is hopping mad about that. My brother has also told me about foreign mussels getting into Michigan that has wreaked environmental damage there. They are “cleaning” the lake and is making it difficult for the natural habitants to survive. (The mussels are entering through the hulls of sea going ships.) Growing up, I remember Michigan being dark and brooding. My brother says not anymore. It is clear like the Caribbean because of the mussels. (He likes diving along the Milwaukee shoreline.)

    I think we are going to have problems with water in the future. I agree with you about making water a topic. I’ll think about it on my end.

    If you want to check out the International Joint Commissions website, to learn about the goings on with the Great Lakes.


  49. 51 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 04:32

    Good morning Bob!

    I become interested in water -as an issue- when my husband was doing his graduate research in private-public partnerships and water.

    I think it will be a perfect topic for WHYS. The future wars will be fought over water. Since it does not have substitute and is essential to life, it is quite a precious resource which sadly is wasted and contaminated in horrendous proportions.

    For those interested in this topic:
    There is a UN publication “Water for People, Water for Life”, very descriptive of the problem.

    And two books that I want to read –hopefully soon-: “Blue Gold, the battle against corporate theft of the world´s water” by Maude Barlow and Tony Clarke; and “Every drop for sale” by Jeffrey Rothfeder.

    P.S. Still rainning. I am happy because we haven´t had rain since January.

  50. 52 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 06:01

    Alas, it’s stopped raining here–just cloudy and not the usual sunny Queensland weather I’m used to now!

    I seems like I may have started something with my mention of water. I’ll toss a couple of other thoughts into the discussion. First, if you aren’t familiar with the project, it’s worth Googling and reading up on the Ilisu Dam project in Turkey–highly controversial both because of the effects on thousands of people who will be flooded out of their homes but also because of the way it will reduce flows to downstream countries like Syria and Iraq–both of which need water badly. I won’t post a link because, frankly, there are so many Google hits it’s hard to decide on just one to put forward.

    Even within the USA itself, I believe water use from rivers like the Colorado is a major source of interstate debate. I believe so much water is being extracted upstream that lower parts of the river are silting up because the current is no longer sufficient to keep it clear.

  51. 53 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 06:22

    Thanks Bob! I´ll look into it.

    Other sad examples:

    The Aral Sea

    Cochabamba´s water war
    @PBS/Frontline: Leasing the Rain

    And if you have time and want to explore more about this topic, check the info about the Three Gorges Dam in China


  52. 54 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 07:03

    Is 1:00 a.m. here, so I am falling sleep in my computer. I hope other moderators can step in for a while.

    Good night from Mexico!

  53. July 5, 2008 at 07:44

    Chances are that I will be co-hosting Monday’s Show!
    Ros and Company are already here with me in Nairobi,I believe they are
    all set for Monday’s Broadcasting from here in Kenya! I can’t just wait for
    monday to come.You know Ros was here in Kenya with me on 25th of 26th May
    2007.Many WHYS team who were with him but have now left WHYS they were
    Vicky,Shona,Jmaes,Richard Bowen and James…On this weekend we will like to talk a bout Zimbabwe.

  54. July 5, 2008 at 07:48

    @ Luz Ma

    Don’t worry I will moderate! good night.It’s early in the morning here in Kenya

  55. 57 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 07:52

    Hi Abdi, I’m also around for the next while so I can help out too.

    I’ll look forward to Monday’s show so I can put a “voice” to your name!

  56. 58 portlandmike
    July 5, 2008 at 07:58

    I think that these thugs and their hangers on is one of the main reasons that Mugabe has not relinguished power. None of these men would have any power if Mugabe lost an election. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1031975/The-Dirty-Half-Dozen-The-generals-ruthless-bloodthirsty-Mugabe.html

  57. 59 Katharina in Ghent
    July 5, 2008 at 08:04

    @ winy cats!

    I have two male spayed cats, both of them from the humane society, and the older ones name is “L.W.”, which the former owner gave him. It stands for Licker and Winer…. Guess why… Generally speaking, the females should only wine when they’re in heat, but the males can give a concert every night. Roll over, Beethoven!

  58. 60 Katharina in Ghent
    July 5, 2008 at 08:06

    @ Abdi:

    This must be so exiting! Next time I go to London I want to stop by Bush house to meet the gang, but I don’t know yet when that will be…

  59. July 5, 2008 at 08:50

    @ Katherina & Bob

    I look forward to hearing from you on monday,though I am alittle bit nervous,I will try my best.

  60. July 5, 2008 at 08:54

    @ Portland Mike

    Mugabe is a dictator,He is holding the Zimbaweans on ramson.I think Mugabe is a bove the law and that he should be brought before a court of law!

  61. July 5, 2008 at 08:58

    Hi,guys Let’s a bout Forgiveness!
    yes forgivemess!
    I think it’s always to forgive and Forget.Because many are the times we mistakenly harass and torment our friends,relatives,and neighbour but look back to say ” I am sorry ,please I beg for you’r forgiveness”..I may self I find it very uneasy to apologise but off late I am transformed muslim person ,and I do a pologise!
    What a bout you!

  62. 64 Katharina in Ghent
    July 5, 2008 at 09:43

    @ Forgiveness:

    I’m very good at apologizing, I do it all the time. I think it’s a sign of having grown up to be strong enough and say “I’m sorry, I made a mistake.” I can’t stand people who do wrong or fail and then come up with one million phony excuses as to why they failed, it was never their own fault. We recently had a Master’s student in our lab who is second generation from Morocco, and every time her experiments went wrong she shouted “racism!” – Yeah, the bacteria and the mice really care about where you’re from or to which God you pray…

  63. 65 Katharina in Ghent
    July 5, 2008 at 09:44


    Do you think that Monday’s show will be about Zimbabwe and not about the post-election riots in Kenya?

  64. July 5, 2008 at 09:55

    @ Katherina

    It’s good to forgive and forget but as you said it’s natural to feel not to forgive sometimes.

    On Monday we might be talking a bout Zimbabwe but most likely we will talk a bout post election violence!
    I am waiting you to come live on Air.

  65. July 5, 2008 at 09:58

    @ Bob

    I am sure you come live on air to give a voice to my name as you stated.Thanks for that.
    Bob,i must admit i am nervous! please give some advice on how to beat shyness but please don’t tell me to drink alcohol since I am a muslim ..ha …ha..ha..

  66. 68 Zainab
    July 5, 2008 at 10:30

    Hello all,
    @Abdi how are you?
    Well, apologizing is one of the behavioural values that must be observed in social life, it is a very civilized behavior like: Greeting (salam), helping other, respecting other, trust, thank…etc. one is commiting wrong-doings most of the time, that draw him to say “i’m sorry” and it should be right after commiting the wrong, cuz it will open the doors in front of forgiveness. It will give a new chance, as well as will bring trust among people, it is the characteristic of the humble person. We are living in a society (not alone), so we must have some good characteristics that make life better. That’s why i like to say “i’m sorry, and thank you…” to people, to get their respect, and to make them take a good idea about me.
    Apology requires some courage, especially if the one who has to apologize is the elder. But it is said “apologizing and forgiveness is the characteristics of the great persons.”
    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  67. 69 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 10:44

    @ Abdi

    You’re asking the wrong person for advice about appearing on air–before I retired I was one of the background technicians, not a presenter!

    The one bit of advice I CAN give is to try and forget about the microphones etc. and just concentrate on having a conversation with Ros and the rest of the guests.

    Good luck and have fun…you’ll do fine!

  68. 70 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 10:56

    A musing on apologies and forgiveness…

    Despite my advancing age, due to a slight mistake a few years back, my wife and I have a very lively three year old son (in addition to the rest of the family who are grown and out on their own).

    In the past couple of months, the three year old has learned to apologise when he does something wrong–but he now uses apology as an attempt to avoid the repercussions of doing something naughty. The element of sincerity isn’t there–it’s a way to avoid being sent to his room or whatever.

    I fear that all too often the same lack of sincerity applies to adults–and even whole countries. Apologising because you feel you have to rather than because you’re truly sorry is the way of the world.

    As to forgiveness, it takes a very special person to be able to forgive an injustice. The old saying is “forgive and forget” but the real challenge is to be able to forgive when you still remember….and sometimes it’s important to remember, otherwise how can we learn from history?

  69. 71 Pangolin Hussein- California
    July 5, 2008 at 10:59

    @ Water Wars- In California water is more valuable than blood. Here in the North we’ve been shipping our surface water to the deserts of Southern California where they waste it growing water hungry crops and golf courses for the wealthy. Lately there are attempts to drain our subsurface aquifers also which would be a disaster as lowering the water table would kill our trees.

    This summer the dry, warm, spring which is causing all of our fire activity (1000 fires at one point) has also melted the snow off the mountains early. This will mean that our streams and rivers will be running low far earlier than normal and trees, plants, people and livestock will suffer. We will have to make every drop count and that means conservation by political interests that oppose the very idea.

    @ Dolmas- The grape leaves don’t have to be pickled but merely blanched in boiling water for 2 minutes. Set your rice out to soak in cold water for at least half an hour and drain. Then for every 2 measures of rice add 1/2 measure of lemon juice and 1/2 measure of olive oil and mix in a bowl with the drained soaked rice. Add 1 measure of chopped parsley, and 1 measure of finely minced white onion (raw) salt and pepper. This is your basic dolma mix and (cooked)
    meat, spices, herbs (mint or oregano or basil) caramelized eggplant, nuts or what-have-you can be added.

    Laying the grape leaf stem side up trim the stem with scissors, add a measure of filling the size of a lady’s thumb joint (the middle one, not a man’s, a lady mind you, not just a woman) and roll away from you 1/2 way, tuck in the sides and complete the roll. Pack the dolmas tightly into a heavy, straight-sided (important) pan lined with grape leaves. It is very important that the dolmas be packed firmly and that the top surface be level when done.

    Place a heavy plate or lid on top of the dolmas but inside the pan. Pour boiling water over the dolmas to barely cover the plate and bring quickly to boil. When the pan boils reduce the heat to a simmer without moving the pan for 15 minutes and then remove the heat and let cool. Alternatively the dolma pan can be placed into a hot oven for 40 minutes but they must have a tight fitting lid over the pan.

    The connection: the local wild grapes survive on water from the water table.

  70. 72 Jonathan (sanguine San Francisco)
    July 5, 2008 at 11:14

    Hello all,

    Well, San Francisco may be fine for some things, but July 4 fireworks isn’t one of them. Cloudy anf foggy this time, and about half the years. Fortunately I don’t have to get into a big traffic jam to see them, or in this instance, not see them.

    I wonder if one or more of our Muslims can inform me on something. I know Islam forbids alcohol. My question is, does it also forbid opium? Other drugs? I assume tobacco and coffee are permitted, right?

    I’m not trying to stir any pot here; just asking. I expect I could look it up someplace, but I’d rather hear it straight from a Muslim. (And is it Muslim or Moslim?)

  71. 73 Jonathan (sanguine San Francisco)
    July 5, 2008 at 11:26

    @ Bob — “Learn from history”…. You’re sounding like me now!

    Good point on the taxonomy of apologies. I have a sort of ranking system for sincerity of an apology. The kind that says, “I’m sorry if anyone’s feelings were hurt” is near the bottom. It doesn’t acknowledge having done or said anything wrong, or even having hurt anyone’s feelings, just “if.” The notorious “mistakes were made” is of course a non-apology–some poltergeist or boddhisatva made a mistake; don’t blame me. Harry shearer, who does about a dozen of the voices on The Simpsons, has a radio show, “Le Show,” one of whose regular featues is “Apologies of the Week.”

    I “shhot from the lip” often enough that I’ve had occasion to refine the apology into an art form all its own.

  72. 74 Bryan
    July 5, 2008 at 11:29

    Bob in Queensland July 4, 2008 at 9:27 am, from ‘Talking Points for July 4th’.


    I see nothing wrong in supporting a country that:

    *Practices freedom of religion for all

    *Has a totally independent judiciary

    *Treats terrorists in its own hospitals, even when those terrorists have been injured in attacks on its citizens

    *Sends medical teams to assist in disaster areas across the world

    *Accepts desperate refugees from hostile nations

    *Has a hardworking, bright and innovative population.

    *Treats terrorist prisoners with concern for their rights

    *Is fully democratic

    And I have no problem being against people who:

    *Have no tradition of democracy

    *Practice violent discrimination against the followers of other religions

    *Settle their differences by throwing each other’s prisoners off high buildings

    *Publicly execute ‘collaborators’ after hauling them before kangaroo courts

    *Treat the families of the kidnapped in the cruellest way possible by withholding information on their loved ones

    *Practice apartheid and ethnic cleansing

    *Terrorise enemy civilians with rockets and suicide bombers and celebrate each killing by handing out sweets and dancing in the streets.

    Yes, I support the one and I am against the other. But is this really bias, or just a normal, human response?

  73. 75 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 12:02


    You’re right about the Colorado River. I remember a number of years ago there was talk about putting it on the endangered list.

  74. July 5, 2008 at 12:17

    @c Zeinab

    I am fine.Zeinab our religion Islam teaches that one must be obedient and willing to forgive.The quran we are told that Prophet Mohamed (P.b.u.h)forgive the people who stonned him and through dust at him.so as muslims we don’t forgive people as much as we should.

  75. July 5, 2008 at 12:22

    @ Bob

    Thank you very much for you’r kind advice.
    secondly,I think Bob many of us do cause more harm to members of our relatives than we do to other people.
    Many people find it difficult to ask for forgiveness!
    as a result this unresolved conflict might result to stress to both parties concerned,communications is the key to resolve any conflicts,speak out and get off you’r chest as soon as possible.

  76. 78 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 12:23


    I’ve interviewed On WHYS a number of times. As Bob said talk like you;re having a conversation. I did and it make for fun a couple of times. There was one instance where I could not pronounce Ahmadinejad”s name. I started to choke and stated that. It turned into a joke with everyone laughing. It was a little difficult getting the show back on topic after that.

    Good luck with the show!

  77. July 5, 2008 at 12:31

    @ forgiveness

    Think of one person you beleive has really wronged you
    and commited a big crime against you…yes that person!

    Ok,why did he/she did that you? was any one else responsible in one way or a nother? is the problems he/she caused you solvable?..

    Please forgive her/him and forget a bout it! because-
    1.God will give you something more greater than you never have thought you will acheive it.
    2.If you hold grudge it will cause more harm to you than it will to him/her.
    3.You will spend more time on thinking a bout how to revenge against him than you could have thinked a bout
    improving you’r standard of living.

  78. 80 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 12:40

    @ Abdi, considering the fact the you would co hosting along side our formidable chairman Ros Atkins, I would suggest you remain Impartial until at least after the show because based on a few commenst you have made so far, it may be a bit difficult to say you wlould be objective considering the fact you would co hosting a WHYS show. Cheers

  79. 81 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 12:41

    Good morning everyone.

    Some of you might get a chuckle out of this:


  80. July 5, 2008 at 12:52

    @ Julie P

    Thank you for sharing you experiences with me! You know julie it’s human to panic.I will work on my pronouncations and hope that it will be agreat show from here in Nairobi.
    Ros was here with me last year,and we all had a memorable trip here in Nairobi.This time round after I year and two months we hope to have a memorable programme/show from Kenya.

    looking forward to hear you speak on Monday!

  81. 83 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 12:56

    Water, water everywhere… where I live.

    In a small area of about 50 km there are five rivers, not to mention, ponds, lakes and brooks.

    Someone wanted to sell bulk water a few years back but the government stopped it. Apparently it was because, had permission been given, it would have opened up a can of worms in the free trade agreement.

    But there’s no doubt it is coming.

  82. 84 1430a
    July 5, 2008 at 13:03

    congratulations to all the moderators.enjoy the responsibility given to you by Mr.Ros.we should also thank him for his perfect selection of potential talents.:)
    By the way what is the minimum age required to be a moderator???

  83. July 5, 2008 at 13:05

    WHYS was in Africa last year it visited kenya,ghana,uganda-(I can’t forget the fantastic broadcast from Issa’s home-home without electricity!)and South Africa.Unlike this year ,our country was the final destination but this year we open up the WHYS tour to Africa!
    Incase you want last years Photo’s of WHYS tour to Africa cool

  84. July 5, 2008 at 13:19

    @ all WHYS loyals and faithfulls!

    Here view my photo ,which was taken on 26th May 2007 when WHYS was broadcasting from Kenya! I am Islmic cap
    We did the show from the luxurious hotel called Safari park Hotel,but this years is yet to be decided and in the next 30 hours we will know!

  85. 87 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 13:24


    Don’t be nervous, Abdi.

    Just remember that everyone who hears you is just like you… human.

  86. July 5, 2008 at 13:29

    @ Nelsoni
    I might not be cohosting or I might be cohosting,as this thinks are not decided in advance as Ros recently told me! so nelsoni have less worry we shall wait and see!Though my greates honour will be just to attend the show along with the rest of my fellow Kenyans!..

  87. 89 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 13:30

    @ Bryan

    For someone who frequently accuses the BBC of bias in its reporting, the editorial selection of items on your list is…er…interesting.

    I am happy to agree with MOST of the items on your list about Israel–and MOST of the things you say about the arab side of the dispute.

    However, if I chose, I could have responded with a pair of lists with the positives and negatives reversed. I won’t do that because all I would be doing is prolonging a circular debate. I’ll simply repeat that it is wrong to portray Israel as a completely honourable and innocent victim just as it’s wrong to portray all arabs as evil aggressors.

  88. July 5, 2008 at 13:30

    @ selena
    Thank you for you’r advice!

  89. 91 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 13:32

    @ selena

    Sorry, but I have to disagree with you.

    My wife’s dog is almost always curled up beside me when I listen to WHYS and is a big fan! Seriously. Well, she must be–she never leaves during the broadcast!

  90. July 5, 2008 at 13:38

    @ Bob
    You mean your wifes dog listens to WHYS as we do? oh thought WHYS is for only for HUman beings all around the globe!..Please put it’s photo on this blog for all of us to see this wonderful dog?

  91. 93 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 13:46

    @ abdi. Its all good. Enjoy your show. Not many people have the privilege. I will be in London soon, so i will definitely stop by at Bush House for a “full experience” @ the WHYS studio. 🙂

  92. 94 Bryan
    July 5, 2008 at 14:04

    Bob in Queensland July 5, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    “However, if I chose, I could have responded with a pair of lists with the positives and negatives reversed.”

    Come on, Bob, be a sport and give it a shot. You might be surprised at the result. It might shake the implacable moral equivalence with which you view this conflict.

    selena July 5, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    “Don’t be nervous, Abdi.”

    This reminds me of the time a woman phoned up a talk show, spoke for a second or two and then stopped and said, “I’m so nervous.”

    “Don’t be nervous,” said the host, “you’re only talking to three hundred thousand people.”

  93. July 5, 2008 at 14:04

    @ Nelsoni
    Ok.But I suggest we will come live on Air.
    When you the team at Bush as House just as katherina in Ghent is hoping to do.Tell us more a bout them!

  94. 96 Tom
    July 5, 2008 at 14:26

    Southeastern mainland Australia is experiencing worsening droughts that has no end in sight. Melbourne’s water storage is now at only 28% of capacity – compare to last year’s level of 30%. It doesn’t seem much of a difference but last year the levels were on steady rise, whereas the current winter dry means water storage continues to plummet. The alpine regions, which previously by this time would be packed with skiers and boarders, are struggling to accumulate enough snow to fill the runs. Unless there’s a once-in-a-year downpour in the coming months, Melbourne may not even have enough water to last through the coming scorching summer!

    A governmental climate report released this week warns that Australia will be more badly affected by climate change than other developed countries. This is hardly surprising when one looks at a natural map of Australia. This country is essentially an island of sand and dust except for narrow strips of green surrounding the coast. Yet Australians are living and consuming as though we are in Europe, where rain is plentiful.

  95. 97 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 14:33


    Now here’s the question? Why is 300, 000 people more scary than one?

    Unles we think numbers matter more than the individual, 300,000 people *is* just 1+1+1+1….

    I have been a speaker all my life and never once have I been nervous.

    The first time I spoke to a large crowd I was valedictorian for my graduating class and it was broadcast live all over the country. I didn’t even realize that until it was over. To me, it was the same as giving a presentation in front of the class.

    My colleagues do not understand because some of them say it is their nervousness that makes them a better speaker.

    In my case I don’t know or care if I am a good speaker. I do the best I can and it must work because I keep giving speeches and no matter the topic, the speeches are termed as motivational. Last week I spoke about healthcare and it was termed motivational. Go figure!


  96. 98 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 14:37


    Dogs are humans too! 🙂

  97. July 5, 2008 at 14:38

    @ Bryan

    You made me laugh!
    Which host was that! and which Programme was that?

  98. July 5, 2008 at 14:43

    @ Selena
    I really enjoyed reading Your article,Thank you very much.You Know WHYS is a global conversation base. and I believe thousands of people keenly listen to host than they listen to the callers.It’s just sitting on the Moon and speaking to people from all corners of the world.A bove all nobody want’s to disappoint whoever has bestowed his trust on him,that is were the pressure to excel jumps in!

  99. 101 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 14:44

    The first time i talked to a small crowd. I was around 5 years old then it was just a ‘small crowd’ of around twenty thousand. I just had fun and since then i have never looked back. If you want enjoy talking to large crowds, and you are nervous avoid eye contact and just make up your mind to enjoy yourself. Alternatively you get get a small piece of paper and squeeze it while talking you can transfer your tension into the paper 🙂 I always look forward to talking to large crowds and as a diplomat in the making, I will have be addressing the media and co from time to time.

  100. 102 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 15:15


    You can never disappoint if you do your best and speak about what matters to you. If we have strong convictions about something we should speak clearly and not assume that others MUST share the same opinions.

    Sometimes people want to browbeat others into believing as they do and they try to outshout the others and belittle them. We have seen that many times on WHYS.

    That type of speaking is rude and offensive and has an opposite than intended effect. Everyone tunes out the speaker, except those who agree and, of course, they (the supporters) applaud and think they have won something. What they think they have won is beyond me but there it is!

    I always assume that my audience is intelligent and make my case by using examples from my own experiences. That is usually funny. 🙂

  101. July 5, 2008 at 15:27

    @ Selena and Nelsoni

    Thanks to both of for sharing all this wonderful stories with me.If given a chance,I will do my best!
    You know many people are nervous when it comes WHYS.I myself feel very comfortable to text in my comment’s than I do whenever I come live on Air!

  102. 104 Bob in Queensland
    July 5, 2008 at 15:30

    I have a question for Nelsoni and Selena….

    Like you I quite enjoy speaking in public and, on the rare occasions I’ve been interviewed or done a report for radio this was no problem either.

    However, where I do get very nervous is meeting new people one or two at a time–at parties for example I really have to push myself not to be the wallflower in the kitchen.

    Since you both enjoy publc speaking, I wonder if you are similarly affected when it comes to meeting new folks in person–or are you both just natural extroverts?

  103. 105 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 15:32

    One of the things I find about public speaking is it depends on the size of the audience. When I gave presentations in college I had a difficult time at first. Talking to a small group of people unnerved me, then it depended on what the subject too. Then more I knew about it, or felt about it the better a speaker I was. I was also selected to be part of a student organization that would do these intricate projects, at the end of the school year we flew to another state and competed with other universities. We gave our presentations in front of small groups, then as we advanced the size of the groups got larger. In the end I stood in front of two thousand people. Believe it or not, the larger the size of the audience, the easier it was for me to speak. I think it was because I could not see them. By the time I started talking on WHYS all my fear was gone. I ramble on.

    Abdi, I choked because I simply could not speak Ahmadinejad’s name. Farsi is largely different from any language I know, or have been exposed to. I can speak a smattering of Spanish. (Living in the US I do not know how anyone cannot pick up a little Spanish as they go through life.) Then, my dad’s parents were Polish immigrants, so I grew up in a second generation Polish neighborhood. Reading and speaking Polish names comes natural to me. And because Milwaukee was settled by Germans I don’t have a problem with German names either.

    (An aside since I talk about myself a lot, my mother’s side of the family came to the colonies from Plymouth in 1699, so I’ll go back and forth with immigration issues and long established viewpoints.)

  104. 106 Bryan
    July 5, 2008 at 15:34

    selena July 5, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Sometimes a small group can be more difficult to address because it is more personal than a large, faceless group.

    Abdi July 5, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    “Which host was that! and which Programme was that?”

    John Berks on 702 talk radio in Johannesburg, about ten years ago. I believe the programme is still on, though I don’t know about John Berks.

  105. July 5, 2008 at 15:36

    @ BOB
    great to note that the debate of Being Nervous while hosting The BBC ‘s WHYS is really turning red hot!please let’s keep on talking a bout It!
    To me bob,I feel nervous to speak to a large crowd.But today I am glad that it’s good to keep off eye contact with the audiance and to have a paper and a pen to reduce pressure.
    Bob,You I am an african,and you can understand my phobia?

  106. 108 cinefile
    July 5, 2008 at 15:52

    on public speaking
    Hi everyone John here in London – coming late/early to the party on blank page 14 – I’ll be moderating tomorrow with Luz. On the issue of public speaking (unlike Bob I don’t mind the one-on-one with strangers at a party – but speaking in front of large groups is daunting) – I think the one characteristic that great public speakers portray throughout history is charisma – I’m thinking Churchill, DeVelera, ML King and many others – perhaps Barack Obama has it to a certain degree – and in spite of all his failures George Bush actually got better at public speaking. Any thoughts on which public figures are the best public speakers about today? I’ll be back tmrw – enjoy the WHYS discussions.

  107. 109 Dennis
    July 5, 2008 at 15:56

    Hi Luz Ma, thanks for being the moderator along with John on Sunday….

    I am sorry for not welcoming you on Friday–I went shopping.

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  108. 110 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:02

    Good morning! I´m back!
    Wow, it was great to wake up and see that the Blank Page jumped from 53 comments to 108 🙂

    Thanks to the moderators who held the fort while I was sleeping. I overslept, but -talking about apologies and excuses- I have a good excuse, he,he!! My 3 year old daughter kept me awake part of the night because she had a nightmare and couldn´t go to sleep again. And then, when she fell asleep again, I couldn´t… it happens, haha!

    So, after my second cup of coffee, a couple of comments:


    I think is very hard to forgive and forget when it was a great offense. I try to forgive and forget -only when it was a true apology- because I think holding grudges only poisons the spirit and clouds the mind. Also, I am a practicing Catholic, so if I really want to follow Jesus teachings, I have to make an extra effort to forgive and love those who have harmed me. I have to say, it is quite difficult, I don´t accomplish this often.

    @Talking in public

    Abdi, I think you´ll do great! Don´t worry! What I love most about WHYS is that it is a global conversation, so I don´t think anybody focuses in the speaker’s pronunciation because I suppose they are trying to understand you.

    When I was doing my Masters in Montreal, I had to speak academic English in front of my class all the time. I was very nervous, but one time, a dear professor told me in front of everyone “I love you mispronounced English, it makes you different and you stand from the crowd”. My worries disappear, and when I stopped focusing in my pronunciation, my English came out better 😉


    Congrats for your 3 year old! They are quite a blast, right? But I love small children; they are funny and truthful.

    P.S. My dog also hears WHYS.

  109. July 5, 2008 at 16:02

    @ Julie P
    I really I agree with that been nervous depends on the size of the audience.when it comes BBC team coming all the way from London,kenyans will flock in large Numbers and the venue will be jump backed!hence I feel will sweat will the weather is really cold here In Nairobi.
    Also the topic of discussions matters as you said!Because as aperson they are certain topics you will feel very nervous to talk a bout!
    All eyes are now set on WHYS Broadcast from here in Nairobi on Monday and Inshallah If Ros gives me the chances to ‘Sit on the hottest Sit on Earth” I will try my best to bring in callers fronm all over world!
    Best wishes!

  110. 112 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 16:08


    I am equally comfortable one on one and with crowds.

    I can walk up to anyone anywhere and strike up a conversation.

    But having said that I am happiest alone. I have never been lonely in my life. A lot of people find that strange.

  111. July 5, 2008 at 16:09

    @ Luz Ma
    Our Moderator this weekend!
    Goog morning to you though it’s turning dark here in Kenya!

    Thank you for you’r encouraging Words! I beleive I will excel on Monday which is less than 48 hours away!

    Luz Ma here get a clipse of my own photo during WHYS visit to Nairobi on 25th and 26th May 2007
    here also is me alone.don’t worry about the light on my eyes! it was night in kenya

  112. 114 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 16:11


    When are you hosting?

    What’s your idea of really cold? I grew up in a cold, snowy climate where the air temperature can (with wind) get to -22F (-30C), or in rare cases -79F (-62). Now that I live in Atlanta a winter day may be just like anything that is experienced in London. Cold, rainy, and dreary.

  113. 115 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 16:11


    What I find with small crowds is they try to put pressure on to see if they can perturb the speaker.

    I don’t think it is deliberate. It is just a pressure thing that humans do. We like people better if they can stand up to pressure, for some reason.

    I usually say something that negates that attitude, from the beginning.

  114. 116 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:12


    Don´t worry! I hope you had a nice shopping trip.

  115. July 5, 2008 at 16:15

    @ Bryan
    You can remember what happened ten years ago! it’s wonderful.You Bryan they are people and moments that will forever remain in ones heart!and this moment is one of them!
    John berks might also never have forget about this!
    Though I beleive he must move on from been a radio presenter!

  116. 118 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 16:15


    Great photos! Now I feel I know you better.

    You will do great. I won’t hear you in real time because I will be traveling. Monday, I will be on the way back to Paris.

    But I will listen, in Paris, after I have my rejuvenating sleep. 🙂

  117. 119 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:16


    A person could be lonely even if she is never alone. That is sad!

    I don´t find strange that you are happiest alone. It happens to me too. I love being around my family and friends, but sometimes I need “alone time”.

  118. July 5, 2008 at 16:25

    @ Julie P

    WHYS team including Ros Atkins are now In Nairobi ,to fire up a live Broadcast from here in Nairobi on Monday 7th July! I therefore hope to host the programme here in my country Kenya!

    feelig hot means been ” Nervous’ and Nairobi beem cold does not mean that it’s raining ice.But just normal Coldness as it rained heavly yesterday and today.

  119. 121 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:25


    I have seen those photos before, but I didn´t know which one was you. Like Selena, now I feel I know you better.

    I think you´ll do great on Monday!

    I hope one day I could travel to Africa. I met many Africans -I hope that is the correct term- when I was studying at Montreal. They were great and really nice . Two of my favorite professors were respectively from Ethiopia and Sudan.

  120. July 5, 2008 at 16:27

    @ selena!
    It’s Ok.Jush Remember to re-listen to it within the next week as I will do myself to Check out how I performed>
    safe Journey to Paris!

  121. 123 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:34


    You asked “Any thoughts on which public figures are the best public speakers about today?”

    Well, I can make an opinion on the worst…

  122. 124 Will Rhodes
    July 5, 2008 at 16:41

    Should Germany include a waxwork of Hitler in their list of historical events – Quote:

    “Seeing as we are portraying the history of Germany we could hardly have left him out… we want to show the reality,” she said.


    Waxwork Hitler beheaded in Berlin

    A man has been arrested after tearing the head off a wax figure of Adolf Hitler at a newly opened branch of Madame Tussauds in Berlin.

    The 41-year-old man was held after attacking the waxwork, only hours after the attraction opened on Saturday.

    The inclusion of Hitler in the exhibition has aroused controversy in a country where Nazi symbols are banned.

    But the exhibition’s organiser said it could hardly depict German history without portraying Hitler.

  123. 125 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 16:49

    @Julie P

    “I can speak a smattering of Spanish. (Living in the US I do not know how anyone cannot pick up a little Spanish as they go through life.)”

    Do you have an opinion why this happens?

    I frequently visit American towns in the U.S.-Mexican border. Although many American people there are fully bilingual, I am often surprised meeting people that do not speak Spanish all. I am surprise because in Mexican border towns the majority of the population can speak English or at least they try.

  124. 126 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 16:59

    Luz Ma,

    Here’s my guess. My father spoke and wrote in Polish, but I cannot. I approached him one day and asked why he did not teach me. His response was twofold: There aren’t enough people here for you to interact to go through the trouble. You’ll lose it. More telling: “Americans speak English, and that is what I am teaching you.” I then got the speech about how his parents went through all of the trouble to immigrate to the US to be Americans, which includes English. That said, many Americans associate speaking English as the only language to speak and seem unwilling to learn anything else. I disagree with this, but it is what is.

  125. 127 Bryan
    July 5, 2008 at 17:04

    selena July 5, 2008 at 4:11 pm


    Abdi July 5, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    It stuck in my mind because it was really funny.

    Will Rhodes July 5, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Certainly nothing wrong with portraying Hitler in a place like Madame Tussauds, which portrays historical figures. But I can also understand the desire to destroy the figure.

  126. 128 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 17:12


    I don´t think there was anything wrong with including Hitler in Madame Tussauds historical figures list. It is part of German history.
    But I am not suprised by the attack to the figure.

  127. 129 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 17:14


    Hitler is a fact of history! I wish I could say that the human race learned a lesson from Hitler. But sadly, we learned nothing.

    To me, it seems important to depict the history exactly as it is known.

    The most important fact is the majority of the German people supported this man. If that is overlooked, there is no hope for change.

    But then I spose there is no hope for change anyway. There will always be people who follow leaders.

  128. 130 steve
    July 5, 2008 at 17:17

    More PC madness in Canada.


    I met up with lots of Canadians on Canada day at my local bar and none of them had any complaints about the inivtation they had to the Embassy in DC.

  129. 131 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 17:38


    Some quebecois are very sensitive about issues like this. Probably you didn´t encounter them in your local bar. The good thing was that the invitation was written in English and French; if not, this would be prompted a rampt discussion about the language issue in Canada.

    The only thing I have to say about this issue is that poutine is one of my favorite “fast food” dishes. They were my “comfort food” when I lived in Montreal. Quebecois should be proud of it, but some are not. Well, some quebecois are hard to understand, but I love them. My younger daughter is quebecois 🙂

  130. 132 Dennis
    July 5, 2008 at 17:42

    @ Luz Ma….

    Regarding my shopping trip on 4th July–it was fun, living in campus housing, without a car and purchasing a new vacuum and some house products, it was no fun….

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  131. 133 VictorK
    July 5, 2008 at 17:59

    I left a comment about the Roma but lost my connection just at the moment of posting. To briefly recap: generalisations about groups ought not to be automatically dismissed as stereotypes, racism or expressions of prejudice, since there are occasions when such generalisations are entirely merited by the facts. The Roma are a case in point, as they have a unfiorm reputation across Europe for preying on the communities they live amongst (particularly re burglary and pickpocketing). There can’t be honest debate of issues if people insist, as a matter of political dogma, that certain subjects or approaches to subjects (generalising about a minority group) are off limits. Let’s not allow any orthodoxies to dictate the terms of our discussions.

    On public speakers, I’m always amused when people refuse to include Hitler in the list of accomplished speakers. He undoubtedly had charisma and force of character, and is usually described as a powerful orator. In many respects he has a lot in common with Robert Mugabe (who actually sports a Hitlerian ‘tache. Which points to the danger of having accomplished speakers and audiences who are not able to respond to them critically as well as emotionally. The German people at the time – always described as the ‘best educated in the world’ – had less excuse than most for being swayed by Hitler, as a speaker and a politician. I find Obama has the same power to soothe and appeal through eloquent but ultimately empty rhetoric. The speeches I’ve heard from him have always made an initially favourable impression on me, and I would even have been persuaded were it not for the fact that I regard Obama with deep suspicion, a prejudice that tends to neutralise the otherwise hypnotic effect of his eloquence. Tony Blair is another one who could speak well and fraudulently at the same time. George Bush is a terrible speaker, which is especially surprising given his educational background (Andover and Yale, I think), and his membership of a political family. Listening to him is like watching someone walk a tightrope on a very windy day: you’re always afraid that disaster will strike any second, and it’s a huge relief when he makes it to the end without mishap. Parliamentary, constitutional and representative systems of government naturally produce great speakers.

    Re the Hitler waxwork: I find this an odd point of contrroversy, even given that the country in question is Germany. Mao and Stalin – judging by the number of deaths that their actions led to, directly and indirectly – were both greater butchers than Hitler. Yet I doubt if any waxwork museum anywhere in the world has ever had a problem with displaying effigies of either. There are hypnotic words as well as hypnotic speakers, and one of them is ‘socialism’.

  132. July 5, 2008 at 18:02

    @ Ros
    Dear My precious! thank you for email.Of course if you read the a bove messages I did say that “I might be Hosting” I never Said ” I will be hosting”
    It’s Raining heavily in Nairobi where I am a bout to host the programme here in Nairobi.So I have to rush to my Lodge and Sleep before the rain get’s more heavy.
    good night from Nairobi.I will catch you tommorrow early in the morning!

  133. 135 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 18:09


    At least your house will be clean. Sorry it was “that kind” of shopping trip.

  134. 136 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 18:24

    @ Bob, I find it very easy to strike up a converastion with any person including a stranger. I just find it pretty easy to create some thing interesting to talk about. So whether it’s a large crowd, a complete stranger or my friends, I feel comfortable.

  135. 137 Julie P
    July 5, 2008 at 18:25


    This is the classic “The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain” by the time it gets to person X it can be anything but what it started out as. 🙂

  136. 138 Dennis
    July 5, 2008 at 18:25

    @ Luz Ma…

    I live in a suite [housing] with 2 others guys….


    Look for RESIDENT HALLS…..

    [I know the house will be clean, with the stuff i purchased in the past few days it will be perfectly clean.

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  137. 139 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 19:14

    I think in the coming years, the core of the WHYS team will consist of some of us, the young talents on this blog. WATCH OUT!!! we are coming 😉

  138. 140 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 19:30


    Regarding Romas, I only have to say that I don´t agree with you. I particularly think generalizations should be used carefully since ethnic and racial stereotypes are often erroneous. Even if they are “true”, it is unfair to applied them to all members of that group.

    For instance, I don´t like the stereotypes that are portrayed in popular culture and the media about Mexicans. I am not a lazy person sitting under a cactus with a big “sombrero” in my head taking a “siesta” (nap). The perception of outsiders about Mexicans taking a nap in the middle of the day was despicted as laziness. They didn´t get the origin of the “siesta”. Farmers wake up at dawn (4 in the morning) to work in the fields, but at midday it is so hot that it is imposible to work. So they eat and take “siestas” during that time, and then worked again in the afternoon. I cannot portray that as laziness.

    So, before jumping to conclusions about any ethnic or racial group, we should take a hard look at stereotypes.

  139. July 5, 2008 at 19:55

    Suggestion for topic:

    Grain Exporters On Earth: The corresponding organization to OPEC to be called GEOE.

    This is the attempt to establish a fair market plan to put a bushell of grain such as wheat, barley, rye, rice or oats on the sliding scale with a barrel of oil.

    the main nations to organize could start with:

    If oil sells for $180 – $200 a barrel perhaps all those nations exporting oil ought to pay $180- $200 a bushell for any and all grain to oil exporters.


    coast of Oregon

  140. 142 Will Rhodes
    July 5, 2008 at 19:56

    A trade war, Troop?

  141. July 5, 2008 at 19:57

    P.S. GEOE:………… to stand for Grain Exporters On Earth



  142. July 5, 2008 at 20:02

    No Will not a trade war, but rather a reminder and a ramification, that farmers are going to have to get more for their efforts and the costs of their raw materials in order to be able to continue production or else the oil producers will have to start getting their own people to start growing wheat in small gardens created out there in the sand with oil and water being used to farm and produce things on their own rather than in places that actually have more natural growing conditions.



  143. 145 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 20:29

    @ Luz Ma: it is certainly possible to over-generalise and to unfairly apply a description to all members of a group. To that extent I aree with you. But what we have with the Roma is a judgement about their liability to certain forms of behaviour, especially as compared to the general population or even to other minority groups, drawn from experience. All Roma are not thieves. In fact, most Roma are not criminals of any description. But hard experience, across many countries, has taught people that the presence of a Roma settlement is virtually a guarantee of certain kinds of anti-social and criminal activity.

    I don’t think it’s a question of ‘jumping to conclusions’. Here in Britain Oxford Street is Europe’s busiest shopping thoroughfare. For many years it’s had a problem with pickpockets. A disproportionate number of these are Roma, some of whom have even come from outside the country specifically to exploit the criminal opportunities that a location like Oxford Street presents. Similarly with professional beggars on the London underground (though that’s become less of a problem in recent years). A few years ago a group of teenaged girls, several of whom were pregnant, flew into Britain from romania, shortly after that country had become a member of the European Union. Their purpose was simple: to exploit britain’s welfare system to the maximum. Nobody was very surprised when they turned out to be Roma. One can generalise, just as validly, about Muslims. The great majority of Muslims are not terrorists; but who can deny that most terrorists are Muslims (that’s certainly the case in Britain, as it is in many other countries – including Muslim ones), and globally Muslims are today disproportionately involved in terror? That’s a generalisation that experience completely bears out.

    It really would be interesting to take a hard look at stereoptypes as you suggest. I suspect that most stereotypes and prejudices contain an element of truth. The stereotype may be exaggerated or outdated or overgeneralised, but I doubt if it’s ever completely baseless. Take the example you gave of the siesta. the activity (or lack of it) isn’t in doubt: it’s the interpretation (‘laziness’ ) that is open to dispute. But where the activity, its interpretation, and its extent are all beyond question, I think that we must bow to the facts. Several posters have expressed sympathy for the Roma based on their treatment: but are any of those people prepared to argue that the Roma are indistinguishable from the populations amongst whom they reside in all respects and the perceptions of them are based on fantasy? To do so would show more bravery than judgement.

    The bottom-line is that there are unpleasant truths, and it’s disingenuous to sweep them under the carpet by dismissing them as ‘prejudice’ or ‘stereotypes’. Though I wonder, is the issue for some a sense that it’s wrong to make negative generalisations about minority groups that might generate (further) hostility towards them? If that’s the case then the issue ought to be debated in its own right (even here I think there’s scope for debate and won’t assume that there is a ‘right’ point of view that all decent people must agree on).

  144. 146 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 20:41

    How much of what you know about the Roma is true and how much is myth?

    All groups have pickpockets and thieves. We are very quick to buy into the propaganda that has been a steady diet since birth, whatever that propaganda happens to be.

    When I grew up, Catholics were the ones who committed all the crimes and murders, according to the myth.

    When my mother met the first Catholic, she was perplexed and said. “She is a very nice person… no different from us.”

    It didn’t take my mother long to come to terms with the fact that Catholics were simply people too.

    Search your memory… you may find that much of what you know comes from questionable sources.

  145. 147 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 21:01

    @Selena: there’s very little propaganda to this –


    Most people in Europe are pretty well informed about the Roma. Even when news organisations use misnomers like ‘East Europeans’ they’ve learned to recognise that as a PC euphemism for ‘Roma’ (in the same way that they have known for some years now how to interpret references to ‘disaffected youth’).

    Even the example you give of ‘Catholics’ being responsible for all crimes and murders was, in many parts of the English-speaking world, partly based on factual, but now dated, experiences, when by ‘Catholic’ what was meant was ‘recent and desperately impoverished immigrants, especially Irish, arriving in a city in huge numbers”:


    As I suggested before, much of what people dismiss as ‘prejudice’ and ‘stereotype’, if properly examined, has a very real factual core, even if overlain with mythical accretions. I wonder, is it the truth of stereotypes, rather than the myth, that people really object to?

  146. 148 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 21:09


    You said in your comment: “All Roma are not thieves. In fact, most Roma are not criminals of any description.”

    So why perpetrate the stereotype or do profiling (like in the case of Italy)?

    I think the case of Roma people has it roots in their particular migration patterns and history of persecution and force assimilation. Negative generalizations clearly do not help to end discrimination against them and I think it only furthers alienation.

  147. 149 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 21:20

    I just found the website of RADOC (The Romanian Archives and Documentation Center). It is located in the University of Texas in Austin. Under the link “About Ian Hancock” I found the following sentence:

    “Ian Hancock is not a gypsy. He is a Romani. The difference in nomenclature is so important that Hancock, a professor of English, linguistics and Asian studies at The University of Texas at Austin since 1972, has devoted most of his adult life to dispelling ignorance about the ethnic group into which he was born.”

    I think you´ll find this site very enlightening. I remember reading a paper written by him in my International Protection for Minorities Rights class. It changed a lot my perception of Romanies.

  148. 150 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 21:21

    Sorry, the link, if you are interested, is:


  149. 151 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 21:33


    A newspaper story here and there does not represent truth. Remember the WMDs.

    Everything written must be taken with a grain of salt.

    Having said that, I am sure you will find the usual number of *criminals* in any groups one chooses to name.

    Is it possible to rid one’s mind of all the preconceived notions that particular groups have a monopoly on goodness or badness?

    I don’t suppose it is but nothing will change in this world unless we try.

  150. 152 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 21:38

    @Luz Ma: as with any group, what gets it noticed is activity that deviates from the norm. With the Roma it’s the above average rates of certain types of crime. The stereotype is unfair when applied to all Roma, but it’s entirely just when applied to the Roma comparatively speaking. ‘Social crimes’ – mugging, assault, burglary – with their very personal impact, are perfectly calculated to draw the most negative attention to a group. Stereotypes in these cases are often true because they are drawn from common experience. ‘Social crimes’ also indicate either a lack of social discipline and community coherence within the group whose members commit them, or an attitude of outright hostility to the society that they live in without being a part of (as with the Roma).

    Broadly speaking it would be true to say that different groups are often overrepresented in different categories of crime. That’s a simple matter of fact that follows from the varying social characteristics of different groups. Different groups are often also often overrepresented as victims of certain types of crime (e.g. an African-Americans is many times more likely to be murdered than a white American). Both points are legitimate matters of public policy. Recognising these facts is the only way to begin addressing some of these issues. Here in London gun crime is a disproportionately Afro-Caribbean phenomenon (with a large Jamaican component). The Metropolitan Police (the policing authority for London) even have a special unit, ‘Operation Trident’, to deal with it. That’s partly because the victims of gun crime are also disproportionately black. Fortunately nobody has cried out ‘prejudice’, ‘stereoype’ and ‘racism’, since if they had its likely that many more people would have died from gun crime as a result of the police bowing to politically correct intimidation and not addressing the most salient issues surrounding the problem. Profiling would also have a place in addressing this issue. Yet I know that some people are outraged by any discussion of race or ethnicity and crime, however factual and however necessary to tackling the problem. They would obviously rather see people die than have issues openly debated and (hopefully) as a consequence resolved.

    Re the Roma in Italy: I think that the Italians have a right to insist that people resident in their country be assimilated into its culture and values. I don’t see that any minority has a right to resist assimilation into the common public culture and remain in the country. I would support ‘forcible assimilation’ into the common culture.

  151. 153 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 21:56

    @Selena: I could flood you with national and local newspaper stories and accounts from the BBC and other broadcast media over many years. I could give you accounts from named police spokesmen and local authority administrators. I could relate accounts I’ve had from people who have direct experience with the Roma. I could talk about the illegal Roma settlement about a mile from where I live in London that has been reported on for several years by my local newspaper and whose outskirts I sometimes pass (it really does exist). And people across Europe could all replicate the same range of sources and experiences for you as well. If George Bush had had as much proof about WMDS his critics would today be silent. None of the sources I’ve referred to is fabricated (what would be the point?) – that’s the crucial difference re WMDs.

    The evidence is what it is. I hope that it won’t be used to persecute Roma, but I don’t understand why people are so determined to deny it. Politicians haven’t invented this: it comes out of the experience of ordinary people, which ought to be allowed to count for something. There’s a reason for the widespread and cross-national hostility to the Roma. It may sometimes be misdirected or overgeneralised, but it is based on certain realities. Similarly with what’s sometimes dismissed as ‘Islamophobia’ (i.e. a wish that neither you nor your family nor your friends nor your compatriots be blown to pieces by Jihadists, and a disinclination to see your culture and way of life sharia-ised).

  152. 154 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 22:07

    Another story about Roma from a reliable source


    When members of a community habitually behave in a certain way they acquire, in fact earn, a certain reputation. It won’t do to dismiss this as myth and prejudice.

  153. 155 selena
    July 5, 2008 at 22:13


    There is not a single group in this world that escapes stereotyping from some other group. Want me to tell you what people here think about the English? 🙂

    Maybe there is some basis in fact. More often than not though I would imagine there is not much basis for generalization.

    As long as this type of thinking goes unchallenged, it will continue to pit one group against the other. Otherwise reasonable people will continue to believe stories about WMDs because some *reputable* authority writes them. It is unbelievable but after being bitten by Iraq, the sane people are still buying the the same stories about Iran.

    There are bad people out there. There are many bad people out there. However, the bad people are not always the ones we are identifying.

    Can’t you see that people are being blown up by the people protecting us from the fundamentalist Muslims? What about the people who lose their lives? Don’t they matter?

    In group think no one matters except one’s own group. Surely that concept should be called into question!

  154. 156 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 5, 2008 at 22:27

    Hi Luz Maria, here’s another book you might like about water:
    Water For Sale: How Business and the Market can Resolve the World’s Water Crisis, by Fredrik Segerfeldt
    Suggested to add a little balance to what looks like a distinctly stacked ideological deck in your reading material about the water situation.

  155. 157 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 22:37


    I have to disagree with you. I think forcible assimilation is a really bad measure that only creates more trouble. I believe in integration of minorities to the social, cultural, economic and political life in the country where they reside, but without compelling them to lose their own culture and essential elements of their identity.

    TheFramework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in March 1998 ratified by many European countries, including Italy, states in article 5 (2) that:

    “Without prejudice to measures taken in pursuance of their general integration policy, the Parties shall refrain from policies or practices aimed at assimilation of persons belonging to national minorities against their will and shall protect these persons from any action aimed at such assimilation.”

  156. 158 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 22:49


    I have that book too!!!

    Don´t worry, my husband has all books ever existed related to water (well, maybe I exagerated a little, but he has a lot). As I wrote before, he did his graduate research in public-private partnerships and water management. In this matter, I think it is necessary to see things from every perspective, that is why I am going to read all those books 😉

  157. 159 Pangolin Hussein- California
    July 5, 2008 at 22:57

    @ Roma- I must say that I am appalled at the tone of the conversation about the Roma. If we just went back and did a ‘find and replace’ and inserted ‘Jew’ instead of Roma this site would be shut down. For whatever reasons, discrimination being the most likely, the Roma seem to have characteristics of poor, migrant laborers. They survive however they can. Those that aren’t poor you don’t notice.

    The pretense that the Roma are somehow more problematic for reasons that couldn’t be explained by lack of access to opportunity is just a fig-leaf for hatred of the other. I’ve heard, the (insert one; Roma, Jews, Blacks, Mexicans, Polish, Fillipino, Vietnamese, Hmong or Pastafarians) are just born (attribute: criminals, slackers, thieves, lazy, violent, etc) my whole life and it never has any justification in reality. The genetics say that we are pretty much alike despite the surface coloration.

    Somebody is always looking for a free whipping boy. That’s the true sickness.

  158. 160 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 23:01

    @Selena: I’m just trying to recollect how we got to where we are in this discussion about the Roma before responding to you.

    Yes – it was the story that Luz Ma linked to about their treatment in Italy and the unanimous response of posters about how groundless, generalised, prejudiced and stereotyped the whole thing was. I think I’ve made my point that generalisations about particular groups may contain more truth than people are prepared to admit. Sometimes those generalisations are even attacked and dismissed because of their truth.

    Re the people protecting us from the fundamentalist Muslims, I should point out that I don’t support the continuing Western interventions in Iraq or Afghanistan (I used to, but have changed my mind about both) and would like to see Coalition forces pull out from both places. I think you’re wrong to write that the people protecting us are themselves blowing up innocents: Iraqis are largely responsible for the chaos in their country and every responsible commentator expects the violence to escalate if the Coalition simply leaves, i.e. if Iraqis are given a free hand in their country (I favour its being replaced by a Muslim Coalition; no Muslim countries are, of course, prepared to sacrifice the lives of their soldiers for the sake of their Iraqi brothers and co-religionists, who they clearly don’t think worth the trouble of directly assisting. I find that assessment by other Muslims of Iraq and Iraqis truly fascinating.). The Taliban have even less legitimacy than the government of Afghanistan (after all, the government was elected in a free and fair election, but one that was compromised by being conducted under the auspices of an occupying power. But the Taliban are little more than terrorists-cum-bandits, without even the pretence of popular support. Unfortunately, though, a bandit in his own country has more legitimacy than an invader who has no business being there at all).

    Don’t forget that Saddam Hussein validated the WMD claims by behaving as if he did possess them even though he didn’t. The reason why he did this has gone to the grave with him. That fact of his behaviour alone justified the invasion, since the mere possibility that he had such weapons necessitated offensive action to disarm him, regardless of the Bush administration’s manufactured evidence. and no one has yet claimed that Saddam did what he did at the instruction of Cheney and Haliburton. Well. no one so far. The public in the US and the UK were right to trust their governments at the time, since they had no reason to think that either had descended to the level of lying third world kleptocracies. But don’t overlook developments since the truth of what happened emerged: Bush has had calamitously low poll ratings ever since and Blair has been driven from office as a fawning poodle of the US government who involved his country in a needless conflict that has wasted British lives and treasure. The American and British people are not fools, and President Bush’s credibility has been so completely undermined that nobody is buying what he has to say about Iran. This is especially unfortunate since on this occasion its claims are probably true. He may strike against Iran but it won’t be with the kind of public support he had for the Iraq invasion.

    You mentioned ‘group think’. Aren’t the Roma, with their in-group loyalty and predatory attitude to non-Roma, perfect examples of the phenomenon? Similarly with Muslims, who never uttered a syllable of protest against Saddam when he was dictating, brutalising, warring with Iran, torturing, repressing Shi’ites, gassing Kurds, murdering opponents, rewarding Palestinian suicide-bombers and occupying Kuwait, but who let out a collective shriek of indignation when he, as the leader of a fellow Muslim country, was attacked by a non-Muslim coalition?

    p.s. – I’d be happy to hear what people where you are think about the English. The English are too secure in themselves and too assured of the greatness of England (which sounds terribly immodest, but England IS one of the few great countries of the world) to be affected adversely or positively by the opinion of others’.

  159. 161 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 5, 2008 at 23:02


    Oh, good for you! I would love to hear your conclusions. (And your husband’s.) It’s so easy to just read what agrees with one’s own ideological prejudices, and thereby foreclose the chance of learning anything new. Happy to hear you’re not in that trap.

    I have to say my own bias is toward private entities in everything I can think of, just because empirically governments have shown they do such a poor job doing anything except police, judicial, and defense. They don’t do those well either, but it’s arguable that those are natrual monopolies and that the state should run them. Everything else governments do, to me, either shouldn’t be done at all, or can be done by private entities better and more innovatively and efficiently, at less cost.

    As I expect you know, my own California is a textbook example of disastrous effects of “public” water policy. Making the “desert bloom” and growing rice in it is a remarkable thing, but I’d suggest not a useful one, and the costs are not borne by the people who profit by it.

  160. 162 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 23:21


    I loved your comment 🙂

  161. 163 victork13
    July 5, 2008 at 23:28

    @Pangolin: it’s been pointed out that while Jews have successfully started – or rather, revived – their own country, the Roma would probably be unable to exist without a host community. Similarly all the other groups you mention are national in character, a fact that sets them apart from the Roma.

    The idea that in a country like Britain the Roma lack ‘opportunity’ is absurd. They are simply not as interested in living the conventional life that characterises the rest of the population. The facts about certain aspects of Roma behaviour are incontrovertible. How does this become, in your opinion, ‘hatred’ of ‘the other’? This seems like nothing more than an attempt to intimidate and to prevent open debate on a point that – for some reason – you find sensitive. I don’t see that your reaction of appalled horror should be given more weight than actual facts. Rhetoric about ‘whipping boys’ won’t cut it either. Nobody is claiming that Roma are responsible for most crimes or that they are the only criminals (which would have justified your response). So why the exaggerated response?

    Again, you seem to think that the actual experiences of ordinary people, and patterns of behaviour that have been consistently reported over the years and across several countries, should count for nothing. But an emotional response – ‘I am appalled’ – with no hard facts to support it (do typical migrant labourers train their children to beg, and sometimes disfigure them to facitiate their begging, even in countries where there are many economic opportunities?).

    What strikes me about your comment is how it fits into a kind of ‘liturgy of the left’, one of whose points is that no minority is ever to be spoken of negatively or treated as being responsible for their individual actions, whatever the facts indicate. In other words minorities are to be patronised and treated according to a lower standard of responsibility than majorities. Ironically there’s a word for that way of thinking, even when well-intenetioned.

  162. 164 Luz Ma
    July 5, 2008 at 23:31


    I believe in private entities, but only if they are properly regulated by the State. But, then many factors interfere: if the country is truly democratic, if the government has a efficient judicial system to solve disputes, if the population has voice and vote in the matter, etc.

    Water is a very complex issue. I am more interested in problems related to water and poverty (access to clean water, erradication of waterborne diseases, etc.) I cannot give further opinion without being properly prepared. I´ll tell you my conclusions when I finish reading all those books!

    I indeed know about California´s water problems. I did a paper in transboundary (U.S.-Mexico) water pollution when I was doing my Masters, so I had to look into that.

  163. 165 nelsoni
    July 5, 2008 at 23:47

    @ Every one: reading through all these long essays, abstracts and literature reviews are making me dizzy lol

  164. 166 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 00:48

    All I can to this is, I hope they don’t reproduce.


  165. 167 Will Rhodes
    July 6, 2008 at 01:18

    Did you know

    That the British National Health Service is 60 years old today?

    The worlds first FREE healthcare system. 60 years of serving all the population of Britain.

    Not bad, eh?

  166. 168 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 01:42

    It’s gotten a tad quiet in here, so what did everyone do today? I experimented by eating some Thai food I think was chicken. I hope it was chicken. It was quite tasty, and very spicy. I then went to an small art gallery where I looked at some local art work of oil paintings that were landscapes of the local geography. There really are some talented people living here. Of course, the afternoon was capped off with a traffic jam. I was really hoping the fools who do not know how to merge, or change lanes were the ones to leave for the holiday weekend, but NO one had to stay behind.

  167. 169 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 01:47



    I liked the portrayal of the BritishHealth System in Michael´s More documentary “Sicko”.

  168. 170 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 01:56

    @Julie P

    After reading your comment, I am craving Thai Food. Not a chance of finding it here 😦

    It is still raining here (unbelievable!!!), so I stayed at home all day with my family. We had “morning tacos” for breakfast, and we played “lotería” (our Bingo) and some online games. I am still moderating Blank Page.

    On Monday my daughters are going to summer camp. I´ll have a couple of hours in the morning to go shopping 🙂 I am starting a new job on August, and I need work clothes.

  169. 171 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 02:03

    @Luz Ma,

    Have fun shopping for new work clothes. I had to do that after I started working at a conservative company. I just did not have enough suits to wear every day and the office has a no jeans policy, so I couldn’t wear them to the office.

    Your daughter should love summer camp. I went to a day camp growing up. It was fun and a great way to bond more with my friends.

    You’ll have fun shopping, especially if you don’t do it often. What is your new job?

  170. 172 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 02:28


    Heard about the NHS birthday on the BBC, which described it not as “free,” but as “no charge at the point of service,” or some such wording. My friends in the UK complain bitterly about it, and my relatives there just avoid it. Grass always looks greener on the other side I guess. Anyway, happy birthday NHS! Funny coincidence w/ US independence day.

  171. July 6, 2008 at 02:29

    Does all this mean the Roma are good wheat farmers?


  172. 174 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 02:33

    @Julie P

    I hope my daughters enjoy day camp. The older one is going to a camp that focuses in the arts. She says she is going to be a painter when she grows up. My younger one is going to a daycare that is doing all kind of summer activities. I bet she´ll have fun. She is a very spirited child. And they will be taking swimming lessons in the afternoons. I would love to be a child again!

    I don´t have many work clothes. I really NEED to go shopping. The last office where I worked has a very laid back dress code. Now I will be working at a Senator´s office, so they have a VERY conservative dress code.

    I have to say that I am very happy I got this job. I thought it would be an issue the fact that I have small children; but on the contrary, the senator wanted someone with my experience and academic background regardless of my parental responsibilities. He has been the first employer that has praised my ability to finish a master degree while being pregnant with my second child. It is refreshing in a country where the labor market is very “machista”.

  173. 175 Shirley
    July 6, 2008 at 02:36

    In the search for the Great Lakes Drain, I found the following:

    A nation’s growing thirst threatens a Great Lakes water war


    There were also a couple of articles in a magasine called “Discover” about the oceans.

    One was about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Eastern Garbage Patch (there is also one in the western part of the Pacific Ocean, as well as one in each of the other oceans). A quote from it: “Fish and seabirds mistake plastic for food. Plastic debris releases chemical additives and plasticizers into the ocean. Plastics also absorb hydrophobic pollutants like PCBs and pesticides like DDT. The pollutants bioaccumulate in the tissues of marine organisms, biomagnify up the food chain, and find their way into the foods we eat.” Want some tuna with that Rubbermaid?

    Another was called “Ocean Reflux.” “By soaking up cabon dioxide from industrial emissions, the oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening the foundation of life in the sea.”

  174. 176 Dennis
    July 6, 2008 at 02:38

    @ Luz Ma–about work clothes, here in college–i don’t have nice clothes….

    summer camp: i never been and i always wanted to go…..

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  175. 177 Dennis
    July 6, 2008 at 02:40

    Happy 60 to the National Health Services in The United Kingdom…..

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  176. 178 Will Rhodes
    July 6, 2008 at 02:52


    The wording was changed to: “Free at the point of use” – totally PC. The British tax payer pays National Insurance contributions each week, month or whenever you are paid though slightly different for self-employed people.

    My friends in the UK complain bitterly about it, and my relatives there just avoid it. Grass always looks greener on the other side I guess. Anyway, happy birthday NHS! Funny coincidence w/ US independence day.

    How they avoid it I don’t know – they must go to see a Dr once in a while, even if it is for a cold. The whole system has become a political football for years, it does cost a lot to run, but as I said, the population pay by contribution, there is no insurance company saying what they will and will not treat.

    People do complain about the NHS – funnily enough until they have lived outside the UK and realise what it really means to them.

    Because of the NHS you can be treated in any EU nation now, form E111 or whatever it is called now, will cover you.

    What needs to happen is for politics to get out of the NHS and let the Dr’s and Nurses run it – when a manager of a hospital is on more than a surgeon something is very wrong.

  177. 179 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 02:57

    @Luz Ma,

    I have managed to work up two closets full of nothing to wear, so if you’re a US size 8 I’ll send you some of mine. I live in an area of Atlanta that is affluent. There are women here who go shopping out of boredom, so they buy clothes they don’t need and never wear. Instead of taking the clothes back they sell them at consignment stores. That is where I go to buy office attire, which I have enough of now. I own suits that when I bought them they still had the $600 price tags hanging off of them. I bought the suits for $40! One day I am going to write about class in the American south. It’s alive and well and doing fine. I come from a working to middle class family and found myself here. After 22 years I still feel like I am looking from the outside in.

    I did have to get out the Spanish to English dictionary to make sure I understood the word you used. Yes, I agree. I had worked with some Brazilian men who were like that. It took them a while to get used to working with an American woman. They need some ground breakers in your region of the world. You may be it. Let’s hope your daughters follow in your footsteps.

    I am the first person in my family to get a college education. I think my hard work paid off within the confines of my family. My nieces and nephews are about to or are already in college. I spent some time talking with my brother about to finance his son’s and daughter’s education. He thought he would never be able to pay for it. He wanted them to have a higher education too.

    You sound as if you landed a very good job. I have looked into working for embassies here in Atlanta. Jobs there are not easy to come by. You did well.

  178. 180 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 02:59

    Clothes, argh. Spring cleaning has disclosed lots of snazzy old clothes that I doubt I will ever again fit into, sadly. Fortunately the guy helping me is skinny, so now I’m paying my decorator partly in pants.

  179. 181 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 03:10

    @About Health Systems

    When I was living in Canada, some Canadians complained about the health system. We were not elegible -except one of my daughters because she is Canadian- but we had international student health insurence which gave us the same accesibility to the system as any Canadian.

    I was very pleased with the system. My daughters´ pediatrician was fantastic. My Gynecologist is one of the best doctors I have ever met (my extended family is full of MDs). I was four days in the hospital when I had my second daughter; I have to say that the quality of care and service was amazing. I only had good experiences in 6 years.

    I think people living in countries that have free and good health care systems, like the UK and Canada, are really lucky. I know Mexico is a developing country, so it is not fair to compare, but we are not THAT poor. The quality of our public health system is bad. In fact, is heading to bankruptcy. Health here cost a lot.

  180. 182 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 03:13


    The people who want to use the Great Lakes as a water source needs to read this treaty first. It is posted on the International Joint Commission website.


  181. 183 Pangolin Hussein- California
    July 6, 2008 at 03:13

    @Roma- Discrimination against the Roma is too well documented to ignore. It still exists in Britian and is quite active in Eastern Europe.

    http://www.errc.org/English_index>The European Roma Rights Centre has extensive listings of present and past discriminations. Your bogeyman stories about ‘what everybody knows’ don’t have much validity in the real world where Roma still don’t have access to equal education or employment opportunites.

    Reading just for a few minutes about Roma discrimination it would make sense that they might favor caravans or other forms of itenerent housing as the poor are frequently rousted on short notice. Being able to move what goods one has on short notice can become ingrained in a culture where harsh winters can make homelessness a death sentence.

    As to the refusal of Europe to grant the Roma the same rights as post-holocaust Jews; there is the problem that there is no place in Europe that we can steal land to provide a Roma homeland. If we did set aside such a place would the EU and the US spend many billions of dollars per year providing for its security?

    As to the negative attibutions given to other peoples Han (Chinese), Hmong, Vietnamese, Mien, Fillipino, are ethnicities. There are several dozen ethnicities within Central and South America that face various levels of discrimination and occasional ethnic cleansing also.

    Hatred of the ‘other’ is just as evil no matter who you hate. The source is always within the one proposing violence to another.

  182. 184 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 03:21

    @Will ~

    “Free at the point of use,” yes that was it. More accurate than “free” of course; how is it PC? (Calling a tax a “contribution” — now that’s PC! Or just Orwellian.) Good luck getting politics out of a government system, and good luck keeping costs down if doctors do come to run it. They understandably run things to maximize their income when they can.

    So instead of nsurance companies saying what they will or will not treat; the NHS does, by rationing certain procedures, maintaining years-long waiting lists, refusing some treatments for patients over a specified age, and mandating one treatment over another for financial reasons. Seems like an insurance co. to me, except there’s only one instead of a choice among many.

    How much is the NHS payroll tax, on employers and employees, and does it cover all NHS operating costs?

    what does it mean for a mgr. to be “on” more than a surgeon?

  183. 185 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 03:21

    Morning all!

    Just a quick one on the NHS. The “free at the point of service” line isn’t just “management speak” or being PC–it’s an important principle of the system.

    Many medicare systems all over the world are based on the patient paying some of all of the costs when they receive care, then claiming it back. The NHS system very specifically makes NO charges to it’s patients–the service is free when you receive it.

    (Worth saying this is doctors and hospitals–things like prescriptions, dentsts, opticians, etc. work differently.)

    Complaining about the NHS is a national pastime but, when you really need it, it’s there and the care is generally first rate. It’s not perfect (and, as always, could use more money) but compared to many other countries, the UK doesn’t know how lucky they have it.

  184. 186 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 03:48

    @Julie P

    Thanks! That is a nice offer, but I don´t think I could fit in size 8 clothes. I am between 10 and 12 sizes. I was very skinny before having children (size 2). I was the envy of many of my friends, which I never really understood. I am really happy with my post-baby body.

    Here live the wealthiest Mexican people. Two of the Mexicans in the Forbes list are from here and live here. Many upper-middle class women also spend their days shopping for things they don´t need. I have some friends that are that way. So I totally get it what you are saying. I also feel like an outsider, even more since I came back from Montreal. Life there was, by far, much simpler. I dislike rampant consumerism.

    I am very happy with my upcoming job. Initially I am covering a maternity leave, but the senator wants me to stay permanently. It is a really good job, a great step in my career. I´ll be managing his office here (he has two offices, one here and one in Mexico City). I wish that more Mexican women have the same opportunities that I have.

    I congratulate you for being the first person in your family to get a college education and for being a role model within your extended family. I think the best things in life are the ones that require hard work. I am sure you have worked a lot to be where you are now 🙂

    My husband used all his savings to pay for my graduate education. It was a lot of work for me, being a mom at the same time, but I am really proud of accomplish that. He says that the best reward for him was seeing my face when I got my diploma.

    I hope to be a good role model for my daughters. That will be my best reward in life.

  185. 187 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 03:51


    ” It’s not perfect (and, as always, could use more money) but compared to many other countries, the UK doesn’t know how lucky they have it.”

    Well said! 🙂

  186. 188 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 03:53


    Here is a two part article out of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about environmental damage that is taking place in the Great Lakes, specifically Lake Michigan.


    Between what you posted and what I found this is more than an outrage.

    There is a video that goes along with the article.

  187. 190 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 03:56


    I won’t clamber up on my free market soapbox, but I can’t help poinint out that anything “free” will cost more, since consumers and providers have a blank check, not being constrained to economize. Our own health care cost crisis is ultimately a consequence of widespread insurance that permits providers to charge astonomical fees without resistance by consumers since they don’t see the bill. Measures like deductibles and co-payments introduce some discipline by providing incentive for consumers to shop around and to resist unneeded “sky’s the limit” costs.

    From the abstract to the concrete: I recently went to a hospital emergency room and emerged four hours later with a bill for over $11,000, to which of course I objected loud and long. Had I been “covered” by insurance–private or public–the fee would have been paid by my fellow ratepayers or taxpayers without protest.

    A five-minute visit to my doctor was written up as an “extended” visit until I reminded the office that I was not insured. It was then more properly charged at about $100 instead of $200. I have often discussed expensive tests with him, and determined that they were almost completely useless for the situation, recommended out of habit and routinely performed at great cost and no benefit.

    In each case, tt was exactly the (potential) cost to me at the point of service that caused me to question unjustified costs and thus avoid incurring them.

  188. 191 Shirley
    July 6, 2008 at 04:15

    Hi, Jonathan. Thank you for asking. I know Islam forbids alcohol. My question is, does it also forbid opium? Other drugs? I assume tobacco and coffee are permitted, right?

    Alcohol as an intoxicating drink has two strikes against it in Islam. It is considered ritually impure. We need to wash objects contacted by it ina special way. Alcohol is also a prohibited substance in Islamic dietary law. Its intoxicating properties are considered harmful. Other drugs that are normally addictive and prohibited are not necessarilt consdiered ritually impure. However, they are prohibited because of the intoxication-harm factor.

    I’m not trying to stir any pot here; just asking.

    Oh, stir. Stir away. We can always agree to disagree, yes?

    (And is it Muslim or Moslim?)

    I personally dislike the “z” sound that results when people pronounce the word “Moslem.” It’s not true to form, and it is commonly used by people who don’t care for us. In most systems of transliteration in which Arabic letters and phonemes are transcribed in English, the letter “u” is used for that short vowel; and the letter “i” is used for the other short vowel. By the way, check http://www.al-islam.org/laws for Shia Islamic jurisprudence. There are other texts, but that one would satisfy basic searches. For Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, I Google mukhtasar quduri and clikc the first link that results from a site containing the words witness and pioneer. Google isn’t loading for me right now, so I’d have to post the link later.

  189. 193 Dennis
    July 6, 2008 at 04:49

    Good Night, Luz Ma and the rest of the World Have Your Say friends around the world…I hope by the time i wake in a [few] hours from now [11.50pm eastern time on saturday night] we will have over 200+posts on it.

    @ John [our other fearless moderator, joining in on Sunday–welcome to the party…

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  190. 194 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 04:55

    @ Jonathan

    I hear what you say about people being wasteful of medical resources because it’s free and, to some extent, there’s an element of that in the NHS. People ARE more likely to head to their GP for every little ache, pain and sniffle when they know it’s free than if they think they have to fork out £50 or whatever.

    However, it’s not quite equivalent to the US situation. For a start, there will be very few abuses of billing by the doctors and hospitals. GP’s surgeries are paid a set rate based on the number of registered patients they have (with various add-ons possible if they run various “preventative” programmes and the like. They don’t earn more money by running un-needed tests or prescribing un-necessary drugs.

    The situation as hospitals is similar, with an annual budget allocated , roughly to do with the number patients in the area they cover. Again, no bonuses for do un-necessary treatment or whatever.

    (You can probably see the flaw here–it’s possible hospital or local health authority to run short of money if they , for example, try to shorten the waiting period for semi-elective surgery like joint replacements. Striking the right balance among tax/treatment/waiting is where all the complaints come from.)

    However, on the other side of the coin I’d say that the American system of private insurance is possibly acceptable when you are young, fit, employed and not needing much treatment. However, if I moved to the States right now I’d be hard pressed to find anyone willing to insure a 56 year old man with arthritic knees and a long term electrical problem in my heart. In the UK (and here in Australia) I have no fears that, as I need treatment, it will be there and not bankrupt me.

    Beyond that, there’s the discussion about whether basic health care should be a human right or the privilege for those who can afford it–but we’ve had THAT debate before!

  191. 195 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 04:57

    Good night Dennis!
    I think we will make over 200 comments 🙂

  192. 196 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 04:59

    @ Shirley

    So long as we’re learning, may I ask a question too?

    When is it appropriate to see Muslim and when would it be better to say Islam? Is there a subtle difference of meaning I should know about?

    Thanks in advance,

  193. 197 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 05:14


    Ooh, even I know that one. Islam is the religion, and Muslim is a practitioner. Like, respectively, Christianity and Christian.

  194. 198 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 06:09

    Thanks Will. The NHS page didn’t have any info on costs, even from its link labeled “costs.” I expect I can google the figures in short order. I just thought someone might know offhand, or have a pay record handy.

  195. 199 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 06:18

    I am going to sleep now. I hope other moderator can step in. John probably will be around in the upcoming hours.

    ¡Buenas noches!

  196. July 6, 2008 at 06:31

    Good Morning From kenya!
    Today I would like to talk a bout “the possibility of living in A world without Crime,prostitutions,and Fire Arms” do you think we will live inn this type of a world in the near future!

  197. 201 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 07:08

    Greetings Abdi. No, I don’t think we will know a world without crime, prostitution, and firearms in the near future, sadly.You didn’t mention drugs, which will also be around for a while.

    I do think that the world could (paradoxically) reduce crime by removing the laws against prostitution and drugs though. Laws against these “vices” don’t reduce vice. They only increase the damage done.

    What do you think?

  198. July 6, 2008 at 07:18

    @ Jonathan

    I agree with you that we would also love to have a world free of Drugs!,but jonathan whoever tough laws any government can introduce to eliminate crime,prostitution,drugs and fireatms ,this laws will never help at all!
    Because changes starts with you and me ,I mean people can decide in an overhelming way! If this happens we will all live in a world free of Crime,prostitution,drugs and firearms!

  199. 203 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 07:35

    A further question on the Muslim use of intoxicants etc…

    Where does the chewing of Qat (or Khat or ghat depending on the spelling you use) figure in this? It’s something I saw a lot of in Yemen and Somalia particularly–and believe that it even pre-dates coffee. However, the effects are certainly quite intoxicating!

  200. July 6, 2008 at 07:41

    @ Bob
    Good Morning! ( Bye the way what is the time in Quensland!)

    I do a gree with you Muslims Chew Miraa or Khat in Particular those in Somalia and Yemen! But beleive they are not true Muslims!

    To be a muslims means keeping away from Bad deeds and working on Good deeds!
    Bob!,it suprises me more than any other person that Someone does bad deeds like chewing miraa,smoking etc and goes to mosque to Pray,goes to Meccaa to perform Hajj duties and Pays Zakka to the poor!

    It’s really Ironical and islam refuses to call such kind of a person a Muslim!

  201. 205 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 07:58

    Hi Abdi,

    Thanks for your answer!

    Regarding time, Queensland is 10 hours ahead of GMT, so for me (as I type this) it’s just coming up to 1700/5PM.

  202. July 6, 2008 at 08:03

    @ Bob

    It’Exactly 10:00am kenyan time!

  203. 207 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 08:04

    The material Shirley provided said everything that “clouds the mind” is prohibited, and all toxins are also out of bounds because they’re harmful. Alcohol is forbidden by yet a third layer of law as inherently vile.

    Apparently the rule is honored mainly in the breach, though, given the prevalence of tobacco and coffee use, and most remarkably the cultivation of opium in Pakistan and Afghanistan, endorsed by no less than the Taliban. I forgot about khat. Stimulant, right?

  204. July 6, 2008 at 08:12

    @ Jonathan

    Yes Khat is stimulant that is why Islam strongly prohibit’s it’s use! But coffee is Ok to use according to Islam though it might a little bit be stimulant!

  205. 209 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 08:14

    Yup…an alkaloid based stimulant with effects along the lines of amphetamines. Users start chewing a wad in the morning and by mid morning they’re pretty zonked…getting more and more so as the day goes on.

    You mention coffee too. I happen to love the arab variation on coffee, but that a pretty high-test stimulant too!

  206. 210 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 08:20

    And tobacco? The same site said tobacco would be bad “if” it were proven to be unhealthy. And then there’s all that opium. As always, denial is the most potent drug of all.

  207. July 6, 2008 at 08:45

    @ Jonathan

    Tobacco is definetly very bad and it damages health very seriously,People who smoke cigarets are at less risk tha those people who use tobacco!
    But I think cigarates also contain tobaco substances!

  208. 212 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 09:00

    I’m almost sure you are right. I meant tobacco in any form, including cigarettes most of all.

  209. July 6, 2008 at 09:09

    I Think we should also talk a bout Kenyan’s post Election Violence! For a clear photo that cover most dameged areas including Nairobi and Kisumu vist this site!http://www.flickr.com/photos/90154596@N00/sets/72157603601314619/

    As a result’s ofb the post Elections Violence over 1,200 were killed and overn 350,000 were forced to leave their homes let a lone destructions of propertises!

    To bring the country back to pace ,it was proposed the formations of Grand Coalition Government!,a coaltion which is yet to settle very well.

    The Unity of the Coaltion is under a big test as the contraversal sell of a luxurious Hotel called Grand Ragency Hotel Contionus!

  210. 214 Pangolin-California
    July 6, 2008 at 09:21

    @ Health Care- Lest anybody come to the conclusion that private pay health care could somehow be better than Britian’s NHS let me point out a few things.

    In the city of San Francisco where Jonathan lives Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections (MRSA) are running rampant because there is a large percentage of the population that has no regular access to health care. As the population with poor health coverage overlaps with food service, grocery, laundry and janitorial workers simply being wealthy enough to afford good health insurance does little to protect you.

    For people who get ill and are unable to work in the US the health care systems typically require the individual without insurance reduce their total wealth to a few months rent before they are picked up by the Medicare system (after several denials). What this means is that people avoid care or testing simply because they can’t afford it or make bad decisions about seeking or following treatment plans.

    On a personal level I worked as an assistant to a man who didn’t go to the hospital until his cancer had fully mestastisized throughout his body. He lived two weeks after the first day he took off work. No health care. I am about to go bankrupt due to a chronic pain condition that I can’t seem to get adequately treated without health insurance.

    In a world where such things as AIDS and drug-resistant TB exist not having a health care system that provides basic care to every person is simple idiocy. A reservoir of untreated people in your population that can host drug resistant virii, bacterium or parasites will affect the entire population.

    For all that the free marketers protest the “nanny-state” virtually all of those same people who pundit on television or work for the government are covered by health insurance that provides service equivalent to NHS or the French health system.

    They have health care but they object to the rest of us getting it. It’s not enough to be well off but they work to deny health security to the rest of us. It’s a certain kind of intellectual cannibalism that’s eating the US and the rest of the world’s economies.

  211. 215 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 09:43

    @Pangolin: “Discrimination against the Roma is too well documented to ignore. It still exists in Britian and is quite active in Eastern Europe.” Now you’re changing the subject. Nobody denies that the Roma suffer discrimination. The point I was arguing was the attempt by many – yourself included – to assert that hostile perceptions of the Roma were completely baseless and had no root in aspects of the behaviour of some Roma.

    “http://www.errc.org/English_index>The European Roma Rights Centre has extensive listings of present and past discriminations. Your bogeyman stories about ‘what everybody knows’ don’t have much validity in the real world where Roma still don’t have access to equal education or employment opportunites.” I looked at your link. Nothing about Britain. As I said before Roma are not discriminated against here when it comes to schooling and health access. And if they were they have access to the courts to challenge such treatment. Sorry to disappoint. Britain – like the rest of the English-speaking world – is a pioneer when it comes to combatting discrimination and racism.

    What I find interesting about this discussion is how many on the liberal-left refuse to engage with facts that they don’t like and their tendency to argue for preconceived conclusions, instead of following the facts and the argument to the conclusion that they point to. What you dismiss as ‘bogeyman’ stories are facts that are widely reported and well known. They don’t fit with your political prejudices (the saintly and untouchable character of minorities, the bigoted and wicked nature of majorities) and so you simply pretend, as others have, that they don’t exist.

    “As to the refusal of Europe to grant the Roma the same rights as post-holocaust Jews; there is the problem that there is no place in Europe that we can steal land to provide a Roma homeland.” The United Nations, not Europe, approved the establishment of a Jewish state. But what on earth has that got to do with the Roma? No need to smuggle your anti-Israeli sentiment into a discussion that has absolutely nothing to do with ‘the Zionist entity’. And if we want to be absolutely pedantic, if Israel is the Jewish homeland because of history, isn’t India where the Roma belong?

    “There are several dozen ethnicities within Central and South America that face various levels of discrimination and occasional ethnic cleansing also.” So what?

    “Hatred of the ‘other’ is just as evil no matter who you hate. The source is always within the one proposing violence to another.” A favourite line of the liberal-left when dealing with some minority groups they favour is ‘we must try to understand the root causes of the violence/ riots/stabbings/criminal activity, and avoid simplistic condemnation.’ The root causes are usually assumed to be poverty, exclusion, ‘economic violence’, society, etc – but never the actual members of the group themselves. Now poverty, exclusion etc may sometimes or even often be the explanation for violence, crime and so on; but with the left they are always the explanation. Leftist ‘argument’ is too often a simulation of rational argument in order to arrive at set conclusions that condemn society and offer a pretext for radical change. By contrast, when dealing with majorities – who some on the left have a reflexive hostility to – there is never any attempt to understand why majorities behave or feel in a certain way (e.g. why are the Roma so intensely disliked across so many different countries, and different cultures, and different peoples, and different periods?), just meaningless talk about dislike of ‘the other’ (as if even hostile feelings could not sometimes ever be a result of rational, or partly rational, considerations, at least in the case of majorities).

    One of the interesting points of this discussion has been what it has disclosed about the argumentative tactics of the liberal-left, which so often have an objective in view that’s not really related to the topic in question (e.g. vilifying Western or European societies, and looking for excuses to radically transform those societies according to leftist prescriptions – note the complete absence of any reference to the treatment of Roma in a non-European or non-Western setting. If there are any Roma left in Muslim lands, for example, you just know that they are catching hell). It is also revealing to note how liberal-leftists sometimes defend a particular group as a proxy for defending an entirely different group (arguments about ‘fear of the other’ are now routinely trotted out by Muslims, and a couple of you – Muslims, that is – have leapt to the defence of Roma out of what I suspect are selfish considerations).

    But the most revealing point is how some who argue from a liberal-left perspective attempt to put certain issues, and especially certain groups, beyond argument altogether by attacking anybody who critically addresses the issues, or issues about groups, as ‘prejudiced’, ‘stereotyping’, ‘racist’, ‘hating the other’ etc. Which is just a little ironic for a forum set up to enable discussion.

  212. 216 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 10:05

    @ Luz Ma: you wrote, “I have to disagree with you. I think forcible assimilation is a really bad measure that only creates more trouble. I believe in integration of minorities to the social, cultural, economic and political life in the country where they reside, but without compelling them to lose their own culture and essential elements of their identity.”

    Let me explain myself. Where a country has an established culture, character and identity, then I think it’s entitled to take action – including forcible assimilation – to uphold the integrity of that culture, character and identity. As a rule this will mean that there is a single, common public culture and all publicly endorsed expressions of that culture should conform to the country’s historic traditions. Where the country’s established traditions are multiple, as in Switzerland or Canada, then it is those multiple traditions that the public culture should reflect and support. So, in the case of my country, Britain, I would say no to all of the following: sharia, even in limited instances like family law; official recognition of languages other than English; teaching children to regard themselves as anything other than British; forced or arranged marriages, however integral they may to a minority culture; dress codes that offend traditional British sensibilities and expectations (e.g. women covering their faces), even when freely chosen; celebrations of ‘diversity’; etc.

    What happens in the private sphere is not the concern of the state: people should be free to maintain whatever distinct cultural traditions they want to within the home (it’s a matter of liberty); but those traditions should never be allowed to invade the public sphere. A minority that finds that unacceptable surely has the option of re-settling in a country whose public culture is in accord with their private practice. Anything else, I think, is a formula for disintegration and social conflict, as well as subjecting the majority to the tyranny of minority interests.

  213. 217 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 10:08

    Abdi, I’ve always thought that the people in your part of the world deserve much better governments than you have. I don’t know what the answer is. What ideas do you have?

  214. 218 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 10:11

    John here, morning from London. The G8 summit kicks off in Hokkaido, Japan today (on the same day as Geroge Bush’s 62nd birthday). Food and oil prices are topping the agenda as well as Zimbabwe’s retrenchment. Mbeki arrives at the summit fresh from crisis talks. The G8 could do well to issue a united condemnation of Mugabe as well as talking to its neighbours about action.

    In other Japan news – Takeru Kobayashi failed to out eat American Joey Chestnut (great name) in the annual hot-dog fest in Coney island New York. Both competitors gobbled down 59 hot-dogs in 59 minutes before 24-year-old Chestnut won with an extra five in over time.

  215. July 6, 2008 at 10:28

    @ Jonathan

    I think the people in this part of the world deserve a better government,considering the fact that we live in the poorest continent on earth!,were people live below the poverty line,their is prolonged droughts,their is hot climatic conditions etc!

    But jonathan people have voted for a real change in their lives especially here in kenya were Millions out voted President Kibaki’s Government but the rigged the Elections and so they they remain in power in the name of the So called Grand Coaltion Government!

  216. 220 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 10:31

    Pangolin, we actually agree on a few points. I quite agree that insurance shouldn’t be tied to employment, for instance. I think you exaggerate about inaccessible health care here in San Francisco; we have free clinics in both the private and public sectors, a free public hospital, and all sorts of facilities. Also funding sources for treatment and medication costs.

    Medicare has over a trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities. It will require ginormous tax increases just to keep afloat as it is. I trust you realize that shifting health insurance costs from corporations to taxpayers would be a monumental expense.

    Would you favor a national system of health insurance like Medicare for everyone? Or would you go all the way and nationalize health care, set up an NHS, where the state is the provider, and all doctors are federal employees?

    Either way, I would be happier about the prospect of national health care, or national health insurance, if I could think of a single enterprise that the government runs, or administers, or funds, with either efficiency or competence. Can you?

    (crickets going chirp, chirp)

  217. 221 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 10:40

    @ John: if the African Union issued a communique condemning the US, EU and NATO over what’s happening in Kossovo people would wonder at its impudence and why it didn’t address itself to matters that actually concerned its members. But we all seem to think it acceptable for the G8 (none of whose members are, I believe, African) to pontificate about Zimbabwe. Pure Western arrogance of the sort that wins Robert Mugabe sympathy. Another instance of the same mentality that assumes that the West has a God-given right to shape Iraq and Afghanistan according to its will, but is horrified at Al Quaeda’s desire to shape the world according to its dream of a universal Islamic Caliphate.

    Apart from genocide and systematic mass murder, it would be better if the countries of the world – and especially of the Western world – learned to mind their own business and leave other countries and regions to mind theirs.

  218. 222 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 10:57

    Hey there John, thanks for the great news about the hot dog eating contest results! Independence Day is so much sweeter. If there’s any sport where the US deserves the world title, just on principle, it’s gluttonous, massive eating.

    U-S-A! U-S-A!

    What in the world is Mbeke doing at the G-8? I thought it was the eight richest countries of the world. You brits are obsessed with, and irrationally optimistic about, Zimbabwe. Mbeke could squash it like a bug if he wanted to. He doesn’t. He won’t. Nobody else will. The tooth fairy isn’t coming either. Mugabe eats condemnations for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Relax and forget about it. Africa has worse problems and more troubled places. The AU just met and couldn’t even muster up a useless condemnation, or even a scolding. I heard that at least one major UK company still does business with Zimbabwe. If that’s true, maybe they ought to be stopped.

  219. 223 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 11:05

    victork, I’m surprised to find you of all people proposing moral equivalence of the free world with al qaeda. Can you be serious?

  220. 224 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 11:13

    Viktor – but in Southern Africa regional leaders, especially South Africa’s, ‘have been left to mind the region’s business’ – to the effect that elections are a farce in Zimababwe and government sponsored violence and killings are a norm.

    I don’t see how its pontificating to condemn and decry what Mugabe has instituted in Zimbabwe.

    While you’re right to argue that the G8 is hardly representational – bar Japan there is no other Asian representative – South Africa has been invited to the summit and I imagine Zimbabawe and a way past the curreent crisis will be top of the agenda.

  221. 225 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 11:19

    Abdi, that’s just what I mean. Predatory governments, massively corrupt, that steal elections or don’t allow them at all. They don’t protect the people; they brutalize them and steal national wealth, and cheerfully slaughter their people by the thousands.

    I only know of a handful of countries there whose government does more good than harm, and I can only think of two right now: Liberia (finally!) and Botswana.

    I can’t think of a solution, and I usually have all the answers. How do you see the future improving? What do you think Africans can or should do, and what can the rest of the world do to help?

  222. 226 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 11:22


    There’s quite a few British companies (and even an Irish construction company – btw I’m Irish and not British) doing business in Zimbabwe. You’re right in that Mugabe chews up condemnations like they’re hot-dogs – but never the less I am saddened that in spite of everything we know about the meglomaniac he continues to wield power so abusively. (Also I should disclose that I have two brothers and many friends living over there so that’s also why I am interested in the faith of the country)

  223. 227 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 11:31

    In other news the BBC has a story about a woman thought to be 70 years old who has given birth to twins in India after taking IVF treatment. It goes on to say she spent her whole life savings on the treatment she was so desperate for children – but for how long does she think she’ll live to see them grow up?Crazy love?

  224. 228 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 11:34


    Oops, I’m sorry to have seemed insensitive on several points, then. (I don’t know if mistaking Irish for British is grounds for apology or what–that water is way too deep for me!) Of course, I’m saddened too to see zimbabwe down the drain. I’m just so tired of people at BBC and on this blog talk about how maybe this condemnation or that proclamation or the other statement of concern might finally change Mugabe’s mind. It won’t. He’s a monster. the people around him are not Athenian democrats either.

    Why in the world are your companies still permitted to do business there? Is there even a robust popular movement to disinvest, as there was when Rhodesians were being ground to dust by white boots instead of black ones?

  225. July 6, 2008 at 11:40

    @ Jonathan

    The Major responsibility lies on the shoulders of Africans themselfs.We as African Need to stand Up and speak out with one voice! As saying Goes ” Divided we fall,United we stand”

    The International Community can’t help at all.

  226. 230 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 11:42

    John, I forgot to say my very best wishes to your relatives and friends in zimbabwe.

    The tabloidish “other news” (MUM AT 70!!) absolutely screams WHYS question-of-the-day.

  227. 231 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 11:51

    @Jonathan – no aplpogy needed – as the saying goes ”on the interent nobody can tell that you’re a dog” – or something like that – (it’s a famous New Yorker cartoon)

    as to why foreign owned companies aren’t beind forced to disinvest – not sure really -I guess one reason is beacuse they actually provide jobs to ‘ordinary people ‘ and provide services that are needed – construction, banking etc.

  228. 232 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 11:57

    @Jonathan: the equivalence is in the attitude of arrogance that causes certain Western governments and Al Quaeda to think that they have a right to intervene, interfere, direct and command when it comes to other countries. The dismemberment of Serbia, a sovereign state, was an act of pure imperialist aggression. The continuing occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq likewise (though there were initally good grounds for military action against both – yes, even Iraq). Al Quaeda hasn’t the means to coerce anybody directly (at least not till they get their hands on dirty nuclear bombs courtesy of Iran or some other sympathiser), but they attempt the same through threats of terror against sovereign states, and actual terror, telling them what policy to adopt on Israel-Palestine or to abandon bases in Muslim countries or to end their support for particular regimes. Democracy and liberty are internal to a country: they don’t confer any kind of right to interfere in the affairs of other states. Bullying and coercion in pursuit of worthy ends are still bullying and coercion. The West has learned very little from Iraq about unintended consquences. What if Tsvangirai turns out to be worst than Mugabe (and Mugabe was once thought to be a great prospect and an improvement on the racialist government of Ian Smith). What if Mugabe is toppled and his supporters launch a guerilla war against a new government and its Western backers (armed and funded by the Chinese). Such developments, and the military and financial obligations they will entail for Western countries, never seem to feature when arrogance and thoughtlessness cause Western leaders to think that good intentions alone are a sufficient basis for public policy.

    There is no moral or political equivalence between the West and Al Quaeda. But Western ‘liberal democratism’ and Islamic Jihadism are very alike in the face they present to the rest of the world: arrogant, self-righteous, interfering, and a source of endless violence. The good intentions of one and the insane intentions of the other are irrelevant when the effects are so alike.

  229. 233 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 12:17

    @ What do you mean by ‘liberal democracy’?

    Does George Bush and his policies represent ‘liberal’ democratization?

  230. 234 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 12:18

    Mum at 70 is absolutely ridiculous and screams but one thing: no one gives a hoot about children and their rights.

  231. 235 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 12:21


    I would love t o know what you are saying but I am afraid your posts are way too long for me to read.

    Just my thoughts! 🙂

  232. 236 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 12:29


    “@ Roma- I must say that I am appalled at the tone of the conversation about the Roma. If we just went back and did a ‘find and replace’ and inserted ‘Jew’ instead of Roma this site would be shut down.”

    Thank you for pointing this out.

  233. 237 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 12:30

    @John: if the people of Zimbabwe were prepared to overthrow the Mugabe regime I’d gladly donate to help them buy arms. In fact, I’d hope that the UK government would send them arms to remove the tyrant. But when people are not prepared to fight or to ask for support so they can fight, that tells me two things: their condition, bad as it is, has not yet hit rock bottom; and nobody else has any business fighting on behalf of people who won’t fight for themselves. The Iraqis and Afghans wouldn’t fight for themselves; intervening to fight for them has been futile and disastrous since they’ve proved unworthy of the effort, and singularly ungrateful. The Burmese expect the world and a few brave monks to do what 50 million f them haven’t the courage to do. The people of Zimbabwe fought against the comparatively mild government of Ian Smith; but they aren’t prepared to take up arms against a genuine monster. People often do get the governments they deserve simply by putting up with them.

    I don’t see why any British company should be prevented from trading with Zimbabwe, or any British sportsman or sportswoman prevented from competing against Zimbawean athletes, unless there is some British interest at stake that a forcible boycott would serve. As a British politician put it at the time of the first Gulf War, ‘Whether Kuwait exists or ceases to exist as a sovereign state is of no concern to Her Majesty’s Government.’ The British government needs to realise that it’s no longer responsible for Zimbabwe and has no business imposing its obsession with the regime on the rest of British society (which the government exists to serve, not to command). It’s foreign policy should mainly be dictated by British interest, not sentimentality.

    Is anybody else disturbed by the hideously partisan way in which BBC television and radio have reported Zimbabwe? I have heard correspondents claim that Mugabe’s name was the only one on the ballot when everyone knows that Tsvangirai withdrew but his name remained on the ballot (which is why some brave souls said they’d vote for him regardless). We were told that there would be a pogrom against those who hadn’t supported Mugabe, something that never happened but was circulated as anti-Mugabe propaganda (whether originating with the MDC or BBC I don’t know). Anecdotes from MDC supporters are reported as fact. Paula Guerin began a piece by saying that Mugabe had once again taken ‘aim at Britain’. The clip that followed of the Zimbabwean dictator began with him saying that he had no quarrel at all with the people of Britain and that he had the deepest respect for the Queen and the Royal Family (!) – it was the ‘demons in No. 10 Downing Street’ that he had an issue with. There were claims that voter forms were being checked to see how people had voted, though I doubt whether even in Zimbabwe voting forms are produced with the names of voters on them. The BBC claimed that the ink stains on voters’ thumbs were being used to identify who hadn’t voted so they could be punished, even though staining the thumb is a common technique in African and other countries to prevent multiple voting. And so on. This is one of two areas where the BBC seems to have abandoned even the pretence of impartiality (the other being anything to do with George Bush). The BBC likes to mention that its been banned from Zimbabwe as if there were some merit in it: even a dictatorial regime has some justification in banning an organisation that reports on it as an open enemy.

  234. 238 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 12:32


    “p.s. – I’d be happy to hear what people where you are think about the English. The English are too secure in themselves and too assured of the greatness of England (which sounds terribly immodest, but England IS one of the few great countries of the world) to be affected adversely or positively by the opinion of others’.”

    You have said it for me! 🙂

  235. 239 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 12:33

    @Selena: not all of them, or most of them.

  236. 240 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 12:37

    @Selena re the claim that replacing ‘Roma’ with ‘Jew’ would cause this site to be shut down.

    Really? There are plenty of anti-semitic posts on several threads here and the site’s still up and running. And the comments are usually a lot more nasty than merely pointing out that some Roma are involved in some types of crime.

  237. 241 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 13:25


    I read that same article about the 70 year old woman giving birth. I had the same thought about age. I’m not sure what the life expectancy of women and men in India, but it’s 78 in the US. Who is going to raise those babies? However, another thing crossed my mind. Those babies weighed only 2 lbs.! There is no mention of the babies being premature, but weights like that are alarming nonetheless, at least to me. The doctor in the article says the babies are doing fine, but I wonder if these babies will have health issues, if not now, but later in life. Then there is the issue of them having female off spring, but they wanted a male baby so he could take of their property. A tad patriarchal.

  238. 242 steve
    July 6, 2008 at 13:31

    The 70 year old woman having kids just shows to me how childish and self absorbed even adults are. It’s the “I want this! I don’t care about hte consequences! I want! ME ME ME!!!” Poor kids will be orphaned at age 10, but like the mother cares? Of course not, she just wanted something and wanted it right now.

  239. 243 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 13:34


    The article mentions that it is a married couple. What are your thoughts on the father? Is he selfish too, or not?

  240. 244 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 13:40

    Interesting to note that the Indian couple wanted sons and not daughters – I know a lot of things are not ‘natural’ but having children in old age certainly runs against nature. I just can’t imagine my grandmother gving birth (granted both of them are dead)- what realtion would the child be to me?

  241. 245 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 13:46


    I believe we are at a point in the conversation where we are entrenched in opposing views.

    For instance, I believe the remarks about the Roma are the same remarks that are said about all people by other people. Substitute a name and voilà!

    Many people throughout the world believe that the English started all the existing global troubles with their colonization policies. You probably don’t believe that.

    And then there are the Americans and the Russians and the Chinese and so on and so forth. There is bad thought about every country and every group by some other group and country. We can all give compelling reasons for our beliefs.

    Negative remarks are racist in my view. But racist is just a word. Negative remarks about a group, if not racist, still say the group is lacking in something that only we have in abundance.

    Another example, you said Iraq is responsible for its own problems, if I remember correctly (correct me if I am wrong). That is diametrically opposed to my view.

    I don’t have a monopoly on what is right. I just have a simple belief that we are all the same and subject to the same kinds of indoctrination by our own side. Because of conditioning we believe fervently in what we are told by our leaders.

  242. 246 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 14:55

    @Selena: a minority like the Chinese are never described in the same terms – stereotyped or not – as the Roma. You’d have to be a fool to wander into a Romany camp; nobody fears going into the various Chinatowns of the West. Being a minority doesn’t automatically attract negative stereotypes: recall the American phrase ‘model minorities’?

    I’d gladly debate anyone who thinks “the English started all the existing global troubles with their colonization policies”. I think it an absurd view and I’d be confident of exposing its absurdity. But I wouldn’t denounce them for making a racist stereotype of the English that horrified me and that would never have been posted if the word ‘Jews’ was substituted etc. I’d regard that kind of response as a subtle form of bullying and an attempt to make certain subjects off-limits for discussion.

    I disagree when you write that ‘we can all give compelling reasons for our beliefs.’ There is no compelling argument to justify a Zanu-PF supporter’s belief that Robert Mugabe should be in power. There is no argument to justify the Communist Party member’s belief that China has a right to be in Tibet. There is no solid argument for Bush and Brown’s view that the Western presence in Afghanistan should continue. There are no arguments to justify the support of some Muslims for suicide bombers operating in non-Muslim countries. Many beliefs that are deeply held are held in spite of reason and against evidence.

    A negative remark by iself isn’t really racist. Or if it is, then what does that mean: there are certain ‘racist truths’? Racism as a point of view – by this definition – is actually true and valid? If you’re right then ‘racist’ is not in fact a critical label but a term of praise for someone who’s prepared to state plain but unpopular truths by making ‘negative remarks’. Taking such a loose definition of racism will only rob the word of its meaning and make it respectable as racism becomes synonymous with truth-telling (‘the Iraqi people have little talent for social organisation or politics’).

    The Iraqis were, in 2003, ostensibly much better placed to progress than the defeated and devastated Japanese and Germans in 1945. The Japanese and Germans could have turned their countries into slaughterhouses by engaging the occupying forces in endless guerilla warfare. But the Japanese and Germans have a proven talent for social organisation and even for politics. Both countries are represented at the current G8 summit, being amongst the richest in the world. Even under occupation, and even with little aptitude for politics, there is no good reason why Iraq should be ravaged by violence, why tens of thousands should have died, and why its oil wealth is not ushering the country into an era of peace and prosperity. The suicidal and anarchical spirit of some Iraqis, and the political incapacity of others, is why Iraq is not set on a course of Japanese-German prosperity and order. The Bush administration made the mistake of thinking ‘that we are all the same’. We aren’t. Culturally, socially, politically, in terms of aptitudes and competences, the peoples of the world are as diverse as they are unequal. Anglo-Saxon countries have an undeniable talent for political organisation and self-government. African and Middle Eastern countries are lacking in both respects. Both phenomena deserve closer examination, but why deny either or cry ‘racist’ because someone states a platitude?

    I don’t think you really beleive that we are conditioned to believe what our leaders tell us. Is that true of you? Why do you think it true of others? We more often believe what we want to believe or what we have no good reason for not believing (WMDs). Beliefs arising out of conditioning and brainwashing are the exception.

  243. 247 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 15:18


    “Is that true of you? Why do you think it true of others?”


    Of course it is true of me. Why do you think I always say WE and not YOU? I would never dream of putting myself outside the group.

    Every single day I have to ask myself why I am thinking certain things. Television and radio are putting ideas into our brains that is almost impossible to remove. Some of it is positive but a lot of it is reinforcing negative stereotypes.

    There are no exceptions. Each culture teaches positive and negative to its children.

    You don’t believe that? Consider:

    The Irish are not the British!

    Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!

    Let us all praise famous British men!

    You hear this kind of stuff and you don’t think it is brainwashing!!!

    Come on Victor…. 🙂

  244. 248 Dennis
    July 6, 2008 at 15:40

    Good Morning!

    [and afternoon, evening and night to all the people around the world]…

    My wish came true, we reached over 200+posts…..

    ~good afternoon to john in london~

    onondaga community college
    syracuse, new york
    united states of america

  245. 249 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 16:32

    @Selena: each culture teaches positive and negative things to its children, but I don’t see that as a problem in itself. It depends on what positive things (“be considerate of others”) and what negative things (“rapists and murderers are bad people”) are taught.

    The examples you give don’t really make your case re Britain.

    “The Irish are not the British!” The southern Irish aren’t; the northern Irish aren’t either, but they are part of the United Kingdom and a majority of them would call themselves ‘British’. We aren’t actually taught to have an opinion about Northern Ireland by our government. Until the peace agreement the general consensus in Britain was that the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland were bloodthirsty lunatics who were fighting over things that didn’t matter and couldn’t see (especially the Catholics) that they had it good compared to 90% of the world. If the province had fallen into the sea and sunk without trace people would have considered it good riddance to a bad lot who were a burden on the British tax-payer and contributed next to nothing to the national wealth. We never thought about the southern Irish at all (we still don’t). Not much evidence of brainwashing there, I don’t think.

    “Rule Britannia! Britannia rule the waves!” This is only ever heard at the Last Night of the Proms. I don’t think it’s been taught or sung in any state school, and in very few private schools, for many, many years. The present British government has very little pride in the country or sympathy with any of its traditions.

    “Let us all praise famous British men!” There are plenty of famous British inventors, engineers, scientists, doctors, explorers, soldiers, jurists, orators, philanthropists, statemen, historians, philosophers, architects, economists, writers etc. The greatness of England that I previously mentioned is largely due to these men – and the occasional woman – and has very little to do with the British Empire (though that’s nothing to be ashamed of). Lots of other countries have had empires; but Britain is one of the few countries in history that has made a great and permanent contribution to culture and humanity. We are rightly proud of that fact. Let us praise famous Britons indeed!

    “You hear this kind of stuff and you don’t think it is brainwashing!!!” Britain is a great country. There are other great countries, past and present, but there is no disputing Britain’s inclusion in that category. Are we supposed to apologise for that? There is no brainwashing needed when it comes to this country’s rich and varied record of achievement in almost every field of human endeavour.

    It is better that the people of a country should think well of themselves than not. I don’t think self-hatred and self-abasement are the foundations for any kind of national achievement or national greatness. That’s why I castigate those on this forum who are fond of thinking of themselves as victims: there’s no better way of consigning yourself to permanent insignificance than constantly advertising your belief that your country and your countrymen are doormats for more important nations.

  246. 250 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 16:33

    I am back!

    Thanks John for moderating. Very interesting topics. 😉

    I personally think that the story of the 70 year old women who gave birth to two baby girls is appalling. Clearly, nobody gave a damn about the children. Probably they would have health problems; the pregnancy was a textbook case for premature birth. And of top of that, they are girls and the parents wanted a boy. Talk about unwanted female children.

  247. 251 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 16:46

    It’s odd: Western feminists have successfully fought to make abortion on demand more or less a human right. They are eager to extend this right to the rest of the world. It’s fine to destroy an unborn child for the most frivolous of reasons or for no reason at all in their opinion. But some feminists are disturbed when they hear about the selective abortion of female foetuses (I understand that China and India are two countries with a significant gender imbalance because of this). Since the foetus isn’t a human being in the opinion of feminists what exactly is their problem?

  248. 252 Bob in Queensland
    July 6, 2008 at 16:47

    Personal aside: by accident rather than design I became a father again when I was 53. Even in my 50s I’m finding a busy 3 year old VERY tiring so heaven help anyone in their 70s.

    I’m very aware that I’ll be in my 70s when my son turns 18. What on earth was a 70 year old thinking? Certainly not about the children, that’s definite.

  249. 253 cinefile
    July 6, 2008 at 16:47

    Hi Luz – thanks for keeping the discussion going all weekend. I’m off out into rain swept London now. Take care all.

  250. 254 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 16:53


    I read all your comments and I agree with what Selena has answer to you. I only want to give my opinion about something that you said

    A note before doing so: it is only MY opinion, I am not trying to convince you of anything. I believe in the protection of minorities and I am completely against forced assimilation. I think in this matter we just have to agree to disagree

    You said: “You’d have to be a fool to wander into a Romany camp; nobody fears going into the various Chinatowns of the West. Being a minority doesn’t automatically attract negative stereotypes”

    First, one time I went to Romany camp, here in Mexico. They were traveling setting a fair in every town they went. Nothing happen to me or my family (I was a young girl). So, I suppose under your assumption, I am a fool. I don´t think so.

    Second, about your statement: “nobody fears going into the various Chainatowns of the West”

    I think many people fear going into certain places after dark. Chinatowns, Latino ghettos, African-American ghettos and even many neighbourhoods that do not have minorities. I fear going to certain places, here in Mexico where everyone is mixed race, because I can be robbed, raped, pickpocketed, etc. I don´t think all the pickpocketers, robbers and kidnappers of England are Romani people. I am sure you can find British in that list.

    You said in a previous comment that the majority of Romas are not criminals. So why that kind of fear?

  251. 255 Dennis
    July 6, 2008 at 17:00

    Romas, are not criminals—they were given a bad hand in life…

    I am not afraid of the Romas…..

    @ OCC
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  252. July 6, 2008 at 17:05

    About the 70-year-old woman, you’ve got to realise that in many Asian cultures, male babies are valued highly. They carry on the family. I think the culture angle is being under-considered here.

  253. 257 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 17:17


    It is not feminists alone who are outraged over selective abortions. However, if you would like to more about infanticide and feticide in these two countries it will explain, in part, why things are the way they are.


  254. 258 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 17:20


    I consider myself a feminist. I am not pro-abortion; I am pro-choice, which is very different. I personally only support abortions in the first trimester, unless there are health issues to consider.

    I think abortion is a very difficult decision. It is not for everyone and I hope the practice diminish over time because prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

    What I don´t like about gender selected abortions is the patriarchal idiosyncrasy that surround it. I think if girls were regarded as having equal worth as boys in those societies, the majority of women pregnant with girls would not considered the chance of undergoing an abortion.

    I am sure that most women who underwent abortions faced a very difficult decision and would rather go back on time to prevent the pregnancy. I have to give you my personal experience to illustrate my case. I have been pregnant fourth times of my life, but I only have two children. One of the pregnancies was a miscarriage. But the other one had to be an abortion because of health issues. It is the most difficult decision that I have taken in my life and after many years my heart is still hurting for the loss of that child. I am grateful that I had a safe abortion and I think that women around the globe that want or need to undergo abortions should have the same right as me.

  255. 259 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 17:28

    Are you afraid of Gypsies?

    A couple of years ago I stayed for a month in Valparaiso, Chile. I was fortunate enough to stay in a big hotel. Outside this hotel was a band of Gypsies. I spent a lot of time talking to them night and day. Never did I feel fearful, for any reason.

    However, I was distressed that a young pregnant woman had multiple dental caries that certainly could not have been good for the baby.

    The children were cheerful and sweet and eager to talk. One little girl used to wait for me in the mornings.

    Before I left Chile I gave her some money. Before that I gave nothing past the first day and was not harassed in any way.

    In the beginning my Chilean friends thought it odd that I would befriend the Gypsies. I laughingly told them that I was more scared of having my mind taken by the JWs who were staying at the hotel.

    That, I am sad to say, is the only time I have had any personal contact with Gypsies.

  256. 260 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 17:47

    So much for going horseback riding today in the north Georgia mountains. I will have to go tomorrow since it is raining! WooHoo! May we get a foot of rain.

  257. 261 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 17:55

    Yeah!! Julie 🙂
    I know you were wishing for rain

  258. 262 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 18:00

    @Luz Ma,

    I am wishing for more than just rain. I have my eye on a tropical storm that has developed off the coast of Africa and is making its way across the Atlantic. Tropical depressions, storms, and hurricanes is a major water source. Since we did experience any of the afore mentioned last year, and rain coming from the west and the north did not come our way, we are hurting for rain. Rain, the more the merrier.

  259. 263 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 18:46

    Hope your wishes come true 🙂
    Here, probably is going to rain again in the afternoon. Officially, crazy weather!

  260. 264 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 18:55

    @Julie P: thanks for the link to what was a very informative article. I was surprised to read that in India this kind of sexual selection was more common amongst educated and wealthy women than amongst their uneducated and poor counterparts, since they are far less likely to be coerced by husbands or other male relatives into such action. In some of these cases women do appear to be exercising a right to choose. I don’t see on what basis Western feminists, for example, can reasonably object to a woman freely choosing to abort what they have always argued is not a human being. I also wonder how those on this forum who argue that all cultures are equal can have any real objection to the destruction of female foetuses if that kind of thing is acceptable to the destroying culture. Is a culture that believes in basic gender equality better than one that exalts men and boys above women and girls? I think so, but a significant proportion of Westerners would have to argue otherwise because of their habitual denigration of Western values and insistence that Western culture has no greater worth than non-Western cultures, and that we in the West should try to learn from the social wisdom of the non-West. The silence of Western feminists on the subject of Islamic gender apartheid – in and outside of the Western world – is something that I always find particularly striking.

    There are clearly demographic benefits to countries like China and India, that wish to curb the growth of their populations, in aborting female foetuses.

    It seems to me that there is little more that can be done except to insist that these selective abortions should not be allowed in the West (as I suppose the multiculturalists would wish), and to accept that they will continue to occur in parts of the world where women have a lower cultural status than men.

    @ Luz Ma: ‘fool’ was putting it too harshly. Perhaps ‘inadvisable’ expresses it better. Still, I think the point holds. What crime there is in Chinese communities in the West is generally ‘in-house’ and not very obvious to the host community. Roma crime is deliberately directed outwards at ‘gadje’ (non-Roma). Chinatowns are not places of terror come nightfall for the simple reason that Chinese communities in the West generally have very low rates of criminality.

  261. 265 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 19:29


    Thanks for changing the word.

    What about chinese organized crime organizations operating in the U.S.?

    My point is that in every ethnic group, majority or minority, you can find criminals and criminal organizations, but that does not mean that all the group should suffer discrimination for that.

  262. 266 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 19:29


    While I was in college I had a sociology professor from Paraguay. She was, and probably still is, a feminist. However, she had criticisms of Western feminism and brought forward the argument that feminism in the West addresses white upper middle and middle class issues and uses that worldview in the international arena, which are not of any benefit to women in societies that are not in the West.

    Feminists globally do not always agree with one another and often conflict.

    If a person is capable of self introspection and is willing and able to self examine beliefs; I am willing to bet that all hold contradictory views on any topic.

    And by the way, thank you for taking the time to read the link I sent to you and consider it. It validates the other positions or questions that you are putting forward on the issue.

  263. 267 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 19:32


    Are you saying that as long as crime is not directed at persons outside the group, it is alright?

  264. 268 Shirley
    July 6, 2008 at 19:53

    Climate Change:
    Normally, it is extremely hot this time of year where I am. I even started making ice by the tray and storing it in freezer bags. We have not started to use them, though. Very strange.

  265. 269 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 20:24

    @Selena: no, I’m making a point about perceptions of a minority group based on their behaviour and what sorts of behaviour get them noticed by the host community.

    For example, we’ve had a large influx of East Europeans into Britain following the accession to the European Union of countries like Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. There is some hostility towards them but it’s relatively mild. Like all other groups they have a criminal element. Most of their crime is internal to their community: protection rackets of Polish businesses, for example. It’s the sort of crime that has minimal to zero impact on the host community. Chinese crime in Britain follows the same pattern. The opposite is the case with Roma crime: it is directed outwards at non-Roma. That’s the nature of the Roma culture and community: strong in-group loyalty and a sense that ‘gadje’ are legitimate targets. I believe that this way of thinking and acting characterises the criminal element in Roma communities across Europe. As a result, and unsurprisingly, they are regarded with varying degrees of hostility in virtually all communities in which they are settled. To dismiss that hostility as pure prejudice – and doubtless there is an element of prejudice to it – is simply to deny certain social realities about the interaction of components of Roma society with the wider society around it.

  266. 270 Shirley
    July 6, 2008 at 20:30

    I tried posting this after CSI Miami last night, but it couldn’t go through: connection problems on my side. In addition to “Islam” referring to the religion and “Muslim” referring to the person, there are other semantic distinctions. “Islamic” refers tobeliefs, practises, etc that are espoused by the religion of Islam. Things that Muslims think or do that have no intrinsic relation to Islam could be described as “Muslim.” “Islamic monotheism” versus “Muslim honour killing,” for example. “Muslim” would be used to describe a nation that is mainly ccomprised of Muslim people; “Islamic” would describe a country that is governed – at least in theory – by Islamic principles.

    Another pet peeve of mine is “Shiite.” I am not an “-ite” any more than my Sunni brothers and sisters are; and I don’t see anyone running around saying “Sunnite.”

  267. 271 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 20:32


    Your response is puzzling to me.

    I am still getting the impression that as long as crime is not directed at the host community it is tolerated. When it is directed at the host community it will not be tolerated. It is then permitted to direct hostility at groups, such as th e Roma.

    The Chinese, on the other hand, are left to their own devices because they don’t target the host.

    The impression I am getting is, it is ok to have crime as long as the host is not affected.

    Is this the social reality?

  268. 272 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 20:39


    Probably in India, sexual selection is more common amongst educated and wealthy women because they have the resources to pay ultrasounds and safe abortions. Worldwide, there are not sufficient or reliable statistics regarding unsafe (back-alley) abortions. Many of them are unreported, especially in countries were abortion is penalized.

    One more comment: even educated and wealthy women feel coerced by their husbands or male relatives to conform and do what they are “supposed” to do, especially in societies with strong patriarchal influences. It is difficult to break idiosyncrasies that were instilled on you since childhood.

  269. 273 Katharina in Ghent
    July 6, 2008 at 20:42

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry that I haven’t been much around this weekend, but my family definitely got the better of me…Oofff! It’s past 9.30pm, the rain-water pump for the toilets is broken and I’m friggin’ exhausted… Tomorrow, when I’m back at work, I’ll hopefully find some leisure time to read up on what’s been going on on the Blank Page. 😉

    Anyway, yesterday we did some shopping, taking advantage of the summer sales, and even though it’s the first weekend of the sales (they’re still pretty strict here and don’t give much discount before), they already give up to 70% discount this summer, for real! During the last summers it always had started at 10-30% and only towards the end the stores gave more. I heard on the local news that customers spend up to 40% less this season, because of the rising food and gas prices (that is, unless I totally misunderstood the guy on the radio 😉 ). Now that I’ve seen the sales, I believe it. Have you guys in the other countries made similar observations?

  270. 274 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 20:52


    I went window shopping at the mall yesterday. I did go into some clothing stores, but not to any great extent. I already have two closets full of nothing to wear, so the thought of bringing home more nothing to wear wasn’t a priority. I did notice that if the clothes were not fall clothes, then they were discounted. The high end retailers had the normal discounts, like 30%, but those weren’t had the offer of taking another 20% off of merchandise that was already 40% off. I haven’t heard anything about discounts being directly related to rising food and gas prices, but I have heard a lot about people staying closer to home this four day holiday weekend because of them.

  271. 275 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 20:57

    @Julie P: I take your point about the white, middle class assumptions that underpin Western feminism and that make it narrower in its outlook and application than some feminists may realise.

    But the feminist failure I have in mind is much more basic. Here in Britain, and elsewhere in the West, some Muslim women are subjected to treatment that constitutes a flagrant abuse of their womanhood (according to our standards). However white and middle class a feminist may be she must know that having a woman drape herself from head to toe in a burqua or hijab, forcing girls into arranged marriages, keeping girls from school once they reach a certain age, subjecting girls to genital mutilation, having mullahs teach and preach that violence against women ‘within reason’ is perfectly acceptable, and murdering women and girls in honour killings (i.e. for asserting their independence and humanity) is quite simply gender apartheid. But British feminists happen to also subscribe to all sorts of orthodoxies about multiculturalism and diversity, orthodoxies that apparently trump their feminist beliefs.

    As a result you have such grotesqueries as a recent case in which a young Muslim girl was found murdered. The details of the case made it clear who the prime suspects were, and why. But the killers had done a good job of leaving no incriminating evidence behind and nobody in their community was talking. So no action was ever taken by the police and the murder remains unsolved. If British feminists had any serious beliwf in their creed they would have campaigned and demonstrated and agitated about this case until the police re-opened the case, found evidence, brought a prosecution and secured a conviction. Instead there was and continues to be complete silence from them. They might not be able to do very much about what happens to women in places like Saudi Arabia, but when they prove just as ineffectual in dealing with women who are murdered in their own backyard it becomes impossible for me to regard British feminists with very much respect or seriousness.

  272. July 6, 2008 at 20:58

    the real problem with the roma
    is withholding of the workaholic soma
    fed to the rest
    of the west
    by the globalized pleroma

    we do not envy them
    heroic slaves we are
    enduring with english phlegm
    our treadmills and our care

    perhaps one day i too shall be a roma
    when, emerging from my drone’s quotidian coma,
    i light a bright fire, dance, get musically tipsy
    and slowly metamorphose into gipsy

    then i shall institute a quorum
    liberi romanorum
    and an anti-labour forum

  273. 277 Zainab
    July 6, 2008 at 21:10

    Though i hate to talk about POLITICS, but it seems that I can’t , because since 2003 we (In Iraq) have no other issue to talk about other than politics. Now i have these two issues:
    -Last Friday, 4th of July I heard this news “At least 1,215 US troops re-enlisted for periods ranging from two to six years in Iraq.”!!! Are they serious?!!! Why did they do that?!! What is that make them take this decision, What is the thing that makes one leave his home and go to (fight) in another place? Is it that the US government force them to do that or what?!!!
    -Our president Jalal Talabani shake hands with Israeli Defense minister Ehud Barak at a conference in Greece. Well some consider this as an offended deed as Iraq does not recognise Israel, and they called on for an apology. The presidental office justifies this “mistake” by saying: “he met Barak as a representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party, not as Iraq’s president.”
    Now i’m not after the issue of shaking hands. But after the renouncement from Iraq, Jalal Talabani renounced being the president of Iraq. is there ever a president who renounces his country?!!!
    yours truly,
    Zainab from Iraq

  274. 278 victork13
    July 6, 2008 at 21:16

    @Selena: no – activities by Chinese or Polish criminals are still investigated by the police, as they should be, since they are still crimes and there are victims. These crimes are not somehow ‘acceptable’ because they are generally confined to a specific community.

    The point is that how a minority community is regarded by the majority community will be affected by the interaction between the two communities (including lack of or minimal interaction) and one of those interactive factors will be the extent to which they – the majority – experience some members of the minority as criminals. If most muggers in London were Chinese that would be a factor that contributed to how Londoners thought about the Chinese community generally. It wouldn’t mean that most Chinese would be regarded as muggers, but it would undoubtedly contribute towards forming a particular view of the Chinese. It’s as simple as that. Gun crime in London, for example, is largely associated with a particular ethnic group (and the assoication is entirely factual, btw). You don’t need me to tell you whether the association is a positive or a negative for the group in question.

  275. 279 Shirley
    July 6, 2008 at 21:22

    Hi, Bob
    I’ve not heard something referred to as Qat. I have seen people chewing stuff that they bought from Arabic/Pakistani/African shops as if it were candy, though. Shia Islam’s most popular fatwa-issuing scholar (Ayatullah, marj`a, etc.) has ruled it impermissible for one to begin smoking, whether forthe first time ever or after having quit. Assuming that Qat is like tobacco, I would not be suprised at all if the rulings extends to Qat. Sunni Islam does not have a ruling against use of tobacco that I know of. I have heard some Salafists towwing things around, but since I do not consider them to be Sunni Muslims but rather a heretical break-away sect, I don’t consider their rulings to be Sunni fatawa. If Qat is more like cocaine or heroine, then it is definitely impermissible by any scholar of any sect, because of the intoxicating qualities. And as before, intoxicants other than alcoholic beverages are usually classed as jurisprudentially pure. One could worship in clothing affected by it, even though it wouldn’t be a proper thing to do.

    Abdi, you know better. (It’s really Ironical and islam refuses to call such kind of a person a Muslim!) We don’t make takfir on someone because of actions. Takfir is the result of willfully deviant beliefs, such as believing in to gods or believing that there is a Prophet after Prophet Muhammad. We cannot anathemetise someone because he drinks, uses drugs, or smokes. He is a Muslim – sinner, but Muslim.

    Jonathan: The material Shirley provided said everything that “clouds the mind” is prohibited, and all toxins are also out of bounds because they’re harmful.

    Next time I stay online a while, I should look up the reference. Where did you find the phrase “clouds the mind”? Getting giddy on endorphines clouds the mind. I’ve seen it in children, and I am sure that you have witnessed the effects, as well. We don’t prohibit endorphines, though. Oddly enough, we do prohibit self-mutiliation. I know that cutting, for example, is something that many abuse victims fall upon. One of the effects of cutting is the release of endorphines. Islam is neutral on the endorphines but prohibits the cutting. If, by toxins, you were referring to drain opener and antifreeze, you were correct. The prohibition of tobacco is something of a work in progress. Illicit drugs are understood to be prohibited.

    Alcohol is forbidden by yet a third layer of law as inherently vile.

    I think that the prohibition of alcohol actually comes from source-texts that prohibit intoxicants. I am not sure that khamr was the word used. I could be wrong. I just cannot check right now. What we Muslims view as inherent about alcoholic beverages is the impurity. If one cooks like Julia Child, for example, we could not eat the food. Since alohol is a wet substance, everything that it contacts becomes jurisprudentially impure. Anything that remains solid could be washed of it by rinsing it a certain amount of times. A raw potato, for example, could be saved. We usually don’t bother, but toss it anyway. A cooked potato, having spaces into which the aocohol could seep, could not be saved. If, however, a drop of alcohol landed on something, that spot could be cut out and we could contine from there. Granted, alcohol evaporates with heat; but the fact that it was inherently impure in the first place and then made contact with other items rendered those other items ritually impure. Those other items did not evaporate, unfortunately. This is why I cannot use real vanilla. I can use imitation vanilla or natural vanilla, but not pure vanilla extract. I really was hoping to learn that an alcoholic beverage was not indeed used to extract vanilla, it seems that they use ethyl alcohol and that ethy alcohol is the stuff that people drink to get drunk.

    given the prevalence of tobacco and coffee use, and most remarkably the cultivation of opium in Pakistan and Afghanistan, endorsed by no less than the Taliban. I forgot about khat. Stimulant, right?

    Don’t give anyone ideas about prohibiting coffee, please. The cultivation of opium as an illicit drug would be considered prohibited, and those poor farmers would be considered as doing a sin. If we were humane enough to buy their crops from them for use in pharmaceuticals at a higher price than the drug lords paid, they would not be consdiered as doing a sin. Responsible as they are for their own actions, we as a society failed them.

  276. 280 Jonathan (sunny San Francisco)
    July 6, 2008 at 21:25

    Hi Shirley. Did you find any of the Darfur information helpful? You’re welcome.

    Your making ice and storing it in freezer bags and using it or not is neither “strange” nor informative about “climate change.”

  277. 281 selena
    July 6, 2008 at 21:50


    I believe I am not making myself clear. I was :-)n’t talking about police investigations. I was talking about perception.

    But never mind….

    I have to pack and get ready for a long flight. 🙂

  278. 282 Julie P
    July 6, 2008 at 21:57


    I will write from my experience in the US. Having been on the front lines concerning abortion rights, in particular Operation Rescue. For a number of years there were those of who would chase them around the country. As time went by Operation Rescue and/or groups just like them became more violent. Eventually some fringe members took the final step and began murdering health care providers. We continued going to the front lines, which took a lot of courage. We could have been killed. I can remember getting phone call after phone call about we should do to end the killings, the assassinations. We did everything – the agitation. All we could do was more of the same.Before the climate changed myself and others I knew had fliers circulated around with the caption “Wanted Dead or Alive.” We were going up against people who were not only willing to commit murder, but did and now were in their cross hairs. It’s very hard going up against that. Eventually public opinion turned against them, which ultimately is the goal. Only they did the work for us by exposing themselves for what they are. Extremists. Nothing works better than when the oppositions goes to extremes, thus exposing themselves.

    It looks as though they are up against the same, people not only willing to commit murder, but doing it. That’s a tough environment to work in. Each situation is unique, but what they are up against is strong, not just a bunch of murders, but ineffectual law enforcement. It’s a huge undertaking that may not have the easy solutions you are suggesting.

  279. 283 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 23:03


    I think you have reached the point of the never ending debate of the universalist/relativist divide on the politics of human rights, especially of women´s rights as human rights (universalism vs. cultural relativism).

    My perception is that many feminist organizations have shifted their scope in order to address women´s rights at the international level and across borders. It is not an easy task, given that they are dealing with patriarchal societies that have been around for centuries and religious fundamentalism. Women´s rights and gender equality is a fairly new concept, even in Western societies.

    If you are interested in an example of how feminists’ organizations are trying to end violence against women rooted in cultural or religious presumptions, check this:

  280. 284 Luz Ma
    July 6, 2008 at 23:05


    Have a nice trip! 🙂

  281. 285 Pangolin Hussein- California
    July 6, 2008 at 23:46

    @ Troop Re-enlistment- US troops coming to the end of their service period are pulled aside and ‘counseled’ on their enlistment options. These sessions are carefully planned so that the individual in question does not have access to family or external counseling during the enlistment period.

    What they are told is that if they fail to sign the paper they will be subjected to ‘stop-loss’ orders that will force them to stay in the service regardless. At that point they will be reduced in rank and pay grade and placed in the most dangerous tasks where they are most likely to get injured or killed.

    Given a choice of reduced pay and extra combat duty or reenlistment or prison if they disobey stop-loss orders soldiers reenlist. It’s not like they really have much of a choice.

    Essentially a good portion of the US military are slaves to the government for the duration. They care about nothing but staying alive until their next leave period and they will kill anybody or anything that might possibly threaten them.

    Land of the free. Yeah, sure. Stop-loss isn’t going to change until the grunts start fragging their officers like they did in Vietnam.


  282. 286 Justin from Iowa
    July 7, 2008 at 00:29

    I don’t link stuff very often, but this is something that I think everyone should take a look at. It involves the Kosher Meat industry in the US, specifically my home state of Iowa. I saw this article and it made me sick. These companies need to have pressure put on them, because the way they are treating people is a crime against humanity.


    This is the nation’s largest Kosher Meatpacking company!

  283. 287 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 02:03

    On Monday morning, my second 5-week course starts….I will be around still….

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  284. 288 Bob in Queensland
    July 7, 2008 at 02:59

    Interesting side-bar to the discussion about Islam and drugs….

    I awoke this morning to a half hour World Service documentary about the fight against opium in Afghanistan. If the programme is to be believed, in the areas they control, the Taliban levy a 10% tax on farmers’ profits from opium poppies.

    Kind of ironic considering the strict Islamic form of government the Taliban advocate.

  285. 289 Luz Ma
    July 7, 2008 at 03:11


    That is an example of plain hypocrisy. Sadly, the world is full of it.

  286. 290 Will Rhodes
    July 7, 2008 at 03:26

    Interesting education policy – but would you agree with it?


    Primary school children as young as five are to be given an early insight into the work of William Shakespeare.

    Ian McNeilly from the National Association for the Teaching of English said: “Some of the language in the plays would be beyond pupils under a certain age, but the earlier children are introduced to Shakespeare the better.

    “It’s all down to the approach. You can bore people of any age with the wrong approach and you can enthuse people of any age with the correct one.”

    Acting director of education at the Royal Shakespeare Company Jacqui O’Hanlon said many secondaries and primaries were already teaching Shakespeare in an inspirational way.

    “In our manifesto for Shakespeare in schools, Stand up for Shakespeare, we call for young people to do Shakespeare on their feet, see it live and start it earlier.”

  287. 291 Shirley
    July 7, 2008 at 03:28

    Justin, the slaughter industry in general is plagued by workers’ rights violations and health violations that range well into the grotesque. Even we Muslims are not free of the problems. One thing that I learned is that I would rather visit the slaughterhouse that provides the meat for the store from which I shop to see for myself how the animals are handled and slaughtered. There are very few that I actually trust enough to buy from them.

    Pangolin, check out Democracy Now’s coverage of the stop-loss policy. They have been aware of it since 2003. Here is a listing of some of the stories that they have had on the topic.
    * headline in 2003: “Army Blocks Thousands of Soldiers From Retiring”
    * interview with two human rights activists in 2004
    * headline in 2006: “50,000 Soldiers Forced to Stay in Military Under Stop-Loss Program”
    * interview with two Iraq war veterans in 2007
    * interview with three Iraq vets and two Vietnam vets in 2008

  288. 292 Shirley
    July 7, 2008 at 03:35

    Bob, I would agree with Luz María (gracias, Luz) : it is hypocrisy, pure and simple, that the Taliban also try to make money from drugs. It seems to me that they are much more interested in maintaining power and control; and whether they use their distortions of Islam or whether they use economic policies which support anti-Islamic activities does not matter to them. Whether your name is Robert Mugabe or Mullah Omar, it is the same evil.

  289. 293 Bob in Queensland
    July 7, 2008 at 03:38

    @ Will

    Taught properly, Shakespeare is just another (highly talented) story teller and is just as valid as any other.

    A few years back I was a trustee of a youth drama group and one summer we decided to do an outdoor production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. The director was an absolute master at making the Shakespearean language come alive for the cast (aged 8-17) and, by the end of the process they understood it all and were even laughing in all the right places.

    My only concern would be the quality of the teaching. In the hands of the wrong person, this could turn the kids off from Shakespeare for life.

  290. 294 Jonathan in sunny San Francisco
    July 7, 2008 at 03:44

    Shirley, thanks for the references, where I found the concept of “clouding the mind.” Some of the language was archaic but that was the wording or certainly the meaning. Might have been “fog.” It clearly meant what we now call psychoactive drugs. It did not make any exception for opium, no matter who it’s sold to, or for how much. As you had described before, mind-affecting substances and toxins are forbidden on principle. Since we know that coffee is psychoactive, and tobacco is both psychoactive and toxic, they’re both prohibited. It requires some prettty desperate mental exertion to even imagine that a special fatwa is required.

    It’s surpassingly strange to propose that “we as a society” (America? UN?) “failed them” (opium growers) by not outbidding the normal opium processors. It doesn’t make sense morally, or logically, or within the construct of Islamic law, which is explicit on the point.

  291. 295 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 03:46

    about drugs and the taliban! no surprise–they where doing this activity for the time they were in office…..

    onondaga community college
    syracuse, new york
    united states of america


  292. 296 Vijay
    July 7, 2008 at 03:56

    It is 7/7 ,I was wandering what WHYS bloggers imdividual personal experiences with terrorism and terrorists was.

  293. 297 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 04:00

    Thanks Luz Ma and John for being the moderators over the weekend on BLANK
    PAGE # 14…..

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  294. 298 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 04:05

    @ Vijay

    Posted: july 7,2008 @ 3.56am

    To answer your question from my own personal experience: none to both questions…

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  295. 299 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 04:06

    I hope that we can reached over the 300 number on BLANK PAGE…..

    Thanks to all of our moderators.

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  296. 300 Luz Ma
    July 7, 2008 at 04:13


    I think early introduction to literature is always a good educational policy.


    Although I would love to keep commenting and moderating, I have to go to sleep. I have an early appointment tomorrow morning.

    It was fun moderating Blank Page 14 this weekend. I think we are going to make it over 300 comments, yeah!! 🙂

    Thanks for a really good conversation. I wish you a nice and productive week.

    Buenas noches from this part of the world.

    Luz Ma

  297. 301 Will Rhodes
    July 7, 2008 at 04:16

    Good one, Luz!

  298. 302 Luz Ma
    July 7, 2008 at 04:17

    P.S. Special thanks to John 😉 and the other moderators who took over while I was sleeping.

  299. 303 Dennis
    July 7, 2008 at 04:19

    @ Luz Ma

    thanks for being part of our moderator team….i know about sleep–it is about 11.pm eastern time and i need some of the delightful thing call sleep.

    @ Will…i hope you and the rest of the moderators will take over.

    @ 300 posts: GOOD JOB….

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York
    United States of America

  300. 304 Shirley
    July 7, 2008 at 04:21

    Afghan officials: US missiles killed 27 civilians: Afghan officials said fighter aircraft battling militants accidentally killed up to 27 Afghans walking to a wedding ceremony in eastern Afghanistan early Sunday, the second military attack in three days with reports of civilian deaths. And another one from Friday: In a statement, Karzai cited allegations by Tamim Nuristani, the governor of Nuristan province, that 15 civilians were killed and seven wounded in the Friday attack. Karzai has repeatedly called for better coordination between Afghan and foreign troops in pursuing militants through populated areas, and for international troops to cut down on civilian casualties.

    G8 to kick off with talks on Africa, poverty, development
    Protesters were being kept at bay in a specially designated camping area away from the plush summit hotel where the world’s most powerful leaders will huddle overlooking the sapphire-blue Lake Toya. The G8 club of rich countries…2005 promised to boost aid to Africa by a further 25 billion dollars by 2010. But UN and African Union figures indicate that only less than a quarter of that amount has been forthcoming. “Rapidly rising costs of oil and food might cause pain in rich countries but it is shattering people’s lives and entire economies in developing countries,” said Takumo Yamada of Oxfam.

  301. 307 Shirley
    July 7, 2008 at 05:52

    I was wrong, at least as far as the Qur’anic prohibition of alcoholic beverages. The word “al khamr” ( الْخَمْر ) is mentioned in verses 2:219 and 5:90 of the Qur’an. “Khamr” refers specifically to alcoholic beverages.

    يَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الْخَمْرِوَ … وَإِثْمُهُمَا أَكْبَرُ مِن نَّفْعِهِمَا
    They ask you about intoxicants and…their sin is greater than their profit. (Qur’an 2:219 – Shakir’s translation)

    إِنَّمَا الْخَمْرُوَ … رِجْسٌ مِّنْ عَمَلِ الشَّيْطَانِ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ
    Certainly, the khamr and…are ritually impure [and] from among the works of Satan, so shun it. (Qur’an 5:90 – I translated)

    The state of intoxication is mentioned in 4:43, but I don’t understand the words used to refer to it. The elipses skips over other prohibited items, as well as other content.

    Now, a question was posed to the representatives of Ayatullah Sistani in London about abusing cough medicines containing alcohol to become intoxicated; and the response was that even though the alcohol in the medicine is industrial and therefore not ritually impure, the person woudl have committed a sin because he had harmed himself. Ayatullah Sistani’s prohibition against smoking also has the basis that one is harming himself. There is an injunction in the qur’an against harming oneself, and it is very generic. Given that and the fact that the prohibition of alcoholic beverages is specific to alcoholic beverages, I could assume that, at least in the case of Ayatullah Sistani, the prohibition against illicit drugs is based on the prohibition against harming oneself. Assuming that normal consumption of caffeine does not harm a person, it follows that there should be no problem in drinking coffee.

  302. 308 vijay
    July 7, 2008 at 07:02

    Infertility is a big issue in any country or culture.The communal pressure to get married and have children is great,because it is a family failure not an individual failure.Especially in North India and China female foeticide and infanticide due to the preference for boys is causing a demographic problem.

    A former WHYS presenter Anu Anand wrote something onher blog about the subject.


  303. 309 portlandmike
    July 7, 2008 at 07:59

    Is Google disturbing people’s privacy “rights?”

    “Street View matches photos of locations to maps, including passers-by who were captured as the photograph was taken.

    Privacy International, a UK rights group, believes the technology breaks data protection laws.

    “In our view they need a person’s consent if they make use of a person’s face for commercial ends,” said Simon Davis of the group.”


    I think that Google’s street view is very cool. And it doesn’t make use of “a person’s face” to make a profit. Occasionally a face is recognizable. Big deal! I would wager that if people knew when the vehicle that takes the photo was coming, they would line up on the side of the street, they would hold up signs, they would wear funny clothes.

  304. 310 Pangolin-California
    July 7, 2008 at 08:32

    @ Islam and Intoxicants- Reading the description of Islamic prohibitions on self harm and substances that ‘cloud the mind’ I see a space for a prohibition or at least a warning regarding video games and virtual realities. It would be quite a difficult issue since some simulations like SimEarth and SimCity can be quite educational while the first person shooter games could be considered harmful to family life.

    There is also room for issue with substances like lithium or ibogaine that can cause mental disturbances in one dose but can be therapeutic in other doses. A simple prohibition could have the effect of denying a Muslim the tools he needs to continue full participation in his spiritual life.

    @ Shakespeare for kids- I believe that there are far more appropriate educational materials for children particularly poetry such as Lewis Carrol, Shel Silverstein or well structured prose such as Kipling or Tolkien. The critical step that many American children don’t get is going from interpreting pictures with the assistance of language to creating mental images of their own in response to language.

    All english speaking children should know why it’s important not to go for long walks on the beach with a walrus and a carpenter to shun the frumious bandersnatch and what happens when we do not take the garbage out. I can say that this was most effective with my two kids that do very well in school with little effort compared to their peers.

    The average college student that I’ve met is at a loss when asked to read aloud and usually stumbles and sputters through the required passage. It’s quite a shame because it indicates that they really don’t follow what they read normally.

    The spoken word is sadly neglected in the US. Obama is a relief in that respect; he doesn’t sound like a child when speaking.

  305. 311 Shirley
    July 7, 2008 at 17:11

    I don’t see a problem with introducing Shakespeare to young children, especially in such a way that they can understand the materials presented. However, I do not think that any educational programme shoudl be focused on only one thing. There must be variety. Pangolin, you mentioned some excellent authors; and I think that they shoudl also be part of a child’s reading experience. What does everyone think of the inclusion of classics in the reading lists for young people? I have seen lately that some reading classes have dropped classics entirely in favour of new books. I think that there is a place for both in the literature curiculum.

    Islam & Drugs:
    I like the balance offered by the specific prohibition of one substance, alcoholic beverages, and the general guidance from there not to harm ourselves or to become intoxicated. I think that the idea is that if a substance generally harms more than it, then it is prohibited; and that we should not ingest ordinarily beneficial substances to the etxent that they harm us.

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