Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Or A Tortured Culture?

Women and young girls are often used in the practise of 'vani' (Photo-AP)

In other, related news, Pakistan's top constitutional court has intervened to stop the marriages of five minor girls which were arranged in order to settle a tribal dispute. The case centres around the custom of "vani" in which blood feuds are settled through forced marriages, often at the behest of a tribal gathering or jirga. The girls, from Sindh province, are all between 12 months and five years old.

Culture Of Torture?

This post needs no explanation. More info here if it's required.

A Swedish court has jailed a Somali man for four years for forcing his 13-year-old daughter to be circumcised. Swedish citizen Ali Elmi Hayow, 41, held his daughter down while the operation was carried out, the court said, although he denied the charges. It is the first conviction in Sweden since the country banned the practice in 1982. The Swedish law has prohibited carrying out the procedure in Sweden since 1982, and was altered in 1999 to outlaw taking children abroad for the operation. In some communities the controversial practice is a female rite of passage and remains an important religious and cultural tradition. Globally, an estimated 130 million women have under gone circumcision, mainly in Africa, the Middle East and some Asian countries, and some 3 million women and girls are circumcised each year, according to the World Health Organisation.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Une Histoire Assez Bizarre (deuxième partie)

AFP/Robert Vos

The Dutch government has decided that former MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali can keep her citizenship after all. Good for them.

[See entry: Tuesday May 16, 2006]

Saturday, June 24, 2006

You're Flying Low

Gough campaigns for the right to be naked in public

Naked rambler Stephen Gough has been jailed for four months after stripping off on a passenger plane. The 47-year-old was found guilty of charges of breach of the peace and public indecency on a flight from Southampton to Edinburgh. The former marine, who has been in trouble with the law on numerous occasions because of his insistence on walking naked across Britain, had been travelling to an appeal court appearance to challenge a contempt of court ruling.

Talk about uptight! In these volatile times, you would think the authorities would be concerned most of all with the terrorist attacks that could be prevented if everybody followed Stephen's example.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Rural Revolution

Everything is about to change for the sleepy White Horse Village.

In the last century China has experienced an astonishing number of social movements that have been classified "revolutions".

The Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution (Chinese: 辛亥革命; pinyin: Xīnhài Gémìng); also known as the Republican Revolution; 1911.

The Intellectual Revolution; 1917.

The Chinese (Communist) Revolution; 1949.

The Cultural Revolution; 1966-76.

The Industrial Revolution has been ongoing since the end of the Cultural, and now that this last one has caught on it's changing agrarian China at a revolutionary pace. One has to marvel at the philosophic disposition of a civilization, with more people and better historical records (as reliable as the best we have, at any rate) going back further than any other, which has allowed it to undergo such rapid transformations without coming apart at the seams. China's Rural Revolution has only just begun and promises to re-entrench the Sleeping Giant as the world's next, if not current, superpower. Of course, there are still several population-related problems, as well as the endemic rural ones. But what the hell--nobody's perfect, eh?

Newcomers to the cities are treated as an underclass (photo-AP)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Mind Your Manners

Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of learning.

Bengali author Sunil Gangopadhyay has authored over 250 books and one supremely funny practical joke. Evidently, he joked that he kissed an idol of Saraswati, the goddess of learning, to satisfy his desire, the comment was printed in a newspaper and Gangopadhyay was brought up on charges of defiling a Hindu goddess. Keep in mind, it was a statue that he said he kissed. At least Calcutta's High Court had the good sense to dismiss the charges.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

No Safe Haven

A special report at Mother Jones. Or you can go through the link in the links section below. Much as life, your decision will lead to the inevitable--in this case domestic violence; in general, death.

Living In The City

Oil production in Iraq is a business beset by security concerns (photo-AP)

Of course living in a modern city requires oil. Hence the Baghdad adventure, right? Soooooooo, once the oil begins to flow again we can all rest easy, right? Well, no. Not according to this Greg Palast article posted at Alternet: Keeping Iraq's Oil In the Ground. Apparently Iraq has too much oil, which pushes prices down, which in turn pushes profits down. Hence the Baghdad adventure. Right?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

In The City

Expanding slums are a characteristic of 21st Century urbanisation. (Photo-AP)

The United Nations estimates that about 180,000 people are being added to the urban population every day. This means the world's urban infrastructure has to absorb the equivalent of the population of two Toykos each year. Greater Tokyo, the world's biggest city, has expanded from 13 million residents in 1950, to today's figure of 35 million. In 1950, less than one-in-three people lived in urban areas. The world had just two so-called "megacities" with populations in excess of 10 million: New York and Tokyo. Today, there are at least 20.

Thinking of that cottage now, aren't ya?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Helping Hand

In Moscow, the Cathederal of Christ the Saviour is displaying a relic that has people lining up for "hundreds of metres." The relic is back in the Russian capital for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. "The relic is the right hand of St John the Baptist. The hand that actually baptised our Lord Jesus Christ," says Father Zacchaecus, the Orthodox Church in America's representative in Moscow. "You see that the hand is intact, you see the skin, although it's dried and darkened, the skin is also intact. The only thing missing are two fingers."

It goes without saying that nobody in the loop has thought to ask how a severed hand made its way from the Middle East through Europe, from biblical times through the Dark and Middle Ages to eventually call Moscow home. I'm thinking maybe I should open an ordinary store, stock it like a pack-rat with all kinds of useless crap, throw up a sign (I'm thinking "Relics From The Past My Ass!") and just let the money start rolling in. Prostitution may be called the world's oldest profession, but as long as the Religion Industry continues its production prostitution will never be the most lucrative.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

An Acrid Freedom

An Australian peacekeeping soldier walks past a burning house while patrolling Dili. (Photo:Reuters)

Independent since 1999, the good folks of East Timor have watched helplessly as their nation was taken over by gangs "armed with homemade weapons, machetes, a can of petrol and a lighter" and "more than half of the aid it received on gaining independence...spent on consultancy fees and salaries." Needless to say, poverty is a bigger problem now than when the Indonesian army oversaw law and order; and now the law and order is just as brutal as it was under the Indonesian army.