Which Countries Voted for Palestine …


Palestine vote

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The UN general assembly has just voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a state. An astounding 138 nations chose to support the path of peace and justice.

Just weeks ago, the vote was expected to be much closer, with Israel and the US lobbying hard to deny Palestine key European support. But in the face of major public pressure and vigorous campaigning by the Avaaz community, countries such as France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden decided to vote yes to statehood for Palestine. In the end, just nine countries ended up on the wrong side of history: Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Celebrate this historic moment, share this map with everyone.

[Update: This map has been corrected to show New Zealand also voted in favor, rather than abstaining.]

Source: AVAAZ.ORG

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“You’ve Got Mail” by Judith Baxter


Being an Indian now I wonder when the Republic of India would be given such a notice of revocation of her independence. – T.V. Antony Raj
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Judith Baxter

By Judith Baxter

Posted on July 9, 2012 in I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

Queen Elizabeth

Here is today’s email..

To            The Citizens of the United States of America
From       Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,
Subject   Greetings.

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.  A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

  1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’  Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up ‘vocabulary’
  2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of  ‘-ize.’
  3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
  4.  You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.
  5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  7.  The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
  8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
  9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
  10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.
  11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
  12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
  13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
  14.  An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
  15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.
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“Slum free India! – The Dream” by Nipesh Narayanan


   By Nipesh P. Narayanan

  • Published by Human Settlement Management Institute under HUDCO in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, Habitat for Humanity on the occasion of world habitat day 2012. (October 2012 edition) http://hudco.org/writereaddata/shelter.pdf (Page 41)

Ever since the honourable president announced the vision for a slum-free [1] India this had been the limelight of discussion in the intelligentsia in social, and urban development field. One of the most shocking revelations came when the Parekh Committee stated that five years were too less for this dream to come true. Even so, the positive side to this was that those five years were the first phase for the realization of the dream. By following a structured methodology, this dream is quite achievable.

There are a few myths that need to be broken off before we proceed, and there needs to be a paradigm shift.

ARE SLUMS REALLY A BAD PLACE TO LIVE IN?

When we say slums, we talk about a place which more than 93 million [2] people call their home. When India has an upper hand in the global economy through a demographic dividend, every eighth child up to six years-old lives in a slum; thus, making the situation grave. However, before we set to solve the problem we need to have a better understanding of the problem itself. Undoubtedly, slums have many negative things, but there are many positives to it, which we need to preserve. Preservation of these positives is all the more important; even majority of the planned development in urban India, lacks them.

Social Structure

Slums in general have an intricate social structure. The organic nature of the slums helps in building strong interpersonal relationships. It should be noted that in current times one even refuse to recognise the next door neighbour in an apartment while an entire gully in a slum lives like a family [3]. The alley (gully) in a slum is the most vibrant and important open space. During the different times of a day, the street transforms itself into various functions according to the needs of the occupants, acting like a strong social spine for the community within and the neighbouring locality.

EXAMPLE: Major community interaction happens on the street. Women dominate the street in the mornings sharing the space for daily activities – from washing clothes to cutting vegetables. In the afternoons, the kids who return from school play in the gully where every member of the community can keep an eye on them. By evening, the male members sit outside and discuss work [4].

Street as a living room

One of the most talked about slum redevelopment is Maharashtra’s SRA schemes where the builder gets the right to the land after the completion of houses for the slum dwellers. Taking from SRA schemes in Pune, the flats created for the slum dwellers completely ignore the social structure. One of the main reasons for this to happen is because there is no participatory planning process. The SRA scheme has a very good process in place for informing the slum dwellers on what they are getting, but there is no process in place for the community to get involved at the design stage; thus the resulting design is the outcome of an architect’s vision who has never lived the way the community lives. A stark difference can be seen in the city of Sangli, just coupleof hours from Pune; where an NGO ‘Shelter Associates’ have involved the community in the design process through GIS and other architectural tools. The design of new homes for slum dwellers in Sangli demonstrates how the social structure of the community can be enhanced by the involvement of the community which thereby improves the local environment.

EXAMPLE: In a typical architectural logic, interiors of a house should not be visible to the other house, so generally apartments and flats are staggered to avoid the entrances facing each other, which is a good design practice in usual scenario. However, experience from the slums clearly shows that the first level of the interior space of a house in a slum is permeable and needs community access. This particular issue and many other such nuances are unacceptable for a normal architectural mind, and therefore, the community needs to be involved in the design from the beginning.

Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) has a very detailed chapter on community participation, also it requires 70% community consensus for a project to go ahead. However, the biggest road block for this is the lack of capacity in ULBs, also there is only a handful of CBOs working in the housing sector which aggravates this problem.

Lack of sanitation in slums – Jawaharlal Nehru Camp Delhi

Lack of sanitation in slums – Jawaharlal Nehru Camp Delhii

Morphology

The organic layout of the slums produces a mix of different-sized houses, thus addressing the varied demands of the slum dwellers, including rental options. It should be noted that one size won’t fit all in this sector. A slum is not a homogeneous entity; the heterogeneity of a slum is what is difficult to replicate in a new development. The mix of different types of housing and commercial options is based on the market demand. In a slum, there is a differential mix of both commercial and housing. Whereas in housing itself there is a wide range:

  1. Different size of houses
  2. Rental houses/rooms
  3. Dormitories
  4. Single room tenements

The proportions of different types in this heterogeneous entity vary from place to place in a city itself. This mixed character needs to be preserved whenever an intervention is done in a slum.

EXAMPLE: JNNURM established the minimum size for a dwelling to be 25 sq m. But what is more important and determines the quality of life in a dwelling unit is the per person area. Many slums have 6-10 people staying in a house, thus providing them with a 25 sq m house means that one person gets a maximum of 4 sq m, which is worse than providing a 15 sq m room for single occupancy. Thus, any slum redevelopment project should consider a mix of different housing typologies that need to be incorporated. Based on the location, there should be a mix of typologies between dormitories to joint family units.

Sculptors in Gulbai Tekra Ahmedabad

Sculptors in Gulbai Tekra Ahmedabad

Economics

As the general rule goes: almost always there is no one who is unemployed in a slum! One of the main reasons for the focus of in situ redevelopment in RAY is to retain the livelihood options of the community which has developed over the years. Keeping the location intact is not an action enough to keep the livelihood of the community. Slums in general have a varied occupational involvement and in that regard, every slum is different from each other. While designing for a slum the spatial needs for these occupations and its related activities need to be taken care of individually.

EXAMPLE: Every slum is involved in different economic activities.

The slum of Sunder Nagari in Delhi is extremely a shoe making community. Each house is a mini factory and loads of different-sized shoes are produced in each house, thus there is a need for different spatial design of these houses in case of redevelopment.

Similarly, Gulbai Tekra in Ahmadabad mainly consists of sculptors. Now this is a different case from Sunder Nagari because in Gulbai Tekra, the houses are normal, but the community space (or the clustering of the houses) is articulated in a manner to create workshops for these artifacts. Furthermore, there are special spatial requirements like protecting the sculptures from sun and rain.

These examples are presented to emphasise that there is more to livelihood than location.

Considerable Increase in self investment for housing after SNP in Sharif Khan ni Challi in Ahmadabad

Considerable Increase in self investment for housing after SNP in Sharif Khan ni Challi in Ahmadabad

WAY FORWARD

When one talks about getting rid of the slums, then it is a huge number; the magnitude of it itself is enough to understand that simply eradicating slums and rebuilding from scratch will never solve the issue. As of now India has very limited resources and limited time to achieve the goal, thus we need to concentrate on improving the conditions of the existing stock and build new stock. For the initial first phase there need to be a strategic approach towards the slums; it is Utopian and unachievable to look forward towards completely rebuilding each and every slum in India. A participatory approach with the community private players and experts in this field should be applied.

Conservative surgery[5]

Majorly a slum’s pressing three issues are

  1. Sanitation
  2. Basic services like water and electricity
  3. Structural safety and quality of the dwelling unit

Thus it makes complete sense to first tackle these issues.

Health-related issues are predominant in the slums, so a sanitation plan needs to be made with community participation. A multidisciplinary team [6] with the help of a community-based organization shall be involved in this process. Community knowledge can be used regarding the flooding pattern and local bottlenecks for devising an efficient servicing system without demolishing existing houses.

With a sanitation network in place, it becomes easy for laying water and electricity lines taking safety into consideration.

Structural safety and quality of dwelling units are a tricky issue. Most of the slums are self constructed, thus the best way to influence the quality of these structures is through training masons. Masons have a trust factor in these communities and imparting basic knowledge of quality construction practices and rules to them will have a big impact.

EXAMPLE: Indore and Ahmadabad have implemented a successful slum networking program (SNP), which is a partial example of a conservative surgery approach. Sharif Khan Pathan ni Chaali in Ahmadabad was one of the first few slums to be tested with SNP. Basic services and sanitation were laid with community involvement through the NGO SEWA-MHT and the work completed in 2000. After the SNP program there has been a considerable increase in investment in the improvement of the quality of the houses by slum dwellers themselves. Moreover, the quality of life has tremendously increased after the initiative.

Exposed walls show the bleak structural safety of houses in Sunder Nagari Delhi

Exposed walls show the bleak structural safety of houses in Sunder Nagari Delhi

Additional housing stock

India has a housing deficit of 25 million and 98% of this deficit is in EWS category; and with 2.07 % urban growth rate this deficit is bound to increase. Thus, there is no option but to add to the housing stock.

Subsidised houses or free houses create perverse incentives, and the repercussions are known to everyone. Instead there should be a diverse option for all the income levels and family types. Everyone need not own a house. If a person is economically weak, then there should be an affordable rental option available, rather than subsidising a house for ownership, the subsidy should go into the process of establishing affordable rental options. The new development should allow community management through the creation of cooperatives. In terms of owning a house, those who can access finance (or self-finance) can own a house directly and those who are not can also be given a choice on rent to ownership model.

In order to achieve the dream of a slum-free India, we need to be innovative and be practical in our approach. Terms like cut-off-date need to be removed and an approach based on self-selection should be developed for the slum dwellers. Initiatives should be devised, which could become a catalyst for quality improvement and any initiative should be judged through a social equity lens.

Hope we soon have better and adequate housing for all.


[1] The term ‘slum’ used throughout the article refers to urban slums as defined by Pronab Sen committee report [2010]

[2] Census [2011]

[3] This and further observations in this article on communities in slums is based on authors experience in studying slums in different parts of India.

[4] Based on study of street activity in the slums of ‘Sunder Nagari’ in Delhi and ‘Baba Lui Jhoparpatti’ in Ahmadabad by the author.

[5] Conservative surgery is an urban design methodology developed by Sir Patrick Geddes

[6] A multi disciplinary team should consists at least of (but not restricted to) architects, urban designers and planners, sociologists, Lawyers, economists and community members

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Earthquakes Trigger More Earthquakes: Imminent Magnitude 9 Earthquake?


November 8, 2012, Submitted by: Ken (AdminModern Survival Blog)

eminent-magnitude-9-earthquake

Earthquakes trigger more earthquakes

UPDATE: Magnitude 6.3 NOV-8 Earthquake At Cascadia Raises More Concern
Scroll down for more…
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At the Seismology Lab at the University of Washington, there is concern that the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred on the British Columbia coast over the weekend could affect the Pacific Northwest including Washington, Oregon, and northern California.
“We need to watch the whole region with extra care,” said a seismologist there.

The magnitude 7.7 was a big earthquake, considered one of the most significant along the northwest coast in 60 years.

Reported by NWCN.com in Seattle, scientists also looked to see if the quake affected volcanoes in Washington, and will remain on alert for at least several more weeks. So far, everything is quiet…

The problem is that the West Coast, from Alaska to northern California, is under tremendous geologic pressure as it’s forced up against the basin that forms the Pacific Ocean.

Release the pressure in a major way along one fault, and it can then add to the pressure on another fault. More than 100 aftershocks were recorded following the 7.7, including one of them more than 100 miles south of the quake’s epicenter, thought to be on the Cascadia Subduction zone.

The subduction zone threatens a much larger quake…
a magnitude 9…
from the northern tip of Vancouver Island to Cape Mendicino California.

Such an earthquake would be devastatingly catastrophic, particularly to Seattle, Portland, and all of the cities and towns that run up and down the west coast, even through mid California.

I’m posting this as an alert that something ‘could’ happen as a result of this recent aftershock earthquake, which is well south of the main quake on the Cascadia Subduction zone… this looks potentially ominous.

If you live in or near those regions, examine your existing supplies, food, water, bug-out capabilities. Make a plan. Be ready. Just in case…

UPDATE: It is now being reported that the centuries old and famous “Haida Gwaii” Hot Springs in the region of the 7.7 earthquake… HAS DRIED UP AND GONE COLD.

A Parks Canada inspection party set out to investigate and stepped ashore to find that the island’s three main hot spring pools, which once bubbled with water as warm as 77 Celsius, were bone dry. “Not even a small puddle,” Surrounding rocks, once warm to the touch, were cold.

source: ‘It’s just dried up’: B.C. earthquake pulls plug on centuries-old Haida Gwaii hot springs

(This is obviously IMO related to the recent B.C. earthquake, and further indicates the great unseen changes that have taken place as a result.)

NOV-8, 6.3 Quake at Cascadia Subduction Zone Raises More Concern

Since the large magnitude 7.7 earthquake of OCT-28, not only have hundreds of aftershocks occurred in the immediate vicinity, but other curious earthquakes have been triggered further south, within the Cascadia subduction zone. On NOV-8 an especially large earthquake shook that region, further indicating that stresses have transferred into that region. Why is this significant? Because the Cascadia fault is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS for the entire Pacific Northwest.

The Cascadia subduction zone (Cascadia fault) is a type of tectonic plate boundary that stretches from northern Vancouver Island to northern California. It is a very long sloping fault that separates the ‘Juan de Fuca’ and North America plates.

The ocean floor is sinking below the continental plate offshore of Washington and Oregon. The North American Plate is moving southwest, riding over the top of the oceanic plate. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is where the two plates meet. Unlike other faults that slide alongside each other, this one is particularly dangerous because one plate rides over the top of another.

To make matters worse, the Cascadia fault intersects and transitions with other faults at its north and south boundaries, including the infamous San Andreas fault which runs down the length of California. Studies of past earthquakes on both the northern San Andreas Fault and the southern Cascadia subduction zone indicate that quakes on the Cascadia subduction zone may have triggered most of the major quakes on the northern San Andreas during at least the past 3,000 years, with the exception being the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The next rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone is anticipated to be capable of causing a magnitude 9+ earthquake and widespread destruction throughout the Pacific Northwest. And in fact, evidence suggests that a major Cascadia earthquake will likely rupture the San Andreas fault as it splits down into California, the combined effects of which would be more than devastating.

Geologists and civil engineers have broadly determined that the Pacific Northwest region is not well prepared for such a colossal earthquake. The tsunami produced may reach heights of approximately 100 ft. The earthquake is expected to be similar to the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, as the rupture is expected to be as long as the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
Left: Cascadia Subduction Zone
Right: Earthquakes since the OCT-28 quake (until this update)
Note the significant recent quakes south of the initial quake (the top cluster)
recent-cascadia-fault-zone-earthquakes

UPDATE NOV-10, Aftershocks creeping towards Cascadia fault and Vancouver Island…
This could all be inconsequential, while I’m simply pointing out observations.

earthquakes-creeping-towards-vancouver-island

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Link: Video which shows the dangers of volcanoes in the Cascades…

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Is King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia ‘Clinically Dead’?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia is clinically dead, reports the daily Al-Sharq il-Awsat. However, medical sources told the newspaper the monarch’s condition was “expected to change soon.”

Today, Saudi state television showed images of King Abdullah meeting with senior government officials after he underwent a complicated back surgery on 17th November at the National Guard’s King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh. A day after the operation the Royal court said, the surgery was “successful”.

The televised images showed the king with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz the defense minister of Saudi Arabia and heir to the throne, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and other senior princes and officials.

King Abdul-Aziz bin Saud founded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932. After his death in 1953 the crown passed down through a line of sons. Since 2005, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has been upon the throne. The king was born in Riyadh in 1924, the 13th son of Abdul Aziz.

Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab state in Western Asia and the second-largest in the Arab world, after Algeria.

Home to the two sacred places in Islam – Al-Masjidal-Haram in Mecca, and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina, the kingdom is sometimes also known as “The Land of the Two Holy Mosques“. The Saudi Arabian government has been Islamic and an absolute monarchy since its inception.

Saudi Arabia has the world’s second greatest and more than a fifth of world petroleum reserves, which account for 95% of exports and 70% of government revenue. It also has the world’s sixth largest natural-gas reserves.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the biggest U.S. ally in the Gulf region.

Yesterday the Saudi stock market index dropped to a 10-month low closing 1.3 points lower.

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Blood Red Beach Gets (Almost) Everyone Out of the Water


By 

abcNews -  November 27, 2012 9:48am

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gty algae dm 121127 wblog Blood Red Beach Gets (Almost) Everyone Out of the Water                                              (Image Credit: William West/AFP/Getty Images)

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Sydney’s famous beaches, popular with surfers, looked more like a scene out of a horror movie today when the waters were stained blood red from an algae bloom.

Bondi Beach, nearby Clovelly Beach and Gordon’s Bay were closed while authorities tested the water.

The beaches reopened in the late afternoon tafter the red algae, which was identified as Noctiluca scintillans or sea sparkle, begin to fade, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Algae blooms are most prevalent in hot, humid weather, the newspaper reported. Australia is currently enjoying the transition from spring to its summer, which begins in December.

PHOTOS: Red Tide Shocks Swimmers

While red algae isn’t toxic, people were advised to avoid swimming in the algae-colored water because its high ammonia levels can cause skin irritation.

“It has got quite a fishy smell to it,” lifeguard Bruce Hopkins told the Australian Associated Press. ”It can irritate some people’s skin but generally not much more than that.”

Hopkins said the red algae was rare but definitely not unheard of.

Despite the warnings, it didn’t stop some swimmers, including the one pictured above, from jumping in to the surf.

Earlier this month, Prince Charles visited Bondi Beach as part of a tour celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

 

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Life After Six Weeks, Six Months and Six Years of Marriage


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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Dating

6 weeks: I love you, I love you, I love you.
6 months: Of course I love you.
6 years: GOD! IF I DIDN’T LOVE YOU, THEN WHY THE HELL DID I PROPOSE TO YOU?

Back from Work

6 weeks: Honey, I’m home.
6 months: BACK!!
6 years: TELL ME WHERE ELSE CAN I GO?

Gifts

6 weeks: Honey, do you like the ring?
6 months: I bought you a painting; it would fit in the living room.
6 years: HERE’S SOME MONEY’ GO BUY YOURSELF SOMETHING USEFUL!

Phone

6 weeks: Baby, somebody wants you on the phone.
6 months: Here, for you.
6 years  HEY YOU! WHY DON’T YOU PICK UP THAT DAMN PHONE!

Cooking

6 weeks: I never knew food could taste so good!
6 months: What are we having for dinner tonight?
6 years: NOT THE SAME THING AGAIN!

Apology

6 weeks: Honey muffin, don’t you worry, I’ll never hold this against you.
6 months: Watch out! Don’t do it again.
6 years: WHAT? DIDN’T YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I JUST SAID?

New Dress

6 weeks: Oh my God, you look like an angel in that dress.
6 months: You bought a new dress again?
6 years: HOW MUCH DID THIS DEVILISH GARMENT COST ME?

Vacations

6 weeks: Honey, how do 2 weeks in Bali or any exotic island sound to you?
6 months: What’s so bad about going to Istanbul on a ship?
6 years: TRAVEL? WHERE TO? WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT STAYING HOME?

Television


6 weeks: Baby, what would you like us to watch tonight?
6 months: I like this movie.
6 years: I’M GOING TO WATCH SPORTS CHANNEL!

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Inspiration: Medical Humour on Facebook

 

 

“The Imminent Death of Civil Nuclear Energy” by Anamika Badal


Some may consider that civilian nuclear energy programs are going great guns and will grow in future. They will not. In fact, its slow death is already on and will only accelerate in future. Let’s understand why.

By Anamika Badal

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The nuclear energy industry has had a charmed half century of existence.

What essentially started as military research for the development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was subtly packaged into a benign energy source. At heart, the roots of nuclear energy are firmly linked to military use.

The cold war was an occasion which offered the nuclear energy industry the use of massive funds, research facilities, government grants (subsidies) and huge freedom to conduct more and more research into making more and more weapons.

Nuclear Energy was simply a byproduct of this military work.

Companies and governments worked overtime to create a veil of secrecy around atomic energy so that the common person would not be able to link the two. And to their credit, they succeeded for a large part. In the days before the advent of the internet, information was scarce and expensive to procure. People – by and large – tended to believe what the ‘scientists’ and the governments told them.

Essentially, they were sold two stories

1) Nuclear industry means ‘national security’ and ‘national pride.’ Any opposition to nuclear automatically makes you an anti-national.

2) Nuclear Energy has no alternative because of its “cleanliness” and ability to deliver large amounts of power at cheap cost.

It is said that if a lie is told a thousand times, people start to believe that it is the truth.

Yet, it is also said that ‘You can fool some people all the time, you can fool all the people sometimes but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

The tipping point for the nuclear industry came after the end of the cold war. Contrary to what most people believe, Chernobyl had no effect on the growth of the nuclear energy business. After a tiny blip, the industry was back to it’s own self.

Anyway, concealment, fabrications, misrepresentation of facts, propaganda, censorship of news, strong arm tactics were all part of the overall cold war game.

The world knew that a huge nuclear accident had happened in Russia.

But beyond that, they had little more knowledge. The Russians painted a picture of “all-is-well“, while the West tried to malign Russian technology and safety. Neither really questioned nuclear energy as a whole.

Sure, there were enough independent researchers who risked life and limb to bring out the truth. But it was easy for the governments of those days to tackle these civilian groups – after all, government agencies were trained to play the big spy games – a bunch of civilians was a cakewalk for the masters.

The disguise continued unabated until the unexpected end of the cold war. The cold war meant that there was little need for military deterrence (?) The future wars would be fought on economic fronts and smart wars would take centre stage.

Tactical weapons, quick surgical strikes on specific small strategic targets did not require the kind of arsenal needed during the cold war days. It was no longer fashionable to parade the missiles and warheads on National days and gloat about technological prowess.

The new kind of weapons did not require as much of plutonium but needed a material that was far easier to procure – depleted uranium (DU).

DU is easily and openly available from nuclear reactors without the need for complex and expensive reprocessing technologies. The guided missiles tipped with DU are hundreds of times more powerful compared to ordinary bombs and can cause massive damage to over and underground structures. Because of the fact that they do not leave a huge visible impact (like that of an Atomic Bomb), people do not realize that effectively, a nuclear weapon has been used.

These missiles have been extensively used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While they have sometimes ensured that the targets are taken out, they are as deadly as a nuclear attack and leave behind vast amounts of radiation in the environment. People affected by DU develop the same conditions as those in Hiroshima or Nagasaki – the only difference being that of immediate visibility and localization.

The US and NATO troops have got away by using these weapons of tactical attack for many years now and the effects are showing up in the local population there – increased cancer, deformities, mutations and all the other radiation induced diseases are seen here. The soil and ground water is polluted with uranium and will continue to do so for many decades to come. The radiation has spread wider and entered the food chain and will continue to irradiate for a long time to come.

The West had found the ideal nuclear weapon which can be used easily – without any concern of accountability or justification needed for a full blown nuclear attack.

The need to use nuclear energy and the spent fuel had diminished and the military had a far lesser interest in these reactors.

Almost at the same time, another and more significant revolution was taking place.

The information revolution.

Almost out of nowhere, the computers, satellite television, instant messengers and the internet were all over the world.

Nothing was hidden. Information previously restricted to libraries or locked away in forgotten cupboards was suddenly openly available.

Information flow meant that there were no longer any holy cows. Discussions happened over emails and internet, ideas exchanged and previous paradigms challenged.

When Data gets analyzed, it turns into Information.

The massive amount of data which was scattered all over the globe earlier was put together and analyzed. Cheaper but more powerful computers allowed this massive data to be analyzed on desktop computers without the need for super computers.

What emerged was the naked truth.

Atomic and nuclear science is no more (or less) mysterious or complex than any other science. The sheer eliteness of being part of a select “nuclear club” was shown to be hollow. The cost of nuclear energy in purely financial terms was proven to be the highest, the enormous social damage, the horrible medical conditions and the silent environmental destruction were proven – with irrefutable data.

Troubles, they say, come in multiples.

More was to follow.

With no place to hide, the nuclear industry was hit by developments in renewable energies which took off at a massive scale resulting in prices crashing beyond imagination. A new, safe and cost effective option arose for which the nuclear industry was totally unprepared – literally caught with its pants down!

With no business model to survive, shrinking patronage from the defence and government ministries, Fukushima was the final nail in the coffin. In plain, open view, the incident shamed the industry badly and showed the world that the civilian nuclear operators were leagues ahead of Big Oil and Tobacco when it came to blatant lies and endangering lives for maximizing own profits. Safety and ethics be damned.

In the end, the nuclear industry has only itself to be blamed for its decimation. Nobody – except probably its own nuclear village fraternity – will shed any tears on its death.

It is one death which does not merit a RIP.

Reproduced from DiaNuke.org

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Black Friday – The Madness of a Lost Society


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In the United States people celebrate Thanksgiving Day, on the fourth Thursday of November.

Traditionally, the beginning of the Christmas shopping season starts in the United States on Black Friday, the day following Thanksgiving Day. On this day, most retail shops open early to kick off the holiday shopping season, and they offer extreme promotional discounts.

Though Black Friday is not an official holiday, many non-retail employers give their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

The name “Black Friday” originated before 1961 in Philadelphia, after the disruptive movement of pedestrians and heavy vehicle traffic on the day-after Thanksgiving Day and used broadly in other regions around 1975. Later, a new explanation of the term started circulating: “Black Friday” indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit and are back in the black.

Earlier retailers opened shop on Black Friday at 6:00 a.m. However, in the late 2000s, many retailers opened their retail outlets at 5:00 a.m., and some opened at 4:00 a.m. In 2011 many retailers, including Target, Kohls, Macy’s, Best Buy, etc. opened at midnight. This year Walmart and several other retailers announced that they would open their stores at 8:00 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day that resulted in calls for a walkout among some workers.

Here is a video clip depicting the madness of the lost society. The scramble for goods they do not really need starts at the 48th second.

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“Island in South Pacific Doesn’t Exist” By Jack Phillips


We all had a good giggle at Google as we sailed through the island.
—Steven Micklethwaite, University of Western Australia

A screen shot from Google Maps shows the location of Sandy Island on Nov. 22, 2012. (Screenshot/Google Maps).

A screen shot from Google Maps shows the location of Sandy Island on Nov. 22, 2012. (Screenshot/Google Maps)

Australian scientists recently “undiscovered” an island in the South Pacific. Sandy Island was well documented on Google’s map services, Times Atlas of the World, and nautical maps, but when the scientists searched for it, they found only open water.Researchers with the University of Sydney traveled to the island’s supposed location (between New Caledonia and Australia) to identify parts of the Australian continental crust submerged in the Coral Sea. Australian scientists recently “undiscovered” an island in the South Pacific. Sandy Island was well documented on Google’s map services, Times Atlas of the World, and nautical maps, but when the scientists searched for it, they found only open water.

Researchers with the University of Sydney traveled to the island’s supposed location (between New Caledonia and Australia) to identify parts of the Australian continental crust submerged in the Coral Sea.

Geologist Dr. Maria Seton told Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), “It’s on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We’re really puzzled. It’s quite bizarre.”

Not only was there no island there, perhaps more startling was the water depth of 4,600 feet at that location—“very deep,” Seton told AFP.

She plans to investigate how the island got on the map.

“Somehow this error has propagated through to the world coastline database from which a lot of maps are made,” Seton told the Sydney Morning Herald. Seton said the maps that she had also showed that there was an island there, and the missing island has appeared in scientific publications since 2000.

The island is in French territorial water, as France oversees New Caledonia. French government maps do not show the island, according to the Herald.

“Even onboard the ship, the weather maps the captain had showed an island in this location,” Seton told the newspaper.

Steven Micklethwaite of the University of Western Australia told the Herald: “We all had a good giggle at Google as we sailed through the island, then we started compiling information about the seafloor, which we will send to the relevant authorities so that we can change the world map.”

Mark Price, with the Australian Hydrographic Service, which produces Australia’s nautical maps, said that the coastline database is compiled from reports that sometimes have errors.

“We take anything off that database with a pinch of salt,” he told the Herald.

A spokesman with Google told ABC that it is always looking to improve its maps. “We work with a wide variety of authoritative public and commercial data sources to provide our users with the richest, most up-to-date maps possible.”

Reprosted from TheEpochTimes

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