Category Archives: Current Events

South Sudan ‘free at last’


By ALEXANDER DZIADOSZ AND JEREMY CLARKE | REUTERS

Published: Jul 9, 2011 18:00 Updated: Jul 9, 2011 18:16

JUBA: Tens of thousands of South Sudanese danced and cheered as their new country formally declared its independence on Saturday, a hard-won separation from the north that also plunged the fractured region into a new period of uncertainty.

The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, stood next to his old civil war foe the president of Sudan, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, who now leads just the north, at a ceremony to mark the birth of the new nation.

Under-developed, oil-producing South Sudan won its independence in a January referendum — the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of fighting with the north.

Security forces at first tried to control the streets in the south’s dusty capital Juba, but retreated as jubilant crowds moved in overnight and through the day, waving flags, dancing and chanting “South Sudan o-yei, freedom o-yei.”

Some revellers fainted in the blistering heat as South Sudan’s parliamentary speaker, James Wani Igga, read out the formal declaration of independence.

“We, the democratically elected representatives of the people … hereby declare Southern Sudan to be an independent and sovereign state,” said Igga before Sudan’s flag was lowered, the South Sudan flag was raised and the new anthem sung. Kiir took the oath of office.

People threw their hands in the air, embraced and wept. “We got it. We got it,” one man said as he hugged a woman.

The presence of Bashir, who campaigned to keep Africa’s largest state united, was a key gesture of goodwill.

It will also be an embarrassment to some Western diplomats at the event. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Bashir on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

Bashir gave a speech congratulating the new country. “The will of the people of the south has to be respected,” he said, ading that both states had to maintain peace.

North Sudan’s government was the first to recognize South Sudan on Friday, hours before the split took place, a move that smoothed the way to the division.

The United States, China and Britain signalled their recognition of the state on Saturday, according to official statements and government media reports.

“After so much struggle by the people of South Sudan, the United States of America welcomes the birth of a new nation,” said US President Barack Obama, stopping short of announcing any immediate changes in longstanding US sanctions on Sudan that Khartoum has been hoping will be lifted.

Dignitaries including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the leaders of about 30 African nations attended.

In a possible sign of the South’s new allegiances, the crowd included about 200 supporters of Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahed Al-Nur, fighting Khartoum in an eight-year insurgency just over South Sudan’s border in the north.

Earlier, the supporters of Nur’s rebel Sudan Liberation Army faction stood in a line chanting “Welcome, welcome new state,” wearing T-shirts bearing their leader’s image. One carried a banner reading “El Bashir is wanted dead or alive.”

Traditional dance groups drummed and waved shields and staffs in a carnival atmosphere.

The crowd cheered as Kiir unveiled a giant statue of civil war hero John Garang, who signed the peace deal with the north.

Kiir offered an amnesty to armed groups fighting his government and promised to bring peace to troubled border areas.

“I would like to take this opportunity to declare amnesty for all those who have taken up arms against Sudan,” he said.

“I want to assure the people of Abyei, Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan that we have not forgotten you. When you cry, we cry. When you bleed, we bleed. I pledge to you today that we will find a just peace for all,” he said, adding that he would work with Bashir to achieve those goals.

“Today we raise the flag of South Sudan to join the nations of the world. A day of victory and celebration,” Pagan Amum, the secretary general of the South’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Reuters.

Seeds of future tension

Khartoum’s recognition of the South did not dispel fears of future tensions.

Northern and southern leaders have still not agreed on a list of issues, most importantly the line of the border, the ownership of the disputed Abyei region and how they will handle oil revenues, the lifeblood of both economies.

At the stroke of midnight the Republic of Sudan lost almost a third of its territory and about three quarters of its oil reserves, which are sited in the south. It faced the future with insurgencies in its Darfur and Southern Kordofan regions.

Sudan now shrinks to being the third largest state in Africa, with about 1.86 million sq km of territory.

In Khartoum on Saturday, one sign of the new national order was the disappearance of some English-language and SPLM-linked newspapers. The north said it suspended them on Friday as they were published or owned by southerners — an ominous signal for more than 1 million southerners left in the north.

Many northerners see the separation as a loss of face.

Analysts have long feared a return to war if north/south disputes are not resolved.

The United Nations Security Council voted on Friday to establish a force of up to 7,000 peacekeepers for South Sudan.

Mostly Muslim Sudan fought rebels in the south, where most follow Christianity and traditional beliefs, for all but a few years from the 1950s in civil wars fueled by ethnicity, religion, oil and ideology.

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…with liberty and justice for some.

I don’t remember the exact time I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  I know it was primary school age, because I remember vividly protesting against it at first, by not placing my hand over my heart, then by not saying anything at all, and finally, not standing all together.  It had to be primary age because in middle school, the pledge wasn’t played over the loud speakers, and in high school there was upheaval about the word “God” being a part of the pledge.  So, at an early age, I realized I wasn’t American.  It was if I already knew that “dream” didn’t include me.  No one told me to protest, no one said to me directly that I wasn’t protected by it’s promises.  But somehow I was aware that liberty and justice did not include me…

As I reflect on my life as a citizen of the United States, I would have to be blind to say that I don’t have it relatively better than perhaps most people on the planet.  Even though I struggle financially, and I don’t have healthcare, or even my own place at this very moment in time, I have the basics.  I have hot, running water, I have literally all the food I can eat.  I have an education and even a full-time, decent paying job.  But what I don’t have (and what many others don’t have as well) is a guarantee that tomorrow will be the same.  When my campus job is over, I’m technically homeless.  If I fall ill today, I can’t go to my physician, and if I go to the emergency room, my credit score will plummet even further into the depths.  I can’t go to the movies, or out for ice cream because I’m waiting for a paycheck (after three and a half weeks of work).  These things are all miniscule in the eyes of many people my age across the world.  But what this does represent is a false sense of freedom, and an immeasurable injustice.

Why is it that we celebrate our Independence, anyway?  Yes, we outsmarted the King and found a new home to call our own, but it was never ours to begin with.  So in this case, one man’s (or nation’s) freedom is another man’s bondage?  Our “forefathers” came to this country with fine garb and livestock, while my people came in chains.  Talk about independence!  The indigenous people of the Americas, those to whom this land rightfully belonged, became savages and squatters in their own home.  Talk about independence!  Women, who bore the brunt of population growth, didn’t have much choice in the matter to begin with.  And we talk about independence?

So the way I see it, what we are truly celebrating on this fourth day of July is conquest.  We loot and we pillage for our own self-gain.  We don’t care who we have to step on, spit on, or kill to gain our personal freedom.  And really, our liberty comes at a cost for others.

So today, as I listen to the slap-happy banter about cookouts, fireworks, and freedom, I can only pretend to believe in the American Dream.  It’s the greatest fantasy of all time!  I don’t mean to kill anyone’s dream of one day actually enjoying freedom, but sadly, that day and that time isn’t amongst us.  And to those few that are experiencing the sweet taste of liberty, I hope you paused today, and contemplated the cost…

 


Zombie Nation and the Unnatural Selection

Charles and his Darwinism 

I was doing a little research yesterday, brought about due to my restless brain waves and reminiscing about my college days studying Anthropology.  I recalled Social Darwinism– Charles Darwin’s ideas on evolution, natural selection, and the survival of the fittest– and how at that time I thought many of his theories to be racist.  Well Yesterday, I couldn’t remember why I felt this way, so I decided to have a look.  Much to my surprise, I was taken aback with how many of his ideas I actually now agree with, including his views on the institution of religion, as well as how different species survive and adapt.  However, I can’t say that Darwin and I are soul brother and sister.  His life of privilege is what I believe prevented his notions from being fully translated across human lines: social, ethnic/racial, or economic situations, as they were all relevant to his lifestyle and his understanding of the world, which were arguably limited.  And I also don’t believe that Eugenics is the means of determining who is fit and who is doomed (as I know many of his ideologies were used to promote and support racist (among many other) theories about the “chosen ones”, and how to “clean up” the gene pool)).  BUT I have to say that he was obviously on to something that is proving to have detrimental implications on societies today.

This book is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology.

My question is this:  In today’s evolving world, who are the true [human] survivors?  As I sit around watching “smart people TV” (Discovery, History, and Green Planet channels, oh, and sometimes CNN) as Dimitri Snowden likes to call it, I’m piecing together my own hypothesis, one that I’ve always believed in the depths of me, but could never truly express or even understand like I do today.  This hypothesis is that the most marginalized communities of the world–the ones where very little technology is available, the natural world is a playground, and the knowledge of the earth takes center stage– are the ones most equipped to survive.  This hypothesis has not yet been tested, but I’m not completely sure it even needs to.

It both excites and startles me when I think about getting back to the basics.  What does this even mean for a person like me, who, although has never lived a lavish life, comes from very humble beginnings, and isn’t even exactly sure what the next chapter holds, is still determined to embrace a necessary, modest, and rewarding existence, honoring and caring for the earth before it’s too late.  Sounds crazy right?  Well not if you look at the all the zombies lurking in your backyard.

I wonder if Darwin knew that one day, natural selection would no longer be, natural?

Today, aside from the celebrity lifestyle options of designer drugs and botox, there are even more frightening concoctions on the market aimed at making humans not feel a thing.  And we might need it for what Mother Nature has in store for us in the coming days.

I’m talking about prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies for everything!  From headache and depression, to birth control and bleaching cream.  The end result is a doped up population of look-alikes and feel-alikes, dangerous video game playing, gun carrying, cough syrup drinking, war praising, rape imposing, skin bleaching, tan craving, pill-popping, eyes wide shut, can’t tell the difference between fantasy and reality synthetic human that is probably you or your next door neighbor.

Feel something?  There’s a Drug for that!

Nowadays our children are born with disorder, and with disorders that are thought to be genetic, but were never even considered during Darwin’s day.  I don’t know about you, but this thought, as bleak and dismal as it sounds, is the very society that we are living in.  Walking, talking ZOMBIES!  I often times find it extremely difficult to have meaningful conversations with even my closest counterparts because the awareness of what is happening to us as a species isn’t recognized.  I don’t mean to be a pessimist, especially considering that I do believe there is hope, but I’m not sure if this hope resides in our current leadership (and I’m speaking beyond President Obama, and the United States of America).  I think it will take the very people who fall victim to this confusion and illusion, to take a healthy dose of reality, perhaps having everything  they’ve worked for (including their houses, neighborhoods, and schools) crumble before them.  It may even take abandonment, loneliness, and the very things we call disorder(s) to destroy us, before we learn our lesson.

There is no hope for survival if we can no longer feel the pain.  If we are numb to life, we will surely burn in the fire.   It burns me up when I think about how genetically modified we are as humans.  How synthetic our existence has become.  As a child you don’t think about these kinds of things, you just do what you are told, believe what you hear, and take each day as it comes, until one day, you are programmed.  But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Those that are “marginalized”, humans that still have the knowledge of the earth, and live in ways that we in the “developed” world consider primitive, savage, or uncivilized hold a secret weapon that may be as natural as it gets.  But this weapon isn’t attained by colonization, and it  isn’t attained by participant observation (as Anthropologists would do).  It’s a simple as making a decision to minimize your synthetic intake.  That’s a start.  Recognizing that depression isn’t something to be medicated, it’s something to work through.  It’s related to a deeper issue, one that can be conquered by living.  Synthetically releasing hormones that are supposed to occur naturally means we need to alter our situations, not dope up on drugs.  Life is not supposed to be all roses.  Things happen, people get sick, people die.  And unfortunately, we experience things that may break us down.  That’s the gift of being human.  What purpose does it serve to live a long life if you haven’t felt anything along the journey?

This will work for YOU!

Now, I’m not naïve or jaded to believe that phenomena such as the cancer epidemic, global warming, and extinction of species are issues that we shouldn’t combat, or that education is indoctrination and all kids should be removed from school.  I just think we need a new approach, and while many people are in no mood to change, it shouldn’t discourage others not to.

A few ways to get started:

1.) Know the issues– what is happening around you, in your world, and in someone else’s.  You can’t turn on Fox and expect to know everything.  Get the other people’s facts too, and make your own informed decision. Be curious and discover for yourself!

2.) A mind and body to do– If you hear it, and you think it’s terrible, do something.  We often times flip on the news and say: “awww…” or “glad it’s not me”.  But the reality is it could be you, and what a lonely reality if no one comes to your aid.

3.) Create your desired lifestyle-  It’s one thing to say, “I wish I could look or feel like that”, and something completely different to start living.  You don’t have to be rich to be healthy, be in shape, or help others.  Want to live an organic lifestyle?  Start with just buying organic eggs!  Want a new dog?  Adopt one!  There are solutions to every problem.  I didn’t know how to get my mom to fully understand that what we put on our bodies isn’t always safe, so I bought her a small care package: sulfate-free shampoo, natural crystalline deodorant (bye bye anti-perspirant!) and paraben-free lotion.  And it’s all starting to sink in!

4.) Love yourself and others–  As cliché as it may sound, it’s probably the most important thing you can do for the planet.  Love inspires peace, peace inspires harmony.  If there is harmony, then Zombies can’t exist!  We have to be one with the universe if we expect to reap the benefits.  We have to know that death is a natural part of life, and that we can’t erase age or outlive ourselves.  This understanding will help us to live in the now.  Love will give us back the life we’ve taken for granted…

5.) Prepare- somethings are out of our control, while others can be prevented.  Have a plan, even if you never have to use it.  It can be as simple as a fire escape route, or as elaborate as escaping an alien attack.  I’m just kidding! But whatever your fear or anxiety is centered on, having a plan to survive it can definitely help.  Especially if you live in an area prone to disaster.  Your plan can simply be related to preparing for a great future.  Simply put, having a plan of action often leads to significant gains.  I think it has something to do with expecting of yourself:-)

and lastly

6.) Only bite off what you can chew-  Excess of anything can lead to undesirable results.  Too much alcohol= abuse and liver sorosis.  Too much cursing= limited vocabulary.  And Too much fishing= decline of sealife (which alters the ecosystem significantly and has horrible affects for humans too!).  You get my point.

Perhaps I’m an ideologist, some might even call me paranoid.  But one thing is for certain, I refuse to be a Zombie and risk my chances of surviving my so called LIFE!


Should kids get $100,000 to drop out of college?

Billionaire Peter Thiel is paying 24 overachievers to leave school and focus on entrepreneurial pursuits. Will this create the next Mark Zuckerberg… or just waste talent?
POSTED ON MAY 26, 2011, AT 11:50 AM
Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in 2004, dropped out of Harvard after creating Facebook, and billionaire Peter Thiel wants to make sure more Zuckerbergs aren't lost to college.

Mark Zuckerberg, pictured in 2004, dropped out of Harvard after creating Facebook, and billionaire Peter Thiel wants to make sure more Zuckerbergs aren’t lost to college. Photo: Rick Friedman/Corbis SEE ALL 18 PHOTOS

Best Opinion:  Atlantic, Discover, Economist…

On Wednesday, Peter Thiel, the libertarian billionaire who founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, announced the first class of his “Thiel Fellows.” The 24 overachievers, all under the age of 20 and in possession of ridiculously impressive resumes (MIT at 14, Stanford Ph.D at 19), will receive $100,000 each to drop out of college for two years and pursue “innovative scientific and technical projects, learn entrepreneurship, and begin to build the technology companies of tomorrow.” Given the great expense of a college education — and the fact that tech stars like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates are all dropouts — does it make sense to encourage exceptional young people to forget the ivory tower and head to Silicon Valley?

No, there are a lot of benefits to a college degree: “College dropout success stories are still a rarity,” says Sean Ludwig at VentureBeat. Sure, a college education comes at a great cost, but it also comes with great benefits. It helps students become more well-rounded, and gets them the credentials many employers require. Plus, school is “an incredible networking hub that connects and rewards people long after the debts are paid off.”
“Peter Thiel pays kids $100K to drop out of college”

And college is worth it financially, too: According to a recent Georgetown University study on the value of college, “Thiel’s assumptions are way off base,” says Adam Clark Estes in The AtlanticThe study showed that earning potential for college grads varies greatly, depending on what they major in, but ultimately a college education “is an investment that, on average, pays off big dividends across the board.”
“Peter Thiel bets $2.4 million against the value of a college degree”

But for a tiny minority, dropping out makes sense: The criticisms of Thiel’s program are “just plain stupid,” says Razib Khan at Discover. There are a few very exceptional people — those who will change civilization — who have nothing substantive to gain from college. Even if these Thiel fellows don’t change the world, Thiel should still be applauded for sending the message “that there is social and cultural value in being an oddball who doesn’t aspire to be a prominent and licensed professional, let alone a banker at Goldman Sachs.”
“Let a thousand Thiel fellows bloom!”

Besides, they can always go back to school: Thiel’s “initiative may be less controversial than the headlines suggest,” says M.B. in The Economist. “With luck, some of the 24 under 20 will follow in the footsteps of other notable stop-outs such as Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg.” But if they don’t, they can always return to school and get a college degree.
“$100,000 drop-outs”

View this article on Theweek.com


How does it feel?

Woke up this morning, as did most Americans and many countless others from around the world, to the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in his “secret” compound in Pakistan.  Now I ask this question:  How does it feel now that he is dead?  Are we magically healed from pain, and instantly even?

I don’t understand all this misguided and misplaced celebration… How is this comfort? How does his death = victory? And I find it extremely hard to believe, as has been reported,  there is no one else qualified to replace him. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind (Ghandi)…

The September 11 attacks in NYC, DC, and PA are not somehow avenged because Bin Laden is dead.  His death is not closure.  He comes from a very strong network.  And while I detest in every way possible what he has helped to manifest, I do not believe his death has solved anything.  On the contrary (along with the help of the following newspaper headlines), may have brought about more trouble for the future of Americans, Pakistanis, and many other innocent victims.    It doesn’t stop here.  Please be sure to check yourself with these additional words of wisdom,

“Celebrate death and He may mistake your exuberant joy as an open invitation to visit your house next.”
-Ghana-Imani Hilton


Trumped…

I can’t believe I’m actually posting a blog entry about this fool, but I can’t resist!  He has truly made the American public look like fools to the rest of the world!  And while there are natural and nuclear disasters, rebellions, and humanitarian crises taking place in our nation and all over the globe, what does he choose to focus on?  A birth certificate that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things…  Hey Trump!  I’m not American either!  I was just BORN HERE!

CNN got some interesting (and comical) feedback from others who feel the same!  Check it out here <<<

I’ll leave you with the only comment that really matters during this sad, sad time in politics:  “He wants to see Obama’s birth certificate? I wanna see HIS hairline.”  -Robin Williams

Ha!


I’m not scared of earthquakes, tsunamis, or tornados!

So, has anyone else noticed that our dear Mother Nature is releasing some serious tension lately?  I’m trying to recall the last time storms and floods ravaged our nation as tirelessly as it has for the past few weeks.  I’m sure we’re overdue for some geological reshaping of terrain, but I mean WOW!  With the fires in Texas, the tornados ripping across the east, and the threat of seismic activity to the west, I’m just wondering where I will be when I experience one of nature’s displays.  And I know it could be far worse; Japan got it good, and in addition to a manmade disaster as well:-( So far all I’ve gotten is rain (and trust me, I’m not complaining), but unfortunately there are (and will continue to be) some who must perish in order to keep the balance of life for the rest of us, and many more who will be displaced.  Will it get better soon?  Only Father Time will tell…

To everyone out there who may be enduring meteorological or geological changes and catastrophes , I sincerely hope that things improve soon, and that your resilience shines through like the sun!


Snowden Racing…as fast as you can!

If you:

1.) Love racing
2.) Want to learn about racing
3.) Live in Indianapolis or the surrounding areas (Indy 500 baby! yeah!)
4.) Own a race car
5.) Want to see an exhibition
6.) Love cars
7.) Build cars
8.) Love to burn gas really fast because you love the current gas prices…

Then check out his blog!  Snowden Racing in FULL EFFECT! Make sure you press the “like” button on his page (for facebook and twitter users)!

Shout out to Dimitri Snowden and Team Snowden for being so FLY, effortlessly!


Should we care 150 years later?

I can remember the first time I saw the movie Glory*.  I was in a junior high school History class, and I was just as dismayed then to listen to the Civil War and Emancipation discourse as I am today…

It’s a bit unsettling at times, to have discussions about slavery with white people, partly because it’s an emotionally charged page in history, and also because it’s tempting to become defensive if the discussion turns into a blame game.  The bottom line is that we all know slavery was/is wrong, and yet it’s difficult to move past, even today.

But probably what challenges me (to put it nicely) more than having a discussion about slavery with white people, is having a discussion about slavery with black people.  Yes, I said it.  But let me be specific.  There is something about history in schools today that seems to turn most black kids off, and it’s completely understandable.  The content is seemingly irrelevant, often taught in a manner that heroifies our forefathers, demonizes those who have in someway opposed our country, and makes so predictable the discussion of black and brown people in America.  And what’s the consequence?  Apathetic, ignorant, and mentally enslaved youth who have decided that they no longer care.   Having once been that “turned-off” kid, and having taught a middle school Humanities and American History class, I quickly learned how to approach a classroom full of detached pre-teens.  I had to remember my own sentiments, and the moment I learned to actually care about history in order to do any real teaching

I’ll skip my identity story and get to the point.  As we commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, and we think about all those soldiers in both the Union armies and volunteer companies, as well as Confederates who sacrificed themselves for their beliefs and for the future of the country, it’s extremely crucial to also evaluate the true history and purpose of the war, and if we’ve really moved passed it.  It’s also important to consider why people may seemingly not care before assumptions are made and boxes are drawn for groups of people.

I read an article on the NPR today, and it’s title (The Root: Blacks Should Care About the Civil War) really got me thinking. We should care, and I can guarantee you, we do care.  Even if some of us have not yet realized.  Our youth today have not yet had to face any political or socially defining moment or had to fight for their freedoms in the way that our ancestors or forefathers had to.  Many of them, regardless of race or ethnicity, have not been tested in that way.  We also need to remember, the history books, classes, and teachers who lead them don’t always give the full story, told from multiple perspectives and in a way that maintains the dignity of all engaged in the conversation.  We can’t make anyone care, but if we present the facts, share the conflicts and controversies, and allow people to work through their confusions, disagreements, or pain, the indifference will fade…

*Glory tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the first Northern black volunteer regiment of the Civil War.  For more information, click here.


The Popular Uprising

The newest trend on the global stage is the popular uprising.  Seen across the continent of Africa and in the Middle East (including countries such as Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia, and Côte d’Ivoire), political unrest is spurring a domino effect.  Click here to see who could be next.  Reading about the rebellions unraveling across the globe reminds me of the Cuban Revolution and the desaparecidos of the Dirty War.  It almost seems as if those in power in these countries are experiencing a bit of Red Scare, except this time, with democracy (Blue Scare?) as the culprit. The United States is in no way exempt…


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