Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—The Houston International Festival is an annual celebration of culture and tradition that takes place in downtown Houston, with live performances, fashion shows, international cuisine and much more.
Visitors from around the world converge on Tranquility Park in Houston to be a part of the iFest tradition, the highlights of which have been captured by Newscast Media on video, and in our photo gallery.
Videography by Joseph Earnest
Newscast Media THE HAGUE, Netherlands—United Nations officials today welcomed the guilty verdict handed down against former Liberian President Charles Taylor by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).
“This is a historic and momentous day for the people of Sierra Leone, for the region and beyond. The Secretary-General’s thoughts today are with the victims of the crimes for which Charles Taylor has been found guilty,” said a spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“The judgment is a significant milestone for international criminal justice, as it concerns the first ever conviction of a former Head of State by an international criminal tribunal for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity,” he added. “It sends a strong signal to all leaders that they are and will be held accountable for their actions.”
Earlier on Thursday, the SCSL handed down a guilty verdict against Mr. Taylor for planning, aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was on trial on 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including pillage, slavery for forced marriage purposes, collective punishment and the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Mr. Taylor, who was indicted while he was still President of Liberia, is the first former Head of State to be convicted by an international criminal tribunal since the Nuremberg trials in 1946. The charges relate to his alleged support for two rebel groups – the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council and the Revolutionary United Front – during Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The UN chief’s views were echoed around other parts of the United Nations system. “It is important to recognize that Taylor may appeal the verdict, and that his guilt is not fully established until the end of the judicial process,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said in a news release. “Nevertheless, whatever the final outcome, this is undoubtedly a historic moment in the development of
The High Commissioner noted that other leaders – namely Laurent Gbagbo and Radovan Karadžic – have also been charged with international crimes and are either already on trial or will be soon. As well, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been indicted, while Slobodan Miloševic and Muammar Qadhafi were also at various stages of international proceedings at the time of their deaths.
“The days when tyrants and mass murderers could, even when they had been deposed, retire to a life of luxury in another land are over,” Pillay said. “And so they should be. Few things are more repugnant than seeing people with so much blood on their hands, living on stolen money with no prospect of their victims seeing justice carried out.”
The Court’s conviction of Mr. Taylor included his involvement in the conscription, enlistment or use of children under the age of 15 years in hostilities. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said the court’s decision was a groundbreaking achievement in
prosecuting those who commit or are responsible for the most horrendous crimes against children.
“In this decade long conflict, children have experienced unspeakable atrocities. Girls and boys have been forced to cut off people’s limbs or have been mutilated themselves,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said in a news release. “I am encouraged by the prosecution of the mastermind behind these crimes and hope that with justice done today comes recovery and healing for the victims.”
She noted that the SCSL has been at the forefront of the fight against impunity for violations against children – it was the first international court to decide that the recruitment and use of children under fifteen constitutes a war crime under customary international law. The Court also took a clear decision not to prosecute child soldiers, but to bring to justice those who bear the greatest responsibility: political leaders and military commanders.
Noting that three of the 11 counts in the indictment against Mr. Taylor pertain to sexual violence, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, said the court’s decision sends a powerful signal that sexual violence will be punished.
“Wartime sexual violence used to be one of history’s greatest silences and the world’s least condemned war crime. The trial of Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia, represents a firm commitment by the international community that impunity is not an option for this type of crime,” Ms. Wallström said in news release. “The successful prosecution of a former President signals that no leader – however powerful – is above the law; and that no woman or girl is below it.”
The Prosecutor of the SCSL, Brenda J. Hollis, applauded the conviction, lauding it as another victory in the fight against impunity.
“Today is for the people of Sierra Leone who suffered horribly because of Charles Taylor. This judgment brings some measure of justice to the many thousands of victims who paid a terrible price for Mr. Taylor’s crimes,” Ms. Hollis said.
According to the SCSL, following today’s judgment both parties will make submissions on sentencing, which is expected to be pronounced in the near future. The final stage in the case will be the appeals phase. The Prosecution will closely review today’s judgment to identify any potential appellate issues. The Secretary-General’s spokesperson noted that the SCSL is an excellent model of a cooperative partnership with the United Nations to bring those responsible for serious international crimes to justice in accordance with international standards of justice, fairness and due process of law.
“As the Special Court for Sierra Leone nears the completion of its mandate, the Secretary-General calls on the international community to preserve and promote its legacy by supporting the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone, which will commence functioning upon the closure of the Special Court,” he added.
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C—A coalition of groups from the religious left held a prayer vigil and “Jericho march” at the Supreme Court this week. The court was hearing arguments in a case on the constitutionality of an Arizona immigration law.
The 48-hour prayer vigil began Monday and ended Wednesday morning, the day of the court hearings, with a “Jericho march” around the Supreme Court building. Over 1,000 people were reportedly participating in the march, which was named after the Battle of Jericho from the book of Joshua in which God brought victory to the Israelites after they marched around Jericho and the city walls fell down.
It will be a “sad day in the life of America” if the Supreme Court upholds Arizona’s immigration law, Lisa Sharon Harper told The Christian Post in a Wednesday interview. In particular, Harper was concerned about “the most heinous pieces” of the law “that legalize racial profiling.”
Harper is the director of mobilizing for Sojourners, one of the groups that participated in the vigil.
The law in question, Arizona’s S.B. 1070, would, among other things, require law enforcement to verify the citizenship status of anyone detained or arrested if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are in the country illegally, require non-citizens to carry documentation showing they are in the country legally, and make it a state crime to be in the country illegally.
The court is being asked to decide if Arizona has the authority to pass such laws, or if immigration laws are the sole authority of the federal government. http://www.newscastmedia.com/arizona.htm
Newscast Media NEW YORK—UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called on Bahrain to respect the human rights of its people and expressed concern about a jailed activist, who led an uprising in the Persian Gulf state last year and has been on a hunger strike for the past 10 weeks.
Activists are pressing for democratic reforms in a country dominated by the ruling Al Khalifa family. Activists protested during the Formula One Grand Prix last week to try and embarrass the rulers while the global focus was on the kingdom for the race.
Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, one of 14 men in prison for leading an uprising last year, has said he will fast to his death if he is not freed and plans to reduce his food intake to just water. He is serving a life sentence for expressing support last year for Bahrain becoming a republic and has been fasting for 76 days.
UN Secretary-General Ban’s office said in a statement that he is “concerned” by al-Khawaja’s situation.
“The Secretary-General once again urges the Bahraini authorities to resolve Mr. Al-Khawaja’s case based on due process and humanitarian considerations without any further delay,” the statement said.
Khawaja, who helped found the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, is also well known in the international rights arena. He has worked with Front Line Defenders and Amnesty International, conducting research in Iraq in 2003.
“The Secretary-General remains concerned about the situation in Bahrain, particularly with regard to the continuing clashes between security forces and protesters which have resulted in more casualties,” Ban’s office said. He appealed for all sides to show utmost restraint and to immediately end the violence.
“The Secretary-General also calls on the Bahraini authorities to fully respect the fundamental human rights of the Bahraini people, including due process concerning all detainees,” it said.
Bahrain, an American ally that hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has been in turmoil since the protests began early last year. Though martial law and Saudi troops were brought in to crush them after one month, the strife has continued with regular mass marches by opposition parties and violent clashes with police.
Foreign governments, rights groups and media watchdogs have criticized Bahrain for its handling of the protests and the slow pace of reforms. http://www.newscastmedia.com/bahrain.htm
Source: Tehran Times
Newscast Media TEHRAN, Iran—Iran’s Press TV is reporting that a senior Iranian lawmaker has confirmed that the downed US Sentinel reconnaissance drone has been decoded, making such an achievement a turning point in the Islamic Republic’s technological breakthrough.
“The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in a major and successful move has decoded the records on the downed US RQ-170 Sentinel reconnaissance drone. It is a turning point in Iran’s capabilities and technological progress,” the Chairman of Iran’s Majlis (parliament) National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Tuesday.
Boroujerdi went on say that the move shows the capabilities of the skillful Iranian scientists in making an Iranian reconnaissance drone, more advanced than the American one.
On December 4, the Iranian military’s electronic warfare unit announced that the country has successfully downed the US RQ-170 Sentinel stealth reconnaissance aircraft inside Iran with minimal damage.
The aircraft, designed and developed by Lockheed Martin, had crossed into Iran’s airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.
Navy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced on April 22, 2012, that Iran had successfully decoded all the records on the downed US Sentinel reconnaissance drone.
“There were numerous codes, but we obtained all the information on its memory, including the protocols, repairs and flight sorties; for instance, the data of a flight after repairs in 2010 or the [drone's] deployment in the operation against [slain al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden in Pakistan,” said Rear Admiral Fadavi.
Last year, the U.S. attempted to persuade Iran to return the drone, but Iran insisted that the drone was a gift from the USA to Iran, and it is considered rude to return a gift to someone who sent it.
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—While western nations are reluctant to open up trade with Africa and prefer to support the Continent by donating money to poor countries, the Chinese have taken a different approach. There is an old Chinese saying that goes: “Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.” China is living up to that mantra and has dominated Africa in every aspect.
The West is baffled as to how deeply embedded China’s tentacles have become in Africa, in such a short period of time. The Chinese have succeeded in investing in Africa’s infrastructure and are also training African workers to prepare them for the job market. This approach has yielded trust between native Africans and the Chinese, because Africans do not view Chinese as attempting to recolonize them.
The West on the other hand is not trusted by native Africans. Every move is second-guessed. Every donation is looked at suspiciously with the recipients wondering when the strings attached to each donation will be pulled. The Chinese have refrained from sending any military-related assistance to the Continent.
Instead, they are addressing how to get Africans out of poverty through hands-on training.
Take for example the recently-built shoe factory in Ethiopia. China is investing 2 billion U.S. dollars to create 100,000 local jobs over the next decade.
“We want Ethiopian employees who came from poor backgrounds to use the company as a platform to fulfill their dreams and to help them out of poverty,” said Helen Hai, vice president of Hua Jian Industrial Holdings, during a panel discussion here on Saturday at the Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
China is the largest trade partner of Africa, and in 2011, the trade volume between China and Africa reached 160 billion U.S. dollars, representing a 30-percent increase year on year, according this article by Xinhua News.
While the West was asleep, China invested heavily in the South Sudan oil sector providing jobs for the Sudanese, at the same time helping the country refine oil, creating a win-win situation. With the recent attacks by Sudan on its southern neighbor, Beijing has even spoken out and has asked both countries to protect the rights and interests of Chinese oil companies that have established projects in the two countries as reported by China Daily.
Yet even more lucrative than oil, are the vast underground water reserves upon which Africa sits, that have caught the attention of the West, particularly researchers from the British Geological Survey and University College London.
Water is the new gold. These aquifers stretch from North to South Africa, and the reason water is lucrative is because it can be bottled, and sold back to consumers. In fact scientists say that the water reserves are over 100 times more than the water on the surface. Take all the rivers and lakes in Africa and multiply the volume by 100, that’s what lies beneath the Continent (that geologists know of).
While the British are excited about these findings, it will be the Chinese who once again provide a win-win situation by providing irrigation schemes, boreholes, wells and so forth, to native Africans. In return, they will build bottling factories and hire the same African natives to run the plants. If the Chinese make a profit, it will seem a reasonable thing to do since they first and foremost showed concern for the needs of the natives. The water discovery can be read in this BBC article.
Why is China so far ahead of any other country in investing in Africa? Because China doesn’t fight unnecessary wars. It invests that money in Africa, and is projected to surpass the U.S. economy in the next 5-10 years. http://www.newscastmedia.com/china-africa.htm
by Napp Nazworth
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—A common theme has emerged from President Barack Obama’s critics from both the right and the left – he has not kept the promises he made in 2008. The most recent attack came from a Republican National Committee ad accusing Obama of coddling lobbyists.
The ad shows Obama in a 2008 campaign speech saying, “we will not take a dime from Washington lobbyists,” with the words, “the promise, Candidate Obama, 2008″ across the screen. The ad then cuts to TV news reports about lobbyist influence in the Obama administration. The ad ends with a photo of Obama at a dinner, insinuatingly with lobbyists, delivering a toast. The words, “from hope to hypocrisy, the senator who became a sellout,” are across the screen.
The ad is based, in part, on an exposé earlier this month in The New York Times depicting a tight relationship between large donations to Obama’s reelection campaign and visits to the White House. The article revealed that some wealthy donors were accompanied by lobbyists during their visit.
The criticism that Obama has not lived up to his campaign promises has been especially prominent from liberals.
A March 6 editorial by liberal Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank called “Settling in to Washington’s ways” complains that Obama has placed lobbyists in prominent White House positions. They were not technically lobbyists at the time. They de-registered as lobbyists when Obama won office, but continued many of the lobbying activities they were doing while registered lobbyists.
“Such an arrangement may not violate the letter of Obama’s ethics policy, but it makes a joke of the spirit of reform he promised,” Milbank complained. The Onion, a comedy website, also mocked Obama for not living up to his campaign promises in a satirical article called, “Obama Launches More Realistic ‘I Have Big Ideas But We’ll See How It Goes’ Campaign Slogan.”
David Gregory, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” quoted passages from The Onion’s article Sunday while interviewing the Obama Campaign’s senior adviser, David Axelrod.
“It gets a laugh, is there any greater truth to that?” Gregory asked. Axelrod answered “no” and blamed Republicans for the lack of progress on Obama’s agenda.
Newscast Media KAMPALA, Uganda—After having voted overwhelmingly to abolish term limits from Uganda’s Constitution on August 11, 2005, members of Uganda’s parliament recently voted to restore presidential term limits. Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported that the move to restore term limits was provoked by President Yoweri Museveni’s unwillingness to state clearly whether he would run for office again in 2016.
The same agency reports that the lifting of term limits in 2005 was as a result of ruling party MPs being given 1,520 euros to support the 2005 constitutional change, paving the way for Museveni’s reelection in the 2006 general election.
However, Museveni argues that the reason he has stayed in power for 26 years is because Ugandans keep voting him back into office. In a CNN interview, Christiane Amanpour asked Museveni, “Do you not think that 26 years in power is enough?” To which Museveni answered: “There are so many issues to deal with. I can leave power when my party agrees.” The interview can be viewed below:
Museveni interview – Video courtesy: CNN
As you saw and heard in the video, Amanpour suggested it would be best to leave power on a high note, rather than be referred to as “Mugabe”. I researched to see where Amanpour may have gotten the “Mugabe” phrase. I discovered that it was actually former Uganda Ambassador Johnnie Carson who coined that phrase in an article he wrote on May 1, 2005 in the Boston Globe.
In the article Carson writes: “Many observers see Museveni’s efforts to amend the constitution as a rerun of a common problem that afflicts many African leaders — an unwillingness to follow constitutional norms and give up power. Museveni’s reluctance to move aside may also be motivated by a desire to protect those
around him, including his son and half brother, from charges of corruption for alleged involvement in illegal activities.”
Carson concludes the article by saying: “If Museveni succeeds in his desire to win a third term, we may be looking at another Mugabe and Zimbabwe in the making.” The full article can be read here.
Not only is the pressure coming from the members if parliament who voted to restore term limits, but also the local clergy are advising Museveni not to run in 2016 as reported by Africa Review here.
The Kony-Museveni dilemma
An effort for Kony to be apprehended has been launched, with Museveni offering soldiers to undertake the mission. This now makes him more useful, because it is doubtful that any other African country would be willing to embark on such an undertaking that includes many risks. As long as Kony is still out there, Museveni’s stay in power is assured, and as long as there is turmoil in Somalia, he will be needed by the West to fight that war.
During the Clinton era, when American troops were sent into Somali to help stabilize the region, they faced great hostility and several deaths occurred in which the Somalians dragged soldiers’ bodies in the Mogadishu streets. The U.S. will not let acts like that happen again, which explains the West’s willingness to let Museveni stay in power.
The emergence of Kony
Most journalists started hearing about Kony in the past 10 years, yet Kony first became active during the Cold War in the Reagan administration in 1985, before Museveni became president. At the time, Joseph Kony had not yet named his group the Lord’s Resistance Army. They were simply guerilla’s from the North. In the
African language the northern guerillas associated with Kony were referred to as “Anyanya”. There was even a saying that: “We won’t pray with our eyes closed, so we can see the Banyanya when they attack us.”
In 1986 Museveni ascended to the presidency through guerilla warfare and through the help of the dominant Ganda tribe in central Uganda. Museveni was not worried about the northern attacks because he had the support the largest tribe in Uganda. In order to get this support though, Museveni struck a deal with Buganda’s royal family to restore the kingdoms that had been abolished in 1967 after a new constitution under Milton Obote abolished all of Uganda’s kingdoms, including Buganda. Indeed, in the early 90s Museveni proved he was as good as his word, and restored the kingdoms, with King Ronald Mutebi, who at the time was in exile in London, becoming the Kabaka (king) of Buganda.
In the 90s Uganda enjoyed a relatively peaceful period, with little interruption from the guerilla’s in the North. By 2004-2005, the Lord’s Resistance Army of Joseph Kony was virtually non-existent and completely inactive in Uganda.
Today, Uganda’s three major problems are: corruption, lack of a consistent supply of electricity, and lack of employment particularly among the youth. As far as corruption is concerned, even Museveni himself said, “Uganda is full of thieves,” in a visit to Rwanda. It is the misappropriation of funds that has crippled development in Uganda’s infrastructure. The streets are filled with pot holes and most buildings do not meet the building inspection codes. If Kampala were to have an earthquake today, the city would literally have to be rebuilt from the ground up.
The reliability of electricity is also another problem and some Ugandans are resorting to alternative energy, to run their businesses. I wondered why there is a power supply problem today, yet during Idi Amin’s regime, it was unheard of not to have electricity. Uganda’s street lamps were all working including the traffic lights when Amin was president. The elevators (lifts) in commercial buildings were dependable and virtually every house with indoor plumbing had water flowing through the taps.
The answer lies in the population growth which during Amin’s time was at 12.8 million. Today, Uganda has a population of 33.4 million people according to the U.S. State Department. Uganda has been dependant on hydro-electric power, and with three times the population growth, the country has to invest in the energy sector something Museveni should have foreseen 26 years ago since Uganda has the second most fertile women in the world just behind Niger.
Knowing how fertile Ugandan women are, Museveni made a fatal mistake by not implementing measures to deal with the population growth. This has caused great dissatisfaction among the unemployed youth, and the frustration is also being exhibited by MPs and clergy moving to restore presidential term limits. If the country did not have an unemployment problem, nobody would care how long Museveni stayed in power.
What the majority of unemployed Ugandans gripe about is that Museveni is spending most of the money on military equipment yet Uganda is not at war, instead of investing that money on programs that can help train Ugandans to be competitive in the workforce. Programs like vocational (hands-on) education, cooperative education, apprenticeships, work-study and research programs are more likely to benefit Ugandans and Uganda, but instead, all the talent in Uganda is migrating to South Africa where opportunities are bountiful, and the work pays handsomely. http://www.newscastmedia.com/term-limits-uganda.htm
by Ethan Cole
Newscast Media LYNCHBURG, Va— Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will deliver the commencement address at Liberty University – his first appearance at the conservative evangelical school founded by Christian Right leader Jerry Falwell.
The Lynchburg, Va.-based school announced today that the former Massachusetts governor, who is a Mormon, will be the speaker at its 2012 commencement ceremony on May 12.
“We are delighted that Governor Romney will join us to celebrate Commencement with Liberty’s 2012 graduates,” said Liberty Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., in a statement Thursday. “This will be a historic event for Liberty University reminiscent of the visits of Governor, and then presidential candidate, Ronald Reagan to Liberty’s campus in 1980 and of President George H.W. Bush who spoke at Liberty’s 1990 Commencement
Liberty University is no stranger to hosting presidential candidates; Texas Gov. Rick Perry spoke at the school last September when he was still in the GOP presidential race and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) delivered a speech there in 2006 ahead of his White House run.
Notably, however, news of Romney speaking at the largest evangelical university in the world was released just a week after former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum suspended his campaign. Last November, front-runner Romney declined to join the Thanksgiving Family Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, even though all the other major candidates attended to woo the evangelical Christian electorate represented there ahead of the Iowa caucuses.
Romney’s upcoming speech at Liberty University – which is expecting some 48,000 graduates and guests for its 39th Commencement ceremony – is seen as an effort to win over the evangelical vote and consolidate his base now that his greatest challenge to becoming the nominee – Santorum – has been removed.
Newscast Media PARIS, France— French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Russia’s refusal to attend an international ministerial meeting on Syria in Paris on Thursday isolated the country from the Arab world and the international community.
“I’ve personally invited [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Mr. Lavrov, and I regret that Russia sticks to a policy that isolates it from both the Arab world and the international community,” Juppe told journalists in Paris.
Foreign ministers from 15 countries, including the United States, Germany, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, are expected to attend the Paris meeting, which was initiated by the French Foreign Ministry. Moscow declined to the invitation, describing the meeting as “one-sided,” just as recent meetings of the so-called Friends of Syria group of countries in Tunisia and Turkey, because no representatives of the Syrian government have been invited.
“Russia’s approach to this kind of meeting is well-known,” he said. “This meeting is apparently aimed not at looking for the basis to launch inter-Syrian dialogue, but just the opposite, at deepening the divisions between the opposition and Damascus by encouraging the international isolation of the latter,” he said.
Juppe said on Wednesday the Paris talks were designed to “convey a message of firmness to Damascus,” as well to demonstrate support for the UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria. But Lukashevich said the initiative looked more like “destructive political amateurism.”
His comments echoed Wednesday’s statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who criticized attempts by some countries to “privatize” internationally-backed efforts to end the more-than-year-long crisis in the Arab country. The statement came after Tuesday’s meeting on Syria held by a group of Arab League states in Qatar, some of whose participants raised doubts over the Syrian government’s commitment to the Annan peace plan. Annan himself attended the meeting.
Thursday’s meeting in Paris will come just two days after the first meeting of the international working group on sanctions against the Syrian regime held in the French capital. Lukashevich said calls for new sanctions were “against consolidated decisions by the UN Security Council” regarding Annan’s mission.
More than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of a popular uprising against President Bashar al-Assad last March, according to UN estimates. A fragile ceasefire has been in place in Syria for a week, although there have been reports of numerous violations of the truce by both government and opposition forces. A group of six UN observers have been deployed to Syria to monitor the ceasefire in line with a resolution approved by the Security Council last week, which provides for a 30-strong monitoring mission to be sent to the violence-hit Arab country.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recommended the Security Council approve a mission of 300 observers – 50 more than originally planned.
Newscast Media SEOUL— North Korea demanded Thursday that South Korea apologize for what it called insults during major anniversary festivities, or it would face a “sacred war”, as Seoul unveiled a new missile to deter its neighbor. Regional tensions have risen since Pyongyang went ahead with a long-range rocket
launch last Friday, defying international calls to desist.
The event was to have been a centerpiece of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary Sunday of the “Day of the Sun”, the birthday of Kim Il-Sung who founded the communist nation and the dynasty which still rules it.
“The puppet regime of traitors must apologize immediately for their grave crime of smearing our Day of Sun festivities,” said a government statement on Pyongyang’s official news agency.
Otherwise, it said, the North Korean people and military “will release their volcanic anger and stage a sacred war of retaliation to wipe out traitors on this land”. South Korea announced Thursday it has deployed new cruise missiles capable of destroying targets such as missile and nuclear bases anywhere in the North.
“With such capabilities, our military will sternly and thoroughly punish reckless provocations by North Korea while maintaining our firm readiness,” Major General Shin Won-Sik told reporters.
Yonhap news agency said the new cruise missile could travel more than 1,000 kilometers (625 miles). Cross-border tensions have been high since conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul in 2008 and scrapped a near-unconditional aid policy.
“If our power is strong, we can deter enemy provocations,” Lee said Thursday, describing the North as “the world’s most hostile force”.
The North hit back at critical comments by Lee and by conservative media, which questioned the overall cost of the celebrations in a nation suffering acute food shortages. Lee had said the estimated $850 million cost of the launch could have bought 2.5 million tons of corn.
“Traitor Lee Myung-Bak took the lead in vituperation during the festivities,” said a joint statement by the North’s government, party and social groups.
“This is an intolerable insult to our leader, system and people and a hideous provocation that sparked seething anger among the whole people.”
The North said its only aim was to launch a peaceful satellite, but the United States and its allies said this was a flimsy excuse for a test by the nuclear-armed nation of ballistic missile technology.
The North has warned of unspecified retaliation. Some experts believe it will conduct a new nuclear test or further long-range missile tests, while others predict a border clash with the South. An unrepentant Pyongyang last Sunday displayed an apparently new medium-range missile at a parade featuring thousands of goose-stepping troops and almost 900 pieces of weaponry.
Newscast Media NEW YORK—Albert Hofstadter and Richard Kuhns, both of whom are professors of philosophy, have this to say about beauty: “The beauty of objects is an emanation of beauty itself, and that in turn is an emanation of the good of the intellect. Hence individual beauty is, as it were, a symbol of cosmic harmony and a symbol of the higher reality to which all beautiful things are related and upon which all individual experiences of beauty depend.”
While most people relate beauty to physical objects, it is that misapplication that has lead to remarks made by media figures in regard to how people are judged by their looks. As I said before, authentic beauty is a manifestation of the source of beauty. Therefore, the physical beauty that people squabble about is simply an imitation of beauty itself, like Professors Hofstadler and Kuhns so eloquently articulated in their description.
Because my description approaches beauty as something that transcends the senses and the physical realm namely, Divine accordance, which is the source of authentic beauty, I will demonstrate the veracity of my argument using an example of a blind man who is not limited to the senses:
Suppose a beautiful sculpture were placed before a blind man. He would not be able to accurately describe its beauty because he is being limited to the senses. Take that same man, and put him in the presence of someone who provides him an intellectually-stimulating conversation; thereafter place him in the company of someone who is well-mannered and courteous toward him. Finally, take him inside a courtroom where an oppressed person is facing an injustice, and a just judge intervenes on behalf of the oppressed person to correct the injustice.
At the end of the day, ask the blind man to describe for you all three events. To the first event where he was put in the presence of someone who engaged him in an intellectually-stimulating conversation he will say: “I had a beautiful interchange during the conversation.” About the second scenario where he was placed in the company of someone who was well-mannered and of courteous behavior he will say: “I had a beautiful experience in the presence of the well-mannered and courteous person.” As for the just judge who intervened and corrected an injustice, the blind man will say, “The act of the judge correcting an injustice on behalf of the oppressed was a beautiful act.”
How then, can a conversation, good manners, and justice be described as beautiful by a man who cannot see? How can manners that can’t felt or seen by the senses be beautiful? How can an act of justice be described as beautiful, yet it dwells in the invisible realm along with other virtues?
The reason is because the blind man discerns beauty from its true source, and anything that is authentically beautiful can only be described as being in synch with Divine accordance.
Our physical beauty fades—the peacocking and fancy material things pale in comparison with the beauty that speaks to our souls, and manifests itself through our actions. While physical beauty is relative, authentic beauty is absolute and universal. What one culture may consider physically attractive, may be repulsive to another in regard to physical beauty.
However, that cannot be said about authentic beauty. Authentic beauty is timeless. Travel to any part of the world, or even the deepest villages in distant lands—the acts of justice, kindness or courtesy will always be considered beautiful acts.
The discussion that researchers and the media spend too much needless time focusing on, should shift from the conspicuous that is temporary, to the inconspicuous that leaves a permanent and timeless impression. To conclude this Beauty series, you may read or download the research study here.
Newscast Media NEW YORK—The study showed that a fancy car (Porsche or Lotus) enhanced a man’s desirability to women for a potential short-term relationship, however, information that a man owned a fancy car did not enhance his desirability to women as a potential marriage partner. In other words, what this study shows is that a woman would rather be married to a man driving an old station wagon who is stable and with whom she has a strong emotional, mental and spiritual connection, than a man who drives a fancy car simply to gain her attention.
This therefore presents a tricky situation for men. We have seen in ACT I that women do not want to be objectified, yet women themselves wake up early in the morning before anyone else, and spend about half an hour making themselves look beautiful. They sure aren’t doing it for other women. So what confuses men is that if women want to be viewed for their inconspicuous value, why do they go through all the trouble of spending thousands of dollars on hair, fingernails, skin products and so forth, to look beautiful?
It presents an oxymoronic situation. On one hand women do not want to be judged by the way they look. On the other hand, they nullify that argument, by spending a lot of effort and money to enhance their beauty. This is the scenario that becomes tricky for most men. Even the most basic aspects of courtship that have nothing to do with looks can sometimes be misconstrued by women who are regimented. For example, when our parents were growing up in the 50s and 60s, men used to open doors and pull out chairs for women.
Today, men are confused about acts of chivalry, because opening a door or pulling out a chair for a woman in America, might be viewed as patronizing or sexist. When our parents were growing up, it was the gentlemanly thing to do, and women in that age bracket still consider it gracious for a man to open doors or pull out chairs for them.
Because the approach has become tricky, I believe the study makes a point in demonstrating that men who exhibit conspicuous consumption, do it to gauge how likely a particular woman or women will react, and if the woman (or women) gives a green light, the man will make an approach. On the other hand, men who aren’t as showy tend to be free-flowing naturals who understand women, and have internalized the approach, such that whether or not such a man is driving a fancy car or wearing flashy clothes or jewelry he is able to attract women.
This in turn translates to being viewed as confident by women, and as they begin to feel comfortable with such a man, the material aspects of the relationship become secondary while the intangible attributes like loyalty, character, personality, being passionate about one’s calling and stability, become primary factors that hold the relationship together. In regard to the research study, I have posted a link at the very end of this series in ACT III, so you can download or read it.
I would not be doing justice to my readers if I did not tackle how physical appearance comes into play in social dynamics. The study focuses on the conspicuous (visible attributes), yet I would like to stress that it is possible for a woman to be beautiful, yet a man may not find her attractive. The reason is because, a man does not enter a relationship or marry a woman because of the way she looks. Rather, a man enters a relationship or marries a woman because of the way she makes him feel.
The other side of the coin is, a woman might be considered average-looking, but if she makes a man feel worthwhile, in his eyes, she is the most beautiful woman in the world. It is not unusual to hear that a very wealthy man married a simple waitress. Here is one story of Norway’s Crown Prince, who married a waitress.
There are many such stories including the story of Prince Saeed bin Maktoum al Maktoum who married a waitress from Belarus. The point is, such women have certain intangible traits, the manifestation of which caught the attention of these distinguished gentlemen.
For this reason I will now have to define the pleasant, the beautiful, and the good. To do this, permit me to turn to Prussian-born behavioral scientist Immanuel Kant. In describing all three attributes, Kant said: “That which gratifies a person is called pleasant; that which merely pleases one, is called beautiful; that which is esteemed or approved by one is called good.” (Critique of Judgment, Part 5, page 285).
As you can see, beauty goes beyond the senses or the visible realm, that’s why this journalist describes authentic beauty as: “The evidence of that which is in synchronization with Divine accordance.” Yet advertising and the celebrity world have projected upon society a false sense of what authentic beauty is, and have limited it to the visual realm. ACT III- How we view beauty the invisible realm>>
Categories: News Tags: Bernini's Daphne and Apollo, Daphne and Apollo, laws of attraction, male female dynamics, men and women dynamics, rules of the game, speed seduction, what men want, what women want
Newscast Media NEW YORK—A study done by Houston’s very own Rice university shows that men who demonstrate conspicuous(visible) consumption do so as a mating strategy, and this strategy is triggered specifically by short-term (vs. long-term) mating motives.
Another term for conspicuous consumption is referred to as “peacocking”, which is the process by which a man attempts to attract a woman’s attention by wearing a flashy bright-colored piece of clothing, or driving a fancy car that stands out like a Porsche or Lamborghini. Overall, these findings suggest that flaunting flashy materialistic goods to potential mates is not simply about displaying economic resources. Instead, conspicuous consumption appears to be part of a more precise signaling system focused on short-term mating.
Looking at conspicuous consumption from an evolutionary angle, the behavior mirrors that which is displayed in the animal kingdom. Male peacocks are known for the display of their beautiful tail feathers, the purpose of which is to exhibit value toward the female peacock.
In the animal kingdom, the lions with the larger manes tend to attract more lionesses. The lionesses view the size of the mane as a sign of potency and strength because the large mane protects the lion from lethal neck wounds during a fight. If a lion is more likely to survive in a fight, then there is a high likelihood that it is a potent male and is able to continue the bloodline. In the animal kingdom, it is therefore the males that tend to have more feathers or fur than the females, because the more the feathers or fur, the more spectacular the display will be during the mating dance.
The study suggests that males that display conspicuous consumption may be chosen by females for the short-term, while those that do not display conspicuous consumption are likely to be chosen for the long-term. This is because men who are viewed as long-term material have already developed the necessary traits to attract females and do not need to resort to peacocking to get a woman’s attention.
Yet despite such behavioral displays on the male side, women too, are very conscious about the way they look and how they are perceived based on external factors. A week ago Ashley Judd, the actress, wrote a column in which she said she was upset about being criticized for having let her face become puffy.
In her article on the Daily Beast that went viral, Judd said, “I choose to address it because the conversation was pointedly nasty, gendered, and misogynistic and embodies what all girls and women in our culture, to a greater or lesser degree, endure every day, in ways both outrageous and subtle. The assault on our body image, the hypersexualization of girls and women and subsequent degradation of our sexuality as we walk through the decades, and the general incessant objectification is what this conversation allegedly about my face is really about.”
The most poignant statement she made in the article was that people are now saying: “Ashley has lost her familiar beauty audiences loved her for.” You may read the entire article here.
However, women can be the most cruel and critical toward each other in regard to physical appearance. A week before Ashley Judd lamented about being valued only for the physical aspect of who she truly is, Joy Behar called the very pregnant Jessica Simpson “fat” on the ABC show The View on Tuesday April 3.
About Simpson, the co-host said: “Remember the time that Jessica Simpson was criticized because she didn’t know the difference between chicken and tuna? That kind of thing is more fun to criticize than the fact that the girl is fat.”
Sarah Palin’s reaction to Joy Behar’s criticism was swift: “I would have wanted to punch [Jessica's critics] in the neck. It’s none of anybody else’s business how much weight I would gain,” said the former Alaska governor on the TODAY show. The interchange was carried by US Weekly in this article.
There is a common thread throughout the dialogue, and it appears that much more than anything else, these women want is to be treated with respect for their inconspicuous value. While that is the way every human should be treated regardless of gender, women have confused men in regard to how they should be approached. ACT II – Find out how men approach women>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Upon arrival of the space shuttle Discovery at Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said Discovery was the longest-serving veteran of NASA’s space shuttle fleet. Her maiden voyage was in 1984. She flew 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
The shuttles are carried on specially-built 747 jetlines called Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, or SCA. Below is a video demonstrating how both the shuttle and carrier function:
Video courtesy: NASA
Garver said, “To those who say our best exploration days are behind us, I must disagree. While it is wonderful to reminisce about the past, NASA continues to focus on the future. You need only admire the amazing space shuttles and their accomplishments to realize the people, organizations and nation that created them have only just begun. Vehicles with names like Orion, Dragon and Dreamchaser are being built all across the country today. They will continue and expand on the space shuttle’s many accomplishments.”
Garver also believes the space shuttles’ 30-year history literally changed the world. NASA’s greatest accomplishment and purpose, now complete, was the launch and construction of the ISS — the science laboratory in space and our foothold to the rest of the solar system.
Newscast Media LONDON, England—One of the most anticipated news programs hosted by WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, aired its first episode on Russia Today. The guest for the show was none other than Sayyid Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah. The decision by Russia Today (RT) to host the program, The World Tomorrow hosted by Assange, has caused many to question the relationship between, and motive of Russia and Julian Assange to broadcast controversial interviews.
In explaining his rationale for hosting the show, Assange said, “I wanted to have a different sort of approach with other people. And while that approach has been difficult in some ways, I think it has also succeeded in other ways, and revealed sides of very interesting and important people that are not normally revealed because they are not dealing with a standard interviewer, they are dealing with someone who is
under house arrest, who has gone through political problems that they can sympathize with.”
However, virtually all the critics of the show are coming from the corporate media, because the alternative news media is by far trusted more than the mainstream media.
In regard to the mainstream media, Julian Assange said, “Media organizations, by their very nature, are engaged in the political sphere. So the editors and publishers of media organizations have to sit down at the table with power groups, and they start becoming captured by these power groups.
“So, we have found that working with them, when we try to get out our material through organizations, that these organizations self-censor in a tremendously frequent manner and in a way which is against their stated values. It is not just against our values. It is against their stated values. And in some cases even against the contracts that we have made with those organizations.”
In Assange’s first episode with the controversial Hezbollar leader, Nasrallah said he believes Israel “is and will be an illegal state… It was established on the basis of occupying the lands of others,” he says. “If I occupy your house by force it doesn’t become mine in 50 or 100 years.”
The Hezbollah leader also added: “Our priority is still the liberation of our land and the protection of Lebanon from the Israeli threat”, he told Assange, “Israel’s hi-tech surveillance will never crack the code of the Lebanese resistance – they use local village dialects.” The interview can be watched here in its entirety.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Just as in the past, whether the next round of talks on the Iranian nuclear issue, due to be held in Baghdad on 23 May, can be fruitful lies in the United States and Iran finding common ground.
In fact, although Saturday’s talks in Istanbul finished on a positive note, with Iranian chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, describing them as “very successful” and a White House spokesperson praising Iran’s “positive attitude”, achieving a permanent and peaceful solution will be difficult, as the US and Iran disagree over the core issue of whether Iran should develop its own uranium enrichment capacity.
Prior to Saturday’s talks, the Obama administration had emphasized that negotiations between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran had not met expectations.
It said Iran had not cooperated with the agency on key issues such as clarifying suspect nuclear items and permitting on-site inspections of nuclear facilities. If Iran does not change its attitude, even if there are further negotiations between Iran and “Five plus One” countries – the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany – it will be hard to make substantial progress.
The Obama administration wants to settle the Iranian nuclear issue before the US presidential elections in November. But at the moment it faces a challenge trying to coordinate policy goals with the Israeli government, with which it already has differences over the establishing of Jewish settlements in Israeli occupied territories.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the US in March, Obama said that the US will do everything it can to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons because it doesn’t serve the US and Israeli’s security interests. But he also said there is still the possibility of solving the issue through diplomacy. This was widely interpreted as Obama trying to restrain Israel from launching military strikes against Iran.
It is generally believed that Israel will not be able to launch a successful military attack on Iran without the US’ support, but the Israeli government has declared several times that it will launch military attack on Iran before the US presidential election in November.
During his visit, Netanyahu also declared that Israel would not make a commitment to inform the Obama administration before taking military action against Iran. In fact, the “red line” that would trigger a military attack on Iran is quite different for the US and Israel. For the US it would be Iran’s decision to make nuclear weapons, while for Israel it is Iran’s capability to make nuclear weapons.
But it is generally believed that Israeli air strikes would only delay Iran’s nuclear program rather than completely destroy its capacity to develop nuclear weapons, and that they would give Iran’s leaders the pretext to publicly commit to making nuclear weapons. This is not what Obama administration wants.
Another challenge the administration faces is controlling rising oil prices.
Since late 2011, the Obama administration has urged the major countries importing oil from Iran, to stop or reduce these imports. EU countries, South Korea, and Japan soon followed the US’ bidding. This has hit Iran’s economy, as oil exports, which are regarded as its economic lifeline, have declined sharply. But it has also led to rising international oil prices.
The Obama administration believes that with Iran’s domestic commodity prices already rising and its currency devaluing, the Iranian people will become more and more dissatisfied with the government, forcing its leaders to abandon the country’s nuclear program.
Moreover, the US is still trying to disentangle itself from Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and whether the Obama administration is willing to commit the US to a new conflict in the Middle East is a big decision.
It is thought that if the US did launch a military attack on Iran together with Israel, it would win wide political support and boost Obama’s re-election chances. But this support would be temporary, and if Obama was elected for a second term his administration would be left with the consequences.
So there may still be hopes of peace in the Persian Gulf, as Obama has repeatedly held out olive branches to Iran since he took office, and Iran’s top leader has praised Obama for restraining Israel.
The author is a senior research fellow of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Senator John McCain has once again urged the White House to arm Syrian rebels after a ceasefire went into effect in Syria in order to end more than one year of turmoil in the country. It is clear that McCain is not interested in a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict, that’s why he continues to advocate war.
“Over there (in Syria), they’re waiting for American leadership. We have announced that we are now providing them with non-lethal equipment — that doesn’t do very well against tanks and artillery,” said McCain who has recently returned from a trip to Turkey where he met with members of the anti-government group of Free Syrian Army.
“We need to get a sanctuary for the Free Syrian Army, we need to get them supplies, we need to get them weapons. And there are many ways to get weapons to them. We showed that in Libya, we showed that in Afghanistan,” he added.
This is not the first time McCain has called for providing Syrian rebels with weapons.
On February 23, McCain said the US “should consider every option ranging from sanctuaries to seeing that weapons are brought to the hands of those who are resisting [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad.”
On April 13, US President Barack Obama approved providing Syrian rebels with non-lethal aid, including communications equipment and medicines.
McCain’s remarks come while a ceasefire, which is part of a six-point plan proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, went into effect as of April 12.
Annan said on April 11 that he had received a written pledge from the Syrian Foreign Ministry to “cease all military fighting throughout the Syrian territory.”
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on March 6 that the Syrian people have “proven their capacity to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms along with the fight against foreign-backed terrorism.”
Newscast Media TEHRAN —The Iranian foreign minister has said that the six major powers have time until the Baghdad talks to show their determination to help resolve Iran’s nuclear issue through taking confidence-building measures. Ali Akbar Salehi made the remarks during a televised interview broadcast live on Jaam-e-Jam TV network on Sunday night.
Iran and the 5+1 group (the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany) held a new round of talks in Istanbul on Saturday and agreed to meet in Baghdad on May 23.
“If they, in the remaining time to the next round of talks, show behavior which helps build confidence, it could help reduce the time needed for settling the nuclear issue,” Salehi said, adding, “They can take measures to assure us that they are determined to build confidence.”
He went on to say that Iran has shown that it is keen to engage in talks and help resolve the nuclear issue, but has not retreated from its nuclear plans.
“If the West takes steps to assure us of the settlement of the nuclear issue and the effectiveness of the talks… we will also take great steps, through employing our own mechanisms and methods, to help settle our country’s nuclear issue,” the soft-spoken minister explained.
He also pointed to the West’s concern about Iran’s nuclear program and said that Tehran will develop a mechanism to ease their worries and protect its nuclear rights.
Commenting on the Istanbul talks, the senior diplomat said that the West has been compelled to come to terms with the might of the Islamic Republic and realized Iran’s real situation, adding that they entered the talks with this attitude, which is a positive point for the settlement of Iran’s nuclear issue.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C. — After making comments that were meant as an attack on Ann Romney, Hilary Rosen the Democratic National Committee strategist has been facing blow-back from both Democrats and Republicans, prompting her to issue an apology to Mrs. Romney and mothers across America.
In a CNN interview, Rosen said about Mitt Romney’s wife: “His wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing.”
Knowing how damaging Rosen’s remarks could be to the Democrats, and how negatively they could affect Obama’s campaign for re-election, campaign strategist David Axelrod also condemned Rosen’s comments saying he was “disappointed” in Hilary Rosen’s comments about Ann Romney. They were “inappropriate and offensive,” Axelrod tweeted.
Obama weighed in at Hilary Rosen’s comments and said, “There’s no tougher job than being a mom. Anybody who would argue otherwise, I think, probably needs to rethink their statement.”
Michelle Obama defended Ann Romney’s choice to be a stay-at-home mom and raise five kids in the tweet below:
At this point, Rosen who had stubbornly stood by her remarks, went into damage control after members of her own Democratic Party condemned her.
“I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance,” Rosen said in her statement.
Ann Romney tweeted from her newly-created Twitter account: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”
Both Republicans and Democrats are trying to win the women’s vote and the Democrats certainly do not need Rosen as a spokesperson considering her attitude toward women with children. Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager summed it all up by saying: “Her comments were wrong and family should be off limits. She should apologize.”