Thursday, August 30, 2007

New Words

One reason for Wednesday's triple-digit rebound -- with some 100 points gained in the
final hour of trading alone, is that volume again is light -- which tends to skew the
market's movements. Advancing issues led decliners by about 5 to 1 on the New York Stock
Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 2.77 billion compared to 2.35 billion on Tuesday.

"He hasn't spoken on the economy in about a month and a half, and it's clearly incumbent
upon him to make some kind of statement,"

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mohandas Gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi

  • Born: 2 October 1869
  • Birthplace: Porbandar, India
  • Died: 30 January 1948 (assassination)
  • Best Known As: Non-violent leader of Indian independence

Mohandas K. Gandhi studied law in England, then spent 20 years defending the rights of immigrants in South Africa. In 1914 he returned to India and became the leader of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi urged non-violence and civil disobedience as a means to independence from Great Britain, with public acts of defiance that landed him in jail several times. In 1947 he participated in the postwar negotiations that led to Indian independence. He was shot to death by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.

Gandhi is sometimes compared with fellow humanitarians Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


by: Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

I AM restless. I am athirst for far-away things.
My soul goes out in a longing to touch the skirt of the dim distance.
O Great Beyond, O the keen call of thy flute!
I forget, I ever forget, that I have no wings to fly, that I am bound in this spot evermore.

I am eager and wakeful, I am a stranger in a strange land.
Thy breath comes to me whispering an impossible hope.
Thy tongue is known to my heart as its very own.
O Far-to-seek, O the keen call of thy flute!
I forget, I ever forget, that I know not the way, that I have not the winged horse.

I am listless, I am a wanderer in my heart.
In the sunny haze of the languid hours, what vast vision of thine takes shape in the blue of the sky!
O Farthest end, O the keen call of thy flute!
I forget, I ever forget, that the gates are shut everywhere in the house where I dwell alone!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Rabindranath Tagore

(born May 7, 1861, Calcutta, India — died Aug. 7, 1941, Calcutta) Bengali poet, writer, composer, and painter. The son of Debendranath Tagore, he published several books of poetry, including Manasi, in his 20s. His later religious poetry was introduced to the West in Gitanjali (1912). Through international travel and lecturing, he introduced aspects of Indian culture to the West and vice versa. He spoke ardently in favour of Indian independence; as a protest against the Massacre of Amritsar, he repudiated the knighthood he had received in 1915. He founded an experimental school in Bengal where he sought to blend Eastern and Western philosophies; it became Vishva-Bharati University (1921). He was awarded the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature.

For more information on Rabindranath Tagore, visit

Monday, June 11, 2007


Confronting such a profusion, one risks taking short-term variations or insignificant fluctuations for long-term tendencies and losing any sense of pattern.

...because of their purely quantitative territorial element, various national liberations did engender decolonization...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pope sparks abortion controversy in Brazil

· Excommunication mooted for lawmakers
· One million Catholics expected at open air mass

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro
Thursday May 10, 2007
The Guardian

Pope Benedict XVI touched down in the world's biggest Roman Catholic country yesterday hoping to help reverse a 20-year exodus to Brazil's reborn evangelical churches, but immediately created controversy when he appeared to suggest that legislators who support laws allowing abortions should be excommunicated.

During a press conference on his flight to Sao Paulo, the Pope for the first time dealt in depth with a topic that has come up in many countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Italy.

He was asked whether he supported Mexican church leaders threatening to excommunicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalise abortion in Mexico City.

"Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," he said.

The Vatican's chief spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, later tried to downplay the comments, saying the Pope was not himself ordering excommunications.

"Since excommunication hasn't been declared by the Mexican bishops, the Pope has no intention himself of declaring it," he said."Legislative action in favour of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist. Politicians exclude themselves from communion."

His comments are likely to raise the stakes in the debate over whether politicians can support abortion or gay marriage and still consider themselves proper Catholics, although during the flight the Pope had described the evangelical advance as "our biggest worry".

In 1980 nearly 90% of Brazilians said they were Catholic. Today the figure has dropped to around 73%, while the evangelical community has risen to nearly 20% of the population. "We have to become more dynamic," the Pope told reporters on the plane.

During the five-day visit to Sao Paulo he will be protected by a security detail reportedly twice as big as the one deployed during the recent visit of George Bush.

Tomorrow a million people are expected to attend an open-air mass in Sao Paulo to watch the canonisation of Brazil's first native saint, Antonio Galvao. Today the Pope will meet the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva, and address 35,000 young Catholics in the Pacaembu football stadium.

Pope fever has overcome Brazil's media in the lead-up to the visit and tens of thousands of Catholics have descended on Sao Paulo hoping to snatch a glimpse of the Pope's bulletproof vehicle. The Vatican, however, is all too aware of the challenges it faces in Latin America. In 2005 the Brazilian cardinal Claudio Hummes conceded that the church had been "haemorrhaging" followers. "How much longer will Latin America be a Catholic continent?" he asked.

Critics blame the current crisis on the Vatican's failure to engage with the poor and its hardline stances on abortion and condoms.

Despite boasting the world's largest Catholic congregation, of around 136 million followers, Brazil has just 18,000 Catholic priests. Evangelical churches, in contrast, have representatives in virtually every corner of the country. But some Catholic churches have started installing air-conditioning and padded pews, and Christian discos are appearing in cities.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

British Queen begins US trip in Virginia

The Queen is starting her first trip to the US for 16 years with a visit to Virginia to meet survivors of the worst college shooting in US history.

The 81-year-old monarch will be joined by the Duke of Edinburgh for the six-day East Coast tour.

The official state visit will end with two days in Washington DC with President George Bush.

The Queen's last stay in the US followed the first Gulf war when President Bush's father was in power.

Apology call

The Queen's programme is aimed at forging bonds between Britain and the US and focusing on their shared future.

On Thursday the Queen will pay tribute to the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting and is expected to meet survivors and bereaved families.

Cadets from the college will line the steps up to the state capitol, where the Queen will deliver her keynote speech to the Virginia assembly.

The Queen will visit Jamestown on Friday to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the US's first permanent English settlement.

There have already been calls for her to apologise for the introduction of slavery and slaughter of American Indians.


She will also fulfil a lifelong dream by attending the Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs racetrack at the weekend.

The finale will be two days in Washington DC, where she will be entertained by President Bush, visit a Nasa space centre and meet some of GI brides who left Britain for a new life across the Atlantic during the Second World War.

The box-office hit film The Queen, for which Dame Helen Mirren won an Oscar, is likely to have increased interest in the visit.

It will be the fourth state visit to the US by the Queen and the Duke, following tours in 1957, 1976 for the US Bicentennial and 1991. They also visited Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Mr Bush will undoubtedly be trying to avoid the embarrassment Mr Reagan faced once with the Prince of Wales.

It was revealed on Wednesday that Mr Reagan wrote in his diaries how the Prince was, "horror of horrors", served a cup of tea with the teabag left in it.

The Queen is arriving by plane and her carbon footprint will be calculated and offset for the first time for a state visit.

Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2007/05/03 06:07:27 GMT

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Survival in the Anthropocene - Part 1


Good evening everybody, and what a thrill it is to be at Peking University, and to be together with you. And what a thrill it is for me to have the chance to give this unique lecture series, the Reith Lectures, and to take part in a global discussion, a discussion that we must have in the beginning years of our new century, if we are to achieve what we hope to achieve -- shared peace and prosperity around the planet. I think we all sense that we are at very important decision points in the planet, with obvious risks and huge opportunities. As Sue just said, there is no place on the planet of more significance for these choices -- for its own sake as well as for the world's sake -- as China today, a country that calls for superlatives in its role, its dimensions, and the stakes for the world. Here we are in the famous, beautiful, magnificent Hall of the Ten Thousand Masses, as it's called, but to account for China's vastness we would need a hundred thirty thousand such halls of ten thousand people each to accommodate the 1.3 billion people of this country, which makes up one fifth of the world's population and is quickly becoming an absolute epicentre of the global economy as well as many of the challenges that I'll discuss tonight.

China has been at the centre of world history for millennia, and for large stretches of world history China has been the leading power. Roughly from 500 AD to 1500 AD China was clearly the dominant economic power and the dominant progenitor of fundamental and leading technologies of all sorts, which empowered the world and changed it in magnificently positive ways. And of course we all see and expect China to play that role in the twenty-first century as well. After a long period of difficulty, economic hiatus and internally and externally caused disarray, China clearly is in the ascendancy in this century. It is far and away the most dramatic case of economic growth in the history of the world. Never before have we seen rates of economic progress, and what they signify -- deep improvements of human well-being taking place at not only the pace but obviously the scale that we're seeing now, with each decade bringing a doubling or more of living standards -- in a country of these vast proportions.

So the superlatives of the economy are well known and they cross lips around the world every day, but we're going to talk about another aspect of that challenge this evening, and that's the superlatives of the environmental challenge that China faces. Not only is it the world's most populous country, it is one of the world's most crowded countries, and it is certainly one of the world's most environmentally stressed regions. This is a challenge that has existed throughout China's history, but what has happened in recent decades and what will happen in the decades to come poses qualitatively new challenges that are emblematic of the unique environmental stresses that we all face on the planet together -- some because of the special role that China will play in the future, and some because China is experiencing the same kinds of phenomena as in other parts of the world.

I called my lecture today 'The Anthropocene' - a term that is spectacularly vivid, a term invented by one of the great scientists of our age, Paul Crutzen, to signify the fact that human beings for the first time have taken hold not only of the economy and of population dynamics, but of the planet's physical systems, Anthropocene meaning human created era of Earth's history. The geologists call our time the holocene --the period of the last thirteen thousand years or so since the last Ice Age -- but Crutzen wisely and perhaps shockingly noted that the last two hundred years are really a unique era, not only in human history but in the Earth's physical history as well. The Anthropocene is the period when human activity has overtaken vast parts of the natural cycles on the planet, and has done so in ways that disrupt those cycles and fundamentally threaten us in the years ahead.

Now considering how we're going to face the dual challenge of continued economic progress, which we dearly hope for in this country and in other parts of the developing world, and continued economic well-being of course and progress, in today's high income world, with the profound and growing environmental dangers that we face, is the subject of our Reith Lecture today.

Let me set the stage. Our era is unique. We've never before experienced anything like the human pressures on the environment as well as the human successes in sustained and broad-based improvements of well-being. Ensuring that we can continue those successes without going right over the cliff will prove to be our generation's greatest challenge. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, which we could date roughly to the beginning of the nineteenth century - 1800 or so, perhaps a few decades earlier by some historians' accounts, a couple of decades later in most places in the world - the human impact on the environment has increased approximately one hundredfold. Human population has risen from six or seven hundred million in the middle of the eighteenth century to our 6.6 billion today, roughly a tenfold increase. Per capita economic activity -- that is how much each of us on the planet consumes, produces, draws upon natural resources for our sustenance and well-being -- has also risen by typical statistical account, as hard as it is to compare over the course of two centuries, roughly tenfold as well. With ten times more people, each of whom is engaged in ten times more economic activity, we have two orders of magnitude, or one hundred times, the influence of human activity on the planet. And this is coming at unprecedented cost to physical earth systems. What's absolutely striking, and the puzzle we need to solve, is this basic fact: What we are already doing on the planet in terms of effects on physical systems is unsustainable. We cannot go on doing what we're doing. We have already reached a point of literal unsustainability, in the sense that if we continue on our current path, using resources the way we use them now at the scale we use them now, we will hit very harsh boundaries that will do great damage to human well-being, to the earth, and to vast numbers, literally millions, of other species on the planet. But we have an even harder problem to solve than that one, and that is that we do not want to stop here in terms of consumption or economic activity. The developing countries -- and we're in the most populous of them today -- which together make up five sixths of humanity, rightly and understandably and from my point of view absolutely accountably and responsibly, say they would like their place in the sun as well. If the high income world has achieved certain levels of wealth, comfort, safety and life expectancy, what about the rest of humanity? From my point of view as a development economist, something absolutely wonderful is happening, something that I think we could even dub the Age of Convergence, and that is that the measure of economic development, the methods, the institutions, the processes, the adaptation of advanced technologies, are becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Now tragically not every part of the world is yet part of that phenomenon, and I will have the chance to discuss that in a later lecture, when we talk about the poorest of the poor who are still not part of this dynamism. But the wonderful news is that large parts of the planet are part of this dynamism - China of course is at the very forefront in an unprecedented manner -- catching up in technology, economic activity, and human well-being. Let's not doubt the improvements of living, not only of conventionally measured living standards but of human well-being and life expectancy, in nutrition, in opportunities, in chances to fulfill life's hopes that come along with this economic improvement.

The processes now are made powerful by the strong winds of globalization -- the market forces and the ability of ideas and technology to flow across national boundaries at an unprecedented rate. The world economy is now growing at approximately five per cent per annum, and that is four per cent approximately of per capita income increases, and one per cent per year roughly of global population increase. That means we are on course for a massive increase of economic activity, just what we would like to see in the still poor countries of the world, those who aspire to have the chances that technology and science have brought us. It is fair to say that, given current trends, we have a powerful force of economic convergence in most parts of the world, and if the processes of convergence continue to operate as they have in recent decades, one could expect that perhaps the average per person income on the planet could rise as much as four times between now and mid-century. If the average income as measured by economists, statisticians, taking into account the purchasing power of income in different parts of the world, is roughly eight thousand dollars per person, one could expect perhaps that that would reach thirty thousand dollars by mid-century, given the powerful and positive forces of economic development.

Population of course, though increasing more slowly in proportional terms than it did in the second half of the twentieth century, is still increasing in absolute terms by an astounding amount of 70 to 80 million people per year. And on the medium forecast of the UN Population Division, that leads to a projection of roughly an increase of another two and a half billion people on the planet by the year 2050. That is a world population increase of roughly fifty per cent, with income on a path, barring various disasters, to increase approximately fourfold. Multiplying one and a half by four suggests that the current trajectory would lead to an increase of world economic activity of six times between now and 2050. That is the goal from the point of view of economic development, but think about the paradox, if we already are on an unsustainable trajectory and yet China, India, and large parts of Asia are successfully barrelling ahead with rapid economic development at an unprecedented rate. We are asking our planet to somehow absorb a manyfold increase of economic activity on top of an already existing degree of environmental stress that we've never before seen on the planet.

It is possible that we will not be able to increase sixfold in economic activity with current technologies before the environmental catastrophes would choke off the economic growth. The hardships in water stress, deforestation, hunger, and species extinction, would cause this process to go awry, even before we are able to do more damage to the planet. But that does pose the fundamental question - what will give in the end? Many people think the only thing that can give are living standards in the high income world, whereas others believe that we are bound for a bitter struggle between the rich and the poor in the years ahead. I want to argue that the only viable, peaceful way forward is a change of the way we live that allows for continued improvement of living standards in all parts of the world and for catching up, but that also permits us to square the circle of environmental stress and economic development.

Survival in the Anthropocene - Part 2


The Anthropocene is felt in so many areas -- habitat destruction, rising greenhouse gases that are changing the climate and threatening us profoundly, water stress, human dominance of the natural nitrogen cycle through heavy use of manmade fertilisers that allow us to feed a world population of 6.5 billion people on its way to 9 billion, new diseases that emerge when human populations and animal populations come into contact in new ways, and of course in the vast over-fishing, over-hunting, over-gathering, and over-exploitation of natural resources in large parts of the planet, leading to population collapses and species extinction.

I want to touch on one of these many aspects, because it is not only of central importance, but helps to illuminate the challenge of squaring the circle of development and environmental sustainability. Climate change, a vast challenge that reflects at the core the fact that modern economic growth since the Industrial Revolution has been built on the use of fossil fuels , which leads to the emission of carbon dioxide and , through the greenhouse effect, the warming of the planet and fundamental changes to the earth's climate. The effect was identified more than a century ago, in 1896, but it has only come to our attention in recent years, because it is only in the last couple of decades that we have come to understand just how big the human effect is on the growing concentrations of carbon dioxide and a number of other such greenhouse gases, and on our changing climate.

This is a case where what we are doing today is not sustainable, because each year we are raising the carbon concentration in the atmosphere by two or more parts per million of molecules in the atmosphere. When projected over the course of this century, that rate of emission would lead to such a high level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the climate would be changed, we now understand, to the point of dire risk for us and for vast parts of the global eco-system. Species extinction, extreme weather events, massive changes of precipitation, grave risks to food production, disease transmission and the like, would all reach harrowing levels later in this century if we merely continue to do what we're doing now. But here comes the puzzle. With the world economy barrelling ahead, the amount of energy use is also rising dramatically, and so too the use of fossil fuels, which will be in sufficient abundance long enough for us to wreck the climate before we run out. And so if the concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing by roughly two parts per million each year, it could easily be four parts per million in a few decades, with the rate increasing over time. The projections are that by mid-century we might have doubled the pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide. By the end of this century, if we continue on a business as usual course with the economic development we so hope for in this country and in the rest of the developing world, perhaps the concentration will have tripled or quadrupled. We know, as we learned once again by the recent scientific consensus of the inter-governmental panel on climate change, which reported in its fourth assessment round beginning in February of this year, that the effects of that kind of increase pose risks to this planet that we simply cannot afford to take.

What can we do? Do we have to end economic growth? Do we have to end the hopes of the developing world? Do we need dire cutbacks in living conditions, inevitable in today's rich world? I believe that there is another course, and it's the course we must take. There are at least three ways out of this conundrum. First of course is fuel and energy efficiency, so that we can get more economic output with less direct use of fossil fuels. Second of course is the substitution of non-fossil fuels for fossil fuels, so that per unit of energy the emissions of carbon dioxide can be reduced, whether it's with safely deployed nuclear power, or more economical solar power, or wind, or bio-mass, there's definitely a role, though perhaps not as dramatic as we might hope, for non-fossil fuels.

There's a third alternative as well, and that is to learn to use our existing fossil fuels safely. And for China and India this is perhaps the single most important hope for these countries and for the planet. One idea on the drawing board which needs to get into demonstration and production in this country as soon as possible - and that means nearly immediately - is the idea of power plants that burn coal to generate electricity, capturing the carbon dioxide that they would otherwise emit, pumping it into pipelines and safely storing it in safe geologic reservoirs in the earth.

The big question for the planet is the unprecedented challenge to move to a sustainable energy system, requiring a great degree of co-operation, foresight, and planning, over a time span of decades. Can we do it? Can we find that level of public understanding, political consensus, direction and determination? We may fake it with nice speeches, but the climate will change whether we fake it or not. There is no spinning this one. This one is dependent on what we actually do, not what we say we do.

I want to mention one hopeful analogy, and that is how we have successfully as a world avoided what was another desperate risk, and that was the depletion of the ozone layer. That was also discovered by Paul Crutzen, the scientist who brought us the Anthropocene. He and two colleagues, Sherwood Rowland and Mario Molina, discovered, accidentally as it were, that the chemicals that we use for refrigeration and for our aerosols, the chloro-fluorocarbons, or CFCs, posed a grave risk to survival on the planet because of their accidental interactions in the stratosphere that could have destroyed the ozone layer. It was an accidental, brilliant discovery. It took some years for the public to become aware of it. When the scientists said it, the makers of the CFCs said that it was junk science, that they'd heard it before. They went into denial. But then NASA in the United States snapped a picture from one of its remarkable satellites, showing the hole in the ozone layer. In a way it may be the picture that saved the world, because as soon as people saw that hole with their own eyes, they weren't listening to the Chairman of DuPont anymore, they were thinking about their survival and the survival of their children. The public awareness soared, the pressure for action increased. At that point DuPont and other companies' scientists went to work. They determined there was an alternative to the CFCs, there were other safer chemicals that could be refrigerants and aerosols. Then a fourth step took place. The companies whispered in the ears of the politicians, "it's okay, you can reach an international agreement, we can handle this." And quickly, -- from the basic science to the international agreements took about fifteen years -- by 1990 a global framework was in place that called for the phasing out of the chloro-fluorocarbons and has put us on a path of at least relative safety with regard to that risk.

With climate I believe we have the same prospects now. It is a much more difficult issue, a problem that gets to the core of the functioning of the world economy, so it cannot be solved from one day to the next, requiring a basic change of our infrastructure and our energy systems which will take decades to complete, but a process nonetheless that I think is underway in the same way. First came the science, back in 1896, and then the modern science in the last twenty-five years. And as soon as the science came, came the companies with the vested interests claiming junk science, because their instinct is to start lobbying. But you don't lobby against nature. Nature has its principles: it doesn't matter what the boards of these companies say. What matters is the actual physical mechanisms. The science was right, it becomes more and more known.

Now like the ozone crisis, public awareness has been the second step. For a long time climate change was discussed as something for the far future. Now it's understood as something that imperils us today as well. The heatwave in Europe in 2003, claiming more than twenty thousand lives; Hurricane Katrina, a storm of devastating proportions, shocking the American people and the world about what climate can do; the mega-drought in Australia that took place this year, and destroyed a substantial part of Australia's export crop; the massive typhoons being experienced by this country, as well as the warming taking place in large parts of this country, and severe droughts in the interior of China - have all made climate change an immediate issue, an understandable issue, and one that of course will get worse, no matter what we do right now, for a while, because we are on a trajectory of worsening climate change stresses that is locked in place for the near term.

The good news is that the scientists and the engineers are now scurrying. Technological alternatives are being developed. Carbon capture and sequestration is beginning to be put into place in demonstration projects. So too are alternative non-fossil fuel energy sources, and so too remarkable breakthroughs in energy efficiency, such as hybrid and plug-in hybrid automobiles, which promise us vast efficiency gains, more distance per unit of fuel.

The good news is that those technological breakthroughs are similarly leading the companies to whisper in the ears of the politicians - "it's okay, we can handle this." And that's the best news of all. Companies around the world are now in the lead of their politicians. In fact they're telling the politicians we have to act, we want a framework, we need an incentive mechanism, we need a price structure so that we can move ahead with sustainable energy. I believe we're going to get there. Global negotiations on a truly global framework open in December of this year, in Bali, Indonesia. We've agreed in principle on a Framework Convention on Climate Change, that we must stabilise greenhouse gases. We took an early small step in the so-called Kyoto Protocol, but this only involved a very small set of commitments for a limited part of the world - mainly Europe, because the United States did not even join. Now in December we must have the US and China, and India, and the European Union, and other parts of the world, all coming together and saying we must do this for ourselves and for the future. Nature has spoken more loudly than vested interests. This is not a matter of vested interests, it is a matter of common interest. These steps, from the science to the public awareness, to the technological alternatives, to the international agreements, are the very steps that we will need for all aspects of the Anthropocene. This will be the mark of our new era - science-based global policy-making based on worldwide public awareness. That's going to be true for saving the rain forests, for saving our oceans from over-fishing, for managing water stress, and for choosing population alternatives that are sound for the planet and sound for individuals as well. We don't have to accept the population trends, because people would choose fertility reduction voluntarily in large parts of the developing world, if the alternatives were made available to them. We can do this, and we will learn that the costs of action are tiny, compared with the risks of inaction. Climate change can be solved, according to the best current estimates, for less than one per cent of world income each year, and perhaps well under that, where the potential costs are a devastating multiple of several per cent of world income if we continue on the business as usual trajectory.

I want to end where I started the first lecture, with my favourite speech by President John F. Kennedy. He talked about the challenge of peace. That is our biggest challenge on the planet. And peace is also threatened by environmental risk. But he also told us in that speech that we have chances. He said, and I repeat because I think it is our common thread: "Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again."4 That is the spirit of the Anthropocene.

Thank you very much.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I will not resign, says Wolfowitz

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has said he would not resign in the face of "bogus"

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz
charges against him.

In a statement to a panel of World Bank directors, the embattled

Mr Wolfowitz was defending himself against accusations that he pushed through a huge pay package for his girlfriend without the Bank's consent.

The committee is due to report to the Bank's board of 24 representatives, who will decide on the president's fate.

Mr Wolfowitz has apologised for his actions, vowing to stay on to complete what he called "important work".

Earlier, US President George W Bush said he believed Mr Wolfowitz "ought to stay" in his job.

But a growing army of voices, including World Bank colleagues and the European Parliament, are calling for Mr Wolfowitz' resignation amid escalating concern the scandal embroiling the former Pentagon number two is damaging the credibility of the global lender.

International development group Oxfam called his continued presidency "untenable" in an open letter to the Guardian newspaper on Monday.

'Good faith'

Mr Wolfowitz said the World Bank's ethics committee had access to his decision to relocate his girlfriend, Shaha Riza, to the US State Department in 2005 "if they wanted it".

Mr Wolfowitz has previously said that Ms Riza's salary increase to almost $200,000 (£100,000) "was well within the parameters" of the World Bank's salary and benefits structure.

"I acted transparently, sought and received guidance from the bank's ethics committee and conducted myself in good faith in accordance with that guidance," Mr Wolfowitz told the panel.

"I will not resign in the face of a plainly bogus charge of conflict of interest," he added.

"The goal of this smear campaign, I believe, is to create a self-fulfilling prophecy that I am an ineffective leader and must step down for that reason alone."

Mr Wolfowitz appeared at Monday's meeting with Washington lawyer Robert Bennett, who is famous for helping former president Bill Clinton settle sexual harassment charges in 1998.

"We want to make a presentation to them to show that this conflict-of-interest allegation is absolutely false," Mr Bennett said ahead of meeting.

Mr Wolfowitz was a controversial nominee to the post of head of the World Bank because of his support for the war in Iraq.

BBC News

A Moment Lost

Cold here, icy cold there. You belong to neither, leaves have withered.

Your face is pale and blue, a tearful smile. Some-thing in your eyes, whispers words of last good-bye. My heart sinks down, tears surge out.

Hot summer. Cheerful Cocktail. You took my hand. We fled into another world of band. You sat by my side, long hair tied behind, cool and killing. Smile floating on the lemonade, soft and smooth. How I was? amazed. Your face looked like the cover of the magazine. My head spin. You led my hand, danced along the crazy theme.

Light vied with wine, elegance mixed with fragrance, laughing covered by greetings, the crowed was busy at handshaking. You stood there, eyes on me. I trembled at the sparkles, centerer than the light. A masterpiece from God, I felt dizzy. We were not near, yet we were together.

Days ended. You said, you would wait for me at the Alps side. We would ski against snowflakes dancing in the sky. I gave no answer but a good-bye to ac-company your flight. Gone was the plane, I suddenly tasted my pain. I knew I had been silly and stupid, you were in my heart, I shouldn’t have hidden in the dark. I tried to forget your disappointment. I made be-lieve sometime someday, I would tell you, I feel all the same.

My thought struggled at confessing, somehow hesitation ended in flinching. I continued my role of a fool, clinched to my maiden pride, yet secretly in-dulged in your promise of the white land -- snow measuring down to us, in your arms I am lifted up. The chiming of Christmas bell!

The bell died in the patter of rain, from hell came the laughing of Satan at my brain. Tearful smile, swallowed by the darkness. How could I trace your hair to wipe your tears? My hands reached out, catching nothing but a raindrop, on a leaf that had withered.

Snowflakes have melted into water, we are no more together.

By Weng Fan

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Wise Words of Buddha

If a man who enjoys a lesser happiness beholds a greater one, let him leave aside the lesser to gain the greater.

I reached in experience the nirvana which is unborn, unrivalled, secure from attachment, undecaying and unstained. This condition is indeed reached by me which is deep, difficult to see, difficult to understand, tranquil, excellent, beyond the reach of mere logic, subtle, and to be realized only by the wise.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

There is nothing so disobedient as an undisciplined mind, and there is nothing so obedient as a disciplined mind.

What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: Our life is the creation of our mind.

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.

The mind is the source of happiness and unhappiness.

As the fletcher whittles and makes straight his arrows, so the master directs his straying thoughts.

To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.

Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.

Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what hold you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.

Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.

Look within, thou art the Buddha.

Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Practical Instructions for Positive Thinking

In order to turn the mind toward the positive, inner work and training are required. Attitude and thoughts do not change overnight.

Read about this subject, think about its benefits and persuade yourself to try it. The power of thoughts is a mighty power that is always shaping our life. This shaping is usually done subconsciously, but it is possible to make the process a conscious one. Even if the idea seems strange give it a try, as you have nothing to lose, but only to gain. Ignore what others might say or think about you, if they discover that you are changing the way you think.

Always visualize only favorable and beneficial situations. Use positive words in your inner dialogues or when talking with others. Smile a little more, as this helps to think positively. Disregard any feelings of laziness or a desire to quit. If you persevere, you will transform the way your mind thinks.

Once a negative thought enters your mind, you have to be aware of it and endeavor to replace it with a constructive one. The negative thought will try again to enter your mind, and then you have to replace it again with a positive one. It is as if there are two pictures in front of you, and you choose to look at one of them and disregard the other. Persistence will eventually teach your mind to think positively and ignore negative thoughts.

In case you feel any inner resistance when replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, do not give up, but keep looking only at the beneficial, good and happy thoughts in your mind.

It does not matter what your circumstances are at the present moment. Think positively, expect only favorable results and situations, and circumstances will change accordingly. It may take some time for the changes to take place, but eventually they do.

Another method to employ is the repetition of affirmations. It is a method which resembles creative visualization, and which can be used in conjunction with it. It is the subject of another article on this website.

The other articles at this website, about the power of concentration, will power, self-discipline and peace of mind also contribute to the development of a positive mind, and are recommended for reading and practicing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The baton passes to China

By Walter T Molano

China's ascent is occurring faster than anyone imagined. The first-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 11.1% year on year was a surprise for many, but not for all. China is on fire, marking the fourth consecutive year of double-digit expansion.

The Chinese economy is inflating to a size that is commensurate with its proportion of the global population. Given that China has about 22% of the world's population, the economy can easily double before reaching equilibrium.

This expansion can manifest in one, some or all of the following ways: growth, inflation, or currency appreciation. Given that the government is allowing the yuan to appreciate gradually and the inflation rate is low, most of the expansion is going to occur on the growth side. Therefore, we should not be too surprised by the torrential pace of economic activity.

Fortunately, the global impact of the Chinese revival has been positive. Global trade grew 15% year on year in 2006, reaching US$11.76 trillion. China led the way, increasing exports 27% year on year. Imports jumped 25% year on year, boosting the demand for commodities and industrial products. Copper imports surged 60% year on year at the beginning of 2007, after experiencing a slump at the end of 2006.

Overall, China's copper demand is expected to rise 8% year on year to 4.2 million tonnes. However, the Chinese are importing more than raw materials. In fact, Chinese exports fell to third place in 2006, after Germany retook the second position. The growing needs for machinery, industrial products, consumer goods and luxury items are forcing the United States, Germany and Japan to increase their embarkations toward China.

Indeed, China is now Japan's largest trading partner, representing 17% of exports. China was the destination of less than 4% of Japanese exports in 1990. Interestingly enough, Japan is becoming less of an important trading partner for the Chinese. In 1990, Japan represented 17% of total exports. Today, the figure is only 11%.

China's inclusion into the World Trade Organization, its move into higher-value-added sectors, and its integration into the global marketplace have allowed it to diversify its trade partners. This is the reason the Japanese are adopting a more conciliatory approach with the Chinese. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently visited China, marking the first Japanese state visit there in five years. It is also the reason the Japanese are not allowing their currency to appreciate against the US dollar. It is not so much that they don't want to lose competitiveness against the Americans. It's that they do not want it to lose market share in China - where the currency happens to be closely linked to the dollar.

The ascendancy of China is a good thing for many emerging-market countries. Brazil is one of the main beneficiaries. The burgeoning exports to China are pushing up Brazil's international reserves. At the end of last year, analysts speculated that Brazil's international reserves could hit the $130 billion mark by the end of 2007. International reserves were $113 billion at the end of February, and they will probably crest through the $130 billion mark by the end of the first semester. Other commodity producers, such as Argentina, Russia, Peru, Kazakhstan and Chile, are also thriving. This is creating an emerging-market boom that is unparalleled, but it is not a fad.

Some numbers are alarming. The Shanghai stock market was up 235% over the past year and a half. The Shenzhen market was up 289% during the same period. The Shenzhen market trades at a multiple of 60, Shanghai 38 and the Dow 17. Nevertheless, the Chinese market underwent a great deal of deregulation over the past two years, witnessed a tidal wave of new issues and ended a five-year slump. Given the growth potential that lies ahead, valuations may not be as lofty as some argue. Unfortunately, a shakeout may be inevitable.

Nevertheless, the baton is passing to China. It is now setting the tempo for the global economic orchestra. The transformation is still in the early stages. China will soon move into higher-value-added sectors, such as automobiles, aerospace and pharmaceuticals. A larger swatch of the population has to be incorporated into the new economy. That means that sunny skies lie ahead for most emerging-market countries as they help feed the ravenous needs of the new rising superpower.

(Copyright 2007 Walter T Molano, The Emerging Market Adviser.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

America's tragedy

Apr 19th 2007

From The Economist print edition

After the Virginia Tech massacre, Its politicians are still running away from a debate about guns

IN THE aftermath of the massacre at Virginia Tech university on April 16th, as the nation mourned a fresh springtime crop of young lives cut short by a psychopath's bullets, President George Bush and those vying for his job offered their prayers and condolences. They spoke eloquently of their shock and sadness and horror at the tragedy (see article). The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives called for a “moment of silence”. Only two candidates said anything about guns, and that was to support the right to have them.

Cho Seung-hui does not stand for America's students, any more than Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did when they slaughtered 13 of their fellow high-school students at Columbine in 1999. Such disturbed people exist in every society. The difference, as everyone knows but no one in authority was saying this week, is that in America such individuals have easy access to weapons of terrible destructive power. Cho killed his victims with two guns, one of them a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a rapid-fire weapon that is available only to police in virtually every other country, but which can legally be bought over the counter in thousands of gun-shops in America. There are estimated to be some 240m guns in America, considerably more than there are adults, and around a third of them are handguns, easy to conceal and use. Had powerful guns not been available to him, the deranged Cho would have killed fewer people, and perhaps none at all.

But the tragedies of Virginia Tech—and Columbine, and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, where five girls were shot at an Amish school last year—are not the full measure of the curse of guns. More bleakly terrible is America's annual harvest of gun deaths that are not mass murders: some 14,000 routine killings committed in 2005 with guns, to which must be added 16,000 suicides by firearm and 650 fatal accidents (2004 figures). Many of these, especially the suicides, would have happened anyway: but guns make them much easier. Since the killing of John Kennedy in 1963, more Americans have died by American gunfire than perished on foreign battlefields in the whole of the 20th century. In 2005 more than 400 children were murdered with guns.

The trigger and the damage done

The news is not uniformly bad: gun crime fell steadily throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. But it is still at dreadful levels, and it rose sharply again in 2005. Police report that in many cities it rose even faster in 2006. William Bratton, the police chief of Los Angeles (and formerly of New York), speaks of a “gathering storm of crime”. Politicians on both sides, he says, have been “captured” by the vocal National Rifle Association (NRA). The silence over Virginia Tech shows he has a point.

The Democrats have been the most disappointing, because until recently they had been the party of gun control. In 1994 President Bill Clinton approved a bill banning assault weapons (covering semi-automatic rifles plus high-capacity magazines for handguns) and the year before that a bill imposing a requirement for background checks. But Democrats believe they paid a high price for their courage: losing the House of Representatives in 1994 shortly after the assault-weapons ban, and then losing the presidency in 2000. Had Al Gore held Arkansas or West Virginia or his own Tennessee, all strongly pro-gun, he would have won the election. These days, with hopes for a victory in 2008 dependent on the South and the mountain West, it is a brave Democrat who will talk about gun control. Some of them dismiss the very idea as “insensitive”.

Mr Bush however, has done active damage. On his watch the assault-weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. New laws make it much harder to trace illegal weapons and require the destruction after 24 hours of information gathered during checks of would-be gun-buyers. The administration has also reopened debate on the second amendment, which enshrines the right to bear arms. Last month an appeals court in Washington, DC, overturned the capital's prohibition on handguns, declaring that it violates the second amendment. The case will probably go to the newly conservative Supreme Court, which might end most state and local efforts at gun control.

Freedom yes, but which one?

No phrase is bandied around more in the gun debate than “freedom of the individual”. When it comes to most dangerous products—be they drugs, cigarettes or fast cars—this newspaper advocates a more liberal approach than the American government does. But when it comes to handguns, automatic weapons and other things specifically designed to kill people, we believe control is necessary, not least because the failure to deal with such violent devices often means that other freedoms must be curtailed. Instead of a debate about guns, America is now having a debate about campus security.

Americans are in fact queasier about guns than the national debate might suggest. Only a third of households now have guns, down from 54% in 1977. In poll after poll a clear majority has supported tightening controls. Very few Americans support a complete ban, even of handguns—there are too many out there already, and many people reasonably feel that they need to be able to protect themselves. But much could still be done without really infringing that right.

The assault-weapons ban should be renewed, with its egregious loopholes removed. No civilian needs an AK-47 for a legitimate purpose, but you can buy one online for $379.99. Guns could be made much safer, with the mandatory fitting of child-proof locks. A system of registration for guns and gun-owners, as exists in all other rich countries, threatens no one but the criminal. Cooling-off periods, a much more open flow of intelligence, tighter rules on the trading of guns and a wider blacklist of those ineligible to buy them would all help.

Many of these things are being done by cities or states, and have worked fairly well. But jurisdictions with tough rules are undermined by neighbours with weak ones. Only an effort at the federal level will work. Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, has put together a coalition of no fewer than 180 mayors to fight for just that. Good luck to him.

French presidential election

The French have chosen the right-wing candidate Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal to battle it out for the presidency after the first round of voting took place on Sunday. Mr Sarkozy gained 30% of the vote and Ms Royal 26%.

Unlike five years ago when the presidential run-off in France offered a choice between a centre-right incumbent, Jacques Chirac, and a far-right politician, Jean-Marie le Pen, this time voters will face a more classic choice between Right and Left.

In the coming two weeks, both Mr Sarkozy and Ms Royal will have a difficult challenge. On the one hand, they'll want to shore up their core support on the Right and Left but, on the other hand, they'll need to appeal to the nearly one-fifth of voters who opted for the centrist candidate, Francois Bayrou, in the first round. Mr Bayrou's message was one of unity and pragmatism and both the candidates are certain to be stressing those themes.

It's hard to imagine two more different personalities than Mr Sarkozy, the former hard-line Interior Minister who leads from the front, and Ms Royal who promises a new style of leadership based on inclusivity. The policy contrast is also stark. Mr Sarkozy wants the French to work harder and pay less tax, is promising to curb union powers and a crackdown on young offenders. Ms Royal would maintain and improve France's welfare state, raise the minimum wage and, as she has put it, "reform the country without breaking it". Her election would also, of course, take France into totally uncharted territory - with a woman as president for the first time in the country's history.

Paul Legg, BBC

the final round of voting in the French election

someone who is already holding a post

to shore up
to make secure, to use to their advantage

core support
here, people who always vote for the same party

to appeal to
to become liked by, to get support from

opted for
chose, voted for

a practical attitude

not excluding any section of society

sharply evident, very obvious

totally uncharted territory
an entirely new situation, something that has never happened before

Monday, April 23, 2007

"limbo " Who said it? Where? Why?

It's possible that the concept of limbo — as in the border region of Hell, where in Roman Catholic theology innocent but unbaptized souls reside — will be officially consigned to oblivion. But the metaphorical extension meaning "nothingness" or "indecision" is likely here to stay:

"In a long-awaited document, the Church's International Theological Commission said limbo reflected an 'unduly restrictive view of salvation.' ...The verdict that limbo could now rest in peace had been expected for years. The document was seen as most likely the final word since limbo was never part of Church doctrine, even though it was taught to Catholics well into the 20th century."

Link: Vatican buries limbo after centuries -

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Nature's Lullaby

Enigmatic Moon
Starlit sky
Intoxicating night
Soothing breeze,
Rustle of leaves
Night creatures sings
Angelic whispers,
A Surreal feel
Nature lulls,
tired minds
to a peaceful sleep.

by Chavii

Song Of Proserpine

Sacred Goddess, Mother Earth,
Thou from whose immortal bosom
Gods and men and beasts have birth,
Leaf and blade, and bud and blossom,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

If with mists of evening dew
Thou dost nourish these young flowers
Till they grow in scent and hue
Fairest children of the Hours,
Breathe thine influence most divine
On thine own child, Proserpine.

- Percy Bysshe Shelley

May Flower

Pink, small, and punctual,
Aromatic, low,
Covert in April,
Candid in May,
Dear to the moss,
Known by the knoll,
Next to the robin
In every human soul.
Bold little beauty,
Bedecked with thee,
Nature forswears

By Emily Dickinson

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Longings

A sad longing
I have for Peace.

A sweet longing
I have for Light.

A conscious longing
I have for self-transcendence.

A surrendered longing
I have for love-realisation.

A sleepless longing
I have for my perfect Perfection.


At the rim of sorrow
He found his heartless mind.
On the brink of despair
He found his soulless heart.
In the sea of destruction
He found his goalless soul.
Centuries dropped dead.
On the shore of Time
He finds his searching mind
He finds his crying heart
He finds his illumining soul.

by Sri Chinmoy

John Muir, Naturalist / Writer

  • Born: 21 April 1838
  • Birthplace: Dunbar, Scotland
  • Died: 1914
  • Best Known As: Naturalist and founder of the Sierra Club

John Muir was an early American conservationist who has been called "The Father of the National Parks System." Muir came to the United States in 1849 and studied at the University of Wisconsin (1859-1863). He walked from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico in 1867 and 1868, ended up in California and began his love affair with the Yosemite Valley. An eager traveller and indefatigable walker, he also toured Nevada, Utah and Alaska. He settled in California where he wrote, managed a fruit ranch, and campaigned for the establishment of Yosemite National Park, which Congress approved in 1890. His descriptions of the rugged glories of the American west influenced the thinking of President Theodore Roosevelt, among many others. Muir was a co-founder of the Sierra Club and served as its first president from 1892 until his death in 1914. His books include The Mountains of California (1894) and Our National Parks (1901).

Muir (along with an image of Yosemite) is featured on the California state quarter released by the U.S. Mint in 2005... As a young man Muir was a talented wood carver and inventor who built his own clocks.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Nagasaki mayor shot dead

Tokyo - The mayor of the Japanese city of Nagasaki died early on Wednesday after being shot as he campaigned for re-election, police said, in a crime allegedly linked to an underworld gang.

Iccho Ito, 61, succumbed to wounds sustained late Tuesday when he was shot as he got out of a van at his election office facing Nagasaki's central train station, a police spokesperson in the southern city said.

Ito underwent emergency surgery late on Tuesday, but the hospital said a bullet had reached his heart and he did not regain consciousness after the operation. The police spokesperson said he had died of massive blood loss.

Gun violence is rare in Japan, which strictly controls arms possession.

But police said the suspect, identified as 59-year-old Tetsuya Shiroo, was affiliated with Japan's largest organised crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi.

Senior Nagasaki police official Kazuki Unebayashi said the assailant, who was taken into custody immediately after the incident, "fired several bullets at the back of the victim with an intent to kill him".

Public broadcaster NHK, quoting unnamed sources, said Shiroo had grievances with the city after his vehicle was damaged due to poor maintenance on a road several years ago.

"I hope that authorities will investigate the case thoroughly and get to the truth," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.

Ito was an outspoken pacifist who was born one month after the best-known event in Nagasaki's history - the world's second and last atomic bombing on August 9, 1945 that killed more than 70 000 people.

A political independent, he had been campaigning for another term in office ahead of elections scheduled for Sunday.

"At around 7.50 pm, I heard two gunshots, like bang, bang," the owner of a restaurant near the scene told NHK.

"At first I didn't think it was gunfire," he said. "But when I looked outside, a man was already apprehended."

Nagasaki has seen attacks on politicians before. In January 1990, a right-wing extremist shot and wounded then mayor Hitoshi Motoshima for saying he believed the late emperor Hirohito bore responsibility for World War II.

Japan's last political assassination was in October 2002, when a rightist stabbed to death Koki Ishii, an opposition lawmaker campaigning to expose corruption, outside his Tokyo home with a 30-centimetre (12-inch) blade.

The Japanese "yakuza" are active in underworld crime, and have interests in show business and other lucrative industries.

A report earlier this year by the National Police Agency said the Yamaguchi-gumi, headquartered in the western city of Kobe, had about 40 000 members and accounted for some 50 percent of Japan's underworld.

The Yamaguchi-gumi has reportedly been trying to branch out from its home ground, particularly in Tokyo, leading to a turf(territory) war earlier this year that resulted in rare shootings in the capital.

Last year, in his annual address marking the atomic bombing, Ito lashed out at the United States, North Korea, India and Pakistan for their nuclear arsenals, asking, "What is the human race doing?"

One witness to the shooting said he called emergency rescue teams as soon as he heard the gunfire.

"I just got off a bus and was walking through the bus terminal. I heard one bang. I only recall one. I thought a tyre(tire) might have burst," the unidentified witness told NHK.

"A person had fallen over and a lady was in a panic. Then it dawned on me that it was a gunshot," he said.

He said he saw five people tackle down the suspect. "He didn't appear to have resisted," he said.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Taoism vs. Buddhism

The belief in some unknown presence, whether we believe or not, has existed since man can recollect. Religion was established from this belief, and it can survive and flourish because of this belief. We can learn in Chinese history, Buddhism and Taoism are two major religions at every dynasty. Even today, with the great development of science and technology, they still have a great number of believers. Taoism, originated in China at the Eastern Han Dynasty and Buddhism, came to China from India around 6th century B.C., together have shaped Chinese life and thought for thousands of years. Although they have many points in common but the differences are crucial.

First and foremost, we may see immediately that Taoists they put considerable emphasis on the body, and that Buddhists, they put considerable emphasis on the mind. So it won’t be a problem for us to figure out that Taoists tended in China to live outside of the cities, off in the mountains, and that Buddhists tended to live closer to the cities; and that whereas Taoists tended toward an iconoclastic view of social forms, Buddhists tended to accommodate themselves to social forms, adapting to the culture rather than standing apart from it.

Besides that, on how to explain the beliefs of life, each religion has a different way. Taoist is advised to concentrate on life itself. The longer the person's life, the more saintly the person is presumed to have become. This may be an optimistic theory while the Buddhist believes that existence is suffering, suffering has a cause, namely craving and attachment.

Last but not least, just as life, the beliefs of life after death are not standardized. The goal in Taoism is to achieve Tao, to transcend life on earth as a physical being, to achieve harmony with nature and the universe. But Buddhist believe life goes on and on in many reincarnations or rebirths. The eternal hope for all followers of Buddha is that through reincarnation one comes back into successively better lives until one achieves the goal - Nirvana, which they being free from pain and suffering and not having to come back again.

The path to Tao and Nirvana are different. Yet both believe there is an inner light which guides a person in the right direction to the ultimate goal. Personal desires must be forsaken to enable the inner light to guide a person to achieve eternal bliss. But the actual path is the difference between Taoism and Buddhism. The path toward enlightenment for the Buddhist was defined by Buddha in his Eightfold Path. Only through following this path does the Buddhist reach Nirvana. The path to Tao is individual, it comes from within. No one can define a path for Taoist; it must come from the inner light.

There exist so many different religions, and a lot of them are the basis of people’s culture and belief. They seem to provide various types of beliefs and principle. People worship numerous “gods” for different occasions. In ultimatum, the religion can be anything a person makes of it.

The Prodigal Daughter

Chapter 1 Memories of a Departure

By Robert Whitton

The young women paused in the doorway, turned back around and took a last, long look at the apartment behind her. It was completely empty now and she allowed herself one more moment of nostalgia, soaking in the echoes of a thousand after-dinner conversations, a million peals of laughter, and the peace that washed over her every time she had stepped in the doorway of her Paris home. It wasn’t very big but it was charming and she had treasured every solitary inch of it. Whenever she thought about another tenant living here, putting different pictures on the white plaster walls, throwing different rugs down on the polished wood floors, and arranging new furniture in the sun filled rooms, when she had spent so long getting everything just right, her heart clenched.

She had by chance already met the new tenant two weeks ago. She’d been on her way out of the front door to meet some friends at the nightclub three blocks away. They were celebrating the end of their senior exams at the university they attended and she was running late beyond the agreed upon hook-up time. Her landlord had stopped her in the lobby of the old house where the woman owned four other apartments and introduced her to a petite girl with soft blond-hair and a hopeful look on her face. Her heart had gone out to the woman as she was reminded her of herself four years ago when she had first come to this city. Wide-eyed and searching but older than she looked. Nothing and everything had surprised her back then. When you’ve survived the imminent threat of mass destruction, you can pretty much put up with anything.

With a final sigh, the woman turned back around to face the hallway, picked up the canvas satchel at her feet and settled the long strap diagonally across her chest. She had already sent the rest of her things ahead and all that was left was for her to make her way to the Paris International Portkey office. She was glad she had chosen to leave this way. No big fanfare, just a final walk through the neighborhood that had been her home the past four years. She paused outside on the sidewalk, her waist length red hair swinging with the sudden halt, and took a final sniff of the familiar air. It was 7:30 a.m. and the local shops were just beginning to open. She could smell the bread baking at the bakery shop four doors down and the first whiffs of petrol as Mr. Zamir from across the street started his automobile–the only car on the block. She heard the familiar sounds of Jean Paul setting up his newsstand for the day and the tingling of the bicycle bells as young boys raced by her on their way to the local muggle school.

It was Paris in October–the air was crisp and the leaves were a mix of oranges, yellows and red. It was her favorite time of the year in France and now she wouldn’t be there to enjoy it. On the other hand, she reflected, her high heel boots making rhythmic clicking noises on the sidewalk as she walked to the portkey office, perhaps it was best that she was leaving at such a high point of the year. She would always have this last morning in Paris when everything seemed right in the world. The next few months were going to be difficult, she knew that, but this last morning of peace might sustain her.

"And,” she whispered to herself, “I could always come back if it gets too tough.” But she knew that was a lie. She wouldn’t come back.

She had run here four years ago, looking desperately for something she could sense she had lost and had indulged herself. For once she had chosen to think about herself. Instead of her family and friends, instead of those she loved, she had jumped at the chance to attend the 4-year Wizarding University that had offered her a scholarship to study transfiguration and charms. She had surprised everyone with her decision.

She was the youngest of seven children and six older brothers had overshadowed most her life’s attempts to stand out. Her mother had been almost hysterical when she had announced she was moving to France and her brothers had expressed confusion but her father had stood in the background waiting for the protests to quiet down before saying, “Is this what you want? You’ve thought this through?”

"Yes,” she had said, looking him in the eye and willing him to see the reasons in her own eyes. “I’ve thought about it. I really need to do this.”

"But why?” her mother had wailed. “Everything is just starting to come back together! Why would you leave now?” She had opened her mouth to reply but her oldest brother had stepped up behind her and laid a hand on her shoulder, silencing her.

"I think we all know why,” he had said to his mother. “It’s time for her to do things herself.”

Now, as she quickened her steps to cross the street busy with early morning traffic, she remembered the look of understanding in her brother’s eyes. It shouldn’t have surprised her that he understood--he had always understood. He was almost 10 years older than her and had been the only brother who had ever “got her.”

With a snap back to reality, she arrived at the office and took one last final check of her watch. Her portkey left in 10 minutes. She just had time to sign the paperwork before grabbing on to whatever piece of muggle junk the office had decided to use today.

Ten minutes later, after some furiously signed paperwork and two screaming children whose mother looked stressed beyond belief, the portkey activated. With a thump, the passengers landed in another office that looked remarkably similar to the one in Paris. She knew it was different though. She could tell by the pinched looks on the office worker’s faces, the ruthless efficiency with which her paperwork was processed and by the unfamiliar smells as she opened the door and stepped outside into the autumn air.

For better or worse, Ginny Weasley had returned to England.

Gunman's Writings Disturbing

Tuesday April 17, 2007 8:16 PM

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) - The gunman suspected of carrying out the Virginia Tech massacre that left 33 people dead was described Tuesday as a sullen loner whose creative writing in English class was so disturbing that he was referred to the school's counseling service.

News reports also said that he may have been taking medication for depression, that he was becoming increasingly violent and erratic, and that he left a note in his dorm in which he railed against ``rich kids,'' ``debauchery'' and ``deceitful charlatans'' on campus.

Cho Seung-Hui, a 23-year-old senior majoring in English, arrived in the United States as boy from South Korea in 1992 and was raised in suburban Washington, D.C., officials said. He was living on campus in a different dorm from the one where Monday's bloodbath began.

Police and university officials offered no clues as to exactly what set him off on the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history.

``He was a loner, and we're having difficulty finding information about him,'' school spokesman Larry Hincker said.

On Tuesday afternoon, thousands of people gathered in the basketball arena, and when it filled up, thousands more filed into the football stadium, for a memorial service for the victims. President Bush and the first lady attended.

Virginia Tech President Charles Steger received a 30-second standing ovation, despite bitter complaints from parents and students that the university should have locked down the campus immediately after the first burst of gunfire. Steger expressed hope that ``we will awaken from this horrible nightmare.''

``As you draw closer to your families in the coming days, I ask you to reach out to those who ache for sons and daughters who are never coming home,'' Bush said.

A vast portrait of the victims began to emerge, among them: Christopher James Bishop, 35, who taught German at Virginia Tech and helped oversee an exchange program with a German university; Ryan ``Stack'' Clark, a 22-year-old student from Martinez, Ga., who was in the marching band and was working toward degrees in biology and English; Emily Jane Hilscher, a 19-year-old freshman from Woodville, Va., who was majoring in animal and poultry sciences and, naturally, loved animals; and Liviu Librescu, an Israeli engineering and math lecturer who was said to have protected his students' lives by blocking the doorway of his classroom from the approaching gunman.

Meanwhile, a chilling portrait of the gunman as a misfit began to emerge.

Professor Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of the university's English department, said she did not know Cho. But she said she spoke with Lucinda Roy, the department's director of creative writing, who had Cho in one of her classes and described him as ``troubled.''

``There was some concern about him,'' Rude said. ``Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it's creative or if they're describing things, if they're imagining things or just how real it might be. But we're all alert to not ignore things like this.''

She said Cho was referred to the counseling service, but she said she did not know when, or what the outcome was. Rude refused to release any of his writings or his grades, citing privacy laws.

The Chicago Tribune reported on its Web site that he left a note in his dorm room that included a rambling list of grievances. Citing unidentified sources, the Tribune said he had recently shown troubling signs, including setting a fire in a dorm room and stalking some women.

ABC, citing law enforcement sources, reported that the note, several pages long, explains Cho's actions and says, ``You caused me to do this.''

Investigators believe Cho at some point had been taking medication for depression, the Tribune reported.

Classmates said that on the first day of an introduction to British literature class last year, the 30 or so English students went around and introduced themselves. When it was Cho's turn, he didn't speak.

The professor looked at the sign-in sheet and, where everyone else had written their names, Cho had written a question mark. ``Is your name, `Question mark?''' classmate Julie Poole recalled the professor asking. The young man offered little response.

Cho spent much of that class sitting in the back of the room, wearing a hat and seldom participating. In a small department, Cho distinguished himself for being anonymous. ``He didn't reach out to anyone. He never talked,'' Poole said.

``We just really knew him as the question mark kid,'' Poole said.

The rampage consisted of two attacks, more than two hours apart - first at a dormitory, where two people were killed, then inside a classroom building, where 31 people, including Cho, died after being locked inside, Virginia State Police said. Cho committed suicide; two handguns - a 9 mm and a .22-caliber - were found in the classroom building.

One law enforcement official said Cho's backpack contained a receipt for a March purchase of a Glock 9 mm pistol. Cho held a green card, meaning he was a legal, permanent resident, federal officials said. That meant he was eligible to buy a handgun unless he had been convicted of a felony.

Roanoke Firearms owner John Markell said his shop sold the Glock and a box of practice ammo to Cho 36 days ago for $571.

``He was a nice, clean-cut college kid. We won't sell a gun if we have any idea at all that a purchase is suspicious,'' Markell said. Markell said it is not unusual for college kids to make purchases at his shop as long as they are old enough.

``To find out the gun came from my shop is just terrible,'' Markell said.

Investigators stopped short of saying Cho carried out both attacks. But ballistics tests show one gun was used in both, Virginia State Police said.

And two law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been announced, said Cho's fingerprints were found on both guns. The serial numbers on the two weapons had been filed off, the officials said.

Col. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said it was reasonable to assume that Cho was the shooter in both attacks but that the link was not yet definitive. ``There's no evidence of any accomplice at either event, but we're exploring the possibility,'' he said.

Officials said Cho graduated from Westfield High School in Chantilly, Va., in 2003. His family lived in an off-white, two-story townhouse in Centreville, Va.

Two of those killed in the shooting rampage, Reema Samaha and Erin Peterson, graduated from Westfield High in 2006, school officials said. But there was no immediate word from authorities on whether Cho knew the two young women and singled them out.

``He was very quiet, always by himself,'' neighbor Abdul Shash said. Shash said Cho spent a lot of his free time playing basketball and would not respond if someone greeted him. He described the family as quiet.

South Korea expressed its condolences, and said it hoped that the tragedy would not ``stir up racial prejudice or confrontation.'' ``We are in shock beyond description,'' said Cho Byung-se, a Foreign Ministry official handling North American affairs.

Classes were canceled for the rest of the week. Norris Hall, the classroom building, will be closed for the rest of the semester.

Many students were leaving town quickly, lugging pillows, sleeping bags and backpacks down the sidewalks.

Jessie Ferguson, 19, a freshman from Arlington, left Newman Hall and headed for her car with tears streaming down her red cheeks.

``I'm still kind of shaky,'' she said. ``I had to pump myself up just to kind of come out of the building. I was going to come out, but it took a little bit of 'OK, it's going to be all right. There's lots of cops around.'''

Although she wanted to be with friends, she wanted her family more. ``I just don't want to be on campus,'' she said.

Until Monday, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history was in Killeen, Texas, in 1991, when George Hennard plowed his pickup truck into a Luby's Cafeteria and shot 23 people to death, then himself.

Previously, the deadliest campus shooting in U.S. history was a rampage that took place in 1966 at the University of Texas at Austin, where Charles Whitman climbed the clock tower and opened fire with a rifle from the 28th-floor observation deck. He killed 16 people before he was shot to death by police.


Associated Press writers Stephen Manning in Centreville, Va.; Matt Barakat in Richmond, Va.; and Vicki Smith, Sue Lindsey and Justin Pope in Blacksburg contributed to this report.