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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Freedom beckons in Syria; Revolutions and dignity in the Mideast

Syrian leader's response both disappointing and puzzling

I'm not sure why I expected a more intelligent, reasoned response from Bashar al-Assad, for it seems the apple never falls too far from the tree. The Syrian leader's infantile and insulting stance explains why he and Chavez are practically alone among Gaddafi's remaining backers; egomaniacs who fully get that true democracy will bring an end to their absolute power and exorbitant luxury.

Still, Bashar had an opportunity to ride a wave, get out in front of the herd, and likely be able to stay in power for a few more years, and live a dignified life, in Syria, after that.

Does al-Assad not have cable TV? The Internet?

It's like these guys don't get Aljazeera and CNN; Do al-Assad and his ilk really believe that Syrians don't deserve as much democracy as Indians, South Africans, Canadians, Egyptians? Even Palestinians are closer to democracy than Syria is, though both should be there soon (easier said than done but this liberty momentum is a bitch and things are rolling on and on).

One would have expected that Bashar al-Assad would have played Syria's leadership card and made some bold moves, but all he looks to have done is declare war on his own people, the ones seeking freedom, dignity and a say in their nation's affairs.

Now it looks like what could easily have been protests leading to positive social change have now morphed into a unifying rebellion that may provide another of 2011's freedom revolutions. People are not afraid of you anymore.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Positive Quotes from Inspiring Women

My cousin Carrie in Hamilton sent me an email the other day, and as we hadn't communicated too much in recent years, she recapped what had been happening in her life over the past decade. One gem really stood out:

A long time ago I realized that since I'll never be rich or famous, I might as well try to be kind and useful. -- Carrie N

In honour of my cousin and her folksy words of wisdom, here are some more positively inspiring sayings from women:

"Well-behaved women seldom make history." -- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. -- Helen Keller

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. -- Amelia Earhart

If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it. -- Toni Morrison

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning the devil says, "OH CRAP, SHE'S UP"! -- Anonymous

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Maple Leafs' cupboard is full for 2011-2012 NHL season

Brian Burke stocking Leafs' shelves with prospects and picks

With a handful of early round draft picks and Jake Gardiner and Joe Colborne down on the farm, the Toronto Maple Leafs September 2011 training camp looks to be an exciting, eventful affair. Gardiner and Colborne may start next season with the Toronto Marlies, though each has a shot at making the NHL roster.

2011 trade acquisitions by Toronto Maple Leafs:

Joe Colborne, 21 - Young, big, solid, steady centre

Jake Gardiner, 20- Young, skilled Team USA junior / US college defender has now signed 3 year deal with Leafs, already playing with Marlies

Joffrey Lupul, 27 - Injury reclamation project with upside

Aaron Voros, 29 - Big strong forward came from Anaheim for 7th rounder, while Mitchell went to NYR for 7th rounder, so consider it Mitchell for Voros and let's see

Boston Bruins' 1st round draft pick in 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Philadelphia Flyers' 1st round draft pick in 2011 NHL Entry Draft

Philadelphia Flyers' 3rd round draft pick in 2011 NHL Entry Draft

New York Rangers' 2012 7th round pick

What the Toronto Maple Leafs may receive:

2012 2nd round pick from Boston, should they make Stanley Cup finals, or re-sign Tomas Kaberle.

What the Leafs gave up:

2 to 3 months of Tomas Kaberle, 33

Francois Beachemin, 30

Kris Versteeg, 24

John Mitchell, 26

2011 7th round pick

If you are a leafs fan you have to appreciate that the excitement of this year's playoff run is not being enjoyed at the expense of the future, but more likely is the beginning of better days for the buds.

Online article analyzing 2011 trades by Toronto Maple Leafs

Here's a youthful core we can build on:

James Reimer, 23

Luke Schenn, 21
Dion Phaneuf, 25
Keith Aulie, 21
Carl Gunnarson, 24
Jake Gardiner, 20

Phil Kessel, 23
Nazem Kadri, 20
Niklai Kulemin, 24
Clarke Macarthur, 25
Mikhail Grabovski, 27
Darryl Boyce, 26
Mike Brown, 25
Joe Colborne, 20

Leafs hockey posts are now at my Toronto Maple Leafs fans blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

Female leaders of 2011 democratic uprisings

Arab Awakening driven by brilliant, insightful, decisive women

Not to lessen the crucial contributions of revolutionary martyrs Khaled Said and Mohamed Bouazizi and organizers such as Google exec Wael Ghonim, one must still revel in the joyful and forceful inclusion of women in the North African and Middle East democracy movements. In many regions, ladies are the leaders in the drive for equality, justice, human rights and an open, fair society.

Young Arab Ladies leading the way

Here are some of the women who have figured prominently in North Africa and Mideast democratic uprisings and revolutions in recent months:

Asma'a Mahfouz

Isra’a Abdel Fattah

Nawwara Nagm

Gigi Ibrahim

Mona Eltahawy

Tawakul Karaman

Marwa Sharafeldin

Maryam Rajavi

Lina ben Mhenni

Maryam al Khawaja

Amal Abdel Hadi

Women in the Arab Revolution video: Interviews with Lina ben Mhenni, Maryam al Khawaja, Amal Abdel Hadi featuring Lina ben Mhenni, Tunisian blogger and activist, Maryam al Khawaja, Head of Foreign Relations Office of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Amal Abdel Hadi, Feminist, Human Rights activist, founding member of New Woman Foundation.

Click to watch part two of the interview video Arab Women in the Revolution .

April 6th Movement for Youth wikipedia page

The April 6 Youth Movement began as an Egyptian Facebook group founded by Isra’a Abdel Fattah, 29, and Ahmed Maher, 30, in spring 2008 to support the April 6 workers strike in el-Mahalla el-Kobra, an industrial town along the Nile Delta.

Isra’a Abdel Fattah, Human Resources specialist and co-leader of Egypt's Revolution

On January 18th 2011 a video that changed the world was uploaded by Asma'a Mahfouz, for in it the young Egyptian urged her countrymen to take to the streets to protest the injustice. Take a look:

Asma’a Mahfouz, 26, a petite Business Administration graduate, emerged as another prominent figure from the April 6 Youth Movement to play a major role in the #Jan25 Jasmine Revolution in Egypt. By her account she did not have any political training or ideology before joining the group in March 2008. With her two colleagues she immediately helped set up the Facebook page urging Egyptians to support and join the strikes.

Asma'a Mahfouz, spokesperson for Egypt's April 6th Youth Movement

More significantly, Mahfouz played a critical role in the mobilization efforts for the current popular revolution. She posted passionate daily online videos imploring her countrymen and women to participate in the protests. In a recent interview, she elucidated her role when she stated, “I was printing and distributing leaflets in popular areas, and calling for citizens to participate. In those areas, I also talked to young people about their rights, and the need for their participation.”

She continued, “At the time when many people were setting themselves on fire, I went into Tahrir Square with several members of the movement, and we tried a spontaneous demonstration to protest against the recurrence of these incidents. However, the security forces prevented us and removed us from the Square. This prompted me to film a video clip, featuring my voice and image, calling for a protest.”

“I said that on the 25th of January, I would be an Egyptian girl defending her dignity and her rights. I broadcasted the video on the Internet, via Facebook, and was surprised by its unprecedented distribution over websites and mobile phones. Subsequently, I made four further videos prior to the date of the protest,” she added.

Wael Ghonim gets a hug from the mother of Khaled Said:

Nawwara Nagm, 37, revolutionary spokesperson, and daughter of esteemed poet Ahmad Fuad Nagm, 81, and her mother, female journalist Safinaz Kazem.

One of the most articulate voices of Egypt’s revolution is thirty-seven year old Nawwara Nagm. Since her graduation as an English literature major, she has been a well-known political activist as well as a severe critic of Mubarak’s regime working as a journalist and blogger for opposition newspapers. In 1995 she was first arrested and sent to prison at the age of twenty-two because she protested the inclusion of Israel in Cairo’s annual Book Fair.

Lina ben Mhenni, Tunisia

Lina Ben Mhenni is a 22 year-old Tunisian activist who runs the blog ‘A Tunisian Girl.’ She works as a teacher's assistant and translator at Tunis University.

Ben Mhenni’s blog, which was censored under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s rule, was one of the most revealing and scathing criticisms of Tunisian society. In her blog, she discussed such issues as women’s rights and press freedom. During the protests in Tunisia, Ben Mhenni visited local hospitals and took pictures of those injured or killed by the police. The images served as proof of the regime’s brutality, and she rose to become one of the most prominent bloggers in the Arab world.

Amal Abdel Hadi, Egypt

Interview with Amal Abdel Hadi, from fidh.org

In what ways were women involved in the protests in Egypt?

Women were involved in every aspect of this revolution: in confrontations on the front line, in confrontations with the security forces, organising, writing slogans, shouting, sleeping in Tahrir Square during the sit-ins... Some women were there throughout the 18 days of the protests.

Women are also among the martyrs of this movement. Women were killed by the security forces. Some women were also arrested and detained.

The majority of the women involved were young women, but there were women of all ages and all walks of life. For example housewives who had never been involved in this type of action before, came to protest with their children, activists from all the political movements, from the Muslim brotherhood to communists, participated in the demonstrations.

Members of our organisation were active in the protests, as individuals, we didn’t go to the demonstrations as the “New Woman Foundation”. But when we spoke with people, they knew we were from NWF. I was in Tahrir Square every day and I slept in the square for several nights.

Women and men were comrades in the protests. This was an incredible, incredible time in Egypt. Millions of people were gathered in the same place. And women were not afraid. We witnessed no instances of sexual harassment for example. There was a sense of complete respect, complete support, and complete solidarity towards the women. Women, particularly the younger ones, slept for days in the square.

Were there any chants or demands specifically relating to women’s rights during the protests?

No, there was nothing specific to any group, there were only the demands of the revolution. Everybody was supporting the same cause: an end to the regime, the overthrow of Mubarak and the establishment of a civil government. This is important. When someone shouted a slogan which was too political or too religious for example, everyone would chant “one hand, one hand”, and people returned to chanting the general slogans on which everyone agreed.

Was there media coverage of women’s participation in the protests?

The media showed women, but they interviewed men more often than women. The majority of those who were invited on talk shows were men.

How are women participating in the political transition?

Women are being ignored! For example, the Constitutional Committee, which was created to revise some of the articles of the Constitution, doesn’t have a single woman member.

But we are mobilising. Several groups issued a statement denouncing the absence of women on the Committee. A Coalition of 12-14 feminist organisations has been formed, which has stressed that women must be represented in every aspect of the process and in all the decision making bodies that are being established.

There has also been a call on Facebook for a demonstration of a million women and men on 8 March, International Women’s Day.

What are your main demands for the transition government?

A new government! A democratic government, that has integrity and independence, not the current transition government which is a “patchwork government”. We are calling for a civil presidential council to be established immediately, which should form a civil government and a constitutional committee, responsible for drafting a new constitution. We need a new constitution!

The constitutional committee should be composed of people from a wide range of backgrounds. Women and young people must be represented on the committee. Women and young people were the driving force behind this revolution.

We are calling for equal and fair representation of women and young people in all representative bodies, from the local committees and councils to the national parliament.

We are calling for freedom of expression, starting with the freedom to form political parties, independent syndicates, unions, NGOs, and civil society organisations.

We are calling for those involved in the repression of demonstrations and the killings to be tried. We want those responsible for terrorizing our citizens, for opening the prisons, and for all the crimes conducted during the first 18 days of the revolution to be tried. We want a transparent trial for all those involved in corruption in Egypt. We want all the symbols of the regime, not just Mubarak or his assistants, but all of those who have been involved in the corruption to be tried.

We are calling for the freezing of the assets of Mubarak and all other symbols of the regime. We are pushing the government to take action in this respect.

We are calling for the liberation of all protesters who have been arbitrarily arrested. Arrests by the military police are still taking place today and that needs to end.

We are calling for all those responsible for cutting off the internet, telephone and media communications to stand trial. We call for those, in particular in Egyptian television, who tried to distort and conceal information from the Egyptian people, to be held to account.

The military council [currently running the country] is calling for parliamentary and presidential elections and for the Constitution to be amended within 6 months. This is a real problem because we fear that those responsible for organising elections and reforming the constitution will be from the main existing parties: the National Democratic Party, which is the party of the previous regime, and the Muslim Brotherhood. We don’t want this. We want long term change.

We want a deeper reflection on the new Constitution and what we want for a new Egypt, and this will take a while. It is not to be rushed. Under the current laws, we cannot even form new political parties. We don’t want a new government that is an extension of the previous regime!

Are there groups other than women’s associations supporting demands for the protection of women’s rights ?

Actually, no other groups raise the issues of women’s rights on their own, but when we discuss them they agree with us. When we met, for example, with the military council, no one raised these demands, but no one actually raised any demands relating to any particular political group. Until now, everything has been focused on the transition, because we feel that nothing is moving.

Could you tell us what you think these recent developments will mean for women’s rights? What are your hopes and fears in this regard?

My hopes are that if we really work, if we can really use this opportunity, the situation of women in Egypt will generally get a better. I think there are possibilities, real possibilities, that we can achieve a modern civil government and a parliamentary democracy.

If we move towards this and we move towards greater respect for freedom of association, including for professional and workers unions and NGOs, then this should allow women to participate more effectively in all areas of public life and will provide them with the opportunity to give their perspectives on health, the economy, the environment, working conditions, etc. We feel this change of atmosphere will provide us with better forums for advocating our for our rights.

Previous claims that women’s voices should not be heard, all of this has been smashed during the revolution, smashed! Because women were there, with their beautiful voices, shouting against the regime. Women were there, sleeping on the ground in the streets, and this was appreciated by everyone.

But I think the desire to speed the process along and to rush things may be to the detriment of women. There is a risk we could end up with political parties or parliamentarians who are not really concerned about women and who might even be against women’s rights. That is why we are calling for the process to take time.

Finally, could you give us your perspective on the ongoing events in the rest of the region and their potential implications for women’s rights?

The Tunisians did a marvelous thing in starting this movement and Egyptians had in important impact in proving that it can happen. Most Arab countries are very autocratic and very oppressive. I think that this is a real beginning of a process of deconstruction and of rebuilding, particularly with the youth using the internet. It’s incredible, it is incredible! It is an era of change.

Nothing is going to go back... It is a marvelous feeling, that you are actually witnessing the making of history. And I am glad that I lived to experience that feeling.

And the young people are really determined, they are really mature! They are resisting their own “iconisation”, and they are trying to act, they may lack some experience but they will learn! They are fast learners and I am glad that they have learned actually out of the usual circles, outside of political parties. They have their creativity and their resilience and that is very important. I think that young people are generally more in favour of real democracy, more willing to change and have greater respect for women.

Amal Abdel Hadi interview conducted by Shawna Carroll - FIDH

The Mother of Yemen's Revolution - Tawakul Karaman

Tawakel Karman, also Tawakul, (Arabic: توكل كرمان‎), is a Yemeni politician who is a senior member of Al-Islah and a human rights activist who heads the group Women Journalists Without Chains that she created in 2005.

Tawakul Karman created the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) in 2005 for promoting human rights, "particularly freedom of opinion and expression, and democratic rights".

Karman said that she has received "threats and temptations" from the authorities by telephone and letter because of her refusal to accept the Ministry of Information rejection of WJWC's application to legally create a newspaper and a radio station. From 2007 to 2010, Karman regularly led demonstrations and sit-ins in Freedom Square in Sana'a in front of the Cabinet.

During the ongoing 2011 Yemeni protests Tawakel Karman organised student rallies in Sana'a to protest against Ali Abdullah Saleh and his government. She was arrested once, amid complaints her husband did not know her whereabouts, however she was released on parole on 24 January. She then led another protest on 29 January where she called for a "day of rage" on 3 February similar to that of the 2011 Egyptian protests that were in turn inspired by the 2010-2011 Tunisian uprising. On 17 March, she was re-arrested amidst ongoing protests.

Maryam al Khawaja, Bahrain

Maryam al Khawaja being interviewed about discrimination against Shia people in Bahrain:

Maryam al Khawaja, Bahrain Center for Human Rights, speaking at a London press conference last September, 2010:

I actually just flew into London last night. I am here representing the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. I want to talk about my personal experience having just come from Bahrain.

People in Bahrain, particularly human rights activists live in constant fear. Around 3.30am you will find that most activists are awake as they are waiting to see if its their turn to get arrested. When you are in the car you make sure you lock the car doors because if they come for you you will at least have time to make a final phone call. So there is a constant situation of fear that people are living under.

I have been working on the cases of the detainees and of course I also want to talk about the kidnappings. The kidnappings differ from the arrests. What happens is that someone will get picked up in the street by the security forces. They will disappear for two or three days and then they will be thrown on the curb somewhere after being abused and beaten.

I myself interviewed one of the victims of these kidnappings. He was even a Saudi national, he was not even a Bahraini. He was walking towards his car from a coffee shop and he was taken, blindfolded for the whole two days that he was kept. He was beaten severely, they kept threatening him with sexual abuse and made him listen to cries of other people being tortured and supposedly sexually abused as well. And he was thrown half naked in the street.

Part of the procedure, what they do is that they will take a person's clothes off completely, take pictures of him completely naked and threaten to publish these pictures all over the country.

As for the defendants that are being kept. According to Bahraini law people have to be charged with a crime or released. And you are also innocent until proven guilty. But according to the state security law or the counter terrorism law which was released in 2006 they can also keep someone incommunicado for 15 days before presenting them before the public prosecution. This gives way to torture and ill-treatment. After they are presented at the public prosecution which has been the case with the detainees now, they are allowed to extend that detention by another sixty days, which puts them right back in the hands of the torturers. This is exactly what his happening with the detainees today.

After the detainees went to the public prosecution and made all the complaints of torture and mistreatment they were actually placed right back to where they come from for another 60 days. And we fear for their lives, we fear for their well-being, they are not allowed to see any physicians or doctors.

According to different human rights organisations the government has to throw out any forced information for indictment in court. But in the public prosecution office when a detainee makes a statement he tries to tell the attorney general of the torture they will not allow that to be recorded in the papers describing what transpired during the meeting This is the opposite of what is supposed to happen. They are not even writing down the complaints of torture.

The charges that have been filed against these detainees, especially the one concerning over throwing the government, can lead to execution if they are convicted. There is also fear for the lives of these detainees and what might happen to them if they are convicted of these charges.

On August 26th there was an order issued by the public prosecutor which comes after the defamation campaign in the local media. You have the local media are writing articles about all these defendants who haven't even been to court. They are talking about how they are already criminals, or how they are already terrorists and how they are funding all the terrorist activities in Bahrain.

And the moment these so called terrorists are taken to the public prosecution office and make complaints about torture a gagging order is issued saying that no one is allowed to publish anything about the topic. The people who are working for human rights have access about information about what is happening to these detainees. But as soon as they have access to this information the gagging order is issued.

Of course we consider these detainees to be prisoners of conscience and political prisoners. We have reason to believe that a lot of them are being subjected to sexual assault. Of course these are not documented because the detainees have asked that this is not documented for personal reason. But we have reason to believe that most of them are being subjected to sexual assaults.

And there are almost daily statements issued by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights on our website. You are more than welcome to visit our website to get more information. We know that what we are is based on facts. There is no evidence to convict the defendants. We invite you all to visit Bahrain and see what is happening first had. Thank you very much.

Maryam Rajavi, Iran

Though Iranians speak Farsi not Arabic and they view themselves as Persian rather than Arab, nobody doubts that events in Egypt and the Middle East are impacting Shi'ite Iran. There are many female leaders in the Green Movement, and Maryam Rajavi (whose husband is also a prominent opposition leader) may be the most crucial of them all.

Marwa Sharafeldin, Oxford University

- B.A. Political Science, International Law Specialization, American University in Cairo, 1998 (High Honors).

- MSc. Development Management, London School of Economics, 2002 (Merit).

- MSt. Socio-Legal Centre, Law Faculty, Oxford University, 2008.

Research Interests

- Muslim Family Law reform

- Gender and Islamic law

- Feminism in the Middle East

- Civil Society

- International human rights law


Marwa is currently reading for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Law in the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies. She researches Egyptian NGOs’ efforts to reform the Muslim family law using both Islamic law and international human rights law at one and the same time. Marwa looks into the process of interaction and re-interpretation that takes place when these two bodies of law come into contact in NGOs’ work. She investigates how this process transforms the understanding and appropriation of certain elements in both Islamic law and international human rights law which eventually creates breakthroughs, compromises and silences in NGOs’ family law reform efforts.

Before and during her time in Oxford, Marwa has been the co-founder of several individual NGOs in Egypt, as well as the Network for Women’s Rights Organizations in Egypt and the Young Arab Feminist Network. She also works with the international Musawah movement for Muslim family law reform, and is active on issues related to women and gender in the Middle East.

The Media

Gigi Ibrahim - American University of Cairo student journalist

One of the most crucial citizen reporters in Cairo was 24-year-old Gigi Ibrahim.

Armed with little more than her Blackberry and a webcam, Ibrahim - who spent her high school years in California and recently earned a political science degree from the American University in Cairo - is on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo. She tweets and posts, shoots stills and video, all in an effort to chronicle the unrest.

In a Skype interview with The New York Times, Ibrahim said her role "is to be part of this wave of change. I tweet a lot while at the protests; I tell everybody the security situation, how many people are at protests. I'm trying to spread accurate information and paint a picture at the ground for people who aren't here, via Twitter and Facebook."

Ibrahim's smartphone lacks an Arabic keybord, but she said "a lot of my followers are from outside of Egypt. I want to try to use a language most everyone would understand. It's important for me to be a citizen journalist, because with our press here... not everything gets broadcast."

Mona Eltahawy -Dream TV interview with Wael Ghonim galvanized a nation

Mona Eltahawy is an award-winning columnist and a public speaker. Born in Egypt and now based in New York, she regularly published opinion pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Jerusalem Report, Qatar’s Al Arab newspaper, and beyond. She has won the Samir Kassir Prize and the Anna Lindh Journalism Award for her reporting.

Mona, when you were on Bill Maher during the revolution, you really set him straight. FYI, he knows dick-all about the Middle East yet is the first to criticize any attempts to improve things there. When he was quoting those absurd statistics about fundamentalist attitudes, you were so "spot on" to point out those ideas are the products of the oppression the people lived under. Best of all was your shout out to Mubarak; when you exclaimed "Fuck YOU!" I nearly fell off my chair with glee!

Sources include: Wikipedia.org, aljazeera.net, france24.com, cyberdissidents.org, fidh.org,

Online Guide to Iodine: Foods, Sources, Nutritional Supplements

While researching an article on foods that help prevent radiation sickness, I was able to compile lists of various types of iodine available, including at pharmacies and in health food and grocery stores. My hope is that this can be of value to readers, particularly those who may be in the path of radioactive winds.

Iodine supplements and natural food sources

Iodine-based nutritional / medicinal products (pharmacies)

Prolamine Iodine

Supplements that include significant iodine (health food stores)

LifeExtension – Sea-Iodine
LifeExtension – Vitamin D3 with Sea-Iodine
Cataplex F
Iodine Plus 2

Foods high in iodine

Some foods with naturally high iodine content include fish (especially Haddock), garlic, onions, watercress, sea greens such as seaweed / kelp / dulse / wakame / kombu, Iceland moss, ager-ager, egg-yolk, mushrooms, fish liver oil, pineapple, low-fat yogurt, artichokes, sorrel, soybeans, navy beans, lima beans, potatoes, turkey breast, goat's milk, spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, whole grains (esp. brown rice), summer squash and strawberries.

As it has been reported that 94.5% of North Americans have diets deficient in iodine, adding more of these foods into your daily meals will also be a benefit to general overall health, sickness prevention and wellness.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Extreme SuperMoons, Earthquakes and Tsunamis; Historical correlations

Although a majority of experts claim that supermoons are not related to the recent earthquakes and tsunami in Japan, some viable theories have begun to emerge regarding how a supermoon could affect weather patterns. As the greatest damage appears to occurr one-half to two-thirds of the way between two supermoons, this theory from AccuWeather.com Facebook Astronomy fanpage amateur astronomer Daniel Vogler deserves further investigation:

"Going from one extreme perigee to apogee could be significant enough pull on the plates. It's like pulling on a string tight then relaxing, causing a slip maybe." He also added, "Speculation is just that though... without numbers and cold hard facts. How can we get these numbers?"

2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami: Extreme Supermoon connection

On February 18, 2011, there was a SuperMoon. On March 19/20, 2011, an extreme SuperMoon will occur. A major earthquake (8.9) and tsunami occurred on the Japanese coast of on March 11, 2011.

2010 Haiti earthquake and proximity to Supermoons

On December 31, 2009 there was a SuperMoon and one month later, on January 30, 2010 there was an extreme SuperMoon. Right in the middle of these two Supermoons, there was a major earthquake, a 7.0 event in Haiti on January 12th, that the country is still recovering from.

Supermoon near 2004 Indonesian earthquake and tsunami

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami was an undersea megathrust earthquake that occurred at 00:58:53 UTC on Sunday, December 26, 2004, with an epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The quake itself is known by the scientific community as the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake. The resulting tsunami is given various names, including the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Asian Tsunami, Indonesian Tsunami, and Boxing Day Tsunami.

AccuWeather Facebook fanpage member Daniel Vogler adds, "The last extreme super moon occurred on January 10th, 2005, right around the time of the 9.0 Indonesia earthquake. That extreme super moon was a new moon. So be forewarned. Something BIG could happen on or around this date. (19Mar11, +/- 3 Days is my guess)"

Extreme Supermoon 1993, Tsunamis and flooding

This saturday and sunday (March 19th / 20th), the Moon will be closer to Earth than it has been in the past 18 years, meaning the last time it was this close, it was 1993. So, how was the weather?

A devastating tsunami wave occurred along the coasts of Hokkaidō in Japan as a result of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake, 80 miles (130 km) offshore, on July 12, 1993.

1993 Flooding and Weather events:

1993 North America Storm of the Century, March 12-13 1993

USA Midwest Great Flood of 1993, April to October

July 12, 1993 Hokkaido earthquake and tsunami in Japan

List of dates for recent and future Supermoons

November 10, 1954
November 20, 1972
January 8, 1974
February 26, 1975
December 2nd, 1990
January 19, 1992
March 8, 1993
January 10, 2005
December 12, 2008
January 30, 2010
March 19, 2011
November 14, 2016
January 2nd, 2018
January 21st, 2023
November 25, 2034
January 13, 2036

Definitions of Supermoons and Extreme Supermoons

The term "Supermoon" was coined by astrologist Richard Nolle in 1979.

Super Moon - A new or full moon at 90% or greater of its closest perigee to Earth has been named a "SuperMoon" by astrologer Richard Nolle.

Extreme Super Moon - Occurs when a Super Moon when passing closest to Earth. Specifically, an extreme "SuperMoon" is when the moon is full or new as well as at its 100% greater mean perigee (closest) distance to earth. By this definition, last month's full moon, this month's and next month's will all be extreme "SuperMoons".

SuperMoons and Extreme super Moons related links:

History of Supermoons and global flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis

Accuweather.com blogger Mark Paquette article on Supermoons

Earthquakes in Japan, Haiti and Indonesia linked by Supermoons

RISE AGAINST live webcast from London UK: TOMORROW!

Tomorrow, March 16, 2011, Rise Against will be playing a live concert at the Electric Ballroom in London, England. Rise Against has decided to webcast the show live around the world!

Rise Against live simulcast, Mar 16th, 9.10pm UK time (5.10 pm Eastern Daylight Time, 2.10pm Pacific)

Tune into  Rise Against LIVE web broadcast show from London England on Wednesday March 16th around 9:10 PM UK time to watch the band live on stage, filmed via three different camera angles (and you choose which angle to watch from!).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

End of the World As We Know It lyrics; Donate to Japan links

I am hoping that Canadians give very generously to help Japanese people in their time of need, whether it be money, goods or expertise. Here are some links:

Canadian Red Cross fund to help Japan, donate online

Doctors Without Borders team on the ground in Japan

End of the World As We Know It, REM lyrics

That's great it starts with an earthquake
Birds and snakes and aeroplane
And Lenny Bruce is not afraid

Eye of a hurricane, listen to yourself churn
World serves it's own needs, dummy serve your own needs
Feed it off an aux speak grunt no strength,
the ladder start to clatter whit fear fight down height.
Wire in a fire representing seven games and a government for hire in a combat site
Left of west and coming in a hurry with the furies breathing down your neck

Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low flying plane, fine then,
Uh-oh overflow, population common food, but it'll do
Save yourself, serve yourself, world serves it's own needs
Listen to your heart bleed dummy with the rapture and the revered and the right, right
Vitreolic, patriotic stand, fight, bright, light
Feeling pretty psyched

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

Six o'clock TV hour, don't get caught in foreign towers
Slash and burn, return, listen to yourself churn
Locking in, uniforming, book-burning, blood-letting
Every motive escalate, automotive incinerate
Light a candle, light a votive, step down step down
Watch your heel, crush, crushed uh-oh this means
No fear cavalier, renegade, steer clear
A tournament, a tournament, a tournament of lies
Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives
And I decline

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

I feel fine

The other night I dreamt of knives, continental drift divide
Mountains sit in a line, Leonard Bernstein
Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs
Birthday party, cheescake, jellybean, boom you
Symbiotic patriotic slam book neck
Right? Right!

It's the end of the world as we know it
It's the end of the world as we know it (It's time I had some time alone)
It's the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine

I feel fine

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Wisconsin GOP declares war on USA workers

WI Republicans ram through union-busting legislation 18-1 without a quorum

With this evening's bumrush of civic workers in Wisconsin, USA, far-right Republicans have lit a fuse and thrown it into the streets. Let's all pray the protests stay focused on non-violence and civil disobedience, as that is the way to achieve lasting progress.

Considering today's so-called "atomic bomb" of deception and skulduggery, it will entirely be in the hands of the Grand Old Party should a few windows get broken tonight. Here's hoping pray nobody gets hurt.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Plea to Charlie: Time to chill, lay low for a bit

March 7th 2011 episode Sheen's Korner - Torpedoes of Truth Part Two

This is Charlie Sheen's last "winner" video before being fired from his TV show:

Can somebody please bring this man a pizza and a spliff?

March 8, 2011: Gaddafi declares war on rebel fighters

Today will be a Tuesday long remembered in Libya, if not around the world, as the date the Libyan struggle went from ugly to hideous, as the crashing Libyan leader bulldozes and bombs away rebel positions. According to Debka.com:

Not a single Arab ruler or government is willing to dip a toe into the Libyan cauldron. In the last few hours, Egypt's military rulers have notified Washington that they have no intention of helping the Libyan opposition, even by sending arms.

Qaddafi's commanders turned the tide of battle in their favor by the following tactic: At the start of the week, they concentrated around the key town of Sirte (Sidra) two armored battalions of T-72 tanks, three battalions of special forces, beefed up by an extra 3,000 tribal fighters flown in from the Sahara, and a fleet of dozens of helicopter gunships.

Our sources report that Qaddafi paid out many millions of petrodollars to the heads of the Saharan tribal federation to hire fighting manpower form the various tribes.

This force was split in two: One column advanced south along the Sidra Gulf coast towards the refinery town of Ras Lanuf and the second struck southeast toward the big oil town of Brega and Ajdabia. Both rolled forward behind a wall of fire of BM-21 Katyusha rockets and helicopters firing missiles and heavy machine guns as T-72 tanks mowed down everything in their path.

Against the only rebel position west of Tripoli in the town of Zawiya, dozens of tanks crushed building after building before pulling out and then returning.

Qaddafi forces pound rebel positions, online article on Debka.com

And from the Los Angeles Times, just 20 minutes ago:

Libyan Major General Khalid Shahmah joins rebel forces

By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Tripoli, Libya A Libyan general has switched sides in one of two fiercely contested western cities that remain strongholds of the opposition to Moammar Kadafi, state television said Tuesday.

Fierce fighting continued in the city of Zawiya, which has emerged as one of two key battlegrounds in the area around the capital, Tripoli. Although Kadafi controls the capital, his opponents have seized much of the east of the country and are working on formation of a competing government.

In an "urgent" onscreen caption, state-controlled television reported that Maj. Gen. Khalid Shahmah joined the rebels in Zawiya. It did not further identify the general or clarify his role in the military.

Droves of officials have defected from Kadafi's regime. On Tuesday, Musa Kuni, former consul general to the nearby country of Mali, appealed to Libyans of ethnic Tuareg descent like him to join the opposition.

Opposition leaders accuse the government of recruiting mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa to fight anti-Kadafi forces. The rebel spokesman in Misurata, the other battleground city in western Libya, said his side had captured several fighters from Mali and Chad.

Full article on fighting in Libya on LATimes.com

Monday, March 7, 2011

March 2011 Revolutions: Upcoming hashtag* democracy protests

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.

- John F. Kennedy, former USA President, 1962

Democracy protests planned for March 2011

This week:

Tuesday, March 8th - Kuwait, Sudan

Friday March 11th – Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan

Sunday March 13th – People's Republic of China

Next week:

Tuesday, March 15th – Palestine, Iran, Qatar

Wednesday, March 16th - Qatar, Iran

Saturday, March 19th - Constitutional referendum in Egypt

Saturday, March 19th - Anti-war protest in Chicago, IL, USA

Sunday, March 20th - Saudi Arabia

Later in March:

Saturday, March 26th – United Kingdom (Trade Unions protest budget cuts)

* Note: Hashtag protests are spread via Twitter and Facebook, usually with the hashtag followed by the date, for example, Egypt's Jasmine Revolution was "#Jan25"

Friday, March 4, 2011

DOA Australian Tour dates and tickets now online

D.O.A Australian tour starts next Wednesday, March 9th

05.03.2011 | Article from KillYourStereo.com

Canada’s long serving kings of Punk - D.O.A - have been at the forefront of punk rock counterculture for over 30 years, happily slashing away at our philosophical enemies with their scathing punk anthems and furious live shows since 1978. Now, led by the inexhaustible Joey ‘Shithead’ Keithley and in conjunction with Punk Rock Road Trips, D.O.A will finally return to southern shores, blasting through a series of live shows in Australia and New Zealand in March 2011.

The tour marks the 30th anniversary of the seminal D.O.A. album “Hardcore 81”. This release made the term ‘hardcore’ their own, not only pushing it into the common vernacular but also catapulting the band onto the world stage. They become known as ‘The Fathers of Hardcore’, re-defining the sound of punk rock and have since been cited as a major influence for numerous bands ranging from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Green Day and Rancid to Offspring. Not to mention that Mayor Larry Campbell recently declared December 21st to be "D.O.A. Day" in their hometown of Vancouver!

D.O.A have always maintained a relentless touring schedule and the raw energy of their music and live show still continues to grow. The band has not stopped since their inception, thriving in the turmoil that is the modern world and recently releasing their (lucky) 13th album “Talk – Action = 0” and third DVD. They have also featured in films and books published around the world, as well as playing numerous benefit shows for political and environmental causes.

This March come witness the non-compromising attitude and power that is D.O.A live...

Wednesday March 9 - Enigma, Adelaide - 18+
w/ The Meatbeaters & NFI

DOA Adelaide show tickets available from www.moshtix.com.au

Thursday March 10 - East Brunswick Club, Melbourne - 18+
w/ Sin City & Scratch’n’Sniff

DOA live in Melbourne tickets available from www.eastbrunswickclub.com

Friday March 11 - The Excelsior Hotel, Sydney - 18+
w/ Deathcage & Headbutt

Tickets available from www.oztix.com.au

Saturday March 12 - The Prince of Wales, Brisbane - 18+
w/ Mouthguard & Plan Of Attack

DOA Brisbane Australia show tickets online at www.oztix.com.au

Sunday March 13 - Shed 5, Gold Coast - AA
w/ The Scam & Not OK

DOA Gold Coast show buy tickets online www.oztix.com.au

- End of article.

For those of you who have never seen DOA and are about to rock, I salute you and envy you. It's a religious experience to the core, and you will remember why you love music, and humanity.

{Peace 2 All,

Joe College

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Huckabee's rants move him into Palin territory

Fox-GOP's Mike Huckabee twice states Obama raised in Kenya

Whther this proves that Huck is a veritable ignoramus a la Palin (and Bill O'Reilly), or that he is wilfully evil and knew he was planting a lie, it really doesn't matter now. The Huckster has proven with these and other recent comments that he is not up to the job of US Presidential candidate.

Joe Strummer and Barack Obama; Sons of diplomats

The Madrassas remark is also stupid. Like Joe Strummer of The Clash who was the son of a diplomat, Barack Obama was the stepson of a diplomat posted to Indonesia. He went to a mixed private school, with boys and girls attending.

In any case, insiders close to Huckabee claim that he cannot afford the drop in pay required to run for President, as he needs his Fox contract to make the mortgage payments on his new Florida mansion. This may explain his base antics, as he readies himself to "cover" the election, rather than be participating in it.

Huckabee is falling, falling, faling... THUD!

The sad thing is that Mike Huckabee has more personality than most of the Republican candidates, and actually has a few good ideas too. Ever since he signed up with Bad Brother Fox, the fake news outlet aimed at disinforming the USA population, it's been all downhill for his political career. Americans will be better off without Palin dumbing down the Republican leadership race, but Huck had the potential to invigorate discussions, so it is genuinely disappointing to watch his descent into moral malfeasance.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bloodless democratic evolution in China: A 7-Point Plan

Seven Point Program for bringing democracy to People's Republic of China

As I have written previously, if China is to avoid the bloodshed of conflict, the powers that be must channel the liberation energy into building a newer, better, smoother and more prosperous People's Republic of China.

A nation that fails to allow civil protest will find its jails filled with civilians, and its streets littered with criminals.

Dear Mr. Hu:

In these early months of 2011, everyone has witnessed a call for an end to fake democracies, rigged elections, and human rights violations. The People's Republic of China is in a unique position, in that your nation has evolved and developed to meet the needs of a growing population, even when that meant abandoning outdated, false ideologies. The power of the people demands no less.

Within twenty or thirty years if not sooner, China will become the biggest economy in the world, and it's important to remember that ALL the other major large economies are indisputably free and open democracies, without exception. If the Chinese people are to experience the benefits of progress, they require regular, meaningful votes, and need to live their lives without fear, especially of the government.

If Zen philosophy can be crudely defined as seeking the Middle Way, then my country, Canada, embraces this motto culturally and politically, and I encourage you to make every effort to maintain our beautiful and crucial friendship.

The very first step will be learning to tolerate large, peaceful crowds of protesters. If they are non-violent, they are not to be harmed. There is a much better way.

Here are my seven suggestions for channelling the positive energy of democratic forces into building a freer and stronger People's Republic of China, with 2016 as the target date for the first fully open national elections, after free regional elections to be scheduled much sooner.

Five Year, Seven Point Plan for Democratic Evolution in China

One - Freeing Up the Cities

Schedule fully open elections in the 200 largest cities for Autumn of 2012, followed by all other cities and major towns during Spring 2013.

Two - Opening Up the Economy

First things first, open up the trade between the provinces as much as possible. On an international scale, seek to enter free trade agreements with resource rich nations such as Canada, Australia, Brazil and Ghana, while also working hard to establish strong trade with human capital nations, such as India, Japan, Korea, the UK and the USA.

2011 would be a great time to begin, say in the Spring.

Three - Provinces Elect New Leaders

Based on the success of new candidates and parties in the municipal elections, the provincial elections will be synchronized and fully opened in 2014.

Four - Expansion of Human Rights

Include limiting of death penalty to extreme cases (terrorism, serial killers, mass murderers), increased right of appeal, right to lawyer, translator. Non-violent civil disobedience must be encouraged at home and abroad, and the teachings of Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela should be taught from primary school and up.

Amnesty International currently ranks People's Republic of China poorly for human rights record, and this can easily be improved upon.

Five - Legalize Marijuana

Some may feel this is not a crucial issue, however I can advise you that when your prisons start to fill up with gardeners (as they have in California and Ontario), while ill robbers, rapists, and murderers roam the streets due to "overcrowding," legalizing a supremely beneficial herb will be an obvious, expeditious option.

In the spirit of Shen Nung, China will be wise to align with progressive nations such as Canada, The Netherlands, the UK and Ghana, to research, develop and market marijuana-based medicines, including teas, baked goods, herbal blends for specific remedies.

Laws can be introduced by early 2012 or sooner, proscribing full legalization and promoting and funding the development and export of hemp-based products and marijuana-infused medicines.

In the Western world, two of the fastest growing industries are medical marijuana, and nutriceuticals. These will meet synergistically in 21st Century medicines with hemp as a nutritive ingredient (together with flax, kelp, spirulina) and cannabis sativa as an active medicinal ingredient, often with herbs, berries and flowers such as comfrey, cranberry and chamomile.

Six - Full Freedom of the Press and the Internet

If your citizens want a variety of views in politics in life, they deserve this. When your people need information in order to compete with companies abroad, they absolutely need full and unfettered access to the Internet. Anything less, and China will fail to fully develop its economic and cultural potential.

This needs to begin in 2011. Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index for 2010 ranked China 171st out of 178 countries, alongside poor nations such as Rwanda, Eritrea, and North Korea.

China will improve significantly in this area, and the changes must begin now.

Seven - Full Free and Open National Elections

Potentially to be held in the Spring of 2016, the free and fair elections held at the municipal level in 2012 and the provincial level in 2014 would provide democratic precedence and experience invaluable when the national elections are in full swing, and the whole world will be watching.

There are many other things that can be done to assist China's evolution to a fully democratic nation, and these ideas are offered as a starting point, a conversation piece if you must. Please accept that the suggestions come with only the welfare of the Chinese people and all human beings in mind, and are provided with a generosity of spirit, good wishings, blessings, love and respect.

Peace 2 All,

Yuya Joe College

Blog and website links relating to China:

People's Republic of China wikipedia page

China history and culture wikipedia webpage

Official website of the People's Republic of China - english language version

Ancient Chinese herbalist Shen Nung (Shennong)

CIA World Factbook webpage on China

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