Pirate attacks around the world rise by 20%

Today in Digg I found this article about real life piracy by Gethin Chamberlain for the Telegraph.co.uk

They may no longer dress like characters from the Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean, but the buccaneers of the 21st century have lost none of their taste for a bloodthirsty boarding.

Mariners are being warned of a growing threat from pirates around the world after attacks on shipping rose by 20 per cent over the last year.

(…)

The International Maritime Bureau’s latest report reveals the first rise in pirate attacks since their previous peak in the mid 1990s. In one particularly savage incident in the Philippines in March, pirates shot dead the captain of a passenger boat and two of his crew before tying them to their anchor and tossing it overboard. They then shot the two remaining crew members and escaped in a motor boat.

The sharp rise in pirate attacks is blamed in large part on the collapse of law and order in Somalia and political unrest in Nigeria. The seas around the two African countries are now regarded as some of the most dangerous in the world.

(…)

To read the rest of the artcile, please go here.

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light – The right measure

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light knows how to recognize an enemy who is stronger.

If he decides to confront him, he will immediately be destroyed. If he accepts his provocations, he will fall into the trap.

So he uses diplomacy to overcome the difficult situation in which he finds himself. When the enemy acts like a baby, he does the same. When he calls him to combat, he pretends not to understand.

His friends comment: “he is a coward.”

But the warrior pays no attention to the comment; he knows that all the anger and courage of a bird are of no use in a confrontation with a cat.

In situations such as this, the warrior is patient. He knows the enemy will soon depart and provoke others.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

What is important?

You never know. You can only unravel it during the journey. It all starts with a sign that takes you from a point to the next. Or makes you think about an action you’re about to take.

Does Power Corrupt? Absolutely Not

Today, while surfing the internet, I came upon this article written by KATE PICKERT for the Time Magazine. Indeed, contrary to the famous “Lucifer effect” and the popular saying that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”, here’s an article that shows the bright side of power. I submitted it in Digg and now am publishing it here in my blog:

Power breeds competence, not corruption, according to a new study in the May issue of Psychological Science. The study, a collaboration between U.S. and Dutch researchers, finds that if people feel powerful in their roles, they may be less likely to make on-the-job errors “” like administering the wrong medication to a patient. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the study suggests that people at the bottom of the workplace totem pole don’t end up there for lack of ability, but rather that being low and powerless in a hierarchy leads to more mistakes. It’s a finding that surprised even the study’s authors. “I’ll be totally honest. When we started this research,” says Adam Galinsky, a co-author and a social psychology professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, “we first had the hypothesis that maybe power might impair [cognitive] functioning.”

“This research has a lot of direct implications for such things as whether power corrupts,” says Galinsky, who collaborated with researchers from VU University Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegan.

(…)

To read the rest of the artcile go here.
To digg it, please go here.

“2084” Is China Building the Next-Generation Police State?

Today in Digg, found this disturbing article written by Casey Kazan for the Daily Galaxy based on an article written by Naomi Klein for Rolling Stone

Thirty years ago the new Chinese city of Shenzhen did not exist. Today, with the help of U.S. defense contractors, the booming city is a model for a high-tech police state 2.0. And, according to some authorities, it’s ready for export.

(…)

Today, Shenzhen situated on the Pearl River Delta, is a city of 12.4 million people and now houses roughly 100,000 factories. As Naomi Klein writes in her brilliant first-person memoir in the current issue of Rolling Stone, “there is a good chance that at least half of everything you own was made here: iPods, laptops, sneakers, flatscreen TVs, cellphones, jeans, maybe your desk chair, possibly your car and almost certainly your printer. Hundreds of luxury condominiums tower over the city; many are more than 40 stories high, topped with three-story penthouses. Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls.”

As China prepares to showcase its economic advances during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Shenzhen, Klein continues, “is once again serving as a laboratory, a testing ground for the next phase of a vast social experiment. Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range “” a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world.”

(…)

To read the rest for the article please go here.

Vatican: It’s OK to believe in aliens

Today while browsing through Digg, I found this curious article written by By ARIEL DAVID for the Associated Press

VATICAN CITY – Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God, the Vatican’s chief astronomer said in an interview published Tuesday.

The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, the Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, was quoted as saying the vastness of the universe means it is possible there could be other forms of life outside Earth, even intelligent ones.

“How can we rule out that life may have developed elsewhere?” Funes said. “Just as we consider earthly creatures as ‘a brother,’ and ‘sister,’ why should we not talk about an ‘extraterrestrial brother’? It would still be part of creation.”

In the interview by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, Funes said that such a notion “doesn’t contradict our faith” because aliens would still be God’s creatures. Ruling out the existence of aliens would be like “putting limits” on God’s creative freedom, he said.

The interview, headlined “The extraterrestrial is my brother,” covered a variety of topics including the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and science, and the theological implications of the existence of alien life.

To read the rest of the article, please go here.

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light – The qualities

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light has the qualities of a rock.

When he is on flat terrain – when all around has found harmony – he remains stable. People may build houses upon that which he created, because the storm will not be destructive.

When, however, he is placed on uneven terrain – and things around him do not show any respect or equilibrium for his work – he reveals his strength, rolling towards the enemy which threatens peace. At such times, the warrior is devastating, and no one can detain him.

A warrior of the light thinks of war and peace at the same time, and knows how to act according to the circumstances.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

In countries under totalitarian regime art is severely attacked when not subdued to political party. Would you say that’s because art – or literature more precisely – is so powerful?

Literature by itself can do nothing, except to make people feel less lonely. And this is what makes the difference: from the moment that you understand that you are not alone, you get an extra strength.

Google Banned by Myanmar Govt., Still Donates $1 Million to Cyclone Relief

Today, while browsing Digg, I found the following article by Gavin Hudson for the EcoWordly site:



Despite being banned by the government of Burma (also Myanmar), Google has said that it will donate up to $1 million USD to assist victims of Cyclone Nargis.

Google has offered to match donations made to UNICEF and Direct Relief International for all donations made at Google’s Support disaster relief in Myanmar page, up to one million dollars.

Internet users in Burma reported that access to Google and Gmail had been blocked by the strict military junta governing the country in the summer of 2006. By this time, Yahoo and Hotmail had already made the censored IT blacklist.

Go to Google in Burma and you’ll get: “Error Number 1045 Access Denied.”

The ban, of course, was put in place before the government crackdowns on popular uprisings that left many dead or imprisoned. Some of the last words to leave Burma were from observers there who described nighttime kidnapping raids on the homes of Buddhist monks. The monks were involved in the popular uprisings against the government. On mornings after a raid, only blood would be found in the empty house.

Since the crackdowns, the flow of photos and information from Burma has all but completely stopped. No information gets in. None gets out. A political black hole where a country used to be.

(…)

To read the rest of this article, please go here.

Fragments of a non-existent diary III – Brissac, France

By Paulo Coelho

During my stay at a castle rented by a Brazilian magazine, a local journalist came to interview me. During the conversation, which was being watched by other people, he wanted to know:

– What is the best question a reporter has ever asked you?

The best question? I thought I’d been asked just about EVERY question, except for the one he just put. I asked for a moment to reflect, to study the many things I wanted to say but was never asked. But in the end I had to confess:

– I think it was yours. I’ve had questions I’ve refused to answer, others which allowed me to talk about interesting subjects, but yours was the only one I cannot possibly answer sincerely.

The journalist made a note, then said:

– I’ll tell you an interesting story. Once, I went to interview Jean Cocteau. His house was piled high with bibelots, paintings, drawings by famous artists, books, Cocteau kept everything, and felt a deep love for all those things. So anyway, during the interview, I decided to ask him: “if the house caught fire right now, and you could only take one thing with you, what would you choose?”

– And what did Cocteau say? – asked Alvaro Teixeira, who was in charge of the castle, and a great follower of the life of the French artist.

– Cocteau said: “I’d take the fire”.

And we sat there in silence, applauding deep down in the most intimate corners of our hearts, the brilliant reply.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Today’s Question by Aart Hilal

How much will the value the manuscript change for you after it becomes a book. I’m not meaning money but meaning the value for you.Is the word more powerful when its printed in thousands of copies than when it is present only in you mind?

Alchemy is the art of projecting in this world what you have in the non-material world. Therefore, when you are able to manifest physically something, you get a better picture of your feelings. In the case of a book, most of the time I have a subconscious understanding, but I need to write and concentrate it. I would suggest everybody to write diaries, it helps a lot to solve our own conflicts.

When Governments aren’t transparent

Today I found in Digg, this interesting NYT article:

Information That Doesn’t Come Freely
by Clark Hoyt

NINA BERNSTEIN, a Times reporter, wrote a front-page article last June about the deaths of prisoners in the fastest-growing form of incarceration in America, immigration detention.

Civil rights attorneys believed that, since the start of 2004, about 20 people had died while in custody facing possible deportation, but a spokeswoman for the federal immigration agency told Bernstein a surprising fact: the number was 62. Bernstein asked for details, like who they were and how they died. The spokeswoman refused, so Bernstein did what reporters often do “” she filed a request under the federal Freedom of Information Act, known as FOIA, for what she believed should be public records. Although the law required the agency to answer such a simple request within 20 business days, Immigration and Customs Enforcement initially responded the way many agencies do “” with silence.

Bernstein, who has a busy beat, immigration in the New York area, wrote her article without the details and moved on. But months later, right around Thanksgiving, she received an envelope containing a chart listing the people who had died in immigration detention “” now 66 of them “” with their dates of birth and death, the locations where they had been held, where they had died and the causes of death. Her FOIA request had been granted. That led Bernstein to a front-page article published last Monday about Boubacar Bah, a 52-year-old tailor from Guinea, who fell while in detention, received no medical care for 15 hours and died of severe head injuries.

To read the rest of the artcile, please go here.

Remember Andijan?



I read this article yesterday in Herald Tribune. Today, while walking with a friend of mine, I was thinking: shall I post it in my blog? Being a former prisioner of conscience (see the photo above), being arrested three times, and brutally tortured, I cannot – and I will never – close my eyes to the abuses we see every day, everywhere – from Guantanamo to Burma.

The article speaks by itself – I decided to edit it for the blog, but you can find it, for free, in International Herald Tribune website. During the military dictatorship in Brazil, the same thing happened; economical interests were more important than human lives.

I knot that there is little we can do, but this little makes the difference.

Remember Andijan
By Galima Bukharbayeva

On May 13, 2005, Uzbek security services opened fire on a peaceful rally staged by thousands of people in the eastern city of Andijan, killing about a thousand people, including women and children.

I saw the raw violence firsthand and watched as my own country’s Interior Ministry troops rode into the town square on armored personnel carriers and mowed down people indiscriminately, using both light and heavy machine guns.

Uzbekistan had always had an appalling human rights record, but after that day, President Islam Karimov’s repression against his own people reached new levels. Witnesses and their families were harassed and tortured to produce forced confessions portraying the Andijan events as a jihadi insurgency. Many, like me, had to flee the country or risk the worst imaginable consequences.

I recall the words of one of Karimov’s ideologues, who forecast soon after the massacre that there was no need to worry because whatever protests Western countries were making, they would all court the ruler once again and “even beg him on their knees” for renewed ties.

How sadly right he was. In the weeks and months after the massacre, the United States condemned the extreme use of force against civilians. In response, Karimov kicked the Americans off their military base at Karshi-Khanabad in southern Uzbekistan.

The European Union went a step further, implementing a series of targeted sanctions against the regime, including an arms embargo and visa bans on 12 Uzbek officials involved in the massacre. But right from the start, Europe didn’t take its sanctions too seriously: The day they took effect in November 2005, one of the people on the visa ban list, Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov, was actually enjoying medical care at a clinic in Hanover, Germany.

By 2006, the visa ban list was reduced from 12 to eight. In 2007, the sanctions were suspended for six months. In April of this year, they were suspended again, and they now look set to expire completely in October.

As one of the few journalists who covered the massacre, I remember how residents of Andijan helped me and my colleagues and how they agreed to drive us around even though they knew they could be killed or tortured for helping us. They took the risk so the world would know the truth. They believed the West shared their belief that human life is priceless and that such crimes by the state should not go unpunished.

What can I now tell those people now? That no Western politician even utters “Andijan” any more?

Galima Bukharbayeva, who covered the massacre in Andijan, now lives in Duesseldorf, Germany, and is editor-in-chief of the online news service Uznews.net.

Big Brother is watching you … but do you care?

Today in Digg, found this interesting article of the Times Online by Kevin Dowling

CCTV boom has not cut crime, says police chief


Photo by Ben Gurr

Billions of pounds spent on Britain’s 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras has not had a significant impact on crime, according to the senior police officer piloting a new database.

Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said it was a “fiasco” that only 3 per cent of street robberies in London were solved using CCTV.

Mr Neville, who heads the Visual Images, Identifications and Detections Office (Viido) unit, told the Security Document World Conference that the use of CCTV images as evidence in court has been very poor.

(…)

Britain has more CCTV cameras than any other country in Europe. But Mr Neville is reported in The Guardian as saying that more training was needed for officers who often avoided trawling through CCTV images “because it’s hard work”.

(…)

To read the whole article – please go here.

Reflections of the Warrior of the Light

By Paulo Coelho

The warrior of the light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the many obstacles he encounters.

At certain times, resistance means to be destroyed. At such times, he adapts to circumstances. He accepts, without complaint, that the rocks along the way forge his path down the mountains.

Such is the force of water: it can never be broken by a hammer, or wounded by a knife. The most powerful sword in the world is incapable of leaving a scar on its surface.

The water of a river adapts to the path which is possible, without forgetting its objective: the sea. Fragile at its spring, it gradually acquires the strength of the other rivers it encounters.

And, after a while, its power is absolute.

Welcome to Share with Friends – Free Texts for a Free Internet

Is it wise to be smart?

Today, while browsing the electronic pages of the New York Times, I found this interesting editorial

The Cost of Smarts
By Verlyn Klinkenborg

Research on animal intelligence always makes me wonder just how smart humans are. Consider the fruit-fly experiments described in Carl Zimmer’s piece in the Science Times on Tuesday. Fruit flies who were taught to be smarter than the average fruit fly tended to live shorter lives. This suggests that dimmer bulbs burn longer, that there is an advantage in not being too terrifically bright.

Intelligence, it turns out, is a high-priced option. It takes more upkeep, burns more fuel and is slow off the starting line because it depends on learning “” a gradual process “” instead of instinct. Plenty of other species are able to learn, and one of the things they’ve apparently learned is when to stop.

Is there an adaptive value to limited intelligence? That’s the question behind this new research. I like it. Instead of casting a wistful glance backward at all the species we’ve left in the dust I.Q.-wise, it implicitly asks what the real costs of our own intelligence might be. This is on the mind of every animal I’ve ever met.

Every chicken that looks at you sideways “” which is how they all look at you “” is really saying what Thoreau said less succinctly: you are endeavoring to solve the problem of a livelihood by a formula more complicated than the problem itself. Thoreau himself would not dispute that he was hoping to recover the chicken’s point of view. He went to Walden Pond “to remember well his ignorance.”

Research on animal intelligence also makes me wonder what experiments animals would perform on humans if they had the chance. Every cat with an owner, for instance, is running a small-scale study in operant conditioning. I believe that if animals ran the labs, they would test us to determine the limits of our patience, our faithfulness, our memory for terrain. They would try to decide what intelligence in humans is really for, not merely how much of it there is. Above all, they would hope to study a fundamental question: Are humans actually aware of the world they live in? So far the results are inconclusive.

This editorial refers to the following article : Lots of Animals Learn, but Smarter Isn’t Better

Evento en Asturias/ Conference in Asturias

Como probablemente Uds. lo han visto en mi calendario: en el 29 y el 30 de Mayo, estaré celebrando los veinte anos de mi libro El Alquimista.

He decidido hacer-lo en un local simbólico, Avilés, una pequeña ciudad en Asturias, España. Me gustarí­a así­ invitar algunos de Uds. para el acto de conmemoración del libro que será a las 20h en el Teatro Palacio Valdés, C/ Palacio Valdés, 985 549 658, Avilés, Asturias

Estamos en el proceso de chequear las posibilidades de transmitir esta conferencia en directo gracias a la tecnologí­a de Seesmic. Estamos trabajando duro para que esto funcione, pero dependemos de la conexión Internet del teatro. Si logramos instalar todo, Paula empezara a pedir-les que manden sus videos a partir de la próxima semana, así­ que os veremos en un telón en la escena, y os responderé.
Castellano será la lengua del evento así­ que os invito a dejar sus preguntas en esta.

El dí­a siguiente también podremos visitar una exposición dedicada al libro en el
Palacio Valdecarzana, C/ El Sol s/n , 985 510 667, Avilés, Asturias

Si UD. quiere venir, iremos elegir los primeros que manden su confirmación a este mail : [email protected]
Por favor no olvide de poner en el mail su link de su blog.

Esta invitación se limita a estos dos eventos – todos los gastos del viaje deben ser cubiertos por los que desean venir.

Con amor
Paulo
 
 
As you may have noticed in my Calendar : on the 29th and on the 30th of May I will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of my book The Alchemist. I decided to do it in a very symbolical place, Aviles, a small town in Asturias, Spain.

I would like then to invite some of you to attend the conference/event on the 29th of May at 20h in Teatro Palacio Valdés, C/ Palacio Valdés, 985 549 658, Avilés, Asturias

We are in the process of checking the possibilities to broadcast it live via web thanks to the technology of Seesmic. We are working hard to make it work, but we depend on the local high speed connection. If we manage, Paula will start asking you to send video questions from next week on, so we will see you in a screen placed on the stage, and I will answer them. Spanish will be the language of the event, therefore the questions should be in Spanish.

The following day, we will be able to also visit the exhibition dedicated to the book in
Palacio Valdecarzana, C/ El Sol, 985 510 667, Avilés, Asturias

If you want to come, we will proceed on the basis of “first come, first served” – therefore please write to the following email address (don’t forget to send us your blog link!) : [email protected]

Please also note that I am only inviting you to attend these events – all costs are to be taken care of by those who wish to come.

Love
Paulo