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30 November 2004

Portugal leader calls early poll

Portugal leader calls early poll

Portugal's socialist President, Jorge Sampaio, is dissolving parliament and will call early elections, Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes has said. Mr Santana Lopes, who heads a centre-right coalition, made the announcement after meeting the president. His four-month-old administration has faced strong criticism over allegations of media interference and a lack of co-ordination between ministers. Former premier Jose Manuel Barroso left to head the European Commission. President Sampaio said in a statement he would meet leaders of parties in parliament and the advisory Council of State to discuss the situation, Reuters news agency reported. The meetings can be held over a few days and are part of the procedure to dissolve parliament and call an election. Elections had been scheduled for 2006. Mr Santana Lopes said he disagreed with the president's decision as his coalition holds a majority in parliament.


Crisis hits portuguese politics again...

Sampaio: dissolução da Assembleia resulta de "apreciação política global"

A decisão do Presidente de dissolver a Assembleia da República resulta da "apreciação política global" da situação no país, explicou o seu assessor. "Esta decisão não teve a ver com a remodelação do ministro Henrique Chaves, mas com a apreciação política global que o Presidente da República fez da actual situação", explicou João Gabriel, em declarações à Lusa, pouco depois de o primeiro-ministro ter anunciado, no final de uma reunião em Belém, que Jorge Sampaio lhe comunicou que irá dissolver a Assembleia da República. Num lacónico comunicado, emitido ainda decorria a reunião, informa-se que "o Presidente da República, ponderada a situação política actual, comunicou ao primeiro-ministro a sua decisão de ouvir os partidos políticos com representação parlamentar e o Conselho de Estado, nos termos do art. 133º, alínea e) da Constituição da República". No entanto, uma fonte da Presidência da República, não identificada pela Lusa, explica que Jorge Sampaio tomou esta decisão por considerar que o Governo "não dispõe das condições políticas indispensáveis para continuar a mobilizar Portugal e os portugueses, de forma coerente, rigorosa e estável".


This afternoon the State President decided to dissolve Parliament after reaching the conclusion that the current goverment did not show capacity for stable and effective governance.

This after a succesion of problems and crises that have shaken this goverment over the last four months. I for one agree! I have grown tired of seing the current bunch of village idiots leading the country to ruin.

28 November 2004

the sorry state of the Portuguese Goverment


Henrique Chaves demitiu-se este domingo do cargo de ministro do Desporto, Juventude e Reabilitação, quatro dias após ter tomado posse na tutela do novo ministério criado por Pedro Santana Lopes no âmbito de uma remodelação governamental de surpresa.

Henrique Chaves era ministro do Desporto desde a passada quarta-feira. Em comunicado hoje divulgado, Henrique Chaves não alegou as habituais razões pessoais que costumam camuflar os incómodos internos nos governos. O agora ministro demissionário declarou que não concebe "a vida política e o exercício de cargos públicos sem uma relação de lealdade entre as pessoas". Referiu também que não concebe "o exercício de qualquer missão, privada ou pública, sem o mínimo de estabilidade e coordenação".

Four days after being appointed as Minister of Sports, Henrique Chaves has resigned. Now the country waits with baited breathe for the Prime Minister to resign! This Goverment has totally lost its hold on reality.

23 November 2004

Tiny Mimas is dwarfed by a huge white storm and dark waves on the edge of a cloud band in Saturn's atmosphere.

The Cassini-Huygens Mission(

Posted by Hello

NASA's Cassini spacecraft took this image of Saturn and one of its moons, Tethys.

Posted by Hello

AIDS and the figures

Record numbers of women with HIV

Nearly half of 37.2 million adults living with HIV are women, figures show. The steepest increases have been in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, with rates in women outstripping those in men in some regions. As well as being biologically more vulnerable to infection than men, women are forced to have sex through violence or financial reasons, said UNAIDS. The number of people living with HIV globally has also reached its highest. There is an estimated 39.4 million people living with HIV globally, up from an estimated 36.6 million in 2002, fuelled mainly by unprotected sex and intravenous drug use. Over the past two years the number of women living with HIV has risen in every region of the world.

Global rise

Women now make up nearly half of the 37.2 million adults aged 15-49 living with HIV worldwide. In sub-Saharan Africa about 60% of those with HIV are women. When you look at only young people aged 15-24, this rises to 75%. Over the past two years alone, the number of women infected in East Asia has increased by 56%. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia the number has increased by 48%.


Still seems no end in sight to the rise in AIDS cases. Frightening thing is the lack of political will in many countries to tackle the problem instead of sticking to cosmetic surgery...

Why me, Why here, Why now?

Cosmic Conundrum
The universe seems uncannily well suited to the existence of life. Could that really be an accident?

Dealing with cranks is an occupational hazard for most scientists, but it's especially bad for physicists and astronomers. Those who study the cosmos for a living tend to be bombarded with letters, calls and emails from would-be geniuses who insist they have refuted Einstein or devised a new theory of gravity or disproved the Big Bang. The telltale signs of crankdom are so consistent — a grandiose theory, minimal credentials, a messianic zeal — that scientists can usually spot them a mile off. That's why the case of James Gardner is so surprising. He seems to fit the profile perfectly: he's a Portland, Ore., attorney, not a scientist, who argues — are you ready for this?--that our universe might have been manufactured by a race of superintelligent extraterrestrial beings. That is exactly the sort of idea that would normally have experts rolling their eyes, blocking e-mails and hoping the author won't corner them at a lecture or a conference.

But when Gardner's book Biocosmcame out last year, it carried jacket endorsements from a surprisingly eminent group of scientists. "A novel perspective on humankind's role in the universe," wrote Martin Rees, the astronomer royal of Britain and a Cambridge colleague of Stephen Hawking's. "There is little doubt that his ideas will change yours," wrote Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California. "A magnificent one-stop account of the history of life," wrote complexity theorist John Casti, a co-founder of the Santa Fe Institute. Since then, Gardner has been welcomed at major planetariums and legitimate scientific conferences, explaining his ideas to a surprisingly interested public. It's not that anyone actually buys Gardner's theory. He admits it's "farfetched," and even those scientists who find it stimulating think it's wildly improbable. But it does have one thing in its favor. The biocosm theory is an attempt, albeit a highly speculative one, to solve what just might be science's most profound mystery: why the universe, against all odds, is so remarkably hospitable to life.

( Continue reading

Quite logical this one. Excellent Read.

... Last year a Stanford theorist named Shamit Kachru set out with some colleagues to calculate just how many different universes one particular version of string theory could produce. The number he came up with was a 1 followed by something like 100 zeros; roughly a hundred billion billion times the number of atoms in our universe...

21 November 2004

Iraq's Election Date

Iraqis push ahead with elections
Violence in hotspots like Falluja threatens to disrupt the poll

Iraq has set a date of 30 January 2005 for its first nationwide election since the toppling of Saddam Hussein. The announcement came from the independent Iraqi electoral commission in Baghdad. There had been mounting speculation as to whether elections would be feasible given the continuing violence. On Sunday insurgents ambushed a convoy of National Guards in the flashpoint city of Ramadi, west of Falluja, killing at least eight and wounding 18. Meanwhile, US military officials issued a statement on another incident in Ramadi, in which US soldiers fired on a civilian bus, killing at least seven people and wounding 11. A US Marines spokesman said the bus had failed to stop at a checkpoint, even after warning shots, and the Americans had then opened fire for their own protection. In the northern city of Mosul, US troops found at least two more bodies a day after discovering the corpses of nine men shot in the back of the head. All are believed to be Iraqi soldiers killed by insurgents.

Election plans

Iraqi electoral commission spokesman Farid Ayar said areas beset by violence - including insurgent strongholds such as Falluja and Ramadi - would still participate in the elections. "No Iraqi province will be excluded because the law considers Iraq as one constituency and therefore it is not legal to exclude any province," he said, quoted by the Associated Press. Under the Iraqi timetable for democracy, elections for a transitional parliament needed to be held by the end of January. Voters are still being registered, even though some registration centres closed because of attacks. More than 120 parties are said to have registered.


How free and fair will these elections be?

An Interesting read...

The Empire Has No Clothes: US Foreign Policy Exposed by Ivan Eland

Now that George W. Bush has been re-elected president of the United States, neo-conservatives and war hawks, both pundits and policymakers, will likely feel vindicated and even emboldened to continue on their course of enlarging the American empire, all under the rubric of fighting the global "war on terror." As one of the new political slogans puts it, "four more years, four more wars." But, as it turns out, wanting a US empire and benefiting from one are markedly different things. This is something not well appreciated in many of the recent books analyzing the American empire. Most of them assume, regardless of the overall morality of the undertaking, that the US has only to snap its militarized fingers and the deed is done, rather like the slogan "resistance is futile" of the Borg in the Star Trek television series, leaving the rest for historians to debate. Of course, in reality that never happens. All empires, from the Roman to the British, come to an end sooner or later. But the costs are considerable, both to the lands and people absorbed, as well as economically, socially and politically to the imperial country itself. But in a sound-bite age, few people have the time or inclination to ponder the sweep of history. What is needed then is a primer on the subject, a sort of "Empire for Dummies," laying out in detail the follies of America's current course of action, which is taking it steadily further away from its historical roots as a republic.

Fortunately, we have just such a work in The Empire Has No Clothes. It is a worthy tome written by Ivan Eland, who is senior fellow and director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California.


19 November 2004

Foi aprovada ontem pelo PSD, CDS-PP e PS a pergunta a colocar aos portugueses no referendo sobre o Tratado de Constituição europeia, com votos contra do PCP, BE e “Os Verdes”, que acusaram maioria e socialistas de fazerem da consulta popular "uma farsa".

Então, aqui vai a pergunta:
"Concorda com a Carta de Direitos Fundamentais, a regra das votações por maioria qualificada e o novo quadro institucional da União Europeia, nos termos constantes da Constituição para a Europa?"

Apetece responder que não, mas sinceramente não sei, se estou a aprovar ou não, a Nova Constituição da Europa...

18 November 2004

Ausência de regionalização é a causa dos atrasos portugueses

Notícia in jornal Público

Miguel Cadilhe diz que ausência de regionalização é a causa dos atrasos portugueses
O presidente da Agência Portuguesa de Investimentos, Miguel Cadilhe, considerou ontem à noite que a inexistência da regionalização é responsável por parte dos atrasos da economia, finanças e administração pública nacionais.

Cadilhe, que falou nos Encontros do Porto, este ano dedicados ao tema Relações Portugal - Espanha, comparou o crescimento industrial de Espanha (oito por cento) e de Portugal (cerca de zero por cento) nos últimos quatro anos e considerou que este diferencial se deve em parte à inexistência da regionalização.

10 November 2004



A quarter of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, live in severe poverty...

Nearly 800 million people do not get enough food, and about 500 million people are chronically malnourished. More than a third of children are malnourished.

In industrial countries more than 100 million people live below the poverty line, more than 5 million people are homeless and 37 million are jobless.

Of the world’s 23 million people living with HIV/AIDS more than 93% live in developing countries.

More than 840 million adults are illiterate - 538 million of them are women.

Around 2 million children died as a result of armed conflict in the last decade.

In developing countries 160 million pre-school children are underweight.

1.2 billion people live without access to safe drinking water.

110 million landmines lie undetonated in 68 countries.

Today’s society has the resources to eradicate poverty...

The net wealth of the 10 richest billionaires is $ 133 billion , more than 1.5 times the total national income of the least developed countries.
The cost of eradicating poverty is 1% of global income.

Effective debt relief to the 20 poorest countries would cost $ 5.5 billion - equivalent to the cost of building EuroDisney.

Providing universal access to basic social services and transfers to alleviate income poverty would cost $ 80 billion, less than the net worth of the seven richest men in the world.

Six countries can spend $ 700 million in nine days on dog and cat food.

Today’s world spend $ 92 billion on junkfood, $ 66 billion on cosmetics and nearly $ 800 billion in 1995 for defence expenditure.

Extreme poverty can be banished from the globe by early next century...

The proportion of human kind living in poverty has fallen faster in the past 50 years than in the previous 500 years.

Since 1960 child death rates in developing countries have more than halved, malnutrition rates have declined by almost a third, the proportion of children out of primary school has fallen from more than half to less than a quarter.

Over the past three decades the population in developing countries with access to safe water almost doubled - from 36% to nearly 70%.

The extension of basic immunisation over the past two decades has saved the lives of three million children.

In 1960-93 average life expectancy increased by more than a third in developing countries.

Poverty is no longer inevitable and should thus no longer be tolerated.

Is this The World WE want to live in

Poverty Statistics


About 24,000 people die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. Three-fourths of the deaths are children under the age of five. (United Nations)

Some 800 million people around the globe suffer from hunger and malnutrition. (United Nations)

More than 10 percent of children in developing countries die before the age of five. (CARE)

2.8 billion people live on less that $2 a day, and 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day. (World Food Program)

In the next 25 years, an estimated 2 billion people will be added to the world's population--almost all of them in developing countries. (World Food Program)

United States

Nearly 35 million Americans live in hungry or food insecure households. (Tufts University)

A survey of 29 major cities found that emergency food requests are up 16 percent. One in five requests for food can not be filled.

About 40 percent of the households needing food assistance are working families. (Second Harvest)

An estimated 1.1 million senior adults skip meals because there is no food in the house. (Urban Institute)

About 8.6 million children belong to working poor families. (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities)

Where are the huge protest marches anti-poverty, anti-hunger?

Interesting Quote

"We have 50 percent of the world's wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population. . . In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will allow us to maintain this position of disparity. We should cease to talk about the raising of the living standards, human rights, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better."
-- George Kennan, Director of Policy Planning of the U.S. Dept. of State, 1948

Is the US in decline?

U.S. Moving From First to Third World
Paul Craig Roberts

In the early 1980s, when I was assistant secretary of the treasury, the U.S. trade deficit was due to oil imports. Currently, the U.S. deficit in manufactured goods alone is 3.5 times our oil imports. Our trade deficit in vehicles is nearly equal to our deficit in oil, and our deficit in clothing, ADP equipment, office machines, TV and VCRs is 1.5 times our oil import bill. The United States is ceasing to be a manufacturing country. America has a trade deficit in almost every manufacturing product.


Economy: Economic aid - donor (per capita)

1. Luxembourg $352.30 per person
2. Norway $307.95 per person
3. Denmark $302.72 per person
4. Netherlands $216.71 per person
5. Sweden $191.48 per person
6. Switzerland $150.30 per person
7. France $104.68 per person
8. United Kingdom $74.88 per person
9. Belgium $74.25 per person
10. Finland $73.01 per person
11. Ireland $72.11 per person
12. Japan $71.53 per person
13. Germany $67.96 per person
14. Austria $50.07 per person
15. Australia $45.30 per person
16. Canada $40.36 per person
17. Spain $33.07 per person
18. Portugal $26.82 per person
19. New Zealand $25.23 per person
20. United States $23.76 per person
21. Italy $17.24 per person

09 November 2004

Arafat and the hidden Millions

Will $1 billion be buried with Arafat?
By Paul Martin

LONDON — Palestinian officials who gathered around Yasser Arafat in recent weeks have been anxious to extract from their ailing leader the secret codes and locations of bank accounts they believe contain more than $1 billion diverted from official Palestinian funds. "A huge scramble has been going on to get the codes he holds in his head for various bank accounts he holds in secret," says a senior Palestinian banker. "It's an uphill struggle, and we may never get the bulk of it," says the official, who declined to be identified out of fear for his safety. "It's been his key to holding on to power and influence, and some of it may go to the grave with him. If the numbers die with him, then the Swiss bankers and other bankers worldwide will be rubbing their hands in glee," the Palestinian banker says.

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary-General Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia and Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath were flying to Paris and hoped to see Mr. Arafat today. Mr. Arafat's wife lashed out at his top lieutenants, accusing them of traveling to Paris with plans to "bury" her husband "alive," the Associated Press reported today.

I'm confused : the problem is           a) "the passing" of the revered palestinian leader
                                                                b) "the passing" of over a billion dollars.
That would explain Mrs Arafat's accusations. She worried about her nestegg?

"The money "is enough to feed 3 million Palestinians for one year, and also buy 1,000 mobile intensive care units, as well as to fund 10 hospitals for a decade," the center said."

Bush and his Treaties

Like a confirmed bachelor about to get married, finding a million and one excuses not to commit. Posted by Hello

(From Blogo Social Português)

Global warming is melting the Arctic ice faster than expected

Sea to rise a metre by 2100 says expert
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) - Global warming is melting the Arctic ice faster than expected, and the world's oceans could rise by about a metre (3 feet) by 2100, swamping homes from Bangladesh to Florida, the head of a study says. Robert Corell, chairman of the eight-nation Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), also told a news conference there were some hints of greater willingness by the United States, the world's top polluter, to take firmer action to slow climate change. Speaking at the start of a four-day scientific conference in Reykjavik, Corell said global warming was melting the Greenland ice sheet and Arctic glaciers from Alaska to Norway quicker than previously thought. "Greenland will play a much bigger role in sea level rise than anticipated," said Corell, a scientist at the American Meteorological Society. He said a 2001 U.N. report forecast world ocean levels would rise by 20-90 cms by 2100. He said some U.N. forecasts assumed melting Greenland ice would cause just 4 mm of the rise. "We'll be at the top of the range, about a metre," he said. The ACIA report says that Greenland's melt alone could add 10 cms to global sea levels by 2100. Melting of other Arctic glaciers would also contribute.

About 17 million people in Bangladesh live less than one metre above sea level. Pacific islands like Tuvalu could be swamped and much of Florida south of Miami would be inundated by a one metre rise.


How seriously do world goverments take this?

08 November 2004

The Falluja Offensive Underway

U.S. Marines Launch Offensive on Iraq's Falluja
By Michael Georgy

FALLUJA (Reuters) - Thousands of U.S. Marines and Iraqi troops backed by tanks stormed into Falluja as night fell on Monday, the start of a fierce ground assault to retake the rebel stronghold. Several tanks thrust into the city and guerrillas were putting up some resistance, Marine radio traffic showed. Intense U.S. air strikes, artillery and mortar fire rained down. This reporter heard the crackle of firefights as troops advanced at least four blocks into the militant stronghold, with helicopters flying overhead. Flares lit the night sky as the Marines earlier unleashed a barrage of tank and machinegun fire on a nearby railway station, clearing the way for the ground attack on the Sunni Muslim city.

"We are determined to clean Falluja from the terrorists," Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told a news conference in Baghdad, saying the U.S.-led operation had his authority.

When will peace be returned to Falluja. The faces change but the story stays the same. The innocent pay the price for others.

50 Jornalists to be tried for revealing details of the Case "Casa Pia"

Casa Pia: mais de 50 jornalistas constituídos arguidos

Numa iniciativa sem precedentes em Portugal, o Ministério Público (MP) está a ouvir mais de meia centena de jornalistas de praticamente todos os grandes órgãos de Comunicação Social nacionais. Para já são 53 profissionais – distribuídos por 11 redacções – que estão para ser ou já foram ouvidos pelo procurador-geral adjunto Domingos de Sá, todos pelo mesmo motivo: alegada violação do segredo de Justiça devido às notícias que assinaram sobre o processo Casa Pia.

O CM soube ainda que MP alega que a investigação do caso de pedofilia foi prejudicada com a cobertura noticiosa e pondera pedir indemnizações aos órgãos de Comunicação Social, numa atitude também sem precedentes. Não começou agora o processo do MP para apurar o desrespeito pelo segredo de Justiça junto da Imprensa portuguesa, e tentar assim pressionar os jornalistas a revelarem as suas fontes quebrando o sigilo profissional. No início do ano o procurador-geral da República, Souto Moura, chamou Domingos de Sá do Tribunal de Trabalho da Maia para o Departamento de Investigação e Acção Penal (DIAP) de Lisboa, especificamente para o inspector encabeçar o processo


The jornalists seem to have a huge bulls-eye pasted to their backs. Should Jornalists be forced to reveal their sources when a crime has been comitted, or when their sources have comitted crimes by revealing information?


Durante muito tempo não se investigou e não se quis investigar dentro de casa, logo, torna-se mais fácil fazer uma investigação se o emissário final por punido”, o que leva à existência de um cenário novo “já que antes assobiava-se para o lado”. A explicação é de Carlos Pinto de Abreu, presidente da Comissão de Direitos Humanos da Ordem dos Advogados (CDHOA), questionado sobre a responsabilização dos jornalistas pela publicação de informações fornecidas por terceiros.


07 November 2004


Posted by Hello 2004 US Elections by IQ

06 November 2004

Racism is alive and well in South Africa

'White judges not good enough'

Cape Town - White members of South Africa's legal profession should forget about a career in the country's public service, and instead devote their energies to lucrative commercial practices. This is one of a number of disturbing implications stemming from the "recent pattern of decisions made by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC)", says Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon. In a speech delivered at the New York University Law School in the United States, he said there was a widespread impression no white judge in South Africa "could possibly be good enough for appointment, no matter how sterling his legal career and political credentials".


South Africa's Timebomb

Landless warn of growing anger

Johannesburg - South Africa's landless people would react "destructively" if the government failed to keep its land reform promises, the National Landless Movement (LPM) warned on Tuesday. LPM vice-chair Patrick Mojapelo said only 3% of the country's land has been redistributed over the past 10 years. "If the government makes promises which they cannot fulfil, the people's anger will break out," Mojapelo told reporters in Johannesburg. "We want the government to fulfil its promises because if they fail, our people will react destructively."


How long before land turns into a major problem for South Africa? Just have a look at Zimbabwe to see what problems could be in store for S.A...

APARTHEID and Israel

Miguel Portas critica muro israelita

Os eurodeputados Ana Gomes, PS, e Miguel Portas, Bloco de Esquerda, integram uma delegação não oficial de membros do Parlamento Europeu que ontem visitou Telavive, Israel. Hoje estarão na Faixa de Gaza. No balanço do primeiro dia, Miguel Portas criticou duramente o muro de segurança que Israel está a erguer para separar o seu território da Cisjordãnia palestiniana. Numa frase, o eurodeputado 'bloquista' resumiu o seu sentimento: "É uma situação de 'apartheid'".


Mister Portas, what do you know about apartheid? Apartheid was the subjugation of +-95% of the population by the other 5%. Is this what is happening in Israel? Though I have to hand it to you, it's a good word to use when your out for headlines!

Portugal perdeu...

Portugal perdeu soberania sobre recursos piscatórios para a UE

Portugal perdeu a soberania sobre a respectiva Zona Económica Exclusiva (ZEE), através da assinatura da Constituição Europeia, a qual atribui a competência exclusiva de exploração e aproveitamento, conservação e gestão dos recursos biológicos do mar à União Europeia, noticia este sábado o Expresso. "É incrível como o Governo português deixou passar esta medida sem qualquer contestação. Em Bruxelas ficaram muito surpreendidos por Portugal não se ter oposto", disse o presidente da associação cívica SEDS, João Salgueiro. Entretanto, Tiago Pitta e Cunha, que presidiu à Comissão dos Oceanos, esclareceu que o tratado envolve os recursos vivos marinhos mas não os minerais.


I find it strange that almost nothing was said in the mass media about this story...

A changing Afghanistan

Afghan tough guys swap guns for gym
Schwarzenegger becomes a role model in Kabul as young men strive to build the beautiful body - Declan Walsh in Kabul

Afghanistan's tough guys used to wear beards and wool caps, study the Qur'an and fight mountain battles. These days an increasing number have waxed chests, cheesy grins and bulging biceps. "People don't want to fight any more," says Temour Shah, a beefy 23-year-old, pumping weights under an Arnold Schwarzenegger poster at Gold's Gym in central Kabul. "They want to look healthy - like in the movies." Bodybuilding is the new craze of postwar Afghanistan, particularly among young urban men. The number of gyms in Kabul has doubled to 46 in the past two years, while a further 30 are scattered across the country. Every day from 5am men crowd into sweaty halls across the city, grappling with clanking weights machines before cracked mirrors. Conditions are spartan - water coolers, neat white towels and showers are unknown luxuries - but enthusiasm runs high. Barely able to afford the £4 monthly membership fee, some enthusiasts work out in their baggy shalwar kameez trousers; others use their work clothes.

(The Guardian)

A question that needs answering - how much of muslim culture is voluntary and how much is imposed?

Brain Power boosted by current

Apply Current, Boost Brain Power
By Amit Asaravala

Sending a weak electrical impulse through the front of a person's head can boost verbal skills by as much as 20 percent, according to a new study by the U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. In the study, researchers at the institute asked 103 volunteers to recall as many words that begin with a particular letter as possible. The researchers then passed a 2-milliamp current -- one-tenth of what is needed to power a small LED (light-emitting diode) light -- through electrodes attached to the surfaces of the volunteers' foreheads. When the volunteers were quizzed again while the current was still on, this time with a different letter, they were able to come up with 20 percent more words on average. The findings could lead to new, drugless treatments for the symptoms of brain injuries and diseases, the researchers said. "This could be a very helpful way of boosting brain function in people with brain disorders," said lead researcher Eric Wassermann, a neurobiologist with the National Institute's Brain Stimulation Unit in Bethesda, Maryland. "Drugs have more side effects and addictive potential. This doesn't seem to have those problems, at least at this point."


Hey, I need some Duracell batteries, mine are running out...

Beheadings on the Rise

Beheadings on the Rise Around the World
By LOUIS MEIXLER, Associated Press Writer

ANKARA, Turkey - It was called "Operation Baghdad" and, to be sure, the headless bodies of the three police officers recalled the violence in that city. But these attacks happened in Haiti, not in Iraq The brutal beheadings in Iraq appear to have inspired militants in other parts of the world who are drawn to the shock value of the horrifying attacks and the intense publicity they attract. Thailand and the Netherlands are two other countries where suspected extremists recently beheaded or slit the throats of their victims in what appear to be copycat attacks. Rime Allaf, associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said beheadings are spreading because the practice "has so horrified us in the West." "It achieves results and it makes the headlines," Allaf added. "People are talking about groups that we've never heard about before." The horrifying tactic has spread as far as the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, where loyalists of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide seized on the Iraqi beheadings as a symbol of strength and intimidation. The headless bodies of three police officers were found in Port-au-Prince early last month, and authorities said the militants had launched a terror campaign called "Operation Baghdad."

The veneer of civilisation crumbles, the animal returns...


"É fundamental que as pessoas dominem as linguagens ... Se alguém não compreender uma determinada linguagem dificilmente conseguirá responder a solicitações ou compreender o que lhe é pedido ...

E quais são as linguagens que é fundamental dominar no mundo moderno ?

- Língua Portuguesa – a nossa língua materna que permite a comunicação em Portugal e onde existe actualmente demasiafda iliteracia funcional
- Língua Inglesa – a língua internacional de trabalho e que é algo que as empresas multinacionais procuram, dado vivermos numa sociedade cada vez mais global
- Língua Matemática – a compreensão matemática é fundamental para resolver os problemas científicos, não só ao nível da álgebra, mas também da geometria, etc. Sem raciocínio matemático, dificilmente se poderá desenvolver uma sociedade onde as pessoas sejam capazes de resolver os problemas que se lhes deparam
- Língua Informática – derivada da matemática está a parte de programação, mas é fundamental promover a alfabetização informática, essencialmente ao nível da utilização, visto que as ferramentas informáticas são a base do aumento da produtividade, não sendo compreensível a manutenção de muitas tarefas realizadas manualmente"


Can't agree more...
A democracy is held aloft by 2 pillars, one of which is Education and the other is Law. In Portugal we are sadly lacking in both departments.

Education should serve two basic functions:
1) Prepare tomorrows citizen giving each the capacity to think for himself, the capacity to reason and the capacity to deal with a world, increasingly full of conflicting information.

2) Develop the skills a country needs to power its economy in all it's variations

05 November 2004


Queremos uma Alternativa Real ao Bloco Central. Acreditamos na liberdade. Na liberdade de expressão. Na liberdade de iniciativa. Mas também defendemos a responsabilidade. E defendemos que quem clama por direitos não se pode esquecer dos seus deveres. Não há por aí mais gente desiludida com os partidos de poder, que se posicione ideologicamente ao centro, interessada em criar um movimento político que condicione o actual "bloco central"? Alguém que se preocupe com o futuro do país e que queira fazer algo, levar avante as reformas necessárias, sem objectivos de carreirismo partidário? Como fazer? Vamos a ver. Se fosse fácil, já outros o teriam feito.

I agree, Portugal needs a change!

Canada's Oil Reserves

Canada's Oil Reserves 2nd Only To Saudi Arabia
By Campion Walsh

The U.S. government said Thursday Canada holds the world's second-largest oil reserves, taking into account Alberta oil sands previously considered too expensive to develop.

The Energy Information Administration, the statistical wing of the U.S. Department of Energy, has included recent private sector estimates that an additional 175 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from resources known to exist in Western Canada since the 19th Century. At a briefing on this year's EIA International Energy Outlook, EIA Administrator Guy Caruso cited a December report in the Oil and Gas Journal that raised Canada's proven oil reserves to 180 billion bbls from 4.9 billion bbls, thanks to inclusion of the oil sands - also known as tar sands - now considered recoverable with existing technology and market conditions. "Canada will be producing a lot of oil from the development of these tar sands, but the quality of those reserves differs substantially from the Saudi reserves in terms of cost and ability to bring...the productive capacity on in a meaningful way," Caruso said. "There is a difference in the absolute amount versus the ability to turn that into productive capacity," he said.

The latest estimates put Canada ahead of war-torn Iraq, which the EIA estimates holds 112.5 billion bbls and is constrained from raising production for entirely different reasons. The U.S. agency estimates Saudi Arabia's recoverable oil reserves at 264 billion bbls.


The main reason the U.S. went to war in Iraq was because of the Oil? So when does the U.S. invade Canada?

A new look at Time, Entropy and the End of The Universe

Why Time Might Flow in One Direction

Summary - (Nov 1, 2004) Physicists have puzzled for more than a century about the nature of time. Why does it go in one direction? Time could go backwards, and physics formulas would still work properly. Researchers from the University of Chicago think they might have an answer: we live in a universe of ever increasing entropy. Instead of one Big Bang going off, and then the Universe expands and cools forever, small fluctuations in nearly empty space could set off new Big Bangs - the Universe would never reach equilibrium.

Full Story -

The big bang could be a normal event in the natural evolution of the universe that will happen repeatedly over incredibly vast time scales as the universe expands, empties out and cools off, according to two University of Chicago physicists. “We like to say that the big bang is nothing special in the history of our universe,” said Sean Carroll, an Assistant Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. Carroll and University of Chicago graduate student Jennifer Chen will electronically publish a paper describing their ideas at Carroll and Chen’s research addresses two ambitious questions: why does time flow in only one direction, and could the big bang have arisen from an energy fluctuation in empty space that conforms to the known laws of physics?

The question about the arrow of time has vexed physicists for a century because “for the most part the fundamental laws of physics don’t distinguish between past and future. They’re time-symmetric,” Carroll said. And closely bound to the issue of time is the concept of entropy, a measure of disorder in the universe. As physicist Ludwig Boltzmann showed a century ago, entropy naturally increases with time. “You can turn an egg into an omelet, but not an omelet into an egg,” Carroll said. But the mystery remains as to why entropy was low in the universe to begin with. The difficulty of that question has long bothered scientists, who most often simply leave it as a puzzle to answer in the future.

Carroll and Chen have made an attempt to answer it now.



Thanks to NewLinks for the code for (On this Day).

04 November 2004

Yasser Arafat - Palestine on the road to change...

Palestinians prepare to grieve
Sophie Claudet | Ramallah, West Bank

As Yasser Arafat lay brain dead in a Paris hospital on Thursday, Palestinians in the town that he left less than a week ago for life-saving treatment were already preparing to mourn their veteran leader. Flags were flying half-mast over Arafat's headquarters compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah in tribute to the United Arab Emirates' founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, who died earlier this week. After their iftah meal, which marks the end of fasting during Ramadan, residents of Ramallah were glued to their television sets for the latest news from Paris on their 75-year-old leader. "I can't bear the thought he will die for good. He's our national leader, the one and only," said 33-year-old Mohammed Ribhi as his eyes filled with tears.

But Palestinian officials took to the airwaves to insist that talk of Arafat's death had been grossly exaggerated.


Yasser Arafat is dead or dying. There are a number of confused reports but it seems like Arafat is not going to make it. Will this be the event that brings new hope for a solution in this ravaged part of the world?

President Jorge Sampaio open to the possibility of a future, federal Europe

Sampaio defende construção de uma Europa federal nos próximos 20 anos

O Presidente da República, Jorge Sampaio, manifestou hoje o desejo de que a Europa se transforme numa federação "num prazo de 10 a 20 anos" e afirmou que o referendo sobre a Constituição europeia não deve ser posto em causa devido à falta de informação dos cidadãos. "Ficaria muito feliz por ver uma confederação, ou talvez mesmo uma federação de Estados-nação, [construída] num processo lento de perfeccionismo, o que acontecerá provavelmente, espero, num prazo de 10 a 20 anos. É um grande desafio", sublinhou o Presidente. Jorge Sampaio admitiu esta possibilidade durante um debate com o seu homólogo austríaco, Heinz Fischer, no fórum "Viver a Europa", que decorre no Centro de Congressos de Lisboa.

O Presidente da República assinalou também por várias vezes a necessidade de "uma estratégia para o futuro" da União Europeia, fora da qual disse não conceber Portugal. Sampaio pediu também que o referendo relacionado com o Tratado Constitucional da UE não seja dramatizado pelo facto de os cidadãos não conhecerem o documento em pormenor. "Não vamos dramatizar. Quem sabe o que está no programa do Governo quando vai votar? Dez por cento? E é um voto ilegal por isso? Não, é um voto, uma convicção", defendeu.


I agree, the future of Europe is a federal future... in 20\30 years. I doubt that it will happen any faster.

03 November 2004

The 2004 US Election Map

Posted by Hello

Bush Wins the 2004 elections - It's Over...

Bush wins second term as Kerry concedes
Democrat's team makes decision after looking at Ohio numbers

(CNN) -- President Bush plans to declare victory Wednesday after Sen. John Kerry conceded the election, aides to both men said. As in the 2000 race, the election came down to a single state.Ohio's 20 electoral votes proved decisive when it grew clear Wednesday morning that Bush's lead in the state was unlikely to be erased by provisional and absentee ballots. Those votes are still being counted. A Bush win in Ohio would give the president a projected 274 electoral votes --
270 are needed to win.


With the World looking on, somewhat stunned, George Bush has won his second term. I'm not suprised. Bush was able to hammer his message home far more effectively than Kerry. A message that was simple. 'If you don't vote for me the country will once again be vunerable to terrorists.' I suppose the Americans prefer the devil they know to the one they do not. Then there are also the religious\moral crusaders out to turn the US into some kind of quakers den. Personally I have to wonder how the US could produce two candidates of such average quality.

The Americans must remember, though, the words of one of their Icons:

"Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters."
- Abraham Lincoln -

Never has this been more true...


01 November 2004

Bush vs Kerry - Tommorow is E-day

US rivals make closing arguments

George W Bush and John Kerry have begun a frantic last day of a US presidential race that remains too close to call. After campaigning across thousands of miles and scores of rallies, the main rivals will be just three streets and one hour apart in Wisconsin on Monday. It is one of the key states that could be won by either man and that could affect the overall election result. The BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says neither candidate can be sure of a win, and the last day may be decisive.

President Bush started the final day before the vote in Ohio, another state where even a narrow majority would give the winner the state's entire set of Electoral College votes that are used to pick the president. A vote for his ticket, he told an early-morning crowd in Wilmington, was a vote for "a safer America and a stronger America and a better America". Later, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the incumbent president said he had "the finish line in sight".

1. Florida - 27 electoral votes
2. Pennsylvania - 21
3. Ohio - 20
4. Minnesota - 10
5. Wisconsin - 10
6. Iowa - 7
7. Nevada - 5
8. New Mexico - 5
9. New Hampshire - 4

Our correspondent says most respectable commentators have given up trying to predict the outcome of the election, but agree that persuading supporters to go to vote on Tuesday is crucial. The weather could even play a part, with thundery showers predicted for parts of Ohio and elsewhere in the Midwest, where states could yet be won by a few hundred votes.


The question now is... Will the scenes at the end of the 2000 elections be repeated tommorow?

The Whoppers of 2004
Bush and Kerry repeat discredited claims in their final flurry of ads. Here's our pre-election summary of the misinformation we found during the Bush-Kerry presidential campaign.


As election day neared, both candidates continued to twist and falsify in their final TV ads -- and in a blizzard of expensive mail as well. Bush continued to accuse Kerry of proposing government-run health care and more taxes for middle-income persons, and of voting in the past to "slash" spending on intelligence and of opposing mainstream military weapons. Kerry claimed Bush would cut Social Security benefits 45% and that he subsidizes companies that send jobs overseas. And those are just some of the untruths the candidates are feeding to voters. In this article we again take on those claims, and summarize the major misrepresentations made by both sides since the start of the general election campaign last March when Kerry sewed up the Democratic nomination

Truth and Fiction: What they said and what they should have said!

Caught With Their Pants Down
By Julia Scheeres

Eight years ago, Brian Bates got fed up with prostitutes brazenly plying their trade on the streets of his Oklahoma City neighborhood and the apparent indifference of city officials. When a police department representative told him there was nothing law enforcement could do unless officers actually heard a prostitute offer sex for money or saw the sex act itself, Bates decided to gather that hard evidence for them. He picked up his handheld video camera and went on a one-man crusade, filming prostitutes and johns having sex in public spaces, then dialing 911 and placing the copulating couples under citizen's arrest until officers arrived. Faced with this filmic evidence, most of his subjects quickly pleaded guilty. Bates, a baby-faced 34-year-old marketing professional who calls prostitution a "plague of immorality," estimates he's caught several hundred such meretricious exchanges on tape. Over the years, he says he's had local thugs fire shots at him, prostitutes mace him, and johns try to run him down in their cars. He filmed his first coupling in 1996, when he was driving to work and found himself waiting at a stop sign behind three cars, all of whose drivers were being chatted up by prostitutes. He had his video camera ready, so when one of the prostitutes climbed into a small blue hatchback, he followed the car to a dead-end street, then walked up to the side window and taped the woman fellating the driver.

"You're busted, buddy -- I hope you're not married," he yelled in what would become his signature battle cry.


Here's a citizen helping the authorities. Very noble of him?

The City Sinks...

High Tides Put Venice Sites Under Water

VENICE, Italy - Unusually high tides sent sea water sweeping through Venice on Sunday, covering 80 percent of the city by afternoon. St. Mark's Square and other famous locations were inundated, forcing tourists and residents alike to don rubber boots and use elevated walkways. St. Mark's Square, the heart of the city and one of its lowest points, was covered by at least 16 inches of water. A canoeist was spotted in the square. City officials put out raised wooden walkways, but in some places the water rose above them, the ANSA news agency said. Leonardo Cossutta, of the city office that monitors tides, said Venice's waterborne public transportation was suspended for about an hour and some shops reported water damage. Venice is prone to periodic flooding. The government has approved a plan to install mobile barriers on the Adriatic seabed near the entrance to the Venetian lagoon to protect the city when threatened by high tides.


This is enough to break ones heart. One of the most beautiful cities in the world is disappearing while 10 years later the politicians and the scientist still haven't put a solution into practice.

Harry Potters' Witchcraft

Pupil appeals over Harry Potter "witchcraft"

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African schoolboy has appealed to education authorities after refusing to answer an exam question on Harry Potter because he believes the best-selling children's' books promote witchcraft.

Eighteen-year-old John Smit did not answer a comprehension question on a review of one of J.K. Rowling's books on the boy wizard, worth 30 percent of his English exam. "He wouldn't answer it because it supports witchcraft, and we're against witchcraft ... the Bible is against witchcraft," Smit's mother, who did not wish to give her first name, told Reuters on Monday. The family has written to provincial director of examinations to complain. Authorities have yet to respond. "I hope they will give him his average mark. This shouldn't happen again," she said. African Christian Democratic Party MP Cheryllyn Dudley said South Africa needed a clear policy to avoid other pupils facing moral dilemmas during exams. "I have read (Harry Potter books), I have researched them thoroughly, and my personal opinion is that they are witchcraft manuals," Dudley told Reuters


Well, I've heard many excuses but this is one of the most original...