Thursday, 7 February 2008

Tuesday, 5th February, 2008


Johns's early story is well known. Born in 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, and raised in Allendale, South Carolina, he received his early education in a one-room schoolhouse in rural South Carolina, where he was sent to live with an aunt who did the teaching.
He said he had wanted to be an artist for as long as he can remember. "I don't know why," he said. "The only logical thing I can think of is that I knew there were such things as artists, and I knew there were none where I lived. So I knew that to be an artist you had to be somewhere else. And I very much wanted to be somewhere else."

Amit acknowledged the priorities of his social class in this way: "Branding has really taken over," he said. "Everything is looking at what car you're driving, what clothes you're wearing, where your child is going to school."

Her [Sania Mirza's] decision to stop playing in her home country has dismayed India's tennis community, but has also raised deeper concerns about levels of intolerance.
Ramachandra Guha, a historian, argued that her decision was a reflection of "the rising power of bigotry and intolerance in Indian society."
"Male chauvinists have taken exception to her dress; religous bigots have protested a picture that has both her and mosque in the same frame; jingoists have exploded at the (purely accidental) closeness of her feet in another frame to the national flag," he wrote in an article for The Telegraph, a newspaper in Calcutta. Her decision was "a damning indictment of her own countrymen," he wrote.

LETTER FROM EUROPE (Celestine Bohlen)

In the past year, French companies announced 317 deals in Western Europe outside France, valued at $89.2 billion, according to Bloomberg data. In the same period, Western European businesses iniatiated 286 deals in France for $67.2 billion.

Preventing obesity and smoking can save lives, but it does not save money, according to a new report...
"Lung cancer is a cheap disease to treat because people don't survive very long," van Baal said. "But if they are old enough to get Alzheimer's one day, they may survive longer and cost more."

"The EU's proposal to sign a political agreement with Serbia while at the same time sending a mission to break apart our state is a deception aimed at getting Serbia effectively to sign its agreement to Kosovo independence," Kostunica said.

NEWS ANALYSIS (Judy Dempsey)
The force is supposed to provide rapid assistance to troops [in northern Afghanistan] under attack or other emergencies...
Harald Kujat, the former German chairman of NATO's military intelligene committee, said last week that German troops were not prepared for such a mission, let alone to move southward, because they lacked basic equipment such as adequate communications.

HARTFORD, Conneticticut
"This is what is possible, if you believe," Obama said.
"We believe," the crowd replied.
"There are a lot of people who tell you not to believe," he added. "There are a lot of naysayers. A lot of doubting Thomases."
"We believe," the crowd replied. "We believe!"

Lost in this rhetorical battle was a quiet middle ground where the benefits and drawbacks of genetically engineered crops were responsibly considered. What emerged from this investigation - undertaken by population experts, plant biologists, farmers, conservationists, nonprofit foundations and agricultural scientists - was cautious optimism for a new technology. These specialists recognized that such crops could reduce deforestation by increasing crop yields on less land, moderate overuse of synthetic insecticides, decrease dependence on irrigation through drought-resistant crops, and greatly reduce soil erosion. They also looked at the hundreds of studies finding that this technology was relatively safe.
But the middle ground also confronted the dangers that could arise through genetically modified crops. Indeed, it is possible for cross-pollination to "contaminate" wild varieties of food, decreasing biodiversity. Likewise, it is possible (if very unlikely) that animals fed modified crops could pass genes to humans that render antibiotics ineffective.
That patents of transgenic methods are controlled by a few corporations is also unsettling. One need not be an anti-biotech radical to have problems with a "terminator gene" that prevents crops from producing second-generation seed. Rather than dismiss these concerns (as Monsanto does) or grossly overstate them (as Greenpeace and Rifkin do), people like Per Pinstrup-Andersen, the former director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, have asked a profoundly productive question: What are the limits of modern society's precautionary principle? In other words, knowing that it is impossible to prove a negative, when should a society agree to accept a technology with proven benefits and potential dangers?
Dr. Pinstrup-Andersen, for one, decided that the benefits of modified crops outweigh the drawbacks. The public, however, was distracted by the rhetorical crossfire, which had no use for this reasoned, and necessarily imperfect, response to a complex technology

Shanghai Hualian, a division of a huge state-owned pharmaceutical company, produced a leukemia drug that was somehow contaminated with another cancer drug during production. When the product was injected into the patients' spinal area, it caused paralysis and other side effects.
When Chinese regulators began to investigate, plant workers tried to cover up what had happened, delaying corrective action. The government has now closed the factory and detained two company officials in a criminal investigation.
The same company is the sole supplier to the United States of the abortion pill known as RU-486.

In a memorable scene Shenon depicts the widows of 9/11 victims, a group that called itself the Jersey Girls, meeting Henry Kissinger, President George W. Bush's choice to be chairman of the 9/11 Commission, in the posh offices of Kissinger's international consulting firm in New York. When one of the Jersey Girls ask Kissinger if he has any clients named bin Laden, Kissinger spills his coffee and nearly falls of his sofa. "It's my bad eye," Kissinger explains, as the women rush to clean up the mess - "like good surburban moms," Shennon says one widow recalled. The next morning Kissinger telephoned the White House to resign from the commission...
Dubbed "Kinda-Lies-a-Lot" by the Jersey Girls, Rice comes across as almost clueless about the terrorist threat.

Subtlety is no longer in demand, whether it concerns the poetic atmosphere of a landscape or the penetrating psychological study of a sitter. Instant impact is the prerequisite for success. A Provence landscape painted in 1907 at l'Estaque by Braque did very well at £1.25 million, in large part because its strong outlines can be made out from five meters away.
By contrast, a splendid portrait done by Gustave Caillebotte in 1879 found no takers. Done in vigorous strokes of the brush thickly laden with paint, the portrait commissioned to the artist by the sitter, a man from Lyon called Georges Roman, resorts to chiaroscuro at a time when the light and shadow effect had long ceased to be fashionable. It is charged with a dramatic intensity that is alien to Impressionism. Defying classification, the appeal of such a portrait is limited to art lovers with an in-depth knowledge of painting.

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