More reasons not to go. This HAS to be boycotted!!! Why are people going??? Hasn’t the world learned by now???
Even though we have a year round pretty even temperature, Summer here is special. There is so much going on that at times it makes me dizzy, and far too much to keep track of!
Last night and to night were typical examples!
Last night as I parked up at the end of my street, I heard what has become to me the unmistakable sound of Senegalese drumming. Puzzled, I jumped out of the car and pottered over to the village square, where I could see a little crowd had gathered, and sure enough on the small stage there was a Senegalese band, just starting up. I decided to watch for a while, despite the tub of Ben and Jerry’s in my bag. This music is just so evocative, so rich and comes from the soul. I’ve seen this band before, and I was annoyed that I didn’t know about this performance so I could have invited friends over! They do the range of music from its origins to present day, with dancers demonstrating traditional and modern dances. In Senegal tradition dictates that the audience participate, so I was thrilled to see a young friend jump up onto the stage. Abdul Aziz is a terrific dancer, better than the professionals, in fact. When he jumped down he spotted me and came rushing over. I haven’t seen him in ages so it was great. Then someone else rushed over, and I realized it was Carolina, who I thought was in Guatemala. She just came back from teaching there, so it was so nice to renew that acquaintance again. So, I pottered home eventually with melted Cookie Dough, but a wide smile on my face.
Tonight held yet more surprises. Helen and I had tickets to see “Hamlet” in the Teatro Guimerá in Santa Cruz, and we decided to go a little early to take at look at the revamped main square, La Plaza de España, which was reopened to the public after being boarded up for months and months. We were delightfully surprised by effect. What had been a traffic snarled and rather outdated area has been transformed into a very pleasant open space, which invites you to wander and linger. The center piece is a pool, which resembles a shallow lake with white sand. The sand is only concrete, but very effective, and when we arrived kids were cavorting in the water. On a hot, hot evening it all looked very cool and fun. Just before 7 the police ordered the children out of the water, and a quite spectacular water spout rose to an amazing height from the middle of the pool. We had a sandwich in a street cafe and watched the fun.
“Hamlet” was excellent. Rather a shock to this English system to see a favorite and well known work in Spanish. I couldn’t comment on how the translation worked, because I will never speak Spanish well enough to be able to appreciate the equivalent of Shakespearian English. My impression was that they didn’t try to do that. Some scenes were cut or shortened, but this must be a touring production, so not a surprise. Juan Diego Botto as Hamlet was interesting. I felt none of the ambivalence I often feel about this character. One moment I am so in sympathy with him usually, and the next I am thinking “What a wuss”. But Botto played him as more macho, with a plan, not so haunted. Claudio and Gertrude were good, solid, conventional performances, and Ophelia was her usual, irritating self, so I guess they were all par for the course. We were in the “gods”, money being tight at the end of the month (not to mention a little treat I have in store for tomorrow), so we came out with aching knees and necks! But well worth it!
As we walked from the cafe to the theatre we came across this little band being escorted by the police
We did wonder why they deserved a police escort, but as we walked further on we came across this group, and my favorite street, Calle Noria, lined with folding chairs.
It was then that I remembered reading in a local paper about a re-enactment of the abortive English bid to capture Santa Cruz led by Horatio Nelson in 1797, and we had walked right into the middle of it! Why does everything happen at once we wondered, but hurried off to the theater. To our delight, when we emerged it wasn’t all over, the British were making their last stand in the square just adjoining the theater! So we stopped to watch for a while. Lots of old muskets being fired, and guys rushing about in superb costumes. I’m kind of glad that England lost though. I love Santa Cruz just the way it is!
Here’s a link for history buffs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Santa_Cruz_de_Tenerife_(1797)
So, here I sit, an iced Jack Daniels sliding smoothly down my throat, the waves lapping the little beach opposite (for a change the bar downstairs is quiet), listening to Jammu Africa, and feeling most mellow. If I tell you that tomorrow I am going to see Mario Vargas Llosa peform his interpretation of A Thousand and One Nights will you be jealous?? Sometimes there is just toooo much!
The title of this post was Randy Pausch’s mantra. He died yesterday. He was 47. If you need any inspiration in your life, if you need to stop from feeling blue, if you need to try to understand what it’s all about, just put his name into YouTube.
World is a sorrier place for his passing. We always say things like, “If everyone were like him what a better place the world would be”, but then we forget that includes us. Gonna try a bit harder.
I came across this on YouTube today…….and before you begin to think I spend my entire life sifting through the Net – it ain’t true! I was looking up the rule of the game, so I can understand better when I watch, and maybe even help a little. It says an enormous amount for the particular people in this video, but a good idea of how it is in general.
China ‘is fuelling war in Darfur’
By Hilary Andersson
BBC News, Darfur
The BBC has found the first evidence that China is currently helping Sudan’s government militarily in Darfur.
The Panorama TV programme tracked down Chinese army lorries in the Sudanese province that came from a batch exported from China to Sudan in 2005.
The BBC was also told that China was training fighter pilots who fly Chinese A5 Fantan fighter jets in Darfur.
China’s government has declined to comment on the BBC’s findings, which contravene a UN arms embargo on Darfur.
The embargo requires foreign nations to take measures to ensure they do not militarily assist anyone in the conflict in Darfur, in which the UN estimates that about 300,000 people have died.
More than two million people are also believed to have fled their villages in Darfur, destroyed by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militia.
Panorama traced the first lorry by travelling deep into the remote deserts of West Darfur.
They found a Chinese Dong Feng army lorry in the hands of one of Darfur’s rebel groups.
The BBC established through independent eyewitness testimony that the rebels had captured it from Sudanese government forces in December.
The rebels filmed a second lorry with the BBC’s camera. Both vehicles had been carrying anti-aircraft guns, one a Chinese gun.
Markings showed that they were from a batch of 212 Dong Feng army lorries that the UN had traced as having arrived in Sudan after the arms embargo was put in place.
The lorries came straight from the factory in China to Sudan and were consigned to Sudan’s defence ministry. The guns were mounted after the lorries were imported from China.
When it is shooting or firing there is nowhere for you to move and the sound is just like the sound of the rain
Hamaad Abakar Adballa describing attack by anti-aircraft gun
The UN started looking for these lorries in Darfur three years ago, suspecting they had been sent there, but never found them.
“We had no specific access to Sudanese government army stores, we were not allowed to take down factory codes or model numbers or registrations etc to verify these kinds of things,” said EJ Hogendoorn, a member of the UN panel of experts that was involved in trying to locate the lorries.
China has chosen not to respond to the BBC’s findings. Its public position is that it abides by all UN arms embargoes.
China has said in the past that it told Sudan’s government not to use Chinese military equipment in Darfur.
Sudan’s government, however, has told the UN that it will send military equipment wherever it likes within its sovereign territory.
An international lawyer, Clare da Silva, says China’s point that it has taken measures in line with the arms embargo’s requirements to stop its weapons from going to Darfur is meaningless.
“It is an empty measure to take the assurances from a partner who clearly has no intention of abiding by the resolution,” she said.
Ms da Silva said the BBC’s evidence put China in violation of the arms embargo.
The UN panel of experts on Darfur has said it wants to examine the BBC’s evidence.
The BBC found witnesses who said they saw the first Dong Feng which the BBC tracked down being used with its anti-aircraft gun in an attack in a town called Sirba, in West Darfur, in December.
“When it is shooting or firing there is nowhere for you to move and the sound is just like the sound of the rain. Then ‘Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!’” said Hamaad Abakar Adballa, a witness in the Chadian refugee town of Birak.
The lorry’s powerful anti-aircraft gun fired straight into civilian houses. The gun carries high calibre shells that explode on impact, spreading hot shards of metal and causing terrible wounds
Witnesses saw one hut take a direct hit from the gun:
“An intense wave of heat instantly sent all the huts around up in flames,” one witness, Risique Bahar, said. “There was a lot of screaming.”
In the attack on Sirba one woman was burnt to death, another horribly injured.
Sudan’s government has been accused by the United States of genocide against Darfur’s black Africans.
The terms of the embargo cover not only just the supply of weapons, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment. It also covers training any technical assistance, so the training of pilots obviously falls within the scope of the embargo
International lawyer, Clare da Silva
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) say war crimes by Sudan’s Arab-dominated government have included summary executions, rape and torture.
Recently the conflict has deteriorated into more confused fighting, with rebel and militia groups also fighting each other. Two hundred thousand people have been displaced already this year.
Malnutrition rates are set to soar in South Darfur later this year due to insecurity and drought.
Darfur’s landscape is spotted with blackened circles representing the hundreds of the villages that were burnt down by government forces and their Janjaweed allies.
In these attacks Darfur’s civilians have been hunted not just from the ground, but from the sky.
Most civilians who tell stories of aerial attacks talk about Russian made Antanovs and helicopter gunships.
Many also talk about fighter jets being used, but no-one has ever answered the question of which type of fighter jets these are.
Kaltam Abakar Mohammed, a mother of seven, watched three of her children being blown to pieces as they were attacked by a fighter jet on 19 February in the town of Beybey in Darfur.
The BBC has established that Chinese Fantan fighter jets were flying on missions out of Nyala airport in south Darfur in February.
Panorama acquired satellite photographs of the two fighters at the airport on 18 June 2008, and its investigations indicate these are the only fighter jets that have been based in Darfur this year.
When Kaltam heard the sound of fighting early that morning, she took her children and ran.
“We start running near the well,” she said. “We hid behind a big rock. Something that looks like an eagle started coming from over there. It looked like an eagle but it made a funny noise.”
When the plane unleashed two bombs Kaltam’s five-year-old daughter, Nura, was dismembered from the chest up.
Her eight-year-old son, Adam, was killed instantly, as was her 20-year-old daughter, Amna.
Kaltam’s 19-month-old grandson still has shrapnel in his head from the fighter jet bombing. He cries a lot and often calls out for his mother, but she was killed in the attack.
Kaltam’s 13-year-old girl, Hawa, cannot grasp what she saw happen that day to her brother and two sisters. She rarely speaks now.
The Chinese Fantan jets are believed to have been delivered to Sudan in 2003 before the current UN arms embargo was imposed on Darfur.
But the BBC has been told by two confidential sources that China is training Fantan fighter pilots.
Sudan imported a number of fighter trainers called K8s two years ago – they are designed to train pilots of fighters like Fantans.
“Clearly this is what they used to train for operations with the Fantans,” said Chris Dietrich, a former member of the UN panel on Darfur.
International lawyer Ms da Silva says if China is training Fantan pilots, this represents another Chinese violation of the UN arms embargo.
“The terms of the embargo cover not only just the supply of weapons, military vehicles, paramilitary equipment. It also covers training any technical assistance, so the training of pilots obviously falls within the scope of the embargo.”
There are strong economic ties between the China and Sudan.
China buys most of Sudan’s oil and believes that what Sudan needs is good business partners, help with development and a solid peace process in Darfur, instead of confrontation and sanctions from the West.
So when China’s President Hu Jintao visited Sudan in 2007 he wrote off millions of dollars worth of debt and donated a multi-million pound interest free loan for a new presidential palace to Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir.
In April last year, China’s military leaders pledged to strengthen co-operation with Sudan.
Panorama: China’s Secret War will be on BBC One at 2030 BST on Monday 14 July 2008.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/07/13 03:00:10 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
Last night on my way home I popped in to visit a friend for a while. He lives in the kind of narrow street where you can just about look into your neighbour’s windows, and if you park up other cars just squeeze past without scraping you.
As we were sitting, chatting it became very noisy outside, mechancial noise, like maybe the garbage truck or roadworks, but it was a bit early for the one and a bit late for the other, and it seemed a bit too loud for someone doing DIYso I asked where it was coming from. My friend drew aside his curtain and pointed across the road.
Almost opposite there was a gap between buildings, a site for future construction, no doubt. It was walled off at street level, so when I got out of my car, which was parked alongside it, it was just another wall, and I didn’t take any notice. The noise was coming from this space between buildings.
Plodding happily away behind a rotorized tiller was a slightly paunchy, straw-hatted guy, who was churning up topsoil and what looked like straw, ploughing it into the soil. Around the edges of this plot were various plants and bushes, obviously lovingly cared for and flourishing. The sight was slightly surreal. This wasn’t exactly a city but still incongruous – such a site in the midst of the concrete. I imagined what it was like for him. Behind the wall he had locked out the street sounds and the crawling traffic, and created his own little bit of Paradise.
Lesson to us all?
The time seems right to remember this. There are several versions on YouTube, but I liked this one best musically, and because it perfectly conveys that quiet intensity of hers. Still makes me want to cry.
Last night I went up to Santa Cruz again with the guys who are learning basketball. What is the proper, politically correct name for this? Paraplegic basketball? Each of them get about ok without a wheelchair in their everyday life.
Last night was a bit of a surprise, first of all the traffic was much heavier, so it took longer to get there, then there were loads more people milling around the entrance (school holidays I thought), then there were lots of people whizzing around the court when we arrived, and it was then that I remembered that there had been one of the big football matches on last Wednesday, so it had been an unusual night.
My guys quickly sorted themselves out wheelchairs, and began their exercises, and then some practice, shooting hoops and passing. After last week, I assumed that this was all they would do – wrong! They actually spent an hour playing, and what an eyeopener it was for me!
In general, it was fascinating to observe the variety of people, from a very glamorous young woman to a really friendly grandfather (I know that cos his grandson was with him). It’s wrong to make assumptions, needless to say, but I couldn’t help thinking how each must have their own story, and wondering what the story was that had brought them to this time and place.
The game was amasingly fast, and the old hands spun those chairs around like a coin on a shiny surface, with seemingly little effort. Of course, there was plenty of effort – that was just lots of practice. They were all very helpful to “my guys” advising them, or explaining a better way to do something when the occasion arose, except for one guy, who got very impatient when Amara was considering a shot, and shouted at him. He was a very aggressive player though, he had a collison with someone else and fell out of his chair. The overall atmosphere was friendly but competitive. I was absolutely spellbound. I’d taken a book because I figured it this is going to be a regular thing then I won’t always just want to watch the training, but I didn’t even open my bag. It was a exciting as any sport I’ve ever watched, and after a while the fact they were in wheelchairs faded and I was simply enjoying a game.
“My guys” did well, too. Two of them scored a couple of baskets – Lamine from a good distance, he got applause from the others. It would have been a great shot even for an experienced player – I suspect that there was a fair bit of luck – but I have never in my life seen a broader smile or a face light up in such a way as when he realized it had gone in!! Marebo made a really good defensive move and got high fives from other players too. So it really was a terrific night. I so hope they get to play in a league match. I don’t know yet just how that works.
This is a whole, new world for me, so it is quite absorbing. I have known them all long enough not to think too much about their disabilities, so I hopefully don’t treat anyone else any differently. I assume this is the right thing to do. We live and learn.