Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011

In the Memory of the Japanese people and others who lost their lives from the Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011.  With sadness from the event I calmed  myself and composed the following artwork : 

 

Winter Geranium Flowers and Little Japanese 

  On Friday, March 11, 2011 I woke up from the loud sound of crashing and the rushing sound of moving water.  I opened my eyes and looked to my left and saw my little indoor green forest by the windowsill next to my bed.  I did not see anything abnormal.  Then I turned to my right I saw my little forest by the other windowsill and saw a beautiful cluster of bright pink flowers.  Oh!  I have geranium flowers blooming in the winter.  It such a special occasion because the geranium usually has flowers in the summer time.  I got up and walked to the flowers.

 To my surprise I saw a long line of little people climbing up to the geranium flowers.  They were very tiny people no bigger than ant.  There were men, women and children also.  I put my face close to these people and whispered quietly. 

 Hello! Where are you coming from?” I said.  The little voice answered me.

 

                                              We came from Sandai”.

       “Where is Sandai?  Sorry but my geography is very poor”, I respond.

We are from Sandai,Japan but some of us from near by towns  the little people answered.  

 How did you all get here?” I asked.

                                                                   “We do not know how we got here. We heard a loud crashing sound and then we saw huge waves come in our direction. We all closed our eyes and when we opened our eyes we saw your beautiful winter geranium flowers. We love forests; we love plants and beautiful flowers. In our country pretty soon we will have Cherry blossom in the spring”, the little people told me.

“We have Cherry blossom here in Newark too”, I responded eagerly.  “Around mid April, next month the cherry blossoms will bloom at Branch Brook Park in Newark. It is only about a ten minute car ride from here to the Park. I can take you there. My husband, our daughter and I usually go to see the cherry blossoms every year.”

We know of the cherry blossom in Branch Brook Park in Newark. Our ancestors gave  the cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington, D.C.”, Mrs. Caroline Bamberger-Fuld donated 2,050 Japanese Cherry Blossom trees to the Essex County Park Commission in 1972 after she saw the Cherry Blossoms at Washington,D.C.,” the little people told me proudly.

 “Would you like to have something to eat or drink? I ask.

  

                                                             “No, thank you we do not have to eat or drink anything. We are free from material thing now. Thank you for asking and for wanting to take us to see the Cherry Blossoms at Branch Brook Park. If we want to go anywhere, we just think about it and we will be there.  We do not need transportation. We came here to visit your indoor forests that you created for yourself and your family. We wish people will grow more plants and trees instead of cutting down forests.  Beside your lovely geranium flowers, we also enjoy seeing your avocado plants that you grew from seeds inside the fruit you ate.”

  “Do you see my mango trees? I have two of them but they are still small. My avocado trees are much bigger.” I say proudly.

         

                            “We admire the way you water your plants by using the remaining water from washing your vegetables. You save a lot of water by doing that.  On our island we have to conserve water. If everyone saves a gallon of water a day we will have millions gallons of water saved for the whole city and country.” The little people’s comments make me feel very good.

“Can you stay with me until summer time?  At that time you can see my butterfly bushes bloom with flowers.  I have white and lilac colors. They are very fragrant. The monarch butterflies will come to drink the nectar from the flowers.”  I really wanted to have my little friends stay with me.

 “Thank you, so much but we would like to visit many as gardens and forests in this country and the cherry blossoms from Washington,DC will bloom soon”, the little people said.  “We will come back to visit you and your family again in summer time. We will come with the butterflies. If you see our people from Japan at the Cherry Blossom Festival in Branch Brook Park please tells them not to worry about us. We are very happy now because we are so free, we can go anywhere we wish, we do not need food, housing or other material things any more. We will be happier if people cultivate more gardens and forests, then we can visit more gardens and forests all over the world”.

This writing is for all the Japanese people that lost their life from Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011.  My thoughts and concerns also go out to the Haiti people who lost their lives from the earth quake in their country also, and the other natural disasters that have happened all over the world.  To all humanity I ask that you do not be selfish and greedy, taking only for yourself.  Please share with the majority of people who work so hard for so little.  Life is short and unexpected and only kindness and generosity will bring all human beings and other living creatures to live in harmony together.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts  Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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Seagulls Eating Grain in a Parking Lot

Seagulls Eating Grain in a Parking Lot

Ing’s photographs

On Sunday, March 09, 2014

 

John and I went out to do some shopping today.  We stopped by the mall.  Before we left I spotted a group of Seagulls eating grain in the parking lot.  I was lucky to have my camcorder with me.  I enjoyed seeing the Seagulls eating the grain and walking to a water puddle near by to drink.  I wonder about the behavior of this group of Seagulls because I thought that Seagulls eat fish and live by the sea.  Maybe it is easy to find food on land because people create a lot of garbage and some people give food to birds, cats and dogs. 

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Sunday, March 9, 2014

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City Birds Eating Bread and Pictures from BBC

City Birds Eating Bread and Pictures from BBC

City Birds Eating Bread

 

Good morning sunshine

I peek out the window

See my snow garden

In my backyard

 

Hey! Mr. Bird

May I have some bread?

It looks like

A very delicious breakfast

 

City birds you are clever

You get your breakfast

Without cooking

After eating bread

You can eat the snow

Giving you juice

Mixing with your meal

 

Where is your partner?

I saw you two love birds

In the summer time

Don’t tell me that

Your partner is gone

And you are alone with your meal

 

Hey!  I see the other one coming

Oh you make me happy

Seeing you sharing

Bread with each other

 

Hey!  I have to go

To have my breakfast

With my partner too

 

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Saturday, February 8, 2014

The followings are links and some nice pictures from BBC: 

https://www.bbc.com/news/in-pictures-26448025

 

 

 

 

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World Medias on Ukraine Crisis,Echo Chambers

World media offer divergent views on Ukraine crisis                                     

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-26441892

 4 March 2014 Last updated at 13:17 ET

By Anthony Zurcher Editor, Echo Chambers

The Ukrainian standoff has the world’s media wondering what will happen next

Continue reading the main story

Ukraine crisis

The crisis in Ukraine is generating headlines around the world, prompting commentators and newspaper editors to weigh in.

A quick survey reveals a community of nations more deeply divided than is often portrayed in the US media. While there are denunciations of perceived Russian bellicosity, other voices have offered support for President Vladimir Putin’s moves.

There are calls for readers not to ignore what’s going on in distant corners of the world, and comparisons to possible sources of unrest closer to home.

In China, Beijing’s Global Times takes a realpolitik view of the situation. It headlines an editorial: “US and Europe’s cannon of words no match for Russia’s physical tanks”.

“The developments in Ukraine have clearly illustrated that on the stage of international politics, the credibility of rhetoric always follows power,” the editors write. “There is no rhetoric on the international stage except that nurtured and supported by power.”

Ben Wellings writes in the Melbourne Herald Sun that Australia, with a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council, has a role in helping to find a diplomatic and democratic solution to the Ukrainian “standoff”.

“Australian calls for the maintenance of Ukraine’s territorial integrity need to be set against memories of our intervention in East Timor,” he writes. “We saw that as a just act, but it was not seen that way in other parts of the world where Western humanitarian intervention is often seen as a cover for aggressive foreign policies.”

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Russia has made another serious mistake and got involved in a dangerous game again”

End Quote Yosef Mowla’i Sharq (Iran)

In Sri Lanka, the Daily News editors are sympathetic to the Russian position. They decry “faux democracy movements” and their “unforeseen consequences”.

“Today, Ukraine is totally destabilized, and there is simmering unrest in Crimea with the Russians there not being willing to live under the jackboot of a newly installed puppet administration in Kiev,” they write. “Surely, the Ukrainian people are not obsessed with joining the European Union, which has been an ailing behemoth for a very long time… Obviously, democracy or the issue of EU membership is not at the heart of the Ukrainian crisis.

The Times of India editorialises that the “Cold War rhetoric” needs to be “dialed down” on both sides:

Cool heads need to prevail, and salient issues must be brought to the talking table. Moscow may have legitimate concerns about the safety of ethnic Russians in Ukraine. But aiding pro-Russia militia and pushing Russian forces into Crimea represent a clear violation of Ukrainian territorial sovereignty and international treaties.

They fear an escalation could spark a Syrian-style civil war. “This would be disastrous for a Europe trying to nurse itself back from deep economic downturn,” they say.

Speaking of Syria, comparisons between its civil war and the situation in Ukraine dominate commentary throughout the Middle East.

“At a time when the drums of war are beating in Ukraine and the Crimea Peninsula, the Russians should note that they should not vote for the death of diplomacy because they won the Syrian crisis with the same trump card,” writes Jalal Barzegar in Iran’s conservative daily Iran. “If diplomacy backs down in the face of militarism, or in fact be forced to retreat, its consequences will not be limited to Ukraine; it will rather affect the international atmosphere.”

He argues: “Russia’s insistence on going down the same road could have unpredictable consequences for Crimea, other areas in Ukraine and even other parts of the world such as Syria.”

Yosef Mowlai in the reformist Iranian daily Sharq also draws comparisons to Iraq and Afghanistan, predicting that things aren’t going to end well for the Russians.

“The main concern of Russian officials is not international law; rather it is their country’s security in its own backyard which comes at the expense of ignoring the independence and sovereignty of other nations,” he writes. “It seems that the Russian Federation has not learned enough from its costly defeat in Afghanistan and has not learned from America’s struggle in Afghanistan and Iraq’s quagmire. Russia has made another serious mistake and got involved in a dangerous game again.”

Could Syria and Ukraine be horse-traded in some sort of geopolitical diplomatic deal? Urayb al-Rintawi in Jordan’s Al-Dustur doesn’t think so.

“Some people think there is a chance of trading Syria for Ukraine if the Kremlin were to abandon Al-Assad in return for Washington and Brussels’s abandonment of their allies in Kiev and vice versa,” he writes.

However, such a trade-off is not possible because in America’s strategic calculations, Syria is relegated to bottom position compared to Ukraine.”

Khamis al-Tubi in Oman’s Al-Watan detects what he sees as an anti-Russian “Zionist” conspiracy.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

There’s a growing and depressingly lengthening list of countries where the democratic wave was accompanied by a deep authoritarian undertow”

End Quote Tony Leon Business Day (South Africa)

“Russia’s respect for international law and refusal to destabilize and destroy other countries while forging relations of mutual interest with Egypt have not appealed to conspirators in a world led by the Zionist occupation entity,” he writes. “Hence, punishment has come in the form of finding a new Afghanistan to consume Russia economically and militarily, and the choice has fallen on Ukraine to serve this purpose.”

Meanwhile, the Syrian government’s daily Al-Thawrah sees the situation as chickens coming home to roost for US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

“Perhaps it has not crossed America’s mind that the terrorism it manufactures and exports to the rest of the world, including to Syria as is the case today, will in the end bounce back. But lately, this fact started to rob Obama’s administration’s sleep,” they write. “Amid the feverish US -Western race to target Syria, developments in Ukraine have started to steal attention as the eyes of the world turn to the Russian Caesar and wait for his final decision on the issue.”

In Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, Verda Ozer notes comparisons between the Ukrainian uprising and her nation’s Gezi protests, but she contends that there are “many differences”.

She calls Ukraine an “authoritarian democracy” without Turkey’s record of recent stability. Turkey’s government, she writes, has been in an ongoing dialogue with protesters, which has prevented the sort of escalation that happened in Kiev.

South Africa’s Business Day columnist Tony Leon recalls the connection Russian President Vladimir Putin made with South African politicians during the leader’s visit to the country in 2006.

“By ideological inclination, and joined as we are through Brics [association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] and apparent nuclear power deals and the very history my parliamentary colleagues related to Putin eight years ago, South Africa tilts toward Moscow,” he writes.

But South Africa has more in common with “startup democracies” like Ukraine than Mr Putin’s Russia.

“There’s a growing and depressingly lengthening list of countries where the democratic wave was accompanied by a deep authoritarian undertow,” he writes.

In France, Liberation’s Alexandra Schwartzbrod thinks Mr Putin is in firm control.

“By dispatching uniformed Russians to deploy in some strategic locations of Crimea, Vladimir Putin is sending a clear message: he will not drop the matter,” she writes. “For the present he is being careful to maintain a low profile, dispatching his loyal Foreign Minister Lavrov to the front, but on the sidelines he is scoring points, surveying the strong and the weak, and perfecting his strategy”.

The editors of the Irish Times write about the irony of Mr Putin’s current position:

“Which state has done most in recent years at the UN Security Council to make the case for the inviolability of sovereign states’ territories, and in banging the drum against foreign meddling in ‘internal’ affairs?” they ask. “No prizes for guessing that it’s the state which has just taken over the Crimea and is threatening eastern Ukraine. The state which in the last 60 years in different guises invaded Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Georgia – Russia, ‘son of’ the Soviet Union, under President Vladimir Putin, admirer of Stalin.”

Antonio Navalon in Mexico’s the Press writes that the situation in Ukraine is evidence of a world falling apart.

“In Mexico, we have many problems – the well-known ones, and those that manage to overcome the historical ones,” he writes. “Nevertheless, we remain united. If we look abroad, we see a Europe that is once again fragmented due to conflicts and separatist divisions that could end by recreating, in the cemetery of the First World War, wars and internal problems.”

He concludes: “We live in a world where the rule is that there are no rules, where the points of reference are that there aren’t any and in which we even supposedly have a governing body, known as the United Nations, it only represents a club of disunited nations.”

Just looking at the range of voices in the global media makes that point all too clear. 

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

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Blue Rose and Pink Leaves & A Deep Ocean Worm

Blue Rose and Pink Leaves & A Deep Ocean Worm

Blue Rose and Pink Leaves

 

Has anyone ever seen?

 

A blue heart broken into pieces

 Pick it up

Mend it

Make it strong

 

Blue Rose and Pink Leaves

Comes around in a life time

Healing with memories

 

Cement it

Experience firms us

 

Longing for Blue Rose and Pink Leaves

Hoping it never comes again

 

Part of life

Memories live on

 

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Monday, August 05, 2013

A Deep Ocean Warm

A deep ocean worm, which lives on the edge of a hot “black smoker” vent on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean (Philippe Crassous/SPL)

Weird and wonderful creatures can thrive in the most hostile parts on the planet, but there are a few places too harsh for even the hardiest, discovers Rachel Nuwer.  

Please visit the following link for more information: 

https://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140303-last-place-on-earth-without-life

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Snow Land at Branch Brook Park 2

Snow Land at Branch Brook Park 2

Newark, New Jersey

On Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photographs by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

Below are the pictures I took of Sacred Heart Cathedral and Branch Brook Park in the spring of 2012, with the arrival of Cherry Blossoms.  I was lucky to capture them in full broom

 

 

The Cathedral of Sacred Heart had begun to build in the 1899s.  It is constructed of the first imported and domestic marble, it towers rise 232 feet.  The cathedral covers an area of 45,000 square feet.  The magnificent Cathedral actually was not completed until the middle 1950s.

Inside of the Cathedral has beautiful artworks and interesting architecture.  Sacred Heart is the fifth largest cathedral in the United States.  It borders Branch Brook Park on its eastern boundary overlooking Branch Brook Lake.  Since December 22nd, 1976, the Cathedral has been registered as a State and National Historic Place.

When Mali was about 7 years old, spring 1985 she played violin in the Suzuki Festival 85, Newark at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. 

Link for more pictures and information about Sacred Heart Cathedral and Branch Brook Park is the following: 

https://ingpeaceproject.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/10-IngsBookCherryBlossomAtBBPark4s1.jpg

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Echochambers Articles, US Defence Budget and Syria Crisis

A portion of Echochambers articles on Wednesday. February 26, 2014 are below:

Cheney: Obama puts food stamps over defence

By Anthony Zurcher Editor, Echo Chambers 15:53 UK time, Wednesday, 26 February 2014

 

 

Former Vice-President Dick Cheney has some harsh words for the president’s defence budget

President Barack Obama “would rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops”.

A lot has been written about the announcement by Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel on Monday of the latest US defence budget, but the comments by former Vice-president Dick Cheney on Fox News on Monday night were among the most inflammatory.

Mr Cheney said that US allies in the Middle East could “no longer trust the United States to keep its commitments” and that the announced spending levels were not driven by “any change in world circumstances”, but by “budget considerations”.

The editors of the Nation Review followed the vice-president’s lead on Tuesday, writing:

No exogenous shifts justify moving to the smallest army since World War II, curtailed technological procurement, and a navy much too small to secure the seas for America and its allies. A military budget ought to be tailored to what our politicians, strategists, and soldiers believe necessary to accomplish our strategic goals: securing the American homeland, fulfilling our treaty commitments, and ensuring free passage for American ships and trade around the world.

“Start Quote

Soldiers today operate much more potent and less manpower-intensive systems”

End Quote James Joyner The National Interest

They call the defence budget “an announcement of American retreat” and contend that the congressionally mandated spending levels from the 2011 budget agreement, known as the “sequester”, are welcome on the domestic side but have dealt “a devastating blow to the federal government’s capacity to carry out its most fundamental responsibility”.

Blogger Andrew Sullivan counters that Mr Cheney’s comments demonstrate that the Republican elite is just as extreme as the grass-roots Tea Party conservative base:

He could have made an argument why he thinks we should maintain the stratospheric levels of defense spending that have been in place since 9/11; he could have argued that the US needs to maintain the ability to fight two major land wars simultaneously in perpetuity. He could have said a lot of things. But he decided to accuse the commander-in-chief of not supporting the troops and actually wanting to keep people in poverty.

The new defence budget is the “least bad choice”, writes the National Interest’s James Joyner. It does present additional strategic risks, but “given the realities of the fiscal environment, risk is unavoidable”.

He also contends that comparing modern troop numbers to those of the past is misleading. “Soldiers today operate much more potent and less manpower-intensive systems,” he writes.

“Start Quote

Almost every expert on nuclear weapons agrees that the United States has a far larger nuclear force than it needs to deter attacks”

End Quote Doyle McManus Los Angeles Times

The Nation’s Bob Dreyfuss thinks the new budget reductions are a start, but not enough.

“Major weapons systems that might have been cut were sustained, the US special forces units are being increased substantially from already high levels and Hagel announced that the US Navy would maintain all eleven of its aircraft carriers,” he says.

“Indeed, the military-industrial complex was so thrilled about continuing Pentagon support for big-budget, high-tech weapons systems that, according to the Wall Street Journal, stock prices for major defense contractors rose after the announcement.”

The Los Angeles Times’s Doyle McManus notes that while Mr Hagel announced a variety of cuts, including to aircraft, ships and vehicles, he chose to maintain “unnecessary” funding for US nuclear forces.

“Almost every expert on nuclear weapons agrees that the United States has a far larger nuclear force than it needs to deter attacks,” he writes.

The reason, he contends, is because nuclear spending is “protected by political sponsors – sometimes based on honest disagreements over strategy, sometimes because of the jobs they provide.”

It’s worth remembering that even at the proposed levels, the US defence budget still dwarfs every other nation, including China. And although the total amount is less than originally planned, it’s still an increase in total dollars spent over past years. 

Then there’s the fact that Mr Hagel’s defence budget proposal is just a starting point. Congress will have to debate and eventually approve the actual budget. In the past, that’s meant that spending has increased, as vested interests fight to defend their programmes from the chopping block.

Recently, however, budget hawks on the right have shown a willingness to sacrifice some defence spending for greater fiscal discipline (witness the sequester agreement). Whether that trend continues will go a long way in determining whether the final defence budget looks anything like Mr Hagel’s proposal.


Wars, public outrage and policy options

 

 

 

By Kim Ghattas BBC News, Washington 00:53 UK time, Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tales of Syrian suffering are not enough for Americans to rise up and demand action

“Please take us out of here,” pleaded 60-year-old Wafiqa in Yarmouk camp outside Damascus while 13-year-old Kiffah burst into tears: “There is no bread.”

The unspeakable pain and horror of living under siege for months, in a war where food has become a weapon, is on full display in this poignant report by my colleague Lyse Doucet.

We’ve heard these pleas before. The BBC reports regularly from inside Syria, as do several American papers, and although coverage of the Syrian war is not wall-to-wall on American networks, it gets regular, consistent attention.

So where is the public outrage about a war so chaotic and dangerous that even the UN has stopped keeping track of the death toll? Have we all become numb to the pain of others?

“Start Quote

What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance”

End Quote Stephen Hawking University of Cambridge

Perhaps it was always like that – I remember living through 15 years of war in Lebanon. There were moments of international attention and efforts to help, in between long periods where we felt the world had forgotten us.

The world inevitably tires of complex, long conflicts where there are no clear answers about how to end the violence. This cartoon in the New Yorker is a harsh but perhaps accurate look at how the collective conscience deals with the relentless stream of bad news from Syria.

There is a renewed chorus to do “something” about Syria, with appeals to people’s conscience. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Stephen Hawking recently wrote:

What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?

In a similar vein, Nicholas Burns, a former senior state department official, asked: “How many more lives will be claimed by Syria’s ceaseless civil war before we are finally shamed to stop the killing?”

(Spare a thought for the North Koreans, too. A UN report out last week, too horrific even to read, compares the abuses committee by the government to Nazi Germany. I have yet to see much outrage or calls for action. )

But would our sense of shame and public outrage actually make a difference? When they discuss US policy options for Syria, administration officials repeatedly point to the fact that Americans have bigger concerns closer to home and that President Barack Obama is very mindful that the public has no appetite for interventions abroad, no matter how limited.

So I asked a couple of officials what would happen if, theoretically, hundreds of thousands people suddenly took to the street in the US to demand action to end the fighting in Syria. It’s a tough question and they had no real answer, because no matter the outrage, the policy options remain exactly the same, none of them perfect. The question is whether it would become more tenable for the president to take action if the public demanded it.

Possibly, but that’s not how public opinion works. People demonstrate to end wars and bring the troops home, like with Vietnam. They protest against invasions, like Iraq in 2003, when their country’s troops are about to be shipped overseas. Or they support military action when their own country has come under attack. But people rarely rise up to demand action because of a sense of collective justice.

“Start Quote

The United States of America is different”

End Quote Barack Obama US President

Lack of public pressure conveniently reinforces Mr Obama’s conclusion that it’s too difficult and politically too risky to take action in Syria, but it’s in fact up to the president to galvanise public opinion.

In early March 2011, when the Libyan uprising turned violent, there was little appetite in the US for military action. Americans were in the same mood then as they are now about the rest of the world. By the end of March, the US was engaged in military strikes against Libya, and polls showed a plurality supported the strikes.

As this piece points out, people didn’t have a sudden change of heart about Libya. They were becoming more exposed to the story in the media in a consistent way and hearing clearly and repeatedly from the president and others as to why the US was involved.

On 28 March the president said: “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

The military operations in Libya didn’t come with guarantees, but an assessment was made that there was reasonable hope for success.

Libya and Syria are different, and the policy options on Syria are much more complicated – and they don’t necessarily involve direct military strikes. When the president becomes convinced that the chances of success in Syria are higher than the cost of doing nothing, and he makes the case in a compelling way that some form of more direct US action is needed, public opinion will rally around.

Link to EchoChamber is below: 

https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs/echochambers/ 

Have you found an interesting opinion piece about global issues that we missed? Share it with us via email at echochambers (at) bbc.co.uk.

 Link to The New Yorker, Daily Cartoon is below:

https://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/dailycartoon/2014/02/daily-cartoon-monday-february-24th.html 

Syria’s war must end 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Stephen Hawking, Published: February 14, 2014

Stephen Hawking is the author of “A Brief History of Time” and a former professor of mathematics at the University of Cambridge.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle believed that the universe had existed forever. The reason humanity was not more developed, he believed, was that floods or other natural disasters repeatedly set civilization back to the beginning.

Today, humans are developing ever faster. Our knowledge is growing exponentially and with it, our technology. But humans still have the instincts, and in particular the aggressive impulses, that we had in caveman days. Aggression has had definite advantages for survival, but when modern technology meets ancient aggression the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth is at risk.

Today in Syria we see modern technology in the form of bombs, chemicals and other weapons being used to further so-called intelligent political ends.

But it does not feel intelligent to watch as more than 100,000 people are killed or while children are targeted. It feels downright stupid, and worse, to prevent humanitarian supplies from reaching clinics where, as Save the Children will document in a forthcoming report, children are having limbs amputated for lack of basic facilities and newborn babies are dying in incubators for lack of power.

What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice?

When I discuss intelligent life in the universe, I take this to include the human race, even though much of its behavior throughout history appears not to have been calculated to aid the survival of the species. And while it is not clear that, unlike aggression, intelligence has any long-term survival value, our very human brand of intelligence denotes an ability to reason and plan for not only our own but also our collective futures.

We must work together to end this war and to protect the children of Syria. The international community has watched from the sidelines for three years as this conflict rages, engulfing all hope. As a father and grandfather, I watch the suffering of Syria’s children and must now say: No more.

I often wonder what we must look like to other beings watching from deep space. As we look out at the universe, we are looking back in time, because light leaving distant objects reaches us much, much later. What does the light emitting from Earth today show? When people see our past, will we be proud of what they are shown — how we, as brothers, treat each other? How we allow our brothers to treat our children?

We now know that Aristotle was wrong: The universe has not existed forever. It began about 14 billion years ago. But he was right that great disasters represent major steps backward for civilization. The war in Syria may not represent the end of humanity, but every injustice committed is a chip in the facade of what holds us together. The universal principle of justice may not be rooted in physics but it is no less fundamental to our existence. For without it, before long, human beings will surely cease to exist.

Read more on this issue: Editorial: The president’s welcome new tone on Syria Fred Hiatt: Senators say John Kerry admitted U.S. failure in Syria Morton Abramowitz: As

Link to Washington Post, Stephen Hawking-Syria war must end is below: 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/stephen-hawking-syrias-war-must-end/2014/02/14/a71dea72-94f0-11e3-83b9-1f024193bb84_print.html

 A Srebrenica moment in Syria?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 By Nicholas Burns, Globe Columnist,   February 13, 2014

A girl was pulled from the rubble of a building in Aleppo, Syria, after it was bombed by the government last month.

As the savage killings and stratospheric refugee numbers in Syria continue to climb, a key question emerges. When will the United States and other global powers experience a “Srebrenica moment,” when they can no longer stand on the sidelines and resolve instead that they finally have to act?

That is what happened at the climax of the Bosnia war nearly 20 years ago. When the Bosnian Serb army murdered more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the United Nations safe haven of Srebrenica in July 1995, it was the worst massacre in Europe since the Nazi era. Those killings shocked and shamed Western leaders who had resisted decisive intervention until that point.

I was State Department spokesman at the time and can attest to the collective guilt felt by officials in the United States and Europe, particularly over our inability to protect innocent civilians from a marauding army. When the Bosnian Serbs bombed the Sarajevo marketplace six weeks later, President Clinton and European leaders had had enough. They ordered a NATO bombing campaign. Together with Richard Holbrooke’s brilliant diplomacy, it led to a ceasefire and the peace accord at Dayton.

As the UN’s listless Geneva talks on Syria reconvene this week, world powers are passive, disunited, and lacking the collective resolve that ended the Bosnia war. But the latest estimates of the Syria carnage should make us reflect on the human cost of our indifference. Over 130,000 Syrians have died since the war began in 2011. A shocking 9.3 million Syrians (in a country of 22.4 million) are refugees. They have lost their homes and jobs and are on the run inside and outside the country to escape the vicious fighting. Aleppo, Homs, and countless other cities suffer under the siege of heartless artillery and air assaults against civilians that maim and destroy at will.

There are no easy answers to the Syria crisis. A US-led ground invasion would require something on the scale of the 1991 Gulf War — hundreds of thousands of troops. That’s not in the cards for a president, Congress, and public emerging from two major wars since 9/11. Russia and China continue to shield Syrian President Bashar Assad from international pressure at the UN, going so far as to object to proposals to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. For now, the main, and mainly vain, hope is UN-led talks for a ceasefire and transition from Bashar Assad’s rule. At its current languid pace, that could take years to materialize. 

Washington finds itself in an uncharacteristically weak position to drive events in Syria. President Obama has taken force off the table, refusing to strike last September following Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. Obama has still not provided effective, lethal support to moderate rebels or threatened strikes on Assad’s air force if the brutal killings continue. As a result, the United States lacks the leverage and credibility to intimidate Assad. The administration plods along the diplomatic path, remaining a responsible contributor of humanitarian aid but lacking the strength to produce a solution on its own.

The one country that could make a decisive difference to stop the fighting is Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But Putin, aligned with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, prefers to run arms to the Syrian government and serve as Assad’s de facto lawyer in Geneva. Of course, Putin’s attention this week is elsewhere. His $50 billion campaign to rebrand Russia at the Sochi Olympics began with last Friday’s lavish opening ceremonies. But where was the Russian protest in the following days when Syrian women and children fleeing a besieged Homs were killed by Assad’s blistering attacks?

This glaring gap between what Putin wants us to see in Sochi and the reality of his callous disregard for Syrian lives is obvious. But even Putin reached a new low on the hypocrisy meter over the weekend when the Russian Foreign Ministry solemnly asked “all parties involved in armed conflicts” to adopt an “Olympic truce” for the period of the Sochi Games. Putin doesn’t want the world to be distracted by bloody Syrian atrocities while the Sochi games are underway. He will, without doubt, refuel Assad’s machine of hate and destruction as soon as they end.

Putin will never reach a “Srebrenica moment” on Syria. That leaves the rest of us to consider once more — how many more lives will be claimed by Syria’s ceaseless civil war before we are finally shamed to stop the killings?

Nicholas Burns is a professor of the practice of diplomacy and international politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter @rnicholasburns. 

Link to The Boston Globe, A Srebrenica Moment in Syria is below: 

https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/02/13/srebrenica-moment-syria/hfNxufLE2sbt4JHElU2sZP/story.html 

Links to my videos on YouTube, I talked about Syrian in the following videos:

GoldenSwallowtailButterfly (8:15 minutes)

Link to YouTube:  https://youtu.be/KuFOnDoUMJc 

WhiteCosmos&Bees (5:15 minutes)

Link to YouTube:https://youtu.be/jzOGumc40xM

Hanuman and the Thai dancer  Part 1 (10:33 minutes) 

Link to YouTube: : https://youtu.be/3DNLos7u1o8

Hanuman and the Thai Dancer  Part 2 (11:46)

Link to YouTube: https://youtu.be/KSiSeNhTD7o

Hanuman and the Thai Dancer Part 3 (11:11 minutes) 

Link to YouTube: https://youtu.be/tl5OSyCx63A

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