Monthly Archives: February 2013

Coding ….

Learn about a new “superpower” that isn’t being taught in in 90% of US schools. 

Starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, will.i.am, Chris Bosh, Jack Dorsey, Tony Hsieh, Drew Houston, Gabe Newell, Ruchi Sanghvi, Elena Silenok, Vanessa Hurst, and Hadi Partovi. Directed by Lesley Chilcott.

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Stéphane Hessel – R.I.P.

Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95

Hessel, resistance fighter, diplomat, writer of Time for Outrage! and co-author of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, dies.

Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries

Stéphane Hessel, whose pamphlet Indignez-Vous! sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. The French president, François Hollande, said of Hessel: ‘He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.’ Photograph: Boris Horvat/AFP/Getty

The story of the French author Stéphane Hessel’s long and extraordinary life reads like a Boy’s Own adventure.

From his childhood in Berlin and then Paris, where he was brought up by his writer and translator father, journalist mother and her lover in an unusual ménage à trois, to his worldwide celebrity at the age of 93, when a political pamphlet he wrote became a bestselling publishing sensation and inspired global protest and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

And then there was everything in between: his escape from two Nazi concentration camps where he had been tortured and sentenced to death, his escapades with the French resistance and his hand in drawing up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

Sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday, just a week after his last big interview was published, Hessel’s long and extraordinary life came to an end. He was 95 years old, but as one French magazine remarked: “Stéphane Hessel, dead? It’s hard to believe. He seemed to have become eternal, the grand and handsome old man.”

Le Point magazine added that the man with an “old-fashioned politeness and elegance from another age” had “danced” with the best part of a century.

“When one is received by the world in television studios, when one writes bestsellers, when one has baptised an international mobilisation movement, does one still die?” the magazine asked.

In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage.

The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor.

Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the “international dictatorship of the financial markets” to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.

His wife, Christiane Hessel-Chabry, told France’s AFP news agency on Wednesday, that the writer had died overnight. No other details were given.

The French president, François Hollande, said Hessel was an “a huge figure whose exceptional life was devoted to the defence of human dignity”.

“It was in pursuit of his values that he engaged in the resistance,” he added, concluding: “He leaves us a lesson, which is to never accept any injustice.”

The French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, also paid tribute to Hessel, whom he described as “a man who was engaged” and who was the incarnation of the “resistance spirit”.

“For all generations he was a source of inspiration, but also a reference. At 95 years, he epitomised the faith in the future of a new century,” Ayrault said.

As a committed European and supporter of the left, he was behind the Socialist François Hollande’s successful presidential election bid last year. On Wednesday after news of his death broke, French politicians lined up to express their admiration, respect and sadness.

Hessel was born into a Jewish family in Berlin in 1917, the son of a journalist and a writer. The family moved to France when Hessel was eight and he took French nationality in the late 1930s, having passed his baccalauréat at the young age of 15.

His parents’ unusual living arrangement was said to have inspired the celebrated François Truffaut film Jules et Jim.

The young Hessel refused to follow Marshal Philippe Pétain’s collaborationist Vichy government and fled to London, where he joined General Charles de Gaulle’s resistance fighters. As a prominent figure in the resistance, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps, where he suffered waterboarding torture. He escaped being executed at Buchenwald by exchanging identities with a prisoner who had died of typhus, and later escaped from Dora during a transfer to the Bergen-Belsen death camp. After fleeing his German guards, he met advancing American troops.

After the war, he worked with the US first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, in editing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection.

During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.

“The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint,” Hessel said in an interview a year ago.

“This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but to change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

A Pep Talk from Kid President to You

We all need a little encouragement every now and then. Kid President, knowing this, has put together a video you can play each morning as you wake up or to share with your friend who needs a kick in the right direction. Take a moment and spread some encouragement. “It’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.” 

Quote

Dalai Lama,life,learning,peace,meditation,children, Inspirational Quotes, Pictures,images,sms, and Motivational Thoughts.‎”If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”  ~ Dalai Lama

The WordPress.com Blog

I’ve officially decided that any day with three theme launches occurring at the same time will henceforth no longer be known as Theme Day but Threeme Day! Yes, I took it there. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy threese — I mean these — latest additions to our ever-growing collection of themes on WordPress.com.

First up is Blocco, by Press75.

The posts on home and archive pages in Blocco are displayed in blocks, making it super-easy to navigate your blog and even more interesting to look at. The theme was designed specifically with blogging in mind, but it works perfectly for photos and video as well.

Blocco is a premium upgrade for your blog; read more about its features on the Theme Showcase or dive right into previewing it on your blog from Appearance → Themes.

Our second treat for you today is Crafty, a multipurpose blogging theme…

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Morocco’s successful post Arab Spring drive to increase tourism

William Bauer

Morocco offers a seamless, exciting and unforgettable experience of a cultural crossroads between East and West. Now, the country is aiming for more than just European tourists, writes William Bauer.

Morocco’s image has changed dramatically in the past fifty years. Gone are the days of it being the country of choice for washed out and kif smoking hippies from Europe and North America. Quasi-forgotten also, is the epoch of Western intellectuals reclining in atmospheric Moroccan cities such as Tangiers – the city of George Eliott, Truman Capote and William Burroughs.

Today, Morocco is the home of the budget holiday; the meeting point of Europe and North Africa; and a destination de rigeur for the legions of Easy Jet-ers and Ryan Air groupies who flock to the country. Morocco has now ditched its previously shady and somewhat loucheimage of a drug and wild party European hinterland. Now it is reincaranated as a modern, clean and family friendly place where hedonism is encouraged but excess is not. So successful has this gradual rebranding exercise been that 2012 is estimated to bring $8 billion into the country through tourism alone. Not bad for a country in a region still reeling from the economic consequences of the Arab spring.

It should come as no surprise therefore that Morocco is seeking to increase this highly lucrative revenue stream, upgrading it to attract more and more people from abroad. But there’s been a change in focus. The days of exclusively trying to appeal to Europe are over; rather Morocco is now tapping into the lucrative Middle Eastern and Far East markets. Indeed, with the current economic crisis gripping the Euro zone, many people there are staying home or holidaying within the geographical confines of Europe. However, the same cannot be said for other – more economically buoyant countries – such as those from the Arabian Gulf and further afield in the East.

An upsurge in visitors from East rather than West is governed by two main factors. Firstly, Morocco is a destination that is relatively quick and easy to access on a par with Western Europe in terms of travel time, and of course much cheaper. Secondly – and this only really applies to those coming from the MENA region itself – Morocco is a crossroads in terms of culture, it hosts Arab, Berber and elements of European culture in a setting that is relaxed and secure. Thus, when compared to other destinations within the Middle East such as Lebanon or Egypt, Morocco is a safe, fun, liberal and vibrant but not wholly alien destination for travelers and tourists of Middle East extraction.

Evidently Morocco has a lot to offer the Eastern traveler; but in this era of austerity in Europe, what does Morocco have to offer the perpetually cash-strapped Euro backpacker or perennially budget conscious family? Well, it offers a seamless, exciting and unforgettable experience of a cultural crossroads between East and West, Europe and Africa; something quintessentially North African.

There is a plethora of choice in terms of activities to do whilst in the country. For those whose love of history and culture trumps all, then the souks of Marrakesh and the old city of Fez are not to miss. Others might want to surf at Essaouria on the Atlantic coast, where the waves are legendary and the atmosphere highly convivial. For something different, a visit to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla is highly recommended. Finally, for the truly adventurous, a ride into the desert at Erg Cherbi is unbeatable in terms of the total silence that reigns over the only portion of the Sahara desert in Morocco, allowing ample time for reflection.

It is safe to say that with tourism in Morocco reaching ever greater numbers, the country has trodden the path between short term gain and long term investment well. It has chosen to increase its drive to attract more people to visit the Kingdom but has also sought to maintain its unique culture as one that lives in the streets and houses of ordinary Moroccans, not just in museums or tourist centered places. However, Morocco’s continued success and determination to build a sustainable tourist industry is also one subject to prevailing winds of political change currently blowing throughout the region and beyond.

So far the Kingdom has been spared any great turbulence and demands for thorough reform. This can and might yet change. In that case Morocco would have the metaphorical magical carpet of tourism yanked from under them as fast as one can say tagine. Ensuring the competing political and economic interests are met, is key to continuing success in the Morocco tourist industry; and to the prosperity of Moroccans across the nation whose livelihoods and fortunes depend on those budget carriers and flocks of sun and fun seekers.

Source: yourmiddleeast.com

Rosa Parks – shine on, shine on!

sitandstand

On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks, a 42-year-old African American woman who worked as a seamstress, boarded this Montgomery City bus to go home from work. On this bus on that day, Rosa Parks initiated a new era in the American quest for freedom and equality.

She sat near the middle of the bus, just behind the 10 seats reserved for whites. Soon all of the seats in the bus were filled. When a white man entered the bus, the driver (following the standard practice of segregation) insisted that all four blacks sitting just behind the white section give up their seats so that the man could sit there. Mrs. Parks, who was an active member of the local NAACP, quietly refused to give up her seat.

Her action was spontaneous and not pre-meditated, although her previous civil rights involvement and strong sense of justice were obvious influences. “When I made that decision,” she said later, “I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.”

She was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation, known as “Jim Crow laws.” Mrs. Parks appealed her conviction and thus formally challenged the legality of segregation.

At the same time, local civil rights activists initiated a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. In cities across the South, segregated bus companies were daily reminders of the inequities of American society. Since African Americans made up about 75 percent of the riders in Montgomery, the boycott posed a serious economic threat to the company and a social threat to white rule in the city.

A group named the Montgomery Improvement Association, composed of local activists and ministers, organized the boycott. As their leader, they chose a young Baptist minister who was new to Montgomery: Martin Luther King, Jr. Sparked by Mrs. Parks’ action, the boycott lasted 381 days, into December 1956 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the segregation law was unconstitutional and the Montgomery buses were integrated. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was the beginning of a revolutionary era of non-violent mass protests in support of civil rights in the United States.

It was not just an accident that the civil rights movement began on a city bus. In a famous 1896 case involving a black man on a train, Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court enunciated the “separate but equal” rationale for Jim Crow. Of course, facilities and treatment were never equal.

Under Jim Crow customs and laws, it was relatively easy to separate the races in every area of life except transportation. Bus and train companies couldn’t afford separate cars and so blacks and whites had to occupy the same space.

Thus, transportation was one the most volatile arenas for race relations in the South. Mrs. Parks remembers going to elementary school in Pine Level, Alabama, where buses took white kids to the new school but black kids had to walk to their school.

“I’d see the bus pass every day,” she said. “But to me, that was a way of life; we had no choice but to accept what was the custom. The bus was among the first ways I realized there was a black world and a white world” (emphasis added).

Montgomery’s Jim Crow customs were particularly harsh and gave bus drivers great latitude in making decisions on where people could sit. The law even gave bus drivers the authority to carry guns to enforce their edicts. Mrs. Parks’ attorney Fred Gray remembered, “Virtually every African-American person in Montgomery had some negative experience with the buses. But we had no choice. We had to use the buses for transportation.”

Civil rights advocates had outlawed Jim Crow in interstate train travel, and blacks in several Southern cities attacked the practice of segregated See the bus specificationsbus systems. There had been a bus boycott in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1953, but black leaders compromised before making real gains. Joann Robinson, a black university professor and activist in Montgomery, had suggested the idea of a bus boycott months before the Parks arrest.

Two other women had been arrested on buses in Montgomery before Parks and were considered by black leaders as potential clients for challenging the law. However, both were rejected because black leaders felt they would not gain white support. When she heard that the well-respected Rosa Parks had been arrested, one Montgomery African American woman exclaimed, “They’ve messed with the wrong one now.”

In the South, city buses were lightning rods for civil rights activists. It took someone with the courage and character of Rosa Parks to strike with lightning. And it required the commitment of the entire African American community to fan the flames ignited by that lightning into the fires of the civil rights revolution.