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Frightful AIDS Warning for India and China

Posted on 2002/7/7 9:45:02 ( 956 reads )


SPAIN, BARCELONA, July 5, 2002: The United Nations warned that at least 68 million people will die by 2020 unless there are "drastically expanded" efforts to prevent and treat HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Their portrait of human misery on a gigantic scale was released in anticipation of the 14th International AIDS Conference, set to open Sunday in Barcelona, Spain. "It is clear to me that we are only at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in historic terms," said Dr. Peter Piot, director of UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, which produced the study. Scientists fear that AIDS is expanding beyond Africa and is poised to explode in Asia, particularly in the most populous nations on Earth, India and China. In India, 3.9 million are already believed to be HIV positive. The UNAIDS report released Tuesday appeals for more action by governments and the private sector to provide easier access to drugs to fight climbing infection rates of HIV.

Puri Priests to Get Etiquette Lessons

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:49:02 ( 950 reads )


PURI, ORISSA, INDIA, July 6, 2002: Priests of the Jagannath temple in Puri will be taught lessons in etiquette, so that they learn how to deal with visitors to the temple. A Puri-based cultural outfit, Yuva Chetana Sangathana, has decided to launch the orientation program to put an end to the complaints against the priests, known as "pandas." The priests have consistently been accused of ill treating tourists and pilgrims: They try to extort money and humiliate the tourists when their demands are not met. Often, the pandas demand exorbitant sums as donation and when the visitors do not pay up, they are harassed and abused. At a meeting of the Yuva Chetana Sangathana, Gopiunath Mohanty, the Director of Culture of Orissa government, asserted that the government viewed such lapses on the part of the pandas seriously. He said the culture department would be glad to grant funds to any organization coming forward to teach the pandas the benefits of good behavior towards tourists. Incidentally, over the years the inflow of tourists to Puri and pilgrims to Puri temple has dwindled. The misbehavior of the Puri priests is cited as a major reason for the visitors' disgust, though pilgrims still number in the tens of thousands. Similar projects have worked with such unlikely candidates as New York City cab drivers.

Food Worth US$50,000 Destroyed in Puri temple

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:48:02 ( 910 reads )


PURI, ORISSA, INDIA, July 7, 2002: The biggest temple kitchen in the world has suffered a huge loss because one cook didn't observe the proper rituals. Authorities of the Jagannath temple of Puri in Orissa destroyed US$50,000 worth of cooked offerings for the presiding Deity, stating it had not been prepared according to prescribed rituals. The offering, or mahaprasada, consisting of 56 vegetarian dishes, is prepared daily at the Jagannath temple. Every day, nearly 25,000 devotees eat the food after it is offered to the deity. The food was destroyed after some priests complained to chief temple servitor Bhitarchhi Mohapatra that the temple cook, or supakar, had not observed some post-cooking rituals. This was an unprecedented event in the past thirty years! Since the preparation process did not follow the correct procedure, Mohapatra suggested that the entire food be destroyed (probably fed to the animals). This resulted in the suspension of all the rituals at the famous temple on Saturday. But the rituals started as usual on Sunday. During festivals, the temple kitchen, considered to be the biggest of its kind, prepares food for nearly 100,000 people.

Nepal King, Queen Move into Palace

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:47:02 ( 850 reads )


KATMANDU, NEPAL, July 5, 2002: After a year of mourning, Nepal's King Gyanendra has moved into the palace where his elder brother was assassinated in a royal family massacre in June, 2001. Gyanendra assumed the throne after his brother and eight members of the royal family were killed by Crown Prince Dipendra, who also shot himself and later died in the hospital. On Wednesday, the king, Queen Komal and their daughter, Princess Prerana, moved into the Narayanhiti Palace, the traditional home of the Shah dynasty rulers. Their home is guarded by more than 3,000 soldiers of the Royal Nepalese Army. Previously, Gyanendra and his family lived in their mansion in the capital, Katmandu, where Crown Prince Paras will continue to reside.

A Career in Theft -- Temple Gods Included!

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:46:02 ( 1074 reads )


BHUBANESWAR, INDIA, July 7, 2002: As a boy, he helped his father loot goods trains. When he grew up, he started looting gods! Prakash Patnaik, 24, who hit headlines as the brain behind the thefts in Lingaraj and Puri Jagannath temples of Orissa, has had police groping in the dark for years. Hailing from Kantapara village of Odgaon block in Nayagarh district, with his early childhood in Bhilai, Prakash reportedly joined his father, an electrician who, after losing his job, took to crime. The first temple theft Prakash committed was stealing of 57 kg of silver ornaments from the Mahamayya Temple in Bilaspur on January 6, 1998. The state police have claimed that they were able to unveil the mystery behind the theft cases in four temples in the state including Jagannath Temple at Puri and Lingaraj temple which occurred recently. Prakash has since been arrested, and reportedly confessed his guilt before the police.

Devadasis -- Servants of God

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:45:02 ( 1003 reads )


INDIA, June 29,2002: This report on the life of India's devadasis, which may not be a subject everyone wants to read about, begins: "Lakshmi must have been stunning once -- her high, prominent cheek bones and hazel eyes hint at beauty. But that was before she was ravaged by AIDS. Now her body is emaciated -- her skin shrivelled. Two hours after her death she looks nothing like the bright vivacious 20-year-old her mother remembers." Lakshmi was a victim of a once commonplace system, now outlawed, but still thriving in isolated parts of southern India. As a devadasis, or servants of God, she was dedicated at puberty to the Goddess Yellamma. Her mother, struggling with poverty, accepted the advice of the local priest. At the age of 12, Lakshmi became a concubine for a 60-year-old man. Like all devadasis, Lakshmi was in effect married to the deity, Yellamma. She was expected to carry out rituals at the village temple, and to sing and dance at festivals. She was invited to all the village's social functions, considered incomplete without a devadasi. Evil spirits are said to cling to them, sparing the guests. But a devadasi's principle occupation -- in the eyes of many -- is the flesh trade, though strictly speaking, there is a difference between a concubine and a prostitute. Many from poverty stricken families end up as prostitutes in Bombay after being lured by tales of easy money. Once in Bombay's infamous Kamatipura area the women live and work in rat-infested brothels. Here, drug addiction and AIDS are commonplace. Devadasis have a peculiar position among Kamatipura's underclass. They have a divine mandate for what they do, but they also have little choice. After independence the Indian government banned the practice, but there are still tens of thousands of devadasis.

Krishnas' Honesty In Scandal Could Prove Costly

Posted on 2002/7/6 9:44:02 ( 880 reads )


DALLAS, TEXAS, June 15, 2002: Windle Turley, a Dallas attorney, is known for two of the nation's most notorious lawsuits over priestly molestation. In 1997, Turley won what is still the largest jury verdict ever levied in the Catholic Church's 20-year-old sex abuse scandal, US$119,603.500. Three years later, he followed up with a $400 million lawsuit against the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, popularly known as the Hare Krishnas. It was dismissed in federal court, but Turley has refiled in state courts. According to Hare Krishna spokesman Anantanda Dasa, the organization did exactly what many have said the Catholic bishops should have done 15 years ago. But whereas the Catholics' secrecy may have helped them, the Hare Krishnas' honesty may have cost them, states this report. Long before Turley's lawsuit was filed, the Krishnas admitted they had a history of molestation and other physical abuse in their religious boarding schools. They set up an office of child protection and hired an outside investigator, scholar E. Burke Rochford, to study the treatment of children. That report was devastating, but the Hare Krishnas published it anyway. And it was like handing Turley a lawsuit on a silver platter, states this article. The report provided lots of material for Turley's suit. Turley says it's not his fault the Hare Krishnas hanged themselves with Rochford's report. The Krishna case alleges that dozens of children of Hare Krishna members were abused in the 1970s at church boarding schools in Texas, West Virginia and New York.

No Extension for Amarnath Pilgrimage

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:49:02 ( 939 reads )


JAMMU, INDIA, July 4, 2002: Requests for extending the duration of the annual Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage) had been received from many quarters, however Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Girish Chandra Saxena, announced Tuesday the yatra cannot be extended, citing security considerations. "We too would like to extend the yatra by a few days, but the present security environment does not permit us to do so. Maybe once the situation improves we would be able to take a decision in this regard," Saxena said. To minimize problems, yatra permits would be issued from all branches of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and tourism offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Kokata and Chennai. Saxena, who chairs the yatra board, said the state government has taken steps to ensure tight security during the month-long yatra that begins on July 20 for the expected 150,000 pilgrims. "We have already launched combing operations. We are sanitizing the route and also watching the heights. We would make if difficult for someone who is out to create mischief to sneak in," he said. Pilgrims have been killed in past years by Muslim militants.

Bhagavat Katha for Benefit of Crematorium Project

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:48:02 ( 1409 reads )


LEICESTER, ENGLAND, July 3, 2002: Bhaarat Welfare Trust announces that "Atma Shanti Katha," a special recitation of the Shrimad Bhagavat Purana by the renowned Pujya Sant Shri Rameshbhai Oza (Pujya Bhaishri) will be held from 12 till 21 July, 2002, at Rushey Mead Secondary School, Leicester. The Atma Shanti Katha aims to educate the Hindu public and the wider community of the various important samskaras (rites of passage) of the Hindu faith, especially the final funeral rite -- the Anteem Samskar and to raise awareness of the Shanti Dham project. Shanti Dham proposes to built a crematorium that will cater for ceremonies according to the Hindu, Sikh and Jain faiths. "It will be the first of its kind in Europe," says Mr. Kantibhai Unnadkat, Trustee of Bhaarat Welfare Trust, "The entire project will run on a non-profit making basis." With an estimated cost of US$4.5 million, the project is due for completion by summer of 2004. Many other saints will be present at the Katha. For further information, please e-mail: "source" above or call Bhavit Mehta in UK at 07944 371610.

Cotton Production - Organic or Genetically Engineered?

Posted on 2002/7/4 9:47:02 ( 1091 reads )

Source: Hindustan Times

INDIA, June 24, 2002: Controversy continues as Indian environmentalists warn that the risks associated with Bt cotton, a genetically engineered version, outweigh the benefits. A study done at the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences in China, has suggested that the use of Bt cotton could cause environmental damage, that Bt cotton fields have more pests, and that natural enemies of the bollworm are fewer in Bt cotton fields. Over a time period of 8 to 10 years, bollworm can also develop a resistance to Bt cotton. Farmers in India have proven that organic cotton cultivation is a viable alternative. Agriculture specialists have approached the ministers of environment, agriculture, science, and technology, asking that more studies be done promoting organic cotton growth and that illegal Bt cotton production in India be halted.

Nepal King Worships at Kali Temple in Kolkata

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:49:02 ( 971 reads )


KOLKATA, INDIA, June 28, 2002: Unmoved by strong protests from animal rights activists, Nepal's King Gyanendra offered animal sacrifice for the second consecutive day Friday when a goat was slaughtered after his prayers at the historic Kalighat temple here. The slaughter took place after the dignitaries had left the temple premises apparently in a move not to ruffle the feathers of animal activists. The royal couple, who arrived at Kalighat sharp at 9.15 am without their daughter, Princess Prerana Rajya Lakshmi, stayed inside the temple complex for about 15 minutes propitiating Goddess Kali. "The king and the queen, accompanied by Nepalese priest arrived at the temple and offered the puja in the traditional Hindu way. They also touched the diety's feet and prayed for peace in Nepal and India," Mukherjee said. As part of the puja, the royal couple offered the deity a red handloom sari, a matching chunri, glass bangles, flower garlands, joss-sticks and 12 varieties of fruits, Ajoy Banerjee executive member of the temple's Council of Sevaits (priests), said.

Study Shows that Spanking Has Long-Term Harmful Effects

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:48:02 ( 917 reads )


NEW YORK, U.S.A., June 25, 2002: Elizabeth Gershoff, a researcher at Columbia University's National Center for Children in Poverty, suggests to parents that if their children are acting poorly and they are going to spank them, consider an alternative. She says, " Think of something else to do -- leave the room, count to 10 and come back again." After five years studying 88 studies of corporal punishment since 1938, Gershoff has tracked short and long term effects of spanking on children. Trained as a psychologist, Gershoff concluded from her project that spanking could be correlated with negative behaviors such as aggression, anti-social behavior and mental health problems. In a society where it is illegal to hit an adult, a prisoner or animals, Gershoff finds it ironic that many Americans still feel it is okay to hit young vulnerable children. Even though spanking brings quick response and compliance by children, the long-term effects are detrimental. Children who are spanked still often do not understand right from wrong and many misbehave in the same manner when parents are not around. While the American Academy of Pediatrics has officially taken a stand against corporal punishment, the American Psychological Association still has members that feel that spanking that is not too severe or too frequent can be effective with defiant 2 to 6 year olds. Gershoff says, " Until researchers, clinicians, and parents can definitively demonstrate the presence of positive effects of corporal punishment, including effectiveness in halting future misbehavior, not just the absence of negative effects, we as psychologists can not responsibly recommend its use."

Why Isn't There More Good News in the News?

Posted on 2002/7/1 9:47:02 ( 929 reads )


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, June 19, 2002: Mark Morford, columnist for SFgate.com, reported that during dreary rush hour traffic on Highway 12, a large, black, gas guzzling SUV slowed down slightly to allow two small cars to merge into the lane ahead of it without the driver feeling the need to blare his horn or swerve angrily or pull out weaponry. In fact the driver smiled and shrugged and hummed and wasn't really bothered in the slightest and arrived to work exactly 1.3 seconds later than he would have, otherwise. Morford then stated, "The above non-event was reported nowhere, because if you are not really incredibly violently angry about something, you are not news." His editorial is a humorous and insightful essay on the fact that good happenings rarely make the news, and that maybe the world would be a better place if they did a bit more often.

U.S. Supermarkets Announce Guidelines for the Humane Treatment of Animals

Posted on 2002/6/30 9:49:02 ( 914 reads )


USA, June 28, 2002: The supermarket and fast-food industries unveiled their first comprehensive guidelines for the humane treatment of farm animals, recommending that farmers curtail such practices as starving hens to make them lay more eggs, housing pregnant pigs in crates so small they cannot fully lie down and slaughtering some animals before they are fully unconscious. The guidelines are voluntary and in some areas remain vague and contested by farm groups. But they mark a new recognition that farm animal welfare is a growing concern to many American consumers. "This is the first time that the retail industry has clearly said the issue of farm animal welfare is important to it, and that it wants to make sure these issues get serious attention," said Karen Brown, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, which represents most of the nation's supermarket owners. The recommendations were endorsed by seven leading animal welfare specialists who had been brought in by the trade associations to review the guidelines used by the pork, egg, chicken, dairy and beef industries for the treatment of farm animals. "It is historic that the entire grocery and chain restaurant industries have agreed that there are practices that are standard in the meat industry, yet clearly abusive of animals," said Bruce Friedrich, PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) director of vegan outreach. He said that the country needs animal welfare legislation, like some of the stringent laws enacted in Europe, but that the food industry is resisting strenuously.

Re-Exporting Hinduism to India

Posted on 2002/6/30 9:48:02 ( 927 reads )


LONDON, ENGLAND, June 30, 2002: Jay Lakhani of the Vivekananda Centre London writes to Hindu Press International that he has received this request from Dr. T. H. Chowdary, Information Technology Advisor for the Government of Andhra Pradesh (e-mail: thc@satyam.comIndia). "We are delighted that you are teaching Hinduism in London. You are doing a great job for Bharat and the world. Here in India in the name of 'secularism' teaching Mahabharata, Bhagavata or Ramayana is prohibited, not to talk of Hinduism. But Koran and Bible could be taught. We are de-Hinduizing Indians so that they are becoming prey to the proselytizers and also become resident-non-Indians. I will be grateful if you can send the syllabus that you have drawn up for the London schools where you are teaching Hinduism. A voluntary organization, Society for Peace and Integrated Rural Development (an NGO), is launching a movement to teach Indian culture, civilization and history and literature in colleges as an extra subject. We will be taking inspiration from you and shape the content from the syllabus you have brought. We would be also be grateful if you can write an article on the scheme of teaching Hinduism in the London Schools and other places in UK." Lakhani expressed surprise that Hindus in India would be appealing to Hindus in England for guidance on how to teach Hinduism.

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