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When Elephants Make Music
Posted on 2001/3/4 22:47:02 ( 880 reads )


Source: New York Times





LAMPANG, THAILAND, December 16, 2000: Elephants are natural candidates for music-making! Their hearing is much keener than their sight, and they employ a vast range of vocalizations, many of which are heard on their recently released debut CD, by the New York-based Mulatta Records. The CD is a brainchild of Richard Lair, an American expatriate who has worked with elephants for 23 years and written an encyclopedic United Nations study of Asia's captive elephants, and David Sulzer, a neurologist who heads Columbia University's Sulzer Laboratory and works as a composer and producer under the name Dave Soldier. Together they organized six young pachyderm at the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, near the town of Lampang, where they trained the Thai Elephant Orchestra members to play sturdier versions of traditional Thai instruments -- slit drums, a gong hammered from a sawmill blade, a diddly-bow bass and xylophone-like renats -- and a thundersheet and harmonicas. Sulzer said he and Lair merely showed the elephants how to make the sounds, cued them to start and stop, and let them play as they wished. After five practice sessions, they started recording. Mr. Sulzer admits he was skeptical at first. "I thought we would just train elephants to hit something, and I would tape that and have to paste it together with other things." Instead, he recorded the performances intact, without overdubbing. The players improvise distinct meters and melodic lines, and vary and repeat them. The results are both meditative and deliberate. For Lair, it's simply a matter of interpretation, as in all art: "Just as there are a lot things they don't understand about our music, I am sure there are things we will never understand about theirs." The proceeds from the CD will go to a milk bank for orphaned elephants and a school to improve mahout training. One trainer also said, "It's at least as good as New Age Music."




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Taliban Destroys Ancient Buddhas
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:49:02 ( 767 reads )


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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, March 3, 2001: Troops from the Taliban religious militia, under orders from their supreme commander, Mullah Mohammed Omar, used explosives and rockets Saturday to destroy two towering statues of Buddha in Bamiyan. Already two-thirds of the country's statues have been eliminated. All the rest will be reduced to rubble on Sunday and Monday, despite worldwide pleas to save the priceless treasures. "The head and legs of the Buddha statues were destroyed yesterday,'' said Taliban Information Minister Quadratullah Jamal. "Our soldiers are working hard to demolish their remaining parts." Most of the country's ancient Buddhist relics, fragments of Afghanistan's pre-Islamic past, were destroyed, Jamal said. It is a testament to the Taliban's arsenal that they are able to expend a so much ammunition in the endeavor, without apparently lessening their military capability. Several related articles follow.




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VHP Vows Retaliation
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:48:02 ( 842 reads )


Source: Times of India





KABUL, AFGHANISTAN,March 2, 2001: The Taliban's destruction of statues has evoked a strong response in India, with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) threatening suitable "reaction" in communally sensitive Ajmer town of Rajasthan if they do not stop "insulting" Rajput warrior Prithviraj Chauhan's memorial in Ghazni. "The destruction of Bamiyan statues is an insult to Buddhism," VHP senior vice-president Acharya Giriraj Kishore added. Asked what was meant by "reaction," Bajrang Dal leader Surendra Jain said, "you never know how people react."




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India Condemns Statue Destruction
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:47:02 ( 815 reads )


Source: The Hindu





NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 2, 2001: In a unanimous resolution adopted by both Houses of Parliament, India condemned "in the strongest possible terms'' the Taliban's decision to destroy the two 2,000- year-old Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The Parliament also offered to bring these monuments to India at its own cost. The Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, Dr. Najma Heptulla, termed it the "blackest day in history'' and said the act was being perpetuated by "so-called protectors of Islam.''




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Experts Claim Taliban Misunderstand Islam
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:46:02 ( 831 reads )


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NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 5, 2001: The tradition of "but shikani" (idol or statue-breaking) practiced by Arab marauders in their quest to rule the Indian subcontinent, was done on the plea that idol or religious object worshipping was un-Islamic. One thousand years later, this intolerance has resurfaced, justifying the destruction of all statues of the Buddha in Afghanistan. Historian and expert on the Islamic period Satish Chandra, says under Islamic law, "old or dead monuments were not to be destroyed.'' An embarrassed Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the highest platform of the Muslim world, urged the Taliban on Saturday to abandon its decision to destroy the country's pre-Islamic statues.




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Meteorite May Show Ancient Life On Mars
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:45:02 ( 804 reads )


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WASHINGTON, February 26, 2001: A controversial finding that a meteorite from Mars might contain evidence of life has been given added credence by the discovery of a magnetic crystal that researchers say could have been made only by a microbe. Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston say that a crystallized magnetic mineral, called magnetite, found in a Martian meteorite is similar to crystals formed on Earth by bacteria. The new study supports the original claim and may even suggest that there is still microscopic life on Mars.




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Correction on Tirumantiram Website
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:44:02 ( 970 reads )


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March 4, 2001: The Tirumantiram scripture is not yet available at http://www.angelfire.com/art/ thirumanthirarsearch. However, the English text can be found at the above site, along with several other ancient Tamil scriptures.




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Correction on Afghanistan Petition
Posted on 2001/3/3 22:43:02 ( 801 reads )


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March 4, 2001: According to information available at the above web site, the petition on the treatment of women in Afghanistan, while largely factual, is useless. The site says, "The problem with this petition is that the person who started the petition was not prepared for the consequences. A few weeks after the petition was started, her e-mail account was flooded with hundreds of thousands of messages. Because of this, her account was closed and all messages were discarded." So the petition continues to travel through the Internet, but to no purpose. This is, the site explains, always the case with any form of chain letter.




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Afghanistan Destroying All Statues
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:49:02 ( 829 reads )


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KABUL, AFGHANISTAN, March 1, 2001: Despite international outrage, Taliban troops are destroying all statues including two 5th-century statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside in Bamiyan, which they say are contrary to Islam, in the capital of Kabul as well as in other cities, said Qadradullah Jamal, Taliban's information minister. "All the statues all over the country will be destroyed,'' he said. Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, said the tenets of Islam forbids images, such as paintings and pictures. There are an estimated 6,000 pieces of Buddhist art in the Kabul Museum. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan pled for the preservation of the art in "the spirit of tolerance enjoined upon by Islam as well as respect for international sentiment in this regard." The Russian and German governments joined in the criticism but Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil said the Islamic militia was unmoved by international concern. The Afghan leaders are now saying they are destroying the statues in response to the 1994 destruction of Babri Masjid by Hindus in India. However, this explanation appears to be an afterthought.




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New Holistic Village Proposed In Kerala
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:48:02 ( 906 reads )


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KERALA, INDIA, February 25, 2001: Setting aside a 300-acre setting with natural flora and fauna in northern Kerala, the Kerala State Industrial Development has collaborated with Mata Amrithanandamayi to build a holistic health village on the land. Amma's devotees from all over the world, many of them medical specialists, already spend annual retreats in Kerala. The centre would use their talents to provide quality treatment, research, education and training in alternative medical systems such as ayurveda, homeopathy, naturopathy, aromatherapy and more. After the initial investment the village is expected to generate its own revenues to keep it operational.




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Yoga Works Body, Soothes The Mind
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:47:02 ( 856 reads )


Source: The Washington Times





WASHINGTON, D.C., February 25, 2001: From suburban recreation rooms to the halls of justice, people in the Washington area are experiencing the benefits of a full-body workout with yoga while calming their minds. Even Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, according to this report, asked that yoga be taught at the court. Kamakshi Hart, founder of the Dancing Heart Center for Yoga and the Art of Living on Capitol Hill, got a call from Justice O'Connor last year. Ms. Hart started last March to teach one class a week for the justice and 15 others at the court.Yoga Journal Editor in Chief Kathryn Arnold says 27 types of yoga are being taught in the United States. "What's interesting, as it becomes more popular, we are adapting it to Western sensibilities and Western lifestyle," she says.




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14th Century Kashmiri Poetess Celebrated
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:46:02 ( 935 reads )


Source: Hinduism Today





NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 1, 2001: Dr. Karan Singh, Ms. Eva T. Dafarances, wife of Greece Ambassador and other leading scholars presented an evening on Kashmir mysticism February 11 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, reports Virendra Qazi. The highlight of the evening was the life and times of 14th century mystic poetess of Kashmir, Laleshwari. In the beginning great tributes were paid to late Swami Lakshmanju, the great authority on Kashmir Saivism, who combined profound knowledge with profound experience. Dr. Karan Singh gave an moving recital of a famous poem by Sri Aurobindo.




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New Website on Tamil Tirumantiram Announced
Posted on 2001/2/28 22:45:02 ( 960 reads )


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March 1, 2001: The ancient Tamil scripture, Tirumantiram, is now available in Tamil and English translation at "source" above. It has been posted by Sathiyavel Murugan, a devotee of Thiruperumthiru Somasundara Paramachariya Swamigal, the late pontiff of Madurai Aadheenam, India.




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Wife Torture Bill Spooks Men
Posted on 2001/2/27 22:49:02 ( 936 reads )


Source: The Telegraph





NEW DELHI, INDIA, February 25, 2001: Male pressure groups, unhappy with the "expansive" definition of domestic violence including a clause on mental torture in the proposed bill, the Indian government is planning to bring about, are lobbying against it. But women's and lawyers' organizations have dug in their heels and are seeking to put an end to both physical and mental aggression against women. It is believed that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, too, initially found the definition a bit far-reaching, but the National Commission for Women and the Lawyers' Collective, are insisting on expanding the scope of the Domestic Violence Bill. "The main question is what affects the mental peace of women?" asked Sonjoy Ghosh of the Lawyers' Collective. Men, uneasy with the "liberal" definition of violence are raising questions about the wisdom of reining in their "freedom of expression." The draft bill drawn up by the Lawyers' Collective states: "Verbal and mental abuse includes insults, ridicule, humiliation, name-calling, especially with regard to women who do not have a child or particularly a male child." "The Domestic Violence Bill will be a civil and not a criminal law and the difference will be significant," added Ghosh. The new bill will order physical protection of the woman, give her the right of residence and ensure financial compensation.




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UK Set To Ban Terrorist Groups, Including LTTE
Posted on 2001/2/27 22:48:02 ( 816 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, February 28, 2001: A total of 21 international organizations, recommended for proscription under the new Terrorism Act 2000, are listed in a draft Order laid before Parliament today by the Home Secretary Jack Straw. The draft Order will be subject to debates in and approval by both Houses of Parliament. Once approved, it will automatically go into effect. Straw said, "Proscription is an important power in the new Act - the UK has no intention of becoming a base for terrorists and their supporters, nor to see it flourish abroad, and we will take every legal action at our disposal to prevent this." Included in the list are 14 Muslim organizations, three of them active in Kashmir including Harakat Mujahideen, Jaish e Mohammed, and Lashkar e Tayyaba. There are two Sikh organizations, also active in India, Babbar Khalsa and International Sikh Youth Federation. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is listed, and its listing is so far attracting the most attention in the UK press. The law gives police powers to seize assets and arrest those who use violence or the threat of it "for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause." Even fund-raising or openly supporting a banned organization could lead to arrest.




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