Live Encounters Magazine January 2013

Live Encounters Magazine January 2013


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The God Particle ?

Here is a photograph I took of cows. In it I see the Universe. ..the serenity, beauty and the sacredness of family, of living in harmony.

There is so much talk about finding the God Particle.

What is this? Are we looking for ourselves?

Who we are and where we came from?

Why does this matter?

Why do we need a certified explanation of the origin of life?

So many questions and no answers…

Yesterday I watched the rise and fall of the Roman Empire; it felt like I was watching the evening news.

So if we continue to kill, torture and maim each other why do we search for this God Particle?

Is it to prove that Humankind is of the highest intelligence on earth because we figured out where we originate from?

Or, how the Universe came about?

If we do find the God Particle, then what?

The question will remain, where did this God particle come from?

Can our feeble minds warped by eons of abuse comprehend the immenseness of the Universe or Universes? Can we lay aside our hatred, our deviant ways and concentrate on the oneness of humanity?

Even if we do ‘find’ the God Particle, in essence, we have actually discovered nothing because we still remain savages in paradise.

The truth could be that we are the God Particle and that all we seem to do is to destroy this, ourselves.

Angst in a vestibule

Pic by Mark Ulyseas

Often there are days when awaking from deep slumber one is confronted with an unexplainable deep sense of loss that grinds the soul into a vestibule of angst. Today is that day for me. The sky, the earth and everything around me appears to be static and I can smell blood in my nostrils. Days like these come often. Probably something telling me that life is ebbing from my side and that one day I shall not awake to the sound of rain and the shrieks of the owls that nest in the church opposite my home.

I got behind the wheel and drove for hours not thinking, not feeling but trying desperately to vomit the angst. After a few hours on the road I stopped under an old gigantic banyan tree and got out of the car and walked around sniffing the moist air for hope and joy. Then from a large crevice in the tree trunk he came out staring at me with his warm brown eyes. He never barked. Just lay on his back at my feet and smiled comfortingly at me like a Divine Being. I stayed a while with this four legged critter patting his head and looking at the rice fields being washed in the rain

And then as if my life’s battery had been recharged I patted him on his head and thanked him for the company. Then I got into the car and drove home.

News from the frontline – CPJ highlights World Press Freedom Day

In a new report marking World Press Freedom Day, CPJ listed the world’s top 10 most censored countries, where dictatorial control over news coverage is achieved through a combination of propaganda, brute force, and sophisticated technology. Eritrea, North Korea, and Syria topped the list, underscoring the fact that domestic restrictions on information have broad implications for global geopolitical stability.

CPJ also participated in World Press Freedom Day activities around the globe, from Mexico City to Rabat . CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon spoke about combating impunity at an event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, which was hosted by the French and Greek missions to the U.N. The event marked the fifth anniversary of a U.N. resolution to protect journalists working in conflict zones and sought to assess journalist security and map a way forward. In a video message, Simon reflected on the resolution and its importance, and the need to prioritize journalist security.

Elisabeth Witchel, CPJ’s U.K.-based Impunity Campaign consultant, also participated in a panel discussion marking the opening of a photo exhibition in London. The event, which documented the fight for a free press in Mexico through photography, was developed by the U.K.-based aid agency CAFOD in collaboration with CPJ and The Guardian.

CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz participated in a video panel discussion, organized by the U.S. Embassy to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in which he spoke about the right to information and the pivotal role of free expression in the Sri Lankan reconciliation process.


Defending free speech in the Americas

CPJ has launched a new campaign, Critics Are Not Criminals , which focuses on governments’ use of criminal defamation laws to silence dissent in the Americas. In Ecuador, for example, more than 20 lawsuits against news outlets have prompted the press to self-censor “out of fear that local or national authorities will feel offended and go after journalists with costly lawsuits and fines,” the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas reports.

Critics Are Not Criminals will highlight the region’s abuses of press freedom through social media, including Twitter, with the hashtag #defamation. Join CPJ in spreading awareness of key legislation and press freedom cases by following the CPJ Americas program on Twitter, @cpjamericas, or visiting the campaign online.


Supporting journalist safety around the world 

CPJ partnered with Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism for a two-session panel, “Journalist Security On-Site and Online,” which drew more than 80 attendees and featured leading security experts such as Stuart Karle, Chief Operating Officer of Thomson Reuters, and Carolyn Cole of the Los Angeles Times, and digital experts such as Chris Soghoian, a privacy activist working as an Open Society Fellow, and Danny O’Brien, CPJ’s Internet advocacy coordinator.

CPJ research shows that governments have become sophisticated at putting journalists under online surveillance and committing assaults against them. In direct response to this trend, the experts at the panel highlighted aspects of CPJ’s Journalist Security Guide, released April 26, and described some of the precautions that journalists should take while reporting around the world.

Frank Smyth, CPJ’s security adviser, also participated in a journalist security discussion at London’s Frontline Club, where reporters, editors, and photographers discussed the security risks they face in the field—especially when working as freelancers.

CPJ’s Journalist Security Guide is available online in Arabic, English, Spanish, and French, and is also available for download on iBook and e-reader.


Introducing CPJ Debrief: A discussion series with frontline journalists

CPJ kicked off a new event series in New York with Jeffrey Gettleman , East Africa bureau chief for The New York Times and winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. The event drew a capacity crowd to The Half King, a local pub established by journalists Sebastian Junger, Scott Anderson, and Nanette Burstein.

Gettleman recounted his experiences reporting in Somalia, Africa’s deadliest country for the press, according to CPJ research. With a slideshow produced by the Times providing a vivid visual background, he spoke about the emotional costs of covering the 2011 famine, tentative prospects for securing stability in the country after decades of factional fighting, and ways to interview a Somali pirate without getting kidnapped. Forty-one journalists have been killed in Somalia over the past two decades, while dozens of local reporters have fled into exile, CPJ research shows.


As host of Eurovision, Azerbaijan must improve press freedom record

Once Azerbaijan was chosen as the host for this month’s Eurovision song contest, CPJ stepped up its calls for authorities to improve the country’s dismal press freedom record. Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia coordinator, and members of other free expression organizations participated in a workshop on freedom of the press in Azerbaijan, hosted by the European Broadcasting Union, and issued a joint letter detailing the country’s history of press freedom abuses and listing the journalists who languish in Azerbaijani jails.

The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, a coalition of free expression organizations including CPJ, also launched a website and profiles on Facebook and Twitter, which highlight the country’s long-standing record of free speech violations. In 2011 alone, CPJ documented attacks against six reporters and the obstruction of four others in the country.


Testifying on jailed journalists in Central Asia

Muzaffar Suleymanov, CPJ’s research associate for the Europe and Central Asia program, spoke earlier this month at a hearing on Europe’s political prisoners at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (the U.S. Helsinki Commission). In a testimony intended to get U.S. policies to focus on press freedom violations ongoing in the region, Suleymanov called on world leaders to “hold Central Asian regimes responsible for denying global access to information by throwing critical reporters behind bars.”

Uzbekistan , sixth on CPJ’s Most Censored list, is currently holding Muhammad Bekjanov and Yusuf Ruzimuradov, two journalists who, imprisoned since 1999, have been jailed longer than any other reporter worldwide, according to CPJ research. In Kyrgyzstan, journalist Azimjon Askarov has received a life sentence on fabricated charges, all in retaliation for his reporting.


CPJ helps Somali journalist win freedom

When a radio director in Puntland was arrested in March for his coverage of clashes between government officials and Al-Shabaab militants, CPJ alerted the international community to the news and met with Puntland officials on two occasions to advocate for his release. The director, Awke Abdullahi, who spent 57 days in prison, was released in May.

Prior to Abdullahi’s arrest, police officers had raided his station, Voice of Peace, shut down the office, and confiscated materials. CPJ has documented the efforts of Puntland security forces to prevent journalists from reporting on unrest in the region.


In Togo, police return journalists’ equipment 

The equipment of two journalists, which had been seized by Lomé police in April, was returned this month after CPJ contacted government officials about the confiscation. In an email thanking CPJ, Noel Kokou Tadegnon said the Togolese officials had apologized to them and promised to avoid confiscations and assaults on journalists in the future.

Tadegnon and Alli were attacked while covering an anti-government march on Togo’s Independence Day celebration.


Upcoming events

CPJ is partnering with Internews in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on journalist security on June 13. The panel will feature Frank Smyth and Danny O’Brien, the authors of CPJ’s Journalist Security Guide, along with Washington Post senior correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran. To RSVP for the event, visit

On June 20, World Refugee Day, CPJ will release its 2012 Journalists in Exile report, which highlights countries where journalists are forced to flee persecution for their reporting. In its 2011 report, CPJ found that nearly 70 journalists had fled their countries in the past 12 months, with imprisonment, or the threat of it, being the leading cause of their exile.

CPJ is collaborating with Human Rights Watch and screening three films at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, from June 14 through 23. The films, Words of Wisdom , Silenced Voices, and Reportero, will premiere at Lincoln Center. Carlos Lauría, CPJ Senior Americas Program Coordinator, will be participating in a panel discussion for the June 23 showing of Reportero with filmmaker Bernardo Ruiz and Sergio Haro, the film’s subject.

Tickets are on sale to the public. Please bring a printout of this email to the box office to redeem an online order or to purchase your discounted tickets for the screening. The online discount is available for Reportero, Silenced Voices, and Words of Wisdom by selecting “Affiliate” from the ticket menu. Limit is two discount tickets per person, and is subject to availability.


Blog highlights

Nigerian journalists obstructed on world press freedom day

China ducks questions about Al-Jazeera expulsion

Most censored nations each distort the Net in own way

Don’t get your sources in Syria killed

UK set for historic libel reform

China not most censored, but may be most ambitious

We have lost the humane in human – powdered dead baby parts in capsules!

Here is a news report that is stomach churning…

Seoul:  South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies, which some people believe can cure disease, officials said on Monday.

The capsules were made in north-eastern China from babies whose bodies were chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, the Korea Customs Service said.

Customs officials refused to say where the dead babies came from or who made the capsules, citing possible diplomatic friction with Beijing. Chinese officials ordered an investigation into the production of drugs made from dead foetuses or new-borns last year.


On the cyberstand – Live Encounters Magazine December 2011 Special Edition!


Tribal India – On the edge of survival
Randhir Khare

2011 – Another year of living foolishly?
Mark Ulyseas

The Belo Monte Dam and a call for the Clean Renewable Energy in Brazil
Atossa Soltani & Caroline Bennett, Amazonwatch

Chernobyl, a marriage proposal and climbing Mount Kinabalu
Carmen Roberts, Fast Track BBC

Eichmann To Al-Bis: Israel’s Revolving Door?
Natalie Wood

The Truth in Mustard
Terry McDonagh

Photo Gallery
Jill Gocher

Generation Expat
Sue Healy

Bad Medicine
Dr. Mukesh Batra

A poem for John di Martino
John Chester Lewis

The Road to 2012
Vasumi Zjikaa

Eye on the Amazon: People Power Unites!

Amazon Watch
November 2011

Dear Mark,

It’s an exciting time to be on the planet, working for a more just and harmonious world. As we enter the season of “Thanksgiving,” it’s important to reflect on all the positive change brought about by peoples’ movements in 2011: From the indigenous movement in Bolivia where a 65-day march forced the cancellation of a new road in the rainforest, to the environmental movement that forced the delay of the Keystone XL pipeline, to the local communities of the Xingu River in Brazil who briefly occupied the Belo Monte Dam site, to the occupy movement around the world inspired by the movement for an Arab Spring, it continues to be an amazing year of hopeful change.

The planetary challenges we face require rapid and fundamental shifts that can only happen by joining together a diverse mosaic of movements. We invite you to join Amazon Watch in standing with the indigenous peoples movement in critical battles for justice and ecological balance. As we move into the holiday season, we ask you to consider a year-end donation and to explore other ways you can support our work, while making green energy and financial choices at the same time.

For the Earth and Future Generations,

Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Atossa Soltani
Executive Director

Occupy Belo Monte!

Occupy Belo Monte!

Brazil Campaigner Christian Poirier sends this dispatch from the field after witnessing a daring occupation of the massive Belo Monte Dam work camp and Trans-Amazon highway led by a coalition of indigenous peoples, local farmers, fisher folk, and members of social movements. On October 27th, protests paralyzed work on a portion of the dam complex, sending a strong signal that there is widespread resistance to the federal government’s plans to bulldoze the Xingu River and their rights.


Host a Message from Pandora House Party!

Host a Message from Pandora
House Party!

In solidarity with the Xingu Alive Forever Movement (MXVPS) in the Brazilian Amazon, Amazon Watch is organizing international house parties to support the battle to defend the Xingu River and the rights of local communities. We invite you to join us to harness the power of this critical moment to support those fighting to stop the Belo Monte Dam! Join caring people from around the world in organizingA Message from Pandora house party fundraiser to help raise critical funds and awareness. We’ll provide videos and all you need to host an event in a convenient tool kit.


18 Years of Fighting Chevron

18 Years of Fighting Chevron

This month marks 18 years since the start of the landmark legal battle to hold Chevron (formerly Texaco) accountable for nearly 50 years of reckless pump and dump oil operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The company’s operations led to abandoned oil pits still littered throughout the rainforest, billions of gallons of toxic wastewater dumped into rivers and streams, noxious flaring gases rising into the sky, towering black plumes of smoke from burning crude, and a public health crisis racking indigenous and mestizo farmer communities, including cancer, spontaneous miscarriages, and birth defects. In recognition of 18 years of fighting for justice, the Cofán recorded this heartfelt song for you.


A Tribute to our Indigenous Partners

A Tribute to our Indigenous Partners

Delve into the lives of the indigenous rainforest guardians who call the Amazon their home and who know the forests intimately in this three-part series, The Privilege of Working with Indigenous Rainforest Guardians. Amazon Watch volunteer Hank Edson illuminates the critical importance of making the foundation of our activism a strong partnership with the indigenous peoples who still retain an authentic, sustainable connection to the ecosystems we hope to save, nurture and preserve.


Bolivian Indigenous March a Success

Bolivian Indigenous March a Success

In response to indigenous protests, last month Bolivian President Evo Morales canceled a controversial road project slated to slice through the pristine TIPNIS rainforest reserve. The road’s cancellation illustrates the growing power of indigenous movements on the continent. Over the course of 65 days, marchers braved cold, fatigue and even violent police repression. Undeterred, they garnered increasing national and international support as they walked to the country’s capital La Paz and met with President Morales, eventually winning the cancellation of the road.


Whose God is it anyway?

“I don’t think they (people) are aggressive, I think they are possessive about their religion. That’s why problems occur” – Mrs. Sarah Cohen, speaking to Mark Ulyseas, in Live Encounters.

Is my God greater than your God?
Is my religion better than yours?
And what about atheists…God bless their souls.
And will the Mayan Calendar prove everyone wrong on December 21, 2012?

Does our reaction to words spoken by others about our beliefs, our God, tell us who we are?
Is our reaction merely the ego that resides in us like a recoiling snake ready to strike when confronted with presupposed hatred and bigotry?
Does it really matter what people say or more importantly not say about our religion?

Buddha was a Hindu.

Christ was a Jew.

So why does it make a difference nowadays? Why is there a continuing fragmentation of beliefs morphing into territorial fights for spirituality?

And why are men of the cloth – priests, gurus and “spiritual leaders” exempt from this criticism? Are they not human too?

Why do believers in a faith become filled with anger, defensive and illogical when their faith is questioned?

Is this the ego speaking?

The ego that makes every human being unique.
The ego that fills us with pride, which is sometimes misplaced.
Could it be that the ego in most cases is untrained and therefore lashes out at anything that it perceives threatens its makeshift world of spiritual beliefs?

If people descend into argument and abrasive conversation about someone’s point of belief, why do we respond thereby giving credence to a cretin whose sole aim is to challenge any which way a spiritual belief. Is it so important to confront such people? Or is it wise to listen to their words and contemplate its meaning “before” dismissing them not in anger but in love.

The truth is – If God is with us, who can be against us?
If we have such faith we do not need to joust with those of little faith.
We probably do this because our ego is immature and has yet to find its level.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om