Articles of Interest, March 7th, 2008

Review: ‘10,000 BC’ should be left to rot

Story Highlights

  • AP: “10,000 BC” is dumber than old rocks
  • Film follows a man battling animals, others to rescue his love
  • Occasional CGI thrills undercut by silly story, some sloppy visuals

(AP) — A mix of vast CGI spectacle and small, silly moments, the prehistoric saga “10,000 BC” is an epic in name only.

10,000 BC

Steven Strait leads a band of warriors in “10,000 BC.”

Rather, the latest mind-numbing extravaganza from director Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) feels more like a video game in film form.

Our dreadlocked, dirt-smudged hero, D’Leh (Steven Strait), must protect his Yagahl people from a variety of foes, including a pack of woolly mammoths, marauders on horseback, some angry ostrich-looking things and an enormous saber-toothed tiger. He also must rescue the love of his life, the mystical Evolet (Camilla Belle, looking weirdly like Lindsay Lohan being hounded by paparazzi), from the slave raiders who’ve kidnapped her.

The script from Emmerich and Harald Kloser (who also wrote the overbearing score) takes D’Leh and his fellow tribesmen (Cliff Curtis, Nathanael Baring, Mo Zainal) from one level to the next without building much momentum; the whole endeavor is actually quite a bore, leading up to the overblown, climactic showdown amid some half-built pyramids.

Obama raises $55 million in February, sets new record

Story Highlights

  • NEW: Sen. Barack Obama fundraising outpaces Sen. Hillary Clinton’s by $20 million
  • NEW: Clinton, Obama will campaign in Wyoming Friday
  • NEW: Clinton campaign is raising $3 million a day online, campaign says
  • Clinton heading to Mississippi; former President Clinton heading to Wyoming

(CNN) — Sen. Barack Obama raised $55 million in February, his campaign reported Thursday, setting a record for political fundraising in one month.

art.obama.ohio.gi.jpg

Sen. Barack Obama says he received donations from 727,972 people in February.

The amount far outpaces the $35 million his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton, raised over the same period.

The Illinois Democrat set the previous record in January when he raised $36 million.

The campaign said 727,972 donors contributed to the campaign in February. More than half of them were first-time contributors.

A majority of the money, $45 million, was raised online, the campaign said. More than 90 percent of the donations were under $100, and more than half were under $25.

Less than $1 million of the funds raised in February can only be used if Obama receives his party’s nomination, the campaign said. All the rest may go toward campaigning in the primary season.

Rare Helen Keller pic with doll discovered

Story Highlights

  • July 1888 photo shows an 8-year-old Helen in a light-colored dress holding doll
  • Helen is holding the hand of her teacher Anne Sullivan
  • “Doll” was the first word the deaf and blind child spelled for her teacher

BOSTON, Massachusetts (AP) — Researchers have uncovered a rare photograph of a young Helen Keller with her teacher Anne Sullivan, nearly 120 years after it was taken on Cape Cod.

art.keller.jpg

Helen Keller, 8, with her teacher Anne Sullivan, in Cape Cod in 1888.The photograph, shot in July 1888 in Brewster, shows an 8-year-old Helen sitting outside in a light-colored dress, holding Sullivan’s hand and cradling one of her beloved dolls.

Experts on Keller’s life believe it could be the earliest photo of the two women together and the only one showing the blind and deaf child with a doll — the first word Keller spelled for Sullivan after they met in 1887 — according to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which now has the photo.

“It’s really one of the best images I’ve seen in a long, long time,” said Helen Selsdon, an archivist at the American Federation for the Blind, where Keller worked for more than 40 years. “This is just a huge visual addition to the history of Helen and Annie.”

For more than a century, though, the photograph was hidden in an album that belonged to the family of Thaxter Spencer, an 87-year-old man in Waltham.

Latinos Seek Citizenship in Time for Voting

A lawsuit filed Thursday in a federal court in New York by Latino immigrants seeks to force immigration authorities to complete hundreds of thousands of stalled naturalization petitions in time for the new citizens to vote in November.

The class-action suit was brought by the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund on behalf of legal Hispanic immigrants in the New York City area who are eager to vote and have been waiting for years for the federal Citizenship and Immigration Services agency to finish their applications. The suit demands that the agency meet a nationwide deadline of Sept. 22 to complete any naturalization petitions filed by March 26.

‘Hillary Clinton’s a monster’: Obama aide blurts out attack in Scotsman interview

HILLARY Clinton has been branded a “monster” by one of Barack Obama’s top advisers, as the gloves come off in the race to win the Democrat nomination.
In recent TV appearances Mrs Clinton had looked desperate and on the back foot.

In recent TV appearances Mrs Clinton had looked desperate and on the back foot.

In an unguarded moment during an interview with The Scotsman in London, Samantha Power, Mr Obama’s key foreign policy aide, let slip the camp’s true feelings about the former first lady.

Her comments came as Mr Obama, whose defeats in Texas and Ohio on Tuesday were largely attributed to a series of negative attacks on him, vowed to turn up the heat on Mrs Clinton over her claims to be the more experienced candidate.

Yesterday, the Obama camp went on the offensive, pointing out that Mrs Clinton has still not released her tax return and casting doubt on her experience.

In response, a Clinton adviser said the attack reminded him of the witch-hunt led by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, which led to the impeachment of her husband, Bill, when he was president.

Brazilian boy, 8, passes law school entrance exam

Brazil’s lawyers have been shocked to find that a boy aged eight has managed to pass the entrance exam to law school.

The Bar Association said the achievement of Joao Victor Portellinha should be taken as a warning about the low standards of some of Brazil’s law schools.

“If this is confirmed, the Education Ministry should immediately intervene … to investigate the circumstances of this case,” said the association’s president in Goias state, Miguel Angelo Cancado.

Joao Victor is still in fifth grade, two levels ahead of normal for his age, but his mother says he is not a cloistered genius. “He is a regular boy,” she told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper. “He is very dedicated, likes to read and study, but he has fun and makes friends.”

French women ‘are the sexual predators now’

French women are becoming increasingly assertive in their sexual habits, while one-in-five younger French men “has no interest in sex”, according to one of the most comprehensive surveys of the nation’s love lives.

  French women 'are the sexual predators now'
Carla Bruni, wife of the French president, has talked publicly about her conquests

Women now have more than twice as many partners as they did in the 1970s, according to the study by the French Aids research agency, which is backed by the government.

“Are women just like men?” asked Le Nouvel Observateur yesterday, which released extracts of the Study on Sexuality in France, a 600-page tome that brings together 12,000 in-depth interviews with people of all ages conducted during 2005-06.

One of the biggest changes in recent years, according to the report, was that male and female sexual behaviour had become increasingly similar.

The proportion of French women who claim to have had only one partner has dropped from 68 per cent in 1970, to 43 per cent in 1992 and 34 per cent in 2006. A woman’s average number of partners has risen from under two in 1970 to over five today, while a man’s has remained the same for four decades, almost 13.

French women’s first experience of sex is now almost as early as that of the opposite sex: in 1950 there was a two-year difference, but the gap has narrowed to four months, to around 17 and a half. Meanwhile, more women remain sexually active for longer than previously: nine-out-of-10 women over 50 are sexually active today, compared to just 50 per cent of that age group in 1970.

“The good old dichotomy (male predators, females patiently awaiting the warrior’s return in front of the cave entrance) is in big trouble”, said Le Nouvel Observateur.

IPhone Takes on the BlackBerry

During an event held today at the company’s Cupertino headquarters, Apple senior vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller announced his company’s plans to make the iPhone more business-friendly.

“We’ve been hard at work trying to understand what it takes to bring the iPhone out across the enterprise,” he told guests.

The list of features that Apple describes as important to enterprise end users includes “push-based” e-mail, calendar info and contact management; additional support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) including Cisco IPsec; and two-factor authentication, certificates and identities.

“Enterprise-class” Wi-Fi with WPA2/802.1x support and tools to enforce security policies were also mentioned. Schiller indicated that IT managers are also looking to help deploy iPhones, set them up automatically, and, perhaps most importantly, wipe the devices when necessary.

“That’s a long list of important features,” said Schiller. “They say if we just did these things, it would really help adoption in the enterprise. And we’re doing all of these things in the next release of the iPhone software.”

French Muslims promote ‘cool Islam’

By Robert Pigott
Religious affairs correspondent, BBC News


Medine in the municipal dance hall, Le Havre

Medine’s raps set out to sell Islam to French society

I met Medine in the coastal town of Le Havre, in a scaled-down version of France’s notorious banlieues.

Medine was here – hunched into a parka against the chill sea breeze – to practise in the municipal dance hall.

He was brought up in the bleak tower blocks that overshadow the place, and was once a member of the disenchanted Muslim youth who preached to French society about its decadence and immorality. He was named after the Muslim holy city of Medina.

Now his CDs and live performances send a different message – the offer of a new deal, and full participation in a secular society, and of a readiness to compete for success in a free market and liberal democracy.

‘Unknown Jewish Elements’ Vandalize Mosque in Israel

RAMALLAH, 5 March 2008 — The Al-Aqsa Foundation for Rehabilitating Islamic Sites yesterday accused “unknown Jewish elements” of vandalizing the Hassan Bek Mosque in Jaffa inside Israel.

The Jerusalem-based foundation said in a press statement that unknown perpetrators climbed over the fence surrounding the mosque early yesterday morning and vandalized the courtyard area, damaging some of the religious site’s property.

Daily Yediot Ahronot said that Muslim worshippers, who arrived for morning prayers notified the Israeli police, which launched an investigation into the incident.

Mosque imam Nawar Daka told Yediot that “at around 4 a.m., the intruders started breaking objects and doors. The damage is not serious but what would have happened had they managed to come inside the mosque,” he said.

Qur’an Empowers Afghan Women

“My goal is to really represent Islam. It’s not a religion that oppresses women,” Frogh said. (CSM Photo)

 

CAIRO — Five verses from the Noble Qur’an have convinced a radical Mullah not to kill ambitious Afghan female activist Wazhma Frogh for daring to start a literacy program for her fellow ones in the province of Badakhshan.

“Mullah, give me five minutes,” Frogh told the Christian Science Monitor on Wednesday, March 5, recalling what she said six years ago.

“I will tell you something, and after that if you want to say I am an infidel and I am a threat to you, just kill me.”

Frogh then recited verses from the Qur’an – in both Arabic and the local Dari language — that emphasizes the virtues of education, tolerance, and not harming others.

“God bless you, my daughter,” the Mullah told Frogh, resting his hand on her head.

Frogh’s literacy program started later and helped women from her province participate in local government and run for the national assembly.

Frogh, who has worked for various humanitarian and development agencies operating in Afghanistan to give women greater rights and education in Afghanistan, demonstrates to Mullahs that Qur’an empowered women.

She stood up and be counted, debating several Mullahs, who argue that Qur’an justified men to beat their wives and deny women an education.

“Of course it’s very risky. I may lose my life during this process, but if I am able to open a door for rights for one woman, then it is worth it,” she said defiantly.

Power of Religion

Frogh has an unshakable belief in the power of religion to correct widespread misconception that relegate women to a second-class status based on misinterpretation and misunderstanding of religious texts.

“In a country where religion is so important to people, we need to understand the religion,” she told the Monitor.

Frogh believes it is religion-based arguments rather than universal human rights or international conventions that can hold sway over patriarchal Afghanistan.

“My experience in the last 10 years is this does not matter to the people in Afghanistan.”

Frogh says she plans now to broaden her understanding of Islam through more studying and research.

“My goal is to really represent Islam. It’s not a religion that oppresses women,” she said.

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