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Archive for January, 2007

Slavery

Note: this video is hosted on Google.com

his 80-minute documentary, based on the book Disposable People, exposes cases of slavery in the rug-making sector of Northwest India, the cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, and even the homes of World Bank officials in Washington, D.C. Filmed in India, Brazil, West Africa, London, and the US, the documentary shows how slavery fits into the global economy. The filmmakers actually buy slaves in Africa and help to free child slaves in India. Slavery won the Peabody Award in 2001.

Convict Australia

hort History of Convict Australia explores the sites of Australia’s convict past; from the beginning of the transportation of British prisoners in thel ate 18th century to the present celebrations of Australia Day.The ‘First Fleet’ of ships carrying 700 convicts, left England in 1787. Presenter Ian Wright describes the 15,000 mile voyage from Portsmouth Harbour via Rio De Janeiro and Cape Town to Botany Bay in Australia. From the official papers and chronicles kept at Sydney’s Hyde Park Barracks, Ian traces his own possible convict ancestry then tries on some convict clothes from the period and learns about another form of convict identification, tattoos.At The Hero of Waterloo, one of the oldest convict built pubs, Ian samples convict rum with a local landlord who tells stories of press gangs and their practice of spiking rum with opium. At Wiseman’s Ferry, outside Sydney,where a section of the convict built North Road still exists, Ian experiences sleeping conditions in portable cabins which housed the convicts. At the caves surrounding Picton, we are treated to aren dition of a legendary convict folksong about Jack Donohue, one of themany absconding convicts turned bushranger who was shot dead at th eage of 21. Fifteen hundred miles off the coast of New South Wales is Norfolk Island. Convict expert John Adams explains howthe prison built here in 1825 was meant to act as adeterrent. Conditions were so bad that convicts would commit mass suicide rather than face the brutality of the prison guards. Ian visits the site of the ‘model prison’ at Port Arthur in Tasmania. Here he finds out about experimental punishments that were intended to ‘break the convictspirit’ and consequently turn the men into model citizens. Historian Peter McFie describes how the convicts were allowed to express no form of communication except forsinging in the chapel and were forced to wear masks sothey would be unable to recognise each other. In nearby Koonya, Ian braves a convict breakfast, know asskilly, made up of oatmeal and bits of dried meat. At Macquarie Harbour, on Tasmania’s West Coast, Ian learns about bizarre escape attempts from this remote convictoutpost. In Oatlands Ian meets convict descendants who describe how overthe years their families disguised their ancestry to avoid prejudice associated with convictry. They explain that it isonly recently that Australians have begun to accept and enjoy their convict history. Finally at Launceston, Ian discovers the flag of the Anti-Transportation League.The flag is similar to one which still represents the nation today and is apermanent reminder of Australia’s convict past.

Himalayan Pilgrimage

sia is home to the Himalayas, the highest mountain range on earth. Covering a distance of 2,700 kilometers, the Himalayas overlook the landscapes of six Countries: India, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Bhutan and Tibet. For thousands of years the people of these regions have considered the Himalayas to be a manifestation of divinity. Towering above all else on earth, the Himalayas reach out to touch the heavens. Himalayan Pilgrimage takes us through the Gandaki Valley – a place frozen in time. The Pilgrimage begins in Kathmandu the capital city of Nepal, then moves on to Pokhara, then Jomsom and finally to the sacred shrine of Muktinatha.

Cambodia : Year Zero (1975)

“In one hour, Year Zero laid bare astonishing facts with such skill and power it was impossible to get up and leave the preview theatre.” The (London) Times
Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia

ohn Pilger vividly reveals the brutality and murderous political ambitions of the Pol Pot / Khmer Rouge totalitarian regime which bought genocide and despair to the people of Cambodia while neighboring countries, including Australia, shamefully ignored the immense human suffering and unspeakable crimes that bloodied this once beautiful country. As the first complete report of the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge and the devastating affects of US bombing in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, YEAR ZERO: THE SILENT DEATH OF CAMBODIA is an important and historic document of the grim reign of Pol Pot and the world’s response of indifference and inaction. Year Zero was 1975, the end of the secret US bombing campaign against the Viet Cong that saw 100,000 tons of bombs dropped over Cambodia, and the emergence of the Khmer Rouge party as a ruling force. That year saw the desertion of the capital of Phnom Penh and the displacement of some 2.5 million people, the majority of whom would soon go missing. Pilger explores the roots of the US bombing campaign that began in 1969, contrasting it sharply with powerful footage of sick and starving Cambodians and interviews with relief workers with UNICEF and the Red Cross as well as imprisoned members of Pol Pot’s regime. At the time of its release, YEAR ZERO was for many the first glimpse of a harrowing injustice that had been played out with little fanfare. John Pilger lays bare the entire chain of events, from the removal of King Norodom Sihanouk to ensuing famine and genocide under the Khmer Rouge. The film is both disturbing and poignant, a sobering portrait of Cambodia’s recent history.

The Mekong river


ekong (Tibetan Dza-chu; Chinese Lancang Jiang; Thai Mae Nam Khong), river in southeastern Asia, the longest river in the region. From its source in China's Qinghai Province near the border with Tibet, the Mekong flows generally southeast to the South China Sea, a distance of 4,200 km (2,610 mi). The Mekong crosses Yunnan Province, China, forms the border between Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and Laos and most of the border between Laos and Thailand, and flows across Cambodia and southern Vietnam, emptying into the South China Sea. In the upper course are steep descents and swift rapids, but the river is navigable south of Louangphrabang, Laos. French explorer Michel Peissel discovered the source of the Mekong in 1994 at a high mountain pass. The basin of the Mekong is an important agricultural area, with rice as the main crop. Without irrigation, rice cultivation is impossible during the long dry season. The United Nations (UN) started the Mekong River Development Project in 1957 to improve flood control, navigation and irrigation, and to develop hydroelectric power plants along the river. However, the project's progress was impeded by the Vietnam War (1959-1975) and political instability in Cambodia and other countries in the region. In the 1990s interest was renewed in developing the hydroelectric power potential of the Mekong River. Officials from four of the six nations that share the Mekong�Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam�met to make plans regarding this development; China and Myanmar did not attend the talks. By 1996, 54 dams were scheduled to be built on the Mekong. Manwan Dam in China's Yunnan Province was the first to be completed; it began producing power in 1993. Thailand completed Pak Mun Dam in 1994. Some of the nations involved have voiced concerns about the dam construction. The nations downriver worry that China's dam plans will interfere with the flow of the river, either flooding land downriver or changing the nature of the river so that hydroelectric projects downstream will lose some of their power potential. Additionally the two existing dams have had a negative effect on the environment, flooding certain areas and destroying fish habitats, which affects the fishing industry of native villagers.

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