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Viewing American Politics From The Perspective Of Martians

(category: History, Word count: 678)
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I'm being silly, but indulge me here as I veer off into the realm of fantasy. Not *that* kind of fantasy, but the world from a Martian's perspective.

Say we're explorers from Mars sent to Washington D.C., in human form, in the year 2007.

What would be our conclusions about American politics were we to come down fresh, understanding very little of the political system?

We would understand immediately that there are purported to be 'two sides' (the validity of which is up for debate), and the two sides are represented by colors and animals-red or blue, elephant or donkey.

There are also a few fringe sects, marginalized by the craziness of their philosophies, who angrily disagree with both the reds and the blues.

So these are the two realistic options. Third or fourth candidates are not allowed to compete, really. They have "no chance of winning" or there's the fear that the third party will take votes away from "real" candidates.

So the red and the blue appear to really dislike each other, but they're two sides of the same coin, always in line to keep out the fringe and so they have some common interests.

Then things start to get good. . .

They have an even bigger common enemy: the media. The media supposedly reports the activities of both sides so they make more money from advertisers.

'The Media' claims to be unbiased, but it isn't true. They are loyal to whomever is in power and whomever owns the media outlet.

What's even more exciting for us explorers to discover is that there are even more enemies these two sides have.

Prostitutes. Most recently Louisiana Senator David Vitters who gives an awful lot of lip service to abstinence only sex ed, was identified by the DC madam and the Canal Street Madam as being a client.

Under aged boys. Uh oh. US Representative Mark Foley, crusader against child abuse and exploitation, became child abuser and exploiter when it came to light that he had a bit of a taste for Congressional pages.

Women. Specifically wanton women. There was this one time, the woman was wearing a blue dress. He liked cigars. . . . At least Bill Clinton had the sense to make sure the woman was over the age of consent.

Other noteworthy enemies include. . .

Closeted homosexuality. This has turned out to plague a number of people lately. There's Larry Craig and the foot tapping incident ("misunderstanding"). And Democratic Governor of New Jersey Jim McGreevey. At least he's no longer in the closet.

Extramarital affairs. The list is too long. And really, is this even an issue people care about anymore?

Women who don't want to be groped. (CA Gov. Terminator).

There are plenty of other enemies. Crack cocaine (Marion Barry), voter fraud, blah, blah, blah. Actually, voter fraud is only a problem for the big loser, not the fake winner.

Blue, red, elephant, donkey, they seem to want to make all the laws and then break them.

In our research as Martian anthropologists, we'd have to conclude that some form of perversion or criminal record is mandatory for political candidates.

We'd also have to conclude that the non-politicians, the ones who vote (or don't vote), have such a short attention span that really, it doesn't much matter. It's football season and there's a new season of "The Biggest Loser" and it's back to school time and the kids need new backpacks. And before you know it, it's the holidays again.

Jumping into this little fantasy world sometimes gives us a fresh perspective. It's all about framing. Putting a new lens on life.

Try it with your life and your persuasion. See how it goes. Tell others about it, tell me about it on this blog. Create a discussion, invite your friends and colleagues to join the discussion here. Lord knows we need to step back from the craziness every once in a while and talk to each other intelligently about what we observe.

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Air Travel What You Need To Know About Your Checked Baggage

(category: History, Word count: 581)
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When it comes to air travel, many travelers are more concerned with their carryon luggage than they are with their bags that will be handed over to airport staff. These bags, commonly referred to as checked baggage, are just as important, if not more important, than your carryon luggage. For this reason, there are a number of different factors that you should take into consideration, when packing your bags for your next flight.

One mistake that many travelers make, when it comes to checked baggage, is including prohibited items in their bag. In addition to prohibited items, there have also been instances of travelers trying to hide illegal items in their checked luggage. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time, it isn't. In fact, with today's airport security screening, it is virtually impossible for you to get away with storing prohibited or illegal items inside your checked baggage more information . This is mostly due to the fact that the screening process has dramatically changed from what it was in the past, say ten years ago.

In the past, certain airlines only randomly searched checked baggage. Many times, these searches were only implemented if airline officials or airport security had probable cause. Today, all bags are checked, including your checked luggage. Most checks will quickly be done, but, in some cases, more extensive searches may be conducted. A quick check of your luggage may include rummaging through all of your belongings, looking for anything out of the ordinary. An extensive search could include searching all of your clothing pockets and baggage compartments. In the event that you are subject to one of those checks, it is likely that you will be caught if you are trying to conceal a cigarette lighter or other prohibited items.

Since your bags will be checked, all of them, you are advised against locking your baggage before heading to the airport. After your bags have been properly screened, some airlines will allow you to replace the locks on your checked baggage, but not all will. For this reason, you may want to reconsider storing expensive items, such as electronic equipment, in your bags. In addition to the possibility of theft, you will find that items packed inside your checked luggage are at a higher risk for being damaged then those that are in your carryon bags.

When packing your bags, which will be checked at the airport, it is also advised that you carefully pack them. There are a number of items, including sharp objects, which are prohibited from being stored in your carryon luggage, but those items can be placed in your checked baggage. As previously mentioned, airport security will likely examine those bags. Even during a quick examination, they will rummage through your belongings. For that reason, you are advised to properly package and secure all items that can be considered dangerous, such as those with sharp edges or points. This extra precaution may not only affect your safety, when you to go unpack your bags, but the safety of all airport security officials, especially those screening your luggage.

By taking the time to famialrize yourself with all travel rules, including the airport screening process, you should be able to pack your bags for your next flight, the right way. The wrong way, although you may not necessarily think about it at the time, could have serious consequences.

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Achieve Political Success Through A Promotional Product Political Campaign

(category: History, Word count: 460)
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All political candidates may not agree on political, societal or economic issues, but it is safe to infer political candidates agree that a successful political campaign builds public support and success.

Political campaigns, similar to marketing campaigns, must use effective and useful slogans in order to grasp a typically uninterested audience. In order to do so, political candidates need to get up and work for support. How can Barack Obama or Rudy Giuliani accomplish this, you inquire? Well, that is simple - through political promotional products!

The single most important thing to accomplish in any campaign, whether it is a marketing campaign or political campaign, is name recognition. A political candidate will never achieve success if no one knows who they are. A simple way for a political candidate to accomplish name recognition is by using promotional products in their political campaign. Two very simple and common ways to do this is through using catchy political signs in yards or bumper stickers on cars. Other promotional products ideal for a political campaign are buttons. These three promotional products can effectively promote any political candidates name at home, while driving and while walking around.

Every political candidate wants to ensure their constituents are able to quickly identify the issues their political campaign supports. This may seem easy at the surface, but it is not. The current political campaign for president is filled with multiple potential political candidates. All of these potential political candidates have very different views on a myriad of issues. In order for political candidates to effectively clarify what issues they support, they could consider printing their causes on different colored awareness bracelets. This way, supporters and political candidate alike would be able to quickly identify which issues are important and to whom. Another way issue recognition can be clarified is through political balloons. Balloons have been used in political campaigns for years, but that is because they are easily noticeable, readable and depending on their size, can be seen for miles.

Trying to decide what promotional products to give at conventions or election night? A great promotional product that is perfect for outdoor conventions is a hand fan. A politically themed hand fan can allow potential voters to sit in the comfort of a cool breeze while they listen to a political candidate's speech. Looking for a perfect promotional product for election night? Get a plethora of stress balls to hand out to political campaign workers and supporters. A political stress ball can help calm everyone's minds as the voting numbers roll in through the evening.

Political campaigns may be stressful and time consuming for political candidate, but through using political promotional products, getting voters attention can be simple.

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Hezbollah Weapons Systems

(category: History, Word count: 610)
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More than 200 hundred rockets were fired from south Lebanon into Israel on Friday and Saturday adding up to over 1,000 over the past two weeks. The latest news on Hezbollah launched rockets is the use of a Khaibar-1 rocket, which hit on Saturday an open field near the town of Afulla in the Valley of Izrael. Hezbollah propaganda named the rocket "Khaibar," a historic-religious name deriving from the Battle of Khaibar in the Arabian Peninsula in the early years of Islam. The battle, was against a Jewish fortification, has become a symbol of resilience and of the superiority of Islam over Judaism. The Khaibar-1 is apparently one of the Iranian Fadjr family of artillery missiles.

Iranian 240mm Rocket Launcher M 1985

It is important to analyze the basic characteristics of these weapon systems. The main factor related to the present conflict regards the rocket's maximum range and the type of warhead used. So far the Hezbollah have been using mainly short range rockets, fired either from a single launcher, often with an improvised timer enabling to aim the rocket towards a general direction and flight angle and then walk away from the launch site.

Iranian 122mm-mrl-iran

Various types of electronic timers, often with a simple modified alarm clock, do the rest. These rockets are an Iranian version, called Haseb, of the Russian 107mm Katyusha with a range of up to nine kilometers. Another way to launch the rockets is by using multiple launchers to create a salvo effect. Such launchers can be towed or mounted on jeeps, trucks etc. The war head (explosives) weighs eight kilograms.

Iranian FADJR-2

Another artillery rocket type is the Arash 1 and 2, both based on Russian and Chinese models. This 122mm rocket has a range of 18 kilometers with a warhead weighing 18 kilograms. Here too the rocket can be launched from a single launch pad or in salvos from a multiple rocket launcher. Hezbollah uses this system mainly with a single launcher.

Iranian FADJR-5 missile

The second set of Iranian made rockets, believed to have been delivered to the Hezbollah in smaller numbers, is the Oghab, a 230mm rocket with a range of 45 kilometers and a warhead weighing 70 kilograms. Originally this rocket was designed to be carried and fired from special vehicles. However, they can also be fired from a single launching tube. In the same category is the Fadjr-3 230mm with a range of 45 kilometers and a warhead weighing 45 kilograms. It is believed that the simpler and lighter Fadjr-3 is the one used by the Hezbollah. It too can be mounted on a vehicle to be used as a multiple rocket launcher. The Oghab and the Fadjr-3 can cover northern Israel, including Haifa and Tiberias. To launch them the Hezbollah have to be as close as possible to the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Iranian MRLS. missile-rockets

The conflict will escalate if the Hezbollah have in their arsenal heavier rockets capable of covering a distance of 75 kilometers, carrying 190 kilograms of explosives; this rocket is the Fadjr-5 333mm. It is a larger rocket and therefore more difficult to move around. Originally it was designed for multiple rocket launchers. The last two heavy rockets are the Shahin-1 333mm with a range of 13 kilometers and a warhead of 190 kilograms and the Shahin-2 333mm with a 20-kilometer range and also a 190-kilogram warhead.

Experts on artillery rockets note that to launch the long range and heavier rockets the Hezbollah would need an elaborate technical and logistical capability. If these rockets are launched it will almost certainly mean Iranian experts and their equipment are active in Lebanon.

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Parade Of Whores

(category: History, Word count: 437)
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Normally Charleston is a lovely place to live. It has a temperate climate, great restaurants, the ocean, history, etc. But every one year in four, it becomes the home for the "Parade of Whores." Because South Carolina has one of the early primaries and could decide who is the next president, every few days we get visits from politicians seeking our support.

Being a solid "Red" state, all of the democrats have to suddenly find those "religious nuts", gun owners and annoying Pro-Lifers something that must be courted. The reason they hold their noses and schedule multiple visits, since they front loaded the primaries in 1976; no one who has lost the South Carolina primary has ended up in the White House.

The democrats have been forced to shake the bushes and find some speechwriters who can quote scripture without sounding like a pandering idiot. Those stock spiels about the war and Gay marriage that gets the stand "O" in New York City or San Francisco don't play as well in a town with a couple of military bases and the USS Yorktown floating in the harbor.

For a democrat to win the SC Primary they have to attract a majority of the Black vote - far and away the largest block of democrats in the state. To Hillary Clinton's credit, she cut straight to the chase and bribed a powerful South Carolina Africa American politician and minister. Sorry, bribe may be a bit strong. For only $200K between now and the election, State Senator Darrell Jackson will be doing "Consulting" work for Hillary. Apparently Obama only offered $100,000.

Say what you will. South Carolina has some of the best politicians money can buy. And during primary season, the pay window is open.

This pandering isn't limited to democrats. Once a republican touches down in Charleston it is as if they've been reborn and the light of Jesus shines on them. For guys who think "John" is a bathroom, "Numbers" is a Friday night TV show, and "Genesis" is that thing they did in the Star Trek movie when Spock died, suddenly can preach fire and brimstone with the best Baptist in town.

Those of us that have lived through a few of these invasions of carpetbaggers know this new found warmth for the south will chill by next President's Day when the primary is over. After that all those presidential wannabes can go back to thinking everyone living below the Mason-Dixon Line is closer to being a Neanderthal then an Ivy Leaguer. For right now, they need our votes.

Let the parade begin.

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Sityodtong Muay Thai Legacy

(category: History, Word count: 1745)
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Kru Yodtong Senanan's place in Muay Thai history is legendary. That's why just two Muay Thai academies in the United States qualify as recognized affiliates of the Thailand camp that bears his name.

The significance of Muay Thai's Kru Yodtong Senanan's recent U.S. visit may have been lost to those unfamiliar with his celebrated contributions to the ancient art. But for students and trainers devoted to the art and sport of Muay Thai, his presence was treated with the kind of reverence usually reserved for dignitaries of international distinction.

So important is Kru Yodtong's role in preserving the history culture that the Kingdom of Thailand recognized him as a "Superior Teacher of Muay Thai." With the proclamation issued directly from the Royal Family, Yodtong's place of honor as a master, teacher and conservator of the sport will be forever documented in the annals of Thai history.

On a recent U.S. trip, Kru Yodtong accompanied Yodsanan 3k Battery, a WBA super featherweight world boxing champion and just one of many titleholders from Yodtong's namesake camp - Sityodtong Muay Thai Training Camp.

Along with producing number of skilled Muay Thai champions, the camp also turns out an equally impressive number of Western-style boxing champs, all of whom are students of the master himself, Kru Yodtong Senanan.

Muay Thai Master

Born 68 years ago as Erawan Sriwaralak, Yodtong's study of Muay Thai began at a distance, as the sport was then considered too dangerous for boys under the age of 15. Still, from the time he was four, Erawan observed and studied until he was old enough to begin formal training. That training began in earnest at Detrprasit Muay Thai camp when Yodtong was 14. His natural proclivity for the art became evident early on. Fighting under the moniker "Erawan Detrprasit" to honor his camp, he had his first bout just one year later. At 17, Yodtong moved to the Senanan Muay Thai camp and competed for six years before becoming a trainer to a string of Muay Thai champions. Though there are many camps throughout Thailand that specialize in any number of techniques, the heralded success of the champions hailing from the Sityodtong Payakaroon Camp comes down to teaching refined basics.

"Sityodtong is best known for our comprehensive instruction in all basic Muay Thai techniques," Yodtong said, adding that his camp is especially known for teaching the proper techniques for the use of elbows, kicks and knees. The age restriction placed on young fighters back when Yodtong was a boy have since been removed, allowing training to begin much earlier.

In fact, many of the young fighters at Yodtong's camp are orphans, some even juvenile delinquents. Not only are they trained in the fighting arts, they are also given food and shelter and attend school as well, allowing Yodtong to train the whole person. In addition to his rigorous training regimen, Yodtong offers sage advice to young fighters: "Be a good student, become a good teacher and stay away from a path of cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. To be a good person is the most important thing."

Sityodtong Muay Thai Training Camp is located near the resort town of Pattaya Beach, about a 90-minute drive from Bangkok. In operation for over four decades, the camp has turned out a long list of champions that include Daotong Sityodtong, Gongtalanee Payakaroon, Samart Payakaroon, Yoddamrung, Khaosai Galaxy and a host of others.

The Payakaroon brothers are the two most-celebrated champions from Sityodtong. In fact, it was the Payakaroon name and reputation that literally put Sityodtong Muay Thai Training Camp on the map, thus the Camp name, Sityodtong Payakaroon. To be a stadium champion is an incredible feat. When you consider that Muay Thai is the national sport of Thailand, becoming a stadium champion can be likened to winning the Super Bowl, the World Series, being NBA champs or winning the Boston Marathon. As a result, it's easy to see how an icon like Samart Payakaroon, a four-time Lumpinee Stadium champion plus a WBC champion and his older brother Gongtalanee Payakaroon, a five-time Lumpinee Stadium champion, are held in the highest regard.

To appreciate the significance of Muay Thai and Kru Yodtong's place of prominence in bring the fighting skill to its current level of notoriety, you must first appreciate Thai culture and history. Yodtong sums up the unique entwining of Muay Thai and Thai culture this way: "As anyone familiar in Muay Thai will tell you, one can benefit from improved health, develop a sense a personal safety while also enjoying the pleasures of out culture."

Heart of the People, Sport of Kings

There are two schools of thoughts about how Muay Thai became a national sport of Thailand. Some say that during the time of the Burmese invasions of Siam (Thailand), warriors indigenous to the land fought off their would-be invaders using their bodies as weapons, thus the legend of the most-famous and revered Thai boxes, Nai Khanom Tom.

In the 1700s during the fall of the ancient capital, Burmese soldiers captured and imprisoned many Thai citizens. Among the imprisoned populace were Thai boxers. However, the King of Burma granted Nai Khanom Yom his freedom and the freedom of the other Thai boxers after he defeated nine Burmese boxers. Not only did Nai Khanom Tom destroy his capturer's elite warriors in a spectacular fight to the finish, he also defeated a boxing instructor from a neighboring city.

The other school of thought holds that Muay Thai developed as Thai people moved from China. Whether indigenous or introduced by immigrants, all agree that while much of the history of Thailand - and hence the origins of Muay Thai - were destroyed during the Burmese invasions, the emergence of Thailand and the national sport of Muay Thai go hand in hand.

The effectiveness and popularity of Muay Thai as a combat skill was further reinforced during the reign of King Naresuan, who required all Thai soldiers to train in the fighting art. Later, Phra Chao Seua, "The Tiger King," also played a role in the development of Muay Thai as the national sport of Thailand, through his support of prizefights and the creation of early 18th-century training camps. In the 2,000 years that have transpired since the earliest known occurrence of Muay Thai, the popularity of the close-combat art has exploded beyond Thailand's borders, making Muay Thai an internationally recognized sport.

Two Schools, One Name

As the art of Muay Thai is interweaved in the Culture of the Thai people, so too are the champions of the Sityodtong camp steeped in traditions of the camp founder's fighting techniques. As the sport continues to gain in popularity among Westerners, Muay Thai gyms in the United States are increasing in numbers. However, of the many gyms that can be found throughout the country, Yodtong has bestowed only two with the distinct honor of being recognized as affiliates of his legendary camp: Sityodtong USA-Boston and Sityodtong USA-Los Angeles. As Yodtong explains, "The name Sityodtong refers to students of Kru (teacher) Yodtong, my family name. Yod in Thai means above all else and tong means flag (i.e., a flag that flies above all)." Fighters from Sityodtong USA in Boston and Los Angeles represent a long line of champions who collectively are a force with which to be reckoned.

Sityodtong USA-Boston is the East Coast affiliate of Sityodtong Thailand. Owner and operator Mark DellaGrotte lived and trained at Sityodtong Muay Thai Training Camp. A current Muay Thai champion, Yod Mark's fight record includes a second-round KO at the famous Rajadamnern Stadium in Bangkok. He was also ranked tenth at Rajadamnern. Yod Mark's trainer is Kru Toy, Kru Yodtong's son. Kru Toy is also the manager of Sityodtong Thailand, and has traveled to several countries to promote and preserve his father's teachings in the art and sport of Muay Thai.

DellaGrotte's martial arts training includes Jeet Kune Do Concepts, Kali, Silat and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. "Kru Yod Mark" has been personally appointed by Kru Yodtong to teach and promote Muay Thai around the world. His school, located in the Somerville area of Boston, has been in operation for seven years and has turned out a number of champions.

The other school in the United States that has the honor of being recognized as an affiliate of his Thailand camp is Sityodtong USA-Los Angeles (Sityodtong LA). The school is owned and operated by Walter "Sleeper" Michalowski and his wife, world-renowned martial artist, June Castro-Michalowski. Walter, a former Junior Middleweight Muay Thai champion, also trains and has fought for Kru Gongtalanee Payakaroon representing Sityodtong Thailand.

Michalowski's training began as a young boy in the sport of boxing. He also trained in traditional martial arts and later in the Jeet Kune Do Concepts under Sifu Richard Bustillo. In fact, Michalowski met his first Muay Thai trainer, Nanfa Serchadeco, an Olympic silver medalist in Boxing and Rajadamnern Stadium champion, while training at the well-known IMB Academy (International Martial Arts and Boxing) in Torrance, California.

Michalowski's impressive list of accomplishments includes a kickboxing title and six Muay Thai belts. At his last professional fight he was featured on Thai television as the Main Event at the newly built Pattaya Stadium in Thailand. Michalowski ended the fight with an exciting first-round knockout over a formidable opponent, Phothong Sor Preapan.

Thanks to his mastery of the art and respect for the Thai culture, when he and his wife opened their Pasadena location (Pro Training, Inc.) in September 2003, Michalowski, a certified senior instructor in Muay Thai, was approached by Kru Yodtong and was asked to be the U.S. West Coast affiliate. The facility was officially anointed the West Coast affiliate of the Sityodtong Muay Thai Training Camp.

Not only have DellaGrotte and Michalowski honed their craft at the namesake bearing Kru Yodtong's name, both men understand that the art of Muay Thai is one with the Thai culture. To separate one from the other is to denigrate the art. Both Michalowski and DellaGrotte speak Thai, which comes in handy for the regular trips they make to Thailand with their students. And, by earning the honor of becoming affiliates and conservators of Muay Thai in their own right, both continue a lasting relationship with master trainer, Kru Yodtong. Most important is the humility and respect that every level of student from both camps have for the Muay Thai master whose traditions and techniques are taught under the banner of Sityodtong USA.

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Another Look At Mahatma Gandhi

(category: History, Word count: 408)
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Many myths abound about Gandhi, Mohandas Karamchand known as Mahatma "Great Souled") Gandhi (1869-1948).

He was not born to a poor Indian family. His father was dewan (chief minister) of Porbandar, the capital of a small principality in Gujarat in western India under British suzerainty. He later became dewan of Rajkot.

He married at the age of 13 and was a mediocre student. In his adolescence he defied his repressive environment by petty thieving, meat eating, smoking, and professed atheism.

Until the age of 18 He spoke very little English. His main language was Gujarati.

He wanted to be a medical doctor - more precisely, a surgeon. His family forced his to study law.

His first political activity was as a member of the executive committee of the London Vegetarian Society.

He went to South Africa because he couldn't find work in India. He was a poor lawyer, in both senses of the word. He suffered from stage fright.

The "Encyclopedia Britannica" describes his first days there:

"Africa was to present to Gandhi challenges and opportunities that he could hardly have conceived. In a Durban court, he was asked by the European magistrate to take off his turban; he refused and left the courtroom.

A few days later, while traveling to Pretoria, he was unceremoniously thrown out of a first-class railway compartment and left shivering and brooding at Pietermaritzburg Station; in the further course of the journey he was beaten up by the white driver of a stagecoach because he would not travel on the footboard to make room for a European passenger; and finally he was barred from hotels reserved "for Europeans only." These humiliations were the daily lot of Indian traders and labourers in Natal who had learned to pocket them with the same resignation with which they pocketed their meagre earnings."

He was about to sail to London when he read about a bill to deprive the Indians of their right to vote. He decided to stay. It is in Johannesburg, South Africa that his first civil disobedience ("Satyagraha") campaign was staged - not in India.

Gandhi's life was at peril many times. He was almost lynched in Durban as early as January 1897. He was assassinated in 1948.

He was not a pacifist. Nor was he anti-British. When the Boer war broke out, he organized a volunteer corps of 11,000 Indians to defend the British colony of Natal.

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Russian Cruise The Best Way To Travel In Russia

(category: History, Word count: 341)
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There are many ways to explore Russia, but some ways are better than others. Cruises to Russia is one of the best ways to explore Russia and there are plenty of reasons why.

First, Cruises to Russia take you to many great places. When you go on a land tour you visit Moscow or St Petersburg, or possibly both. When you go on a river cruises, you visit Moscow and St Petersburg as well as many of Russia's ancient capitals in between. On a river cruise, you can visit a famous Kizhi Island that can only be reached by water or sail across Russia from St. Petersburg to Volgograd.

Second, river journeys are much better deals than land tours. Since you travel on a ship, you don't have to pay for hotel, which could be quite expensive, especially in Moscow. On Cruises to Russia, you pay from $140 to $200 per day for an all-inclusive treatment, cabins, delicious food, drinks, shows, excursions and even on-board classes of Russian history, culture and art.

Third, traveling on a Russian cruise is usually more fun than traveling on land. In your trip, you will be accompanied by travelers from other parts of the world. You can share your personal stories and your experience in Russia. You will have a wonderful time on board in the ship's restaurants and bars. You will make plenty of new friends and have an unforgettable experience as your ship carries you across the Russian territories.

Fourth, arranging Cruises to Russia is much easier than a land tour. There is a cruise departing every week so you can choose the one that suits you best. There are dozens of cruises designed for English-speaking customers sailing across western Russia from north to south and vice-versa. You can set a sail from Moscow to St Petersburg or from St. Petersburg to Moscow. You can sail on the famous Volga River and explore Russia's southern territories, including the famous cities of Volgograd and Astrakhan.

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Human Made Monsters

(category: History, Word count: 386)
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Humans made monsters by inhuman treatment abound in literature. In "The Man Who Laughs", published in 1869, the French author, Victor Hugo (1802-1885), described the comprachicos thus:

"The comprachicos (child buyers) were strange and hideous nomads in the 17th century. They made children into sideshow freaks. To succeed in producing a freak one must get hold of him early; a dwarf must be started when he is small. They stunted growth, they mangled features. It was an art/science of inverted orthopedics. Where nature had put a straight glance, this art put a squint. Where nature had put harmony, they put deformity and imperfection. The child was not aware of the mutilation he had suffered. This horrible surgery left traces on his face, not in his mind. During the operation the little patient was unconscious by means of a stupefying magic powder.

In China since time immemorial, they have achieved refinement in a special art and industry: the molding of living man. One takes a child two or three years old and puts them into a grotesquely shaped porcelain vase. It is without cover or bottom, so the head and feet protrude. In the daytime the vase is upright, at night it is laid down so the child can sleep. Thus the child slowly fills the contours of the vase with compressed flesh and twisted bones. This bottled development continues for several years. At a certain point, it becomes an irreparable monster. Then the vase is broken and one has a man in the shape of a pot."

The Kyrgyz writer, Chingiz Aitmatov (or Aytmatov) (1928 - ) recounts in "The Day Lasts More than One Hundred Years" (1980) the legend of the Ana-Beiit cemetery and the zombies known as "mankurts".

According to tradition, the nomad Zhuan'zhuan, shaved the heads of the younger and more fit prisoners of war and wrapped their skulls in raw camel hide. The prisoners were then left to shrivel in the desert's scorching sun, without food or water. As the caps shrank around their heads, they perished in terrible agony. The survivors completely lost their memory. Their subsequent submissiveness and loyalty made them ten times more valuable than a regular slave and three times as precious as a free man (in terms of pecuniary damages when accidentally killed).

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