A little boy plays in the blue crushed rock/sand mixture along the path of a bamboo forest in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. In May, the bamboo was transported to the garden and planted in giant zinc pots.
A sunny Monday at the pond in the Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris. Children use thin bamboo sticks to guide the sailboats brightening the horizon. The gardens are grouped around the Palais du Luxembourg, home of the French Senate. Besides beautiful plants, trees and other greenery, the park boasts a popular puppet theatre, tennis courts, an open-air cafe, a bandstand and even a bee-keeping school!
Colette Copeland's handmade collages, gift tags, bookmarks and cards
This week I've been privileged to receive two packages of handmade collages from the talented Colette Copeland of Toronto, Canada. Alas, not all items are pictured, as a friend insisted on taking some pieces home with her! Colette's original collages and paintings are available through her website Pomegranate Place and eBay.
Photo taken in New York by Jonathan Pite for publicity linked to articles and interviews filed from the Middle East.
“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes to make them possible.” - T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Arched pathway in China's Great Wall, 2005, Marie-Claire Holmes
Too many stone walls in the world, trying to keep people out; separating and dividing; tearing families apart. The Berlin Wall came down; the Israelis' "security barrier" went up. We need more open doors; more dialogue; more understanding.
In the Middle East, in Africa, in Iran and North Korea - every political "hot spot" would benefit from more talking and fewer barriers erected under the guise of "conditions" for sitting down together. The only way to move forward, to move past our differences is to talk and listen to each other and try to find a common ground; to reach compromise.
I've said this before, the late King Hussein of Jordan and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel had the right approach - either we learn to live together or we will die together. Politicians' tired rhetoric serves no purpose. We need leaders with vision, who can see past immediate challenges. We need leaders with courage to surmount obstacles and seek solutions that will bring us together, not further divide us.
The first transatlantic stock market has been created. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has purchased the pan-European Euronext exchange, it was confirmed in a televised press conference at 2:30 p.m. today in Paris. Officials from both the New York and Paris companies spoke of their delight at new global capital opportunities created by the merger.
The NYSE outbid its German rival, Deutsche Boerse, to clinch the deal. The move creates a business with an expected worth of $20bn (16bn euros; £11bn).
The new firm's American base will remain in New York, with international headquarters in Paris and Amsterdam. Euronext also operates bourses in Brussels and Lisbon.
East Timor's Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta has agreed to oversee the country's security. The decision was announced Friday after President Xanana Gusmao fired both the defense and interior ministers. The move is expected to help diffuse tensions, after weeks of violence.
While Dili, the capital city reportedly was calmer on Friday, a government building was looted of computers and office equipment. Ramos Horta said his priority was "to end feuding within and between the security forces" that has provoked weeks of unrest. "I'm the only one who might be able to heal the wounds within the armed forces, between the armed forces and the police force, between the armed forces and society at large," he told Australian Radio.
From 1975 onwards, Ramos Horta was Permanent Representative to the United Nations for the East Timorese independence movement. In 1996 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
A wonderful thing about living in France is taking advantage of numerous brocantes and flea markets. Inexpensive ordinary items can be repurposed for other uses. For instance, metal moulds once used to drain cheese now corral everyday knives, forks and spoons. Smaller cheese moulds hold paper clips and Post-It notes. What recycled items find a home with you?
In the US government's increasing obsession with obtaining personal information about Americans, the Justice department has asked Internet companies to keep records of their customers' web searches. The government claims such records would aid law enforcement. And if companies refuse to cooperate? The Bush administration has threatened to propose legislation to force compliance.
At a meeting last Friday in Washington, D.C., FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales presented "a general proposal on record-keeping to a group of senior executives from Internet companies," FBI spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told reporters. He said the meeting was attended by representatives from America Online, Verizon, Comcast, Microsoft and Google.
The Justice Department is urging Internet companies to retain information about customers "that could be subpoenaed through existing laws and procedures," Roehrkasse said. Is he referring to "procedures" like the deal the National Security Agency has with AT&T and other big telecoms companies to hand over customers' personal records?
Company executives attending the meeting said the government wants records allowing them to identify persons visiting certain websites and conducting searches using specific terms. The Justice department also expects Internet companies to retain email records for up to two years, although contents of emails would not be disclosed, the executives said.
"Contents of emails would not be disclosed?" Surely we can take that government assurance to the bank. After all, government officials are already very busy perusing private records of millions of Americans in that secret room at an AT&T facility. When would FBI or government officials have time to read those emails? But why would they want them, if not to read them?
The proposal and initial meeting were first reported by USA Today and CNet News.com. In December The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) had accessed private phone and e-mail records, thanks to cooperation of AT&T and other telecommunications companies. In May USA Today revealed that for the last five years, the NSA collected private telephone records and communications data of millions of Americans.
Invasion of privacy; illegal search and seizure of private records without a warrant; numerous legal issues are compounded with this latest measure. More ammunition for civil liberties lawyers in class-action lawsuits that are bound to follow, should Internet companies comply with the government's newest "request."
Photograph of woman at Taos Pueblo, Taos, New Mexico by Howard Rainier courtesy of Blue Rain Gallery, Taos
Alice Walker's poetry is infused alternately with political activism; with rage against social injustice and with cautious optimism for her loved ones. One of my favourite Alice Walker poems is from the book Anything We Love Can Be Saved, 1997. Read more Poetry Thursday contributions here.
On Stripping Bark from Myself (for Jane, who said trees die from it)
Because women are expected to keep silent
about their close escapes I will not keep silent
and if I am destroyed (naked tree!) someone will
mark the spot
where I fall and know I could not live
silent in my own lies
hearing their "how nice she is!"
whose adoration of the retouched image
I so despise.
No. I am finished with living
for what my mother believes
for what my brother and father defend
for what my lover elevates
for what my sister, blushing, denies or rushes
I find my own
a standing self
against the world
an equality of wills
I have lived to understand.
My struggle was always against
an inner darkness: I carry within myself
the only known keys
to my death - to unlock life, or close it shut
forever. A woman who loves wood grains, the colour
and the sun, I am happy to fight
all outside murderers
as I see I must.
Photo of carved stone dancers by Marie-Claire Holmes, Cambodia 2006
The inimitable Susan has tagged me for an A-Z meme:
Accent - Indistinguishable, due to all the places I've lived Booze - Champagne, of course! And red wine, especially Burgundy. Chore I hate - Vacuuming! Is there anything worse? Dogs/Cats - I've had both cats and dogs as pets; I prefer dogs. Essential electronics - Laptop computer; digital camera; CD player; DVD player Favourite perfume - Chanel Allure Gold/silver - Platinum! And gold; sometimes silver. I always wear earrings. Hometown - I'm not saying, other than it's in the South - fear of identity theft! Insomnia - Rarely, although I stay up very late! Job title - Writer and journalist Kids - One daughter, age 21 Living arrangements - Lovely and comfy Most admired trait - Courage Number of sexual partners - You must be joking; you think I'd kiss and tell? Overnight hospital stays - A few. Really, why would this interest anyone? Phobia - Spiders, scorpions and snakes Quote - Ad astra per estrata - To the stars, through difficulty! Also, If you're strong enough, there are no precedents. - F. Scott Fitzgerald and Soy periodista! No di spare! - I am a journalist; don't shoot! Religion - Presbyterian Siblings - Two younger brothers and a sister Time I usually awake - It varies, depending upon how late I stayed up or what's planned for the day Unusual talent - I can sightread, play the piano and a few musical instruments and twirl a mean baton (okay, I made that last part up; my baton-twirling skills are average). Vegetable I refuse to eat - Boiled okra, closely followed by Brussels sprouts Worst habit - Procrastination X-rays - A few; again, who cares? Yummy foods I make - Sweet potato pie; Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie; vodka pasta; tomato tarts Zodiac sign - Virgo, with moon in Aquarius
Anyone else who wants to play, please compose your own A-Z meme and post it on your website. Merci!