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Animal Testing -- for the Birds?
Posted on 2002/6/15 23:46:02 ( 632 reads )


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USA, June 3, 2002: Scientists have long depended on animals to help them understand and explain the human condition. Nearly one-half of all grants awarded by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) fund animal experiments. This amounts to several billion US dollars a year. This lengthy article offers debates of those who support in-vitro biomedical research, or research that takes place in an artificial environment, as well as those who favor in-vivo methods, research which take place in the living bodies of animals. Ray Greek, director of Americans for Medical Advancement, claims using animal models is not only a waste of time but inherently harmful. "For 10 years, in-vivo methods misled AIDS researchers. No result obtained from primate studies can be seriously considered valid in humans as long as the observation has not been made in man also." The article further states that of 11,000 anticancer chemicals developed in mice, none helped humans and while 5 milligrams of botulinum kills man, 10 grams has no effect on dogs or cats. Some animal tests have lead to erroneous conclusions,for instance, that smoking is noncarcinogenic and that benzene is safe. Critics of in-vivo methods argue that animals don't accurately represent humans, that naturally occurring diseases cannot be artificially induced and one cannot safely assume a correlation between animal reaction to a drug and that of humans. Alternative methods include autopsy and biopsy, physical models, genetic research and mathematical and computer modeling.




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Venice-Varanasi Seek Twin Cities Relationship
Posted on 2002/6/15 23:45:02 ( 533 reads )


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VARANASI, INDIA, June 15, 2002: The local administration has responded to an offer from Italy seeking collaboration between the two ancient cities of Venice and Varanasi to fight against pollution and all other agents that destroy the quality of human life as well as environment. Divisional commissioner Manoj Kumar is likely to visit Venice soon to finalize the project. In February last year, state investment commissioner, posted in New Delhi, received an e-mail from Alberto Cannetta of Italy, highlighting the cultural importance of the two cities. It was further stated that the work done by Consorzio Laguna, an institution tackling the pollution menace, had been universally considered as an example of the man's fight to preserve environment and water resources for a better future for the city. In the light of the recent meeting between UP chief minister and Union minister for urban development in Varanasi, some concrete projects might be identified for implementation in the holy city. "Adoption of Varanasi as a sister city will not only give a major boost to tourism but also help in all-round development of the millennia old city," said Anoop Srivastava, assistant director, UP Tourism.




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Archaeological Dig Revels Extensive Roman Sea Trade with India
Posted on 2002/6/15 23:44:02 ( 615 reads )


Source: San Francisco Chronicle





BERENIKE, EGYPT, June 12, 2002: Excavation of an ancient seaport on Egypt's Red Sea found spices, gems and other exotic cargo showing that sea trade linking the Roman Empire and India 2,000 years ago rivaled the legendary Silk Road at times, archaeologists say. Co-directors of the dig, Willeke Wendrich, of the University of California, Los Angeles and Steven Sidebotham, of the University of Delaware, report their findings in the July issue of the journal Sahara. Archaeologists who have spent the last nine years excavating the town of Berenike say they have recovered an array of artifacts that are the best physical evidence yet of the extent of sea trade between the Roman Empire and India. They also uncovered numerous beams hewn of teak, a wood indigenous to India, and Indian sailcloth. The dry climate at Berenike preserved many organic materials from India that have never been found in the more humid subcontinent. Indian pottery found in the 30-acre site suggests Indian traders lived in the town amid a hodgepodge of other cultures. Archaeologists found evidence that a dozen different scripts, including Tamil-Brahmi, Greek, Latin and Hebrew, were used in Berenike. Elizabeth Lyding Will, an emeritus professor of classics at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said the finds help add "a whole new dimension to Roman archaeology." "It looks to me that India was some sort of engine driving Roman trade during the early empire. It could have been the chief focus of their trade."




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Religious Leaders Launch Effort to End World Conflicts
Posted on 2002/6/14 23:49:02 ( 524 reads )


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BANGKOK, THAILAND, June 13, 2002: More than 100 religious leaders of major faiths launched a world peace council on Wednesday, pledging to work toward reducing sectarian conflicts, especially in Asia and the Middle East. The council was established at the start of a three-day meeting in Bangkok of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Jain, Muslim and Hindu clerics with the support of the United Nations. The World Council of Religious Leaders, which aims to actively intervene in conflict areas, is the outcome of the recommendations of the Millennium World Peace Summit held at the United Nations in August 2000. "There is a sense of somber urgency among the leaders" to work for peace, said Bawa Jain, secretary general of the Millennium World Peace Summit. "The use of religion to promote divisiveness and violence must be countered by religious leaders from all traditions willing to become actively engaged in peace building," he said. Addressing the conference, Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau said religion has caused many gulfs between peoples "but religion can also be a bridge. Let's build the bridges and work together to freedom, to love, to peace for the entire world," he said. The news report did not say who the Hindu representatives to the council were.




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Militants Kill Two Hindu Pilgrims in Doda District, Kashmir
Posted on 2002/6/14 23:48:02 ( 522 reads )


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KASHMIR, INDIA, June 15, 2002: Muslim militants attacked a procession of pilgrims, firing indiscriminately and lobbing grenades, killing two of them and injuring two others in Khora-Kanthwara area of Kishtwar Tehsil in Doda district on Saturday afternoon. The area is about 300 miles north of Jammu. The militants fired from a hilltop in the area when the procession was on way to Kud Mata Devi, the police sources said. Two of the four seriously injured pilgrims later succumbed to injuries, they said. Security personnel accompanying the procession retaliated forcing the militants to retreat in the forest area, the sources said, adding reinforcement has been rushed from various towns of Doda district to track down the ultras. Several attacks on Hindus have occured in this area over the last few years.




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Looking at Cloning Through a Hindu Perspective
Posted on 2002/6/14 23:47:02 ( 1175 reads )


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TORONTO, CANADA, May 18, 2002: Many religious North Americans believe the idea of cloning amounts to scientists playing God in a way that's dangerous and sinful. According to this article, such concerns are based on the Biblical concept of God and Creation. The advaita or non-dualism philosophy of Hinduism does not separate God from man. Instead, man is engineering Divine Law alongside the architect. In other words, God is executing his will through humans, including scientists. While researching this issue the author, Ajit Adhopia, came across an interesting Hindu viewpoint. By taking a living cell, a scientist can clone the physical structure of an organism, but the process doesn't necessarily duplicate the soul, which means that the cloned person may not possess the characteristics or personality of its original. From a Hindu perspective, if people with bad karmas were to be cloned, their souls may reincarnate in another body, while their cloned bodies may be assigned the souls of others. According to a report summarizing Hindus spiritual leaders' varied thoughts, submitted to Bill Clinton's National Bioethical Advisory committee, "A cloned body might be useful." "Instructions exist in ancient Indian (Hindu) texts explaining how to conceive a child of a passionless and poised nature, all based on the thoughts and yogic practices of the parents during conception," it says, "If that is true, might not cloning, with its total elimination of human sexuality, provide a physical-emotional home for an advanced soul seeking an earthly passage of solace, needing to live without emotion or powerful desires and sentiments?"




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"How to Become a Hindu" Goes On-Line
Posted on 2002/6/14 23:46:02 ( 633 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, June 15, 2002: The ground-breaking book, "How to Become a Hindu" by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, has been posted in its entirety at "source" above. The press release reads, "What is it like to enter an Asian religion fully? And how does a Hindu recharge his faith with deeper meaning and life-guidance? Stories from Americans, Canadians and Europeans recounting their dramatic, sometimes intense, passage from Western faiths to Hinduism vivify and clarify this historic religious pattern. Their pioneering tales will fascinate social and religion readers. Marriage between couples of differing faiths is more and more commonplace in a global world. Indo-Americans who are Hindu are often marrying outside their religion, and eventually face upsetting challenges in their married life, especially when it comes to raising children in a religious way. "How to Become a Hindu" offers honest reflection and recommendations for these couples. For Hindu/yoga leaders--ordained and lay--the book is the first-ever how-to guide, an immensely useful tool explaining each step of the way into Hinduism. The core meaning of Hindu identity and Hindu openness to newcomers is explored with stimulating insight, clear perception and powerful voices from India's great thinkers. The idea of conversion to Hinduism is much debated. As this book gently chronicles, conversion is often balked at by overly-westernized Hindus to the degree that misinformation and disinformation litter the debating field. How to Become a Hindu brings together for the first time the historic and contemporary views from scripture and powerful Hindu thinkers that clearly uphold and celebrate an easy, natural passage to Hinduism. Non-Hindus and Hindus alike will find here insights and knowledge not normally found in conventional Hindu books. Includes a name list and comparison of the beliefs of the world's religions."




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UK Heroin Addicts Get Yoga Lessons
Posted on 2002/6/13 23:49:02 ( 539 reads )


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LONDON, ENGLAND, May 20, 2002: Jailed heroin addicts are being taught yoga and acupuncture as part of a unique rehabilitation program. Many who commit crimes to support drug habits are being given the holistic sessions to relieve stress and wean them off their addictions. Prisoners being rehabilitated back into the community and convicted criminals on probation are taking part in this trial program currently offered in Leicestershire and Rutland. Assistant chief officer of Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Service, Paul Hindson, said the program has proven a great success so far. He said: "I have not come across any other schemes in the country that have the range of interventions that we have. A drug user comes with a multitude of problems and we have a multitude of ways to deal with those problems. Some things we do are standard process across the country, like group sessions and developing life skills. But we also have a number of alternative methods like yoga and acupuncture."




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Development Ruining Bali's Beach Rituals
Posted on 2002/6/13 23:48:02 ( 591 reads )


Source: Jakarta Post





BALI, INDONESIA, June 13, 02: The Balinese consider the sea a holy place that plays a crucial role in their lives, either through religion or culture. They consider the sea as the beginning and the end of one's life cycle. They take tirtha (holy waters) from the sea to be used for purification and rituals. The Balinese people pay homage to the sea and preserve it as a most precious asset. Before many rituals in major Hindu temples or special events, devotees form processions and carry flowers and fruit offerings toward many beaches. Entire beaches and coastlines in Bali were left untouched for centuries, until the province was developed to become Indonesia's most prominent tourist destination in the early 1960s. Investors hunt for beach locations to make way for tourism-related development projects including hotels, villas and golf courses. A former Bali governor, I. B. Oka, issued a decree in the 1990s that allowed investors to develop tourist facilities and manage the coastal areas in front of their properties. The decree also shifted the function of beaches from the social and religious domain to limited and restricted business facilities. Since then, parts of the coastline have been closed to the public. Local Hindus believe the public's right to use, enjoy and to perform religious ceremonies that should be held in beach areas have been denied by government regulation and by developers.




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Youth Meet in California
Posted on 2002/6/13 23:47:02 ( 605 reads )


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SUNNYVALE, CALIFORNIA, June 14, 2002: The Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh of the Greater Bay Area presents the First Annual Summer Hindu Youth Forum on Saturday June 22, 2002 at Serra Park in Sunnyvale, California, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Hindu youth ages 13 to 20 from all over the San Francisco Bay Area will join together to discuss, and understand Indian culture and Hinduism. The Keynote Speaker will be Colleen B. Wilcox, Ph.D., Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. For more information, click "source" above.




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On-Line Video Clip Shows Ancient India Method of Stone Moving
Posted on 2002/6/13 23:46:02 ( 583 reads )


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KAUAI, HAWAII, June 14, 2002: Click "source" above to view a short video clip from the on-going construction of the all-stone Iraivan Temple in Hawaii. It depicts the ancient hand method moving two 4,000 pound stones by just five men.




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First Tamil Bhakti Literature Conference
Posted on 2002/6/13 23:45:02 ( 627 reads )


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CHENNAI, INDIA, June 14, 2002: The World Tamil Elakkiya Bhakti Society will host the First Tamil Bhakti Literature Conference on June 19 to 21 at Narada Gana Sabha, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai, 600 018. The event will be attended by spiritual leaders and Tamil scholars. The objective of the conference is to bring a new awareness to the younger generation in bhakti, culture and literature as a way of life. The three days event includes speech, dialog, and music. For further information please contact Kizhambur Sankarasubramanian at "source" above.




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Puri Chariots to Use Recycled Wood
Posted on 2002/6/12 23:49:02 ( 620 reads )


Source: Aajtak Hindi Channel





PURI, ORISSA, INDIA, June 13, 2002: Like every year the construction of chariots is at peak in Puri, this year it is as well. But the change in tradition this year is that this time even old wood is also being used for construction. The government has banned the unrestrained cutting of trees this year. For the rath yatra (chariot procession) three chariots are made and around 3,000 trees are cut every year for this purpose. This cutting of trees is having an adverse affect on the availability of trees in this area. To avoid this, this time forty percent old wood is being used for the construction of the chariots. According to Maharaja Divya Singhdev, chairman of the Puri Temple Management Committee, most of the wood used in building the chariots goes to the temple kitchen. The Orissa government believes that in the times to come there will not be any shortage of wood for the purpose of building the chariots. They have initiated a plan under which trees have been planted for this purpose in an area of 7,000 hectares. A bank has also been floated to preserve the wood gifted by devotees.




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Tamil Nadu Temple Renovations in Question
Posted on 2002/6/12 23:48:02 ( 365 reads )


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RAMESWARAM, TAMIL NADU, June 10, 2002: The ancient Ramanathaswamy temple in Rameswaram, an island on the southernmost tip of Tamil Nadu, stands where Hindu pilgrims from across the country seek to wash away their sins in the 22 wells (teerthas) that dot its corridors. Not many bother to stop by and look at what's happened over the years to the legendary third corridor, the longest in India --1.2 km and 1,212 pillars -- built between 1740 and 1770. Tourism brochures still vouch for the 12th century temple's "magnificent corridors and massive sculptured pillars. Over the years, salty sea breeze had been eating into the limestone pillars. So, its executive officer, a state government employee, simply decided to plaster them with cement. Muthaiah Sthapathi, HR&CE department's official consultant, says he was not aware of this 'Operation Cement.' "Restoration using local masons is unacceptable. Good sculptors/sthapathis must supervise such operations. The whitewashing is also wrong." Sandblasting is the other major threat. Muthaiah is against the use of this technique -- sand at high pressure is directed at the surface in combination with air or water. It destroys the fine details.




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Advani: Two Hundred Policemen Died in Gujarat Riots
Posted on 2002/6/12 23:47:02 ( 670 reads )


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DELHI, INDIA, June 13, 2002: The following is excerpted from an interview in the Asia edition of Time Magazine: "Time talks with Krishna Lal Advani, India's Home Minister and the man tipped by many as the hardline hand behind Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. TIME: Why do people call you a hardliner? Advani: It's simple. These phrases, hawkish, hardliner, strongman--they make for good copy. TIME: Turning to your own portfolio, are you happy with what happened in Gujarat? [On February 27, a crowd of Muslims burned nearly 60 Hindu devotees alive in a train at Ghodra, an event that led Hindu extremists to riot across the state of Gujarat. Unofficial death tolls count more than 2,000 dead, the overwhelming majority Muslims, and the violence continues to this day.] Advani: Ghodra was horrible, but what happened afterwards was equally reprehensible. We cannot condone either. But it did give me satisfaction that the government took action against the wrongdoers. TIME: Most people would say the opposite, that the police and the state apparatus stood back and let the violence happen, and that nothing has happened to them. Advani: Nearly 200 policemen died, so I do not think there was any complicity from them. And as for [hardline Hindu nationalist Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra] Modi, if there was any evidence of his complicity or being inactive, he would have been punished. He himself offered to resign, and we all said: Why?"




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