OHSWEKEN, Ontario (Reuters) – In a grey, shed-like building on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in southern Ontario, Esenogwas Jacobs is getting her kindergarten students ready to head home for the day.

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“Gao dehswe,” Jacobs says, calling her students to the door.

“Gyahde:dih,” she adds, it’s time to go.

Her students answer with assertive “ehes.”

No one speaks a word of English.

“I just use Cayuga with them,” Jacobs said. “Mostly they can respond back in Cayuga, so it’s pretty cool.”

The eight children of this kindergarten class carry on their shoulders the hopes for preserving the language of the Cayugas, one of the six nations that make up the Iroquois Confederacy of southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States.

Since the 19th Century and until recently, Canada has pushed for the assimilation of its native population, sending aboriginal children to boarding schools where they were taught the language, culture and spirituality of Canadian society.

While the effort to assimilate aboriginal people into Canadian culture failed, the schools, the last of which closed in 1996, were effective at stunting aboriginal languages.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has promised to set up a commission to look into the schools, which could lead to a statement of apology similar to one issued by Australia to its aboriginal people this week.

Less than a quarter of aboriginal people in Canada use their ancestral tongue, the government says. The number of fluent Cayuga speakers has dropped from 376 in the 1970s to only 79 today.

“The number of speakers, they’re dying off all the time, like every year,” said Elva Jamieson, who learned the language as a child from her family, but wasn’t allowed to speak it at school. “It gets lonely when you don’t have someone to talk to.”

Jamieson is a teacher at the Gaweni:yo High School, part of the same Cayuga language immersion program that also includes Jacobs’ kindergarten class, as well as a parallel Mohawk language program.

“I think the language speaks to their spirit,” Jamieson said of the 35 pupils at the high school, located about 70 miles southwest of the Ontario capital Toronto. “They’re able to grasp it and go with it.”

While the linguistic knowledge of native speakers like Jamieson is irreplaceable, Gaweni:yo — which means “nice-sounding words” — is helping to slow the erosion of the Cayuga language, and young people are becoming a viable population of fluent speakers.

The most dedicated meet up regularly to chat in Cayuga and practice new words and some even use Cayuga as the primary language at home.

Jacobs, 24, herself a graduate of Gaweni:yo, tries to speak only Cayuga with her boyfriend, another graduate, and she spends evenings visiting with elders to learn new words.

The program has been running since 1986, but this is the first year that it has included a kindergarten class. Many of her young students are the children of fellow Gaweni:yo graduates and Jacobs encourages them to use Cayuga at home, too.

While the dominant language on the reserve is still English, Jacobs is happy with the progress. The language is going through a rebirth, she said. “It feels good knowing these kids are coming up.”

LANGUAGE LOST

Not far from Jacobs’ kindergarten, a group of adults are also studying Cayuga in a crowded community centre classroom. One of them is Oklahoman Sally White, a descendant of the Seneca-Cayuga – a tribe that separated from the Cayuga of Six Nations in the 18th century.

The Seneca-Cayuga spoke a similar dialect, but their language has now been declared extinct, which means a man from Six Nations must go to Oklahoma each year to perform their traditional ceremonies.

“Without him, I don’t think we would have (our ceremonies),” said White, who hopes to learn enough Cayuga to teach the basics to her husband and other members of their community. “It’s just about gone. We’re losing a lot.”

But saving dying languages costs money and for many Canadians the price of immersion programs such as the one at Six Nations may be too steep.

Canada’s Conservative government, elected two years ago, has cut a 10-year, C$173 million ($173 million) language revitalization program, leaving the immersion programs at Six Nations dangling by a thread. School officials do not know if there will be funding to continue past the current year.

The death of the language would be a tragedy, according to linguist Marianne Mithun, who spent 10 years studying the decline of the Cayuga language at Six Nations.

“The loss of language is a devastating loss of identity,” said Mithun, a University of California Santa Barbara linguist who specializes in aboriginal languages in North America. “It is the disappearance of their heritage, a blacking out of their intellectual and cultural history.”

While Cayuga still has enough mother-tongue speakers to document how the language should be spoken, a process that is taking place on Six Nations through video and audio archives, Mithun worries that once all the elders die, the living language will only be a pale shadow of what it once was.

“When you get to see a language like Cayuga, you just see other ways of looking at the world,” said Mithun, commenting on the language’s literal nature. “If we care about understanding the human mind, then we’re really missing the boat if we let these languages slip.”

* By Julie Gordon (15 Feb 2008)

RIBNOVO, Bulgaria (Reuters) – Fikrie Sabrieva, 17, will marry with her eyes closed and her face painted white, dotted with bright sequins. She lives ‘at the end of the world’, tending a hardy Muslim culture in largely Christian Bulgaria.

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The remote village of Ribnovo, set on a snowy mountainside in southwest Bulgaria, has kept its traditional winter marriage ceremony alive despite decades of Communist persecution, followed by poverty that forced many men to seek work abroad.

“Other nearby villages tried the traditional marriage after the ban was lifted, but then the custom somehow died away — women wanted to be modern,” said Ali Mustafa Bushnak, 61, whose daughter came to watch Fikrie’s wedding.

“Maybe we are at the end of the world. Or people in Ribnovo are very religious and proud of their traditions.”

Some experts say clinging to the traditional wedding ceremony is Ribnovo’s answer to the persecutions of the past.

Bulgaria is the only European Union nation where Muslims’ share is as high as 12 percent. The communist regime, which did not tolerate any religious rituals, tried to forcibly integrate Muslims into Bulgaria’s largely Christian Orthodox population, pressing them to abandon wearing their traditional outfits and adopt Slavonic names.

The wedding ritual was resurrected with vigor among the Pomaks — Slavs who converted to Islam under Ottoman rule and now make up 2.5 percent of Bulgaria’s 7.8 million population — after communism collapsed in 1989.

But today it is still performed only in the closed society of Ribnovo and one other village in the Balkan country. Young men return from abroad to the crisp mountain snows, just for the winter weddings.

People in Ribnovo identify themselves more by their religion, as Muslims, than by their ethnicity or nationality, and the wedding ceremony is an expression of their piety. The village has 10 clerics and two mosques for 3,500 inhabitants.

DOWRY ON DISPLAY

Fikrie’s family have been laboriously piling up her dowry since she was born — mostly handmade knit-work, quilts, coverlets, sheets, aprons, socks, carpets and rugs.

On a sunny Saturday winter morning they hang the items on a wooden scaffolding, 50 meters long and three meters high, erected specially for the occasion on the steep, muddy road of scruffy two-story houses that leads to her home.

Nearly everyone in the village comes to inspect the offerings: Fikrie’s tiny homeyard has been turned into a showroom for the furniture and household appliances the bride has to provide for her new household.

The girl and her husband-to-be, Moussa, 20, then lead a traditional horo dance on the central square, joined by most of the village’s youth.

But the highlight of the ceremony, the painting of the bride’s face, comes at the end of the second day.

In a private rite open only to female in-laws, Fikrie’s face is covered in thick, chalky white paint and decorated with colorful sequins. A long red veil covers her hair, her head is framed with tinsel, her painted face veiled with and silvery filaments.

Clad in baggy pants and bodice shimmering in all the colors of the rainbow, the bride is presented by her future husband, her mother and her grandmother to the waiting crowd.

Fikrie is not permitted to open her eyes wide until a Muslim priest blesses the young couple. Alcohol is forbidden at the wedding receptions and sex before marriage is taboo.

BANNED RITUALS

Ethnographers say it is hard to date the bridal painting ritual, as the communist regime did not encourage studies into minority ethnic and religious groups.

“It is very likely that it is an invented tradition. It’s their way to express who they are,” said Margarita Karamihova, an associate professor at the Ethnography Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Experts say Pomaks had identity problems and faced more challenges than the majority of Muslims in Bulgaria, who are ethnic Turks.

“In the 1960s they would ban Islamic music at weddings, then they would not allow traditional clothes, and in the 1980s, the whole traditional Pomak wedding was banned,” said municipality mayor, Ahmed Bashev, born in Ribnovo.

Ribnovo’s inhabitants used to make a living from tobacco and agriculture, but low incomes in the poorest EU country forced men to start seeking jobs in cities in Bulgaria or in western Europe — not least to raise money for a wedding.

Outside influences have been slow to reach Ribnovo and young people rarely marry an outsider. Another Fikrie, 19-year-old Fikrie Inuzova, suggested the women, for whom the acceptable bridal age is up to 22, are not in a rush to modernize.

“My brother wants to travel, see the world… It’s different for men. They can do whatever. I want to stay here and marry.”

* By Tsvetelia Ilieva

George Clooney wasn’t supposed to say yes. A reporter interviews a movie star at a restaurant or a hotel lobby or an office, with his publicist lurking in the corner, ready to cut off any vaguely interesting questions. But to come over to my house for dinner? That’s a trap no sucker has ever shoved a famous foot into.

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Partly because there are so many unknowns—you’re stuck alone chatting up the family while the reporter cooks, you accidentally let slip a cruel joke about a wedding photo, you somehow use the bathroom wrong—and partly because who the hell wants to spend Saturday night stuck at some dork’s house eating undercooked lamb? Would Gwyneth Paltrow come over? Johnny Depp? But George Clooney said yes, of course, why not, sounds fun.

Clooney was the only star who could have said yes, because no other star wears his celebrity so easily. Nominated for another Oscar for Michael Clayton, Clooney has managed to become this era’s leading man without ever conveying the sense that he takes the role seriously. “He’s a throwback to what movie stars used to be,” says Grant Heslov, who has been friends with Clooney since they met in an acting class in 1983 and is now his partner at their new film and TV production company, Smoke House. “You see him and you think, Wouldn’t that be a great life? He seems like a man’s man. He seems like you could meet him at a bar and have a chat with him and it would be easy. And all of that is true.” Sid Ganis, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, says no one works an Oscars event or the red carpet like him. “Clooney is a kind of exception to the rule of celebrity aloofness. Gregory Peck was that way. Totally open. Unabashed. You’ve got to be not afraid,” he says. No other stars are as unfreaked out by their own celebrity, since, like most politicians, they want it either too much or too little. And it’s that ability to be constantly not afraid that makes women love him. “As they say in England, he is up for it,” says Michael Clayton co-star Tilda Swinton. “That means up for pretty much any fun you can think of. He has a way of daring you—which, for those of us who cannot resist a bit of a laugh, can be irresistible.”

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Still, this was going to be uncomfortable, this reversal of the natural guest-host order. Three years ago, Clooney invited me to his huge Los Angeles house to interview him, and he was exactly the host you’d expect: relaxed, honest, easy. Four years ago, when I left a message with his publicist to set up a time to talk to him, he simply called my voice mail and left his home number. In the summer, at his six-house compound in Lake Como, Italy, he throws nightly Algonquin-style dinners featuring such guests as Al Gore, Walter Cronkite and Quincy Jones. “He’s an excellent host,” says Tony Gilroy, director of Michael Clayton. “He’s really smart about figuring out what people need and want. Are they hot? Happy? Cold? Thirsty? He has that ability to bend himself to the space he’s in and instantly adjust to the group he’s with.” So I wondered, Can George Clooney possibly be a guest? Or is that just against the natural order of things? And what would I even cook? All his assistant would say was, “He’ll eat whatever is cooking.”

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It’s 6:45 on Saturday night when the doorbell rings, a little late. Clooney hit traffic, his assistant called to say, on his way back from visiting his girlfriend in Las Vegas. He’s wearing faded jeans, black laced boots and a zip-up sweater, and he looks less like a movie star than a normal, un-Botoxed 46-year-old unmarried guy coming over for dinner, but he also looks like he’s excited to be here because wherever he is, George Clooney’s also there. He hasn’t brought any wine, and I worry that this guesting thing is just not going to work out. I offer him a glass of red, and he suggests that we sit on the couch, and soon we’re talking about real estate, and it’s fine, and next thing I know, he’s getting a tour of the house. A tour of the house? The man owns a mansion in L.A. and a 15-bedroom villa in Italy! Why don’t I just show the Oscar-winning actor the tape of me in my high school production of Bye Bye Birdie? But he’s nailing this guest role: “I love old houses like this.” “You kept the original stuff.” “It’s nice to have a guest room.” “I love the arches on the shower.” I’m convinced that this is just a normal Clooney Saturday, that he spends his nights Charles Kuralting around L.A., knocking on doors, eating whatever’s cooking and chatting about politics. Within 15 minutes he made me feel comfortable in my own house. Which isn’t so easy when a giant celebrity is over for dinner.

It’s becoming clear to me already that somehow this guy, even in my house, really is a movie star. Maybe the only one we have now. There are plenty of huge box-office draws (Will Smith, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Johnny Depp) and even more famous celebrities (Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez, Lindsay Lohan), but no one besides Clooney is so gracefully both. After an actor achieves media saturation, there’s actually an inverse relation between fame and box-office receipts: people aren’t going to pay for what they can get for free. “There are so many media outlets and this enormous suck on information about you, it’s hard to maintain any kind of aura of specialness and mystery about the work itself, which is trying to be other people,” says director Tony Gilroy. “It was a lot easier to be Bill Holden than it is to be George Clooney.” Or as Clooney says, “Clark Gable wouldn’t have been Clark Gable if there was Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight.”

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His strategy for being a movie star is pretty simple, if counterintuitive: he makes fun of himself. It’s the by-product of every successful person’s strategy, which is to figure out what the other person is thinking. “Before they could kill me on Batman & Robin, I said, ‘It’s a bad film, and I’m the worst thing in it.’ You try to defend an indefensible position, you’ll look like a schmuck. The guys I dig don’t do that. Look at Winston Churchill. He said, ‘These are our shortcomings. Now let’s get past it,'” Clooney says. He thinks that’s all Cruise needs to do. “I talked to him the other day, and he’s a good egg. There’s nothing self-serving about what he’s saying. He has to turn it into a way to make fun of himself.”

Clooney also preempts situations that might earn him ridicule later. So he has either turned down every gift bag he’s been offered or has put them up on eBay for charity. “I’ve been smart about that. Rich famous people getting free s___ looks bad. You look greedy. And I don’t need a cell phone with sparkles on it,” he says. He sends handwritten apology letters to the directors whose scenes he ripped off in the movies he directed—Mike Nichols, Sidney Lumet, Sydney Pollack. He drives an electric car and a Lexus hybrid but won’t be a spokesman for the environment because he flies a private jet. He feels passionately about Barack Obama but refuses his pleas to campaign for him—other than an introduction in late February in Cincinnati, Ohio—because he doesn’t want it to backfire into a Hollywood-vs.-the-heartland attack. And he downplays and occasionally jokes about his problems, which include a bad back and some short-term memory loss he sustained when working on Syriana, quiet. “I know what pisses people off about fame,” Clooney says. “It’s when famous people whine about it.”

It may look as if he is an effortless movie star, but he has actually given the job a lot of thought. He’s not manipulative, but he is calculating, following the rules he learned from his family. When his aunt Rosemary Clooney went from being on the cover of this magazine to seeing her fame burst because musical tastes changed, she battled depression and took pills for much of her life. He knows random luck will eventually take fame away, just as random luck made him a star. If NBC had put ER on Fridays instead of Thursdays, I might have had Jonathan Silverman over for dinner. And while Clooney didn’t get famous until his 30s, when ER hit, he had kind of always been famous because of his dad, a popular news anchor in Cincinnati. “From the moment I was born, I was watched by other people. I was taught to use the right fork. I was groomed for that in a weird way,” Clooney says. “You give enough. You play completely. You don’t say, I don’t talk about my personal life. People say they won’t talk about their personal life. And then they do. And even when the tabloids say really crappy things and it pisses you off and you know it’s not true, you have to at least publicly have a sense of humor about it.”

He’s just as calculating about his career choices. “He was offered a stupendous amount of money to continue to do Roseanne,” the sitcom he was on for 11 episodes, says his dad Nick Clooney. “I was thinking he could build a little nest egg and maybe acting would pay off after all. He said, ‘No, I’ll be in a cul-de-sac. I’ll be that guy, and that’s all I’ll be.'” He pitched sitcom pilots and dramas and eventually won an Oscar nomination for co-writing the original screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck. He makes sure to not get stuck in one character or type of film. He has a Joel and Ethan Coen movie coming out in which he plays an idiot (as he did in their O Brother, Where Art Thou?), and he’s working on a movie about the founder of est and a comedy about the 1979 Tehran hostages who escaped. The next movie he directs and co-stars in is Leatherheads, a screwball comedy about pro football in the 1920s that comes out April 4. “After Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck I was offered the Richard Clarke book and every issues movie,” Clooney says. “I didn’t want to be the issues guy because if the issues change, you’re done. The Facts of Life is a good example. If you’re a young heartthrob—which I never caught on as—those fans not only abandon you, but they’re embarrassed to have liked you. It’s the same thing with issues movies. I want to just be a director.”

He is good at slipping into many different worlds, even the one in my kitchen, where he is pouring in the egg mixture while I add the hot spaghetti for the carbonara. He reaches over and stirs the bacon, grabs a string bean from the pot and eats it. He is mad guesting, Olympic-level guesting. He’s been over for two hours, and it occurs to me that the smooth bastard must have turned off his cell phone before he got here. When I leave the table to check on the lamb, he puts extra bacon on my pasta. He’s doing impressions—Pat O’Brien confusedly reporting outside Clooney’s Como villa, expecting Pitt and Jolie’s wedding (Clooney had bought $1,500 worth of flowers and 15 tabletops as a prank on gossip reporters); James Carville denigrating John Kerry’s campaigning skills; Daniel Day-Lewis doing John Huston in There Will Be Blood.

We’re deep into a second bottle of Barolo when Clooney cuts into his rack of lamb, and, oh, there would be blood. This is why a star wouldn’t take this invite, wouldn’t be here, staring at a red-raw-inedible piece of meat. He says it’s fine. I grab it, put it in the oven but forget to turn on the heat, so when I take it back out, it’s just as raw. Fine again, he says. I put it back one more time. He takes more pasta and salad. Rattled, I drop the salt. “Throw it over your left shoulder,” he says. “That’s just bad mojo. You know it, and I know it.” He may not believe in religion, but luck, Clooney has learned from his family, cannot be messed with.

One person Clooney will mess with—the thing he keeps coming back to the more we drink—is what a massive loser Bill O’Reilly is. It’s an irrational feud because every time O’Reilly gets to be as important as Clooney, O’Reilly comes out way ahead. But Clooney can’t help himself. He keeps talking about O’Reilly, and the little traps he’s set for him and how thrilled he is when he falls into them. It’s as if Clooney loves O’Reilly because he gives him permission to be an irrational 8-year-old. Maybe that’s why anyone loves O’Reilly. But he is also the anti-Clooney, donning a public persona, one that’s humorless and incapable of self-effacement. It’s as if someone created for Clooney his own Elmer Fudd.

One of the things O’Reilly has taken issue with is Clooney’s involvement in the crisis in Darfur, saying it’s reverse racism from someone who didn’t care about the Arabs being killed by Saddam Hussein. Clooney got interested in Darfur in 2005 after the campaign for Oscar votes for Syriana and Good Night, and Good Luck made him feel dirty. “You’re campaigning for yourself. To compete for art,” he says. His dad was also dejected and angry after losing an election for Congress, and Clooney had been reading about the lack of attention being given to Darfur, so the two went on a trip to Africa to shoot footage. Clooney wasn’t able to get into Darfur until late January, when the U.N. said it would give him an official title. “I have a U.N. passport. It says ‘Messenger of Peace’ on it. It’s very cool,” he says.

The Darfur organization he helped found, Not on Our Watch, has given away more than $9 million. But now, just three weeks back from having a 14-year-old border guard shove a machine gun at his chest, after recovering from malaria, after helicoptering out of N’Djamena, Chad, in a sandstorm three days before the rebels sacked it, he wonders if his critics are right, if this scheme to use celebrity to bring attention to the world’s plights isn’t, if not vanity, at least striving after wind. “I’ve been very depressed since I got back. I’m terrified that it isn’t in any way helping. That bringing attention can cause more damage. You dig a well or build a health-care facility and they’re a target for somebody,” he says. “A lot more people know about Darfur, but absolutely nothing is different. Absolutely nothing.”

He feels his advocacy is not even accomplishing as much as his family did during the embarrassing Christmas day trips his dad would arrange every year, when they would show up with gifts for a family who wrote to his dad’s TV station, asking for help. Now he wonders if it is better to give money and get out of the way, as he does when he gets off Highway 101 at Laurel Canyon Blvd., where there’s always a person begging for money. “You think, This is a $20 light. So you hope to catch the light. And then you feel guilty for hoping to catch the light,” he says. “People say, They’ll buy booze. Fair enough. They need it.” Clooney, having helped knock off two bottles of red and two bottles of dessert wine—all after drinking heavily in Vegas the night before—is not one to deny someone else alcohol.

It’s past midnight; we’re both pretty buzzed. He’s telling me how he wakes up every morning at 5:30 to the hoots of a giant owl and how he climbs into his hot tub so he can hoot back, mesmerized by nature, like Tony Soprano and his ducks, when this alarm starts shrieking. Clooney, not a man of inaction, especially in a moment of crisis like this, stands on my dining-room table, unscrews a panel in the ceiling and, finding nothing, makes me go outside and carry a huge ladder with him up two flights to my garage upstairs—where he climbs into an area I’ve never dared go, crawling along the beams with a screwdriver between his teeth. Finding nothing, he climbs down, knocks the dirt off his jeans, blows the dust out of his nose, rinses his hands and returns to the table. The shriek starts again, and Clooney thinks for a few seconds, ducks down and yanks the carbon monoxide detector out of the outlet. “Either it needs a battery,” he says, “or we have six seconds to live.”

At 1:30 he gets up to leave. He tells me that the next time I have interviewees over for dinner, I should trick them by passing his house off as mine, maybe with some hired servants, smoking a pipe, pretending journalism is something I do as a lark, separate from my silver-mining interests.

As he leaves, I feel as if I failed. In seven hours, I wasn’t able to find a part of Clooney different from the one everyone already knows. As he retreats in his movie-star car to his movie-star lair with his giant-owl sidekick, I feel pretty sure he never separates the public from the private. It explains, at least, why he sucked as Batman.

Then two nights later I get a chance to run the experiment again. My wife and I figure we’ll check out the sushi place Clooney said he’s been going to for 15 years. When we walk in, there’s only one occupied table, and of course it’s Clooney, his girlfriend, his assistant and a friend he met the first day he moved to Los Angeles. He’s unprepared for me, out in the open, vulnerable. But he yanks over a table, puts it next to his, tells us what to order, hands us food from his plate, shows us photos of him and the other guy at the table with Keith Richards, reads the cheesy lines he’s just been faxed for his Oscar presenting, fights for the check and generally hosts the crap out of us. Clooney is a movie star not because he’s overwhelmingly electric or handsome or fascinating. After two very fun nights, I can tell you that he really isn’t any of those things. George Clooney is a movie star because he’s happiest when he controls how everyone around him feels. Because that’s what movies do.

* By Joel Stein (TIME) With reporting by Amy Lennard Goehner

THOUGH no one talks about them much, Ernest Hemingway wrote two plays. The first, finished in 1926, was “Today Is Friday,” a forgettable one-acter set on the evening of the original Good Friday, when three Roman centurions get together at a tavern to discuss memorable crucifixions they’ve seen, including the one that afternoon. Not surprisingly, they sound a lot like Hemingway’s Nick Adams. “He looked pretty good to me in there today,” one of them says admiring Jesus’ stoicism.

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(Photo of Ernest Hemingway, center, during the Spanish Civil War, about 1937.)

His other play, “The Fifth Column,” which the Mint Theater Company in Manhattan is presenting, beginning Feb. 26, is a full-length drama written in 1937, when Hemingway was a correspondent covering the Spanish Civil War.

The play takes its name from Franco’s remark that he had four columns advancing on Madrid and a fifth column of loyalists inside the city ready to attack from the rear.

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(Photo of Ernest Hemingway with Martha Gellhorn on their honeymoon in Honolulu in 1940, at Halehulani Hotel)

“The Fifth Column” is not about Franco sympathizers, however, but about an American war correspondent who is a secret agent for the Republicans, and Hemingway worked on it while holed up in the Hotel Florida with all the other war correspondents.

In an unpublished letter just recently discovered he explained, “In those days” Herbert Matthews of The New York Times, Henry T. Gorrell of United Press, “Sefton Delmer of the Daily Express, Martha Gellhorn of Colliers, Virginia Cowles, then for Hearst, now of the London Times, Joris Ivens, who made the ‘Spanish Earth,’ Johnny Ferno, who photographed it, Josephine Herbst for various American weeklies and for humanity in general, Sidney Franklin working for me, all International Brigade men on leave, and the greatest and most varied collection of ladies of the evening I have ever seen all lived at the Hotel Florida.”

In an introduction to “The Fifth Column” Hemingway wrote that the hotel was bombarded numerous times, adding: “So if it is not a good play perhaps that is what is the matter with it. If it is a good play, perhaps those thirty shells helped write it.”

In the letter he goes into more detail: “In the fall of 1937 when I took up playwrighting, there weren’t any top floors to the hotel anymore. Nobody that was not crazy would go up there in a bombardment.

But the two rooms where we lived were in what is called by artillerymen a dead angle. Any place else in the hotel could be hit and was. But unless the position of the batteries on Garabitas hill were changed; or unless they substituted howitzers for guns; rooms 112 and 113 could not be hit because of the position of three different houses across the street and across the square.

“I was absolutely sure of this after being in the hotel during twenty-two heavy bombardments in which other parts of it were struck. It seemed eminently more sensible to live in a part of a hotel which you knew would not be struck by shell fire, because you knew where the shells lit, than to go to some other hotel further from the lines, the angles of which you had no data to figure and where you would maybe have a shell drop through the roof.

“Well, I had great confidence in the Florida and when Franco finally entered Madrid, Rooms 112 and 113 were still intact. There was very little else that was though.”

The Mint Theater Company normally specializes in revivals of neglected plays, but its production of “The Fifth Column” is really a premier of sorts, Jonathan Bank, the company’s artistic director, said recently.

“I want to be precise about this, so maybe I should say this is the first time Hemingway’s play has been done professionally in America,” he explained. “There might have been an amateur production. There was a production in the Soviet Union in 1963. And from a reference I saw in a biography of Michael Powell, I know he directed a production in Scotland in the ’40s.”

What was billed as an “adaptation” of “The Fifth Column” by Benjamin Glazer, directed by Lee Strasberg, was put on by the Theater Guild in 1940, to mostly mixed reviews. Hemingway by that point had washed his hands of it and for good reason, according to Mr. Bank. “I would say that it’s 80 percent Glazer and 10 percent Hemingway out of context,” he said. “It’s completely restructured and, well, awful.”

* By CHARLES McGRATH (NYT/February 10, 2008)

I am Independent politically. But, now, I consider the best political option, for USA and the world, will be to have a president democrat.
In politics do not exist pure, perfect or free errors candidates.

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The actual world to govern had a lot people complicated and variable in extreme.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two excellent candidates. According the history and politics characteristics of USA; in my opinion, Hillary Clinton, with her errors included, she can be a real option to improve the national and international politics of USA.

Nevertheless, I do not rule out to Obama. Also, he is a good option to be president of USA.

In reality all it depends on what they do (both candidates) in next days. The fight is very hard. But, at the end, I will support to the best: Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

See You Later.
CARLOS Tiger without Time

Meet Jorge Fernandez Gates

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At only 18 years of age, Jorge Fernandez Gates can speak, read and write in 11 foreign languages. They are not all related languages either. Some already under his belt include Mandarin Chinese, Catalan, Galician, English, French, German, Swedish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Not only that, but Jorge only started learning foreign languages a little over 5 years ago, which means he’s been “picking up” a foreign lingo at the rate of two foreign languages per year. His goal is to get into the Guinness Book of Records by mastering at least 25 foreign languages.

Already recognized as the “youngest polyglot in Peru”, in several interviews given primarily in his native Spanish, he discusses some techniques he (and you) can use to develop fluency in whatever foreign language you’re striving to acquire.

He says, “For me, foreign language learning is a hobby, I can’t control it, at any moment I could open a dictionary to look up a new word for my vocabulary.”

His principal ally in the quest to master enough foreign languages to make the Guinness Book of Records is the internet which he credits with up to 70% of his foreign language learning success.

He cites in particular Radio Bucharest online at: (http://www.multilingualbooks.com/online-radio.html) that features both live and pre-recorded radio programming in 38 European and Asian languages as well as 18 African continental languages, and online language courses as aids in helping him to familiarize himself with foreign languages.

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Other tactics he has frequently employed include:

– Talking with the staff in ethnic restaurants
– Watching television programs in or about target languages
– Using the radio as a key listening and comprehension development resource “to help accustom your ear to the pronunciation of the language”
– Using the internet to listen and study foreign languages

A major concern he has had was that “one day his brain would explode” from the constant linguistic input or that he would linguistically get “his wires crossed” and become totally confused. A neurologist he consulted assured him that “there are no limits” to the brain’s capacity to take in and store knowledge.

Jorge Fernandez gives these “keys” as essential to his linguistic accomplishments:

– Learn the foreign language grammar “forwards and backwards”
– Acquire a basis vocabulary of high-frequency words and phrases
– Never stop augmenting new vocabulary in your new language – He tries to learn at least two new words each day
– Practice your new language with friends, language teachers or whomever you can regularly

And just what started it all?

“I’m not a good student and as punishment my Mother decided to take away my cell phone and prohibited me from chatting online. I couldn’t go out, so to keep from spending the entire day sleeping I enrolled in a French course.” Then things began to change for him. “I liked it and decided to take Italian too.” He later discovered a course in Romanian on the internet and “loved it”.

To “prove” his language abilities, family members have gone with him to Chinese restaurants to have him converse with the cook and contacted TV programs and foreign language professors to verify his linguistic skills in other languages.

So began the linguistic journey of Jorge Fernandez Gates. So as not to create a “Babel” in his brain, he restricts himself to “calmly learning only two languages” at a time per year. You can listen to journalist Rosa Maria Palacios do a 26 minute video interview with him (in Spanish) on his language-learning adventures at: http://www.youtube.com/

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with “free ELT Ebook” in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

REYKJAVIK (Reuters) – Bobby Fischer, the eccentric genius who became America’s only world chess champion by humbling the Soviet Union’s best but who spent his last years as a fugitive from U.S. authorities, has died at 64.

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A spokesman for Fischer said he died after an unspecified illness at midday on Thursday in Reykjavik, the site of his 1972 victory over Boris Spassky at the height of the Cold War.

Once feted as a national hero and seen by some as the greatest chess talent ever, the Chicago-born former child prodigy seemed unable to resist perplexing his public with angry gestures, decade-long sulks and outrageous opinions.

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Having won the world title, he gave it away again to the Soviet champion Anatoly Karpov three years later by refusing to defend it.

After years of obscurity, he defied U.S. sanctions to play and beat Spassky again in former Yugoslavia during the Balkan wars. This was the match that got him into trouble and forced him to become a fugitive wanted by U.S. authorities.

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Of Jewish ancestry himself, Fischer claimed to be the victim of a Jewish conspiracy.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks he said he wanted to see the United States wiped out. He spent months in a Japanese jail cell, and his last years as a wild-haired, shambling recluse after Iceland gave him refuge.

Fischer’s triumph over Spassky ended the dominance of the seemingly invincible Soviet chess system. From the late 1920s to 1972, Soviets had held the world title for all but two years.

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Fischer’s style of play was often hyper-aggressive. Unlike many grandmasters, he always strived to win each game rather than settle for a draw — even when he was playing with the black pieces, which are at a disadvantage as white moves first.

He acquired a reputation for relying on pure mathematical logic, calculating as many positions as humanly possible, rather than on intuition.

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FIGHTING THE WHOLE SYSTEM

Spassky, who now lives in Paris, had little to say on Friday about his one-time nemesis. Asked by Reuters for his reaction to the news, he said: “It’s bad luck for you. Bobby Fischer is dead,” then hung up.

Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov hailed Fischer as a pioneer of chess. “We have lost a great individual,” Kasparov told reporters in Moscow.

“He was always alone .. . but while alone he demonstrated that a human being is capable of reaching new heights.”

Reigning champion Viswanathan Anand called Fischer the ultimate romantic: “He fought the whole system,” he said. “He was someone who could not deal with being a world champion.”

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Karpov called him a “a chess giant and a unique personality”.

But he said Fischer had avoided challenging him. “I don’t want to say he was afraid, but he must have been vaguely sensing he could lose. And this thought gnawed him.”

Russian chess grandmaster Mark Taimanov, who lost to Fischer in 1971, said: “His whole life was dominated by the chess board, by chess and this is perhaps why he was so great.”

“It is symbolic that he died at 64 as 64 is the number that symbolizes the chess board,” he told Reuters Television.

The events that had led the American to spend his final years in the city of his 1972 triumph were typically bizarre.

By the 1990s, he was said to be living under assumed names in cheap hotels in Pasadena on the outskirts of Los Angeles, surviving on occasional royalties from his books.

After victory in the Yugoslav game, which earned him $3 million, he spent years globetrotting, a wanted man in the United States. He resurfaced in public to praise the September 11 attacks in an interview with a Philippine radio station.

In 2004, he was detained in Japan for trying to travel on a revoked U.S. passport. After eight months in detention, during which the United States sought to have him extradited, Iceland granted him citizenship in March 2005.

Debate has always raged in chess circles about who was the greatest, but Fischer himself was in no doubt. He once said: “It’s nice to be modest, but it would be stupid if I did not tell the truth. It is Fischer.”

“SEE ‘EM SQUIRM”

Fischer told interviewers his favorite moment was when opponents began to feel they would lose. “I like to see ’em squirm,” he once said.

He was U.S. junior champion at 13 and U.S. Open champion at 14, retaining the title whenever he chose to defend it.

He became an international grandmaster at 15, gaining the rating at his first international tournament in Yugoslavia. He once defeated 21 grandmasters in succession — no other U.S. player had beaten more than seven in a row.

As Fischer’s fame grew, he became more unpredictable. He walked out of tournaments because of what he considered to be bad lighting or bad air conditioning.

In the mid-1960s, he opted out of two world championship qualifying series because he thought the tournament system favored the Russians. In 1967, when officials would not meet his demands for better conditions, Fischer angrily withdrew from international competition “for a period of introspection”.

He took his collection of chess books to California, where he later said he had “plotted my revenge if I ever came back”.

When the rules were changed in 1972 to include an eight-player eliminator to find the challenger to world champion Spassky, Fischer had the chance to prove he was as good as he always said he was.

A friend of the chess master told Reuters Fischer had been taken to hospital in October last year. Not trusting doctors, he returned home and was looked after by friends until his deat.

Einar Einarsson, president of a group that fought to bring Fischer to Iceland from Japan, said Fischer had liked living in Iceland but at times felt trapped because he could not travel.

One commentator said there was one constant through his life — his “running battle with the rest of the human race”.

(Additional reporting from Paris, Moscow and Amsterdam bureaus, and Oskar von Bahr in Stockholm; editing by Andrew Roche and Giles Elgood)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President George W. Bush called on Congress on Friday to give the U.S. economy a “shot in the arm” with an election-year package of temporary tax cuts and other measures worth up to $150 billion.

Bush said the United States, where share markets have slumped and unemployment is rising, faced the risk of an economic downturn but that his advisers still expected continued growth, albeit at a slower pace.

He said he wanted Congress to move quickly on a stimulus package that would focus on tax rebates for families and incentives to encourage business investment. The White House said the package could create about 500,000 new jobs.

“This growth package must be built on broad-based tax relief that will directly affect economic growth and not the kind of spending projects that would have little immediate impact on our economy,” Bush said at the White House.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said the administration hoped for a package worth about $140 billion to $150 billion, which is a little more than 1 percent of the economy’s size.

Financial markets are reeling amid bleak reports of declining retail sales and rising unemployment on top of soaring oil prices and a credit crunch brought on by a crisis in subprime mortgages.

Bush’s plan failed to reassure investors on Friday as world stock prices fell again, with U.S. stocks tumbling to close out the worst week for the benchmark S&P 500 index in 5 years on fears the White House effort will not be enough to avoid recession.

Economists are talking of a possible recession taking hold before presidential and congressional elections in November and the debate over an economic stimulus has been taken up by candidates campaigning to succeed Bush in the White House.

Bush and the Democratic-led Congress are in rare agreement that a stimulus is needed. But they are still hammering out the details of a plan that is likely to include tax rebates of several hundred dollars each to help spur consumers as well as temporary tax breaks for businesses.

TAX REBATES

Under discussion are proposals to trim the lowest income tax rate and give the money back in a rebate. Lawmakers are also considering allowing businesses to immediately write off 50 percent of their new investments.

Democrats are looking to provide states with some financial aid, extend unemployment benefits beyond the 26 weeks offered by most states and to get some more money for food stamps.

For now, lawmakers are putting aside the bitter partisanship that dominated last year’s session and which resulted in near-gridlock over spending, taxes, health care and the Iraq war.

“I am encouraged and share the president’s view that we need prompt bipartisan action to strengthen our economy,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Only a day earlier, the Nevada Democrat had expressed some disappointment with the results of a telephone conference between Bush and congressional leaders.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, said after Bush’s remarks on Friday that the president needed to accept some spending as part of the package.

“We want a balanced package of tax rebates for the middle class and spending stimulus that jump-starts the economy quickly,” Schumer said at a news conference.

Bush predicted that an agreement could be worked out soon. The administration and lawmakers say the outlines of plan could be clear by Bush’s State of the Union address to Congress on January 28.

“I believe we can come together on a growth package very quickly,” Bush told reporters as he visited a lawn mower factory in Maryland on Friday.

Most of the major White House contenders have unveiled proposals for the economy but they differ widely on specifics, highlighting the challenges in getting a bipartisan agreement.

Sen. Hillary Clinton, who has proposed a $110 billion plan that would target poor and middle-class people, said Bush’s approach would shortchange struggling families.

“I don’t think it does enough,” she said in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. John McCain, campaigning in South Carolina, expressed wariness about some Democratic ideas for a stimulus, especially those focusing on spending.

“I want to see where that money is going to come from,” said McCain, who laid out a proposal on Thursday for cuts in corporate tax rates and incentives for companies to invest in new equipment and research.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan and Donna Smith, additional reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Steve Holland and Jeff Mason; editing by Kristin Roberts and Stuart Grudgings)

KOLKATA, India (Reuters) – Authorities in eastern India have teamed up with prostitutes as the officials accelerate a drive against the trafficking of girls into the trade.

It is a rare display of official approval for the efforts of prostitutes in West Bengal’s Sonagachhi area, one of Asia’s largest red-light districts.

In the past year alone a prostitutes’ organization has rescued more than 550 women and girls from brothels and from traffickers, the state’s social welfare department officials said.

“The state government had no choice but to join hands with the sex workers as they seem to be doing a better job in tackling trafficking,” said Samarajit Jana, an official from India’s AIDS control program, which helps run the project.

Younger girls are usually helped to get back to their home village. Adults are usually given housing and job training.

“I was kidnapped and forced to entertain old men, but now all that is past as I am trying to make a new beginning in life,” said Anjali, a 16-year-old girl who was rescued last month by prostitutes from one of the brothels crammed into Sonagacchi’s crowded maze of alleyways.

Anjali is among hundreds of poor girls shifted to one of six new government-sponsored rescue centers across the state. They learn embroidery and sewing among other crafts.

This has been possible after the government formed an alliance last month with the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya (DMSC), an organization founded in 1995 that now represents 65,000 sex workers in West Bengal.

DMSC focuses its rescue efforts on minors entering the trade and those who were deceived into joining it.

“We have realized that we are the most effective weapon against this social evil that forces minor girls into sex trade,” said Bharati Dey, a former prostitute, who leads the campaign.

At least 20,000 women and girls are kidnapped and forced into prostitution in India every year, the government said.

Many pass through West Bengal on their way to Mumbai, Delhi and other cities in India, as well as the United Arab Emirates, police said.

Most of these girls are from India’s northeast and neighboring Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh, they said.

In India, trafficking and profiting by selling a person for sex is illegal, but paying for sex with an adult prostitute is not.

India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development wants to change the laws to allow police take stern action against clients, but critics have stalled the plan.

Prostitutes and groups working with them fear such a move would force the trade deeper into the shadows.

The DMSC now plans to spread its campaign across the state and elsewhere in India.

(Editing by Jonathan Allen and Jerry Norton)

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Thursday as she left an election rally in the city of Rawalpindi, putting January 8 polls in doubt and sparking anger in her native Sindh province.

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State media and her party confirmed Bhutto’s death from a gun and bomb attack.

“She has been martyred,” said party official Rehman Malik.

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Bhutto, 54, died in hospital in Rawalpindi. Ary-One Television said she had been shot in the head.

News of her death brought a swift and angry reaction from supporters in Sindh and its capital, Karachi, where fires were set, shots fired and stones thrown.

“Police in Sindh have been put on red alert,” said a senior police official. “We have increased deployment and are patrolling in all the towns and cities, as there is trouble almost everywhere.”

President Pervez Musharraf condemned “in strongest possible terms the terrorist attack that resulted in the tragic death of Bhutto and many other innocent Pakistanis”, the state news agency said.

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“The president convened a high-level emergency meeting … soon after the tragic development.

“He urged the people to stay calm to face this tragedy and grief with a renewed resolve to continue the fight against terror,” the APP news agency said.

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HUGE QUESTIONS

The assassination, 13 days before an election which Bhutto had hoped to win, throws up huge questions for this nuclear-armed U.S. ally already struggling to contain Islamist violence.

Musharraf, whose popularity has slumped this year, could decide to postpone the vote and reimpose a state of emergency that was only lifted on December 15 after six weeks.

“It does cast a shadow over the election and it raises some concerns over how the government might deal with any popular reaction to this,” said Jennifer Harbison, head of Asia Desk at Control Risks, London.

“There is the potential that her supporters could take to the streets and that is something that will be difficult for the government to address without at least considering a return to emergency rule.”

Police said a suicide bomber fired shots at Bhutto as she left the rally venue in a park before blowing himself up.

“The man first fired at Bhutto’s vehicle. She ducked and then he blew himself up,” said police officer Mohammad Shahid.

Police said 16 people had been killed in the blast, which occurred during campaigning for the national election. A Bhutto party spokeswoman, Sherry Rehman, was hurt in the attack.

“It is the act of those who want to disintegrate Pakistan because she was a symbol of unity. They have finished the Bhutto family. They are enemies of Pakistan,” senior Bhutto party official Farzana Raja told Reuters.

Bhutto’s father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, was Pakistan’s first popularly elected prime minister. He was executed in Rawalpindi in 1979 after being deposed in a military coup.

A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack said he had heard two shots moments before the blast. Another Reuters witness saw bodies and a mutilated human head strewn on a road outside the park where she held her rally.

“TERRIBLE BLOW” – INDIA

India, Pakistan’s giant neighbor and rival, said Bhutto’s assassination was a terrible blow to the democratic process.

“In her death the subcontinent has lost an outstanding leader who worked for democracy and reconciliation in her country,” said a spokesman for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

U.S. President George W. Bush condemned Bhutto’s killing. A spokesman said he would make a statement at 1600 GMT. A State Department official said: “The attack shows that there are still those in Pakistan trying to undermine reconciliation and democratic development in Pakistan.”

In France, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner condemned what he called “this odious act” and paid tribute to Bhutto as an eminent figure in Pakistani political life.

It was the second murderous attack on Bhutto in under three months. On October 19 a suicide bomber killed nearly 150 people as she paraded through Karachi on her return from eight years in self-imposed exile.

Islamist militants were blamed for that attack but Bhutto had said she was prepared to face the danger to help the country.

Speaking on Thursday, Bhutto had told of the risks she faced.

“I put my life in danger and came here because I feel this country is in danger. People are worried. We will bring the country out of this crisis,” Bhutto told the Rawalpindi rally.

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TEARS, SHOTS

People cried and hugged each other outside the hospital where she died. Some shouted anti-Musharraf slogans.

Another former prime minister and opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, spoke to the crowd.

“My heart is bleeding and I’m as grieved as you are,” Sharif said.

On international financial markets, gold and government bonds rose while U.S. stocks fell in part on news of the assassination.

Analysts say the shock of the Bhutto news triggered a classic capital flight to assets which are considered as safe havens in times of geopolitical stress.

Bhutto became the first female prime minister in the Muslim world when she was elected in 1988 at the age of 35. She was deposed in 1990, re-elected in 1993, and ousted again in 1996 amid charges of corruption and mismanagement.

She said the charges were politically motivated but in 1999 chose to stay in exile rather than face them.

Bhutto’s family is no stranger to violence.

Apart from her father’s execution, both of her brothers died in mysterious circumstances and she had said al Qaeda assassins tried to kill her several times in the 1990s.

Intelligence reports have said al Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistani jihadi groups had all sent suicide bombers after her.

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* Thu Dec 27, 2007 12:10pm EST
 By Augustine Anthony (Reuters)

At a Veterans Day naturalization ceremony at Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad, the Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff, led 178 troops in the oath of allegiance. Each new American received a certificate, a flag and the hearty praise of Brig. Gen. Gregory Couch, who hailed them as “these wonderful warriors.”About 40,000 non-citizens are serving in the United States military, continuing a tradition of immigrant soldiering that dates to the dawn of the republic. About 4,000 troops since 2004 have earned citizenship while stationed abroad.

Presumably all of them were legal residents, since the military does not knowingly accept the undocumented. But some who entered the country illegally do manage to enlist — including soldiers like Lance Cpl. Jose Antonio Gutierrez, a Marine who was one of the first killed in the early hours of the Iraq war in March 2003. He was from Guatemala, and won his American citizenship posthumously.

There is an irony to the Pentagon’s policies toward the undocumented. The military’s ranks and morale have been ruinously sapped by the misadventure in Iraq. To keep the recruiting pipeline filled, it has repeatedly lowered its standards on things like candidates’ aptitude, education and health, and granted “moral waivers” to tens of thousands of recruits with criminal records.

But while the military has been taking a gamble, a la “The Dirty Dozen,” on the potential for ex-convicts — including some violent felons — to redeem themselves, a pool of highly motivated and well-qualified candidates lies out of reach: men and women like Corporal Gutierrez.

The Pentagon has been more progressive about immigration than the rest of the federal government. Many military leaders supported a bill to give a select group of young immigrants — high school graduates who were brought here illegally by their parents, grew up here, had exemplary records and were eager to serve — the chance to enlist and become legalized after two years in uniform.

That was the Dream Act, but it died because Congress, under ferocious pressure from the hard-line right, refused to grant “amnesty” in any form to the blameless children of “illegal aliens.”

The message was clear — Uncle Sam may want you, and you may want Uncle Sam, but you cannot serve. If you are undocumented there is no redemption for you — not even in Iraq.

That’s pretty hard core. It’s a good example of how self-defeating the restrictions orthodoxy can be. But that’s where the national debate is stuck.

  • I think that it is the height of racism, ignorance and hypocrisy for this government to simultaneously round up immigrants of any status at the same time that it forces them into harm’s way. Those who VOLUNTARILY give their lives, or risk their lives, for a country that they are told doesn’t want them, deserve our utmost respect and yes, even amnesty. Putting your neck on the line for the United States should earn you your citizenship and everything else that this nation has to offer.
    While I believe that the innocent children of illegal immigrants deserve a break and all of the benefits of citizenship, I think that it should go double for those who enter the military and volunteer for a doomed operation that even current enlistees are abandoning in droves. I just read a separate article about how desertion rates are at an all-time high, and as the deaths in Iraq continue with no end to this illegal war in sight, how can we NOT afford to honor immigrants who are willing to fight for this country? — Posted by Hillary
  • Let’s get past the immigrant paranoia and recognize the potential this sort of system could have. The army desperately needs front-line bodies in Iraq and their crumbling recruitment standards are proof. Immigrants need a way to prove themselves worthy of citizenship that makes sense and is actually attainable to the masses. Allowing immigrants, especially illegal ones, the opportunity to earn citizenship through fighting for this country seems like the best idea to deal with the immigration “issue” that I’ve heard. Our country gains a larger and more motivated military, and immigrants gain a straightforward yet not-in-the-least-bit easy path to citizenship. And perhaps best of all, for those consumed by the immigration witchhunt, aliens who are living in the country undocumented will volunteer themselves to BECOME documented in order to serve. It’s so painfully obvious I can’t believe we haven’t been doing this since 9/12
    — Posted by Mike Jewell

  • Humans Are People Too
    by Christopher Jon Batis
    To label, designate, view, consider, describe or otherwise regard any human being as illegal or alien is fundamentally, inherently, patently, basically, and vehemently offensive, disgusting, evil, abhorrent, humiliating, inhumane, oppressive, derisive, and completely, universally devoid of any possible recognition of the divine, corrupting of the spirit, and absent of any decency or morality, and defamatory of creation.

    Do we really consider ourselves so distinct from one another to the manner in which we breathe, bleed, feel and occupy space on this planet and our place in the universe?

    Is it so difficult to recognize in each other the divinity from which we all emanate?; that we are all drops from the same ocean?; that we are all running out of the precious time we all have on this plane of existence and chose to waste it in the futility of micro-detailing our differences, focusing on the banality of our external traits, concentrating on the irrelevance of our geographical origins when most of us love our children, long for purpose, and, at one point or another, will exhale one last time?

    National sovereignty is important, but must we approach the issues of immigration with such personal anger and hatred toward one another? Can we not approach the issues of our nation with the dignity this country should be recognized for?

    Surely, as Americans, as leaders of freedom, we can approach the issues that affect us with personal integrity, intelligent discourse, and respectful regard for all lives, foreign or domestic, with the same respect we demand for ourselves?

    The jury is out. May the verdict be fitting of the fair, the just, and the pursuers of happiness

    — Posted by Christopher Jon Batis

  • We need to do some serious thinking and discussing about “illegal” immigrants. We also need hard data.
    We need reliable information on:1. Total number of illegal immigrants.
    2. How many are working?
    3. What kinds of work they do.
    4. How much they are being paid.
    5. Amount of taxes they pay, classified by Social Security, Medicare, Federal income tax, state and local income tax.

    I suspect that “illegal” immigrants fill very important needs in our economy at a very low cost. In other words, they are extremely valuable to the rest of us.

    If that is true, we should stop saying nasty things about them and accept them as valuable members of our society and legalize them. What’s the problem with that?

    — Posted by Realist

  • I am a freshman at Hunter College and is writing a paper: “Viva La American Dream.” Please excuse my naiveness due to my youth, but whatever happened to human decency that America is so well known by? It seems to me that anyone, illegal or not, should be able to dream the American dream, especially those who are willing to die for that dream.
    I had my own dream the other night and dreamed that we lived in a different world; one with an Orwellian reality and that we (Americans)were all excluded from the American dream. With globalization now confronting us, I imagine a world without borders and that some world leader have excluded us from cross over the global borders to seek a better life. I woke up in a sweat and hurriedly, to the computer to write the NY Times. — Posted by lucia bruni
  • So the NY Times thinks it’s terrible that the “hard-line” right refuses to offer amnesty to “blameless children of illegal aliens?”
    I note how the Times conveniently neglected to mention some of the logic of those who might oppose the “Dream Act.” For one, wouldn’t it be more than awkward to have a young person fighting for us while our laws demand that the illegal parents and extended family be kicked out of the country? I think we all know the public demonstrations and hoopla that would surround any effort to export any illegal family member of such service people. So realistically, in a country like ours, we must face the fact that this would be an “all or none” deal. We either accept the illegal soldier into our armed forces and allow his parents and extended family to stay or we kick all of them out.

    If the NY Times is prepared to advocate that it would allow illegal alien soldiers into our military while simultaneously kicking the soldiers’ extended family out of the country, then I’d love to read about it. But I think most readers know that the NY Times would never advocate such a position.

    I’m afraid that this issue is simply more nuanced than the NY Times would like us to believe.

    — Posted by Bill Carson

  • I doubt this post will ever make it past the censors, (they never do when the topic is illegal immigration) but I have to say I’m surprised by the tone of my fellow Americans.
    Tell me, my fellow citizen…why should I have to obey the laws that foreign aliens don’t? If I steal someone’s identity and use it to perpetuate fraud, should it be condoned and I be allowed to keep my ill-gotten goods? There are some very nice condo’s sitting empty in an adjacent building, much nicer than the ratty old studio I currently rent. If I were to break into one and squat there, should I be allowed to remain for as long as I like? These questions may sound illogical, but they exactly mirror what has been posted here. An American citizen convicted of any of the crimes illegals commit as a matter of course would be, at the least, sent to jail. Jail for a citizen, fortune for the illegal. How is that fair?You people just don’t get it. You may believe that you are championing the underdog, the helpless, the downtrodden but what you are actually doing is advocating AGAINST “equal under the law”, one of the basic tenets of democracy. If you are so contemptuous of that democratic process, of the rule of law, of our sovereignty…just be honest and say so. If you don’t believe that America has a right to decide who can come here and who we don’t want…say so. Don’t be a coward. Stand up and declare that there’s nothing wrong with criminality and that the law is only for those stupid enough to obey it. If we follow the path of the open-borders, pro-illegal crowd we’ll end up with either Anarchy or a World Government. After all, without borders there are no separate countries. Don’t be afraid to say that you WANT to see a World Government. Just be honest and quit trying to couch it as anything BUT a willingness to see the United States as a subject state.

    No amnesty. Build the fence. Enforce the law.

    — Posted by Mara

  • I was a commanding officer and in my unit I had men from various countries. No one asked them if they wanted to die, just give us your best effort. It is a shame that our President doesn’t step in and let illegal immigrants serve, then give them citizenship. I believe we all are brothers and sisters, not spurious beings. I haven’t seen any immigrants provoke a crime, just the opposite. They take jobs that have not been outsourced and add to our society. When will the American people stop listening to the right wing and consider what they are preaching? Remember when we lived in a free society? Have you ever read the writings on the Statue of Liberty. I have!
    — Posted by J. Harry Sutherland  

  • In all foreign wars, and even in the civil war, the rich in America have used substitutes to do the real fighting. Making the immigrants – legal or illegal – fight is nothing new under the sun. If you don’t like this, then stop this imperial hubris. — Posted by Julia
  • I suppose the commonly-used phrase “they do jobs that ordinary Americans don’t want to do” includes being willing to fight and even die for our country. As a veteran, I am ashamed that we have so many who are willing to go to war, but so few who are willing to do the fighting. Of course, an illegal occupation of Iraq is not exactly a traditional “war” is it?
    — Posted by Don Skillin
  • I agree with the first post by Hillary. The undocumented should be allowed to serve and their families should be allowed to stay here. This whole “illegal immigrant” war is a way of distracting Americans from the real problems created and nurtured by the ruling oligarchy. And a way for Lou Dobbs to increase his ratings and sell more cars. And yes, do remember the words on the Statue of Liberty. My ancestors were illegal immigrants in the 1620s when they came over here and killed the people who were living here. The undocumented work, pay taxes, and also DRIVE here (and so should prove they know how to drive and have insurance — we think if we don’t allow them to have driver’s licenses they will decide to go home?). Biometrics would be helpful in preventing document forgeries..the technology exists and we should use it. We need to rethink this issue and not be duped into thinking that our problems are due to the undocumented. The problem is with our devious, greedy rulers and not with undocumented people joining our armed forces.
    — Posted by Bev

The scale of an unspeakable horror from Bosnia’s rape camps and the horrors of Rwanda’s genocide in the 1990s to the atrocities being perpetrated daily in northern Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region, the tally of body bags runs alongside another grim body count: the numbers of women and girls, but in some places men and boys too, subjected to rape and other forms of sexual violence. Reliable and comprehensive figures are hard to come by: victims are often too traumatised or too fearful to speak out. But a report on “Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict” by the Geneva-based Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) picks its way as systematically as it can through conflict after conflict, in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, piecing together the evidence.

It is grim reading. In Bosnia’s war up to 50,000 women were subject to sexual violence; over 14 years perhaps 40% of Liberia’s population suffered similar abuse; just under half those interviewed in a randomised study in Sierra Leone in 2000 had been raped, and more than a quarter had been gang-raped.

Such sexual violence can lead to severe physical as well as psychological damage: high numbers of fistula cases have been reported during conflicts in Burundi, Chad, Congo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and elsewhere. An earlier DCAF report recorded that an estimated 70% of Rwanda’s rape survivors were infected with HIV/AIDS. The offspring of such violence are often stigmatised or abandoned as “children of hate”. In other words, the damaging health, economic and social consequences live on long after conflicts end.

Can such violence be curbed? In Darfur, marauding militias prey on women and children collecting firewood, food or animal fodder outside refugee camps. In some places, African Union peacekeepers have sent out trucks with soldiers to follow the women and provide as much protection as they can.

Alongside practical initiatives like these “firewood patrols”, DCAF calls, as have earlier UN resolutions, for more women peacekeepers. They get along better with locals and also improve the behaviour of their male counterparts (in Congo in 2005 the UN registered 72 allegations of sexual violence of one sort or another against its own troops; 20 were substantiated). The percentage of women serving in UN military and police units is tiny; but some women have recently had senior posts in UN missions. And earlier this year Liberia received the UN’s first-ever all-female contingent—103 Indian policewomen. It would help, says DCAF, if victims of sexual violence were more involved and better cared for in programmes for disarmament and demobilisation.

But when it comes to curbing sexual violence during conflict, ending a culture of impunity is key. The statute of the International Criminal Court allows for the prosecution of rape and similar violence as war crimes, crimes against humanity and even potentially as acts of genocide. Earlier this year the chief prosecutor decided to focus one of the court’s investigations on atrocities carried out in 2002-03 in the Central African Republic—where rapes may have exceeded murders.

The increasing use of rape, by governments as well as militias, as a weapon of war is to be the target of a UN General Assembly resolution that is expected to pass soon. After intense lobbying by Sudan (the resolution named no names, but evidently the shoe fitted) among the UN’s Africa group, backed surprisingly by South Africa, the language of the resolution has been watered down somewhat. But it still calls for the UN secretary-general to report back next year on what is being done to protect civilians against sexual violence—and to hold to account, among others, governments that target their own citizens in this way.

* War’s other victims/Dec 6th 2007/From The Economist print edition

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Valentina Tereshkova was born on March 6, 1937 and in 1963 was the first woman to fly in space aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft.

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The USSR Pilot-Cosmonauts Heroes of the Soviet Union Yury Gagarin (left) and Valentina Tereshkova (right).

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Wedding ceremony of Pilots-Cosmonauts Valentina Tereshkova (left) and Andriyan Nikolayev (right).

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The USSR Pilot-Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova with daughter Alyonka.

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The USSR Pilot-Cosmonaut Valetina Tereshkova (right) with mother Yelena (left) in Yaroslavl.

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Yale University has agreed to return to Peru thousands of Inca relics that were excavated at Machu Picchu. (Images courtesy of Yale Peabody Museum)

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The relics were excavated from 1911-15 by a Yale history professor, Hiram Bingham.

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During three trips to Machu Picchu, Bingham dug up thousands of objects, including mummies, ceramics and bones. (Image: Michael Marsland/Yale University)

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In 2003 the artefacts went on display in a touring exhibition and the Peruvian government launched negotiations to get them back.

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In 2006 Peru threatened to take the case before a US court, saying it had agreed to the objects’ removal only on condition they would be returned.

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Under the agreement Yale and Peru will co-sponsor a travelling expedition of the collection.

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The Incas ruled Peru from the 1430s until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1532.

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They built stone-block cities and roads, and developed a highly organized society that extended from modern-day Colombia to Chile.

· BBC set. 2007
·

IMPOSSIBLE DREAM from MAN OF LA MANCHA
Broadway_To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest, to follow that star
No matter how hopeless,
No matter how far
To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world would be better for this
That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star _The book was by Dale Wasserman, lyrics by Joe Darion, and music by Mitch Leigh: one song, “The Impossible Dream”, was particularly popular.

Man of La Mancha started its life as a non-musical teleplay written by Dale Wasserman for CBS’s Dupont Show of the Month program. This original staging starred Lee J. Cobb. The Dupont Corporation disliked the title Man of La Mancha, thinking that its viewing audience would not know what La Mancha actually meant, so a new title, I, Don Quixote, was chosen. Upon its telecast, the play won much critical acclaim.

Years after this television broadcast, and after the original teleplay had been unsuccessfully optioned as a non-musical Broadway play, director Albert Marre called Wasserman and suggested that he turn his play into a musical. Mitch Leigh was selected as composer. The original lyricist of the musical was poet W. H. Auden, but his lyrics were discarded, some of them overtly satiric and biting, attacking the bourgeois audience at times.

The musical first opened at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in 1964. Rex Harrison was to be the original star of this production, but soon lost interest when he discovered the songs must actually be sung. Michael Redgrave was also considered for the role.

The play finally opened on Broadway on November 22, 1965. Richard Kiley won a Tony Award for his performance as Cervantes/Quixote in the original production, and it made Kiley a bona fide Broadway star, but the role went to Peter O’Toole in the less-successful 1972 film. O’Toole, however, did not really sing his own songs; they were dubbed by tenor Simon Gilbert. All other actors in the film, however, from non-singers such as Sophia Loren, Brian Blessed, Harry Andrews, and Rosalie Crutchley, to Broadway musical stars such as Julie Gregg and Gino Conforti, did do their own singing. The only member of the original cast to reprise his role in the film was Conforti, repeating his hilarious portrayal of the amazed barber, whose shaving basin is mistaken by Don Quixote for the Golden Helmet of Mambrino. Although the bulk of the film was made on two enormous sound stages, the use of locations was much more explicit – Don Quixote is actually shown fighting the windmill, while onstage this had been merely suggested by having Quixote run offstage to agitated music, and then crawl back onstage a few seconds later, with his lance broken and his sword twisted. The film was produced and directed by Arthur Hiller, and photographed by Federico Fellini’s frequent cinematographer, Giuseppe Rotunno, with musical and fight staging provided by Gillian Lynne.

The play has been run on Broadway five times:

1965 – 1971 original production, opened November 22, 1965 with Richard Kiley as Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote and ran for 2,328 performances. John Cullum, José Ferrer, Hal Holbrook, and Lloyd Bridges also played the roles during this run.
1972 – revival, Richard Kiley as Cervantes and Quixote.
1977 – revival, Richard Kiley as Cervantes and Quixote, Tony Martinez as Sancho Panza and Emily Yancy as Dulcinea.
1992 – revival, Raúl Juliá as Cervantes and Quixote, Sheena Easton as Dulcinea.
2002 – revival, Brian Stokes Mitchell as Cervantes and Quixote, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Dulcinea, Ernie Sabella as Sancho Panza.

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