Archive for May, 2007

World’s Longest Underground River

May 28, 2007

World’s Longest Underground River Discovered in Mexico, Divers Say

John Roach
for National Geographic News

March 5, 2007

Divers exploring a maze of underwater caves on Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula have identified what may be the longest underground river in the world.

The waterway twists and turns for 95 miles (153 kilometers) through the region’s limestone caverns, said British diver Stephen Bogaerts, who made the discovery with German colleague Robbie Schmittner.

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In a straight line, the system would span about six miles (ten kilometers) of land. (Related: “Huge Underground ‘Ocean’ Found Beneath Asia” [February 27, 2007].)

Bogaerts and Schmittner spent four years exploring using underwater scooters and specially rigged gas cylinders to find a connection between the Yucatán region’s second and third longest cave systems, known respectively as Sac Actun and Nohoch Nah Chich (Mexico map).

“We expected to have done it by December 2004,” Bogaerts said. “But, unfortunately, we were unable to make the connection in the area we were looking in, so we had to look somewhere else.”

The team scoured the passages, marking each new twist and turn with carefully labeled rope.

On January 23 the pair headed toward the final connection from opposite sides and used an unopened bottle of champagne to make the final tie-off between the two systems.

“It’s a little bit like planting a flag on the moon or the top of [Mt.] Everest,” Bogaerts said.

Explorer’s Paradise

Gene Melton is chair of the Lake City, Florida-based National Speleological Society’s Cave Diving Section. He said the connection caps 20 years of exploration and mapping in the Yucatán’s underground labyrinth.

“[Bogaerts and Schmittner] saw the trending of certain passages going together, and they started making a major effort to explore it,” he said.

Long a popular retreat for beachgoers, the Yucatán Peninsula has become a favorite destination for cave divers, Melton added.

“Just about any time you go you can nearly always go find a new place to explore,” Melton said.

He likens the region to “a huge limestone sponge.”That’s because the peninsula is largely made of limestone, a soft and porous rock that is easily eroded by slightly acidic rainwater, which carves out underground passages as it courses toward the Caribbean Sea.

The pathways range from jumbo-jet-size rooms with long stalagmites and stalactites to narrow slits that divers must blindly squeeze through.

The passages are completely flooded with water that stays a constant 76 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) year-round.

The water itself is layered: A lens of freshwater rests on top of salt water. When fresh rainwater percolates down, the liquid flows out horizontally and is discharged into the ocean.

Divers access the caves through sinkholes called cenotes, which lay scattered throughout the peninsula under the rain forest canopy.

“But the water isn’t just flowing through these underground rivers … 98 percent of the water is actually trapped in the rock,” Bogaerts, the diver, said.

Conservation Call

The Yucatán’s natural hydraulic system sustained the Maya for centuries and today is the main freshwater source for the region’s booming tourism trade.

But the cave diving community is concerned that the rapid pace of development could stress the supply.

“These cave systems are so extensive and so interconnected that if there is a point of pollution in one area then it can quickly get distributed to a very, very wide area,” Bogaerts said. (Related: “Under-Ice Lakes in Antarctica Linked by Buried Channels” [April 19, 2006].)

The explorers hope their discoveries will help bring attention to the caves, which suffer the “out of sight, out of mind” problem.

“We still have a great deal more to do,” Bogaerts said. “There are other cave systems nearby that we are currently trying to connect into this system, and one of the goals of that is to show everybody how interconnected this [underground river system] is.”

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070305-cave-river_2.html

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Islamic Movements & their Agenda

May 25, 2007
The Islamist Agenda
Posted: May 25, 2007 12:30 AM

 

In broad terms, all Islamist groups share a common objective-building a society where the government’s domestic and foreign policy reflect Islamic values and beliefs. Rather than “modernizing Islam,” they seek to “Islamicize modernity” by constructing a polity where Islam is not only respected by the state but is reflected in all aspects of society.

http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2002/05/article14-c.shtml

The whole series is worth a read for those who wish to understand. So an article with links is provided below:

Islamic Movements: the Present in-between ‘Future’ and ‘Past’

By IOL editorial staff

Seeing the condition of the Muslim world, it is more important than ever to focus on the future. But we can not look into the future only with a forwards gaze, leaving behind us the essence of our existence from the ‘past’. We also can not walk into the future with the backward gaze that wants to shape and retailer a ‘future’ after a particular history. Both approaches are amiss. We will have to start by what’s under our feet. We do not really live on a abyss. And even if we do we will have to start by looking under our feet, first, and decide on a destination.

It is the present explains the ‘past’–not vise versa; and, hence, it is future that will describe the ‘present’ with the best valid account. For, without an honest consideration (stripped  from self-righteousness) and self-criticism (away from outside misconceptions and misunderstanding) the future—just as the present—will be at stake.

Here is a compiled file made by IOL editorial staff on assessing Islamic movements (please note both the analogous ‘Islamic’ and ‘movement’). Denial is not a cure. And so are self-determination, counter-terrorism or (or sometimes terrorism), and victimization; they are not isolated syndromes.

Our eyes are fixed on a better condition of the Muslim world and, equally, a humanity. If we pinpoint, we are not only condemning; we want a resolution. If we criticize, we are not only asking for reformation; we care for right realization. Hence, we introduce this file on Islamic movements.

Unlike what many think, ‘movement’ is not particular to armed resistance, per se; there are many messianic, pacifist, and populists. Also not all are ‘Islamic’, per se.

Should we blame ourselves only? Should Western and American hegemony get all the blame? Are ideological flaws within them? Are they a reflection of how ‘Muslims’ want to ‘move’ towards their objectives? We are trying to answer all such questions.     

The following are other articles and live dialogues by experts on the subject at hand which are relevant to the question at hand.

for shifa and any other need

May 24, 2007

After praying the Fajr Sunnah and before the Fajr Fard, you recite the duroode Ibrahimi (that we recite in the last rakaah) odd number of times. I have finally settled on one as in winter the time between the Sunnah and Fard is very short. Then Ta`awwudh, and then Surah Fatiha with complete Bismillah 41 times, then duroode Ibrahimi again (the same number as before), and then you blow upon the patient, and then you pray the Fard part of Fajr. Then, of course, do your usual dhikr after the Fajr Salaah. All this time nothing else is to be spoken. This is to be done for 40 days.

If it is Allah’s will, the patient will recover. In any case, the suffering will be gone or considerably lessened, insha`Allah.

You can use this for any jaez need or wish.

Youth activism – Amnesty International

May 19, 2007

Youth activism in the Balkans

Nadja Dizdarevic, wife of Guantánamo detainee Boudella al-Hajj, attends the workshop
Nadja Dizdarevic, wife of Guantánamo detainee Boudella al-Hajj, attends the workshop
© Boban Stojanovic

Thank you for every second you spend dealing with this case. You have no idea how it feels looking at your children, crying and writing letters to their father. Letters which I am afraid to send him, as they are full of sorrow and pain. These pictures [of the workshop] are really beautiful and they show that together we can do a lot

Young, energetic, and campaigning for human rights in the Balkans. Men and women who recently attended an activism workshop organized by Amnesty International in Ljubljana, Slovenia, had these three characteristics in common.

The objective of the meeting was to encourage and support activism in the Balkans against human rights abuses committed in the name of counter-terrorism. Some twenty attendees came from Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; Macedonia; Serbia, including Kosovo; and Slovenia.

The activists were particularly inspired to campaign against detentions in Guantánamo – part of Amnesty International’s global campaign against abuses in the US-led “war on terror”.

They were also motivated by violations carried out closer to home. Balkan governments have been directly and indirectly involved in the transfer of terrorist suspects to secret detention centres as well as rendition flights. These cases include six Bosnian Algerians who were illegally transferred, despite a court ruling, to the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Nadja Dizdarevic, wife of Guantánamo detainee Boudella al-Hajj, also attended the workshop and spoke about her experience campaigning for the rights of Guantánamo detainees.

exploding supernova

May 8, 2007

Yahoo! News Photo

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