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Impossible Odds
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 3:50 pm    Post subject: Impossible Odds Reply with quote

WELCOME!
Impossible Odds:

Quote:
ANOTHER 'inconvenient truth': Gambling online is greener and better for the planet than a trip to the casino! Take the PokerPulse Gamble Green Challenge to help stop global warming.



Wired
Magazine Subscription
My Bionic Quest for Bolero
By Michael Chorost
November, 2005




Quote:
It took a lot to hold my interest; I was nearly deaf at the time. In 1964, my mother contracted rubella while pregnant with me. Hearing aids allowed me to understand speech well enough, but most music was lost on me. Boléro was one of the few pieces I actually enjoyed. A few years later, I bought the CD and played it so much it eventually grew pitted and scratched. It became my touchstone. Every time I tried out a new hearing aid, I'd check to see if Bolero sounded OK. If it didn't, the hearing aid went back.

And then, on July 7, 2001, at 10:30 am, I lost my ability to hear Bolero - and everything else. While I was waiting to pick up a rental car in Reno, I suddenly thought the battery in my hearing aid had died. I replaced it. No luck. I switched hearing aids. Nothing.

I got into my rental car and drove to the nearest emergency room. For reasons that are still unknown, my only functioning ear had suffered "sudden-onset deafness." I was reeling, trying to navigate in a world where the volume had been turned down to zero.

But there was a solution, a surgeon at Stanford Hospital told me a week later, speaking slowly so I could read his lips. I could have a computer surgically installed in my skull. A cochlear implant, as it is known, would trigger my auditory nerves with 16 electrodes that snaked inside my inner ear. It seemed drastic, and the $50,000 price tag was a dozen times more expensive than a high-end hearing aid. I went home and cried. Then I said yes. ...

We tried some quick tests to take my newly programmed ear out for a spin. It performed slightly better in some ways, slightly worse in others - but there was no dramatic improvement. The audiologist wasn't surprised. She told me that, in most cases, a test subject's brain will take weeks or even months to make sense of the additional information. Furthermore, the settings she chose were only an educated guess at what might work for my particular physiology. Everyone is different. Finding the right setting is like fishing for one particular cod in the Atlantic. (-- p. 154)


Ravel's Bolero
(Montreal's theme song)
Audio CD (the 1982 version)
Featuring the Montreal Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Dutoit




Go maestro!



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?
Hardcover
By Harold Bloom
(his best yet, in our view)

Quote:
More of the book.





How likely is it that Canadian taxpayers will get a refund of their misspent millions following the Liberal government's sponsorship scandal of 2005?

Quote:
Behemoth and Leviathan plainly represent the sanctified tyranny of nature over men. But that is to rate them too tamely. Yahweh is proud of them, and his pride taunts Job and the reader, superbly in Chapter 41, above all:

Canst thou draw out Leviathan with a hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down?
Canst thou put a hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn?
Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft wordws unto thee?
Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever?
Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?
Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him ong the merchants?
Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more.
Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him?
None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me?
Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.
I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion.
Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle?
Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.
His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal.
One is so near to another, that no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered.
By his sneezings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.
Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.
Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.
His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.
In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him.
The flakes of his flesh are joined together they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved.
His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone.
When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves.
The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon.
He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee: sling stones are tuned with him into stubble.
Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear.
Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire.
He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment.
He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary.
Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.
He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride.

(From the chapter, The Hebrews: Job and Ecclesiastes, at pgs. 15-17)


As if.

For the best in-depth analysis of the federal sponsorship scandal, including the full report by Justice John Gomery, visit the links at cbc.ca, a national treasure whose funding is now so reduced that Canadians have come to equate it with Lazarus.

See also the story, Chrétien to challenge report in court, by Andrew Mills in the Toronto Star Nov. 2/05. Here are the first two lines:

Quote:
OTTAWA—The years-long feud between Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin is poised to shift to its next battleground — the courtroom. Chrétien will take his claims that Justice John Gomery's report is biased, unfair and untrue to Federal Court and ask for a judicial review to challenge the findings of the inquiry.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2005 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lord of the Nutcracker Men
Hardcover
By Iain Lawrence




Quote:
I laughed, and that pleased him very much.

"But you've come to the heart of it, Johnny. What Homer is saying is that all the world is a game for the gods. Whatever you do, whether you're sitting here now or playing with your soldiers, it's because the gods want you to do it. But in the end they'll trick you, for you can never win if you fight against the gods." (-- p. 92)


Quote:
Editor's Note: Another youthful adventure story, this time about the First World War, by an old college pal with whom we had a few youthful adventures of our own.


Quote:
The Lord of the Nutcracker Men
Audio Cassette
Narrated by Stephen Crossley




Still awaiting ours. Please check back soon for updates.


Quote:
*The Odyssey
By Homer
Audio Cassette
Read beautifully by Sir Ian McKellen




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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tiger, Tiger
Hardcover
Foreward by Two Brothers Filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud




Quote:
... "The tiger is a predator. Nothing escapes him. Every day he tests you and watches you," says Thierry Le Portier. "Even after fifteen years of working with them daily, if a tiger thinks you're relinquishing your power, he'll immediately try to take control. If you want him to do something, but you don't put enough willpower and intensity into your voice because you're a bit tired that day, he'll slow things down, and if you fail to be firm enough for just one moment, the animal will - depending on his character - either stand still, go away, or attack you. (-- pgs. 29-30)


Two Brothers
DVD


Quote:
See also Vegas tiger attack inevitable? Oct. 6/03 at CBS News.





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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2005 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Gambling Scientists:

The Man Who Loved Only Numbers
The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth
Paperback
By Paul Hoffman




Quote:
I wanted to understand their world. I sought out people with an Erdos number 1. I talked to the spouses. I slept in Erdos's bedroom in Graham's house (I'm not sure what I expected but the experience did nothing to improve my mathematical ability). I immersed myself in the history of mathematical ideas. I studied Pythagoras, Newton, Fermat, Gauss, Hilbert, Einstein, and Godel. I read mathematical memoirs, pored over Erdos's correspondence, peeked in his lone suitcase, and conversed with him at various times over the period of a decade. I grew fond of him, laughed at his silly quips, and came to appreciate why he saw mathematics as the search for lasting beauty and ultimate truth. It was a search, I learned, that he never lost sight of even when his life was torn asunder by major political dramas of the twentieth century - the Communist revolutions in Hungary, the rise of Fascism and Anti-Semitism is Europe, World War II, the Cold War, McCarthyism. Mathematics was his anchor in a world that he regarded as cruel and heartless, although he believed in the goodness and innocence of ordinary individuals. "The game of life," Erdos often said, "is to keep the *SF's score low. If you do something bad in life, the SF gets two points. If you don't do something good that you should have done, the SF gets one point. You never score, so the SF always wins." But the aim of life, he emphasized, is to prove and conjecture. "Mathematics is the surest way to immortality. If you make a big discovery in mathematics, you will be remembered after everyone else will be forgotten." (From pgs. 28-29)


*SF or Supreme Fascist aka God.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Penelopiad
Hardcover
By Margaret Atwood




Quote:
"Oh, that's only Odysseus," said one of the maids. He was not considered - by the maids at least - to be a serious candidate for my hand. His father's palace was on Ithaca, a goat-strewn rock; his clothes were rustic; the had the manners of a small-town big shot, and had already expressed several complicated ideas the others considered peculiar. He was clever, though, they said. In fact he was too clever for his own good. The other young men made jokes about him - "Don't gamble with Odysseus, the friend of Hermes," they said. "You'll never win." This was like saying he was a cheat and a thief. His grandfather Autolycus was well known for these very qualities, and was reputed never to have won anything fairly in his life. (-- p. 31)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New Yorker
Magazine Subscription
Annals of Immigration
The Lottery
Once you have a green card, what next?
By Dan Baum
Jan. 23 & 30/06


Quote:
More on Peru's Tintaya Copper Mine at Oxfam America.





Quote:
Raul Jara's grandfather tilled a rich man's land on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, until agrarian reform in the nineteen-sixties made four acres of it his. By the time Raul was born, in 1971, Lima had grown to surround the Jaras' compound, making their walled garden of bananas and bougainvillea an oasis from the increasingly chaotic and polluted capital city. Raul, an only child, was the first member of his family to go to college, and six times a week he would travel an hour and forty-five minutes by minibus to an oasis of another kind, the campus of Pontificia Catholic University, where he and his fellow engineering students immersed themselves in the elegant exactitude of mathematics. Peruvians like to say that they have the world's best-educated taxi drivers, because only a fraction of Peruvian college graduates find professional jobs. Raul was an exception. After graduation, he worked as a teacher of computerized industrial drawing, then as an engineer at a gold mine, until, finally, he was hired at a copper mine set more than thirteen thousand feet up in the Peruvian Andes. (First paragraph of the story, p. 46)


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2006 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Gambling Sci-Fi:

1984
Nineteen Eighty-Four

Paperback
By George Orwell


Quote:
More on Stalin aka the Red Tsar, Koba the Dread and other equally cryptic monikers.





Quote:
... It was nearly twenty hours, and the drinking-shops which the proles frequented ('pubs', they called them) were choked with customers. From their grimy swing doors, endlessly opening and shutting, there came forth a smell of urine, sawdust and sour beer. In an angle formed by a projecting housefront three men were standing very close together, the middle one of them holding a folded-up newspaper, which the other two were studying over his shoulders. Even before he was near enough to make out the expression on their faces, Winston could see absorption in every line of their bodies. It was obviously some serious piece of news that they were reading. He was a few paces away from them when suddenly the group broke up and two of the men were in violent altercation. For a moment they seemed almost on the point of blows.

'Can't you bleeding well listen to what I say? I tell you no number ending in seven ain't won for over fourteen months!'

'Yes it 'as, then!'

'No, it 'as not! Back 'ome I got the 'ole lot of 'em for over two years wrote down on a piece of paper. I takes 'em down reg'lar as the clock. An' I tell you, no number ending in seven --'

'Yes, a seven 'as won! I could pretty near tell you the bleeding number. Four oh seven, it ended in. It were in February - second week in February.'

'February your grandmother! I got it all down in black and white. An' I tell you, no number ----'

'Oh, pack it in!' said the third man.

They were talking about the Lottery. Winston looked back when he had gone thirty metres. They were still arguing, with vivid, passionate faces. The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made a living simply by selling systems, forecasts and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the running of the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the Party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being non-existent persons. In the absence of any real inter-communication between one part of Oceania and another, this was not difficult to arrange. (-- pgs. 88-89)


1984
DVD




Quote:
1984
Audio CD
Narrated by British actor Timothy West




Still awaiting this one. Please check back for updates.


Quote:
1984
Audio CD
Narrated by U.S. actor Frank Muller




A clear, first-rate narration by much-celebrated narrator Muller.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sunset at Blandings
Hardcover
The last work of dear Wodehouse, who turned in
his dinner pail Feb. 14/75 with this work still in progress
.
Charmingly annotated by Richard Usborne




Quote:
Gally's prediction that it would not be long before his niece ceased to smile was fulfilled with a promptitude which should have gratified him. If a bomb had exploded in the smaller drawing-room, scattering old English folk songs left and right, she could not have reacted more instantaneously. The haughtiness which had been so distasteful to her uncle fell from her like a garment.

'Oh, Gally!' she cried, her voice breaking and her attractive eyes widening to their fullest extent. 'Oh, the poor darling angel, he must be feeling awful.'

'He is,' said Gally, holding the view that this softer mood should be encouraged. 'His reception of the news was pitiful to see. It knocked him flatter than a Dover sole. He reminded me of Blinky Bender, an old pal of mine at the Pelican, the time when he won sixty pounds on the fourth at Newmarket and suddenly realized that in order to collect the money he would have to go past five other bookies in whose debt he was. You had better run along and console him.'

'I will.'

'Making it clear that all is forgiven and forgotten and that you are sweethearts still,' said Gally, and he went off to get a glass of port in Beach's pantry. (-- pgs. 78-79)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hot Water
Hardcover
The Autograph Edition
By P.G. Wodehouse


Quote:
More of the book.





Quote:
"But why in the name of everything infernal do you want me to be an Ambassador?"

"I will tell you. When I married you, my late husband's sister Mabel made herself extremely unpleasant. She seemed to consider that a woman who had been Mrs. Wilmot Brewster ought to be satisfied for life. I'm not sure that when Wilmot died she would not have liked me to commit suttee."

"Do what?"

"I was only joking. Commit suicide. When an Indian dies, his widow burns herself on the grave. They call it suttee."

A rather wistful look came into Mr. Gedge's face. It was just his luck, he seemed to be thinking, that an unkind fate had made the late Wilmot Brewster a Californian and not an Indian.

"So I made up my mind that you should be the next American Ambassador to France. I should like to see Mabel's face when she reads the announcement in the papers. A nobody, she called you. Well, the Ambassador to France isn't a nobody."

Despite the fact that his chin receded and his eyes bulged, J. Wellington Gedge had a certain rude sagacity. There might be things of which he was ignorant, but this he did know, that if a man is a pawn in a row between women it is futile for him to struggle. For a few tense moments he sat picking at the coverlet and staring silently into a grey future. Then he heaved himself out of his chair.

"I'll get that Mal-de-Mer-o," he said. (From Chapter 2 at pgs. 12-13)


Listen:

Hot Water
Audio Cassette
Narrated by our favorite Wodehouse reader, Jonathan Cecil




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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From Hosers, eh?

The Walrus
Magazine Subscription
Canada's Afghan gamble
By Veronica Cusack
April, 2006


Quote:
Help Dan clear Afghanistan of land mines.





Quote:
The most obvious scars of the West's disregard are the ubiquitous rag-wrapped cripples. Throughout the 1980s, the Russians ringed each of Afghanistan's main cities and most major towns with land mines. They placed them along the main supply line from Kabul to the Soviet border and around military "hard points" throughout the country. Power plants, irrigation channels, grazing areas, farmlands, and footpaths - nothing was exempt. Rival militia factions buried anti-tank mines, booby traps, and yet more land mines during the civil war, and later, the US contributed unexploded ordnance in the form of cluster bombs scattered in air raids. Anti-personnel mines, manufactured all over the world and no bigger than hockey pucks, litter the countryside and come in more than fifty different varieties. The "bounding frag," for example, jumps almost a metre before it explodes, spraying hot, jagged shrapnel into the stomach of an adult or the face of a child.

When Dan Kelly, program manager of the United Nations Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan (MAPA), began his work in 1999, 300 people a month were being killed by land mines, and countless others were being maimed. Kelly, originally from Newcastle, New Brunswick, trained as an engineer and served in the Canadian military for 32 years. He was chief of operations for the Cambodian Mine Action Centre and worked on demining in Sarajevo and northern Iraq. His program trained thousands of Afghans to scan the land inch by inch and destroy the devices they found. It provided technical support, mine-awareness education, surveying, and clearance. But because the Taliban held sway, the rest of the world paid scant attention.

... "I kept it going in a very difficult period," says Kelly, "moving it from a $19-million to a $90-million operation, $10 million a year of it from CIDA. Deaths went from more than 300 a month to less than 100. It's still too many, but our work is showing significant results." (-- p. 64-65)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2006 4:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bait and Switch:
The Futile Pursuit of the Corporate Dream
Hardcover
By Barbara Ehrenreich




Quote:
Reverting to her maiden name, Ehrenreich tweaks her CV to present herself as a PR professional who is returning to the workforce after a divorce, having spent a number of years working in the home. When she submits the CV to a potential employer, however she learns that it contains a fatal flaw - a gap.

"A gap of any kind, for any purpose - child raising, caring for an elderly parent, recovering from an illness, or even consulting - is unforgivable. If you haven't spent every moment of your life making money for somebody else, you can forget about getting a job," she writes.

Indeed, most of Ehrenreich's advisers, who charge large fees for their mostly worthless advice, suggest that job-seekers should treat the job hunt itself as a kind of job, drawing up timetables like at work and filling every hour with application writing, Internet research and networking opportunities.

...As a woman over 50, Ehrenreich faces a double disadvantage in the corporate labour market, where younger workers are valued as more flexible and less demanding. After 10 months of effort and thousands of dollars in coaching fees, her only job offers are positions as a sales agent with no basic salary, no health insurance and no pension entitlements.

Few of the job-seekers she met along the way had better luck and many found themselves lowering expectations steadily until they accepted work paying the minimum wage, often as little as $7 an hour. (From Got dem ol' white-collar blues by Denis Staunton in the Irish Times Book Reviews, March 11/06, p. 13)


Following closely the success of:

Nickel and Dimed
Hardcover
By Barbara Ehrenreich




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hot Water
The Autograph Edition
Hardcover
By P.G. Wodehouse


Quote:
More of the book.





Quote:
"And after what happened a year ago."

"I explained that, too."

"Yes, you did! Ankling into the hospital and eating my grapes with that woman's kisses hot upon your lips!"

"They were not hot upon my lips. I never kissed her in my life. It was nothing but a simple, straightforward business association. She happened to know a young canned-sardine millionaire, and I was trying to get her to quote her lowest terms for steering him into a card-game with me. Don't you believe me?" (-- p. 174)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harper's
Magazine Subscription
The spirit of disobedience
An invitation to resistance
By Curtis White
April, 2006




Quote:
Walden is a work of Christ-like thinking. That is, Thoreau was intent on confronting a culture that he perceived as being death-in-life with an appeal to life both temporal and transcendental. In the end, Thoreau was not interested only in making economies with his little handmade household on Walden Pond; he was just as interested in making eternity. Thoreau has something critical to teach us, if we'd let him, about the relation of the personal to the public and of the spiritual to the political. But he's mostly not available to us. He is shut away with a lot of other books in the virtuous and therapeutic confines of literary and historic institutions. He peers out to us from the pages of his book as another defeated man, another dead white male, as the professors say these days. Our question is whether we any longer know how to retrieve our own traditions from their institutional entombment... (-- p. 36)


The Middle Mind:
Why Americans Don't Think for Themselves
Hardcover
By Curtis White




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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Harper's
Congo's Daily Blood

Ruminations from a failed state
By Bryan Mealer
Magazine Subscription
April, 2006


Quote:
View the BBC report of April 13/06, Push against rebels in DR Congo.





Quote:
You could never count all of Congo's dead, the way they keep piling up. The country is slowly emerging from a five-year war that has killed 4 million people, mostly from war-induced sickness and hunger, and aid groups estimate 1,200 people still die every day. The war drew in seven African armies at its peak, and helped create and maintain tens of thousands of militiament who still live by the gun, killing and maiming at will. The militia have all but commandeered the eastern half of the country - rich in timber, gold, diamonds and coltan - which they've divided into personal fiefdoms at the expense of the population.

Near the eastern border with Rwanda, packs of Hutu rebels survive in the forests only by looting. These rebels, who fled into Congo after participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide, control huge swaths of jungle too dangerous for UN and Congolese soldiers to police. They carry out regular massacres and are known for rounding up a village's women and gang-raping them while family members are forced to watch. Farther north near the Ugandan border, other militias simply exterminate everything alive, then loot and bury what's left. Often these militias butcher and the dead on the battle floor and feast on hearts and livers, both as ceremony and as a tactic of cold intimidation. Its effectiveness is superb.

...No one at the UN had any idea how deep the evil ran in the jungles. The tiny UN mission that began in 1999 with 90 staffers observing a rebel cease-fire had since grown by sheer necessity to encompass much of the country's infrastructure. Congo is now the UN's largest, most expensive mission, with 16,700 peacekeppers and a combined annual budget of nearly $2 billion. Congo's peacekeepers, along with UN agencies, have been saddled with trying to eradicate some 20,000 militiamen in the east, while at the same time trying to assist more than 2 million people displaced as a result of war and the ongoing raids. More recently, they've attempted to midwife a democracy by arranging elections in a country lacking roads, electricity, telephones, and local governments. Battling the various militias while planning elections in Congo has unexpectedly become the single most ambitious project the world body has undertaken in its sixty-one-year history. (- pgs. 54-55)


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Last edited by editor on Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:04 pm; edited 4 times in total
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