Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rarely celebrated|Life|

Rarely celebrated

They are special people, for their birthdays only come round once every four years. Leap yearbabies were born on Feb 29, but what about those who choose to get married that day? Xu Linand Wang Kaihao report.

Hollywood iconized the year 2012 with its doomsday blockbuster of the same name, but lifegoes on for those of us in the real world, especially for those who have occasion to celebrate.

This year is a leap year, which occurs once every four years, with 29 days in February insteadof the usual 28.

"I don't treat it as any more special even though I can only celebrate my birthday once in fouryears. I have a birthday cake and a party like most other people. A rare birthday doesn't mean Ihave to celebrate it in unusual ways," says Zhu Yuqing, 24, a postgraduate at the BeijingLanguage and Culture University.

Unlike those born on a leap day who often make up for it with a special celebration when theirbirthday actually comes around, Zhu doesn't normally bother. But last year, she did somethingdifferent - she celebrated her birthday on Feb 28.

It was the year she was to graduate from her college in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, so herclassmates held a small party and sang karaoke all night to celebrate her "birthday".

"We weren't able to get together this year after graduation, so it was better to celebrate inadvance," Zhu says.

"My friends say 'happy birthday' to me these days, but only give me presents in leap years. ButI give them birthday gifts every year, so they often joke that I get the short end of the stick."

Sometimes, leap year babies get to celebrate in style, when family and friends "compensate"them for the missing years.

"I get more greetings and gifts in leap years. I don't look forward to my birthday, because ittakes such a long time to come around," Li Molin, 32, a senior manager at an Internet companyin Beijing, says.

He adds he only celebrates his birthday on leap years, and he gets birthday presents that arelarger than usual, or four presents at once. He once got a video game console.

"I usually invite no more than 10 friends, but I receive about 30 gifts as my friends want to makeup," he says. For example, he received four boxes of chocolate from one friend, and he alsogot two 50-cm tall Optimus Prime and Bumblebee Transformer models.

He's gone through cycles of reaction about his rare anniversaries. "In my childhood, I felt sadas the other kids all had birthdays, but I didn't. Then I started being proud of being distinctive.Now that I'm grown up, I think it's nothing special," Li says.

"But because of my birthday, I do have a psychological advantage in thinking I am unique andso I have to be more outstanding than others. I think I'm lucky. My academic life and career areboth going smoothly."

For Chinese leap year babies, there's another way out of that dilemma. They celebrate theirbirthdays according to the anniversaries on the lunar or Chinese calendar.

"My 4-year-old daughter has a birthday party every year, as it's our tradition to celebrate thelunar calendar birthday rather than the Gregorian date," says Zeng Yan, 31, who owns achildren's clothing store in Huzhou, Zhejiang province.

"This year is special as it's the first time she can have two birthdays and get double the numberof presents from me and her dad. My daughter goes to kindergarten, where teachers hold aspecial party for her as she's the only one born on Feb 29 there."

What about those who actually chose to get married on Feb 29 and have a weddinganniversary only once every four years?

"Despite what some of our friends think, it was significant for us to get married on Feb 29. Ichose the date as it's rare and easy to remember, " says Xu Qian, 29, who works at an ITcompany in Shanghai.

She says they got their marriage licenses on Feb 29, 2008, and had a wedding banquet on Oct2, and they celebrate on the latter date by having dinner and taking a set of photos.

"We have a thumb-drive to save all our photos. After our 2-year-old son's birth, we took photosas a family of three. I don't know my husband's plan for this year yet. It's our first anniversary,"she says.

Her husband, Zhang Xiaohua, 30, an engineer in a construction company in Shanghai, has it allplanned. "I was on a business trip but I flew back specially to spend the day with my wife,"Zhang says. "We just plan to have dinner together. I'm not a romantic guy, but I want her to feellike we are still as sweet as newlyweds." He has to fly back to work the next day.

For Jiang Mei, 40, it was the novelty of the idea. "We got married on Feb 29, 1996. The ideastruck me that it would be fun to celebrate our anniversary in a leap year," says Jiang, whoworks in a State-owned enterprise in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

"We don't put too much importance on the day. We just have a meal, and play with our son,and we don't give each other presents. Every day can be an anniversary as long as we arehappy. As time zips past, sometimes I cannot remember how many years we've been married."

"My wife like flowers best, and I plan to give her a big gift to surprise her this year," says Jiang'shusband, Hou Chengbin, 43, who owns a company in Zhuhai. Their son, Jingsi, was born onFeb 26, 2001 so they often combine the two celebrations.

"We held a birthday party for him on Sunday, and the three of us are going to have dinnertogether on the 29th," Hou says.

"The number 229 means a lot to me, reminding me of my marriage. We even use it as part ofour account passwords," Jiang says.

You can contact the writers at and

(China Daily 02/29/2012 page18)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Failed State Symptomatic of Reactionary Leadership

South Sudan: Failed State Symptomatic of Reactionary Leadership


A statement that a failed state is symptomatic of reactionary leadership is likely to be received with mixed emotions.

Eye brows may be raised in anticipation of further elaboration. However, a critical analysis of realities on the ground may increase an understanding of the extent to which a failed state is symptomatic of reactionary leadership.

People in the world are of multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies. It is therefore not difficult to comprehend what the root causes of internal conflicts in a society may be. The root cause of internal conflicts is the lack of sensitivity to the differences within the society. There is always the unfair power and wealth sharing among the different groups. For example, one ethnic group may always try at any cost to maintain a dominant grip on power and wealth to the exclusion of others.

A challenge to such ethnic domination is considered by those in power as a threat to national unity. However, such tricks for ethnic domination disguised as endeavours for national unity are a deceptive cover for ethnic hegemony. This brings in the concept of reactionary leadership in relation to the extent to which a state becomes a failed state in the context of Sub Saharan Africa.

Characteristics of a failed state

It may be interesting to know what the characteristics of a failed state are. Foremost the glaring characteristic of a failed state is the absolute breakdown of rule of law and order. Many factors contribute to breakdown of rule of law and order. Human rights violation is one factor when it occurs in a scale that the system is unable to cope with and the subsequent massive reaction of those whose human rights are being violated that each takes the law into their hands. Another important factor is when heinous crimes are being perpetually committed and the system is unable to bring the perpetrators to justice leaving the victims with the perception that the state has failed them. One factor is the absolute lack of discipline in the system where juniors blatantly defy orders from seniors or from above. The management of the system is in shambles as indiscipline is rampant. Absolute irregularities in finances make the system to be heavily infested with greedy and corrupt money grabbers.

One important characteristic of a failed state are tribal or clan wars and also religious wars. Somalia in the Horn of Africa is a typical example of a failed state because of clan and religious wars. Recently radical Islamists have entered the scene in consolidating Somalia as indeed a failed state. In the final analysis a failed state is characterized by the absolute lack of a robust central system that can cope with all sorts of scenarios. The system itself may become part of the problem. This could be because the system was nothing but a composition of reactionaries involved in all sorts of things ranging from land and money grabbing to turning a blind eye to criminal activities because of vested interest. Naturally this wouldn't be the way to build a nation.

Reactionary leadership

The word reactionary may be defined as tending to oppose especially political change to return to the former system. Reactionary leadership may therefore be seen as opposing reforms. In a country considered to be multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious reforms are inevitable for flexibility in accommodating diversities in nation-building. People fight a liberation war for a political change but not to return to the old system of oppression. Reactionary leadership tends to live in the dream world of the past. It is therefore not strange to associate a failed state with reactionary leadership that does not look beyond their noses. Mohamed Siyaad Barre of Somalia was probably a reactionary leader who contributed greatly to Somalia now being a failed state. He was instead paranoid of the unity of Somalia. Siyaad Barre increasingly personal and repressive rule did not bring in the necessary reforms to address the challenges facing his government. Ultimately Siyaad Barre's repressive rule brought Somalia into a non-state situation people see today. Siyaad Barre's reactionary leadership of turning clans against each other has made Somalia a failed state by all standards. The Somalia's situation may offer a lesson to others in nation-building.

Revolutionary leadership

The word revolutionary involves great and often violent change or innovation and to innovate is to bring in new methods or ideas to make changes. It can be seen that revolutionary leadership is associated with change and innovation. This suggests that a revolutionary is creative and innovative unlike the somewhat backward looking reactionary. A revolutionary does not accept fossilised principles as a faith but a developing and creative science that reflects objective reality. They scrutinise reality, studying all aspects and developing theoretical conclusions to bring them in line with requirements of life on the ground. In short revolutionaries base their actions on scientific analysis and objective reality in addressing challenges. This is in contrast to the utopia of reactionaries who are whimsical in their actions. Reactionaries may rely on daydreaming in addressing challenges. In most case they get it wrong because of poor targeting and being unrealistic where challenges are not properly addressed. It is therefore no wonder that when the leadership is reactionary progression to a failed state situation may be rapid. Dynamic, progressive and revolutionary leadership may fare better in addressing challenges than reactionary leadership.

Choice to make

The choice here is between reactionary and revolutionary leadership. However, it is not so simplistic. There is no black and white dividing line between reactionary and revolutionary leadership. There are elements of both reactionary and revolutionary in a leader. It may be the degree to which one is inclined to either be a reactionary and revolutionary. Formation of political parties may give a clue as to whether they are reactionary and revolutionary. This may be revealed in their respective manifestos. However, manifestos may mostly reveal intentions of future course of action but not necessarily what has already been achieved. It is therefore unreliable to conclude from manifestos that one party is reactionary and the other is revolutionary. According to their manifestos all political parties would appear revolutionary. One factor, however, is missing from the equation. The equation is manifesto plus action equals reactionary or revolutionary (manifesto+action=reactionary or revolutionary). The missing factor is action. Evaluation is often carried out on the basis of what has been done (action) corresponding to the expressed intentions or objectives. More often action does not tally with the manifesto hence in practice mismanagement of state affairs may be sky high which may also progressively lead to a failed state situation. It is therefore what has been done (action) that can demonstrate whether a state has reactionary or revolutionary leadership. Making an informed choice is dependent on knowledge of leadership that is pragmatic, patriotic, uncompromising and has done what they had announced in public as their priorities. After a year in office one may have a fair view whether a leader has been reactionary or revolutionary. At the end of the term of office a fairly clearer picture will emerge whether the state was ruled by a reactionary or revolutionary leadership. The electorate then will have an informed choice assuming bribery or irregularities do not take place.

Political reforms

In any political system reforms are naturally inevitable. This is because the world is not monolithic but dynamic. Changes occur and it is through reforms that people keep pace with developments. Dictatorship either by reactionaries or revolutionaries may lead to tyranny and creation of the world of psychopants who sing songs the one in power wants to hear and be entertained with. How damaging this may be to nation-building is not clear. However, to steer clear of dictatorship reforms are necessary. One political reform is where any member of a party can nominate themselves or be nominated to fill any office in the political system. The restrictive nomination and endorsement system by a party polit-bureau is undemocratic as the bulk of ordinary members and sympathizers are excluded from the exercise. An example is the overwhelming success of one independent over the official candidate for the governorship of Western Equatoria State. The official candidate was nominated and endorsed by the party polit-bureau but the one not nominated and endorsed by the same party polit-bureau convincingly won in the elections. Other members were also nominated and endorsed by the party polit-bureau but failed miserably. This seems to call for reforms for the party to be reflective of democratic principles.


An electoral system where nominees battle it out in the open for members and sympathizers to elect the most popular nominee for a candidate for a political office is worth consideration. This system brings out the most popular candidate for election to political office. The popular candidate becomes the flag bearer of their political party. This is unlike when nominations and endorsements of candidates are done behind closed doors in the absence of popular participation by ordinary members. Some of the results in the last election showed clearly that what the party polit-bureau considered suitable candidates were not necessarily suitable to the electorate. This clearly should be a lesson for reforms to take place.

In conclusion, reactionary leadership is most likely to lead a country to a failed state situation. This is because reactionary leadership is preoccupied with survival skills of destruction without being innovative to overcome the characteristics of a failed state. When making a choice it is important to evaluate what has been done in relation to the party's manifesto. More often the party's manifesto hardly tallies with the actions promised to be carried out. In such a situation the choice should be obvious.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Queen's Diamond Jubilee: Timeline of the Queen's reign - Telegraph

Queen's Diamond Jubilee: Timeline of the Queen's reign

Here are some of the major events and milestones of the Queen's reign.

Official Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace, overlooking The Victoria Memorial Statue

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Official Diamond Jubilee portrait of Queen Elizabeth II photographed in the Centre Room of Buckingham Palace, overlooking The Victoria Memorial Statue Photo: CAMERA PRESS/John Swannell

1952 George VI dies and Princess Elizabeth becomes Queen. Flood devastates the Devon village of Lynmouth. Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.

1953 Sweet rationing ends in Britain. Queen Mary dies. Everest is conquered on the eve of the Coronation.

1954 Study links cancer to smoking. Crash grounds BOAC's Comet aircraft. French defeated at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Elvis Presley releases his first record. Roger Bannister breaks the four-minute mile record.

1955 Cyprus goes on strike against British rule. Sir Winston Churchill resigns as prime minister due to his failing health. The Warsaw Pact is signed by the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies. Princess Margaret calls off plans to marry Group Captain Peter Townsend.

1956 Hungarian uprising and Suez crisis. Teddy Boys rock around the clock. Prince Rainier III of Monaco marries American film actress Grace Kelly.

1957 Prime Minister Harold Macmillan tells a Tory rally: "Most of our people have never had it so good." Treaty of Rome sets up European Economic Community (EEC). Russians launch the Sputnik satellite, the first man-made object ever to leave the Earth's atmosphere.

1958 Race riots flare in Notting Hill. Munich air crash kills Manchester United players.

1959 The Mini car makes its first appearance and the first UK motorway, the M1, opens.

1960 Macmillan's Wind of Change speech. Princess Margaret marries Tony Armstrong-Jones.

1961 John F Kennedy succeeds Dwight Eisenhower as US president. Berlin Wall rises. Soviet Union puts first man, Yuri Gagarin, into space.

1962 US spaceman John Glenn orbits the Earth. The Cuban Missile crisis is resolved.

1963 Lord Beeching wields the axe on British Rail. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. John F Kennedy assassinated. Profumo scandal. Great Train Robbery. One of the coldest, snowiest winters on record.

1964 Beatlemania grips UK and US. Cassius Clay defeats Sonny Liston. Mary Quant pronounces Paris fashion "out of date".

1965 Rhodesia declares independence. US bombs North Vietnam. Britain appoints its first woman High Court judge.

1966 Swinging London revolves around Carnaby Street and Kings Road. Queen Mother undergoes major abdominal surgery. England win the World Cup. Aberfan disaster in Wales.

1967 Breathalyser introduced. Arab-Israeli War. Nigerian Civil War. Abortion and homosexuality are legalised.

1968 Enoch Powell makes Rivers of Blood speech. Ulster Troubles erupt with civil rights protests.

1969 Death penalty for murder permanently abolished in Britain. Prince of Wales's Investiture at Caernarvon. British troops sent to Northern Ireland. American Neil Armstrong becomes first man to walk on the Moon. Woodstock music festival.

1970 Voting age cut from 21 to 18. North Sea oil fields discovered. First jumbo jet lands at Heathrow. Edward Heath wins election for the Tories. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi takes over as leader of Libya.

1971 British entry into EEC agreed. Decimalisation - a new decimalised currency is launched in the UK. Angry Brigade bombs employment secretary's home.

1972 Miners' strike and power crisis - state of emergency declared. Industrial Relations Act disputes. Bloody Sunday. Duke of Windsor dies. First home video game system is released.

1973 Britain joins EEC. Princess Royal marries Captain Mark Phillips.

1974 Edward Heath loses narrowly to Harold Wilson who wins second general election. US president Richard Nixon resigns over the Watergate affair.

1975 Margaret Thatcher becomes Conservative Party leader. Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts. End of Vietnam War.

1976 James Callaghan replaces Harold Wilson at No 10. One of the hottest summers on record. Concorde begins commercial flights.

1977 Lib-Lab pact. Grunwick picket clashes. Punk rock. Silver Jubilee. The Queen becomes a grandmother. Red Rum wins Grand National for a record third time.

1978 Rhodesia settlement. Anna Ford becomes ITN's first prime-time woman newscaster. Red Brigades kidnap former Italian premier Aldo Moro. World's first test tube baby, Louise Brown, is born in Oldham. Winter of Discontent strikes.

1979 Margaret Thatcher becomes Britain's first woman prime minister. Queen's art adviser Anthony Blunt exposed as Russian spy. Fall of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia. Islamic revolutionaries come to power in Iran.

1980 SAS storm Iranian Embassy. Runners Steve Ovett and Sebastian Coe win Olympic gold.

1981 Brixton riots. Prince of Wales weds Lady Diana Spencer. Unemployment reaches 2.5 million. Britain in recession. The launch of the first space shuttle - Columbia.

1982 Falklands War - the Duke of York is among those serving in the forces. Intruder in Queen's bedroom. Pope visits Britain. King Henry VIII's Mary Rose raised to the surface. Prince William born. Economic recession.

1983 US President Ronald Reagan's Star Wars speech. Russians shoot down Korean jetliner.

1984 IRA bombs Grand Hotel, Brighton. Indira Gandhi assassinated. Bob Geldof Ethiopia appeal. Miners' strikes.

1985 Bradford City football stadium fire kills 56. Heysel stadium riot kills 39. Live Aid concert held to raise money for Ethiopian famine.

1986 Funeral of Duchess of Windsor at Frogmore. Prince Andrew marries Sarah Ferguson.

1987 Zeebrugge disaster. The Great Storm sweeps through southern England. IRA bombs Enniskillen Remembrance Day parade. Hungerford massacre. King's Cross fire.

1988 Piper Alpha oil platform disaster. Lockerbie jumbo jet bombing. Government loses Spycatcher legal battle. Professor Stephen Hawking's A Brief History Of Time is published.

1989 Hillsborough disaster. Berlin Wall falls. Tiananmen Square massacre. Author Salman Rushdie goes into hiding. Tim Berners-Lee invents the World Wide Web.

1990 John Major becomes prime minister. Iraq invades Kuwait. Nelson Mandela is released from prison. Poll tax riots.

1991 Allies launch Operation Desert Storm in Gulf War against Iraq. Gorbachev resigns. Birmingham Six freed after 16 years in jail.

1992 The Queen's "annus horribilis" - The Princess Royal and Captain Phillips divorce, the Prince and Princess of Wales and the Duke and Duchess of York separate, Windsor Castle goes up in flames. Black Wednesday - the day Britain crashed out of the ERM. The break-up of Yugoslavia.

1993 Publication of Prince of Wales's intimate talk with Camilla Parker Bowles. IRA bombs Warrington. Buckingham Palace opens to the public. Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in Eltham, south east London.

1994 Labour leader John Smith dies. Queen and French president Francois Mitterrand open Channel Tunnel. 50th anniversary of D-Day. Prince of Wales admits adultery in TV documentary. IRA ceasefire. Queen visits Russia. Genocide in Rwanda.

1995 Official Aids cases pass one million mark. Barings Bank collapses. Terrorist gas attacks panic Tokyo and Yokohama. VE Day and VJ Day commemorated. Princess Diana's Panorama interview.

1996 The Duke and Duchess of York divorce. The Prince and Princess of Wales divorce. Mid-air crash in India kills more than 350. Fire in Channel Tunnel. Ban on exports of British beef amid BSE crisis.

1997 New Labour under Tony Blair beat Conservatives ending 18 years of Tory rule. Royal Yacht Britannia decommissioned. Diana, Princess of Wales dies in Paris car crash. Scotland and Wales vote for devolution. Dolly the Sheep cloned. Handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China.

1998 War breaks out in Europe as a Nato coalition attacks Yugoslavia. Digital TV launched. Operation Desert Fox in Iraq. Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Omagh bombing.

1999 Birth of single European currency, the euro. Prince Edward marries Sophie Rhys-Jones.

2000 A new millennium and the Queen Mother's 100th year. British rower Steve Redgrave makes Olympic history by winning his fifth consecutive gold medal. George W Bush becomes US president.

2001 September 11 terrorist attacks. Foot-and-mouth outbreak in UK. First space tourist. Britain joins US in strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

2002 The Queen's Golden Jubilee. The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret die. Twelve European Union countries adopt the euro.

2003 Britain and the US go to war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

2004 Double Olympic gold for Kelly Holmes in 800m and 1500m in Athens. Asian tsunami kills more than 100,000.

2005 Pope John Paul II dies and is succeeded by Pope Benedict XVI. The Prince of Wales marries Camilla Parker Bowles. London wins 2012 Olympics bid. July 7 terror attacks in London. Civil partnerships give same-sex couples legal rights.

2006 Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is hanged in Baghdad. Lebanon War.

2007 Gordon Brown replaces Tony Blair as prime minister. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary.

2008 Jury returns a verdict of unlawful killing in inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. UK enters a recession following the financial crisis. Barack Obama elected to become the first black US president.

2009 Singer Michael Jackson dies. Swine flu pandemic. MPs' expenses scandal.

2010 David Cameron becomes prime minister leading a Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition. The Queen becomes a great-grandmother. Volcanic ash cloud blowing in from Iceland grounds flights. Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is released from house arrest.

2011 Middle East uprising. Japanese tsunami. Nato air raids on Libya.Prince William marries Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey. Queen visits Ireland. The summer riots.


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