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Thursday, November 10, 2016


Yesterday, I reported on a virtual nightmare.  To underscore the idiocy of Donald Trump's and Senator Jim Inhofe's attitudes on global warming I was planning to today follow-up with an appropriate doomsday posting of The Venus Syndrome.  Then, I thought, give Trump a chance, let me instead take the higher road.  Stay with me, for here are two photos showing the sensuality and horror of war:

The top photo is a naked Phan Thj Kim Phuc--what a name--who at the age of nine was in 1982 known as the napalm girl.  This Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph was taken by AP photographer Nick Ut, and she is naked because napalm from a South Vietnamese attack burned the clothing off her.  Yes, a South Vietnam bomb dropped by mistake.  Most of you lost track of Kim Phuc, but she went on to live a memorable and constructive life:
  • Her burns were so severe that she was taken to a morgue, where doctors did not give her much chance to survive.
  • After a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures, mostly by Finnish plastic surgeon Aame Rintala, she went on to enjoy a remarkable life.  
  • President Richard Nixon remarked that this photo must have been staged.
  • Ut continued to follow-up with her and helped in the transition.
  • Kim Phuc eventually earned a medical degree in Cuba, where she met her future husband, also from Vietnam.
  • They honeymooned in Moscow, had a Newfoundland stop and decided to stay there.
  • Kim Phuc is now a Canadian citizen with two children.
  • She is still receiving laser treatment for her scars.
  • Her Kim Phuc Foundation International aids refugees.
  • In her address at the United States Vietnam Memorial on Memorial Day in 1996 she said that one cannot change the past, but everyone can work together for a peaceful future.
  • Here is a 10-minute clip with Jane Pauley when Kim Phuc was 53.  You got to watch that clip.
  • She is now also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.
So Kim Phuc is going on to live quite a life.  But what about that green-eyed girl--somewhat reminiscent of Mona Lisa--a photo by Steve McCurry which appeared in the June 1985 cover of National Geographic.

There are no blue or green pigments in anyone's eye.  Melanin is the only color component, and the concentration of this brown pigment determines your eye color.  I think these green eyes are more hazel, actually:
Thirteen-year old Sharbat Bibi was living in a Pakistan refugee camp in 1984 during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan, where she was born.   She then disappeared, and for 17 years little was know of her.

Pashtun by ethnicity, her parents were killed during the Soviet bombing when she was six.  She married Rahman Gul (not sure where the extra a came from in Sharbat's name) when she was anywhere from 13-16 and had four daughters.  One died, as did her husband.

In 2002, at the age of 30 Sharbat Gula was found by a National Geographic team and saw for the first time her cover photo.  Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish released The Eyes of Sharbat Gula in 2015.  In many ways, this instrumental well captures her life.

It was that year reported that Pakistan had canceled her illegal identity card.  Last month Shabbat was arrested in Pakistan for using forged documents.  This month she was deported back to Afghanistan with her four (another one must have arrived) and received a hero's welcome, for Afghan president Ashram Ghani and his wife Rula hosted the family at the presidential palace, where he handed over keys to a fully-furnished apartment.
To quote him:

As a child, she captured the hearts of millions because she was the symbol of displacement.  The enormous beauty, the enormous energy that she projected from her face captured hearts and became one of the most famous photographs of the 1980s and up until the 1990s.  It is a privilege for me to welcome her. We are proud to see that she lives with dignity and with security in her homeland.

Three million Afghans still live in Pakistan after 40 years of continuous conflict.  Their fate remains grim, but at least Sharbat has come home to comfort.  (That is Steve McCurry in this photo.)

I might add that the Dow Jones Industrial Average broke its all-time high, up 218 to 18,808:

Hmm...who said Donald Trump was toxic.


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