NEWS CLUES: It’s Like Adderall For Your Eyeballs

SHINING PATH: How Richard Gere Got His Buddha On

buddha.gif As Richard Gere tells it, it was in 1978 that he literally and figuratively found his humanitarian path. “After [the film festival at] Cannes I went to India and Nepal,” he recalls. “It was outside of Pokhara, at the edge of the Himalayas, I took a walk through a village. There were no vehicles. I saw a hand-lettered sign that said, ‘Tibetan refugees.’ I walked up the path and it was otherworldly — it had a Brigadoon or Lost Horizons quality. Their minds and hearts were different from anything else I had previously encountered. They thought and spoke in terms of community, not of self,” he remembers. “When they spoke of ‘our minds,’ they pointed to their hearts.” The experience inspired Gere to advocate on behalf of the Tibetan refugees. Then in the ’80s, he thought, “I’ve got to be systematic about this.” Which begot the founding of Tibet House in New York. Which begot human-rights advocacy in Central America and Kosovo. Which begot his creation of the Gere Foundation, his personal philanthropy, and Healing the Divide, a nonprofit dedicated to helping communities at home and abroad address social and cultural challenges such as HIV/AIDS awareness. He has given millions, raised millions more. [via the INQUIRER]

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EXTRA TERRESTRIAL: Ex-Arizona Gov Demands Air Force Re-Open UFO Invesitgation

ufocapitol.gifWASHINGTON — UFOs may be fodder for comedians but there was no joking Monday when a group of former pilots recounted seeing strange phenomena in the sky and demanded the US government reopen an investigation into unidentified flying objects. Several pilots offered dramatic accounts of witnessing UFOs — including a transparent flying disc and a triangular craft with mysterious markings — as they insisted their questions needed to be taken seriously more than 30 years after the US file was closed. “We want the US government to stop perpetuating the myth that all UFOs can be explained away in down-to-earth, conventional terms,” said Fife Symington, former governor of Arizona and air force pilot who says he saw a UFO in 1997. “Instead our country needs to reopen its official investigation that it shut down in 1969,” Symington told a news conference. The subject of UFOs came up in a recent debate among US presidential candidates, with Democrat Dennis Kucinich saying he once saw a UFO — making him the object of ridicule and jokes by late night television comedians. [via AFP]

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STUDY: Total Cost Of War In Iraq And Afghanistan Is $1.5 Trillion To Date
presidentsusagif.gifWASHINGTON (Reuters) — A new study by congressional Democrats says “hidden costs” have driven the price of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to about $1.5 trillion, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday. That figure is nearly double the $804 billion the White House has spent or requested, according to the report by the Democratic staff of Congress’s Joint Economic Committee, which examines the hidden costs of the wars, the Post said. According to the panel, the hidden costs include higher oil prices, the expense of treating wounded veterans and interest payments on money borrowed to pay for the wars, the newspaper said. A 21-page draft obtained by the newspaper estimates that the wars have cost the average U.S. family of four more than $20,000, the Post said. The study concludes that the cost to the average family could more than double, to $46,300, over the next decade, with estimated economic costs to the United States reaching $3.5 trillion if the conflicts continue at their current pace, the Post said. [via REUTERS]

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