Monday, June 25, 2012

A Cruel and Unusual Record

    Monday, June 25, 2012   No comments


THE United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.

Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

While the country has made mistakes in the past, the widespread abuse of human rights over the last decade has been a dramatic change from the past. With leadership from the United States, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” This was a bold and clear commitment that power would no longer serve as a cover to oppress or injure people, and it established equal rights of all people to life, liberty, security of person, equal protection of the law and freedom from torture, arbitrary detention or forced exile.

The declaration has been invoked by human rights activists and the international community to replace most of the world’s dictatorships with democracies and to promote the rule of law in domestic and global affairs. It is disturbing that, instead of strengthening these principles, our government’s counterterrorism policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Women are more violent, says study

    Sunday, June 24, 2012   No comments

Bruised and battered husbands have been complaining for years and now the biggest research project of its kind has proved them right. When it comes to domestic confrontation, women are more violent than men.

The study, which challenges the long-standing view that women are overwhelmingly the victims of aggression, is based on an analysis of 34,000 men and women by a British academic. Women lash out more frequently than their husbands or boyfriends, concludes John Archer, professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire and president of the International Society for Research on Aggression.

Male violence remains a more serious phenomenon: men proved more likely than women to injure their partners. Female aggression tends to involve pushing, slapping and hurling objects. Yet men made up nearly 40 per cent of the victims in the cases that he studied - a figure much higher than previously reported.

Professor Archer analysed data from 82 US and UK studies on relationship violence, dating back to 1972. He also looked at 17 studies based on victim reports from 1,140 men and women. Speaking last night, he said that female aggression was greater in westernised women because they were "economically emancipated" and therefore not afraid of ending a relationship.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Age Well: The importance of letting regrets go

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012   No comments

By Christopher Berger

Why did I do that?
The poem “Maud Muller” by John Greenleaf Whittier aptly ends with the line, “For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” What if you had gone for the risky investment that you later found out made someone else rich, or if you had had the guts to ask that certain someone to marry you? Certainly, we’ve all had instances in our lives where hindsight makes us regret not sticking our neck out a bit more.

But new research suggests that when we are older these kinds of ‘if only!’ thoughts about the choices we made may not be so good for our mental health. One of the most important determinants of our emotional well being in our golden years might be whether we learn to stop worrying about what might have been.

 In a new paper published in Science, researchers from the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Hamburg, Germany, report evidence from two experiments which suggest that one key to aging well might involve learning to let go of regrets about missed opportunities. Stafanie Brassen and her colleagues looked at how healthy young participants (mean age: 25.4 years), healthy older participants (65.8 years), and older participants who had developed depression for the first time later in life (65.6 years) dealt with regret, and found that the young and older depressed patients seemed to hold on to regrets about missed opportunities while the healthy older participants seemed to let them go.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar 'supplying weapons' to anti-Assad forces, while fears mount for civilians

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012   No comments

Syrian rebels are being armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, The Independent has learnt, in a development that threatens to inflame a regional power struggle provoked by the 15-month-old uprising against the Assad regime.

Car bomb attacks in Syria on the rise
Rebel fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have received weapons from the two Gulf countries, which were transported into Syria via Turkey with the implicit support of the country's intelligence agency, MIT, according to a Western diplomat in Ankara. Opposition fighters in Syria have hitherto been handicapped by a reliance on an old and inadequate arsenal, while the regime in Damascus has been able to rely on a supply of arms from Russia and Iran. Moscow is arming Syria with attack helicopters, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, claimed yesterday. "We are concerned by the latest information we have that there are attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will escalate the conflict quite dramatically," she told a conference in Washington.

Since the start of the uprising, anti-regime activists have only smuggled small quantities of weapons, purchased on the black market, from Hatay in southern Turkey into Syria's Idlib province.

Veterans Return Medals at NATO Summit Chicago

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012   No comments
What does not run on mainstream news media:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Can journalism funded by private generosity compensate for the decline of the commercial kind?

    Monday, June 11, 2012   No comments

BANDITS, terrorists, clan rivalries, lawless security forces and corrupt officials make Russia’s north Caucasus the murkiest part of an often opaque country. Journalism there is difficult and dangerous. Much of the best reporting is done by Caucasian Knot, a bilingual online news service. Whereas most of the Russian national media is owned and controlled either by the Kremlin or by tycoons wary of incurring its displeasure, Caucasian Knot is financed by donations.

Media philanthropists are active in calmer places, too. Readers and advertisers have switched to the internet. Profit margins have shrunk or vanished. Papers are dying and journalists being sacked. Costly foreign and investigative reporting has been particularly squeezed, as has local news. One increasingly popular—if limited—response to these travails is the sort of “philanthro-journalism” long practised elsewhere by the likes of Caucasian Knot.


Turkey: Creationists Want to Airbrush Darwin Out of Evolutionary Picture

    Monday, June 11, 2012   No comments

by Dorian Jones 

As Islam takes on a more visible public profile in Turkey, academia is becoming a battleground over the theory of evolution. Scholars who espouse creationist ideas are becoming more assertive in challenging Darwinism.

The recent push by those who see a divine role in human evolution has alarmed Darwin’s adherents. In May, hundreds of academics and students angrily protested against what was billed as Turkey's first academic conference on creationist ideas, held at Istanbul's Marmara University.
"Bringing the scientific theory of evolution together with creationism undermines the foundations of science,” asserted Alaeddin Şenel, a retired professor of anthropology, in remarks to protestors outside the May 16-17 symposium. “Creationism is not supported by scientific data and doesn't have any place in education at any level."

The two-day conference on intelligent design was titled, "Why Does Science Deny Inter-Species Evolution?” It brought together over a dozen academics from across the country who used the occasion to challenge some of Darwin’s core concepts, in particular the theory of natural selection, which explains how apes developed into humans.

Many of the speakers highlighted what they claim are numerous deficiencies in the theory of evolution, supposed deficiencies that they say leave the door open to religious beliefs when teaching science. "The molecules and everything cannot randomly come together. … This theory disturbs me so much!" said geneticist Ibrahim Pirim of Izmir’s Katip Celebi University, one of the keynote speakers at the conference. "These are not random things; a creator had to put all these things in order."


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Houla, Syria Stunt Proves: Old Tricks are the Best Tricks

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012   No comments

by Tony Cartalucci
As information trickles out of Houla, Syria, near the city of Homs and the Lebanese-Syrian border, it is becoming clear that the Syrian government was not responsible for shelling to deaths some 32 children and their parents, as periodically claimed and denied by Western media and even the UN itself. It appears that instead, it was death squads at close quarters - accused by anti-government "activists" as being "pro-regime thugs" or "militias," and by the Syrian government as the work of Al Qaeda terrorists linked to foreign meddlers.

As the killings were allegedly taking place, US, British, and French representatives were already preparing to accuse, condemn, and level punishment against the Syrian government, calling for an immediate UN Security Council session as well as the convening of the "Friends of Syria" cadre to seek expanded arms shipments and aid to militants. It was politically motivated haste, an opportunity engineered or otherwise, for the West to push forward with its long sought after regime change. NATO during the same period, had just slaughtered a family of 8, including 6 children in Afghanistan, so surely if humanitarian concerns and justice were driving these foreign interests, Afghanistan would have been brought up along with Houla.  It unfortunately was not. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Failure of the Summit of the Americas VI

    Saturday, June 02, 2012   No comments

By Raúl Zibechi

Dilma Rousseff interrupted the speech of Barack Obama. The President of the United States was speaking about the advances of various countries in Latin America, commenting that now there exists “a prosperous middle class” that represents a business opportunity for companies from his country. “Suddenly, they are interested in buying iPads, interested in buying planes from Boeing.” “Or Embraer,” interjected Dilma, yielding applause.

Days before the President of Brazil had been upstaged in Washington by a children’s Easter celebration, which was more publicized more than her visit to the White House. “That little photo opportunity had more visibility than the visit of the President of the sixth largest economy in the world,” complained the Brazilian press, contrasting Dilma’s reception with those of the presidents of China, Russia, and India .

What stood out most from the Summit in Cartagena were the blunders and gossip material. Shakira made mistakes in several verses of the Colombian national anthem. Twelve members of Obama’s Secret Service had to return beforehand due to a scandal with prostitutes whom the bodyguards refused to pay. “It is the worst scandal in the history of the Secret Service,” wrote the Washington Post .

Visit Afghanistan's 'Little America,' and See the Folly of For-Profit War

    Saturday, June 02, 2012   No comments

by David Rohde

First with an ill-fated Cold War-era project and now with the war today, Helmand province has been the source of enormously lucrative private contracting that has done little to improve peoples' lives.

Eight years ago, a 72-year-old American aid worker named Charles Grader told me a seemingly fantastical story. In a bleak stretch of Afghan desert that resembled the surface of Mars, several dozen families from states like Montana, Wisconsin and California had lived in suburban tract homes with backyard barbecues. For 30 years during the Cold War, the settlement served as the headquarters of a massive American project designed to wean Afghans from Soviet influence.

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