Archive | April 8, 2013

Guantanamo Detainees Brutally Force Fed During Hunger Strike

Forced feeding (still from 'Doctors of the Dark Side')

Up to 130 of the 166 detainees left in Guantanamo are reported to be taking part in a hunger strike with at least 11 being force fed (see also this piece by Chris Hayes at MSNBC).

What is not widely reported is the brutal way that detainees have been force fed by the Guantanamo medical staff, a protocol that appears to be in use now.

As detainee lawyer Ramzi Kassen explains in Doctors of the Dark Side, detainees are strapped in a 5-point restraint chair–dubbed by some detainees the “torture” chair–and large tubes that may be left in for days are jammed down their noses without anesthesia or lubricants. When detainees resist the brutal procedure, they are forcibly extracted from their cells by soldiers in full riot gear at the direction of the medical staff.

Lawyers for the despairing detainees, of whom 86 were approved for release over two years ago, are very worried that their clients will die or be permanently injured in the hunger strike.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Thatcher And Kissinger United Again: One Died, The Other’s Documents Were Dumped

Reagan ThatcherThe past fired back today–with two barrels.

Margaret Thatcher’s death at age 87 ushered in a non-stop sycophantic display of adulation across all the television networks, that, we need to recall, used the same playbook when her ideological kith and kin, Ronald Reagan, also suffering from dementia, departed this mortal coil

Then, there was a six-day televised praise poem between his death and what amounted to a state funeral with an unending orgy of uncritical commentary,  as if the media had fallen down the amnesia hole and forgotten that the great communicator was not that good a communicator and often an embarrassment, not to mention a political fraud.

Now it’s Maggie’s turn, with acres of sound bites stressing that “we should never forget” how tough the “Iron Lady” was.  Baroness “Lady Thatcher” was spoken of reverentially as royalty by the high and mighty who treated her as a divine figure.

In life her role was debated; in death, she was consecrated as a goddess.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

States Outlaw Videotaping of Animal Cruelty

Dead-pigWhat kind of society passes laws like these? Well about 12 states in the US, for a start. Richard A. Oppel, Jr. reports for the New York Times:

On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks.

Each video — all shot in the last two years by undercover animal rights activists — drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Art and Physics

Via orwellwasright:

It’s well known that many of the great breakthroughs in science seem to occur both independently and near-simultaneously: Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz and the development of calculus; Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi and the invention of the radio; Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution are just three famous examples of radical new theories and inventions appearing in apparent isolation from one another. But what if scientific developments are prefigured by artists, who elucidate new concepts and manners of expressing space, light and time which capture the essence of radical new approaches to theoretical physics years before they actually occur? This is the subject for Leonard Shlain’s fascinating book, Art and Physics.

Shlain takes the reader on a journey through history, from the classical art of the Greco-Roman world through the spiritual mosaics of the medieval era and the Age of Reason up to the present day; from Euclidean geometry to Galileo, Newton and the discoveries of Einstein.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Could An Extraterrestrial Message Be Encoded In Our DNA?

Could a message have been inserted into our genetics billions of years ago, as the most durable method of communicating with intelligent life eons later? Discovery News ponders:

Could our genes have an intelligently designed “manufacturer’s stamp” inside them, written eons ago elsewhere in our galaxy?

Vladimir I. shCherbak of al-Farabi Kazakh National University of Kazakhstan, and Maxim A. Makukov of the Fesenkov Astrophysical Institute, hypothesize that an intelligent signal embedded in our genetic code would what they call “biological SETI.”

In the journal Icarus, they assert: “Once fixed, the code might stay unchanged over cosmological timescales. Therefore it represents an exceptionally reliable storage for an intelligent signature.” To pass the designer label test, any patterns in the genetic code must be highly statistically significant and possess intelligent-like features that are inconsistent with any natural know process.

They go on to argue that their detailed analysis of the human genome displays a thorough precision-type orderliness in the mapping between DNA’s nucleotides and amino acids.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

World’s First Perpetual Motion Machine?

via Astounde
Since at least the 12th century, man has sought to create a perpetual motion machine; a device that would continue working indefinitely without any external source of energy. A large scientific contingent thinks such a device would violate the laws of thermodynamics, and is thus impossible. Could it be that as a race, we don’t fully understand the laws of physics and such a device may indeed be possible? What would the ramifications be if we could actually build a perpetually moving device?
Norwegian artist and mathematician Reidar Finsrud is an outside the box thinker that has devised a machine that he believes achieves true perpetual motion. Take a look at the video below and see what you think.
Continue Reading

Margaret Thatcher’s Hearts And Souls

She failed in her dream of using economic policies to create a society of citizens who believed only in individualism. Via New Left Project, Tom Mills writes:

Much has been made of the ideological power of Thatcher’s political vision, but in reality she did not seek to persuade people that ‘there is no alternative’. Rather she forced people to accept as much by attacking the social bases of collective action and ideas, emasculating those institutional forms that could make building any alternative possible or even imaginable.

Like the Marxists she despised, Thatcher believed that ultimately it is the material conditions of life that determine political consciousness, and she sought therefore to bring about institutional changes which would carry with them an ideological reorientation. Hence why in an interview for the Sunday Times in May 1981 she made the chilling remark that, ‘Economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul.’

The policy innovations in the Thatcher years represented a profound shift towards a political economy based on rising asset values rather than income.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Canadian Leading Charge Against Obama’s Drone War

A Canadian is doing what no American can risk: The fight against Barack Obama’s program of global, targeting killings has fallen to an attorney from Toronto, reports the CBC. Jameel Jaffer, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, is a Canadian citizen who got his start working on Wall Street for a firm that represented equities traders. After 9/11, Jaffer started to volunteer for the ACLU representing fellow immigrants rounded-up by federal law enforcement. He went on to take a full-time job with the group and ended up leading the ACLU’s legal challenges to Obama’s program of killing suspected enemies of the state. According to the CBC, Jaffer’s motivation is a fear that Obama will eventually turn the drone program against Canada and order Hellfire missiles to rain  down on Canadian towns and cities –

But he also warns that countries including Canada should pay close attention to the policies being created in the United States to govern drone strikes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Babies Prefer Individuals Who Harm Those Who Aren’t Like Them

via Association For Psychological Science

For some getting picked for the team is an affirmation of where they sit in the group. Never mind being the person picked to picked the other people. What about those who are picked last, sometimes with a grumble? Is it because they wear the same my little pony shirt? Is it because they keep repeating Sgt. Slaughter’s words from that one G.I. Joe episode, calling people scuzzbuckets?

Is it because they are fat, have braces, wear glasses, or any other such oddity? The short answer is no. The long answer is that kids can be naturally cruel, sort of. It appears it all depends on what is normal to them, and that these norms may begin to develop at a very early age.

In our social lives, we tend to gravitate toward people who have things in common with us, whether it’s growing up in the same town, disliking the same foods, or even sharing the same birthday.

Read the rest
Continue Reading