Author Archive | Good German

The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan

Action in Afghanistan
David Price and Roberto J. González write at CounterPunch:

Over the past eight years, news reports gradually revealed that Afghan soldiers and police officers allied with US military forces are sexually abusing young boys held against their will—sometimes on US military bases. Last month, Joseph Goldstein (2015) published a front page story in the New York Times under the headline “US Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies,” which opened with the disturbing story of Lance Corporal Gregory Buckley Jr., who was fatally shot along with two other Marines in 2012. Buckley was killed after he raised concerns about the American military’s tolerance of child sexual abuse practiced by Afghan police officers on the base where he was stationed in southern Afghanistan. Buckley’s father told the Times that “my son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

The Times story provides the now standard boilerplate narrative that adult men having sex with young boys–some as young as twelve years old–exemplify a culture complex known as bacha bazi, or “boy play.” But it also includes vignettes of US soldiers walking into rooms of Afghan men bedded with young boys, a young teenage girl raped by a militia commander while working in the fields, and the story of a former Special Forces Captain, Dan Quinn, who was disciplined after beating an Afghan militia commander who was “keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave” (Goldstein 2015).

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Explosions Rock Turkish Peace Rally; Police Block Ambulances Trying to Help Victims

Via Common Dreams:

Twin explosions outside Ankara’s main train station on Saturday morning killed at least 86 people and wounded up to 190 in an attack targeting a peace rally in Turkey’s capital city.

The peace rally and march was organized by unions, NGO’s and  the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)  to protest against the conflict between the state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in southeast Turkey.

A video caught the moment the first bomb went off.

A line of men and women were holding hands and singing as people milled in the background waving banners with anti-violence slogans, when the huge blast rocked the crowd.

Hundreds of protesters then clashed with police after officers blocked off a road keeping ambulances from aiding victims of this morning’s bombing.

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The City Where Residents Have Been Taking Mentally Ill People into Their Homes for Hundreds of Years


Lizzie Dearden writes at the Independent:

“Half of Geel is crazy, and the rest is half crazy,” runs a joke often told about the Belgian city of Geel.

On the surface, it may seem unremarkable with its pretty market square and river views, surrounded by the Antwerp countryside.

But wandering around its plazas and cafes, visitors may notice that some of the residents seem slightly “eccentric”, and with good reason.

The city is home to hundreds of mental health patients, who live not in psychiatric hospitals but with local families as part of a unique model of care dating back centuries.

Mike Jay, an author and cultural historian, has visited Geel to explore its unusual system.

Speaking to The Independent, he said the perception of “madness” as we know it does not exist.

“The people of Geel very studiously avoid all that language in a way I think is quite admirable,” Mr Jay added.

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When Exxon’s Business Ambition Collided with Climate Change Under a Distant Sea

EXXON Gas station @ Amistad Lake National Recreation Area
Neela Banerjee & Lisa Song write at InsideClimate News:

In 1980, as Exxon Corp. set out to develop one of the world’s largest deposits of natural gas, it found itself facing an unfamiliar risk: the project would emit immense amounts of carbon dioxide, adding to the looming threat of climate change.

The problem cropped up shortly after Exxon signed a contract with the Indonesian state oil company to exploit the Natuna gas field in the South China Sea—big enough to supply the blossoming markets of Japan, Taiwan and Korea with liquefied natural gas into the 21st century.

Assessing the environmental impacts, Exxon Research and Engineering quickly identified Natuna’s greenhouse gas problem. The reservoir was contaminated with much more carbon dioxide than normal. It would have to be disposed of somehow—and simply venting it into the air could have serious consequences, Exxon’s experts warned.

Exxon’s dawning realization that carbon dioxide and the greenhouse effect posed a danger to the world collided with the company’s fossil fuel ambitions.

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Why Do Some Pakistanis Hate Malala So Much?

Mallika Rao writes at the Huffington Post:

Three years ago today, a girl took a bullet in the head on the order of a man from the same tribe as her. Elsewhere, the story goes a little differently. Conspiracy theories about Malala Yousafzai litter the web, some dropped by those who believe them, others by those explaining them.

With her documentary freshly released even in Karachi, Malala is back in the spotlight, trailing stories behind her. On Twitter, some Pakistanis are dredging up an old tale: of a CIA puppet involved in a drama to destabilize Pakistan’s tribal northwest.

To understand the theory, it helps to consider how American intervention in Pakistan has changed the fabric of the country. Malala conspiracy theories are traded in urban circles, but they thrive in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where the U.S.

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Guns, Trump and Mental Illness


Ben Debney writes at CounterPunch:

One of the few people to shamelessly state his true feelings about the recent Oregon school shootings was GOP front-runner Donald Trump, whose comments on MSNBC were not widely circulated beyond that forum for reasons that do not warrant sustained reflection.[1] They did however surface on at least on website, where they were reported in detail.[2]

In this instance we should be grateful that Donald Trump says openly what a lot of people say in private, and those who have to bear the brunt of the stigma against past and present sufferers of mental illness actually have an opportunity to respond directly.

According to the Newsmax website, Trump had said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program that there were ‘already strong laws on the books where firearms are concerned’, but that ‘you’re always going to have problems’ on account of the fact that ‘we have millions of sick people all over the world.’

Since there were ‘millions of sick people all over the world,’ as Trump put it, the Oregon shootings were nothing special.

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China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans


Jay Stanley, writing for the ACLU:

China is launching a comprehensive “credit score” system, and the more I learn about it, the more nightmarish it seems. China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, “authoritarianism, gamified.” Read this piece for the full flavor—it will make your head spin. If that and the little other reporting I’ve seen is accurate, the basics are this:

  • Everybody is measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card. While currently supposedly voluntary, the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020.
  • The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say.
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Male Suicide on Rise as Result of Austerity, Report Suggests

to be or not to be
University of Portsmouth via ScienceDaily:

Young males between the ages of 10 and 24 have committed suicide in growing numbers as a direct result of austerity measures brought in across Europe following the 2009 recession.

According to new research from the University of Portsmouth and Webster Vienna University, more males of all ages are committing suicide in the Eurozone’s poorest countries.

The researchers, Dr Nikolaos Antonakakis and Professor Alan Collins, are urging policy makers to put European citizens’ health before wealth as a matter of urgency.

The research is the first to examine the direct impact of fiscal austerity on suicide rates in the group of countries most affected by the Eurozone crisis — Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Dr Antonakakis, a Visiting Fellow at Portsmouth Business School and an Associate Professor at Webster Vienna University, said: “The Eurozone debt crisis is transforming into a health crisis. Austerity measures were implemented in response to the 2008 global financial crisis and the subsequent Eurozone debt crisis in an attempt to restore confidence, competitiveness and macroeconomic stability.

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Nunavut’s Suicide Crisis

Better Than Television
Laura Eggertson writes at CBC News:

On May 18, 2013, after responding to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl in Pangnirtung, Nunavut’s chief coroner pleaded for help from the territory’s minister of health and senior bureaucrats.

“It is time to declare a state of emergency,” Padma Suramala wrote in an email sent to Health Minister Keith Peterson, Justice Minister Daniel Shewchuk and others. After working for 13 months straight, and dealing with nine suicides in the previous month, and five that month alone, the coroner described herself as devastated and disheartened.

Before she wrote the email, she spent a sleepless night agonizing over what brought a 13-year-old to the decision to die “before even experiencing her life.”

“We have reached a breaking point and our community is under crisis,” Suramala wrote in the email, obtained through an access to information request. “I leave it in your best hands to make the decision of calling [a] state of emergency … and bring awareness of available resources to Nunavummiut.”

Nothing happened.

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