Articles by imkaan

Writes Alexander Abad-Santos on the Atlantic Wire:

This is a pretty terrible statistic: 154 active duty troops have committed suicide in the first 155 days of the new year–a rate alarmingly close to one per day. The number dead from suicides eclipses the U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan by about 50 percent.

For comparison, there were around 130 suicide deaths during the same time last year, reports The Associated Press’ Robert Burns. It’s difficult to wrap our brains around that number and that rate, and of course that statistic is just one more troubling recent finding from our troops. (Remember the reports that found that sexual assaults among members of the army were up 64 percent from 2006? Or the rise in alcohol abuse?) “It’s a sign in general of the stress the Army has been under over the 10 years of war,” Dr. Stephen N. Xenakis, a psychiatrist and retired Army general told Burns. “We’ve seen before that these signs show up even more dramatically when the fighting seems to go down and the Army is returning to garrison.”…

Via Revealing Politics:

The night before Wisconsin’s recall election progressive activists gathered around the Capitol to “cleanse it of negative energy” and sing together in solidarity. The evening opened with songs, some of which were written specifically for the events, as lyric sheets were handed out to attendees. Attendees then practiced a meditational “Om” and then all pulled together to circle the Capitol building with their collective energy.

Reports Jennifer Viegas in Discovery News:

The ancestors of humans, apes and monkeys evolved first in Asia before moving on to Africa, suggests a new fossil find from Myanmar.

Remains of a newly found primate, Afrasia djijidae, show this monkey-like animal lived 37 million years ago and was a likely ancestor of anthropoids — the group including humans, apes and monkeys.

“Many people have heard about the ‘Out of Africa’ story of human origins and human evolution,” said Christopher Beard, a Carnegie Museum of Natural History vertebrate paleontologist who co-authored a study about the fossil find in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our paper is the logical precursor to that, because we are showing how the anthropoid ancestors of humans made their way ‘Into Africa’ in the first place.”…

Robert MugabeDavid Usborne writes in the Independent:

Never mind that Robert Mugabe is under a travel ban for his cruel stewardship of Zimbabwe since independence. The United Nations, in its wisdom, has designated him a “leader for tourism” and chosen the Victoria Falls, shared with Zambia, as the venue for a holiday industry conference next year.

At the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), based in Madrid, the thinking seems to be: “If the old man can’t visit us then we should visit him.”

The honour was made official when UNWTO head, Taleb Rifai, arrived at the Falls for a ceremony to name Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosts of the 2013 conference … Kumbi Muchemwa, a spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said: “I can’t see any justification for the man being an ‘ambassador’. An ambassador for what? The man has blood on his hands. Do they want tourists to see those bloody hands?”…

Decoration DayVia Alternet:

It’s sure to be a little bit controversial but it’s an extremely salient point: Chris Hayes, when discussing the meaning of Memorial Day, admitted that he feels “uncomfortable” calling deceased soldiers heroes. Not because they’re not heroes, but because the term lionizes and glamorizes war. Hayes discussed how he feels “uncomfortable” with the term:

I feel … uncomfortable, about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don’t want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that’s fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism, you know, hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers, and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I’m wrong about that.

Writes Jon Evans on TechCrunch: The government of Syria uses made-in-California technology from BlueCoat Systems to censor the Internet and spy on its pro-democracy activists (who are regularly arrested and tortured, not…

RadiationWell, it’s good to know Japan’s government is seriously testing the food supply. Via the Japan Times:

Radioactive cesium was detected in 51 food products from nine prefectures in excess of a new government-set limit in the first month since it was introduced April 1st, according to data released by the health ministry Tuesday.

The limit was exceeded in 337 cases, or 2.4 percent of 13,867 food samples examined by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Cesium exceeding the previous allowable limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram was detected in 55 cases, while the new limit of 100 becquerels was exceeded in 282 cases. By prefecture, there were 142 cases in Fukushima, 69 in Tochigi, 41 in Ibaraki, 35 in Iwate, 32 in Miyagi, 13 in Chiba, two each in Yamagata and Gunma, and one in Kanagawa.

Very compelling read from Jakob Schiller on WIRED’s Raw File below. (Also, worth reading this Washington Post article if you have not come across it): The video calling for a national campaign…

US Dept Of Veterans AffairsNicholas D. Kristof writes in the New York Times:

Here’s a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

These unnoticed killing fields are places like New Middletown, Ohio, where Cheryl DeBow raised two sons, Michael and Ryan Yurchison, and saw them depart for Iraq. Michael, then 22, signed up soon after the 9/11 attacks.

“I can’t just sit back and do nothing,” he told his mom. Two years later, Ryan followed his beloved older brother to the Army.

Pride FlagPeople who greatly fear homosexuality are likely to have experienced an attraction to a member of the same sex, according to a new study presented in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. As Jeanna Bryner reports on LiveScience:

Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.

The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.

“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”

Alexandra Pelosi wrote on Real Time with Bill Maher:

Why is it that the poorest states in America are red states? It seems the poorer the state, the more Republican it is. The Census Bureau’s 2011 Statistical Abstract shows the GOP finds their strongest support in places where poverty and median household income are the worst. Case in point: Mississippi ranks dead last economically, with the lowest per capita income in the country, yet according to Gallup, Mississippi is the most conservative state in the union. It ranks first in the number of people living below the poverty line: 21.9 percent of Mississippi residents live below the poverty level. Dominated by conservative politicians, Mississippi has the lowest tax burden in the nation but ranks fourth in per capita federal aid. Mississippi is also a leader of the GOP effort to gut Medicaid but ranks first in the percentage of its Medicaid program that is funded by federal matching funds.

Homeless PeopleLloyd Alter writes on Treehugger:

That is what the census says. Andrew Leonard in Salon notes that it is a bit misleading, that “4.7 million are for “seasonal use” only, the Census tells us — unoccupied vacation homes, in other words. 4.1 million are for rent, 2.3 million are for sale, and the remaining 7.5 million “were vacant for a variety of other reasons.”

The census also lists the total number of homeless in America as 759,101, so there are 24 empty houses for every homeless person in America. What a shocking mis-allocation of resources, materials and energy …