Author Archive | MarkB

Why Have Children?

image courtesy Matt Romack

Get married. Buy a house. Have kids. Retire. Die.

Why step three? Is it part of an egotistical drive to preserve one’s DNA? A desire to raise the most exotic pet of all – a human? A need to obtain a trophy to prove you had unprotected sex?

None of those, says a team of Cambridge and Stanford researchers. Instead, Dr. Partha Dasgupta and Dr. Paul Ehrlich posit, it’s part of the age-old question of “keeping up with the Joneses.” Physorg reports on the duo’s study which uses …

… data from several sources to compare population growth rates between people in Africa—where population growth is exploding in some areas—with others where it is not, to show that when people experience peer pressure to have large families and also feel pressure to keep up with the consumption habits of other people where they live, the result can be explosive population growth.

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UFO Disclosure or UFO Circus?

Stephen Bassett’s latest event at the National Press Club has been making headlines recently. The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure is supposed to assemble a gallery of credible UFO witnesses to be interviewed by a distinguished panel of former U.S. congressmen. Having former high-ranking statesmen conduct the inquiry, according to Bassett, will lend credibility to the event, which recently got positive airtime on MSNBC.

“They are essentially conducting themselves as if they were still in Congress. We’re looking for them to be objective and gather information,” Bassett told HuffPost Weird News. “We do not care what their opinion is, it’s not a factor. We simply want them to do the job.”

But who, exactly, are these congressmen? According to website Parapolitical, they are the “nuttiest former U.S. congressmen in history.” Taking a closer look at the biography of the panelists reveals a range of anecdotes that could be amusing, if it weren’t so frightening to imagine these people once held high public office.… Read the rest

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Ron Paul: “Gitmo Sucks!” | Rand Paul: “Gitmo Rocks!”

Paul & Paul | image courtesy Gage Skidmore

Just like Baskin-Robbins, the Paul brand has learned it can increase its customer base by offering both chocolate and strawberry. Therefore,

– Ron Paul is continuing to advocate closing Guantanamo Bay,
– Rand Paul is advocating keeping Guantanamo Bay open.

Reporting on the opening of the Ron Paul Institute, whose board of directors has been joined by former Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, Politico noted the Gitmo issue as one of several gaps between the older Dr. Paul and the younger Dr. Paul:

It will not be surprising if the younger Paul receives less than a 100 percent rating from his father’s group.

The elder Paul, for instance, said Guantanamo is “outside the law” and symbolizes torture, secret prisons and an assassination list.

The Kentucky senator, 50, gave a carefully nuanced answer Wednesday when a reporter asked his position on Gitmo during a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.

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Biggest Unsolved Terrorist Attacks in U.S. History

5 Wall St_ Bombing(7)In a list of the “10 Biggest Unsolved U.S. Terrorism Cases,” Parapolitical counts five attacks of greater severity than this week’s marathon bombing that were never solved. Topping that list is the 1920 Wall Street bombing. Ninety-three years after the attack that killed 38 at J.P. Morgan, no one has taken credit.

In close second is the 1975 bombing of New York’s La Guardia airport, an attack that killed 11. The 1916 San Francisco Preparedness Day bombing and the 1933 bombing of United Airlines flight 247 both also had death tolls at, or approaching, double-digits. Neither case has been closed.

Aside from the Boston Marathon attack, the most recent unsolved terrorist bombing in the U.S. was the 1985 murder of Alex Odeh in Santa Ana, California, an attack that resulted in 3 casualties.

Alex Odeh, a Palestinian Christian immigrant to the United States working as regional director of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, was killed in a bombing of the group’s offices as he was preparing to leave to speak at a Fountain Valley synagogue.

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Shell, Nestle, Monsanto and McDonald’s Have Biggest Private Spy Outfits

Just as governments spy on activists, so do corporations. In an interview, investigative reporter Eveline Lubbers is asked which corporations have the most extensive intelligence-gathering operations. The answer (maybe) via Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, Monsanto and McDonald’s.

Are these corporations the worst offenders in general? That is a difficult question, and I have no answer to it in terms of straight figures and statistics. Since most of  these manoeuvres are secret, they remain in the dark (no pun intended). You don’t know what you don’t see.

What I can say from the case studies that I worked on, and from the stories that have come to light in the past few years in the UK and the US, is this. We are not looking at isolated cases, what has come to the surface is more like the tip of the iceberg. I have identified patterns in how police and corporations deal with resistance, with criticism, with campaigners, and how they join forces.

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Maori Dance Ritual Offends Danish MP During Trip to New Zealand

A member of Denmark’s parliament has expressed offense and revulsion over the welcome she was given by New Zealand officials on a recent visit to that country. Marie Krarup described her arrival at a New Zealand military installation:

When we came to a naval base, we were not received with a handshake or salute by uniformed men as usual. No, we were welcomed with a Maori dance ritual, with a half-naked man in grass skirt, shouting and screaming in Maori. It’s a mystery to me how the poor naval officers could endure both the ceremony and the surroundings.

Denmark does not maintain an embassy in New Zealand, however, the Danish ambassador in Australia quickly moved to assuage the sudden controversy that erupted over Krarup’s remark by explaining the New Zealanders are doing the best they can.

These events as well as the specific event during the welcome ceremony referred to by Mrs Krarup reflects for me the sincere wish of the New Zealand hosts to bid me welcome in the best possible way, namely through a Maori ceremony of welcome that has been a tradition for generations.

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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.

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‘Outside-Insourcing’: Royal Bank of Canada Employees Replaced with Lower Paid Foreign Workers

image courtesy physis3141

Outsourcing jobs to lower-paid workers in lesser developed countries (LDCs) has been a standard practice of big business for some time. Now, the Royal Bank of Canada is beginning the process of “outside-insourcing.”

At the end of April, 45 tenured employees of the Royal Bank of Canada will be terminated and replaced with immigrants from India who have arrived in Canada since the start of the year. The to-be fired employees are currently training their lower-paid replacements in how to do their jobs, one of their last official duties before being let go. RBC currently outsources some call center responsibilities to India, however, the jobs in question cannot be performed remotely, which is why the bank has used Canada’s liberal immigration laws to import non-Canadians to work on-site.

The new workers were recruited by IGATE, which specializes in importing workers from LDCs to developed countries so companies can replace their higher-paid workers with employees who have lower salary expectations.… Read the rest

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Science: Britons Really Do Hate Immigrants

Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown helped seal his 2010 electoral defeat after a live mic caught him calling an elderly voter a “bigot” (in reaction to a bigoted statement said voter had made about Eastern European immigration).

Now, a new study by the British Sociological Association scientifically validates that Britons, in fact, are among the most xenophobic people in Europe – second only to Greeks. Rating their perception of immigration on a scale of 0-10, Britons from the governing Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition reported averages of 4.4 (for Conservatives) and 5.9 (for Lib Dems). Voters supporting the opposition Labour Party rated immigrants at a 4.9.

Nonetheless, the study concluded, British attitudes toward immigration softened in direct relation to their exposure to eastern Europeans. Researcher Anne-Marie Jeannet, of the University of Oxford, explained that,

“This may be because Central and Eastern Europeans are not physically dissimilar to the natives in Western Europe.
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Were the Salem witches actually guilty?

We’ve all been told that the Salem witch trials – in which twenty people were put to death – were the low point in the judicial history of North America. Now a former Maryland prosecutor has reexamined the famous trials to conclude that – while the condemned may not have possessed supernatural powers – an evaluation of the evidence presented in court does indicate that at least some were, indeed, guilty of witchcraft.

In his new book, William Cooke “separates the morality of criminalizing witchcraft from the job of the colonial courts.” Though he believes outlawing witchcraft is an infringement of freedom of religion, it should be the colonial legislative – not judicial – authorities that are the subject of contemporary ire.

In an interview with Parapolitical, Cooke also explains how the witch trials at Salem helped evolve the legal system we have today.

PARAPOLITICAL: One interesting case in the Salem trials involves Giles Corey who was pressed to death for refusing to enter a plea on a charge of being a warlock.

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