Tag Archives | Human Rights

Which Life Form Dominates Earth?

Springtails can be smaller than a pinhead (Credit: Sinclair Stammers / NPL)

Springtails can be smaller than a pinhead (Credit: Sinclair Stammers / NPL)

Nic Fleming Via BBC:

We humans tend to assume we rule the Earth. With our advanced tool making, language, problem solving and social skills, and our top predator status, we like to think of ourselves as the dominant life form on the planet.

But are we?

There are organisms that are significantly more numerous, cover more of the Earth’s surface and make up more of its living biomass than us. We are certainly having major impacts in most corners of the globe and on its other inhabitants.

But are there are other living things that are quietly having greater, more significant influences? Who or what is really in charge?

If world domination is a numbers game, few can compare with tiny six-legged, shrimp-like springtails, or Collembola. Ranging from 0.25-10mm in length, there are typically around 10,000 per square metre of soil, rising to as many as 200,000 per square metre in some places.

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The Good, The Bad and The Robot: Experts Are Trying to Make Machines Be “Moral”

I, Robot coverCoby McDonald Via California Magazine:

Good vs. bad. Right vs. wrong. Human beings begin to learn the difference before we learn to speak—and thankfully so. We owe much of our success as a species to our capacity for moral reasoning. It’s the glue that holds human social groups together, the key to our fraught but effective ability to cooperate. We are (most believe) the lone moral agents on planet Earth—but this may not last. The day may come soon when we are forced to share this status with a new kind of being, one whose intelligence is of our own design.

Robots are coming, that much is sure. They are coming to our streets as self-driving cars, to our military as automated drones, to our homes as elder-care robots—and that’s just to name a few on the horizon (Ten million households already enjoy cleaner floors thanks to a relatively dumb little robot called the Roomba).

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Disinformation featured artist: Mu Pan and Humanity’s Fundamental Need for Narrative

spider_woman

Spider Woman。2015. 30″ x 44″Acrylic on paper.

Artist Statement

Mu Pan, born 1976, lives in Brooklyn NY

My work is quite simply about telling stories; stories in actual history, stories in imaginative history, and stories about human nature. I strongly believe in humanity’s fundamental need for narrative in visual imagery. To tell my stories, I often utilize animal forms, anthropomorphic or otherwise, in an effort to show the viewer the folly of human beings and the boundless power of animals. I draw references from the histories of China, Japan, and the United States, all of which have had a huge influence on my upbringing. Having been born into a military family, I am fascinated by battle scenes. Many such scenes in my work point to the irrevocable mistakes humans have made in the past. I re-create the historical scenarios in my own interpretation, perhaps to lament what we can no longer make up for, or perhaps to imagine that justice can prevail, if only in my image.… Read the rest

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“God Is Not A Christian. Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu” – Desmond Tutu

"Desmond Tutu 2013-10-23 001" by Libris Förlag - mynewsdesk. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Desmond Tutu 2013-10-23 001” by Libris Förlag – mynewsdesk. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Via Real Leaders:

In this exclusive interview with Real Leaders, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and social rights activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says he is not threatened by the beliefs of others. He believes the world should become more aware of our shared humanity to avoid future conflicts.

You represent a very specific world view, Christianity, yet have managed to mediate between opposing belief systems and make people aware of their common humanity. How have you managed this? 

It doesn’t matter where we worship or what we call God; there is only one, inter-dependent human family. We are born for goodness, to love – free of prejudice. All of us, without exception. There is greater commonality in our belief systems than we tend to credit, a golden thread expressed in the maxim that one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. 

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‘I Wished They Had Killed Me': Victim of CIA Says Torture Worse Than You Know

Majid Khan is pictured in this 2009 handout photograph taken at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, released on June 1, 2015. (Photo: Center for Constitutional Rights)

Majid Khan is pictured in this 2009 handout photograph taken at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, released on June 1, 2015. (Photo: Center for Constitutional Rights)

Nadia Prupis writes at Common Dreams:

A Guantanamo Bay detainee turned government witness has accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of using even more disturbing forms of torture and abuse during secret interrogations than were included in the U.S. Senate’s redacted report last year.

In a newly declassified account published Tuesday by Reuters, Majid Khan said that agents subjected him to waterboarding, poured ice water on his genitals, sexually assaulted him, and threatened to beat him with a hammer, baseball bats, sticks, and leather belts, among other abuses that were not detailed in the Senate report.

“Khan said his feet and lower legs were placed in tall boot-like metal cuffs that dug into his flesh and immobilized his legs. He said he felt that his legs would break if he fell forward while restrained by the cuffs,” writes Reuters investigative journalist David Rohde.

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Report Reveals $8.5 Trillion Missing From Pentagon Budget

David B. Gleason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

David B. Gleason (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via Crooks and Liars:

Yahoo Money’ The Daily Ticker  is reporting that is has discovered a Reuters investigation that reveals$8.5 trillion – that’s trillion with a “T” – in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996 that has never been accounted for.

You read that right. While Republican politicians rush to slash food stamps for the 47 million Americans living in poverty – the highest amount in nearly two decades –  Republican U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has the audacity to complain that $20 billion dollars in automatic sequester cuts to the massive and secretive $565.8 billion Defense Department budget are ” too steep, too deep, and too abrupt,” all while the Pentagon and the Defense Department are overseeing massive fraud, waste, and abuse.

For anyone wondering, Reuters reports that the D.O.D.’s 2012 budget totaled $565.8 billion, more than the annual defense budgets of the 10 next largest military spenders combined, including Russia and China.

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Magic mushrooms ‘less harmful than thought’ and should be reclassified, says leading psychiatrist

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

RuthArt (CC BY 2.0)

Charlie Cooper via The Independent:

Psychedelic drugs including LSD and magic mushrooms are much less harmful than has been claimed, and should be reclassified to make it easier for scientists to research their potential benefits, a leading psychiatrist has said.

Promising medical research into psychedelics ground to a halt as long ago as 1967, when they were made illegal amid widespread concern about their psychological and social harms.

However, writing in the BMJ, psychiatrist Dr James Rucker, said that no evidence had ever shown the drugs to be habit-forming. There is also little evidence of harm when used in controlled settings, and a wealth of studies indicating that they have uses in the treatment of common psychiatric disorders, he said.

Researchers are beginning to look again at how LSD and psilocybin – the active compound in magic mushrooms – might be of benefit in the treatment of addiction, for obsessive compulsive disorder and even, according to one small Swiss study, to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety in terminally ill patients.

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Video Shows Workers Being Sprayed With Toxic Weed Killer


When Daryl Ivy responded a Craigslist job posting as a truck driver for Applebee Aviation, he didn’t expect to be sprayed with toxic chemicals that caused him to cough up blood.

Travis Gettys via The Raw Story:

A whistleblower recorded hundreds of videos showing helicopters spraying toxic weed killers onto Oregon timber workers below.

After answering a Craigslist job posting, Daryl Ivy spent 17 days this spring working as a truck driver for Applebee Aviation in Douglas County, where he said chemicals stained his windshield and caused him to cough up blood, reported Oregon Live.

The 45-year-old Ivy eventually sought treatment at a hospital, where he was decontaminated and placed in isolation before he was diagnosed with acute chemical exposure and contact dermatitis.

A monitor from the state’s Department of Forestry was at the site last month, during one of the times Ivy recorded video, but did not report any violations.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

Mort

Zoltan Istvan via IEET:

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

So what are transhumanists to do in a world where science and technology are quickly improving and will almost certainly overcome human mortality in the next 30 years? Will there be a great civil rights debate and clash around the world?

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