Tag Archives | Violence

Assassination as Art? Or Simply Wrong?

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Gabriel Elizondo, writing at Al Jazeera in 2010:

What is art?

That is the question many Brazilians have been forced to ask themselves after the country’s most important alternative art show displayed nine drawings depicting the assassination of world leaders.

Each charcoal drawing shows the artist, Gil Vicente of Recife, Brazil, holding a weapon moments before assassinating a world leader.

The exhibition is titled “Enemies” and is seen in the photo above.

One drawing depicts Vicente, the artist, holding a knife to the throat of Brazilian President Lula da Silva. Others show the artist pointing a gun at Pope Benedict XVI, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and Queen Elizabeth. Many have their hands and feet bound by rope.

The first piece in the series, completed in 2005, is a drawing depicting former US President George W Bush being shot. The most recent drawing, completed this year, depicts Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

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A Nation Built on the Rule of Lawlessness

Paul George (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Paul George (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Rick Salutin writes at the Toronto Star:

Barack Obama looked at his most clueless, responding to the riots and rage in Ferguson, Missouri. He hasn’t seemed so callow since the BP oil spill. Like he just wished it was over and could get on to the delights of his post-presidency. Or back to immigration reform and stalling that damn pipeline.

Using his slow voice, as if he’s explaining something so basic that it’s hard to understand, he declared that the U.S. is a “nation built on the rule of law” and added next day, he has “no sympathy” for those who go violent. The problem with this, at least for those in the streets, is the U.S. is not a nation of laws and resorts to official violence and/or illegality routinely.

In U.S. inner cities, this means surviving your dealings with cops. It is agony for a dad to tell his son, as Michael Brown Sr.

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Violence Against U.S. Homeless on the Rise

David Blackwell. (CC BY 2.0)

David Blackwell. (CC BY 2.0)

Ehab Zahriyeh writes at Al Jazeera America:

Despite a decrease in the U.S. homeless population, new research by an advocacy group for the homeless indicates an alarming increase in violent crimes targeting those living on the streets.

In 2013, homeless Americans experienced a 23 percent increase in violence compared with the year before, according to preliminary figures by the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). The U.S. homeless population declined over the same period, with 610,000 people going without shelter on any given day in 2013 — 20,000 fewer than in 2012.

The homeless “are targeted solely because of their circumstances,” coalition director Jerry Jones told Al Jazeera. “People who are in shelters and marginalized are often preyed upon.”

Because the NCH bases its research on reported crimes covered in news media, the actual number of violent attacks targeting the homeless may be much higher, since many go unreported.

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The Myth of Religious Violence

323px-Siege_of_NándorfehérvárKaren Armstrong, author of Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, says in a lengthy essay in The Guardian that “the popular belief that religion is the cause of the world’s bloodiest conflicts is central to our modern conviction that faith and politics should never mix. But the messy history of their separation suggests it was never so simple”:

…[P]erhaps we should ask, instead, how it came about that we in the west developed our view of religion as a purely private pursuit, essentially separate from all other human activities, and especially distinct from politics. After all, warfare and violence have always been a feature of political life, and yet we alone drew the conclusion that separating the church from the state was a prerequisite for peace. Secularism has become so natural to us that we assume it emerged organically, as a necessary condition of any society’s progress into modernity.

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Steve Almond: I’m Quitting American Football

Pollice Verso - Jean-Léon Gérôme 1872 (PD) wikimedia

Pollice Verso – Jean-Léon Gérôme 1872 (PD) wikimedia

I am sure many Disinfonauts and other aware netizens are clued into the distracting and sometimes rigged nature of the games around the world. This avid fan of American Football wrote the book  Against Football, explaining why he’s turned his back on the sport.

via Kottke

Life-long NFL football fan Steve Almond recently wrote a book called Against Football in which he details why he is no longer watching the game he loves. Ian Crouch talked with Almond for the New Yorker.

Any other year, Steve Almond would have seen the play. But, after forty years of fandom, he’s quit the N.F.L. In his new book, “Against Football,” Almond is plain about what he considers the various moral hazards of the game: “I happen to believe that our allegiance to football legitimizes and even fosters within us a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia.”

This part resonated most with me:

Even a casual N.F.L.

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“Crucifixion of Christians”: Debunking the New Fake News Item

Media LiesWell, if you consider two months ago “new” fake news.  From Sirialbano, translated by Mary Rizzo, at We Write What We Like:

They were not Christians, they were Muslims. They were not killed by means of crucifixion, but their already lifeless bodies were exhibited in that barbarian manner.  The crime is ghastly, no matter what religious denomination the victims belong to.  And yet it “news” of “Christians crucified in Syria” went viral in the western media, in particular in the major Italian news media.

The two major Italian newspapers Il Corriere della Sera (above) and La Repubblica (below) dedicated a great amount of space to it, bring attention to the “news” on the first page accompanied by photographs of “a man crucified in Maalula”, the small Christian small town near Damascus.

To push the directors and the heads writers towards a similar editorial choice has no doubt been the statement of Pope Francis in the official Vatican site:   “I cried when i saw the news“.

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Family Violence Leaves Genetic Imprint on Children

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

Pic: US ARMY (PD)

Via ScienceDaily:

A new Tulane University School of Medicine study finds that the more fractured families are by domestic violence or trauma, the more likely that children will bear the scars down to their DNA.

Researchers discovered that children in homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member have significantly shorter telomeres, which is a cellular marker of aging, than those in stable households. The findings are published online in the latest issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Telomeres are the caps at the end of chromosomes that keep them from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, obesity, cognitive decline, diabetes, mental illness and poor health outcomes in adulthood. Researchers took genetic samples from 80 children ages 5 to 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments and exposures to adverse life events.

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What Happens When Society Decides That Nerds Are Dangerous?

Nerd 11Nerds. Dangerous. Same sentence? Yes, in Vanity Fair:

In Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 movie Straw Dogs, Dustin Hoffman plays an ineffectual intellectual, a mathematician, indeed, a nerd, who moves with his alluring wife to her hometown, in England. Local rowdies continually harass them, until Hoffman’s character executes a violent revenge.

The words “nerd” and “violent” do not usually go hand in hand, but the harmlessness of nerds is hardly a settled formula. Along with severe emotional disturbance, likely psychosis, and a slowly festering decision to carry out the rampage that ended in the deaths of six students, as well as his own on May 23 in Isla Vista, California, Elliot Rodger, for most of his life, fit the mold of a “nerd.” In his manifesto, “My Twisted World,” he noted that video games were his only refuge growing up: “I immersed myself entirely into my online games like World of Warcraft.

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Should Courts Consider Genetic Propensity For Violence When Sentencing?

Photo: CIAT via Flickr (CC)

Photo: CIAT via Flickr (CC)

“Hey listen, I’m not a bad man. I’m sick, see. Sick. What do you call it? Psychopathic. You know. Personality disorder. The court, man, he says so! You’re not gonna hurt me, are you? Jesus! You can’t kill me!” – Johnny the Boy, Mad Max (1979)

In 2009, an Italian court reduced a murderer’s sentence by one year because doctors had identified a gene in the defendant’s DNA, called MAOA, that had been linked to violent behavior. The ruling was controversial and some scientists objected to the sentence reduction. “MAOA findings have been generally used in murder trials, sometimes to suggest diminished capacity of the defendant to premeditate his criminal behavior,” but most often to reduce a sentence, writes Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, in an essay published today in Neuron. In the essay, Appelbaum explains that genetic evidence demonstrating a defendant’s predisposition for antisocial behavior or mental illness is showing up in courtrooms at an ever-quickening pace.

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Cop Who Went on Violent Rampage Said Antibiotic Made Him Psychotic

Pic: Yikrazuul (PD)

Pic: Yikrazuul (PD)

This is the first I’ve ever heard of it, but apparently clarithromycin, an antibiotic sold under the brand name Biaxin can cause psychosis, agitation, mania and delirium in about 3% of patients. Maybe Officer Colas has a case.

Via

A Virginia Beach police officer who was jailed for three months after stabbing two Accomack County firefighters and shooting at a third says there should have been warning labels on an antibiotic that briefly turned him psychotic.

A lawyer for Officer Bradley Colas recently filed a federal lawsuit seeking more than $75,000 from Abbvie, Inc. and Abbot Laboratories. The suit contents the drug maker knew that, in some cases, its popular antibiotic Biaxin has triggered psychotic episodes. But the lawyer says there were no warnings on the prescription.

In March, 2012, Colas started taking Biaxin for bronchitis. The lawsuit says after a few doses, Colas began to believe he was a prophet with special religious powers.

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