Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
A group of Israeli teenagers have told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that they will refuse to serve in the military because of its role in the occupation of Palestinian land…
The group referred to “human rights violations” in the West Bank, including “executions, settlement construction, administrative detention, torture, collective punishment and unfair distribution of water and electricity”.
“Any military service perpetuates the current situation, and therefore we cannot take part in a system that carries out these deeds,” read the letter posted on the Facebook page of Yesh Gvul.
Haaretz reported that Yesh Gvul, which advocates conscientious objection, said on Saturday evening in response to the letter’s publication that “refusal is a personal decision by every person in a democratic society”.
According to Haaretz, Yesh Gvul added: “We support anyone whose democratic and humanist values drove him to refuse to take part in occupation and repression of the Palestinian people.”
Yesh Gvul (There is a limit) describes itself as a “peace group campaigning against the occupation by backing soldiers who refuse duties of a repressive or aggressive nature”…
Military service is compulsory in Israel, with men serving three years and women two.
Progressives often support reinstitution of the draft in the United States. Surely that would provide motivation for some of our Congress-critters to oppose one or another of our useless wars.
The chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee torched the Central Intelligence Agency in a floor speech Tuesday morning, charging the agency with spying on her committee’s computers in a possibly illegal search that has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.
During her speech, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she learned in January that the Central Intelligence Agency improperly searched committee computer files, confirming several media reports. She said the incident has been referred to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution. But Feinstein was also riled by a separate referral by the CIA to the Department of Justice suggesting that the committee staff had improperly received classified information…
The CIA, it seems, was trying to figure out whether the committee staff had managed to gain access to an internal review of CIA interrogation methods that came to be named after now-former CIA Director Leon E. Panetta.
CIA hacks are crapping their drawers over the possibility of payback for torture on behalf of the Bush/Cheney invasions in the Middle East. They presumed assurances of torture being OK were good till the end of time. Not just the end of the Bush Administration.
Feinstein had been quiet about previous press reports, preferring to avoid creating a firestorm and deferring answering questions from reporters at the Capitol in recent weeks about the incident, but she said Tuesday on the Senate floor that was no longer possible. She said the CIA has not answered repeated questions from the committee about the incident, raising questions of illegality.
“I have grave concerns that the CIA’s search may well have violated the separation of powers principles embodied in the United States constitution, including the speech and debate,” Feinstein said…
Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., appeared on the floor shortly after Feinstein’s lengthy speech to praise her comments, calling for all senators to stand behind her.
“If we do not stand up for … the protection of the separation of powers and our ability to do oversight, especially when conduct has happened that is in all likelihood criminal by the part of a government agency, then what do we stand for?” Leahy said.
Warms the cockles of my heart to see chickens come home to roost in the crap-filled coop called Congress.
Ed Snowden’s reaction to Feinstein’s self-righteous speech is completely to the point – and he made it inclusive, to the world view of our government and the “coalition of the willing”:
“It’s clear the CIA was trying to play ‘keep away’ with documents relevant to an investigation by their overseers in Congress, and that’s a serious constitutional concern,” said Snowden in a statement to NBC News. “But it’s equally if not more concerning that we’re seeing another ‘Merkel Effect,’ where an elected official does not care at all that the rights of millions of ordinary citizens are violated by our spies, but suddenly it’s a scandal when a politician finds out the same thing happens to them.”
U.S. researchers say they found little evidence to support concerns of increased sexual risk-taking with access to no-cost contraception.
Dr. Jeffrey F. Peipert, the Robert J. Terry Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and colleagues analyzed data of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, a study of 9,256 adolescents and women at risk for unintended pregnancy.
Participants were provided reversible contraception of their choice at no cost and were followed-up with telephone interviews at six and 12 months.
“We examined the number of male sexual partners and sexual intercourse frequency reported during the previous 30 days at baseline compared with six-month and 12-month time points,” the researchers wrote in the study.
All of the women, ages 15 to 45, were either sexually active with men or planning to become active when the study began — 5 percent were virgins.
The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found 3.3 percent reported more than one partner the previous month, down from 5.2 percent at the beginning of the study, while 16 percent increased the number of partners — most often from zero to one.
The study also found the median number of times women had vaginal intercourse rose from four times a month to six times a month.
However, despite the increase in the number of times the women has sexual intercourse from four times a month to six after receiving the free contraception, they did not result in greater sexually transmitted infection incidence at the 12-month point of the study.
Of course, that 2.5% is sufficient to panic the average True Believer who thinks lying about abstinence is a better alternative.
Severe diarrheal illness — Clostridium difficile — is linked to antibiotics prescribed in U.S. doctor’s offices, federal health officials say.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said the majority of pediatric C. difficile infections, which are bacterial infections that cause severe diarrhea and are potentially life-threatening, occur among children in the general community who recently took antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for other conditions.
A study by the CDC, published in the journal Pediatrics, found 71 percent of the cases of C. difficile infection identified among children ages 1 to 17 were community-associated — that is, not associated with an overnight stay in a healthcare facility.
In contrast, two-thirds of C. difficile infections in adults are associated with hospital stays, he said.
Among the community-associated pediatric cases whose parents were interviewed, 73 percent were prescribed antibiotics during the 12 weeks prior to their illness, usually in an out-patient setting such as a doctor’s office. Most of the children who received antibiotics were being treated for ear, sinus, or upper respiratory infections, the study said.
Previous studies showed at least 50 percent of antibiotics prescribed in doctor’s offices for children are for respiratory infections, most of which do not require antibiotics, Frieden said.
“Improved antibiotic prescribing is critical to protect the health of our nation’s children,” Frieden said in a statement. “When antibiotics are prescribed incorrectly, our children are needlessly put at risk for health problems including C. difficile infection and dangerous antibiotic resistant infections.”
C. difficile causes at least 250,000 infections in hospitalized patients and 14,000 deaths every year among children and adults. Preliminary CDC data show an estimated 17,000 children age 1 to 17 get C. difficile infections every year…
When a person takes antibiotics, beneficial bacteria that protect against infection can be altered or even eliminated for several weeks to months. During this time, patients can get sick from C. difficile picked up from contaminated surfaces or spread from a healthcare provider’s hands.
Our culture persists in looking for easy solutions, the magic bullet that will resolve all illness with a single prescription. Preferably sugar-coated.
Police in India have failed to act on hundreds of corruption complaints over an eight-year period because they did not know a computer password, it seems.
Delhi officers could not operate a portal holding more than 600 complaints – a lapse that has gone undetected since 2006, the Indian Express Newspaper said. The complaints came from India’s anti-corruption agency, called the Central Vigilance Commission.
But two senior police officers have now been trained in the system, and can access the 667 cases that have piled up since the portal launched. One officer told the paper the oversight was “a technical problem”, and complaints are now being addressed…
Despite the confusion, police in Delhi “remain committed to public grievances“, a senior officer told the Indian Express.
Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins.
Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.
Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.
The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.
The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.
The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system…
A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction…Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one…
Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction. If some solution based on these or comparable elements is not achieved, the drift toward confrontation will accelerate. The time for that will come soon enough.
Of course, Kissinger may as well be describing Congress under the misleadership of what passes for a Republican Party, today. He speaks from memories of days when Republicans and Democrats had principled, educated, knowledgeable leaders. Days long gone.
Kissinger is not a diplomat I have a whole boatload of respect for. He rarely challenged the Cold War status quo in his years of service. What positive results attended his efforts resulted from a simple understanding that politics should trump war, trade brings more long-lasting change than imperial bullying.
Frankly, I doubt if anyone in the Confederate Club in Congress will even read his suggested principles. However, they are worth reading at least as a base for your understanding.
A memorial for the victims of Norway’s July 22 terror attack will see a slice of land removed from the Sørbråten headland
The terror attacks in Norway on July 22, 2011 that resulted in 77 people being killed left the country with a sense of abrupt loss. That feeling will be echoed in a memorial designed by artist Jonas Dahlberg, which will see a slice of land removed from the landscape at Sørbråten.
Dahlberg was selected by a panel as the winner of a contest to design memorials at the two sites of the terror attack, the Government Administration Complex in Oslo and Sørbråten, which is opposite Utøya on the mainland. His design will see a 3.5 meter wide excavation running from from one side of the headland at the Sørbråten site to the other, and extending below the waterline. It will appear as though the landscape simply stops and then restarts, and will make it impossible to reach the end of the headland…
…His suggestion for the Sørbråten site is to make a physical incision into the landscape, which can be seen as a symbolic wound. Part of the headland will be removed and visitors will not be able to touch the names of those killed, as these will be engraved into the wall on the other side of the slice out of nature. The void that is created evokes the sense of sudden loss combined with the long-term missing and remembrance of those who perished.”
The earth removed from the excavation at Sørbråten will be transported to Oslo and used to build the foundation of the temporary and subsequent permanent memorials at the Government Administration Complex. The temporary memorial will feature the names of the victims inscribed along the side of a pathway linking the Grubbegata and the Deichmanske Library. The use of excavated land from Sørbråten will provide a poetic link between the two sites. An amphitheater will ultimately be built as the permanent memorial, with trees taken from Sørbråten and replanted as a means of maintaining the link between the memorial sites.
Mass killings and the fascist mindset aren’t sufficiently memorialized. In general, Western culture would rather remember heroes and wars than criminal behavior still rationalized away by the Right Wing of most nations. Even the 9-11 memorials are treated as part of a “War” on Terror.
I wonder if politicians and their sycophants will ever stop treating society as a child’s game?