For the Global Thinker

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Terrorism Has No Religion

A couple of days ago one of my readers passed on this video to me and it got me thinking about the  stereotyping of Muslims...being Native American myself I know all too well the game of stereotyping...Anyway here is her letter and my research follows...

Hello Ajarn Mike,
In memory of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I would like to offer you and your readers of Kultūra a message of peace in a short video and a pledge of tolerance.

Here are some interesting statistics from the European Policing Organization...Europol

They say...

"Terrorism continues to have an impact on the lives of EU citizens -
in 2010, seven people died in the EU as a result of terrorist
attacks.  Islamist terrorists carried out three attacks on EU territory.
Separatist groups, on the other hand, were responsible
for 160 attacks, while left-wing and anarchist groups
were responsible for 45 attacks."

On p.7, the 2009 Europol report concludes:
Islamist terrorism is still perceived as being the biggest threat worldwide, despite the fact that the EU only faced one Islamist terrorist attack in 2008.  This bomb attack took place in the UK…Separatist terrorism remains the terrorism area which affects the EU most. This includes Basque separatist terrorism in Spain and France, and Corsican terrorism in France
More reports from previous years also tell the same story...

The influential think tank the Rand Corporation has also commented on the imaginary threat of Muslim terrorism...

"The scale of the September 11, 2001, attacks tended to obliterate America’s memory of pre-9/11 terrorism, yet measured by the number of terrorist attacks, the volume of domestic terrorist activity was much greater in the 1970s. That tumultuous decade saw 60 to 70 terrorist incidents, mostly bombings, on U.S. soil every year—a level of terrorist activity 15 to 20 times that seen in the years since 9/11, even when foiled plots are counted as incidents. And in the nine-year period from 1970 to 1978, 72 people died in terrorist incidents, more than five times the number killed by jihadist terrorists in the United States in the almost nine years since 9/11."

The contrast between the level of terrorist violence in the United States today and that in the 1970s is indicated in RAND’s chronology of terrorism, which records 83 terrorist attacks in the United States between 9/11 and the end of 2009, only three of which were clearly connected with the jihadist cause. (The RAND database includes Abdulmutallab’s failed Christmas Day attempt to detonate a bomb on an airplane.) The other jihadist plots were interrupted by authorities. In addition to the jihadist attacks, this total includes the anthrax letters sent in late 2001, which killed five people, as well as numerous low-level attacks by environmental extremists (38) and animal-rights fanatics (12), which account for most of the violence. In all, 24 people were killed between 9/11 and the end of 2009, including the 13 who died at Fort Hood.


The number of [Jihadist] recruits is still tiny. There are more than 3 million Muslims in the United States, and few more than 100 have joined jihad—about one out of every 30,000—suggesting an American Muslim population that remains hostile to jihadist ideology and its exhortations to violence. A mistrust of American Muslims by other Americans seems misplaced…

In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2006, 68 percent of American Muslims expressed an unfavorable opinion of al Qaeda. That does not mean that the remaining 32 percent held a favorable view, as 27 percent declined to offer any opinion. Only 5 percent expressed a positive view of al Qaeda, and this was at the height of the war in Iraq, which clearly provoked negative attitudes toward U.S. foreign policy. Seventy-four percent of younger Muslims, those under the age of 30, expressed unfavorable views of al Qaeda, although at the same time, 7 percent expressed favorable views of the organization (Pew Research Center, 2007).

These figures indicate that individuals turning toward violence would find little support in the Muslim community. They are not Mao’s guerrillas swimming in a friendly sea. Even assuming wider antipathy among U.S. Muslims toward certain U.S. policies in the Middle East or in the war on terrorism, the jihadists’ propaganda machine is returning a very low yield of recruits.

You can read the full PDF report here...

Another blogger also wrote this inspiring piece on the issue...


The day after 9/11, my nephew told me how he and his friends beat up a Muslim kid at his school. He didn’t understand why I was so angry at him. “He’s just a Muslim and they hit the twin towers,” was his response. Already, in his mind, it was acceptable to beat up someone because of a general affiliation with a particular group of people. Since that time, at least in America, society has accepted as normal the stereotyping of an entire race or religion based on the actions of a single individual.

We have so bought into this myth that, almost immediately, Muslim groups around the country have condemned Major Hasan’s actions and done everything short of apologizing for being Muslim. Why is this even necessary? Where were the Christian apologists when Tim McVeigh blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City? Why is it not necessary for Christians to apologize when abortion clinics get blown up and abortion doctors are murdered? When has any religion stood up to say that they abhor someone’s actions when they beat up and/or kill a homosexual?

Today, there was another shooting, this time in Orlando, Florida. I have yet to hear from any Hispanic groups apologizing for or condemning Mr. Rodriguez’ behavior. You won’t. We simply say that person was a nut, crazy, or a troubled person. In such cases, we are able to separate the troubled person from the group. Not so, it seems, with any Muslim.

No group of people should ever have to apologize for the actions of a single person. That person alone is responsible for their actions. By allowing an entire group to be collectively guilty, you are, in fact, saying that no one in that group is capable of acting respectfully towards other human beings.
As an American, I’ve grown up hearing that we’re supposed to hate all commies and the Russians. Then it was Hispanics. Then, just Mexicans because someone decided that all other people of Hispanic origin were suddenly okay. We were supposed to hate the French and eat Freedom Fries, but that was just stupid. French fries are good. So is French wine. And, so are the French. Now, we’ve moved on to hating Muslims. All this hate is a result of the actions of a few. It does not, and never has, reflected the entire group.
On the way home from work, I was listening to...

Read more here:

Finally, a study conducted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina concluded...

"Muslim-American communities have been active in preventing radicalization," said Charles Kurzman, professor of sociology at UNC, in the statement. "This is one reason that Muslim-American terrorism has resulted in fewer than three dozen of the 136,000 murders committed in the United States since 9/11." 

However, "since 9/11 there has been increased tension among Muslim-Americans about their acceptance in mainstream American society," the study said. Muslim-Americans report feeling a stronger anti-Muslim bias from the media as well as from day-to-day interactions.

"While Muslim-Americans understand and support the need for enhanced security and counterterrorism initiatives, they believe that some of these efforts are discriminatory, and they are angered that innocent Muslim-Americans bear the brunt of the impact of these policies."

Read more here...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mary Ellen Mark

(Click to Enlarge Photos)

  "Breann Benedict, goverment flood housing, Grand Forks, North Dakota, 1997"

 Homeless Damm Family, for Life, Los Angeles area, 1987.

Midwood High School Senior Prom, Manhattan, New York, USA, 2004

 Dennis Hopper on the set of Apocalypse Now,Pagsanjan, Philippines, 1976

Gypsy Camp, Barcelona, Spain, 1987

 Tiny in her Halloween costume, Seattle, Washington, 1983

Girl Sifting through Ashes at the Burning Ghats, Benares, India, 1989

Acrobats Rehearsing Head-to-Head, Great Golden Circus, Ahmedabad, India, 1990

Ram Prakash Singh with His Elephant Shyama Great Golden Circus, Ahmedabad, India, 1990
Boy with His Pet Cockatoo Great Golden Circus, Ahmedabad, India, 1990 

Mother Teresa Feeding a Man at the Home for the Dying, Calcutta, India, 1980

 Ivette and Michael Cruz, Coney Island, Brooklyn 2008

"Amanda and her cousin Amy, Valdese, North Carolina,1990"

 Rat and Mike with a gun, Seattle, Washington, 1983 

Oaxaca, Mexico

Twin Brothers Tulsi and Basant, Famous Circus, Calcutta, India, 1989



Many more photos here...(click lower left corner to advance)


Bombay Brothel...

Workshop with Mary in Oaxaca, Mexico in Feb/2012...
(I hope to be there)...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is the CIA Supporting the Sinaloa Cartel? Part 2

Why the U.S. doesn't want to stop the Drug War...

Representations of the war on drugs are also complicated by the participation of capitalists, for whom the drug trade has been immensely profitable. The aerospace industry (which supplies drug enforcement planes, helicopters, and other technology), chemical companies (which produce the poisons that are dropped on drug fields), and the prison industry directly benefit from the drug war and hence actively lobby for its continued expansion.  Capitalists profit from the drug war in other ways as well.  It is estimated that illegal drug traffic generates about $400 billion a year, accounting for roughly 2 percent of the global economy.

Transnational corporations headquartered in the United States profit from this economy by serving as formal and informal laundries for drug money.  Simply put, as Miguel Ruiz-Cabanas suggests, the process of generating surplus value from the drug trade could be described in this way:  poor peasants cultivate drugs in return for very little; highly organized traffickers process and distribute the drugs for sale; the traffickers then in turn launder their profits through U.S. banks and through "legitimate" investments in the U.S. economy more generally.

Every year, the black market in pesos alone funnels roughly $5 billion in drug money through U.S. companies.  Whereas merely being suspected participation, however indirectly, in drug traffic has been enough to justify the seizure of assets from individuals, corporations successfully (if implausibly) plead ignorance concerning their participation in drug money laundering.

And rather than prosecuting corporations that profit from laundering drug money , state drug enforcement efforts instead focus on controlling the poor.  By policing the poor but leaving untouched corporate drug profiteering, the state has tended not to prohibit drug traffic but rather to manage drug flows in ways that support capitalist interests.  By dramatically increasing transborder trade, NAFTA has further encouraged the shift of banks to international trade for laundering drug money.  Because of the massive volume and velocity of capital flows, J. Patrick LaRue argues, it has become nearly impossible to stop "the transfer of billions of 'narco-dollars' back and forth across the U.S. and Mexican border."

He concludes that Mexican drug traffickers are riding the wave of state-sponsored globalization and liberalization, "taking advantage of open borders, privatization, free trade zones, weak states, offshore banking centers, electronic financial transfers, smart cards and cyber banking to launder millions of dollars in drug profits each day.  In these and other ways, the U.S. war on drugs "regularly serves the interests of private wealth."

Read more here:
Drug Wars by Curtis Marez

Why Mexico doesn't want to stop the Drug War...

One facet of this buffer is corruption, which is endemic in Mexico, reaching all the way from the lowest municipal police officer to the presidential palace. Over the years several senior Mexican anti-drug officials, including the nation’s drug czar, have been arrested and charged with corruption.

However, the money generated by the Mexican cartels has far greater effects than just promoting corruption. The billions of dollars that come into the Mexican economy via the drug trade are important to the Mexican banking sector and to the industries in which the funds are laundered, such as construction. Because of this, there are many powerful Mexican businessmen who profit either directly or indirectly from the narcotics trade, and it would not be in their best interest for the billions of drug dollars to stop flowing into Mexico. Such people can place heavy pressure on the political system by either supporting or withholding support from particular candidates or parties.

Because of this, sources in Mexico have been telling STRATFOR that they believe that Mexican politicians like President Felipe Calderon are far more interested in stopping drug violence than they are in stopping the flow of narcotics. This is a pragmatic approach. Clearly, as long as there is demand for drugs in the United States there will be people who will find ways to meet that demand. It is impossible to totally stop the flow of narcotics into the U.S. market.

Read more: The Buffer Between Mexican Cartels and the U.S. Government | STRATFOR

Do U.S., Mexican officials favor one cartel over another?

As the U.S. and Mexican governments increasingly target the brutal criminal gang known as Los Zetas, questions are being asked about why law enforcement officials don't seem to be paying equal attention to an older and larger cartel that's the largest provider of illegal drugs smuggled into the United States. Public security analysts say a view has spread among some Mexicans that President Felipe Calderon is soft on the Sinaloa Cartel. And now a court filing by an accused kingpin in U.S. federal court has suggested that the Obama administration, too, is negotiating with the Sinaloa Cartel even as it ratchets up pressure on the rival Zetas.
Experts in Mexico City and Washington say the issue is as much about public opinion in the run-up to Mexico's 2012 presidential elections as it is about efforts to reduce the violence that's killed some 40,000 people in Mexico since 2006.
Read More here...



Is the CIA Supporting the Sinaloa Cartel? Part 1

The CIA’s motive is clear enough: The U.S. government is afraid the Los Zetas drug cartel will mount a successful coup d’etat against the government of Felipe Calderon.
Founded by ex-Mexican special forces, the Zetas already control huge swaths of Mexican territory. They have the organization, arms and money needed to take over the entire country.
Former CIA pilot Robert Plumlee and former CIA operative and DEA Director Phil Jordan recently said the brutally efficient Mexican drug cartel has stockpiled thousands of weapons to disrupt and influence Mexico’s national elections in 2012. There’s a very real chance the Zetas cartel could subvert the political process completely, as it has throughout the regions it controls.



Documents: Feds allegedly allowed Sinaloa cartel to move cocaine into U.S. for information

U.S. federal agents allegedly allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel to traffic several tons of cocaine into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels, according to court documents filed in a U.S. federal court.
The allegations are part of the defense of Vicente Zambada-Niebla, who was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges in Chicago. He is also a top lieutenant of drug kingpin Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman and the son of Ismael "Mayo" Zambada-Garcia, believed to be the brains behind the Sinaloa cartel.
The case could prove to be a bombshell on par with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives' "Operation Fast and Furious," except that instead of U.S. guns being allowed to walk across the border, the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to bring drugs into the United States. Zambada-Niebla claims he was permitted to smuggle drugs from 2004 until his arrest in 2009



Mexico drug plane used for US 'rendition' flights: report

MEXICO CITY (AFP) — A private jet that crash-landed almost one year ago in eastern Mexico carrying 3.3 tons of cocaine had previously been used for CIA "rendition" flights, a newspaper report said here Thursday, citing documents from the United States and the European Parliament.
The plane was carrying Colombian drugs for the fugitive leader of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman, when it crash-landed in the Yucatan peninsula on September 24, El Universal reported.

Read more here...

A History of CIA involvement in Latin America and Why it Doesn't Stop the Flow of Drugs

Why the NEW Police Reforms in Mexico Won't Succeed...

Certainly, the Mexican government has aggressively pursued police reform for many years now, with very little success. Indeed, it was the lack of a trustworthy law enforcement apparatus that led the Calderon government to turn to the military to counter the power of the Mexican cartels. This lack of reliable law enforcement has also led Calderon to aggressively pursue police reform. This reform effort has included unifying the federal police agencies and consolidating municipal police departments (which have arguably been the most corrupt institutions in Mexico) into unified state police commands, under which officers are subjected to better screening, oversight and accountability. Already, however, there have been numerous instances of these “new and improved” federal- and state-level police officers being arrested for corruption.
This illustrates the fact that Mexico’s ills go far deeper than just corrupt institutions. Because of this, revamping the institutions will not result in any meaningful change, and the revamped institutions will soon be corrupted like the ones they replaced. This fact should have been readily apparent; the institutional approach has been tried in the region before and has failed.

Perhaps the best example of this failure was the “untouchable and incorruptible” Department of Anti-Narcotics Operations, known by its Spanish acronym DOAN, which was created in Guatemala in the mid-1990s. The DOAN was almost purely a creation of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. The concept behind the creation of the DOAN was that corruption existed within the Guatemalan police institutions because the police were undertrained, underpaid and underequipped. It was believed that if police recruits were carefully screened, properly trained, well paid and adequately equipped, they would not be susceptible to the corruption that plagued the other police institutions in the country. So the U.S. government hand-picked the recruits, thoroughly trained them, paid them generously and provided them with brand-new uniforms and equipment. However, the result was not what the U.S. government expected. By 2002, the “untouchable” DOAN had to be disbanded because it had essentially become a drug trafficking organization itself and was involved in torturing and killing competitors and stealing their shipments of narcotics.

The example of the Guatemalan DOAN (and of more recent Mexican police reform efforts) demonstrates that even a competent, well-paid and well-equipped police institution cannot stand alone within a culture that is not prepared to support it and keep it clean. In other words, over time, an institution will take on the characteristics of, and essentially reflect, the environment surrounding it. Therefore, significant reform in Mexico requires a holistic approach that reaches far beyond the institutions to address the profound economic, sociological and cultural problems that are affecting the country today. Indeed, given how deeply rooted and pervasive these problems are and the geopolitical hand the country was dealt, Mexico has done quite well. But holistic change will not be easy to accomplish. It will require a great deal of time, treasure, leadership and effort. In view of this reality, we can see why it would be more politically expedient simply to blame the Americans.
Another example is Colombia....
Contemporary Colombia is an apt. example.  Far from stopping the flow of cocaine, U.S. drug-war assistance has supported right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia that openly participated in drug traffic.  The leader of the largest U.S.-backed paramilitary group, Carlos Castano, told a Colombian television reporter that 70 percent of the group's budget came from drug traffic.  
Read more here...

Captured Zeta Leader believes the Gulf Cartel is working with the Mexican Government.

Translated from Spanish.
Interrogator: And where do you get your weapons?
Rejón Aguilar: From the United States. All weapons come from the U.S.
Interrogator: How are they brought here?
Rejón Aguilar: Crossing the river. We used to bring them through the bridge, but it’s become harder to do that.
Interrogator: Who purchases the weapons?
Rejón Aguilar: They are bought in the U.S. The buyers (on the U.S. side of the border) have said in the past that sometimes they would acquire them from the U.S. Government itself.
Interrogator: And nowadays, who distribute them to you?
Rejón Aguilar: It’s more difficult for us to acquire weapons nowadays, but we find ways. But it’s easier for the Gulf Cartel to bring them across the border. (The Gulf Cartel is currently aligned with the Sinaloa Cartel in fighting The Zetas.)
Interrogator: Why?
Rejón Aguilar: We don’t know why, but they bring them (accross the bridge) in the trunk of their cars without being checked (by Mexican Customs). One can only think that they must have reached a deal with the (Mexican) government.

See Full interview here...


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tensions Rise as Latinos Feel Under Siege in America's Deep South

As illegal workers flee the threat of police checks, southerners are uniting to fight the laws dividing communities and killing economies which rely on immigrants to thrive.


"The people that we normally hire are just not here," he said. That is bad news for somewhere like Uvalda, which is reliant on agriculture.
Morris knows that if the Hispanics who have left do not come back, there will be trouble. "The crop could rot in the ground," he said. That concerns Bridges, the mayor. "If we can't harvest, it will decimate this community," he said.
The problem is not unique to Uvalda. The Georgia Agribusiness Council estimates the labour shortage has left so many crops unpicked and rotting that it has cost $1bn. The industry currently has 30% fewer workers than it needs and, contrary to accusations that illegals take American jobs, no one is stepping in.

 Read More Here...


Friday, August 19, 2011

Shadowed by the Sun

Jehad Nga is certainly an exceptional photographer check out his galleries of Alaska, the Congo and Baghdad here...
The slideshow button on the bottom left-hand is highly recommended.

Here is his gallery of Barrow, Alaska...


There's also a good gallery of shots from Somalia as well...


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Sunny Side of Smut

It used to be tough to get porn. Renting an X-rated movie required sneaking into a roped-off room in the back of a video store, and eyeing a centerfold meant facing down a store clerk to buy a pornographic magazine. Now pornography is just one Google search away, and much of it is free. Age restrictions have become meaningless, too, with the advent of social media—one teenager in five has sent or posted naked pictures of themselves online, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
With access to pornography easier than ever before, politicians and scientists alike have renewed their interest in deciphering its psychological effects. Certainly pornography addiction or overconsumption seems to cause relationship problems [see “Sex in Bits and Bytes,” by Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld; Scientific American Mind, July/August 2010]. But what about the more casual exposure typical of most porn users?

Read More Here...


Monday, August 15, 2011

...the last sentence

The last words they spoke...

"I'll finally get to see Marilyn." 

Joe DiMaggio talking about his former wife Marilyn Monroe

"Remember, the death penalty is murder."

Robert Drew 
Executed in Texas on August 2nd, 1994
      (If your read the statement above, you'll find out that he was actually innocent)

"Please don't leave me.  Please don't leave me."

Chris Farley 1964-1997
Said to a prostitute as she left his hotel room following a weekend-long drug and sex binge. When she turned around, Chris Farley had collapsed. 

 Eugene O'Neill 1888-1953 Writer

As O'Neill was dying at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston, he whispered the words: "I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room."

 Before dying of a stroke, Thomas Hobbes whispered...
"I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark."

"You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the Grim Reaper." 

Robert Alton Harris was a career criminal and murderer who was executed in San Quentin's Gas Chamber in 1992.

"Gentlemen, I bid you farewell..." 

Said English violinist Wallace Hartley to his bandmates. Seconds later the Titanic sank.  1878-1912
  • Note: One survivor who clambered aboard distinctly heard Hartley say these words before he and the band were swept off the deck by the sea.

 "No you certainly can't."

This was said in reply to Nellie Connelly, wife of Governor John Connelly, commenting "You certainly can't say that the people of Dallas haven't given you a nice welcome, Mr. President."  Moments later he was assassinated.
John F. Kennedy 1917-1963

A note by found by Mark Twain's death bed read...

"Death, the only immortal, who treats us alike, whose peace and refuge are for all.  The soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and unloved."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

CIA, DEA, and Ex-Special Forces Begin Operating in Mexico

“This is the game-changer in degrading transnational organized crime,” he said, adding: “It can’t be a two-, three-, four-, five- or six-year policy. For this policy investment to work, it has to be sustained long-term.”

Several Mexican and American security analysts compared the challenges of helping Mexico rebuild its security forces and civil institutions — crippled by more than seven decades under authoritarian rule — to similar tests in Afghanistan. They see the United States fighting alongside a partner it needs but does not completely trust.

Also there are other challenges regarding the readiness of the Mexican police:

Some of the officers had not been issued weapons, and those who had guns had not been properly trained to use them. They were required to pay for their helmets and bulletproof vests out of their own pockets. And during an intense gun battle against one of Mexico’s most vicious cartels, they had to communicate with one another on their cellphones because they had not been issued police radios. “It’s sort of shocking,” said Eric Olson of the Woodrow Wilson Center. “Mexico is just now learning how to fight crime in the midst of a major crime wave. It’s like trying to saddle your horse while running the Kentucky Derby.”

Read more here:


An Explosive New 9/11 Charge

 In a new documentary, former national-security aide Richard Clarke suggests the CIA tried to recruit 9/11 hijackers—then covered it up.


The 9/11 Commission investigated widespread rumors in the intelligence community that the CIA tried to recruit the two terrorists—Clarke was not the first to suggest it—but the investigation revealed no evidence to support the rumors. The commission said in its final report that "it appears that no one informed higher levels of management in either the FBI or CIA" about the two terrorists.
But in his interview, Clarke said his seemingly unlikely, even wild scenario—a bungled CIA terrorist-recruitment effort and a subsequent cover-up—was “the only conceivable reason that I’ve been able to come up with” to explain why he and others at the White House were told nothing about the two terrorists until the day of the attacks.
“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Clarke says in the interview, which was conducted in October 2009. He said it was fair to conclude “there was a high-level decision in the CIA ordering people not to share information.” Asked who would have made the order, Clarke replies, “I would think it would have been made by the director,” referring to Tenet.

Read more here: 


These new revelations may strengthen the argument that Operation "Able Danger" identified 9/11 terrorist Mohamed Atta one year before the attacks....There is a link to a great PBS report on Able Danger here...

You can also read here how the Pentagon tried to block the publication of a book entitled "Operation Dark Heart" which discusses Able Danger..

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Land of Shadows

Land of Shadows

It's the magic hour in Yangon, when the last rays of sunlight, softer, cooler now, bathe the crumbling downtown in a golden glow, beckoning residents out into the streets. Giggling children race to buy fresh sugarcane juice. Women with cheeks daubed with a paste made of bark—the alluring Burmese sunblock—haggle with a fishmonger. In the street, bare-chested teenage boys in a circle play a rowdy game of chinlon, a sort of acrobatic Hacky Sack, while potbellied men in T-shirts and longyi, the traditional Burmese sarong, sit on the sidewalk chewing red wads of betel nut.
The carnival-like atmosphere doesn't last. Night falls fast in the tropics, and the power shortages that plague Myanmar give the sudden transition a spooky edge. A decaying colonial-era government building goes black. The alleyway next door emits the bluish glow of television sets powered by portable generators. Under the trees the vendors are invisible, but candles illuminate their wares: circles of silvery fish, clusters of purple banana flowers, stacks of betel leaves. And lined up in a blue wooden case, pirated DVDs of American movies and music.
"Welcome to the Hotel California," calls out a voice from...

Read More Here:

Here's another great article on Burma...well worth the read...

Burma's Convict Porters

Restaurant owner Win claims he was jailed on trumped up charges of heroin trafficking and sentenced to 10 years. He spent two years in one of Burma’s notorious labour camps.
‘We were chained at the ankles while we broke rocks for roads. We worked six days a week, even when we were sick. I saw prisoners badly injured, some with broken legs, who still didn’t get treatment,’ Win says.
One Burmese man, Bo Kyi, has made it his life’s work to make sure political prisoners aren’t forgotten. A founding member and now secretary of the Association Assisting Political Prisoners (AAPP), Bo Kyi was jailed three times for a total of seven years and three months.
‘In Burma, there are 109 labour camps, 42 jails, more than 400,000 prisoners, and only 33 doctors and about 60 medics to treat them when they get sick. All prisoners, irrespective of their crimes, should be treated as humans. Animals are treated better than prisoners in Burma.’
Outside a small, bare room in a safe house on the Thai-Burma border that Win now calls home, children kick a football against a wall and play war games with plastic guns. Motorbikes roar past and dogs bark after them.
Win studies his broken fingernails, calloused hands and scars before explaining how he was taken to the front line.
‘The army came for me at 4 am on January 1. Seventy-five of us were taken from our cells and put in two army trucks. We weren’t told anything, but we guessed we were going to the frontline. I planned to escape.’
Read More Here:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Living in the Moment Really Does Make People Happier

Psychologists at Harvard University collected information on the daily activities, thoughts and feelings of 2,250 volunteers to find out how often they were focused on what they were doing, and what made them most happy.
They found that people were happiest when having sex, exercising or in conversation, and least happy when working, resting or using a home computer. And although subjects' minds were wandering nearly half of the time, this consistently made them less happy.
The team conclude that reminiscing, thinking ahead or daydreaming tends to make people more miserable, even when they are thinking about something pleasant.

Read More Here:

Related post....

Happiness from Giving to Others May be Universal Trait, Says UBC and Harvard


Scenes of Life

In their series, Scenes of Life, Lucie and Simon present moments we're all familiar with: a breakfast, a nap on the sofa, a swim in a pool. All of the mundane clutter of everyday life is there in abundant and clear detail. What gives the viewer a real jolt of delight, however, is that all of this is seen from directly overhead, looking straight down -- a seemingly impossible perspective, especially for the photographs made inside the rooms of their home.

See Gallery of Images Here:
(Use slideshow option for better viewing)

Monday, August 8, 2011

US Covert Operation Creates "Shadow" Internet Systems for Dissidents

“We’re going to build a separate infrastructure where the technology is nearly impossible to shut down, to control, or to track...The implication is that this disempowers central authorities from infringing on people’s fundamental human right to communicate.”

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.  

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.” 

Read More here:

And Don't forget that in June 2011 the United Nations considered "Internet Access" a Human Right...