Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Last week, an Israeli military court convicted Abdullah Abu Rahma, whom progressive Zionists have called a "Palestinian Gandhi," of "incitement" and "organizing and participating in illegal demonstrations" for organizing protests against the confiscation of Palestinian land by the "Apartheid Wall" in the village of Bilin in the West Bank, following an eight month trial, during which he was kept in prison.
The European Union issued a protest. But as far as I am aware, no US official has said anything and no US newspaper columnist has denounced this act of repression; indeed, the US press hasn't even reported the news. To find out what happened, someone could search the wires where they'll find this AFP story, or go to the British or Israeli press.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed deep concern "that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahma is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner," her office said.
"The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal," it quoted her as saying in a statement.
The failure of The New York Times to report the news is particularly striking, because The New York Times reported last August on the protests in Bilin, quoting Abu Rahma in particular; and because this July New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, writing from Bilin with the provocative headline "Waiting for Gandhi," weighed in on the subject of Palestinian nonviolent protest.
Last August, Ethan Bronner reported in the Times:
Abdullah Abu Rahma, a village teacher and one of the organizers of the weekly protests, said he was amazed at the military's assertions [of protester violence, including of "rioters" throwing "Molotov cocktails"] as well as at its continuing arrests and imprisonment of village leaders.
"They want to destroy our movement because it is nonviolent," he said. He added that some villagers might have tried, out of frustration, to cut through the fence since the court had ordered it moved and nothing had happened. But that is not the essence of the popular movement that he has helped lead.
Kristof wrote patronizingly in his column last month that "some Palestinians are dabbling in a strategy of nonviolent resistance," but is seems that Kristof was "dabbling" in his fleeting expression of concern about the fate of the Palestinians.
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The Vietnam Veterans of America asked a federal judge to impose sanctions on the Central Intelligence Agency, for failing to produce documents on the CIA's testing of hundreds of kinds of drugs - including sarin and phosgene nerve gas and LSD - on thousands of soldiers.
The Vietnam Veterans of America sued the CIA in January 2009, claiming the agency had experimented on soldiers at Edgewood Arsenal and Fort Detrick, Md., testing the effects of mind-controlling drugs.
The VVA says soldiers were treated "in the same capacity as laboratory rats or guinea pigs." The underlying federal complaint claims that at least 7,800 soldiers were subjected to "at least 250, but as many as 400 chemical and biological agents.
This original complaint, filed in January 2009, claimed that "this vast program of human experimentation, shrouded in secrecy," was done without informed consent of the soldier-guinea pigs. "In 1970, defendants provided Congress with an alphabetical list showing that they had tested 145 drugs during Projects Bluebird, Artichoke, MKULTRA and MKDELTA." These drugs included sarin and other deadly nerve toxins, barbiturates, irritants, including cyanide, phosgene nerve gas, LSC, PCP and other psychedelics, THC "about times the then-street strength of marijuana," and tranquilizers.
In its request for sanctions, the Vietnam Veterans claims the CIA stalled discovery, in bad faith, by refusing to turn over requested documents related to the secretive project, without adequate explanation.
It claims the CIA has released only about 1,600 documents, and 40 percent of them "deal only with the six individual plaintiffs' military records and Veterans Administration claim files."
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CHAPTER I - ORGANIZING CHAOS
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons—a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.
In theory, every citizen makes up his mind on public questions and matters of private conduct. In practice, if all men had to study for themselves the abstruse economic, political, and ethical data involved in every question, they would find it impossible to come to a conclusion about anything. We have voluntarily agreed to let an invisible government sift the data and high-spot the outstanding issues so that our field of choice shall be narrowed to practical proportions. From our leaders and the media they use to reach the public, we accept the evidence and the demarcation of issues bearing upon public questions; from some ethical teacher, be it a minister, a favorite essayist, or merely prevailing opinion, we accept a standardized code of social conduct to which we conform most of the time.
In theory, everybody buys the best and cheapest commodities offered him on the market. In practice, if every one went around pricing, and chemically testing before purchasing, the dozens of soaps or fabrics or brands of bread which are for sale, economic life would become hopelessly jammed. To avoid such confusion, society consents to have its choice narrowed to ideas and objects brought to its attention through propaganda of all kinds. There is consequently a vast and continuous effort going on to capture our minds in the interest of some policy or commodity or idea.
It might be better to have, instead of propaganda and special pleading, committees of wise men who would choose our rulers, dictate our conduct, private and public, and decide upon the best types of clothes for us to wear and the best kinds of food for us to eat. But we have chosen the opposite method, that of open competition. We must find a way to make free competition function with reasonable smoothness. To achieve this society has consented to permit free competition to be organized by leadership and propaganda.
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After reading the book Political Ponerology, A science on the nature of evil adjusted for political purposes by Andrzej Łobaczewski, I wished to interview the author. However, given that he was sick, he was unable to respond to my questions except in the shortest way, a single paragraph. Fortunately, I was able to interview Laura Knight-Jadczyk and Henry See, editors of the book who discussed the questions with him via telephone and were thus able to speak on his behalf.
I think everyone should read this book because it provides the keys necessary for understanding events that we often can't comprehend. The book describes the origins of "Evil", its true nature, and illustrates how it spreads throughout society.
Mr. Łobaczewski spent years observing those in power whose actions were the incarnation of evil, people described in psychological terms as anti-social, psychopaths, or sociopaths.
Silvia Cattori: Here is what a Swiss psychiatrist said to me about the book Political Ponerology:
I have never read anywhere else the things Łobaczewski speaks about. No other book has treated the subject in this way. It was immediately useful for me in my work. The things he affirms about perverse/pathological behaviour - in conflicts in business as well as in the political sphere where we see more and more conflicts and more and more people of this type - immediately helped me to better understand, for example, the functioning of these individuals who create conflicts in their work and who, wherever they go, pollute the atmosphere.
Why did he choose a title that is so hermetic, Political Ponerology, for a book that should interest not only psychologists and psychiatrists but everyone?
Laura: First of all, let me say that a very strong emotional bond exists between us and Dr. Łobaczewski and we have communicated with him regarding this interview. He is very elderly and his health has been very poor for the past year or so and he regrets that he is not able to respond personally; he made an attempt, but he is presently not even strong enough to write more than the briefest answers to written questions. Even then, after a few minutes of concentration, he is exhausted and his focus wanders. We very much want to protect his health and well-being, but we also wanted to satisfy the request for responses to important issues. Andrzej pointed out to me on the phone that he has full confidence in our understanding of the subject. He repeated that, as he said when he wrote to us, he was looking for someone who was going in the same direction, thinking the same way, that he could hand his work on to - more or less pass the torch, and of all the work had been passed to him by others. He spent years looking for someone and it was our work that met the criteria.
Having said that, let me try to answer your question: Why did Łobaczewski choose that title? The first thing is that the work was originally a series of documents, technical and academic, originating from various sources. As Łobaczewski explains in his introduction, very little of the work is original to him, he is just the compiler. Academics tend to choose titles for their papers that are phrased in academic terminology, and scientists consider it their prerogative to make up new terms to describe their discoveries, (such as physicists coming up with words like quarks, muons, leptons, and so on), so in that sense, the title is entirely understandable. The term, "ponerology" is an obscure theological term that means the study of evil. Andrzej knew this, and decided to reclaim and rehabilitate this word for scientific use since, as it happens, our science really doesn't have a word for the study of "evil," per se. We need one.
Henry: When Łobaczewski sent us the manuscript for his book, we were stunned. We had been preoccupied with the question of why, no matter how much good will there is in the world, there is so much war, suffering and injustice. It doesn't seem to matter what plan, ideology, religion, or philosophy great minds come up with, nothing seems to improve our lot. And it has been that way for thousands of years, repeating over and over again.
We had also been researching the question of psychopathy for several years, and had published many articles on the subject on our web sites. We had also transcribed an electronic edition for research of the seminal work on psychopathy by Dr. Hervey Cleckley, The Mask of Sanity, with the permission of the copyright holders because it had gone out of print. It is such an important and seminal text that we made it freely available for download. So we had a good grounding in the question and had some inkling that the question of psychopathy and the dire situation we are facing on the planet were related.
Laura: Let me add that the reason we had been researching psychopathy was, as mentioned above, because we had encountered the phenomenon first hand. We were engaged in working with groups of people and the phenomena that Ponerology addresses in terms of groups and how they are corrupted by pathological deviants insinuating themselves into a group under the guise of normality, was very familiar to us on a small social scale. We had observed it and dealt with it time and again, though in the early days, we were just flying by the seat of our pants. We knew that something strange was going on, we just did not have labels and categories for it. We found some of those labels and categories in texts about psychopathology, but it still did not address the social dynamic.
Henry: But Political Ponerology presents the subject in a radically different way from other texts about psychopathy, suggesting that the influence of psychopaths and other deviants isn't just one of many influences working on society, but, under the appropriate circumstances, can be the primary influence that shapes the way we live, what we think, and how we judge what is going on around us. When you understand the true nature of that influence, that it is conscienceless, emotionless, selfish, cold and calculating, and devoid of any moral or ethical standards, you are horrified, but at the same time everything suddenly begins to makes sense. Our society is ever more soulless because the people who lead it and who set the example are soulless - they literally have no conscience.
When you come to understand that the reins of political and economic power are in the hands of people who have no conscience, who have no capacity for empathy, it opens up a completely new way of looking at what we call "evil". Evil is no longer only a moral issue; it can now be analyzed and understood scientifically.
Laura: With Łobaczewski, the word "Ponerology" has been reclaimed from its religious connotations where it never did society as a whole much good, and is the science of evil, of understanding its origins scientifically, and how it can infect individuals and societies like a disease.
When psychopaths are the policy makers in government and the CEOs of big business, the way they think and reason - their 'morality' - becomes the common culture and 'morality' of the population over which they preside. When this happens, the mind of the population is infected in the way a pathogen infects a physical body. The only way to protect ourselves against this pathological thinking is to inoculate ourselves against it, and that is done by learning as much as possible about the nature of psychopathy and its influence on us. Essentially, this particular 'disease' thrives in an environment where its very existence is denied, and this denial is planned and deliberate.
While the title of the book may seem hermetic, it must be understood in the context of the great difficulty Andrej had in getting his work published at all. The first two manuscripts were lost, as he describes in his preface. One was burned minutes before the arrival of the police in a raid on his home, and the second was sent to the Vatican via an intermediary, never to be seen again. The third version, the one published by Red Pill Press, was written while Andrzej was living in the US during the Reagan years. Zbigniew Brzeszinki had offered to help him find a publisher, but after several months, it became clear that he was at best doing nothing and at worst actively working to ensure it never got published. So the manuscript sat in a drawer for over twenty years. It was written for a professional audience and the title was chosen in that context. This is also the reason that the text itself is very dense, and the title accurately reflects that it was not written for the layperson. It was written for professionals and in an academic style reflecting his background.
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Hailed as the triumphant return of Hector Babenco, you may be forgiven for asking, "Who's he?" As the Brazilian director of Kiss Of The Spider Woman and Ironweed in the Eighties, he became the breath that freshened the air of Hollywood - briefly.
Now, he re-emerges on home ground with an epic prison movie, based on Drauzio Varella's experience as the sole medical officer at the notorious Carandiru jail in Sao Paolo, before it was demolished after riots.
The recreation of life behind bars for murderers and drug dealers is depicted with astonishing energy and style. The performances are uniformly good, while, at times, shaking the foundations with unrestrained verocity.
Unlike another Brazilian street movie, City Of God, there exists at its core an underlying sentimentality. The prison has an organic life. Inmates look after each other and administer rough justice for acts of violence that are deemed to have broken a code of honour. The guards stay back and allow the rule of law - convict law - to keep the pressure of confinement from blowing the roof off. There is a flexibility, based on acceptance, between governor and governed, respecting the rights of each and the other, while recognising their shared humanity.
Babenco focuses on a handful of prisoners. With the use of flashbacks, their lives and crimes are superficially investigated, while the doctor (Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos), who performs the role of educator and Everyman, remains in the neutral zone.
A rich man's morality is wasted on the hardcore; killing seems easier than sleep. Carandiru is another country, with its own idiosyncrasies. Cliches are noticable by their absence, although the lags are surprisingly well equipped with human qualities and the degree of self-expression allowed by the prison staff reflects Christian decency on a scale hitherto unimaginable.
Babenco conveys the big picture, including the vicious suppression of dissent, deemed worthy of riot status, extremely well. It's on the personal level that a softening occurs, as if pain as raw as this needs to be diluted to make it palatable for public consumption.
~ Watch Carandiru Bloody Memories ~
LSD and ketamine, two powerful hallucinogens, are also potential cures for depression, OCD, and anxiety. Two studies published this week, in Science and Nature, confirm that hallucinogenic drugs stimulate healthy brain activity, even promoting the growth of neurons.
Ketamine and depression
The study in Science, released today, focused entirely on the drug ketamine. Used frequently as an animal sedative, ketamine can also be used to sedate humans and is also taken recreationally because of its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects. Molecular psychiatrist Nanxin Li and colleagues dosed rats with modest amounts of ketamine, and observed that the drug boosted signaling between neurons in the brain, and even led to healthy growth of synapses. (Chronic depression can be linked to inhibited synaptic growth.) Ultimately, they concluded that ketamine might be useful in treating depression because it increases brain activity instantly - so there is no need to wait weeks or months for the drug to take effect.
LSD and OCD
In the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Franz X. Vollenweider and Michael Kometer gave a broad overview of research into hallucinogens over the past half century. They gathered together research from hundreds of studies on how hallucinogens like LSD, psilocybin, and ketamine affect the brains of healthy people - as well as people suffering from depression and other disorders.
Like Li and his colleagues, they found that countless studies show that hallucinogens promote healthy neural activity in the brain. The researchers also created a chart to show what test subjects' states of mind are, according to studies, when under the influence of various substances.
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The government and local clerics refused to shelter around 500 flood-affected families belonging to the Ahmadiya community in South Punjab's relief camps. Not only that, the government also did not send relief goods to the flood-hit areas belonging to the Ahmadiya community, The Express Tribune has learnt during a visit to the devastated Punjab districts of Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Rajanpur.
For its part, the government claims that all relief goods are being distributed among survivors without discrimination. And that all survivors have been sheltered in relief camps without distinction. The flood-devastated families from the Ahmadiya community have strongly criticised the government's “discriminatory attitude” even at a time when the entire country is reeling from the ravages of the worst flooding in living memory.
Of the 500 Ahmadi families, 350 belong to DG Khan, 60 to Muzaffargarh and 65 to Rajanpur district. According to Ahmadiya community leaders, over 2,500 members of their community have been displaced and are now living with their relatives while some of them have left for Rabwah, the community's headquarters.
Aziz Ahmad Khan, a local leader of flood victims from the Ahmadiya community in DG Khan, told The Express Tribune that all members of his family have complained of discrimination in DG Khan. He said 200 families from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani, 60 from Chah Ismaeel Wala, three from Rakh Mor Jangi, 18 from Ghazi Ghat and 12 from Jhakar Imam Shah of Ahmadpur. Khan alleged that 200 families, who have been displaced from Basti Rindan and Basti Sohrani by flooding, took shelter in a state-run school at Jhok Utra but within days the local administration forced them to leave the school. He said the local administration later told them that people from the surrounding areas did not want the Ahmadis in the relief camp. And that the administration could not allow them to stay at the camp as it could create a law and order situation.
“So we left our cattle and other belongings in the area and took refuge in the homes of our community members on higher grounds,” he said, adding that some of them even migrated to Chanabnagar.
Muhammad Iqbal Sohrani, a member of the Ahmadiya community told The Express Tribune that around 40 Ahmadi families who took shelter in a state-run school at Jhakar Imam Shah near Sumandri, some 40 kilometres from DG Khan, have not received any relief either from philanthropists or from the government. He alleged that relief packages were being distributed through local lawmakers who have been told by the district administration that the Ahmadis are not eligible for any support.
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