For the Global Thinker

Sunday, November 28, 2010

US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomatic crisis

• More than 250,000 dispatches reveal US foreign strategies
• Diplomats ordered to spy on allies as well as enemies
• Saudi king urged Washington to bomb Iran

    The United States was catapulted into a worldwide diplomatic crisis today, with the leaking to the Guardian and other international media of more than 250,000 classified cables from its embassies, many sent as recently as February this year.

    At the start of a series of daily extracts from the US embassy cables – many designated "secret" – the Guardian can disclose that Arab leaders are privately urging an air strike on Iran and that US officials have been instructed to spy on the UN leadership.

    These two revelations alone would be likely to reverberate around the world. But the secret dispatches, which were obtained by WikiLeaks, the whistleblowers' website, also reveal Washington's evaluation of many other highly sensitive international issues.

    These include a shift in relations between China and North Korea, high-level concerns over Pakistan's growing instability, and details of clandestine US efforts to combat al-Qaida in Yemen.

    Among scores of disclosures that are likely to cause uproar, the cables detail:

    • Grave fears in Washington and London over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, with officials warning that as the country faces economic collapse, government employees could smuggle out enough nuclear material for terrorists to build a bomb.

    • Inappropriate remarks by Prince Andrew about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country.

    • Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government, with one cable alleging that vice-president Zia Massoud was carrying $52m in cash when he was stopped during a visit to the United Arab Emirates. Massoud denies taking money out of Afghanistan.

    • How the hacker attacks which forced Google to quit China in January were orchestrated by a senior member of the Politburo who typed his own name into the global version of the search engine and found articles criticising him personally.

    • Allegations that Russia and its intelligence agencies are using mafia bosses to carry out criminal operations, with one cable reporting that the relationship is so close that the country has become a "virtual mafia state".

    • The extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, which is causing intense US suspicion. Cables detail allegations of "lavish gifts", lucrative energy contracts and the use by Berlusconi of a "shadowy" Russian-speaking Italiango-between.

    • Devastating criticism of the UK's military operations in Afghanistan by US commanders, the Afghan president and local officials in Helmand. The dispatches reveal particular contempt for the failure to impose security around Sangin – the town which has claimed more British lives than any other in the country.

    The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.

    The cables contain specific allegations of corruption, as well as harsh criticism by US embassy staff of their host governments, from Caribbean islands to China and Russia. The material includes a reference to Putin as an "alpha-dog" and Hamid Karzai as being "driven by paranoia", while Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative". There is also a comparison between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Adolf Hitler.

    Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cable-leak-diplomacy-crisis

Tuesday, November 23, 2010



But if the brain is so efficient at categorization, why doesn't experience correct inaccurate stereotypes?

Before answering that question, it is important to note that we may not be exposed to very much experience in our daily life that would contradict our stereotypes. For example, residential segregation keeps the home lives of different racial groups separate to some degree. But also, our stereotypes of other groups ("out groups") often lead to feelings of anxiety when we encounter the members of an out group. One of the oldest insights of psychology is that a main way we deal with anxiety is through avoidance: We simply avoid contact with individuals by crossing the street, turning our heads, talking to someone else, hiring someone else for a job, striking up friendships with someone else we feel more comfortable with, sitting down at the lunch table with those who seem to be more like us.

Returning to the question of why stereotypes persist in the face of contradictory experience, we find two main answers. The first is that because stereotypes may help us feel better about ourselves, we avoid challenging these stereotypes. In other words, we become defensive and protective of our worldviews and only reluctantly question our deepest assumptions. And these worldviews help protect not only our self-esteem, but also real-world privileges and benefits that accrue to us as members of an in group. For example, racist discrimination by banks that hurts African American communities by limiting mortgages to these areas also benefits White neighborhoods by making more money available to them. Discrimination which in the past has limited slots available to...

Read more: http://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/brochures/racism.aspx

Sunday, November 14, 2010

An Ancient Culture in Mountainous Mexico

Tarahumara Indians Celebrating Easter in Tehuerichi, Mexico

An impressive set of black and white photographs of the Tarahumara Indians:


Each star in the night sky is a Tarahumara Indian whose souls—men have three and women have four, as they are the producers of new life—have all, finally, been extinguished. These are things anthropologists and resident priests tell you about the beliefs of the Tarahumara people, who call themselves the Rarámuri, and who live in and above the canyons of northern Mexico's Sierra Madre Occidental, where they retreated five centuries ago from invading Spaniards. The Spaniards had not only firearms and horses but also disturbing beard hair; from their presence came the Rarámuri word chabochi, which to this day means anyone who is not Tarahumara. Chabochi is not an insult, exactly, just a way of dividing the world. Its literal translation, which goes a long way toward evoking the current relationship between the Tarahumara and the rest of 21st-century Mexico, is "person with spiderwebbing across the face."

Read more here:


National Geographic photo gallery of the Tarahumara:


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Growing Body Parts

(Click on image to enlarge)

Thousands wait in vain for organ transplants; soldiers return from battle horribly maimed. There is only so much medicine can do, but we may be on the path to a new technology in which quite literally, we will be growing new body parts.

It's called "regenerative medicine," where cells in the human body are manipulated into regrowing tissue.

As we first reported last December, researchers have so far created beating hearts, ears and bladders. Biotech companies and the Pentagon have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in research that could profoundly change millions of lives.

Watch video here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6711905n&tag=contentBody;housing