For the Global Thinker

Thursday, December 29, 2011

At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

This is our world...

Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. 

At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.
More than 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where income differentials are widening. 

According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.
Approximately half the world’s population now live in cities and towns. In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 billion people) was living in slum conditions.

Read more here...

Monday, December 26, 2011

Vietnam in HD

Photo by Phillip Jones Griffiths/ Magnum 

Awesome documentary on the Vietnam War, great new footage and well told...enjoy.

It's not the war you know. It's the war they fought.
Two years after the release of its landmark Emmy-winning series WWII in HD, HISTORY shifts its focus to a new generation and one of the most controversial chapters in American history, the Vietnam War. Vietnam in HD will immerse viewers in the sights, the sounds and the stories of the Vietnam War as it has never before been seen. Thousands of hours of uncensored footage--much of it shot by soldiers in action--will detail every critical chapter of the conflict. The war will unfold onscreen through the gripping firsthand accounts of 13 brave men and women who were forever changed by their experience in Vietnam.


The documentary's official website is also worth checking out...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tweeter Street

Portraits of people who tweet, what they tweet, and where they tweet from....but really, it's an exploration of individuality and reminds us that the world is full of characters...really cool.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

A History of Violence

What may be the most important thing that has ever happened in human history is that violence has gone down, by dramatic degrees, and in many dimensions all over the world and in many spheres of behavior: genocide, war, human sacrifice, torture, slavery, and the treatment of racial minorities, women, children, and animals.

Harvard Psychologist Steven Pinker (You may know him from his TED talks) lectures on an interesting phenomenon obviously missed by all the police reality shows and sensationalized news stations...



Craziest Facebook Stories of 2011

Usually I don't post stories like these ones; however, I couldn't resist this one...pretty crazy...

In November, a burglar signed into Facebook from a computer inside a home he broke into before sprinting from the scene. Unfortunately, he forgot to logout before he left.

In February, a mom was arrested for posting pictures of her baby and a bong on Facebook.

In February, an Egyptian man named his daughter Facebook.

In May, a study came out that said young people would rather lose their sense of smell instead of their social networks.
​ A McCann survey of 6,000 people aged 16 to 30 found that 53 percent of respondents would rather forfeit the ability to smell than lose access to social networking websites.

In April, after the Royal Wedding, the Pippa Middleton's Ass Appreciation Society was started. It now has over 240,000 fans.

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Facebook use is now cited in one in five of every U.S. divorce cases.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, dies

Kim Jong-il is understood to have suffered a heart attack on Saturday due to physical and mental over-work

Kim Jong-il, the "dear leader" still venerated by many in North Korea but reviled abroad, has died aged 69, state media announced on Monday morning.
The North Korean leader suffered a heart attack on Saturday due to physical and mental over-work, the official KCNA news agency reported. He was on his train, travelling to offer "field guidance" to workers, when he died.
KCNA urged the nation, people and military to rally behind his young son and heir apparent, telling them they must "faithfully revere" Kim Jong-un's leadership.
Kim had recovered from a reported stroke in 2008, and Monday's announcement was unexpected. But he had already begun grooming Kim Jong-un to take control of the "hermit state", appointing him a general last year and giving him several high profile roles.

Experts say there is increasing cynicism in North Korea about the regime, which exerts rigid political control but has proved incapable of meeting basic economic needs. But people in the streets of Pyongyang burst into tears as they learnt of Kim's death, Associated Press reported.
"It is the biggest loss for the party ... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," a tearful anchorwoman clad in black Korean traditional dress told viewers as she announced Kim's death.





Friday, December 16, 2011

In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

See more photos here.

RIP, definitely admired his unpopular views...

Christopher Hitchens, a slashing polemicist in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell who trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa, wrote a best-seller attacking religious belief, and dismayed his former comrades on the left by enthusiastically supporting the American-led war in Iraq, died Thursday at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He was 62.

“In whatever kind of a ‘race’ life may be, I have very abruptly become a finalist,” Mr. Hitchens wrote in Vanity Fair, for which he was a contributing editor.
He took pains to emphasize that he had not revised his position on atheism, articulated in his best-selling 2007 book, “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” although he did express amused appreciation at the hope, among some concerned Christians, that he might undergo a late-life conversion.
He also professed to have no regrets for a lifetime of heavy smoking and drinking. “Writing is what’s important to me, and anything that helps me do that — or enhances and prolongs and deepens and sometimes intensifies argument and conversation — is worth it to me,”

A young Christopher Hitchens circa 1968, picketing at a non-union factory in his native England.



Christopher Hitchens on The Daily Show: Sparring with Jon Stewart Over the Years...


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Time's Person of the Year-The Protester

Hopefully they will be the Person of the Year next year as well.


"Massive and effective street protest" was a global oxymoron until — suddenly, shockingly — starting exactly a year ago, it became the defining trope of our times. And the protester once again became a maker of history.
Prelude to the Revolutions
It began in Tunisia, where the dictator's power grabbing and high living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of government callousness against an ordinary citizen — a 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi — became the final straw. Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match. (See pictures of Sidi Bouzid.)
"My son set himself on fire for dignity," Mannoubia Bouazizi told me when I visited her.
"In Tunisia," added her 16-year-old daughter Basma, "dignity is more important than bread."

Read more here...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fighting 1% Wars

 U.S Marine Cpl. Lance Morrow patrols in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

America’s wars are remote.  They’re remote from us geographically, remote from us emotionally (unless you’re serving in the military or have a close relative or friend who serves), and remote from our major media outlets, which have given us no compelling narrative about them, except that they’re being fought by “America’s heroes” against foreign terrorists and evil-doers.  They’re even being fought, in significant part, by remote control -- by robotic drones “piloted” by ground-based operators from a secret network of bases located hundreds, if not thousands, of miles from the danger of the battlefield.
Their remoteness, which breeds detachment if not complacency at home, is no accident.  Indeed, it’s a product of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice, not wars of necessity.  It’s a product of the fact that we’ve chosen to create a “warrior” or “war fighter” caste in this country, which we send with few concerns and fewer qualms to prosecute Washington’s foreign wars of choice.

The results have been predictable, as in predictably bad.  The troops suffer.  Iraqi and Afghan innocents suffer even more.  And yet we don’t suffer, at least not in ways that are easily noticeable, because of that very remoteness.  


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sea of Change

'Sea Change' is a study of the tides round the coast of Britain. The views in each diptych are taken from identical positions at low tide and high tide, usually 6 or 18 hours apart.

I am interested in showing how landscape changes over time through natural processes and cycles. The camera that observes low and high tide side by side enables us to observe simultaneously two moments in time, two states of nature.

See more of Michael Marten's remarkable work here...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

DEA Launders Profits of Mexican Drug Cartels

U.S. Agents Launder Mexican Profits of Drug Cartels

Undercover American narcotics agents have laundered or smuggled millions of dollars in drug proceeds as part of Washington’s expanding role in Mexico's fight against drug cartels according to current and former federal law enforcement officials.  They said agents had deposited the drug proceeds in accounts designated by traffickers, or in shell accounts set up by agents.  The officials said that while the D.E.A. conducted such operations in other countries, it began doing so in Mexico only in the past few years.



D.E.A. Squads Extend Reach of Drug War

The D.E.A. now has five commando-style squads it has been quietly deploying for the past several years to Western Hemisphere nations — including Haiti, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Belize — that are battling drug cartels, according to documents and interviews with law enforcement officials.
The program — called FAST, for Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team — was created during the George W. Bush administration to investigate Taliban-linked drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Beginning in 2008 and continuing under President Obama, it has expanded far beyond the war zone.
“You have got to have special skills and equipment to be able to operate effectively and safely in environments like this,” said Michael A. Braun, a former head of operations for the drug agency who helped design the program. “The D.E.A. is working shoulder-to-shoulder in harm’s way with host-nation counterparts.”





Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sesame Street in Afghanistan

There's a headline I thought I'd never read...

Singing, dancing and barking are out, but Sesame Street is teaching Afghan children to count, read and write...


"In a country with an extremely young population and an education system that is not up to standard, then reaching millions of kids through television seems to us the way to go," said Saad Mohseni, chief executive of Moby Media.

Also present in the Afghan version is the social activism that once caused consternation in parts of 1970s America with its portrayal of a racially harmonious inner-city neighbourhood. For a film about a girl's first day at school, the Afghan production team deliberately chose a character from the Hazara community, a much put-upon minority in a country where there are growing fears of ethnic fragmentation.

Sherrie Westin, vice-president of Sesame Workshop, said the programme's daily mini-documentaries about the daily lives Afghan children "celebrate diversity and introduce children from Afghanistan's various provinces to each other".

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Famous Failures

Whenever we attempt to do something and fail, we end up doing something else or producing something else. You have not failed; you have produced some other result. The two most important questions to ask are: "What have I learned?" and "What have I done?"
Failure is only a word that human beings use to judge a given situation. Instead of fearing failure, we should learn that failures, mistakes and errors are the way we learn and the way we grow. Many of the world's greatest successes have learned how to fail their way to success. Some of the more famous are:

  • Michael Jordan: Most people wouldn't believe that a man often lauded as the best basketball player of all time was actually cut from his high school basketball team. Luckily, Jordan didn't let this setback stop him from playing the game and he has stated, "I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
  • Stephen King: The first book by this author, the iconic thriller Carrie, received 30 rejections, finally causing King to give up and throw it in the trash. His wife fished it out and encouraged him to resubmit it, and the rest is history, with King now having hundreds of books published and the distinction of being one of the best-selling authors of all time.
Read more here:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Man Who Was "Cured" of HIV

Sonia Arrison explains how in the future we could live to be 150 years old and about the man who was "cured" of HIV...fascinating stuff!


"...the average person may soon celebrate over 150 birthdays. Many Big Thinkers wondered whether lifespan extension is even meaningful unless it is also accompanied by an increase in the quality of life experienced by super-centenarians. Arrison couldn't agree more.
What would be the point of living longer, if the Golden Years were filled with nothing but physical suffering? “We are at the cusp of a revolution in medicine and biotechnology that will radically increase not just our life spans but also, and more importantly, our health spans," she says.

More anecdotal, and more striking, is the case of Timothy Brown, known as "The Berlin Patient." Brown first tested positive for HIV in 1995. For a decade afterwards, he lived a healthy life in Berlin, controlling the virus with anti-retroviral therapy. But in 2006, he began feel extreme exhaustion when riding his bike to work. His doctor diagnosed him with leukemia, completely unrelated to HIV - the only possible lifesaving treatment for which was a stem cell transplant from a bone marrow donor. A specialist at Charité Medical University managed to find a donor who was a match, and who also happened to have a gene which made him resistant to the HIV virus.
The transplant was gruelling - scientists are wary of using the word "cure" - but Brown now tests negative on even the most sensitive HIV tests. He is the only person in the world to have ever been rid of HIV. "That’s one example of how scientists might be able to recode our systems to fight off diseases," says Arrison."


You can also read more about Timothy Brown in this New York Magazine article...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fighting Back, One Brothel at a Time

A fascinating look inside the war on human trafficking...


This town of Anlong Veng is in northern Cambodia near the Thai border, with a large military presence; it feels like something out of the Wild West. Somaly, whose efforts are financed mostly through American supporters of her Somaly Mam Foundation, had sneaked into this brothel and surreptitiously photographed very young girls. With the photographs, she convinced Cambodia’s anti-trafficking police to mount the raid.
It didn’t help my nerves that Somaly, whom I’ve known for years, is fearless. Brothel-owners have fought back ferociously against Somaly: They’ve sent death threats, held a gun to her head and shot up her car.

“We all know that our lives are in danger,” she says, a little too cavalierly. “I’ve never been so happy in my life. They can kill me now.”

When Somaly refused to back off, she said the traffickers kidnapped her 14-year-old daughter and gang-raped the girl with a video camera rolling. The daughter was recovered in a brothel, and Somaly blames herself. It’s a credit to the courage of mother and daughter that they remain steadfast, upbeat and close, and determined to make a difference. These days, Somaly is very careful with that daughter and her other children.

The three unmarked police cars ahead of us pulled up in front of the brothel...

Read full article here:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

National Geographic Photo Contest 2011

Here are a selection of submissions from the National Geographic photo contest...captions are written by the photographers and to enlarge the photo just click on it...

The Hundstei (dog stone) is a very special place for me. I know this might sound silly, but since my dog and I grew up just around the corner and the naming of the mountain, I chose this very calm lake as a final resting place for Spock (my dog) so he would have the biggest gravestone of all dogs out there. That morning we had a farewell ceremony for Spock. I took this picture and we summited the Hundstei in his honor (which was a very emotional challenge). This picture of his resting place is now hanging in our kitchen to remember him. (© Nino Benninger)

Cage divers confront a great white shark. (© David Litchfield)

 An adult male gelada rests in the early morning light after ascending the steep sleeping cliffs of the Simien Mountains, Ethiopia. (© Clay Wilton)

Pinki Kundu,a 13 yrs old girl is suffering from a chronic disease & is being treated in Mother Teresa TB Hospital in Kolkata. She is under CAT 1 drug therapy & is doing well.The day I photographed her she was very hopeful mood that she would be returning back to her parents soon. (© Saibal Gupta)

This is a streetcar in New Orleans traveling back towards The Quarter on St. Charles Ave. I held the camera against the window sill, making sure to divide the image equally between the inside and the outside. (© Don Chamblee)


Monday, November 7, 2011

How and Why to Write

Margaret Atwood, Cambridge 1963.

Advice about writing that is actually helpful from some of this century's greatest authors...

 James Baldwin
I don't know if I feel close to them, now. After a time you find, however, that your characters are lost to you, making it quite impossible for you to judge them. When you've finished a novel it means, "The train stops here, you have to get off here." You never get the book you wanted, you settle for the book you get. I've always felt that when a book ended there was something I didn't see, and usually when I remark the discovery it's too late to do anything about it.
It happens when you are right here at the table. The publication date is something else again. It's out of your hands, then. What happens here is that you realize that if you try to redo something, you may wreck everything else. But, if a book has brought you from one place to another, so that you see something you didn't see before, you've arrived at another point. This then is one's consolation, and you know that you must now proceed elsewhere.

Read more here:

Steal This Book

"Steal This Book" is a legendary survival guide for those living on the fringes of society.  From creating fake ID's to "first aid for streetfighters" this book covers many topics. 

Read more of this book here... 

Also here's a PDF version of another controversial book entitled The Anarchist's Cookbook, both are very interesting reads, enjoy!

      Wednesday, November 2, 2011

      Study: Alcohol Is “More Than Twice As Harmful As Marijuana”

      Alcohol consumption causes far greater harms to the individual user and to society than does the use of cannabis, according to a new review published online in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the journal of the British Association of Psychopharmacology.

      Investigators at the Imperial College of London assessed “the relative physical, psychological, and social harms of cannabis and alcohol.” Authors reported that cannabis inhalation, particularly long-term, contributes to some potential adverse health effects, including harms to the lungs, circulatory system, as well as the exacerbation of certain mental health risks. By contrast, authors described alcohol as “ a toxic substance” that is responsible for nearly five percent “of the total global disease burden.”

      Researchers determined, “A direct comparison of alcohol and cannabis showed that alcohol was considered to be more than twice as harmful as cannabis to [individual] users, and five times more harmful as cannabis to others (society). … As there are few areas of harm that each drug can produce where cannabis scores more [dangerous to health] than alcohol, we suggest that even if there were no legal impediment to cannabis use, it would be unlikely to be more harmful than alcohol.”

      They concluded, “The findings underline the need for a coherent, evidence-based drugs policy that enables individuals to make informed decisions about the consequences of their drug use.”

      The researchers’ findings should hardly come as a revelation. Last week, a just-published study that was completely ignored by the mainstream media reported that alcohol consumption increased lung cancer risk by 30 percent.

      Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, a February 2011 World Health Organization report concluded that alcohol consumption causes a staggering four percent of all deaths worldwide, more than AIDS, tuberculosis or violence. A just-published analysis in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that in the United States alone, an estimated 79,000 lives are lost annually due to excessive drinking. The study further estimates that the overall economic cost of excessive drinking by Americans is $223.5 billion annually.

      Naturally, any health costs related to cannabis use pale in comparison. A 2009 review published in the British Columbia Mental Health and Addictions Journal estimated that health-related costs per user are eight times higher for drinkers of alcoholic beverages than they are for those who use cannabis, and are more than 40 times higher for tobacco smokers. “In terms of [health-related] costs per user: tobacco-related health costs are over $800 per user, alcohol-related health costs are much lower at $165 per user, and cannabis-related health costs are the lowest at $20 per user,” investigators concluded.

      In an op/ed I wrote last year entitled “Pot Versus Alcohol: Experts Say Booze Is the Bigger Danger,” I cited the findings of numerous independent commissions, all of which pronounced that the risks of marijuana were nominal compared to those associated with booze. You can read these findings here and much of this evidence is discussed in even greater detail in my book, Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?

      Nevertheless, despite its enormous societal toll, alcohol remains celebrated in this country — American Craft Beer Week is now endorsed by the U.S. Congress — while cannabis remains arbitrarily criminalized and demonized. It’s a situation illogical enough to drive most anyone to drink.

      Original article here.

      Also check out this article...
      Alcohol more harmful than heroin, cocaine, study finds

      Alcohol is the "most harmful" of a list of 20 drugs -- more dangerous even than crack cocaine and heroin -- according to a new study released Monday.
      The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, rated the drugs using a 100-point scale that weighed the physical, psychological and social problems they caused and determined that alcohol was the most harmful overall.

      Read more:

      Monday, October 31, 2011

      Semper Fi: Always Faithful

      Here's a documentary that is definitely worth looking out for...Thanks for the link Kara!

      Semper Fi: Always Faithful” tells the story of Marine Corps Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, a devoted Marine for nearly twenty five years who lived and breathed the U.S. military.  But when his nine-year-old daughter died of a rare form of leukemia, his world fell apart. Years later, he made the shocking discovery of an alleged Marine Corps cover-up that the drinking water at the Corps Base was highly contaminated by toxic chemicals for thirty years.
      According to the film, it is estimated that almost one million Marines and their families were exposed to these high levels of carcinogens, a fact which was never exposed to the public. The film also alleges that to this day, only a fraction of former residents who lived there during 1957 to 1987 – many of who have lost children or are now sick themselves – even know that they were exposed.
      “A big shocker is the fact that the Department of Defense is our nation’s largest polluter. The other thing that is shocking is the influence of special interest groups and polluters on the regulation of harmful chemicals.

      Watch trailer here...

      Find out more here...

      Saturday, October 29, 2011

      Art meets Music

       "Everyday I Show" is a website dedicated to mixing exceptional photography with exceptional songs.  From what I gather it's maintained by some guy in Russia who obviously has an affinity for art and music.     

      First grab some headphones and copy and paste the youtube music into another window and let it play in the background.  Next click on the slideshow link.  Sit back and enjoy a moment of art and music...

        Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwbJ1Od_E7E
      Slideshow: Photos by Annie Leibovitz

      Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GxqrYLf5CU
      Slideshow: Photos by Peter Baker

      Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlSbSKNk9f0

      Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JErVP6xLZwg
      Slideshow:  A woman we love, French singer and actress Jane Birkin.

      Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4dlqVlj6UA
      Slideshow: Photos by Ken Schles

      Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acv_a6O8doo
      Slideshow: Photos by Dane Shitagi

      There are more than 400 more entries here: http://everyday-i-show.livejournal.com/

      Thursday, October 27, 2011

      "Anonymous" Vows to Take Down Facebook and Fox News on Nov 5th

       Here are three stories that exemplify the new digital world that now envelops us...Times have sure changed.

      Anonymous says it will take down Facebook on Nov. 5

      Hacktivist group Anonymous said that it will target Facebook for a takedown on Nov. 5, aka Guy Fawkes Day.
      Those claiming to be members of the group uploaded a video to YouTube in mid-July announcing the operation, which was spotted by Rosie Gray of The Village Voice on Tuesday.
      Why is the group targeting Facebook? The video message is most critical of Facebook’s privacy policies, saying the site does not provide its users with enough choice or transparency.

      Read more here...

      Anonymous Vows to Destroy Fox News Website on Nov. 5th

      The group said it is targeting the network for what it called biased news coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests occurring in cities across the country.
      The network's "continued right-wing, conservative propaganda against the occupations" is the group's catalyst for its intention of "destroying the Fox News Web site," a digitally generated voice on the video explains. "Since they will not stop belittling the occupiers, we will simply shut them down."

      Read more here: 

      Also, this is a very interesting story as well...

      Hacker leaks 90,000 passwords as a warning to 'naive' Swedes

       Sweden has suffered its worst-ever data leak after an anonymous hacker hijacked the Twitter account of a prominent MP and released details of more than 90,000 private email accounts.

      The anonymous hacker said he had masterminded the biggest internet breach in Sweden's history to remind people to change their passwords more often.
      He said: "I dumped this information to let people know that they handle their information wrongly.  Expressen journalist Micke Ölander said on Thursday the affair wasn't an example of political skulduggery but was merely a wake-up call not to use the same password for all accounts.

      "It's a story about the possible naivety of Swedish internet users who log into their bank account and the New York Times web pages using the same password," he said.
      Read more:

      Monday, October 24, 2011

      Banking Corporations Kill Wikileaks

      WikiLeaks stops publishing to make ends meet
      WikiLeaks announced Monday it is suspending its publication of classified files as it struggles to bring its finances under control.

      "The (financial) blockade is outside of any accountable, public process. It is without democratic oversight or transparency," according to a WikiLeaks statement.

      "The U.S. government itself found that there were no lawful grounds to add WikiLeaks to a U.S. financial blockade. But the blockade of WikiLeaks by politicized U.S. finance companies continues regardless."

      Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and Western Union put a financial blockage on WikiLeaks after it published hundreds of thousands of controversial diplomatic cables and U.S. government files.
      Assange has said that the financial blockage has cost the website tens of millions of dollars in lost donations, BBC reports.
      "A handful of U.S. finance companies cannot be allowed to decide how the whole world votes with its pocket," he said.

      Read more here...