Poorly informed people who cannot address the substance of an argument often resort to in-explicit language and obscurantism. If you are unable to understand what someone is saying, this may be the reason. Asking the person non-confrontational questions can help them to consider the topic on a deeper level.
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Poorly informed people who cannot address the substance of an argument often resort to in-explicit language and obscurantism. If you are unable to understand what someone is saying, this may be the reason. Asking the person non-confrontational questions can help them to consider the topic on a deeper level.
Friday, October 9, 2020
Alice C. Linsley
A proper understanding of Aristotle's view of democracy requires recognizing his assertion that the Polis, or city-state, is prior to family and the individual. He sees this as a natural development along with nature's endowment of humans with speech and the ability to articulate moral concepts such as justice. As human beings are by nature political animals, we seek positions of power from which we can shape our communities.
The ideal of democracy is that we should be fair in the exercise of power. Yet "democracy" is elusive. No political system exists that is entirely fair. Further, the democracies of the world do not share a common political system.
This leads to another of Aristotle's questions: Does "democratic behavior" refer to actions that are pleasing to world democracies, or to actions that preserve world democracies?
If democratic behavior refers to actions that are pleasing to world democracies, some common substance must be universal to the ideal. What is that common substance? Is it that all are equal before the law? Sadly, that often is not the case in the best political environments. Is it that each citizen's vote counts for something? Unfortunately, sometimes those who scream the loudest about democracy manipulate voting. Perhaps the ideal of democracy is a nose ring by which the citizenry is yanked about?
Given Aristotle's view of government and human nature, it is likely that "democratic behavior" refers to actions that preserve the state. By this definition, insurrections and revolutions pose a grave threat to democracy. Too often they lead to unchecked power by those who take control. Congress is a community of communities, each working to tilt the balance in their favor. Winning the votes, passing the pork bill, getting the dirt on one's opponent - these non-democratic behaviors break bonds of friendship.
True democracy entails power sharing, conscientious public service, and mutual respect. These are fundamental. For Aristotle, the polis is held together by friendship. He regarded men with many friendships as good men. Today friendship in Washington is less important than politically advantageous alliances, and sharing power is rare because there is no trust between the parties.
Beyond these democratic behaviors, there is the necessity of a common vision of a good society. As we near the November 2020 presidential election it is clear that the Democratic and Republican parties have very different notions of what makes a society good.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
This is the first principle of democracy: that the essential things in men are the things they hold in common, not the things they hold separately. And the second principle is merely this: that the political instinct or desire is one of these things which they hold in common. Falling in love is more poetical than dropping into poetry. The democratic contention is that government ... is a thing like falling in love, and not a thing like dropping into poetry. It is not something analogous to playing the church organ, painting on vellum,..., being Astronomer Royal, and so on. For these things we do not wish a man to do at all unless he does them well. It is, on the contrary, a thing analogous to writing one's own love-letters or blowing one's own nose. These things we want a man to do for himself, even if he does them badly. .... In short, the democratic faith is this: that the most terribly important things must be left to ordinary men themselves--the mating of the sexes, the rearing of the young, the laws of the state. This is democracy; and in this I have always believed. ”
― G.K. Chesterton
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Alice C. Linsley
In the ancient world, priests' daughters, widows, and indentured virgins lived at temples and shrines. This provided a better way of life for women who might otherwise be destitute.
The custom is observed today in Africa and in India. Poor parents may chose to give their daughters to the local shrine of temple as a servant. In India, low caste girls are sometimes dedicated to the temple. These are called Devadasi (Deva - God and Dasi - female servant). They are sexually exploited and despised, but they can acquire status by joining the Yellama cult which confers power and responsibility. One of the most important duties of the Devadasi is the performance of votive dances in the temple.
Some women gain patrons and are able to buy their way out of the system. Patrons often set them women up as inn keepers. Professional dancers worked in these inns. That was the case in ancient Nubia and Harappa, and continues in modern Ethiopia where the women dance in coffee houses. (See Egypt and Nubia by James Augustus Saint John, pages 240-242).
This may be the situation with the biblical figure Rahab. Different biblical sources use different Hebrew words to describe Rahab. One refers to a sacred prostitute, and the other to an inn keeper. The first word is qādēš and the second is the radical zn. Leah Bronner notes that the ZN root could refer to zona (one who sells her body) or to the word zon, an inn keeper. D. J. Wiseman points out that tzond can be translated as barmaid. Rahab married Salmon, a Horite Hebrew chief.
In West Africa, women consult deities at the water shrines in order to have children. These children are often pledged to the shrine or to the deity (as Hannah pledged Samuel to God in return for blessing her with a child). Osofu Ahadzi, a director of one such shrine, says that people who fail to redeem such pledges eventually lose those children. Ahadzi explains, “If there is a calamity befalling a family and they go back to the divinity or shrine and it is said that such a person should be trained in the shrine to learn the skills and acquire the power of divination to protect the family, that is when that person is devoted to the shrine."
“There was a situation where the divinity asked one of the keepers not to marry this woman and he decided to go forward and marry. He thought that he was powerful and he went ahead and married. The mother died, he was going and the car had an accident. He died with his wife. In the traditional African religion the commandment is thou must not do this, if you do that you will get your punishment,” he said.
Ahadzi says, “It is completely out of place for anybody to claim that the keeper of the shrine plays around with the girls. You can’t do that. When you go against any of the regulations, it is not human beings that will punish you. The deity will punish you because all the girls who go in there for training are the daughters and princesses of the divinity. So if you take liberties with them you will be punished,” he said.
He believes that the girls, some of whom are as young as age 2, have a good life at the shrine, although they do not receive a formal education.
Ahadzi said the girls are not taken advantage of even though they are used as free labor on the farms. He said the chores they perform can be likened to what students are made to do in boarding schools.
Dr. Sharma further explains: "Sometimes even if the parents of a young girl or boy are alive, they might not be in a good socio-economic condition to take care of their kid and thus could decide to send her/him to live in a temple thinking that the temple would do a better job in raising their child. Thus the temple might be considered by some people an ideal place to raise their child where free room, board and education (in spirituality, arts, music, dancing etc.) are available, perhaps in return for a small or light physical service to the temple."
Dr Sharma says: "The same type of consideration, as indicated above for young girls, is generally applicable to adult women, especially the widows, when they decide to live in temples and religious places like Vrindavan. Note that even though the widows living in such places (temples etc.) might number in several thousand they still represent an extremely small minority relative to millions of Indian widows..."
Even the daughters of rich families and royalty have been dedicated to the temple, shrine, or to the Church. Royal virgins posed both potential trouble and opportunity for rulers. Marriage was a way to form alliances between royal families and kingdoms. Sometimes rulers sought to avoid alliances and refused to give their royal daughters in marriage, and at other times such arrangements were politically advantageous. In some cases, the virgins themselves appear to have sought the ruler’s protection from marriages they found displeasing. One way to escape undesired marriages was to enter the convent and to become a "bride of Christ."
In the Middle Ages, many royal daughters were destined for the monastic life. Only in circumstances of political advantage were their marriages allowed. Not surprisingly, female convents sprung up in all the regions were monarchs had residences. Some royal women lived saintly lives in the monasteries and others lived much as they had in their father’s palaces. The rich and powerful royal abbeys of Europe provided a luxurious lifestyle for the women who resided there.
The precedent for placing a royal daughter at a temple is found as early as the reign of Sargon (c. 2334-2284 BC). He appointed his daughter Heduanna as the En (Mistress-in-charge) of the shrine at Ur. En-Heduanna is credited with a large body of cuneiform poetry.
Likewise, some royal Egyptian daughters were appointed to the two highest positions a woman could hold: the positions of the God’s Wife (Hemet Netjer) and the Divine Adoratrice (Duat Netjer).
Pharaoh Ahmose’s principal wife was appointed to the office of the God’s Wife of Amun, and Ahmose endowed the office with more than adequate means, providing financial income, servants, real estate, and her own royal retinue. Many royal women attained high rank as priestesses in charge of Hathor shrines. The celibacy requirement for royal daughters dedicated to the temples and shrines certainly had religious significance, but it also served the ruler’s political purposes. Were some political advantage to be gained, the holders of the offices might be granted permission to marry.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Michael Cook, Editor of BioEdge
The charges were made by whistle-blower at the facility, run by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Health Service Corps. Dawn Wooten, a nurse, claims that several women told her that a local doctor who works in the facility had removed their womb. “That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector,” said one woman.
These claims are vehemently denied by the doctor and have not been verified. However, they are a disturbing echo of abuses alleged to have taken place a few years ago in two California prisons.
Ms Wooten told activists at Project South that that detainees complained that they didn’t fully understand what the doctor was doing. She said: “I’ve had several inmates tell me that they’ve been to see the doctor and they’ve had hysterectomies and they don’t know why they went or why they’re going.”
She also said: “When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies.”
Dr Ada Rivera, of the ICE Health Services Corps, told the New York Times that the allegations would be investigated, but that the agency “vehemently disputes the implication that detainees are used for experimental medical procedures.”
A letter from members of Congress demanded an immediate investigation:
The reports of mass hysterectomies cause grave concern for the violation of the bodily autonomy and reproductive rights of detained people. Everyone, regardless of their immigration status, their language, or their incarceration deserves to control their own reproductive choices, and make informed choices about their bodies.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Men sleeping in front of an abandoned building in Whiteclay, Nebraska (population seventeen). Whiteclay is two miles from the Pine Ridge Reservation and consists of four liquor stores that sell an average of 12,500 cans of beer a day, mostly to the residents of the Reservation.
Alice C. Linsley
The recent violence in some of America's cities has focused attention on the failure of the American Republic to secure liberty and justice for all.
Black lives matter. To be black in the United States is not an identity. Some black Americans are rich and some are poor. Some commit crimes and some are law-abiding. Some are uneducated and some are well-educated. Some are on the Left politically and some are on the Right. Many are moderates who simply want to live securely in peaceful neighborhoods.
Among the black Americans are African immigrants from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Somalia. Their problems and concerns are different from native black Americans.
The Black Lives Matter protests appear to represent a generation of left-leaning activists whose concerns for liberty and justice are focused too narrowly. Not all black lives matter to them. Some black voices are cancelled because they don't share the narrative of overthrow of the structures that make America a republic.
Cancelled are the voices of black persons who applaud efforts at criminal justice reform.
Cancelled are the voices of black persons who speak against killing the unborn.
Cancelled are the voices a black persons who have decided to vote for the Trump-Pence ticket in November.
Cancelled are the voices of black persons who question the motivation of BLM leaders and organizers.
Some wonder why recent photos of inner city riots do not show many black people?
Some wonder if the Black Lives Movement has itself been cancelled by the violent actions of groups like Antifa?
Where is the "liberty and justice for all" that the socialist Francis Bellamy (1855-1931) hoped to see and which is enshrined in the words of the Pledge of Allegiance?
Who is speaking for other Americans who have suffered injustice? The Cheyenne Nation was once a proud and strong people. Today they are among the poorest in America. The most recent U.S. Census estimates show Zieback County, home of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, as the poorest in the United States. In fact, of the seven poorest counties in the United States, South Dakota has over half of them - all homes to Indian reservations.
Do Native American lives matter?
Do the poor whites of Appalachia matter? Although the Appalachia region’s poverty rate declined 1.2 percentage points since 2009–2013, Appalachia’s poverty rate remains higher than the U.S. average. However, the difference is not great: Appalachia 15.8% vs the nation 14.1 %.
Poverty in the United States poses the greatest threat to our Constitutional Republic. Consider how the Covid-19 slowdowns, lockdowns, and shutdowns have worsened this problem. Until we as a nation care about all lives equally and take immediate steps to address poverty, our fragile hold on liberty and justice for all may slip away, possibly forever.
Friday, August 7, 2020
The blast was detected by the United States Geological Survey as a seismic event of 3.3 magnitude. Many buildings in the Mar Mikhael neighborhood were severely damaged or destroyed, as were grain silos storing around 85 percent of the country’s grain.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have called for international experts to be involved in the investigation, citing a lack of trust in Lebanese authorities. I a statement on 6 August in Beirut French President Emmanuel Macron called it "a matter of credibility".
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
The CEOs will testify remotely at the hearing, which comes less than 100 days before the US election.
Zuckerberg is to say that the internet giant would not have succeeded without US laws fostering competition, but that the rules of the internet now need updating.
"Facebook is a proudly American company," Zuckerberg said in prepared remarks ahead of what will be a closely watched House Judiciary Committee hearing.
"Our story would not have been possible without US laws that encourage competition and innovation."
Bezos will paint online giant Amazon as an American "success" story, while accepting a need for scrutiny.
"I believe Amazon should be scrutinized," Bezos said in prepared remarks posted online ahead of the hearing.
Wednesday, July 22, 2020
Coinbase stopped around 1,100 customers from sending bitcoin to hackers who gained access to high-profile Twitter accounts last Wednesday. The attackers hacked over 100 Twitter accounts in a massive coordinated bitcoin scam.
According to Twitter, the hackers convinced some of the company’s employees to use internal systems and tools to access the accounts and help the hackers defraud users into sending them bitcoin.
According to Forbes, Coinbase and other cryptocurrency exchanges were able to stop some customers from sending bitcoin to the hackers by blacklisting the hackers’ wallet address. Coinbase says it prevented just over 1,000 customers from sending around $280,000 worth of bitcoin during last Wednesday’s attack. Roughly 14 Coinbase users sent around $3,000 worth of bitcoin to the scam’s bitcoin address before the company moved to blacklist it.
Friday, July 17, 2020
Twitter reported, “For a small subset of these accounts, the attackers were able to gain control of the accounts and then send Tweets from those accounts.”
The first public signs of the intrusion came around 3 PM EDT on Wednesday, when the Twitter account for the cryptocurrency exchange Binance tweeted a message saying it had partnered with “CryptoForHealth” to give back 5000 bitcoin to the community, with a link where people could donate or send money.
Twitter has made this statement: "We have also been taking aggressive steps to secure our systems while our investigations are ongoing. We’re still in the process of assessing longer-term steps that we may take and will share more details as soon as we can."
Another Twitter account — @shinji — also was tweeting out screenshots of Twitter’s internal tools. Minutes before Twitter terminated the @shinji account, it was seen publishing a tweet saying “follow @6,” referring to the account hijacked from Lucky225.
Saturday, July 11, 2020
So far the American urban riot is working in the same way as it historic counterparts. "A little Easter shopping," said a Negro women going off with a coat in the Washington looting that followed the murder of Martin Luther King. And apart from immediate gains there are practical and psychological gains, too.
The practical gain is quite simple. Large physical losses of property scare owners into action. A urgent sense that something positive must be done for Negroes immediately follows riot. It is a sobering fact that, as in the past so in the present, riots rarely fail; the rioters always win - not in the long term, of course, but in the short term.
To the overwhelming majority of Americans, black or white, rich or poor, a fundamental change in social structure is just as unthinkable as it was to eighteenth-century Englishmen. But as long as the conditions that lead to violence continue, the riot with its emotional release and its material windfalls and illusory social gains will go on and on, hot summer after hot summer, as it did for centuries in Europe.
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
When Bill Gates says it is necessary to regulate the Tech Sector, Americans should take this seriously. He appeared on "The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations" on June 24, 2020.
“Technology has become so central that government has to think: What does that mean about elections? What does that mean about bullying?” Gates said in the interview at the Economic Club of Washington, DC. “So, yes, the government needs to get involved.”
Americans have concerns about personal privacy due to technologies that can collect massive amounts of data. According to a 2019 survey of the Pew Research Center, most Americans feel that they have little control over how their personal information is collected and used by businesses and government. About 6 out of 10 persons sampled believed that "it is not possible to go through daily life without having their data collected."
In other countries more than 80% of the people surveyed say the power of big tech companies should be limited. Those countries include Germany, India, Indonesia, Thailand and New Zealand.
Countries disagreeing the most with regulation of big tech companies include Nigeria and Japan. More than 40% of people surveyed in those nations say they didn't think those companies need more restrictions.
Globally, about 77% say they worry that their internet privacy is at risk.
85% of those sampled agree with the statement that "the world needs a global set of internet standards.
Monday, July 6, 2020
Concerns about personal privacy and data collection continue as more advanced technologies are applied. This issue is not going away. Federal protections are held up by partisan politics and the reality that legislation cannot keep pace with technological advances. The laws enacted today are likely to be obsolete within a matter of months.
According to a 2019 survey of the Pew Research Center, most Americans feel that they have little control over how their personal information is collected and used by businesses and government. around 6 out of 10 persons sampled believed that "it is not possible to go through daily life without having their data collected."
The survey discovered that 70% of those sampled believe that their personal data is less secure now than five years ago.
In general, we want protection from entities that seek to gain financially from our information, but we also want the government to effective use data to track potential terrorist activity. The Pew survey found that 49% say it is acceptable for government to collect data about all Americans to assess who might be a potential terrorist threat.
Nobody is fooled by the lengthy privacy notices from banks and financial services. They are written by lawyers who are retained by the companies to protect them from legal liability rather than to inform users as to how their personal information might be shared. The term “privacy notice” gives the impression that the organization is going to protect personal information instead of how it is going to disclose that information.
In the absence of a comprehensive federal data privacy and data security law, individual states fill the gap. An example is The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which took effect on 1 January 2020. The California Consumer Privacy Act requires that companies "notify users of the intent to monetize their data, and give them a straightforward means of opting out of said monetization."
Be alert to impersonators and scammers.
Safely dispose of personal information.
Keep security software updated.
Lock your computer to avoid security breaches when not being used by you.
Avoid phishing emails.
Be wise about Wi-Fi use, especially in public venues such as coffee shops.
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
In the first season of The West Wing, Sam Seaborn made a poignant point that privacy and data security would be the hot button issue of the decades ahead. In this Big Data Age, huge sums of information can be captured more easily than ever. In this environment, the application of advanced technologies has become a two-edged sword. It is applied across every industry: banking, marketing, entertainment, small businesses, and government.
Funded by a 10-year, $20 million IBM commitment, the new Notre Dame-IBM Tech Ethics Lab will conduct research and promote models for the ethical application of technology within the tech sector, business and government.
The Tech Ethics Lab will be based at the University and will operate as a separate unit within the University’s Technology Ethics Center (ND-TEC).
Friday, June 5, 2020
Western democracies have been known to tout self determination as a value, but history tells another story. Were the Palestinians given a say about their future when the state of Israel was established by foreign powers?
Consider what happened to Hungary.
In a speech marking the occasion in the Hungarian Parliament, President János Áder reminded his countrymen that:
In 1920, Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory. Its population shrank from 18 million to 7.5 million. More than three million Hungarians were left as minorities in neighbouring countries. Romania alone gained more territory than Hungary had left. A significant part of our cereal-growing areas, 90 percent of our forests, and two-thirds of our rail network were ceded to neighbouring countries.
The dissonance between political rhetoric and the Palestinian and the Hungarian reality is as striking as the dissonance between the slogan of "justice for all" and the dehumanizing effects of systemic poverty, racism, and violence.
In the USA, the killing of George Floyd was the match to the tinder. It is naive to believe that a political party can fix these problems. The virtue signaling of politicians on right and left simply exacerbates the turmoil. To stand in front of a church holding a Bible demeans both church and sacred Scripture. It also demeans the office to which the person has been elected.
Citizens of the United States of America should look seriously at themselves and their elected leaders. Either we will determine for ourselves what kind of society we want to be, or foreign powers will gladly do that for us.
Relate Reading: A Bitter Centenary for the Hungarian People; Anarchy and the Elites; What Are American Ideals?
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
This is an excerpt from a recent article at The Conversation. The writer is Phillip I. Lieberman, Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He has received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is a social historian of the medieval Islamic world.
Plagues were a fact of life in ancient and medieval worlds. Personal letters from the Cairo Geniza – a treasure trove of documents from the Jews of medieval Egypt – attest that bouts of widespread disease were so common that writers had different words for them. They varied from a simple outbreak – wabāʾ, or “infectious disease” in Arabic – to an epidemic – dever gadol, Hebrew for “massive pestilence,” which hearkens back to language from the 10 plagues of the Bible.
During the time of the jurist and philosopher Moses Maimonides (1138-1204), who led the Jewish community of Egypt, Fusṭāṭ (Old Cairo) faced a plague so daunting in 1201 that the city’s Jewish population never returned to its former glory.
Religious people throughout history often saw plagues as the manifestation of divine will, as a punishment for sin and a warning against moral laxity. The same chorus is heard by a minority today. As a Jewish person, I am embarrassed to read that a rabbi was recently quoted as saying that COVID-19 was divine punishment for gay pride parades.
In “A Mediterranean Society,” Geniza researcher S.D. Goitein describes Maimonides’ reaction to the plague: “Whatever the philosophers and theologians of that time might have said about man’s ability to influence God’s decisions by his deeds, the heart believed that they could be efficacious, that intense and sincere prayer, almsgiving, and fasts could keep catastrophe away.”
But the Jewish community also dealt with disease in other ways, and its holistic response to epidemics reveals a partnership – not a conflict – between science and religion.
Science and religion
In the medieval period, thinkers like Maimonides combined the study of science and religion. As Maimonides explains in his philosophical masterwork “The Guide to the Perplexed,” he believed that studying physics was a necessary precursor to metaphysics. Rather than seeing religion and science as inimical to one another, he saw them as mutually supportive.
Indeed, scholars of religious texts complemented their studies with science-centered writings. Maimonides’ Islamic contemporary, Ibn Rushd (1126-1198), is a perfect example. Though an important philosopher and religious thinker, Ibn Rushd also made meaningful contributions to medicine, including suggesting the existence of what would later come to be called Parkinson’s disease.
But it was not only elite scholars who saw religion and science as complementary. In “A Mediterranean Society,” Goitein says that “even the simplest Geniza person was a member of that hellenized Middle Eastern-Mediterranean society which believed in the power of science.” He adds: “Illness was conceived as a natural phenomenon and, therefore, had to be treated with the means provided by nature.”Tending to one’s inner life
Science and religion, therefore, were both integral to the soul of the Geniza person. There was no sense that these two pillars of thought challenged one another. By tending to their inner lives through rituals that helped them deal with the sadness and trepidation, and their bodies through the tools of medicine available to them, the Geniza people took a holistic approach to epidemics.
For them, following the medical advice of Maimonides or Ibn Rushd was an essential part of their response to plague. But while hunkered down in their homes, they also looked to the spiritual advice of these thinkers, and others, to care for their souls. Those of us experiencing stress, solitude and uncertainty amid the coronavirus pandemic could learn from the medieval world that our inner lives demand attention too.
Friday, May 22, 2020
Governments across the globe are facing difficult decisions. Economist John Robertson has written about the challenges facing governments. Here are excerpts from his article
The coronavirus pandemic is reshaping the nature of political decision making as government leaders are compelled to link changes in their policies to the number of lives lost or gained.
The toughest public policy challenges since the Second World War will confront governments in the next few months as they strive to save lives while simultaneously restarting businesses shuttered by their coronavirus fighting policies.
In the face of natural disasters or calamitous accidents, every effort is thrown at finding survivors, or even saving properties, no matter how improbable the task. Only when the risk of survival is deemed to be zero does the effort subside.
The Covid-19 crisis is on a different scale. The chance of eliminating fatalities is zero. The upper limit of deaths could be in the millions. Bad, bleak and catastrophic are the three daunting scenarios confronting those in charge.
The lowest possible death toll, government leaders of every political hue and temperament agree, involves knowingly imposing unprecedentedly severe and widespread economic hardship.
However reluctantly, the most well meaning governments now have to decide how many lost lives and how much financial pain can be tolerated. There is no ducking the responsibility. Even procrastination is a choice.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
In this video, Audiey Kao, MD, PhD, talks with Kathryn Olivarius, PhD, about how yellow fever epidemics during the antebellum South provide a historical lens to examine power asymmetries and health inequities in the COVID-19 era. Dr Olivarius is assistant professor of history at Stanford University.
Thursday, February 20, 2020
In November 2019, France returned a sword to Senegal as part of its commitment to return artifacts stolen during colonial times. The sword belonged to Omar Saidou Tall, a west African ruler and Islamic scholar who led an anti-colonial struggle against the French in the 1850s.
The 2,100-year-old coffin was that of a priest called Nedjemankh who served Horus as a Ram (Heryshef). The decorated surface includes scenes and prayers in gesso relief meant to protect and guide Nedjemankh on his journey to immortality.
The coffin was looted and smuggled out of Egypt in 2011 and was sold to the Met by a global art trafficking network, which used fraudulent documents.
Thursday, February 13, 2020
On 10 February, militant Islamists killed at least 30 people and abducted women and children in Auno town on a major highway in Borno State, north-eastern Nigeria.
In 2019 the Islamic extremists expanded their terrorist attacks to Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso.
In Burkina Faso a series of attacks began on 28 April in Silgadji, when gunman rounded up a pastor, his son and four of his congregation and demanded they deny their Christian faith and convert to Islam. After refusing they were executed one-by-one. Six were then killed at a church on 12 May and four at a Christian parade on 13 May. Four were then murdered at another church on 26 May. The fifth and sixth reported attacks took place on 9 and 10 June in which 29 were butchered by Islamist extremists.
Burkina Faso is part of a five-nation regional force against extremism, known as the G5 Sahel. Islamic extremist violence has increased in Burkina Faso's north and east near its Mali border. Hundreds have been killed in the attacks thousands have fled.
Islamic terrorists attacked the Christian village of Kalau in the North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 6 March 2019. They attempted to infiltrate the village under the guise of being security agents, but some village youth warned the villagers. The militants shot the village leader’s guard dogs and then opened fire, killing six Christians, including three women and a child.
The attack was launched by members of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a group that attempted the overthrow the Ugandan government in the 90’s, seeking to replace it with an Islamic regime. The group has ties to other terrorist groups such as al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda. They are responsible for thousands of deaths throughout Uganda and eastern DRC.
Monday, February 3, 2020
Organ harvesting is a surgical procedure that removes organs or tissues for reuse, typically for organ transplantation. Organ procurement is heavily regulated in most countries to prevent unethical allocation of organs. However, it is a big business in China.
Monday, January 20, 2020
The controversial bioethicist Peter Singer has suggested that we abandon brain death altogether. He said:
“I think that the view most conducive to clear thinking about these issues is to stick with the traditional definition of death, in terms of the irreversible cessation of heartbeat and of the circulation of blood, and leave all the other issues – when one may turn off respirators, or remove the heart and other organs – as ethical questions, with the best answer not determined solely by whether the patient is alive or dead.”
In this paper Singer discusses where brain death should be thought of as an ethical matter or a matter of fact. Singer concludes that it is permissible to harvest organs from an individual who is living with brain death. That is to say, that "the irreversible loss of consciousness is a necessary and sufficient condition" for organs to be harvested.
His position is consistent with his atheist utilitarianism. As Singer has said: "Belonging to the human species is not what makes it morally wrong to kill a living being. Why should all members of the species homo sapiens have a right to life, whereas other species do not? This idea is merely a remnant of our religious legacy. For centuries, we have been told that man was created in the image of God, that God granted us dominion over the animals and that we have an immortal soul."
Peter Singer sees moral obligation in terms of the reciprocity of the Golden Rule. Before taking an action that affects another living being, one should ask if this action is something they would want done to themselves. He argues that it is ethical to euthanize the terminally ill, the handicapped and seriously sick babies as long as this can be done painlessly. This is to be a family decision and one decided on the basis of compassion. Singer stands squarely in the Positivist tradition. He rejects what he regards as metaphysical understandings of human beings. He finds “sanctity-of-life,” “human dignity,” and “created in the image of God” to be spurious notions without basis in fact.
Related reading: Peter Singer Disinvited Again; Ethics of the Post Modern Era; Is Peter Singer Joining the Transhumanism Movement?
Sunday, January 5, 2020
Alice C. Linsley
Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was born in 1919, the son of Reza Shah, an army officer who came to rule Persia after forcing out the previous Qajar dynasty with the backing of the British. He re-named his nation "Iran" and ordered foreign diplomats to cease using the name Persia.
Iran’s strong trade ties with Germany, and Western fears of possible Nazi control of the Iranian oil fields led to a Russian-British invasion of the country in 1941. At the insistence of the occupying British forces, Reza Shah abdicated in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.