Expropriating other people’s grief

What was your reaction to the shootings last week at the elementary school? If you were like me, you probably felt a combination of shock, sadness, and anger. Shock at the scale of the carnage and the age of most of the victims, sadness at the thought of the terrible grief that the loved ones of the victims must be feeling, and anger at the person who did such an awful thing. [Read more...]

Get you next apocalypse right here!

So the Mayan ‘prophecy’ proved to be a bust. Interestingly, very few of the seven million ethnic Mayans took it seriously. But five Michigan school districts closed 33 schools on Wednesday, two days early, not because they wanted students to prepare properly for the end of the world but because of rumors of violence triggered by the Mayan doomsday. [Read more...]

The US as enabler of Israel and punisher of Iran

The US has once again shown itself to be the enabler of Israel’s expansionist policies that have all but doomed the possibility of a two-state solution. As the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported, the threat of a veto by the US scuttled a resolution in the UN Security Council to oppose the recent decision by the Netanyahu government to expand its settlement program around Jerusalem. Even the UK abandoned its ally on this one. [Read more...]

Polio vaccination workers killed in Pakistan

There is grim news from Pakistan that five women volunteers in the rural areas who were administering the polio vaccine were shot dead, with the killers suspected of being Taliban, who claim that the vaccination campaign is part of a nefarious plot by the west. As a result, the UN and the Pakistani government have been forced to suspend the program in that region. [Read more...]

Peddling rubbish in the wake of tragedy

In the wake of a tragedy, we all want to comfort the bereaved. But to what extent should you make up stuff in attempting to do so?

Eben Alexander is a neurosurgeon who claims to have had a near-death experience while in a coma for a week. What he experienced apparently convinced him that there is heaven and an afterlife. He has (of course) written a book about it that has become a best-seller, since many people are desperate to believe that the end of their life will not be the end of their story and will seize on anything that promises them a sequel. [Read more...]

The shameful treatment of Khaled el-Masri by the US

The Guardian reported last week that in a historic unanimous verdict, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, Europe’s highest court, said that, “CIA agents tortured a German citizen, sodomising, shackling, and beating him, as Macedonian state police looked on.” The person who suffered such horrendous abuse was the wholly innocent Khaled el-Masri, shown below with his family, who had the misfortune to have a name similar to that of an al Qaeda suspect wanted by the CIA. [Read more...]