NY Times: For ‘Lost Boy’ of Sudan, Vote is a Homecoming

NYAL, Sudan — Joseph Gatyoung Khan made a vow, uttered in the back seat of a Land Cruiser on a very bumpy road, as he headed home for the first time in 22 years: I will not cry. He had not seen his parents for two decades. He had not set foot in his village since he marched off in 1988, an 8-year-old boy on a barefoot odyssey through one of Africa’s worst civil wars.

His story would be repeated thousandsfold, and a generation of southern Sudanese boys, scattered by the conflict, would come to be known as the Lost Boys. Sent off by their families at the height of the violence, they ended up trekking hundreds of miles through swamps, deserts and hostile territory — often in packs, sometimes chased by government bombers and slave traders, sometimes forced to be child soldiers.

Several thousand, including Mr. Khan, were eventually resettled in the United States, where they faced another difficult trial: fitting in. Mr. Khan spent the last seven years working his way up from the midnight shift in a casino, to dean’s list at the University of Iowa and buying a white Isuzu Rodeo.

But now he was coming home, as southern Sudan is finally rounding the bend of its own epic journey.

On Jan. 9, the people of southern Sudan will vote in a referendum to decide if they will split off from the north and form their own country. The election will be the capstone to a 50-year liberation struggle in which more than two million people were killed, as the Christian and animist southern part of the country fought against Arab rulers in the north. As in Darfur, the government unleashed local militias to do its dirty work, and the militias razed villages, raped women, massacred civilians and kidnapped children to sell as slaves.

Few people have forgotten those days, and the referendum is widely expected to pass, drawing a new line on the map of Africa and rearranging commercial and political alliances across this stretch of the continent. Voter registration sites have been set up in the United States, Europe and even Australia for southern Sudanese living overseas. Still, many Lost Boys are flocking back here, to cast votes in their homeland.

“We want to be in Sudan to feel that connection, to look at the graves, to think about the fallen,” said Valentino Achak Deng, whose nightmarish life on the run was the subject of the best-selling book “What Is the What?” “All that was about one thing: self-determination. Now is the time.”

But the joy of their homecomings is mixed with ambivalence, uncertainty and fear. Will the north really let the south break away? Will there be another war? “I’m afraid,” Mr. Khan said. His journey home began in Juba, the region’s main city, in early November, just in time to register for the independence referendum.

Juba is a city in flux; since a peace treaty with the north was signed five years ago, southern Sudan has been preparing for self-rule. There are new ministries and new roads, new diplomats, aid workers, merchants and oil prospectors, all circulating through a tiny airport that suddenly has 80 flights a day. But Mr. Khan was vexed by the striking inequalities — the new Hummers cruising by endless shantytowns — and the growing rumblings of tribal politics. He is a Nuer, considered the second most powerful ethnic group behind the Dinka, who control the key posts.

“Everybody knows what’s going on, but nobody’s talking about it,” he said. “My friends told me to shut up, for my own safety.” He then flew to Bentiu, the big town closest to his village, not far from the heavily militarized north-south border. This is where Sudan’s oil is. Part of the problem of dividing Sudan is that 75 percent of the country’s oil is produced in the south, but the pipelines flow through the north, meaning the south will remain dependent on the north to export its crude.

Here Mr. Khan met Stephen Gatloy Tunguar, a fellow Lost Boy he had not seen for years. They talked about all the friends who died on their childhood trek across Sudan and into the Kenyan refugee camps, from malaria, starvation, gunshots, thirst. “We’d just step over them and keep going,” Mr. Khan said.

The dirt road to Nyal runs past oil fields and into the Sudd, where the Nile River breaks into numerous capillaries. At last, Mr. Khan arrived in a lush green place that he recognized. “My God, I used to climb that mango tree,” he said. He stepped from the truck in a daze. With his half brother steadying him, he began to tread the sandy footpaths of his youth, this time wearing a pair of $135 Air Jordans.

Up the road, a tall, emaciated figure came running toward him. Her face was beautifully scarred in the traditional Nuer fashion, with swirls of tiny raised bumps, almost like little droplets of sweat, but skin. “Tell me it’s not my son! Tell me it’s not my son!” she screamed. His mother collapsed into him. He closed his eyes and hugged her. But he did not cry. His father would come tomorrow. He was a day’s canoe trip away, guarding the family’s cattle by the river.

Nyal is a place that looks hard to leave. Peace and community seem to flow out of the Hershey Kiss-shaped huts and among the unusually tall people. The civil war mostly missed here, and as Mr. Khan explained, some of the Lost Boys like him were not initially fleeing the conflict. They were sent into it, by the rebels. “My father was asked to give up his eldest son, for future purposes,” he said. Later, he was more specific. “We were child soldiers.”

That first night back home was fine. Mr. Khan kept it together. He did not share his future plans, like how he wanted to go back to law school in the United States, if he could get the money.

But the next morning was different. He was sitting in a plastic chair, dozens of women in ripped dresses singing and dancing around him, little children with runny noses and distended bellies squeezing his hand. He later said he saw himself, 22 years ago, in those children. He broke the vow he made in the back of the Land Cruiser.

“They were more happy than me,” he said. “They don’t have schools, they don’t have good hospitals, there’s a lot of mosquitoes around here, but still, still, within them, they were so happy, happier than all of us with bank accounts.”

And that made him rethink his plans.

“I belong here,” he said. “The rest of the world doesn’t need me, no, but these people, they need me. I have a reason why I’m still alive, the reason to tell the whole world that these people are good people. They are human beings, they need help, they need shoes, at least.”

But at the time, he did not say a word and just cried. His mother was confused. “Why would you cry?” she asked. “Nobody died. We’re still here. You’ve seen us. Your daddy’s coming. You should be happy.” She touched his eyes. “Don’t cry,” she said. “Never cry.”


Bob Herbert- Winning the Class War

Published in NY Times

The class war that no one wants to talk about continues unabated. Even as millions of out-of-work and otherwise struggling Americans are tightening their belts for the holidays, the nation’s elite are lacing up their dancing shoes and partying like royalty as the millions and billions keep rolling in.

Recessions are for the little people, not for the corporate chiefs and the titans of Wall Street who are at the heart of the American aristocracy. They have waged economic warfare against everybody else and are winning big time.

The ranks of the poor may be swelling and families forced out of their foreclosed homes may be enduring a nightmarish holiday season, but American companies have just experienced their most profitable quarter ever. As The Times reported this week, U.S. firms earned profits at an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter — the highest total since the government began keeping track more than six decades ago.

The corporate fat cats are becoming alarmingly rotund. Their profits have surged over the past seven quarters at a pace that is among the fastest ever seen, and they can barely contain their glee. On the same day that The Times ran its article about the third-quarter surge in profits, it ran a piece on the front page that carried the headline: “With a Swagger, Wallets Out, Wall Street Dares to Celebrate.”

Anyone who thinks there is something beneficial in this vast disconnect between the fortunes of the American elite and those of the struggling masses is just silly. It’s not even good for the elite.

There is no way to bring America’s consumer economy back to robust health if unemployment is chronically high, wages remain stagnant and the jobs that are created are poor ones. Without ordinary Americans spending their earnings from good jobs, any hope of a meaningful, long-term recovery is doomed.

Beyond that, extreme economic inequality is a recipe for social instability. Families on the wrong side of the divide find themselves under increasing pressure to just hold things together: to find the money to pay rent or the mortgage, to fend off bill collectors, to cope with illness and emergencies, and deal with the daily doses of extreme anxiety.

Societal conflicts metastasize as resentments fester and scapegoats are sought. Demagogues inevitably emerge to feast on the poisonous stew of such an environment. The rich may think that the public won’t ever turn against them. But to hold that belief, you have to ignore the turbulent history of the 1930s.

A stark example of the potential for real conflict is being played out in New York City, where the multibillionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has selected a glittering example of the American aristocracy to be the city’s schools chancellor. Cathleen Black, chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, has a reputation as a crackerjack corporate executive but absolutely no background in education.

Ms. Black travels in the rarefied environs of the very rich. Her own children went to private boarding schools. She owns a penthouse on Park Avenue and a $4 million home in Southampton. She was able to loan a $47,600 Bulgari bracelet to a museum for an exhibit showing off the baubles of the city’s most successful women.

Ms. Black will be peering across an almost unbridgeable gap between her and the largely poor and working-class parents and students she will be expected to serve. Worse, Mr. Bloomberg, heralding Ms. Black as a “superstar manager,” has made it clear that because of budget shortfalls she will be focused on managing cutbacks to the school system.

So here we have the billionaire and the millionaire telling the poor and the struggling — the little people — that they will just have to make do with less. You can almost feel the bitterness rising.

Extreme inequality is already contributing mightily to political and other forms of polarization in the U.S. And it is a major force undermining the idea that as citizens we should try to face the nation’s problems, economic and otherwise, in a reasonably united fashion. When so many people are tumbling toward the bottom, the tendency is to fight among each other for increasingly scarce resources.

What’s really needed is for working Americans to form alliances and try, in a spirit of good will, to work out equitable solutions to the myriad problems facing so many ordinary individuals and families. Strong leaders are needed to develop such alliances and fight back against the forces that nearly destroyed the economy and have left working Americans in the lurch.

Aristocrats were supposed to be anathema to Americans. Now, while much of the rest of the nation is suffering, they are the only ones who can afford to smile.

NY Times: North and South Korea Exchange Fire

SEOUL, South Korea — North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire on Tuesday after dozens of shells fired from the North struck a South Korean island near the countries’ disputed maritime border, South Korean military officials said. Two South Korean soldiers were killed, 15 were wounded and three civilians were injured, said Kiyheon Kwon, an official at the Defense Ministry.

The South Korean military went to “crisis status,” and fighter planes were put on alert but did not take off. South Korean artillery units returned fire after the North’s shells struck South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island at 2:34 p.m., said Mr. Kwon, adding that the North also fired numerous rounds into the Yellow Sea. Television footage showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, and news reports said dozens of houses were on fire.

The official North Korean news agency said in a brief statement Tuesday night that the South had started the fight when it “recklessly fired into our sea area.” The South Korean deputy minister of defense, Lee Yong-geul, acknowledged that artillery units had been firing test shots on Tuesday afternoon close to the North Korean coast, from a battery on the South Korean island of Paeknyeongdo. But he denied Pyongyang’s charge that the shots had crossed the sea border. While skirmishes between the two countries have not been uncommon in recent years, the clash appeared to have been the most serious in decades and came amid heightened tensions over the North’s nuclear program. An American nuclear scientist who recently visited the North said he had been shown a secret and modern enrichment facility.

A spokesman for President Lee Myung-bak said Mr. Lee gathered his security-related ministers and senior aides at a crisis meeting in the underground situation room at the Blue House, the presidential office and residence.  “We will not in any way tolerate this,” Mr. Lee’s chief spokesman, Hong Sang-pyo, said after the meeting. “Any further provocation will get an immediate and strong response and the South Korean military will strongly retaliate if there is anything further.”

The United States condemned the attack and called on North Korea to “halt its belligerent action,” the White House said in a statement. The attack on the island came as 70,000 South Korean troops were beginning an annual nationwide military drill called Safeguarding the Nation. The exercise has been sharply criticized by Pyongyang as “simulating an invasion of the North” and “a means to provoke a war.” The drill includes some United States forces, but a defense official said no American military personnel were on the island when it was hit.

The shelling also followed revelations of two new nuclear facilities in the North — a light water reactor under construction and a modern plant for enriching uranium that Pyongyang says is operational.

In March, a South Korean naval vessel, the Cheonan, was sunk in the area and 46 sailors died. The incident badly frayed inter-Korean relations and Seoul blamed the sinking on a North Korean torpedo attack. The North has denied any role in incident. In August, North Korea fired 110 artillery rounds near Yeonpyeong and another South Korean island, the Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said at the time. Three weeks ago, the South Korean Navy fired warning shots at a North Korean fishing boat after the vessel strayed across the Northern Limit Line. The North Korean boat then reportedly retreated.

The shelling came just days after an American nuclear scientist who visited North Korea earlier this month said he had been shown a vast new facility built secretly and rapidly to enrich uranium. The scientist, Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in an interview that he had been “stunned” by the sophistication of the new plant, where he saw “hundreds and hundreds” of centrifuges that had just been installed in a recently gutted building and operated from what he called “an ultra-modern control room.” The North Koreans claimed 2,000 centrifuges were already installed and running, he said.

The development confronted the Obama administration with the prospect that North Korea country is preparing to expand its nuclear arsenal or build a far more powerful type of atomic bomb.

Read on at- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/world/asia/24korea.html?_r=1&ref=global-home&pagewanted=all

BBC: Taliban Imposter Fools Afghans and U.S.

An impostor posing as a leading Taliban negotiator held secret talks with Afghan officials, report US media. The Afghans thought they were dealing with Mullah Akhtar Mohammed Mansour, a top Taliban commander. But he may not even have been a member of the Taliban, reports the New York Times, which broke the story.

He was paid “a lot of money”, then he disappeared, say diplomatic sources. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has denied reports he met the impersonator. The man is said to have travelled from Pakistan, where it is thought the Taliban’s leadership is based, and reportedly had three meetings with government officials. The fake Taliban leader was flown to Kabul on a Nato aircraft and taken to the presidential palace to meet Mr Karzai, unnamed Nato and Afghan officials told the New York Times.

It is not clear why Afghan officials would have had any difficulty identifying the real Mr Mansour as his face should have been well known to them, BBC correspondents say. He was civil aviation minister during Taliban rule. Doubts about the man’s identity arose after someone who knew Mr Mansour told Afghan officials he did not recognise the impersonator. “It’s not him,” an unidentified Western diplomat in Kabul, said to be deeply involved in the negotiations, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “And we gave him a lot of money.”

The Washington Post quoted Afghan officials as saying that the man was a lowly shopkeeper from the Pakistani city of Quetta. During a news conference on Tuesday, President Karzai denied the meeting ever took place. “We have not met anyone named Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour. Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour has not come to Afghanistan,” Mr Karzai said in Kabul.

“Do not accept foreign media reports about meetings with Taliban leaders. Most of these reports are propaganda and lies,” he added. Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Afghanistan refused to comment on the reports.

It is not clear whether the imposter had any links to the Taliban or if he was simply a conman. Some suggest he might have been a Pakistani intelligence agent. An Afghan intelligence official told the BBC the real Mr Mansour is a senior Taliban member in charge of weapons procurement. He was once touted as successor to Taliban founder Mullah Omar’s second-in-command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was arrested in Pakistan in January.

President Karzai has said that talks with the Taliban will be essential to end the nine-year war in Afghanistan, although diplomats have said meaningful negotiations are still some way away. In many cases the government is not sure who it is dealing with or whether they have the authority to speak on behalf of the Taliban, says the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul.

Western diplomats have previously conceded that some of those claiming to represent the Taliban have turned out to be frauds. Mullah Omar last week said rumours of talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were a ploy by Western powers. Nato said last month channels of communication had been open for some time, but were not yet at the stage of negotiation. Correspondents say there have been contacts between some insurgents and the Afghan government, although not at a senior level.

Joshua Keating- The Autocrat’s Algorithm

Published in Foreign Policy Magazine.

On Nov. 18, I used the enormously popular news aggregator Google News to search for information about the Russian alleged arms dealer Viktor Bout, recently extradited from Thailand to the United States. The top story was a dispatch from the state-controlled newswire RIA-Novosti, which essentially transcribed a statement from the Russian foreign minister demanding that Bout receive a fair trial. The other top results were a mixed bag, including Western sources like CBS News and Agence France-Presse as well as other Russian state-funded sources like ITAR-TASS and the television network Russia Today. (Typical U.S. headline: “Alleged ‘Merchant of Death’ Pleads Not Guilty.” Typical Russian headline: “Bout was psychologically pressured during flight to U.S.”)

Of course, offering news from different international perspectives is the whole point of Google News. The service was developed by Google’s Krishna Bharat shortly after the 9/11 attacks with the goal, as he later put it, of “helping people understand multiple points of view, and hence becoming wiser for it — whether they agree with it or not.” But those points of view are often coming from state-sponsored news sources in countries, like Russia and China, where independent journalists are either harassed and persecuted or outright banned. Could Google News’s level playing field be enabling authoritarian regimes to more easily get out their message?

“The web gives us the possibility to reach an audience who cannot watch us on TV, and who are more used to getting news online,” Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of television network Russia Today, told me in an email. RT, as it’s more commonly known, was founded five years ago, partly by RIA-Novosti, and is widely seen as an effort to improve Russia’s image around the world, though it denies having a pro-Kremlin bias.

Nonetheless, others detect a strong pro-Russian slant in the network’s coverage of international events. During the 2008 Georgia-Russia war, RT accused the Georgian forces of “genocide,” but reportedly instructed its reporters not to report from ethnically Georgian villages that had been attacked by Russian troops. The network has also been criticized for giving airtime to fringe anti-American political figures and 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Some mainstream Washington analysts — including this author, once — do appear on the network’s broadcasts, but sometimes find it difficult to get their views across. Judging by the results for Russia-related queries, however, RT’s website seems to be succeeding in spite of its editorial slant.

Google doesn’t disclose the complex algorithm by which it ranks search results, though that doesn’t stop news outlets (including this one) from trying to figure it out. “Search engine optimization,” or SEO, has become an obsession for media outlets looking to gain an edge on the competition in the new journalism landscape created by Google.  In an extreme example of this trend, some new online news outlets such as Associated Content and Demand Media generate content purely based on Google search queries rather than any sort of journalistic value, and newspapers are beginning to experiment with the formula.

One reason state-sponsored media often rank so high in response to specific queries might be that they’re often the main source of original information from the countries they cover. Informal studies have observed that Google tends to prioritize original reporting over re-reported content. With either shrinking news budgets or government restrictions preventing Western news agencies from covering events in countries like Iran and Russia, that gives state-sponsored outlets a clear edge. A search for the latest news on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is likely to turn up so many stories from loyal state-sponsored outlets like PressTV and Fars News because they spend a lot more time covering him and have much better access.

But some analysts wonder about the unintended consequences of this preference. “If no one’s covering the story but a news wire, a bunch of sources copying the newswire, and a state broadcaster who’s basically there to refute the news wire, is Google News doing the right thing for us by prioritizing that state broadcaster?” asks Ethan Zuckerman, senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and co-founder of the international blog aggregator Global Voices.

For example, are RT and RIA-Novosti really trustworthy sources on the brutal beating of reporter Oleg Kashin, who was nearly killed last month, likely for engaging in just the sort of journalism that these sources fail to provide? Their stories mention the frequent attacks on journalists in Russia, but fail to note, as the New York Times and AP did, that these recent crimes have nearly all gone unsolved by the authorities.

Or consider the Fars News’s coverage of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s recent visit to the holy city of Qom, which takes note of the “astonishingly warm welcome” he received in the city, proving “the nation’s strong relationship and support for the Islamic establishment.” In the foreign press, the visit was widely seen as an effort by the supreme leader to shore up support among Iran’s increasingly critical clerical elite.

It’s probably not possible, or desirable, to ask Google News to get in the business of blocking or otherwise filtering news from objectionable sources. Propaganda is often in the eye of the beholder. While few American readers object to getting their news from the BBC, partially funded by the British Foreign Office, many find the Qatari-funded satellite network Al Jazeera hopelessly biased. Should it be blocked along with the Chinese wire service Xinhua? What about stories from the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America and Radio Free Europe?

But perhaps the site could provide more information to let readers make those judgment calls on their own. “I would appreciate it if Google made it easier to check on the source and find out what we know about them, see their other coverage and maybe a profile of them. That strikes me as something that would be a reasonable way to handle it,” Zuckerman says.

Russia Profile, which is a RIA-Novosti magazine [is] astonishingly good,” says Sestanovich. “I hope the editor doesn’t get in trouble if I say that you can learn a lot about bad things that are going on in Russia from it. The journalists who work for it take professional self-respect seriously and they run high-quality pieces on all kinds of topics.”  But according to Jeffrey Gedmin, president of U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE-RL), American readers aren’t always aware of what they’re getting from more loyal state-sponsored outlets.

“They have very high production values and mix in enough real news to make it not appear completely lackey and prejudiced, but mostly it’s very much a Kremlin propaganda effort,” he says. “Do people know that what they’re watching is a wholly owned subsidiary of a hostile authoritarian government?”

While a majority of Americans now get at least some of their news online and 62 percent of online news readers say they use the Internet to find out about international events, it’s still far from clear how aware U.S. readers are of the different types of news sources available from aggregators like Google.

Simonyan rejects the notion that RT’s broadcasts are part of a propaganda effort. “Government funding does not mean being biased, just as being corporately funded does not automatically mean being independent,” she says. “Government funded and corporate funded media have one thing in common — they compete for an audience, and it is up to viewers to decide what to watch, and what not to watch.”

Of course, giving users the choice to hear all sides of the conversation is exactly what Google News is supposed to be for and why it’s so popular. But that level of choice often means that users are exposed to sources with varying levels of reliability. 

In Google’s view, readers are expected to take far more responsibility for figuring out who exactly is giving them their news. According to Gaither, that’s exactly the point: “We provide lots of different links so you can see how different sites from different geographies and political perspectives are covering the news of the day so you can make your own judgment on which sources you trust.”

In other words: Reader beware.

Soveriegn Mind Cheryl Matthews- Perception v. Reality

This topic and short paper were discussed at the weekly Sovereign Mind Meetings, to which there was a great dialoge of exchange between those who believed that all reality was subjective and those who believed that objective truths exist in the world as well (such as the scientific laws of gravity, etc.)

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information.  The word perception comes from the 15th century Latin word “perceptio or perceptionem” meaning “receiving, collecting, acting or taking possession, apprehension with the mind or senses.”

Essentially, there is a two fold process: sensation occurs, where the sensory organs absorb energy from a physical stimulus in the environment, convert and send the energy into neutral impulses to the brain; perception is the physical process of “collecting material data” in order to deducing meaning or constructing our reality from the things we hear, see, touch, taste, and feel (our 5-peepholes to the universe). By funneling these sensory neural impulses through the limitations of our 5-senses (biology), culture, past-experiences, what we are told to fixate on, etc, we selectively fixate on things in our environment and ultimately construct a picture of our reality.

 So what is reality? Although artwork is beautiful, it is only a glimpse into the mind of someone else – how they fixated on certain objects and translated the objects into symbols containing meaning. Physics, likewise, is the study of how others perceived the universe, converted their sensations into numbers, and plugged the numbers into equations that produced another number, which they gave meaning.

 At this cultural and technological juncture, there is little that we actually perceive first hand (at least speaking for myself). With television, movies, itunes, telephone, cameras, skype, facebook, etc., there are barriers between the concrete material word and our senses, which create this funneling system (which I mentioned above) not after the sensation process begins, but before. What I mean is that receiving sensations first hand requires an interplay between many different senses – from which we are able to gather more information (sensory data) in order to create more complex and varying temporal realities and meaning. By creating a technological barrier between our senses and the material world, we limit our perception (gathering of data) to one, or at most, two senses (eyes and ears). This is what I call: the Dulling of the Senses.

 EX: having conversations on the telephone, we hear the sound-waves from someone’s vocal chords translated over wires, microphones, and electrical conductors (I definitely don’t know the true mechanism, but please follow my thought process), through the receiver of an electrical device. Although a telephone does assist in our ability to communicate with others over a greater amount of space-time – allowing this to be the primary means of intimate communication (especially with friends and family) may (although I have not done any studies) affect our ability to encode deeper and more complex neural imprints of these people.

Another example: television is the most widely used telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images. The images are distorted through the use of high-powered radio-frequency transmitters that broadcast these distorted images through the TV receivers (however big or small). Now, these distorted images are translated through digital signals. After this funneling process occurs, with our eyes, we view and intake the limited waves lengths light, process this data, and give this information meaning.

 As the level of sensation is dimmed, the ability to perceive and thereby construct a variety of “out-puts” or meaning is also affected. I believe this can ultimately affect our sense of reality.

 My theory is that when this dulling occurs, in addition to creating weaker and less complex neural and psychological imprints, we either loose trust in our sensations and perceptions, accept others ascribed meanings and explanations for the unperceived material word, or seek for outside sources to ascribe meaning to perceptions.

The author has a blog I reccomend- http://cee-note.com/blog/

Al Jazeera English: Haiti Cholera Protests Turn Violent

At least two people have been killed during clashes between protesters and UN troops in Haiti, where a cholera epidemic has claimed over 900 lives in about three weeks.

Protesters, who hold Nepalese UN peacekeepers responsible for the cholera outbreak, threw stones and threatened to set fire to a base in the country’s second-largest city of Cap Haitien on Monday, Haitian radio and eyewitnesses reported. There are also unconfirmed reports that one UN peacekeeper has been shot dead. The UN has denied that the Nepalese mission is responsible for the outbreak.

Troubled relationship

Al Jazeera’s Cath Turner, en route to Cap Haitien, said that the situation “has been brewing for a while” with “very tense relations” between the UN peacekeepers stationed there and the local community.

“Back in August, a 16-year-old boy was found dead – he was hanging from a tree. And the Haitians believed that he was killed by the troops up there,” she said. But the troops claimed the boy had committed suicide, and there was never a formal investigation into the boy’s death, she added. “As you can see, this is really the next phase of this deadly cholera outbreak – this real frustration against the troops – and these people in this community also believe that the UN troops, particularly the Nepalese, are responsible for bringing cholera into this country.”

There are Nepalese as well as Chilean troops in Cap Haitien. This isn’t the first protest in Haiti, where crowds have taken to the streets, expressing anger at the Haitian government and the UN for failing to contain the outbreak. 

Spreading epidemic

There are now cholera cases in every part of Haiti and UN agencies expect a “significant increase” in the number of people affected, a top UN official said on Monday. “We have cases in every department,” Nigel Fisher, a UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Haiti, said.

The UN and Haiti government had started a review of the epidemic and Fisher said that officials “foresee a significant increase” in the number of cases. He also said it was not unusual for hundreds of thousands of people to be hit by cholera in such an epidemic but added that many would be mild cases. Dr Jim Wilson, from the Haiti Epidemic Advisory System, told Al Jazeera that the protests would make controlling the epidemic even more difficult. “What it means, ultimately, is more lives will be lost to the disease if we cannot get in there to provide medical support,” he said.

The Haitian health ministry’s latest figures put the number of dead at 917 with more than 14,600 people treated in hospitals.