12 months ago
9 Circles! Wednesday: World Terrorized, US Depressed Nine Circles of Hell!
Your bitter blind broke gap-toothed radio show host Chuck Mertz blogs ‘The Nine Circles of Hell!‘ every week day, Monday through Friday, at Noon (US central). It’s all the news that give you fits in print, nine reminders that ‘This is Hell!’
Click on any of the Nine Circles! in bold to go directly to the original article.
India’s women protest after more gang rapes go unpunished.
The Associated Press tells us, “The hours-long gang-rape and near-fatal beating of a 23-year-old student on a bus in New Delhi triggered outrage and anger across the country Wednesday as Indians demanded action from authorities who have long ignored persistent violence and harassment against women.
“In the streets and in Parliament, calls rose for stringent and swift punishment against those attacking women, including a proposal to make rapists eligible for the death penalty. As the calls for action grew louder, two more gang-rapes were reported, including one in which the 10-year-old victim was killed.
Smitha, a 32-year-old protester, said, “I feel it is sick what is happening across the country. It is totally sick, and it needs to stop.”
The AP continues, “Thousands of demonstrators clogged the streets in front of New Delhi’s police headquarters, protested near Parliament and rallied outside a major university. Angry university students set up roadblocks across the city, causing massive traffic jams.
“Hundreds rallied outside the home of the city’s top elected official before police dispersed them with water cannons, a move that earned further condemnation from opposition leaders, who accused the government of being insensitive.”
The protests are not stopping the rapes.
The AP explains, “As protests raged in cities across India, at least two girls were gang-raped, with one of them killed.
“Police on Wednesday fished out the body of a 10-year old girl from a canal in Bihar state’s Saharsa district. Police superintendent Ajit Kumar Satyarthi said the girl had been gang-raped and killed and her body dumped in the canal. Police were investigating and a breakthrough was expected soon, Satyarthi said.
“Elsewhere, a 14 -year old schoolgirl was in critical condition in Banka district of Bihar after she was raped by four men, said Jyoti Kumar, the district education officer.
“The men have been identified, but police were yet to make any arrests, Kumar said.
“Meanwhile, the 23-year-old victim of the first rape lay in critical condition in the hospital with severe internal injuries, doctors said.
“Police said six men raped the woman and savagely beat her and her companion with iron rods on a bus driving around the city — passing through several police checkpoints — before stripping them and dumping them on the side of the road Sunday night.
“Delhi police chief Neeraj Kumar said four men have been arrested and a search was underway for the other two.”
The AP adds, “In New Delhi and across India, the outpouring of anger is unusual in a country where attacks against women are rarely prosecuted. The Times of India newspaper dedicated four pages to the rape Wednesday, demanding an example be made of the rapists, while television stations debated the nation’s treatment of its women.”
So why is this happening in India?
The AP says, “Analysts and protesters said the upsurge of anger was chiefly due to increasing incidents of crime against women and the seeming inability of authorities to protect them.
Sehba Farooqui, a women’s rights activist, is quoted by the AP saying, “We have been screaming ourselves hoarse demanding greater security for women and girls. But the government, the police, and others responsible for public security have ignored the daily violence that women face.”
The AP adds, “Farooqui said women’s groups were demanding fast-track courts to deal with rape and other crimes against women.
“In India’s painfully slow justice system, cases can languish for 10 to 15 years before reaching court.
Ranjana Kumari, a sociologist and head of the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research, says, “We have thousands of rape cases pending in different courts of the country. As a result, there is no fear of law.”
And Farooqui said, “We want this case to be dealt with within 30 days and not the go the usual way when justice is denied to rape victims because of inordinate delays and the rapists go scot-free.”
The AP informs us, “Analysts say crimes against women are on the rise as more young women leave their homes to join the work force in India’s booming economy, even as deep-rooted social attitudes that women are inferior remain unchanged. Many families look down on women, viewing the girl child as a burden that forces them to pay a huge dowry to marry her off.”
The AP concludes with, “Rapes in India remain drastically underreported. In many cases, families do not report rapes due to the stigma that follows the victim and her family. In other instances, families may decide not to report a rape out of frustration with the long delays in court and harassment at the hands of the police. Police, themselves are reluctant to register cases of rape and domestic violence in order to keep down crime figures or to elicit a bribe from the victim.”
A protest against a deadly and recurring threat.
Maybe the US can learn something from the world’s oldest democracy.
Serbia is “failing to acknowledge the needs of wartime rape survivors.”
Reuters reports, “Twenty years on … thousands of Bosnian Muslim women whose search for recognition and support from the Bosnian state is being blocked by Bosnian Serb leaders who fear a wave of compensation claims. Her sister died at the hands of their torturers.
“Rights groups are losing patience, warning that the psychological toll is only getting worse with time.
Amnesty International wrote in October, “The silence surrounding the wartime rape of women in the Serb Republic … is deafening,”
Reuters offers, “Fewer than 40 rape cases have been prosecuted in the 17 years since the war ended, and legislation at the state level to extend compensation and rehabilitation rights to rape victims of the war is gathering dust, hostage to ethnic politicking.
“The lesson of Bosnia has spurred a push by Britain to raise awareness of sexual violence in war when it takes over the chairmanship of the G8 group of industrialized nations next year.
“Under the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the British government plans to send police officers, lawyers, psychologists and forensic experts to Bosnia and other conflict and post-conflict countries to work with local authorities on the issue.”
The fight for women’s rights In Bosnia is ongoing.
“At least three separate bids have been made in recent years to enshrine the rights of wartime rape victims in state law, so far without success. Bosnian Muslims accuse the Serb Republic of blocking their efforts.”
Reuters cites Amnesty International saying the Serb Republic “is still failing to acknowledge the needs of wartime rape survivors – indeed, the existence of a problem at all.”
“[Authorities] have never made a meaningful attempt to collect data on this population, to understand and quantify their problems or to develop policies that would address their specific needs.”
Wars start, but they never end.
A Mexican prison break has left 19 dead.
According to Fox New Latino and The Associated Press, “A shootout during a failed prison break at a penitentiary in northern Mexico late Tuesday has left at least 13 inmates and nine guards dead, authorities said.
“The inmates tried to climb the prison’s back walls and when guards fired into the air to stop them the firefight ensued, according to a statement by the Public Safety Department. It happened at the Cereso No. 2 facility in the city of Gomez Palacio, state of Durango.
“The state’s Secretary of Public Security, Jesús Holguín said in a radio interview Wednesday that his office is investigating the use of weapons by inmates in the prison.
“He explained that the mutiny alarm went off around 5 pm Tuesday. The inmates started firing guns into the watchtowers and the guards, he said, which was followed by a escape attempt.
“According to reports in the Mexican media, the conflict stemmed from a surprise transfer of 137 inmates to different prisons, which happened Sunday night and early Monday morning without warning by the federal authorities.
“The outraged relatives said the transfer was arbitrary and unjustified, and requested the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission.”
“Mass prison breaks are not uncommon in México. In September, more than 120 inmates escaped from a prison in the border city of Piedras Negras, across the border from Eagle Pass, Texas.
“Authorities attribute the jailbreaks to drug gangs trying to swell their ranks as they fight bloody turf battles throughout Mexico, including Durango, where the Sinaloa and Zetas drug cartel are fighting for control.
Two people broke out of a downtown Chicago jail yesterday. They’re still on the lam.
Two escaped, none died.
In Mexico, dozens attempt an escape and 19 die.
Guess which one will not get any coverage on the nightly TV network news?
Mexico’s drug war policy has actually created more gangs.
The Guardian explains, “The fracturing of Mexico’s organised crime syndicates by a government-led crackdown on drug cartels has created between 60 and 80 new trafficking gangs, according to the nation’s attorney general – far more than were active six years ago.
“Speaking on Mexican radio on Tuesday, the attorney general, Jesús Murillo Karam, said former president Felipe Calderón’s efforts to stamp out drug trafficking by going after the kingpins had only succeeded in splintering the gangs, spawning many smaller and more dangerous criminal syndicates.
“The critique extended an attack by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s new government on Calderón’s security policy, which focused on killing and capturing the heads of cartels.
“Murillo Karam told MVS Radio officials were working to identify all of the country’s 60 to 80 small- and medium-sized drug trafficking gangs. In its last public evaluation of the strength of Mexico’s cartels, the Calderón administration issued a report in August naming only eight large organisations. It said, however, that at least one cartel – the Beltrán-Leyva group – had split into fragments after a government offensive that killed its leader.
“Murillo Karam elaborated on the new administration’s criticism of the Calderón strategy, holding it directly responsible for a rise in kidnappings and related crimes over the last six years.”
Murillo Karam says, “It led to the seconds-in-command – generally the most violent, the most capable of killing – starting to be empowered and generating their own groups, generating another type of crime, spawning kidnapping, extortion and protection rackets.”
The Guardian ends with, “Calderón repeatedly emphasised before leaving office that his forces had captured 25 of Mexico’s 37 most-wanted drug lords – a strategy backed by the US government with hundreds of millions in funding and close co-operation with American law enforcement, military and intelligence agencies.
“Osorio Chong and Peña Nieto have promised to move away from that focus on leaders and towards reducing crimes against ordinary citizens – most importantly homicides, kidnappings and extortion. Nearly three weeks into their administration, however, they have offered few details on how they will do that.”
Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that the US secretly supported the Calderón drug war strategy?
There have been more murders of anti-polio workers in Pakistan.
The Guardian tells us, “Three more health workers vaccinating children against polio have been shot dead in Pakistan in attacks blamed on Islamic militants, bringing the total killed this week to eight.
“Wednesday’s attacks all took place in the restive western frontier province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – one just outside the city of Peshawar and two others in the town of Charsadda. Two men and a woman have been killed.
“The volunteers were taking part in a three-day government-led drive, supported by the World Health Organisation and Unicef, to vaccinate tens of millions of children at risk from polio in Pakistan.
“After a decades-long struggle by multilateral organisations, governments and NGOs worldwide, the disease is now endemic only in three countries: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.
“On Tuesday, a teenage volunteer was killed in Peshawar and four others were killed in the southern city of Karachi.
“It was not clear who was behind the shootings but Taliban insurgents have repeatedly denounced the anti-polio campaign as a western plot. Relatives of those shot earlier this week said several of the victims had received death threats in recent days.
“Some confusion has emerged about whether and to what extent the anti-polio drive has been halted after a security meeting between officials in the hours following Tuesday’s killings.”
So why kill polio workers?
The Guardian explains, “Some Islamists and Muslim preachers in Pakistan say the polio vaccine is a western plot to sterilise Muslims to stop population growth. Other religious leaders have tried to counter that myth.
“However there has been a severe backlash against immunisation for polio and other diseases in Pakistan since the CIA used a local doctor to set up a fake vaccination programme as the agency closed in on Osama bin Laden in his hiding place in the northern town of Abbottabad last year.”
That really does need to be repeated every time this happens: the CIA put in danger volunteers who fight diseases deadly to kids.
Someone needs to be held accountable.
America’s drone campaign has brought a ‘reign of terror’ on Pakistan’s kids.
Asia News International says, “America, which claims that its drone campaign is effective in fighting the Al-Qaeda and other terror outfits in Pakistan, has unleashed a reign of terror amidst children in the country’s tribal region.
“Nabeela and Naeema – both cousins aged below 10 – survived a recent drone attack in the Tappi area, 15 kilometres from Miramshah, the main town in North Waziristan Agency, reports The Express Tribune.
“Eight-year-old Nabeela said she was looking after the animals and her three brothers were harvesting the crops when she heard a drone strike. She said the shrapnel hit all of them and eight members of her family were wounded. Subsequently, the family fled from their village.
“Nabeela said she does not want the US drones to fly over her village again. Her cousin Naeema said she was playing with other children when the drone fired missiles, injuring her. She said she cried in pain as her arm bled after the shrapnel hit her.
“According to a September 2012 US study, US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed far more civilians than the US has acknowledged, traumatised innocent tribesmen.
“The study by Stanford Law School and New York University”s School of Law called for re-evaluation of the strategy, saying the number of ‘high-level’ targets killed as a percentage of total casualties were extremely low – about two percent.”
Rafiqur Rehman, whose mother was killed in the strike, is quoted saying, “Was my 65-year-old mother a terrorist or are these little girls terrorists? I want to ask our government and the world community as to why don”t they raise (their) voice for our children.”
American culture seems to have a knack for terrorizing kids.
A new version of TB is coming to the States.
The Wall Street Journal tells us, “The US beat back multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in the 1990s. Today, however, a new threat is emerging as drug resistance worsens abroad and far more dangerous strains develop and spread, including some that are all but untreatable with standard drugs.
“In the US, rates of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis remain low, but are starting to inch back up, as hundreds of millions of American citizens and foreigners alike travel to the US from abroad every year. At the same time, funding and expertise are in decline.”
The Journal quotes Kenneth Castro, director of the division of tuberculosis elimination at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, saying, “What’s worrying me personally is that I’m seeing a resurgence of complacency.”
They also have Barbara Seaworth, medical director of the Heartland National TB Center in San Antonio, saying, “We cannot be safe in the US” adding outbreaks are “absolutely” possible in the US.
The Journal explains, “Tuberculosis, an airborne disease characterized by the coughing of blood, is one of the world’s great killers. In some developing countries, drug-resistant strains are rampant. A doctor in India this year startled the global health community by finding patients carrying a particularly dangerous strain—one all but incurable. The Wall Street Journal in November detailed how long-standing global strategies for fighting TB have unintentionally helped make the disease harder to cure.”
I’ve already linked two stories on Mexico, and I don’t mean to be piling on, but …
“In parts of Mexico, drug-resistant TB flourishes. Treatment of regular TB isn’t always vigilant, and medicines that can tackle drug-resistant TB became available there only recently.
“Complicating matters is Mexico’s gang violence, which prevents US public-health experts from visiting many nearby areas to train medical teams …
“Shortages of TB drugs in the US have become acute enough that the government is in talks with the World Health Organization to tap a service that more commonly helps poorer countries obtain drugs. The goal would be to arrange for the importation of drugs produced in other countries … ”
I’m sure America’s privatized public health services will handle TB — and profit handsomely.
Well, they’ll at least profit handsomely.
Fat fines are coming down in the Libor scandal.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “In the largest fine issued so far in a probe of interest-rate manipulation by major banks, UBS has agreed to pay a $1.5 billion to US and European authorities.
“The Switzerland-based bank said it had reached settlements with the Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission the US as well as with British and Swiss authorities. A division of the bank in Japan also agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud related to the scandal.
“The settlement is the latest concerning the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor, a benchmark interest rate that is supposed to be an average of certain rates offered by major banks. Authorities say that during the financial crisis, banks manipulated their submissions to the group that calculates Libor, in part to make the banks appear healthier.
“UBS is paying much more than the $450 million that Britain’s Barclays Bank agreed to pay in the scandal. Days after that agreement was announced in June, most of Barclays’ top management, including Chief Executive Bob Diamond and Chairman Marcus Agius, resigned.”
The Times continues, “Britain’s Financial Services Authority released information Wednesday indicating that UBS traders “routinely” made requests to people at UBS responsible for submitting Libor data, urging them to adjust the rates to benefit the traders. At least 45 people at the bank were aware that manipulation was going on, the authority said.”
Tracey McDermott, the FSA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, is quoted saying, “The findings we have set out in our notice today do not make for pretty reading. They manipulated UBS’ submissions in order to benefit their own positions and to protect UBS’ reputation, showing a total disregard for the millions of market participants around the world who were also affected by Libor.”
The Times adds, “Authorities seem to be stepping up prosecution of individuals related to the Libor scandal. Last week, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office arrested three men, including a former UBS trader, in connection with the rate-rigging scandal.
“The agreement with UBS marks the second billion-dollar settlement in recent days for alleged financial misconduct. Last week, HSBC agreed to pay a $1.92-billion fine after a probe of laundering drug money.”
Why must the government interfere with the market?
I’m sure it would operate fairly if we would simply let them do their thing.
Depression has become America’s top disability, surpassing asthma.
Nature tells us of “new data showing an increasing contribution of mental and behavioral disorders to deterioration in the health-related quality of life among teenagers in the US and Canada over the last two decades, and increases elsewhere around the globe.
“The estimation of ‘years lived with disabilities’, or YLDs, is used as a collective metric to determine how much a particular disorder deprives the population of healthy years of life during a particular window of time. In 2010 just as in 1990, depression ranked as the number two contributor of YLDs, affecting 4% of the global population, eclipsed only by back pain that affected almost 10% of population worldwide. Among 10 to 14 year olds, the top contributor worldwide is iron deficiency. Asthma had been the largest contributor to YLDs for youths in that age range in the US and Canada in 1990, but the study published in The Lancet on Thursday led by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, Seattle showed that in this group depression surpassed asthma to claim the number one spot in 2010. In that group, the collective number of ‘years lost to disability’ grew from about 140,000 in 1990 to almost 180,000 in 2010, a 30% increase. Notably, global figures for the same age group show that the number of years lost to disability from depression grew from 4.9 million in 1990 to 5.5 million in 2010, a 13% increase as shown in the graphs below.
“A question remains as to whether the change in numbers reflects an actual increase in children who develop depression, or better diagnosis, documentation and the way healthcare practitioners and policy makersview mental health now compared with 1990.”
Mohsen Naghavi, an author of the study and a health expert at IHME, says, “There is a good possibility that the rise in disease burden related to mental health in some regions is due to better diagnosis, at the same time, the magnitude of the rise in some areas should draw policymakers attention, as should the very high level of the burden from mental health problems across regions …
“When you are seeing more years lived with disability from depression and anxiety than you are from most injuries, chronic diseases and infectious diseases, then you need to start thinking about addressing them by borrowing from lessons we have learned from those other areas or by innovating new tools.”
Nature also quotes Jurgen Unutzer, a psychiatrist and behavioral scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle, saying, “We haven’t done as good a job with improving care for depression and reducing its burden as we have for other conditions that were considered important in the 1990 estimates.”
Yesterday, I posted a link to a story that said most Americans say they have suffered mental illness.
Today, we learn depression is now America’s leading disease.
Maybe it’s time we re-think America and why it makes us all so sad and crazy.
On second thought, let’s only offer new gun laws (that will be overturned) and metal detectors (that will be shot up by the next killer) as solutions to our nation’s problems.
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