Monthly Archives: July 2008

Handcuffed shoplifter who stole greeting card killed by taser

Man who dies after Taser stun was handcuffed

AP | Jul 30, 2008

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An Iredell County sheriff’s deputy says a Statesville man who died after he was shocked with a Taser was in handcuffs at the time.

Anthony Davidson died in a hospital Sunday after being hit with a Taser. He was arrested Saturday and accused of taking a gift card from a grocery store.

Iredell County Sheriff’s Capt. Darren Campbell told The Charlotte Observer that Davidson ran down a hall while being escorted by three officers to the booking room in handcuffs.

Statesville police say Davidson became “physically aggressive and was communicating loudly” and officers used one or more Tasers to control him. Authorities have refused to identify the officers.

The State Bureau of Investigation is reviewing the case.

A delusion for the reality-TV era

Montreal psychiatrists Joel and Ian Gold have coined ‘the Truman Show Delusion,’ where patients claim that the world around them is an elaborate production.

National Post | Jul 18, 2008

By Craig Offman

Joel and Ian Gold, brothers and psychiatrists from Montreal, believe they have discovered a signature mental illness of the YouTube era: patients who claim they are subjects of their own reality TV shows.

They have named the malady the “Truman Show Delusion” and though they are in the process of putting together a medical paper on the topic, their discovery is already are causing a stir.

While traditionalists insist that this delusion offers nothing new – it is no different from say, a deranged man who believes that the CIA has planted a microchip in his tooth – the Gold brothers argue otherwise.

“It’s really a question of the extent of the delusion,” said Joel Gold, 39, who has been on staff at New York’s Bellevue Hospital Center for eight years. “The delusions we typically treat are narrow: There is Capgras Delusion, where someone will think his family has been replaced by doubles. Or the Fregoli Delusion, where someone believes that one person is persecuting him: a doctor, mailman, butcher. the Truman Show Delusion, though, involves the entire world.”

He also says that The Truman Show had an impact on patients that other films did not, no matter how powerful they were. “I never heard people say, ‘The Godfather, that’s my life.’ ”

While Dr. Gold says they could have easily called their new disorder the EdTV Delusion or the Matrix Delusion – both films that refer to an unreal existence – three of the five patients he treated at the storied mental health hospital directly likened their plight to The Truman Show, the 1998 film which depicts Truman Burbank, an affable suburbanite who slowly becomes aware that his every movement is broadcast 24/7 to voyeuristic viewers around the world.

The five patients Dr. Gold treated were white men between the ages of 25 and 34, the majority of whom held university degrees.

“I realized that I was and am the centre, the focus of attention by millions and millions of people,” explained one patient, an army veteran who came from an upper middle-class upbringing. “My family and everyone I knew were and are actors in a script, a charade whose entire purpose is to make me the focus of the world’s attention.”

The patient added that he planned to climb to the top of the Statue of Liberty, and if his true love were waiting for him, the puppeteer strings would be cut. If she failed to show up, he would jump to his death.

Another patient even had first-hand experience with reality TV. A 25-year-old New Englander with a bachelor’s degree in film and communication studies, he worked as intern on a program where, he complained, cameras were secretly tracking him.

Thinking that he was also being filmed while at a polling station on Election Day in 2004, he felt that it was his duty to protest against the Bush administration by shouting that the President was “Judas.” The outburst led to his admission to the Bellevue Center.

“Typically, the Truman Show Delusion is a combination of paranoia, grandiosity and ideas of reference, which means that patients believe they are receiving signals specifically meant for them from a newscast or something like that.” said Dr. Gold, adding that since he started presenting these cases at conferences two years ago, colleagues have informed him of six more examples.

Ian Gold, who holds a Canada Research Chair in philosophy and psychiatry at McGill University, added that there are unprecedented cultural triggers that might explain the phenomenon: the pressure of living in a large, connected community can bring out the unstable side of more vulnerable people.

“The wish for fame is a form of grandiosity, and the fear of threats such as surveillance can bring about paranoia,” said the Montreal-based Dr. Gold, 46, who specializes in delusion. “New media is opening up vast social spaces that might be interacting with psychological processes.”

The elder Dr. Gold said that despite all the modern technology of brain imaging, little is known about delusions, which are a common trait of schizophrenia. Most experts say there is no set criterion for a delusion beyond defining it as fixed false belief.

Austrian Thomas Stompe, a leading psychiatrist with a traditional bent, believes that there are seven kinds of delusions, period.

“A number of recent case reports published during the last 20 years described a quick inclusion of new technologies and cultural innovations into schizophrenic delusions which led many of the authors to the conclusion that the ‘Zeitgeist’ is creating new delusional contents,” warns Dr. Stompe, the lead author of a paper entitled “Old Wine in New Bottles? Stability and Plasticity of the Contents of Schizophrenic Delusions.”

Published five years ago in the journal Psychopathy, the abstract concludes that there are only a few eternal themes of “extraordinary anthropological importance”: persecution, grandiosity, guilt, religion, hypochondria, jealousy, and love.

Those other Zeitgeist developments, presumably the Truman Show Delusion among them, belong in subcategories according to this categorization.

When reached at his office in Vienna, Dr. Stompe said he had heard the buzz about the findings of the brothers Gold, but did not see anything new in them.

“I have seen someone who thinks they are part of the Matrix,” he said. “This is very near. The patient also told me that the world had changed, that there was an unreal quality in the world.”

Despite that first-hand experience and the talk about the Golds’ theory, Dr. Stompe is unmoved, asserting the unshakeable truths of his field. “The major topics are always the same.”

Beware your children: They might be ‘Climate Cops’

Company recruits kids to keep records, bust parents for ‘energy crimes’

WorldNetDaily | Jul 28, 2008

A new website campaign designed by a British power company recruits children through games, badges and cartoons to enlist as “Climate Cops,” actively keeping records on their parents and neighbors for violations of “energy crimes” against the planet.

The “Climate Cops” website encourages children to investigate family and friends and “then build your ‘Climate Crime Case File’ and report back to your family to make sure they don’t commit those crimes again (or else)!” The site also warns children that they “may need to keep a watchful eye” to prevent future violations.

A link on the site for teachers to download free materials for building lesson plans indicates the website is targeting children from ages 7-11.

The so-called crimes children are to watch for are listed on a poster (visible at right) and range from leaving the tap running and failing to use energy-saving light bulbs to running the dryer on a sunny day and putting hot food in the refrigerator.

The website also encourages children to download a series of “Climate Crime Cards” (such as the one pictured below) in which enlisted “Climate Cops” can keep an ongoing record of their family’s violation of energy “crimes.”

Recruiting children to spy on and keep records of their parents’ infractions reminds some of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi youth program, only with an environmentalist bent. The author of the blog EU Referendum wrote: “In a system which has echoes of Hitler’s Deutsches Jungvolk movement … perhaps successful graduates can work up to becoming block wardens, then street and district ‘climate crime Fuehrers,’ building a network of spies and informers.”

Hitler’s youth program, which began in the 1920s and ended in 1945, enlisted children to be trained in the ideals of the Nazi party. Eventually folded into the German Sturmabteilung, also known as the SA or the “brownshirts,” the Hitler Youth were given authority over different regions to report and keep records on neighbors, especially Jewish neighbors, as part of Nazi Germany’s fear- and propaganda-based social control efforts.

A blogger at Watts Up With That? wrote, “I find this method of indoctrinating school children to normal everyday living being harmful to the earth with the ‘climate crime’ connotation as distasteful and wrong headed.”

“I have no problems with energy conservation, in fact I encourage it,” the blogger wrote, “But combining such advice with a ‘climate cop’ idea is the wrong way to get the message across. Can you imagine what sort of reaction the neighbors will have? … Will the result of this now be hiding your electric dryer behind false walls so the kids and neighbors don’t see it?”

The “Climate Cops” website was created by the British power company npower, which has received recognition for investing in community causes through partnerships with youth sports programs, cancer victim support charities and an environmental group called The National Trust.

The website targets children with flashy graphics and cartoon characters. The site’s opening video shows cartoon depictions of hurricanes and floods, stating, “Climate change is threatening our world. The more energy we waste the worse it gets. It’s time to fight back.”

Children who visit the site can then play games, including one game in which “Climate Cops” chase down a gas-guzzling SUV that discharges incandescent light bulbs to slow them and another in which children zap as many energy wasters as they can find before a poor polar bear’s iceberg melts.

Those who complete the site’s three games receive code numbers that unlock a codeword, enabling visitors to “join the elite cadets and train to become a Climate Cop.” The codeword then unlocks a download, where successful “cadets” can print out a “Climate Cop ID”.

US annual budget deficit surging to record half-trillion as Bush leaves

AP | Jul 28, 2008

By ANDREW TAYLOR

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government’s budget deficit will surge past a half-trillion dollars next year, according to gloomy new estimates, a record flood of red ink that promises to force the winner of the presidential race to dramatically alter his economic agenda.

The deficit will hit $482 billion in the 2009 budget year that will be inherited by Democrat Barack Obama or Republican John McCain, the White House estimated Monday. That figure is sure to rise after adding the tens of billions of dollars in additional Iraq war funding it doesn’t include, and the total could be higher yet if the economy fails to recover as the administration predicts.

The result: the biggest deficit ever in terms of dollars, though several were higher in the 1980s and early 1990s as a percentage of the overall economy.

Neither campaign is backing off campaign promises — McCain to cut taxes and Obama to expand health and education programs — in light of the bleaker new figures.

“We can’t afford not to invest in some major initiatives such as health and energy and more tax cuts,” said Obama economic adviser Jason Furman.
But Democrats controlling Congress suggest that may have to change once President Bush’s successor takes office.

“Whoever becomes the next president will have a very, very sobering first week in office,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D.

McCain promises to renew the full roster of Bush tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 and add many more for businesses and upper income people who pay the alternative minimum tax. The Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010 and renewing them would soon cost well over $200 billion a year. Eliminating the alternative minimum at the same time would cost almost as much.

Obama would repeal tax cuts on wealthier taxpayers and investors but would leave most of the Bush tax cuts in place while seeking additional cuts for senior citizens, the middle class and the working poor. And he also wants lots of new spending for health care, education and many other federal programs.

“There’s a total disconnect between today’s report and what we’re hearing on the campaign trail,” said Robert Bixby of the Concord Coalition budget watchdog group.

The deficit situation confronting the next president is reminiscent of that which Bill Clinton faced in 1993. Under Wall Street pressure, Clinton abandoned promises of tax cuts and pushed a tax-heavy deficit reduction plan through a Democratic Congress.

The administration said the deficit was being driven to an all-time high by the sagging economy and the stimulus payments being made to 130 million households in an effort to keep the country from falling into a deep recession. But the numbers could go even higher if the economy performs worse than the White House predicts.

The budget office predicts the economy will grow at a rate of 1.6 percent this year and will rebound to a 2.2 percent growth rate next year. That’s a half point higher than predicted by the widely cited “blue chip” consensus of business economists. The administration also sees inflation averaging 3.8 percent this year, but easing to 2.3 percent next year — better than the 3 percent seen by the blue chip panel.

“The nation’s economy has continued to expand and remains fundamentally resilient,” said the budget office report.

A $482 billion deficit would easily surpass the record deficit of $413 billion set in 2004. The White House in February had forecast that next year’s deficit would be $407 billion.

The deficit numbers for 2008 and 2009 represent about 3 percent of the size of the economy, which is the measure seen as most relevant by economists. By that measure, the 2008 and 2009 deficits would be smaller than the deficits of the 1980s and early 1990s that led Congress and earlier administrations to cobble together politically painful deficit-reduction packages.

Still, the new figures are so eye-popping in dollar terms that they may restrain the appetite of the next president to add to the deficit with expensive spending programs or new tax cuts. In fact, pressure may build to allow some tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 to expire as scheduled, with Congress also feeling pressure to curb spending growth.

The administration actually underestimates the deficit since it leaves out about $80 billion in war costs. In a break from tradition — and in violation of new mandates from Congress — the White House did not include its full estimate of war costs.

On a slightly brighter note, the deficit for the 2008 budget year ending Sept. 30 will actually drop from an earlier projection of $410 billion to $389 billion, the report said.

McCain used the new 2009 estimates to slam both the Bush White House for its “profligate spending” and Democratic rival Obama, who has declined to endorse the goal of McCain — and congressional Democrats — to balance the budget.

“I have an unmatched record in fighting wasteful earmarks and unnecessary spending in the U.S. Senate, and I have the determination and experience to do the same as president,” McCain said in a statement. McCain again called for a full plate of multi-trillion dollar tax cuts, though campaign adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin said some modifications could be made to McCain’s economic plan to try to reach balance.

Obama’s campaign used the new numbers to assail McCain for embracing Bush’s tax cuts. As for Obama’s plans, campaign adviser Furman said the candidate would cut wasteful spending, close corporate loopholes and roll back the Bush tax cuts on upper brackets while still promising to make “health care affordable and putting a middle class tax cut in the pocket of 95 percent of workers and their families.”

Monday’s figures capped a remarkable deterioration in the United States’ budgetary health under Bush’s time in office.

He inherited a budget seen as producing endless huge surpluses after four straight years in positive territory. That stretch of surpluses represented a period when the country’s finances had been bolstered by a 10-year period of uninterrupted economic growth, the longest expansion in U.S. history.
In his first year in office, helped by projections of continuing surpluses, Bush drove through a 10-year, $1.35 trillion package of tax cuts.

However, faulty estimates, a recession in March 2001 and government spending to fight the war on terrorism contributed to pushing the deficit to a record in dollar terms in 2004.

There had been progress since then, with a $161.5 billion deficit for 2007 representing the lowest amount of red ink since an imbalance of $159 billion in 2002.

Rockefeller wanted on kidnapping and assault charges

Clark and Reigh Rockefeller (from Boston Police Department).

The Valley News, in Lebanon, N.H., said Rockefeller refused to confirm whether or not he was related, directly or otherwise, to the famed Rockefeller family. “Maybe I am, maybe I’m not; it’s not something that I would either confirm or deny,” Clark Rockefeller responded.

Boston Globe | Jul 28, 2008

Father trying to flee with daughter on yacht

Police said they believed the girl was in danger

By Maria Cramer, Globe Staff

The father accused of abducting his 7-year-old daughter during a supervised visit Sunday in the Back Bay was last seen at 7:30 p.m. at Grand Central Terminal in New York City, police said this afternoon.

Authorities fear that Clark Rockefeller may be trying to flee with his daughter, Reigh, on a 72-foot yacht that he recently purchased and had docked on Long Island. The Coast Guard is searching for the boat, which is named “Serenity” or “Serendipity.”

The FBI has also joined authorities in New York and Boston as they search for Rockefeller, who is listed as a director of the prestigious Algonquin Club of Boston.

“We are definitely concerned for her safety,” said Boston Police Superintendent Bruce Holloway at press conference this afternoon.

Reigh, known by the nickname Snooks, is a petite, blond-haired girl with glasses who speaks with a British accent. She was on her first supervised visit Sunday with her father since divorce proceedings in January 2007, according to police.

The alleged kidnapping occurred as the father, daughter, and a social worker were walking to the Boston Common from the Four Seasons Hotel at 12:45 p.m. A sport utility vehicle pulled up and Rockefeller allegedly grabbed his daughter, pushed the social worker out of the way, and jumped into the vehicle, which sped off.

The social worker, who police said works for an independent agency, grabbed onto the vehicle and was dragged several feet. He was treated for minor injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital and released, police said.

Boston Police searched the area without success, and State Police issued the Amber Alert just before 5 p.m. Police issued a warrant for the father’s arrest last night. He faces charges of custodial kidnapping, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a deadly weapon — the sport utility vehicle.

The Amber Alert was canceled this morning in Massachusetts when authorities learned that Rockefeller was spotted in New York City. An Amber Alert has not been issued in New York because it is a custodial case, according to a spokesman for the state police. New York State Police have instead issued a missing child alert, which is a step below an Amber Alert.

Boston Police are still searching for the black SUV. It was described as a black Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon, or Denali with a Red Sox license plate and Red Sox stickers on the window. That vehicle is still believed to be in the area.

WHDH-TV reported that the girl’s backpack and toy doll were left on the steps of the father’s home. The station also reported that Rockefeller was a scientist who had moved to the area two years ago and was in the midst of a bitter divorce involving a large amount of money.

The girl’s mother, Sandra Boss, a 41-year-old senior partner at McKinsey & Co., has been talking with detectives at the Four Seasons, where she has been staying since she arrived from London, where she works.

Boss is chairwoman of the Board of Trustees at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s Lenox estate.

She joined the board in 2006 because of her expertise in finance and her great love of Wharton, who wrote about New York’s high society in her novels “House of Mirth” and “Age of Innocence.”

“It’s a terrible situation,” said Gordon Travers, who sits on the board. “It’s a hideous situation. We’re all just praying and worrying ourselves to pieces.”

Boss’s daughter would play at the Mount and frolic near its pond, asking endless questions about the animals that lived in the water, recalled Stephanie Copeland, the former president and CEO of the Mount.

“I had the great good fortune of meeting Snooks and I was quite taken with her,” Copeland said. “When a child has a mind like hers where she’s just curious about everything, it’s wonderful for an adult to be around a child like that.”

Copeland said she only met Rockefeller once, when Boss introduced him to her a couple of years ago at a black-tie fund-raising event in Boston for the Mount.

“I didn’t see any signs of distress,” she said.

Police said that though there was no indication of past abuse, they believed the girl was in danger, and they asked the public for help finding her and her father.

Police described Clark Rockefeller as a white, 48-year-old man. He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, and 170 pounds with a stocky build. He was last seen wearing khaki pants and a blue polo shirt. He is listed as a director with the Algonquin Club of Boston, but officials with the social club could not be reached last night for comment.

The New York Times, in telephone interviews on Monday, contacted Amy Fitch and Michele Hiltzik, senior archivists at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., which maintains the records of the Rockefeller family associated with Standard Oil, philanthropy and politics, said there was no indication that Clark Rockefeller was a descendant of William Avery Rockefeller, the father of John D. Rockefeller Sr. and William Rockefeller.

The newspaper reported that in 2004, The Valley News, in Lebanon, N.H., said Rockefeller refused to confirm whether or not he was related, directly or otherwise, to the famed Rockefeller family. “Maybe I am, maybe I’m not; it’s not something that I would either confirm or deny,” Clark Rockefeller responded, according to the paper. “I just don’t want anything to do with the whole question.”

The New Hampshire newspaper was trying to determine Clark Rockefeller’s lineage after he reportedly wrote a $110,000 check to the town of Cornish, N.H., in exchange for a deed to a historic church.

Reigh Rockefeller is 4 feet tall, weighs 50 pounds, and has blond hair and blue eyes, police said. She was last seen at the intersection of Marlborough and Arlington streets, wearing a pink and white sundress, red shoes, and sunglasses, police said.

Authorities asked anyone with information to call 617-343-4328.

Related

Police explore the high society past of kidnapper Clark Rockefeller

Cancer doctor warns against kids’ cellphone use

Canwest News Service | Jul 28, 2008

By Tiffany Crawford

A prominent cancer specialist in the United States is cautioning parents to limit the use of cellphones by kids to emergencies because he claims the electromagnetic energy the mobile emits likely penetrates the brain of a child more deeply than that of an adult.

That claim follows on the heels of a similar warning recently issued by Canadian experts that suggests children under 10 use land lines as much as possible and limit their chatting on mobiles to short and infrequent calls.

Dr. Ronald B. Herberman of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, along with a team of international experts, has posted a report on the university’s website urging people to take precautions in the use of cellphones.

“The developing organs of a fetus or child are the most likely to be sensitive to any possible effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields,” said Herberman in one of the report’s recommendations.

“Do not allow children to use a cellphone except for emergencies.”

Health Canada says there is no scientific evidence yet to show a link between cellphone use and the development of cancer.

“So far, there is currently no convincing evidence, from animal or human studies, that the energy from cellphones is enough to cause serious health effects, such as cancer, epileptic seizures or sleep disorders,” says the federal agency on its website.

According to Herberman, the problem is that living tissue is vulnerable to electromagnetic fields within the frequency bands used by cellphones. He argues kids have a higher absorption rate because their brains are still developing.

Herberman believes because studies do not yet “clearly show they are dangerous,” people should consider them a potential health risk. He does not advocate eradicating cellphones but rather reducing exposure. Some of his recommendations include using headsets, not keeping your phone near your body and using text messaging whenever possible.

The experts also advise avoiding using a cellphone when the signal is weak or when moving at high speed, such as in a car or train, because it increases power to a maximum as the phone repeatedly attempts to connect to a new relay antenna.

In June, Toronto Public Health published a report from the medical health officer recommending parents limit children’s access to cellphones.

“The research that is available suggests that children are likely more vulnerable than adults,” concludes the report.

Toronto Health is also recommending that children use land lines and hands-free devices wherever possible.

Gulf between rich and poor in Britain wider than during Victorian times

The gulf between rich and poor in Britain’s inner cities is wider now than at any point since Victorian times, the Tories will say today.

By Simon Johnson

Telegraph | Jul 28, 2008

They highlight new research showing some of the country’s most deprived communities are literally next door to the most prosperous.

Despite their proximity, these ghettos are described as being “on a different planet” – rife with drug dealers, gangs, knives, guns and children being raised in squalor.

They say the figures are a damning indictment of New Labour’s policies.

Chris Grayling, the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “What we are seeing is the growth of a sub-culture in our society that is utterly divided from and alienated from mainstream British life.

“In many respects these communities might as well be on a different planet from the rest of us.

“This is one of Britain’s great social challenges, and the fact that it remains untouched a decade after Gordon Brown and Tony Blair won power will remain one of the great failures of this Government.”

The Conservatives claim their research, based on Government figures produced by Oxford University, shows the scale of the divide.

In areas of central London 99.55 per cent of children are officially classified as living in poverty, whereas in other parts of the same area the figure is just 0.64 per cent.

More than 80 per cent of households in one ward in Leicester are officially classified as being “income deprived”, while elsewhere in the city the figure is only four per cent.

Manchester city centre has the most divided communities in the country, with nearly half of residents in one electoral ward officially poor, while in nearby streets the figure is just one per cent.

The official unemployment rate is 5.2 per cent but there are pockets of Britain’s cities where half the working age population is dependent on benefits.

Mr Grayling will argue in a speech to businessmen in Liverpool tomorrow (tues) that the gulf in social opportunities and life expectancy “is as vast as it has been at any stage since Victorian times.”

He will compare the gang culture and deprivation of that era to today, and argue that social mobility under Labour “has come to a halt”.

In an attack on Gordon Brown’s record, Mr Grayling will claim there is a metaphoric “glass wall” around deprived areas that prevents residents from escape.

Describing the Toxteth area of Liverpool, he will say: “I can show you streets where no one works, street corners where drug dealing is the main business, children being brought up in squalor, a caged up pub with pitbulls as bouncers – gangs, knives and guns in abundance.”

Doctors’ advice to Britons: have fewer children and help save the planet

· Parents urged to consider impact of large families

· Journal highlights dangers of rising population

The Guardian | Jul 25, 2008

By Ian Sample

British couples should consider having no more than two children to help reduce the environmental impact of the rising global population, doctors have said.

An editorial in the British Medical Journal today calls on GPs to encourage the view that bigger families are as environmentally dubious as owning a patio heater or driving a gas-guzzler.

Writing in the journal, John Guillebaud, professor of family planning at University College, London and Pip Hayes, a GP based in Exeter, urge doctors to “break a deafening silence” over the use of family planning to curb the rise in population, which has been viewed by many in the community as a taboo subject.

Managing the impact of a soaring human population will be one of the most politically fraught issues governments will have to grapple with in coming decades. Although the rate of population growth has slowed since the 80s, the UN estimates the world’s population has increased by about 76 million a year this century, which drives up greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbates the destruction of wildlife habitats.

Previous efforts to limit population growth in India in the 70s and in China, with its one child policy, have made any attempt to raise the issue in Britain highly controversial.

The authors call on schools and GPs to develop education programmes to explain how a rising population is environmentally unsustainable, and how families who have no more than two children will help ensure the population remains steady or even falls.

Government figures for 2007 show that average fertility rates in England and Wales were 1.91, meaning there were 191 children born for every 100 women, but that rate has been rising since 2001.

Guillebaud argues that bringing the fertility rate down to 1.7 would lead to a halving of the population within six generations.

“Should we now explain to UK couples who plan a family that stopping at two children, or at least having one less than first intended, is the simplest and biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren?” the editorial asks. “We must not put pressure on people, but by providing information on the population and the environment, and appropriate contraception for everyone … doctors should help to bring family size into the arena of environmental ethics, analogous to avoiding patio heaters and high-carbon cars.”

The authors emphasise that couples should never be coerced into having fewer children than they wish, but the environment should become part of a couple’s decision making. The doctors, both of whom are linked to the Optimum Population Trust, a thinktank that researches the impacts of a rising population, claim that every new birth in the UK produces 160 times more greenhouse gas emissions than one in Ethiopia.

“We are not criticising those people in Britain who had large families in the past, because a lot of people had no inkling about the sustainability implications,” Guillebaud told the Guardian. “The decision that needs to be made is one that balances rights. It’s people’s right to have the size of family they choose, but surely that should be balanced against the rights of future generations.”

But the debate is complex, as a sharply falling population would have considerable economic, fiscal and social impact.

The editorial calls for improved availability of contraceptives in the developing world, where the biggest rises in population are anticipated. The authors cite the impact of widely available contraception in countries such as Costa Rica and Iran, which have cut their fertility rates.

Chris West, director of the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University, said that while there were good environmental reasons for halting the rise in human population, it would not deliver sufficient cuts in greenhouse emissions quickly enough. “If we had a way to reduce the population … it would be one way to address climate change, but in the current circumstances, it’s not a very effective way,” he said. “For all sorts of other reasons … we probably need to be aiming at zero population growth, but it’s not going to deliver emission reductions on anything like the timescale we need.”

Backstory

Humans have struggled with overpopulation since antiquity, when the Greeks were forced to set up colonies across the Mediterranean to reduce pressure on resources back home. According to some accounts, they also encouraged sexual abstinence, delayed fatherhood and introduced basic forms of abortion. In modern times, India began to control its population growth in the 50s in an attempt to alleviate poverty, but stepped up efforts in the 70s, with education programmes and state-sponsored birth control. In China it is estimated that the one-child policy brought in during the late 70s has prevented nearly half a billion births. In many countries, simply providing contraception has been enough to bring fertility rates below the figure needed to maintain a stable population, as people choose to have fewer children. In his 1729 satirical pamphlet, A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift suggested that Irish families might alleviate their poverty by choosing to sell their children to the rich for food. But nothing has been as effective in reducing the human population as the flu virus. The 1918 strain is believed to have killed more than 20 million people.

Disney’s teen siren Miley Cyrus sings “Global Warming Anthem”

Miley Cyrus flashing the secret sign, popular with rock stars, royalty and elite politicians. Photo: Annie Leibowitz

“Several moments of your consideration
Leading up to the final destination”

The green Miley: Popster Miley Cyrus pens ‘eco-anthem’

The Grist Mill | Jul 22, 2008

by Sarah van Schagen

Fifteen-year-old Disney pop starlet Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) wants America to wake up and deal with global warming … though she’s not quite sure what that means. At least, that’s what she admits in a song — dubbed an “eco-anthem” by some, though I’m curious what qualifies it as an anthem — on her new release Breakout.

It may seem not to fit on an album whose title track whines “Every week’s the same/Stuck in school’s so lame/My parents say that I’m lazy/Getting up at 8 a.m.’s crazy/Tired of bein’ told what to do/So unfair, so uncool.” But once you listen to it (or read the lyrics), you may agree with the Entertainment Weekly reviewer who suggests Miley “talks about our troubled planet as if it were a needy adolescent.” In which case, perhaps the song fits quite well.

No word yet on whether she’ll be touring by biodiesel bus, releasing the CD in ecofriendly packaging, or really doing anything more than singing about doing something. But as many artists have found recently, singing crappy eco-songs (“Hey You,” anyone?) is one step in the right direction.

Wake Up America – Miley Cyrus

Wake Up America

Oh, can you take care of her
Oh, maybe you can spare her

Several moments of your consideration
Leading up to the final destination

Oh, the earth is calling out,
I wanna learn what it’s all about,
But everything I read — global warming, going green
I don’t know what all this means, but it seems to be saying

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way

Stand up, I’ll try if you will
Wake up, it’s not a fire drill
All she needs is a little attention
Can you give her just a little attention?

Uh oh, it’s easy to look away
But it’s getting harder day by day

Everything I read — global warming, going green
I don’t know what all this means, but it seems to be saying

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way

I know that you don’t want to hear it
Especially coming from someone so young

But in the back seat, yeah, they want to hear it (they want to hear it)

So come on (turn it up)
Come on (turn it up)
So come on (turn it up)

Wake up, America, we’re all in this together
It’s our home so let’s take care of it
You know that you want to
You know that you got to wake up, America
Tomorrow becomes a new day and everything you do
Matters, yeah, everything you do matters in some way

The French Fuhrer: Genocidal Napoleon was as barbaric as Hitler

The little tyrant displays the Masonic “Hidden Hand of Jahbulon”

Napoleon was responsible for thousands of executions

Hitler had a great respect for Napoleon – and perhaps his killing ways, it has now emerged

By Christopher Hudson

Daily Mail | Jul 24, 2008

Three days after the fall of France in 1940, Napoleon, lying in his marble tomb in Paris, received a visit from his greatest admirer.

Adolf Hitler, on his one and only visit to the French capital, made an unannounced trip to the tomb in Les Invalides.

In his white raincoat, surrounded by his generals, Hitler stood for a long time gazing down at his hero, his cap removed in deference.

He was said later to have described this moment as ‘one of the proudest of my life’.

The next day, during his official sightseeing tour of Paris, Hitler again visited Napoleon’s tomb to salute him.

Conscious that his hero was known to the world simply as Napoleon, Hitler boasted that he would not need a rank or title on his gravestone. ‘The German people would know who it was if the only word was Adolf.’

Throughout the war, Hitler had sandbags placed around Napoleon’s tomb to guard against bomb damage.

Wooden floorboards were laid across the marble floor of Les Invalides so that they would not be scarred by German jackboots.

Until recently, the French would have been incensed by any comparison between Napoleon and Hitler.

But to their rage and shame, new research has shown that France’s greatest hero presided over mass atrocities which bear comparison with some of Hitler’s worst crimes against humanity.

These reassessments of Napoleon have caused anguish in France. Top politicians backed out of official ceremonies to mark what was possibly Napoleon’s greatest victory, the battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon’s Grande Armee defeated the combined armies of Austria and Russia in just six hours, killing 19,000 of their adversaries.

A street in Paris named Rue Richepanse (after Antoine Richepanse, a general responsible for atrocities in the Caribbean) has recently had its name changed to Rue Solitude.

During his reign as Emperor, concentration camps were set up and gas was used to massacre large groups of people.

There were hit squads and mass deportations. And all this happened 140 years before Hitler and the Holocaust.

Claude Ribbe, a respected historian and philosopher and member of the French government’s human rights commission, has been researching Napoleon’s bloodcurdling record for some years.

He accuses him of being a racist and an anti-Semite who persecuted Jews and reintroduced widespread slavery just a few years after it had been abolished by the French government.

The most startling of these findings, the attempted massacre of an entire population over the age of 12 by methods which included gassing them in the holds of ships, relate to the French Caribbean colony of Haiti at the turn of the 19th century.

In Ribbe’s words, Napoleon, then First Consul, was the man who, for the first time in history, ‘asked himself rationally the question how to eliminate, in as short a time as possible, and with a minimum of cost and personnel, a maximum of people described as scientifically inferior’.

Haiti around 1800 was the world’s richest colony, a slave-powered export factory which produced almost two-thirds of the world’s coffee and almost half its sugar.

The black slaves were lashed and beaten to work and forced to wear tin muzzles to prevent them from eating the sugar cane.

If the slaves were fractious, they were roasted over slow fires, or filled with gunpowder and blown to pieces.

When the slaves began to fight for their freedom, under the leadership of a charismatic African military genius called Toussaint L’Ouverture, Napoleon sent 10,000 crack troops under the command of his brother-inlaw, General Leclerc, to crush Toussaint and restore slavery.

In 1802, a vast programme of ethnic cleansing was put in place. Napoleon banned inter-racial marriages and ordered that all white women who’d had any sort of relationship with a black or mulatto (person of mixed race) be shipped to France.

He further commanded the killing of as many blacks in Haiti as possible, to be replaced by new, more docile slaves from Africa.

The French troops were under orders to kill all blacks over the age of 12. However, younger children were also killed – stabbed to death, put in sandbags and dropped into the sea.

The Haitians fought to the death for independence, which they finally declared in 1804.

Prisoners on both sides were regularly tortured and killed, and their heads were mounted on the walls of stockades or on spikes beside the roads.

Non-combatants, too, were raped and slaughtered. According to contemporary accounts, the French used dogs to rip black prisoners to pieces before a crowd at an amphitheatre.

Allegdly on Napoleon’s orders, sulphur was extracted from Haitian volcanoes and burned to produce poisonous sulphur dioxide, which was then used to gas black Haitians in the holds of ships – more than 100,000 of them, according to records.

The use of these primitive gas chambers was confirmed by contemporaries. Antoine Metral, who in 1825 published his history of the French expedition to Haiti, writes of piles of dead bodies everywhere, stacked in charnel-houses.

‘We varied the methods of execution,’ wrote Metral. ‘At times, we pulled heads off; sometimes a ball and chain was put at the feet to allow drowning; sometimes they were gassed in the ships by sulphur.

‘When the cover of night was used to hide these outrages, those walking along the river could hear the noisy monotone of dead bodies being dropped into the sea.’

A contemporary historian, who sailed with the punitive expedition, wrote that: ‘We invented another type of ship where victims of both sexes were piled up, one against the other, suffocated by sulphur.’

These were prison ships with gas chambers called etouffiers, or ‘chokers’, which asphyxiated the blacks, causing them terrible suffering.

Even at the time, there were French naval officers who were appalled at this savagery, claiming they would rather have braved a court martial than have forgotten the laws of humanity.

But from the Emperor’s point of view, gassing was a way of cutting costs. Ships continued to transport prisoners out to sea to drown them, but corpses kept being washed up on beaches or tangled in ships’ hulls.

Toussaint, who called himself the Black Napoleon, was kidnapped after accepting an invitation to parlay with a French general and shipped back to France in chains, where he died of pneumonia after being imprisoned in a cold stone vault.

Guadeloupe, an island to the east, suffered a similar fate to Haiti’s.

Once again choosing not to recognise France’s abolition of slavery, Napoleon in 1802 promoted a comrade of his, Antoine Riche-panse, to the rank of General, and sent him with an expeditionary force of 3,000 men to put down a slave revolt on the island.

During his purge, General Richepanse slaughtered any men, women and children he encountered on his route to the capital. Then he worked through a plan of extermination apparently approved by the First Consul.

A military commission was set up to give what followed a veneer of legality. Some 250 ‘rebels’ were shot in Guadeloupe’s Victory Square. Another 500 were herded down to the beach and shot there.

Richepanse and Lacrosse, the former colonial governor now restored to power, thought of piling up the dead in vast mounds to intimidate the islanders, but gave up the plan for fear of starting a disease epidemic.

Instead, using a technique which the French were to copy during the Algerian War, they sent death squads into every part of Guadeloupe to track down farmers who were absent from their homes.

These men were treated as rebels. A bounty was promised for each black man captured, and the rebels were summarily shot or hanged. The ferocity of the repression sparked another uprising, which Lacrosse subdued with the most barbarous methods yet.

‘Being hung is not enough for the crimes they have committed,’ he said. ‘It is necessary to cut them down alive and let them expire on the wheel [prisoners were bound to a cart wheel before having their arms and legs smashed with cudgels].

‘The jails are already full: it is necessary to empty them as quickly as possible.’ In this he was successful, hanging, garotting and burning the rebels and breaking their limbs on the wheel.

Lacrosse developed possibly the most fiendish instrument of slow execution ever created.

The prisoner was thrust into a tiny cage and had a razor-sharp blade suspended between his legs. In front of him was a bottle of water and bread, neither of which he could reach.

He was stood in stirrups, which kept him just above the blade, but if he fell asleep or his legs tired, he was sliced by the blade. Neither fast nor economical, it was pure sadism.

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