Posted by Harvest Dream on Friday, February 24. 2012 in Health , Inspiration, Intelligence , Perception, Philosophy, Physical Discipline, Poverty, Scientific Advance, Social Evolution, Social Insights0 Comments More...
Source: AP/Yahoo - June 27, 2011
At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.
From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.
Egalia doesn’t deny the biological differences between boys and girls — the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct. What matters is that children understand that their biological differences “don’t mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities.”
The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden’s efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward. Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.
Egalia’s methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. But director Lotta Rajalin says that there’s a long waiting list for admission to Egalia, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school.
Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.
Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no "Snow White," "Cinderella" or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.
Source: The Vancouver Sun - June 24, 2011
It has become obvious that it was not just outsiders and anarchists taking part in the riots after Game 7
As the evidence, apologies, threats and counter threats are now playing out on Facebook and Twitter can we put to rest the claims by our politicians that the Vancouver riot was constituted by a small number of troublemakers and anarchists? As we see the faces of middle class children with potentially bright futures splashed across the media doing horrific damage and mayhem is there any doubt that there is a lot more to this than pointing blame at a few? What is it, even hours before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup, that made young men in $100 Canucks sweaters express their attitude to "The Best Place on Earth" (B.C.'s official motto) and the self-described most livable, most beautiful, most sustainable place on Earth by spitting on it?
Of course, we know from studies, that when one person spits or litters it makes it far more likely that other people will follow along. And, when people start to smash windows and burn and damage cars, and loot, that too makes it more likely that other people will follow along - especially when their inhibitions have been lowered by hours of drinking to take their minds off the fact that in the land of $1.3-million "starter" bungalows, $400,000 one-bedroom condos and $750,000 two-bedroom condos, their prospects for a middle-class lifestyle with a family of two or three children are dim indeed.
It is telling that Mayor Gregor Robertson and others interviewed about this event described it as hooligans "smearing the name of the city," who "by no means represent(ed) the city of Vancouver." Even the heroes in the event, those isolated people who tried to stop the mayhem, at great personal risk, said nothing about the morality but emphasized that they did it because they didn't want Vancouver's name besmirched.
And, the next day everyone was relieved the real Vancouver emerged, when the right kind of people came downtown and volunteered in the clean up.
The only problem, of course, is that social media soon showed that Mayor Robertson was wrong. Thousands of young Vancouverites either participated or cheered on looters and property vandals and arsonists. They raised their arms in victory with each smash and burn. Perhaps even more shocking were the young people with their latest versions of iPhones standing in the middle of a riot, or within a few feet of a burning car, about to have its gas tank blow up in a fireball, snapping photos.
More bizarre still was the willingness of most to give media interviews. In this world, obsessed with celebrities and politicians behaving badly, these young people relish the chance to appear on old-style media or new social media, as if publicity for any reason is their raison d'être. One young woman asked why as she carried away a designer purse from a looted store stated the obvious: "Because I wanted it."
What if these young people do represent what Vancouver is and what it shall be? What if they are in fact dedicated to wanting to smear the reputation of the Best Place on Earth? What if the children of those who were hippies in 1970 and moved to Vancouver as part of their cultural revolution, have themselves decided to take part in their own, very different, cultural revolution?
Has anyone considered that the youth in a city where the average income is $56,000 and the average house price is $750,000 and who have no hope of entering the middle class, no hope of getting out of their parents' basements, and who occupy their time with toys (often violent video games), tweeting short inanities to their similarly situated friends, watching ultimate fighting championships and hockey "enforcers" and drinking and smoking dope, might really want to spit all over this city and smash it and boast about it to their friends by sending the photos out on Facebook?
What if what we see being reflected are the cultural consequences of a post-religious society with no clear moral compass and no overarching guiding values?
Vancouver has adopted a Lotus Land ideology of cultural relativism in which we tell our children that there are no good cultures and bad cultures and no good versus evil (nowhere in Canada is traditional religion more passé than in Vancouver). Moreover Vancouver is the place where there is the least stigma in Canada against getting high, using illegal drugs, stock fraud, drug dealing, and a whole variety of bad behaviours.
Vancouverites like to say that their high housing prices are the result of it being such a wonderful place to live and because of our high rate of immigration. This is only a small part of the story. A series of urban planning policies and programs have resulted in increased cost of new housing, all the better to benefit those lucky enough to have already purchased their fast appreciating huts in Lotus Land.
A vast number of people in Vancouver view themselves as "secular but spiritual." Too often it means a worship of nature and the absence of discussion of values and morality. If they are raised without any clear values, is it any wonder that young people use what spare cash they have to get tattooed with fetish-like body art? There is no point saving their money for a down payment on a house if the house requires a down payment of $300,000 and a mortgage of $700,000.
The largest single business in B.C., estimated to be in the order of $7 billion dollars per year, is the cultivation and distribution of marijuana and other illegal drugs. The Vancouver stock market is rife with stock fraud and white collar crime. Vancouverites had endless money to spend on the Olympics, but not enough for proper psychiatric care for the legions of homeless wandering around the Downtown Eastside or spending their days collecting bottles and cans in the alleys to redeem at seven to 10 cents each.
The enemy is not some hooligans, some anarchists, some out-of-towners, some criminal types at all. The enemy is us and what we are bequeathing to our children in terms of moral values, of understanding right from wrong, that celebrity misconduct should be pitied not emulated, and that justice and the respect for it is a hallmark of a civilized western society. Add to that moral confusion the extended adolescence of these young adults, and we have a recipe for just the kind of behaviour we witnessed in Downtown Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Riots of 2011.
They have not smeared our reputation. We have no reputation to smear. Much of our society is behaving badly. The riots are reflective of a loss of hope and a deep seated anger that we have created in our own children.
We all need to act better and then maybe our children will follow us.
Source: The Daily Mail - May 8, 2011
As we chug ever nearer, and the outline of an old church steeple rises above a backdrop of pristine pines, it becomes clear that Sigurd is absolutely right. Slowly, the idyllic sight of what appears to be a quaint Norwegian village reveals itself, complete with cosy cottages, dirt roads and even horses and carts.
The first person we see on the island, on a wooden verandah outside a modern bungalow, is a man in swimming trunks stretched out on a sun lounger. Nils is 36. He was given a 16-year sentence for shooting dead a fellow amphetamine smuggler over an unpaid debt. Now he's relaxing between his shifts as a ferry worker.
'I spent eight-and-a-half years in a closed prison before moving here nine months ago and I'm much happier now,' he says, stating the obvious.
'I immediately trained to be a ferry worker. I'm going on a maritime course at university. I want to be a commercial captain when I get out. Normally all you leave prison with is two bin bags of clothes. It's like your life has been on pause. You just go on with all the bad habits you had before you went in.'
For many of us in Britain the idea of allowing a convicted murderer the freedom to work and mix openly with non-criminals is anathema. It offends our deeply ingrained ideas about prisons as a place of punishment and as a deterrent to possible offenders.
When he recently claimed of offenders that it was 'just very, very bad value for taxpayers' money to keep banging them up and warehousing them in overcrowded prisons where most of them get toughened up', our current Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Kenneth Clarke was widely harangued for his progressive views.
A recent opinion poll showed the British public wants harsher prison conditions; they don't agree with the Government's response to over-population and reoffending by pushing through far-reaching reforms which emphasise shorter sentences while placing prisoners in a working environment.
And yet, an extensive new study undertaken by researchers across all the Nordic countries reveals that the reoffending average across Europe is about 70-75 per cent. In Denmark, Sweden and Finland, the average is 30 per cent. In Norway it is 20 per cent. Thus Bastoy, at just 16 per cent, has the lowest reoffending rate in Europe.
'Both society and the individual simply have to put aside their desire for revenge, and stop focusing on prisons as places of punishment and pain. Depriving a person of their freedom for a period of time is sufficient punishment in itself without any need whatsoever for harsh prison conditions.
'Bastoy takes the opposite approach to a conventional prison where prisoners are given no responsibility, locked up, fed and treated like animals and eventually end up behaving like animals.
'Here you are given personal responsibility and a job and asked to deal with all the challenges that entails. It is an arena in which the mind can heal, allowing prisoners to gain self-confidence, establish respect for themselves and in so doing respect for others too.'
From Monday to Friday, he says, inmates are responsible for getting up in time to have breakfast, make themselves a packed lunch and be at their place of work by 8.30am. The working day ends at 2.30pm and 'dinner' is then served at 2.45pm in the main hall. The inmates are then free to do whatever they like until 11pm when they must be back in their living quarters.
The angry whine of chainsaws grows steadily louder as we pull up outside Bastoy's team of six forestry workers busily chopping logs for sale on the mainland. Sigurd explains that prisoners generally choose their area of work, which can be based on previously learned skills or the desire to acquire new ones.
The range of jobs available includes farming animals and crops, ferry working, fishing, DIY, laundry, mechanics and rubbish collecting; the prisoners are paid an average of 57 kronas (£6.50) a day.
Peter, 28, a Dutch truck driver sentenced to six years for smuggling 150kg of hashish in his lorry from the Netherlands, takes a break from his work as the team's tractor driver.
'In closed prison I was locked up for 23 hours a day, so I'm really happy with this job. I am treated very well here and in return I will treat them very well also. Of course it's never nice being in any prison but it could be much, much worse.'
With 120 inmates and 70 staff (35 of whom are guards) Bastoy is Norway's largest low-security prison but it is one of four others dotted around the country. The governor claims that it is his goal of self-sufficiency that both creates jobs for prisoners and provides them with a common purpose.
'The prison is self-sustaining and as green as possible in terms of recycling, solar panels and using horses instead of cars. It means that the inmates have plenty to do and plenty of contact with nature - the farm animals, wildlife, the fresh air and sea. We try to teach inmates that they are part of their environment and that if you harm nature or your fellow man it comes back to you.'
He adds that a significant advantage of the ecological approach is that due to low staffing levels and producing their own food and fuel, Bastoy is actually the cheapest prison to run in the whole of Norway.
'We have a price for each prison bed in this country and we are much cheaper to run than a conventional closed prison.'
Related Story - Putin Likens U.N. Libya Resolution To 'Crusade'
Source: WhoWhatWhy - February 23, 2011
It seems unusual for a staid, respected publication (one that has received three National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) to start treating a celebrated journalist (who himself has won two National Magazine Awards in just this past decade) as if he were nothing more than a paranoid crank.
It seems unusual, but it’s exactly what the staff of Foreign Policy has done to Seymour Hersh, following a lecture the venerated reporter gave at Georgetown University’s campus in Doha, Qatar. You may know Hersh as the dogged investigator who exposed the My Lai Massacre during Vietnam. You may know him as the staff writer for The New Yorker who published some of the earliest pieces on Abu Ghraib in May 2004. You might even know him as the man derided and then vindicated for claiming that Dick Cheney was running a secret assassination squad right out of the Vice President’s office. (In truth, the squad was and is a bipartisan affair, initiated under Clinton and still operative under Obama.)
Yet, given the Foreign Policy staff’s derisive commentary on Seymour’s January 17th talk, you would think he was some credulous rube midway through his first Dan Brown novel.
Hersh “delivered a rambling, conspiracy-laden diatribe here Monday,” Blake Hounshell reported on the magazine’s Passport blog. His delusional fantasia: The existence of ties between the U.S. Military’s Joint Special Operations Command and a secretive Catholic order called the Knights of Malta. As Hounshell elaborates:
[Hersh] charged that U.S. foreign policy had been hijacked by a cabal of neoconservative “crusaders” in the former vice president’s office and now in the special operations community:
That’s the attitude,” he continued. “We’re gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That’s an attitude that pervades, I’m here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command.”
He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, “are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta.”
Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited [sic] to “defence [sic] of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering,” according to its website.
“They do see what they’re doing — and this is not an atypical attitude among some military — it’s a crusade, literally. They see themselves as the protectors of the Christians. They’re protecting them from the Muslims [as in] the 13th century. And this is their function.”
“They have little insignias, these coins they pass among each other, which are crusader coins,” he continued. “They have insignia that reflect the whole notion that this is a culture war. … Right now, there’s a tremendous, tremendous amount of anti-Muslim feeling in the military community.”
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