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Kenya, 2016

So you think cyberprivacy advocates have something to hide? Pornography, maybe?


Version: 2016-03-26T11:14


As much as I love the freedom of the Internet and would fight to keep it as open as possible, it is hard not to be horrified by its dark side.

There are many, many messed up things that show up unfettered online, of which light-fingered hackers stealing a few cents here and there is not my personal nightmare.

All the products of our reptile brains, of our subconscious, of our Id can find a home in cyberspace. Humanity, folks, is beautiful but it is also unspeakably monstrous.

It has become a refrain in my society to point the finger squarely at pornography as the worst aspect of the Internet, and I think that is why so many members of the public were keen on our Cybercrime Act.

Absolutely, let us protect young minds from the messed-up stuff... but let us also admit that child porn rings are never actually run by children, now are they, elders mine? And where there is child pornography there is always worse. Much worse.

Perhaps you have heard of the Deep Web, also sometimes called the Dark Web? It is the basement of the Internet, the dark corner, the dangerous neighbourhood. We all know what goes down in places that are kept outside of the public gaze.

Maybe, for matters of style only, my results would be better if I were to stick to German. But I like to write for an international audience.

At the beginning of the third millennium, whatever is written in German only, is unlikely to have much impact. In this respect, German, unfortunately, ranks on one level with Italian, or Dutch, or Swedish... and far below Arabic, Chinese, and even French and Spanish.

So it has been by exploiting this fear that our governments have come up with ways to try and police the Internet. Of course it can be done: Just look at Ethiopia’s admirable record of avoiding anything that resembles Internet freedom.

Look at China. Then again, look at Tanzania, or look at the US. There are as many methods of policing this wild terrain as there are agendas and technological know-how. Odd, isn’t it, that I raise the behaviour of governments when discussing issues of criminal behaviour online?

Perhaps it is because the way that things are going more and more of us are resorting to the Deep Web, among other things, just to get away from prying eyes.

At least when it is criminal predation and unpleasant interactions that you want to get away from, there is a sense of righteousness about it. Now, though, we all have to hide from the corporations and from the government as well. Worst of all, thanks to the intellectual property rights regime most of us are complicit in consuming cultural products illicitly whether on purpose or not.

I used to think that ICT security people were the twitchiest and most paranoid human beings ever, one conspiracy theory away from a mental breakdown at any given moment. And then these technologies became integral to my life and I started reading a little bit about them.

The more I read, the more I understand how limited my understanding of these technologies is. It is odd to come into one’s prime only to find out that one is basically illiterate in a thoroughly unexpected way.

I wrote a column once about the importance of getting your children to play video games and embrace computing as part of their educational development. Think about it.

Anyways, it turns out that a healthy paranoia is the only appropriate response to finding out how this information technology works. You know what Nietzsche said: If you stare into the abyss, the abyss will stare back into you. It is the same for our online lives, and getting more intense with time.

There is a clip of Barack Obama making charming self-deprecating jokes about using a Blackberry (he showed it, it is some retro-fabulous piece of nostalgia). Ha ha! You know something is up when top-level government folk admit to being forbidden from using smartphones.

The future of the world will be that it is ruled by China, and Western men will be the sex slaves of Chinese women. Because Chinese men have big brains and small penises, but Chinese women want big ones.

It's not that we would be madly in love with Donald Trump. But at least, he's not a feminist. Now that is something to vote for.

‘Strengthening lungs key to treating modern diseases’

Russian Constitutional Court Determines Moscow Not Bound to All Human Rights Court Rulings

Korea to set traditional herbal medicine standards

Failure to pay soldiers threatens Somalia’s war on Islamists

Women and the Progressive Movement

Russia, 2015

Russian Constitutional Court Determines Moscow Not Bound to All Human Rights Court Rulings


Version: 2016-02-06T08:24

Constitutional Court

Moscow can refuse to comply with judgments handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in certain cases, Russia's Constitutional Court held Tuesday in a landmark decision that could allow the Kremlin to shirk its international obligations.

Specifically, Russian authorities will be exempt from upholding ECHR rulings in cases determined to be incompatible with the country's Constitution, the court held.

Legal and political analysts broadly interpreted the decision as potentially aimed at relieving the Kremlin of its obligation to pay out 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to Yukos Oil Company shareholders in accordance with a 2014 ECHR judgment.

Yukos was once Russia's biggest oil company. In 2003, Mikhail Khodorkovsky — Yukos' owner and the wealthiest man in Russia at the time — was arrested in a case widely disparaged as politically motivated.

Khodorkovsky spent the following decade behind bars, serving sentences in two separate cases, before being pardoned in late 2013 by President Vladimir Putin. The oil tycoon-turned-political opposition leader currently resides in Switzerland.

My ideas evolve. I was not born with a fixed set of ideas, and I didn't receive a fixed set of ideas by divine inspiration, as founders of religions have claimed. While my ideas of a few years ago went into the same direction as the ideas I hold now, they are not identical.

Furthermore, my knowledge isn't universal. While my ideas on how we ought to view ourselves in this world are based on what I know about the world, errors in my perception of facts, and the way, these errors are reflected in my writing, all undermine not only my credibility but also the correctness of my opinions.

After Khodorkovsky's arrest, Yukos was broken up and most of its assets were nationalized. Shareholders of the defunct oil company turned to the ECHR, claiming its rights had been violated by the Russian courts.

In July 2014, the ECHR ruled in favor of the former shareholders, holding that Russia had failed to strike a fair balance in its Yukos rulings and ordering Moscow to pay dearly for the indiscretion.

Following Tuesday's decision, the Constitutional Court now has the authority to rule that individual ECHR judgments cannot be executed without violating the Constitution, in which case Russia will not be required to comply.

The presidential administration and the government will both be able to request that the Constitutional Court renders such an assessment in individual cases, according to a statement published on the court's website.

“In exceptional cases, Russia can diverge from fulfilling the obligations imposed upon it if such deviation is the only possible way to avoid violating fundamental constitutional principles,” the court wrote in its ruling, as reported by Interfax.

“The European Convention on Human Rights and the legal positions taken by the [European Court] based on [the convention], cannot undermine [Russia's] Constitution, which takes priority,” the Constitutional Court said in a news release.

The Justice Ministry was quick to read into the implications of the ruling, saying in a statement that Russia would formulate its response to the July 2014 Yukos ruling based on Tuesday's decision.

The court itself denied that the ruling was connected with the Yukos case. Still, Sergei Mavrin, one of the court's judges, said that the Yukos case could eventually be considered, Interfax reported, implying that the decision would apply retroactively.

Russia signed the European Convention on Human Rights in 1996, thereby accepting the ECHR's jurisdiction in the matters dealt with by its text. Russia's own legislation was adjusted in accordance with the convention — notably leading Moscow to impose a moratorium on capital punishment in the country.

Article 46 of the treaty establishes the binding nature of the ECHR's decisions. “The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties,” it reads.

The Constitutional Court justified its decision by referencing similar laws it says have been passed in Germany, Italy, Austria and Britain, and on the basis of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

It bears noting that Article 27 of the Vienna Convention reads: “A party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.”

Russian officials and lawmakers have repeatedly accused international courts of issuing politically motivated rulings.

Speaking about the Constitutional Court's decision on Tuesday, senator Alexei Alexandrov, a member of Russia's upper house of parliament, called for a “serious revision of those international treaties, [Russia's] observance of which is inefficient,” as quoted by Interfax.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on the court's decision on the basis that “it cannot be appealed,” Interfax reported.

According to Alexander Nadmitov, managing partner at Moscow-based law firm Nadmitov, Ivanov & Partners, the Constitutional Court's decision was reasonable.

“What the court said is that the ECHR is not the sole interpreter of the European Convention, and that in exceptional cases, the Russian Constitution can take precedence over ECHR's rulings,” said Nadmitov in a phone interview. He noted that in his view, the Yukos case should qualify as one such exception.

Alexei Kravtsov, chairman of the Moscow Court of Arbitration, said the Constitutional Court's judgment echoes the general mood of Russian society.

"The court's decision only illustrates the mood among the public and, to an extent, among the elites: Russian people don't want to fulfill the ECHR's decision, including with regard to the Yukos case," he said in comments to The Moscow Times.

According to Kravtsov, Russia is at a crossroads. On the one hand, it does not wish to execute the ECHR's costly judgments. On the other, it does not wish to sever ties with the Council of Europe, which established the court.

But, Kravtsov said, it is impossible to realize both objectives. "Therefore, the Constitutional Court's decision is the beginning of the end of Russia's ties with the Council of Europe,” he said.

America and Europe are evil. Let them self-destruct by fostering sexual hatred. They will kill each other, and the system will kill itself.

With free speech, it's like that:

You can make any offending remarks about white men, and the mainstream media and mainstream opinion will applaud you. You can't say anything negative about feminism. Feminism is sacrosanct. Fuck it.

First soldiers on trial in Central Africa sex abuse scandal

So you think cyberprivacy advocates have something to hide? Pornography, maybe?

Oriental medicine evolves worldwide

Four Tanzanians jailed for 20 years after British wildlife pilot murder

Evolutionary Psychology: New Perspectives on Cognition and Motivation

Korea, 2013

Ginseng, bear bile: N. Koreans look to old cures


Version: 2016-01-16T07:34


PYONGYANG (AP) ? The Man Nyon Pharmacy is lined with rows of colorful packages containing everything from dried bear bile and deer antler elixir to tiger bone paste and ginseng. But the ancient “Koryo” medicine provided at this popular dispensary isn’t just for minor aches and pains.

It has been integrated into the health system from the smallest village clinic all the way up to the nicest showcase hospitals in the privileged capital of Pyongyang. Both modern and traditional styles of healing have long been uniquely intertwined nationwide with doctors from both schools working in tandem under one roof.

North Korean physicians say many patients prefer traditional medicine to the Western kind, but it’s difficult to determine the true situation in this closed and impoverished society where access is limited. Defectors, foreign aid workers and North Koreans agree that many Western drugs are scarce and say villagers still forage for plants in some areas to make their own herbal concoctions.

“Koryo” medicine, in Pyongyang. North Korea began marrying traditional medicine with modern practice in the 1950s after the Korean War. (AP-Yonhap News)

With the U.N. Security Council imposing its toughest-ever sanctions following North Korea’s third nuclear test in February, patients may become even more dependent on these home-grown remedies in a country of 24 million people where government health spending ranks among the world’s lowest.

On the other hand, I sometimes tone down my opinions, simply because I want to live in peace. For me personally, I see no benefit being in the public arena, and I have no intention whatsoever to be a hero, or a fighter for the truth.

Because my individual life will cease with my individual death, and I have, at the bottom of my heart, no interest in a world in which I do not exist, I would always do a Galileo when my writing starts to disturb the path I have chosen for my existence: a largely anonymous life of sexual pleasure, and after that, if possible, a comfortable death.

“Doctors are more interested in Koryo medicine rather than Western medicine because they can get it more easily,” said Ri Hye-yong, who manages the frigid concrete pharmacy opened by the government nearly three decades ago. “It’s much cheaper.”

The latest restrictions are meant to squeeze new young leader Kim Jong-un and the ruling class by clamping down on access to foreign travel and luxury goods. North Korea has responded with tirades that include threatening nuclear attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

The resolution is not supposed to block donor aid to those who need it most, including the two-thirds of the population who don’t have enough to eat. But foreign aid workers say years of limitations have created a maze of red tape and approvals needed to ship in medical supplies and equipment. Some countries refuse to process payments for anything involving North Korea because of restrictions placed on banks, while some foreign companies and organizations simply do not want to be involved once they learn where the materials are headed. But once the goods arrive, they say the process becomes fairly simple.

“Even though the imposed sanctions clearly exclude humanitarian assistance, a negative impact on the levels of humanitarian funding has been experienced,” the U.N. Resident Coordinator’s Office in Pyongyang said in a statement April 29, adding nearly three-quarters of the $147 million needed this year has not been received.

The World Health Organization is lacking an estimated 60 percent of the drugs it needs for at-risk kids and pregnant women, while the U.N. Children’s Fund is struggling to get vaccines and medicines to prevent the biggest killer diseases among children, it said.

In addition, the WHO says the process of importing essential equipment and medicine has also grown lengthy at all levels, and those involved have become over cautious in clearing materials to ensure they could not be classified as dual purpose or luxurious items.

International efforts to help boost the country’s ability to produce its own vaccines and medicines were earlier affected when some technology and seed microbes were halted over concerns they could potentially be used by Pyongyang for malicious purposes, WHO said.

Despite these challenges, it’s difficult to understand the full picture within North Korea where outsiders are banned from traveling freely and data are lacking or unreliable. Suspicion of the outside world is reinforced by huge hospital propaganda paintings depicting Americans and Japanese as the country’s “sworn enemies.”

Jang Jun Sang, a department director at the Ministry of Public Health, said in an interview in February that sanctions have cut imports of medical equipment and supplies

But he said North Korea was used to sanctions. “If we receive medical aid, that’s good,” he said. “But if we don’t, that’s fine, too. We’re not worried.”

North Korean factories have limited ability to produce pharmaceuticals, and many rural clinics lack electricity, running water and heating. By the government’s own account, more than 80 percent of village clinics suffer from “chronic shortages of medicines and supplies at all levels of the system.”

According to defectors such as Kwon Hyo-jin, some drugs are smuggled in from neighboring China and marketed while others are taken from hospitals and sold illegally. All health care is supposed to be free in North Korea.

Kwon said he was forced to buy an IV drip as well as antibiotics, painkillers, and other Western medicines from China after suffering bouts of food poisoning and later while hospitalized with a broken leg in 1997 in the northeastern city of Chongjin. He recalled a hospital bed swarming with lice and a tap that spewed muddy water and worms.

The 52-year-old, who defected to South Korea in 2009 and now works at the Seoul-based Committee for the Democratization of North Korea, said he tried to avoid hospitals in the North altogether. Instead, he visited Koryo doctors usually for upset stomach, back pain and insomnia.

Traditional medicine is cheaper and easier to find. Walls of tiny wooden drawers similar to a library card catalog fill one vast room at Pyongyang Medical College, each containing hundreds of tiny paper triangles stuffed with dried herbs.

“I think Koryo medicine has mysterious characteristics,” said Dr. Ryu Hwan-su, the hospital’s deputy chief, who proudly displayed a jar filled with a fat ginseng root believed to be more than a century old. “It heals illnesses that Western medicines can’t treat.”

Traditional medicine is used widely in many Asian countries, including China, Japan and South Korea, where there is no shortage of modern treatment and equipment. And while scientific research regarding the benefits of some age-old treatments is lacking, therapies such as massage and acupuncture ? which can also serve as a local anesthetic ? are now widely used in the West.

Some North Korean clinics have their own greenhouses, and herbs are harvested every year in the wild to be processed into teas and other concoctions. The government says Koryo medicine is used to treat more than half the patients in rural clinics. But shortages exist too.

Patients are often prescribed a simple herb they are expected to get themselves, said Dr. Lim Byung-mook, a professor at South Korea’s Pusan National University School of Korean Medicine, who co-authored a study comparing traditional medicine in the two Koreas.

The country began marrying traditional medicine with modern practice in the 1950s after the Korean War. Doctors were given training in Koryo medicine and each hospital was set up with a department devoted to it, with prevention as the guiding concept behind the socialized health plan. Unlike in other Asian countries where the two practices are typically kept separate, traditional practitioners in North Korea can prescribe modern drugs and assist during surgeries, while Western doctors can use Koryo treatments.

“We kept talking to each other and consulting each other,” said Kim Jie-eun, who graduated from a Koryo school with some modern training, and practiced in North Korea as a pediatrician and internal medicine doctor before defecting in 1999. She now runs a traditional clinic in Bucheon, South Korea, and recalls that even acupuncture needles were reused in the North. She said frequent shortages of antibiotics meant high-level officials got treated first, while ordinary patients struggled to find medicines.

“I was really angry. They were the same human beings,” she said. “How this could happen?”

But she believes combining the two types of treatment was actually better for patients. She said Koryo medicine ? taken from the old name for Korea ? was often used alone or in combination with Western drugs to treat a variety of health problems including stroke, hepatitis, high blood pressure, kidney disorders and diabetes.

And it’s still done today. At the new Breast Cancer Research Center at the Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, a showcase institution where The Associated Press was recently taken on a tour, patient Ri Jong-suk said she was set to be released after having a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.

She said during her one-month stay she was given Western medicine along with Koryo treatment, including massage and acupuncture, to help strengthen her immune system, decrease swelling and circulate blood after surgery. The Health Ministry also cites hot springs, mineral water and mud among successful treatments. Cupping is another popular therapy believed to stimulate blood flow by using heated glass jars to create a vacuum on the skin.

Many of these healing techniques are also commonly used in South Korea, which is rooted in the same ancient traditional medicine as its northern counterpart. But in that country, modern and traditional medicines typically operate independently, each with its own licensing and education system.

North Korea was once dependent on the Soviet Union to keep its medical system running. But after the collapse of its patron, economic crisis and famine followed in the 1990s and Pyongyang became increasingly isolated amid growing nuclear ambitions.

The government spent nearly $9 billion on defense in 2009, according to the South Korean state-run Korea Institute of Defense Analyses. Pyongyang says it spends $900 million a year on health, but one WHO estimate put government spending at less than $1 per person in 2006. That’s less than $25 million and among the world’s lowest, though other reports have placed it higher.

Outside the capital, donors provide some 70 percent of the most needed drugs, which are believed to reach less than half of those in need, according to the WHO.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has accused North Korea of manufacturing and trafficking illegal drugs, such as opium and methamphetamine. It also believes the government is likely involved in peddling fake Western pills, such as Viagra.

Koryo medicine was thrust into the international spotlight when five members of the North Korean female soccer team tested positive for steroids at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany.

North Korean officials said the players took traditional musk deer gland as therapy after they were struck by lightning during training. Soccer authorities said they had never seen the substance found in the women’s systems, and the squad was sent home in disgrace.

Animal products are a major part of Koryo medicine, along with various traditional healing used in other Asian countries. Deer antler is used to strengthen the immune system, tiger bone to relieve fevers, and bear bile mixed into hot water and sipped to relieve pain and remove toxins. Some concoctions are believed to enhance virility.

Some Asian countries ban bear bile because the method of extraction is considered inhumane. Asked where North Korea gets its bile, pharmacist Ri said it came from the zoo where about 50 bears are housed. AP couldn’t verify this practice and spotted only one bear inside an enclosure at the national zoo in Pyongyang.

“Koryo medicine seems to have somehow served the population, which is in desperate need of treatment amid difficulties in health, while the Western health delivery system has been badly affected,” Lim, the South Korean professor, and colleagues wrote in the 2009 paper published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It was based on a review of North Korean textbooks and medical journals as well as interviews with defectors who had studied the practice.

Still, much remains a mystery. North Korea’s isolation means little has been published on Koryo medicine or its integration with modern techniques, leaving safety and efficacy concerns largely unanswered.

But some say being cut off from the outside world for so long may have led to the discovery of valid remedies. The Chinese found a vital malaria treatment in a ragweed-like plant nearly four decades ago at a time when it had minimal contact with the West.

“They are somehow surviving through such harsh conditions,” said Dr. Park Jong-bae, director of Asian medicine and acupuncture research at the University of North Carolina, who co-authored the Koryo medicine study.

“A lot of new ideas and new findings are coming from desperate efforts through challenges, so I am rather hoping that they would have reserved a new finding that the outside world cannot think of, particularly in coping with the main diseases.”

Second-generation male Muslim immigrants have all reason to hate Europe. They can't get any girls here. Whatever they do. So it is an understandable reaction that they want to blow themselves up, and take a few along.

Judge: Rape facilitates a natural society where men are protectors


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