The drive to sterilize began in the 1970s when,
encouraged by loans amounting to tens of millions of dollars from the World
Bank, the Swedish International Development Authority and the UN Population
Fund, India embarked on an ambitious population control program.
During the 1975 Emergency - when civil liberties
were suspended -Sanjay
Gandhi, son of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi,
began what was described by many as a "gruesome campaign" to sterilize
poor men. There were reports of police cordoning off villages and virtually
dragging the men to surgery.
The campaign also made an appearance in Salman
Rushdie's novel, Midnight's Children.
An astonishing 6.2 million Indian men were sterilized
in just a year, which was "15 times the number of people sterilized by the
Nazis", according to science journalist Mara Hvistendahl. Two thousand men
died from botched operations.
"India has a dark history of state-sponsored
population control, often with eugenic aims - targeting the poor and underprivileged,"
Ms Hvistendahl told me. "The women's tragic deaths [in Chhattisgarh] show
that it still happens today."
Since family planning efforts began in the 1970s,
India has focused its population control efforts on women, even though, as
scientists say, sterilizations are easier to perform in men. "This may be
because women are deemed less likely to protest," says Ms Hvistendahl.
India carried out nearly 4
million sterilisations during 2013-2014,
according to official figures. Less than 100,000 of these surgeries were done
on men. More
than 700 deaths were reported due to botched surgeries
between 2009 and 2012. There were 356 reported cases of complications arising
out of the surgeries.
Though the government has adopted a raft of measures
and standards for conducting safe sterilizations, an unseemly haste to meet
high state-mandated quotas has often led to botched operations and deaths.
"I don't know if we will ever be able to go
back to Syria. My mother wants to see her home again, but she may never be able
Maria fights back the tears as she contemplates her
country of birth, now wracked by fighting.
Her mother - now in her 80s - was able to flee the
fighting in Syria and stay with her son in Canada.
But it is not clear whether she will return to a
country where Christians and other religious minorities no longer feel safe or
The Syriac Orthodox church in west London where we
speak is filled with families with similar stories to tell.
Across much of the globe, at the start of the 21st
Century, religion is once again a matter of life and death - quite literally in
Iraq and Syria, while elsewhere, admitting or defending your faith can land you
Meriam Ibrahim, a young Christian mother from Sudan,
discovered that when she refused to renounce her faith even after she was
placed on death row for "apostasy", or allegedly converting from
Islam to Christianity.
Meriam - whose mother was Christian - has now
started a new life in America with her husband and children, following an
international outcry - but how many more Meriams are there?
On the same day that the news emerged of a Pakistani
Christian couple burnt to death in a kiln by enraged Muslim villagers for
apparently unwittingly burning the verses of the Koran, Prince Charles was
addressing a gathering at the House of Lords on religious freedom.
The future King, who once said that he wished to be
Defender of Faith, rather than Defender of the Faith on ascending the throne,
made an eloquent plea for religious tolerance at home and across the world.
He spoke in a video message as the international
Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, launched a global report saying
that religious freedom was at risk in 60% of the world's countries and had
entered a period of serious decline.
The report termed the rising tide of anti-Christian
persecution in several parts of the world "catastrophic", pointing
out that Christians remain the most persecuted religious minority, due partly
to their geographic spread and high relative numbers.
The charity also made clear that Muslims were
experiencing what it called a serious degree of persecution and discrimination,
"both at the hands of other Muslims and from authoritarian
governments". Read more...
Recently, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (ISIS)
announced that they will be minting their own currency, together with design
mock-ups of how the coins will look.
According to a statement issued by
the group's treasury department, Bayt Al-Mal, the currency will exist
separate from "the tyrannical financial system" which use
"satanic usury" and have been "imposed upon Muslims" which
serve to "enslave and impoverish" them.
"Based on the directive of the Emir of the Believers in the
Islamic State, Caliph Ibrahim, may Allah preserve him, to mint currency for the
Islamic State, as it is far removed from the tyrannical monetary system that
was imposed on the Muslims and was a reason for their enslavement and
impoverishment, and wasting the fortunes of the Ummah, making it easy prey in
the hands of the Jews and Crusaders, the Treasury Department studied the matter
and presented a comprehensive project, by the grace of Allah, to mint a currency
based on the inherent value of the metals gold and silver."(translation by Site Intelligence)
The value of the coins will be based on the market
value of gold and silver, which we know is extremely volatile and, as such, it
is unclear how products and services in ISIS controlled territories will be
priced – how many coins will a loaf of bread cost?
The ISIS proposed currency will have seven coins
called Dinars – two gold, three silver and two copper. The largest value coin
will be the five dinar which will contain 21.25g of gold (valued at £525.30 at
the time of writing). The lowest value coin will be a 10g copper coin worth
about five pence.
Logistically, it is unclear how ISIS will issue this
ISIS' plan to create its own currency aims to
bolster its claim that it is a functional nation and not just a terrorist
organisation. However, since territories in Iraq and Syria fall in and out of
the group's hand, the acceptability of the currency as a payment method won't
be widespread or stable.
Not to mention that most foreign investors won't be
able to "invest" in this currency without being charged with
"providing material support to a terrorist entity".
At the 2013 gathering, 96 signatories made
"significant and public commitments to nutrition-related actions" and
this report was an assessment of the work that still needed to be done and the
"Malnutrition is an invisible thing, unless it
is very extreme," explained Lawrence Haddad, co-chairman of the
independent expert group that compiled the report.
"This invisibility stops action happening but
it does not stop bad things happening to the children, " he told BBC News.
"It does not stop preventing the children's
brains from developing; it does not stop their immune systems from not
"It is a silent crisis and we are trying to
raise the awareness of the extent of malnutrition and the damage it does."
The UN World Food Program estimates that poor
nutrition causes nearly half of deaths in children aged under five - 3.1
million children each year.
Dr Haddad, a senior research fellow for the
International Food Policy Research Institute, highlighted three areas that the
report focused on.
"The first thing we did was to say that we were
not just going to focus on under nutrition, which is
closely related to hunger, but
also over nutrition and obesity," he explained. "Malnutrition just
means bad nutrition."
The second thing we did was focus on not just the
outcomes, we also focused on the drivers. We looked at underlying factors, such
as sanitation, water quality, food security, spending on nutrition and women's
"The third thing we did was to look at a very
specific set of commitments that were made in the 2013 summit that David
Cameron hosted in London."
The expert group's assessment on global nutrition
drew a number of conclusions.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally (above) earned $23.2m last year while
Ford got a tax refund of $19m.
Seven of the country’s 30 largest corporations paid
more to their CEOs than they did in taxes last year, according to a
just-released study by the Center for Effective Government and the Institute
for Policy Studies.
The biggest gap between executive pay and taxes was
Michael Corbat, Citigroup’s CEO had a compensation package that totaled
At the same time, Citigroup qualified for a $260m
tax refund from the IRS, thanks to a special
waiver that enabled it to capture the full tax
benefits of buying unprofitable businesses. This could be a tax gift that keeps
on giving, as the bank has been on
a tear to keep earning more to take full advantage of the
The rift between tax burden and executive pay for
big companies is “getting worse”, says Scott Klinger, director of revenue and
spending policies at the Center for Effective Government.
Since the Center for Effective Government and the
Institute for Policy Studies published their first report in 2010, the average
compensation of the CEOs they single out has climbed from $16.7m to almost
And, there’s a widening rift between corporate
profits and the jobs they create. After tax, corporate profits last year
accounted for 10% of GDP, higher
than ever recorded. The contribution of employee
incomes to GDP has been sliding steadily lower since the 1970s.
Indeed, he notes that most of the corporations whose
names appear on his list – nearly all of which are profitable – have been
nearly as active reducing their workforce over the past year as they have been
trying to cut their tax burden.
Washington state gave Boeing $8.7bn in tax breaks to
ensure that the 777x was built in the state, but the aerospace company has been
shifting engineering jobs to lower-wage areas, saving
the company $100m a year and resulting in layoffs.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - AT&T Inc will stop
investing in new high-speed Internet connections in 100 U.S. cities until
regulators decide whether to enact tough "net neutrality" rules
proposed by President Obama, Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said recently.
The FCC — which regulates how internet service
providers are allowed to handle traffic
said that it would create new rules that may allow ISPs to treat traffic
The NPRM [the FCC] will propose ... that broadband providers
would be required to offer a baseline level of service to their subscribers,
along with the ability to enter into individual negotiations with content providers.
In all instances, broadband providers would need to act in a commercially
reasonable manner subject to review on a case-by-case basis. Exactly what the
baseline level of service would be, the construction of a 'commercially
reasonable' standard, and the manner in which disputes would be resolved, are
all among the topics on which the FCC will be seeking comment.
The investment pause is the most dramatic action yet
by a telecommunications or cable company after Obama on Monday urged the
Federal Communications Commission to regulate Internet service providers more
like public utilities.
At the same time, AT&T had been spending heavily
acquisitions and had cut its capital spending estimate for 2015.
Companies and industry groups have already protested
Obama's proposal, saying it would stifle growth and investment.
"We can't go out and invest that kind of money
deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments
will be governed," Stephenson said at an analyst conference.
In April, AT&T said it would deploy its
high-speed fiber network in 100 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and
A primary goal for the FCC in recent years has been
to ensure quality Internet access across the country, especially in rural
AT&T pushed back against Obama's comments on
Monday and said it would take the government to court if the FCC follows
through on his request.
The company, which is buying DirecTV for $48.5
billion, said on Friday that it would also pay $1.7 billion to acquire Mexican
wireless operator Iusacell. It trimmed its 2015 capital spending outlook to $18
billion from $21 billion.
Verizon Communications Inc Chief Financial Officer
Fran Shammo struck a somewhat lighter tone.
"I think the independent agency of the FCC will
make the right decision," Shammo said.
Too often, our culture assigns self-worth with productivity. Whether it's
asking what your country can do for you, or what you can do for your country,
the question remains -- what can be done? It's a one-way ticket to burnout.
2. Heightened Sensitivity
For many, attempting ten days of silence would be akin to walking on water.
Vipassana silent retreats are exactly that; participants are instructed to
refrain from reading, writing, or eye contact.
3. Dissolving Tomorrow's Troubles
Silence brings our awareness back to the present -- where concrete happiness is
experienced. Watts makes the distinction between our basic and ingenious
consciousness; the latter makes predictions based on our memories, which seem so real to the mind that we're caught in a
hypothetical abstraction. It plans out our lives with an abstract happiness,
but an abstract happiness is a very real disappointment.
4. Improves Memory
Combining solitude with a walk in nature causes brain growth in the hippocampus region, resulting in
5. Strengthens Intention and Action
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal says during silence, the mind is best
able to cultivate a form of mindful intention that later motivates us to take
Intentional silence puts us in a state of mental
reflection and disengages our intellectual mind. At that point McGonigal says
to ask yourself three questions:
"If anything were possible, what would I
welcome or create in my life?"
"When I'm feeling most courageous and inspired,
what do I want to offer the world?"
"When I'm honest about how I suffer, what do I
want to make peace with?"
6. Increases Self-Awareness
In silence, we make room for the self-awareness to be in control of our
actions, rather than under their control. The break from external voices puts
us in tune to our inner voices -- and it's those inner voices that
drive our actions. Awareness leads to control. Practice becoming an observer of your thoughts. The
human will is strengthened whenever we choose not to respond to every
7. Grow Your Brain
The brain is the most complex and powerful organ, and like muscles, benefits
from rest. UCLA
research showed that regular times set aside to disengage, sit in
silence, and mentally rest, improves the the "folding" of the cortex
and boosts our ability to process information.
8. "A-Ha" Moments
The creative process includes a crucial stage called incubation,
where all the ideas we've been exposed to get to meet, mingle, marinate -- then
produce a eureka or "A-ha" moment. The secret to incubation? Nothing.
Literally; disengage from the work at hand, and take a rest. It's also the
elixir for mental blocks.
9. Mastering Discomfort
Just when you've found a quiet place to sit alone and reflect, an itch will
beckon to be scratched. But many meditation teachers will encourage you to
refrain, and breath into the experience until it passes. Along with bringing
your mind back from distracting thoughts and to your breathing, these practices
during silence and solitude work to build greater self-discipline.
10. Emotional Cleansing
Our fight/flight mechanism causes us to flee not only from physical
difficulties, but also emotional difficulties. Ignoring and burying negative
emotions however, only causes them to manifest in stress, anxiety, anger, and
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen and
Scottish health board NHS Grampian studied 751 people born in Aberdeen, divided
into two groups -- one born in 1921 and the other in 1936 -- known as the
Aberdeen Birth Cohort. They were all tested at age 11 and then again up to five
times between 1998 and 2011.
When the two groups were tested at age 11, the
researchers found an IQ disparity of 3.7 points between the two generations,
but after age 62, the difference jumped to 16.5 points -- more than three times
what was anticipated. Study leader Dr. Robert Staff described the intelligence
gains of the 1936 group as "surprisingly large," and says that he
expects average intelligence gains to rise further.
"One especially interesting aspect of the study
is that the IQ difference between the cohorts grew by a very large amount over
the course of 50 years," educational psychologist and intelligence
researcher Jonathan Plucker said in an email to The Huffington Post. "This
provides further evidence that one’s intelligence –- at least the aspects that
can be examined using tests –- is not fixed at an early age and can be quite
malleable over the course of our lifespans."
The study, published in the journal Intelligence,
isn't the first to suggest that global IQ is on the rise. In a phenomenon known
as the "Flynn effect" (named after psychologist and human
intelligence researcher James R. Flynn), IQ has been shown to raise by 3-4
points each decade.
"These IQ gains are probably not unique to
Aberdeen, with similar environmental changes being experienced across the
UK," Staff said in a statement.
"The results fit with numerous other studies
documenting the Flynn Effect," said Plucker. "The Aberdeen results
suggest that causes of the Effect, as Flynn originally surmised, are largely
environmental in nature: As our living standards -– involving nutrition,
education, safety, and many other factors -– steadily improved over the past
100 years, our ability to solve cognitive problems likewise increased."
Another working theory has less to do with the
subjects than the test itself. According to intelligence researcher Michael
Woodley, who was not involved in the study, they might reflect improvement of
specialized and easily trainable cognitive abilities. Woodley points to some
measures which suggest a slight decline in general intelligence scores each decade.
"Whilst people are undoubtedly becoming more
test-wise and are picking up specialized cognitive skills, as evidenced by
studies such as the one conducted by Dr. Staff and colleagues," Woodley
said in an email to The Huffington Post, "they are unfortunately not
becoming more innovative, or better complex problem solvers."