Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Turkish President’s Men Attack Americans on American Soil : An Outlandish Presumptuousness at Odds with Human Rights

It is one thing to read about human-rights violations going on in another country; it is quite another to see such a country’s president’s men attacking people of another country in their own country. Besides the added perspective that such an act gives to people in that country, the mentality itself is made transparent in terms of its sheer presumptuousness. In other words, the presumptuousness that may be viewed as latent in a human-rights violation inflicted by government officials and their respective employees on their own soil is made particularly transparent, or obvious, when the violation is against foreigners on their own soil.
In May, 2017, 24 men, including armed employees of President Recep Erdogan’s security detail, attacked protesters, many of whom were American citizens, in Washington. Sitting in a car, Erdogan “conferred with Muhsin Kose, his head of security, who leaned into the car’s rear door.”[1] After speaking with Erdogan, Kose “talked into his earpiece, and three security personnel who were guarding the president’s car hurried toward the protest. The brawl began moments later, and one of these men . . . appeared on video punching and kicking people.”[2] That is, a few seconds after Kose spoke into his earpiece, the men charged the protesters, kicking and hitting them. Kose talked with his president as the Turkish security men attacked the Americans. “One man knocked two women to the ground, and another man repeatedly punched Lucy Usoyan, a protester, as she lay on the ground. The third man kicked  ]Sayid Yasa] after he was thrown to the ground moments earlier.”[3] It is the lack of any violent trigger that is particularly noteworthy.
I submit that the intent to punch and kick people who had not themselves been violent points to a desire to inflict pain for its own sake. The sadistic mentality loses the cover of “government security” legitimacy when no inciting violence can provide a trigger. Instead, the trigger is in the psychology shared by the 24 men who initiated the violence. One implication is that government officials and their employees who respectively order and commit human-rights violations against their own people suffer from mental illness rather than being merely politically partisan.
The presumptuousness in instigating violent acts without a violent trigger is particularly evident in the sheer gall in attacking the American citizens in their own country rather than in Turkey. It is amazing how difficult presumptuousness can be to detect when it is so engrained in a person’s status quo. The secular humanist, for instance, who takes pride of convenience in having the title, Rev., and being the “minister” of a church or even a religious society can be said to act presumptuously in tacitly turning down (i.e., not welcoming) potential religious or spiritual members. Once such a church or religious society strangely eschews anything not in keeping with secularity, the implicit presumptuousness can be difficult to discern.
The presumptuousness of the Turks in Washington, D.C. goes beyond a lack of respect for American criminal law and the U.S. Constitution, which protects political protest. The underlying attitude would fall under the radar in Turkey, where government is not expected to protect and advance the cause of human rights. In the United States, however, the offending attitude was obvious. It can be likened to a house-guest who not only does not clean up his mess, but also hits the host’s friends after getting a call from his boss from work to do so. The mentality goes beyond rudeness and even disrespect to even being pathological. The host would be totally justified in not only kicking out the offensive guest, but also calling the police to report the violence.
So it is telling, on the American side, that the D.C. police did not stop the aggressive foreigners—even if they had diplomatic immunity they could have been stopped and even detained, yet only two people were arrested—one from New York City. In fact, video shows a D.C. police agent clubbing a protester!  

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department merely voiced concern over “the violent incidents involving protesters and Turkish security personnel.”[4] It is significant, I contend, that the American president did not show Erdogan and his employees the proverbial door. Such betrayal of the American citizens, even implicitly in just voicing concern, must certainly have felt to the protesters like insult added to injury. In fact, the abject failure of the local police and the U.S. Government to go after the Turkish criminals on behalf of the American protesters implies tacit approval or even likeness to the pathology and political authoritarianism—suggesting that risks to human-rights exist in the U.S. rather than just in other countries. The sin of omission, in other words, can shed light on a sordid mentality or attitude.

[1] Malachy Browne, Christ Cirillo, Troy Griggs, Josh Keller, and Natalie Reneau, “Did the Turkish President’s Security Detail Attack Protesters in Washington? What the Video Shows,” The New York Times, May 26, 2017.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Max Jaeger, “State Dept. Condemns Turkish Security’s Bloody Attack on Protesters,” New York Post, May 17, 2017.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Melting Permafrost Unleashing Killer Bacteria and Viruses: Climate Change Heats Up

As the Northern climes warm, our species may soon be vulnerable to ancient—even beyond ancient— bacteria and viruses. We are familiar with pathogens to which our species has some immunity, built up from repeated prior contact. As a species, we could lose everything from illnesses in which the modern human body has no experience and thus no built-up defenses.

Researches have encountered complex ancient viruses in the melting permafrost of Siberia. Bacteria and viruses can lie dormant in permafrost until they are reactivated by warming. Scientists have discovered intact Spanish flu viruses in corpses buried in 1918 in the Alaskan tundra. In 2016 in Siberia, 100 people and 2,300 reindeer were infected with anthrax that scientist believe had been trapped in a frozen reindeer carcass that thawed during the particularly hot summer. Unfortunately, permafrost “appears to the among the systems most vulnerable to global warming,” according to researchers in the journal Nature Climate Change.[1] Global warming in turn is vulnerable to the human production of carbon dioxide, such as from our increasing use of fossil fuels since the industrial revolution. Behind the economics of use or consumption is the exponential increase in the population of our species. As biological beings, we must consume. Generally speaking, the more humans around, the higher the total consumption. Distribution of resources obviously makes a difference—some people get to consume disproportionately more than others can. Even so, the staggering number of over 7 billion people must involve a considerable amount of consumption.

The extraordinary jump in human population is occurring in a very short period of time. How could there not be huge, unforeseen reverberations? 

The upshot is that Nature has its own measures to correct a species’ failure to control its numbers on a planet of finite resources. As great as the human mind is, we have trouble anticipating the secondary systems that are set in motion. Put another way, the astonishing number of 7 billion can be expected to have repercussions that get beyond our ability to anticipate, let alone manage. As permafrost that has been frozen for millennia (also a big number) melts and the methane and bacteria and viruses that have been trapped escape, we face a huge blindside. As systems effect systems effect systems, we can easily get ahead of ourselves.

[1] Mary Papenfuss, “As Ice Melts, Dangerous Diseases From The Past Could Rise Again,” The Huffington Post, May 5, 2017.