Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

US States Mulling Over Bringing Back Electric Chairs, Firing Squads, Gas Chambers

00 Unfair Executions. 29.01.14

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Reportedly, a handful of American states are mulling over the revival of such gruesome capital punishments as firing squads, gas chambers, and electrocutions, in what may today be considered a step back for the American justice system. Lawmakers in some states that haven’t abolished death penalty… and there are 32 of them… say that depleted stocks of lethal drugs and doubts about their effectiveness, which recently led to some high-profile court disputes, might be enough for them to switch to time-tested ways of ending the lives of death row inmates. Ages ago, most American states abandoned electrocutions, hangings, and the like in a bid to make death sentences more palatable to the public and to judges who were afraid to pass cruel or unusual punishments violating the US Constitution. The lethal injection alternative was first used in American prisons in the 1980s to at least limit the time of suffering, if not totally eliminate it. However, now, some state officials say that lethal drugs are prone to complications and are increasingly hard to get. This comes after many European pharma companies refused to sell their drugs to American prisons, for fear they might be used to put prisoners to death.

Missouri Representative Rick Brattin {he’s a Republican, a Baptist, and an NRA member… no wonder he’s a bloodthirsty SOB: editor}, an advocate of firing squads, said, “This isn’t an attempt to time-warp back into the 1850s or the Wild, Wild West or anything like that. It’s just that I foresee a problem, and I’m trying to come up with a solution that’ll be the most humane yet most economical for our state”. Meanwhile, the Missouri Attorney General proposed to rebuild the state’s gas chamber, whilst a Wyoming lawmaker offered a bill earlier this month that’d allow the firing squad. The state threw out its three-drug lethal injection procedure after it could no longer get the drugs. Underneath it all lies the idea that some convicts simply don’t deserve mercy. For instance, Michael Campbell, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri-St Louis, accused state lawmakers of trying to tap into a populist thought that those who do terrible things deserve to have terrible things happen to them. Recent instances of lethal-injection executions only added to the dispute around the best way to end a prisoner’s life. Only last week, Ohio inmate Dennis McGuire spent the last 26 minutes of his life gasping for air on a gurney after receiving a new drug combination.

29 January 2014

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2014_01_29/US-states-mull-bringing-back-electric-chairs-firing-squads-gas-chambers-8274/

Editor’s Note:

The Church is anti-death penalty… always has been, always will be. In tsarist Russia, the death penalty was rare in comparison to the “civilised” West, the main exception being traitors and insurrectionists. In fact, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich, one of the toughest and most stern tsars, routinely pardoned all death sentences, except for crimes against the state. What a comparison to godless bloody filth like Rick Perry! Aleksandr was a man of unfeigned piety, who was faithful to his wife, fought no foreign wars, who allowed no one to diss Russia (once, he bent an iron poker in his bare hands, threw it at the feet of the Habsburg ambassador, saying, “That’s what we’ll do to your army if you mobilise!”)… and he hid a bottle of brandy in his boot… what’s not to like? Compare Aleksandr to soulless hangmen like Rick Perry and all the other death-penalty-loving sectarians like him. I know whom I favour… and I’m not alone. By the way… if any Orthodox priest says that he’s in favour of the death penalty, he’s standing in opposition to our Russian Orthodox history and to the personal stance of His Holiness… I just thought that you’d like to know that…

If you want to be Pro-Life, you have to be anti-death penalty, or you’re a godless lying hypocrite. That’s the standard of the late Cardinal Bernardin… that’s the seamless garment teaching, which is the only Consistent Life position out there. If you favour killing cons, if you support warmongering in foreign parts, if you support predatory greedster crapitalism cutting lives short through HMO death panels, you’re not Pro-Life, and that’s that. It doesn’t matter how many placards that you wave, how often you march, or how much you shout… if you’re pro-death in its widest meaning (including supporting the Republican policies that have led to America being the Prison House of the Nations), you’re not Pro-Life… yes, Virginia, one thing DOES affect the other…

Let’s end with a snippet from Orwell‘s A Hanging (he’d been in the Imperial Police in British India):

It’s curious, but till that moment I’d never realised what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it’s in full tide. This man wasn’t dying, he was alive just as we are alive. All the organs of his body were working… bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming… all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned… even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone… one mind less, one world less.

Reflect on the above when you read the rightwing rants of some of the konvertsy… they’re not only un-Orthodox to the bone, they’re inhumane and indecent. Just sayin’…

BMD 

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Sunday, 1 December 2013

Moral Corruption Leads to Recession

01 Mammon

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Our world saw many economic crises. Between 1820 and 1929 alone, 13 crises seriously rocked the global economy. The financial crisis that began in the US economy in August 2007 and that later spread to all western economies turned into a major global economic crisis. At first, people thought it’d end very quickly, but over a six-year period, several countries went to the brink of bankruptcy. Our modern-day crisis is termed the “Great Recession”, and the world is literally in a state of helplessness. One shocking and disastrous result has been that there has been a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the wake of this recession. In the USA, for example, according to RT.com, they quoted the Centers for Disease Control as saying, “Suicide rates from 1999 to 2010 ‘increased significantly’ across all four geographic areas and in 39 states. The state of Wyoming recorded the highest increase in suicides with a 78.8 percent jump (31.1 per 100,000), whilst even the sunny state of Hawaii saw a 61.2 percent increase (21.9 per 100,000)”.

Many nations at the brink of ruin seek technical solutions such as printing paper money to ease the tidal wave of economic sufferings they face; yet, they’re unable to resolve them. The crisis continues, despite countries’ direct interventions. For example, the Bush administration recommended a 700 billion USD (23.22 trillion Roubles. 744 billion CAD. 768 billion AUD. 516 billion Euros. 428 billion UK Pounds) financial rescue package. The subsequent legislation gave the government wide authority to assume responsibility for those debts that financial institutions couldn’t repay. Many called it the largest financial rescue plan since the Great Depression of 1929. Clearly, neoliberal economic orthodoxy shaped today’s world and this opened the door to excessive greed, which leaves no room for spirituality. In such a system, the individual or economic unit/entity looks out for themselves, acting selfishly. People in this system live in a constant state of fear; they feel that they can’t trust anyone, knowing that others are just as selfish as they are.

This materialistic state of mind where everyone fights over resources, puts them in deep trouble, with them being none the wiser. It sets up a vicious circle of selfishness, fear, and greed, and in such an environment, positive creative abilities don’t fully bloom. Generosity, humanity, and spirituality suffer, as people can’t feed their soul with peace. Being depressed and in a state of fear all the time takes its toll. Feelings of love and gentleness toward others wither, whilst loneliness and negative feelings toward others rise. People are taught and deluded into thinking that living this way is the only option, and they think that they will be wealthier or be happier living this lifestyle, but in reality, they couldn’t be more wrong. When one starts acting in this way, the world starts striking back, as if taking revenge for not living love. Financial problems or health problems, losing one’s job or losing one’s family; things just start to go downhill and it might look like one could never get out from under that mess, hence, the rise in the number of suicides. People become further depressed, their health more compromised, so, the things they own will lose all meaning.

An attitude of survival of the fittest develops between people; animosity grows, fuelling hatred toward others. Deep fear of losing their investments, their cash savings, and livelihood drives people to horde assets, limiting the supply and speed of money circulating in the economy. This is one of the main reasons behind the stagnation. This view of crushing others, as people care for themselves alone, leads to a decrease in the amount of circulating currency. They don’t even consider acting selflessly, as they believe that the most important thing is their own interests, and making sacrifices would mean they’d lose or be viewed as weak. In order to end this tragedy in society, we must do away with the hatred that people feel for one another. Forgiveness, love, and compassion, derived from sound morality, needs to rise.

Spiritual and moral collapse leads to an appalling collapse of supply when people don’t live according to ethical principles. We no longer see the high levels of production we used to… aesthetics and arts suffer; in our time, we don’t find artists of the same calibre as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, or Raphael. We no longer produce famous composers such as Beethoven, Bach, or Chopin. Even scientists have lost the urge to make new discoveries; they content themselves with doing minor research around existing discoveries. They’re unable to make impressive discoveries. The economic crisis is like a bottomless pit. Beauty and prosperity can only appear with better morality and social ethics freeing us from selfishness and egoism. The awaited regeneration in the markets will come when we restore a spirit of coöperation, and the result would be wealth the like of which no one has ever seen before.

30 November 2013

Ece Koc

Arab News

http://www.arabnews.com/news/485686

Editor’s Note:

Let’s keep it simple. The Republican Party believes in Social Darwinism, NOT Christianity. It bows down before Almighty Mammon. That’s the long and the short of it… if you vote Republican, you vote for an ideology condemned by most responsible Christian leaders. Oh, you say that Evangelicals praise it to the skies? Ponder this… Evangelicals aren’t really Christians. Go to any of their services and you’ll see that it lacks any resemblance to a liturgy or a mass. In short, it ain’t Christian. If it doesn’t look Christian, if it doesn’t sound Christian, it isn’t Christian, and that’s that. The Eucharist is the centre of all true Christian liturgy… and if it’s missing on an ordinary Sunday, then, Christianity is missing, too.

Reflect on that, if you would…

BMD

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Russia: Beware of Foodie-Bears!

Barbara-Marie Drezhlo. Was it Your Turn to Lick the Spoon. 2012

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T-shirts in souvenir shops in Moscow’s Arbat tourist district read, “I’ve been to Russia, there are no bears”. The print mocks the popular stereotype that Russia’s all about endless cold winters, vodka, and bears have rescued a couple after a bear broke into their countryside home, attracted by the smell of fresh borshch. A patrol turned up in the early hours after a neighbour raised the alarm and found the couple hiding in their sauna, where they temporarily lived as their home was under renovation. Meanwhile, the bear enjoyed hot borshch in their garden. A warning shot was enough to scare the intruder back into the woods. No one was hurt, although the bear damaged the building. The couple said that they’d left the homemade borshch to cool on the porch and went to bed. They woke to “loud banging” and saw a bear breaking the windows of their glassed-in porch. Then, it got inside and treated himself to all the borshch, which was still hot and delicious. Often, people spotted bears looking for food around dachas in the area before, but happily, no one reported any attacks.

Although the case may seem funny to some Americans, but he who laughs last laughs best, as encounters between bears and humans are actually not that rare in the USA and Canada, and may far exceed those reported in Russia. Thus, recently, hungry grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park were really determined to share a meal with people. Since the area is popular with tourists, officials had to issue a warning after they recorded several bear attacks on visitors in the park straddling Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Officials with the park and two national forests that border it said that numerous recent sightings of bears seeking berries and other foods near roadways and popular trails prompted them to issue the advisory, which called on campers to take precautions like carrying bear spray and hiking in groups. Some 600 federally-protected grizzly bears wander around Yellowstone and its border areas. Each year in the region there are about five encounters between bears and humans that result in injuries. Fatal attacks are rare.

In recent years, conservationists said that climate change caused a decline in whitebark pines, which produce the nuts that are a food source for grizzlies and black bears, forcing them to roam around, starving and frustrated. Late summer and early fall are typical times for encounters, as bears begin to seek out more food to pack on pounds before going into winter hibernation. At the same time, summer is the peak tourist season for national park visitors. In July 2010, a grizzly killed a camper and injured two others in a national forest in Montana near Yellowstone. The following year, in separate attacks, bears fatally wounded two hikers. On 15 August, a grizzly wounded two hikers at Yellowstone, but a second pair of hikers warded off the bear with bear spray. The same day, a grizzly bit two biologists collecting grizzly habitat data in Idaho near the park. The scientists drove off the bear with bear spray.

Meanwhile, Nevada wildlife officials pressed local governments near Lake Tahoe to penalise residents for not having bear-proof trashcans, saying that existing regulations to address trash-raiding black bears are insufficient. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported that Nevada Department of Wildlife Director Tony Wasley told trustees that they could address the vast majority of human-bear conflicts by decreasing the availability of human garbage. He said, “Ultimately, total removal of human food sources as an attractant for bears is the only way to avoid these types of human-bear conflicts”. Wasley also thought that it would help matters if the district enforced existing laws that penalise residents for being careless with their trash. Local jurisdictions already have rules on the books to address problems posed by trash-raiding bears, but many residents don’t think that they go far enough.

In the Canadian province of Ontario, the bear population dangerously grew to an alarming number. According to a recent census by the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, there are some 150,000 bears in Ontario; no one is entirely sure of really how many of them there are precisely. The bear population has increased every year since the cancellation of the spring bear hunt in 1999, and so has the number of incidents involving bears, including a vicious and unprovoked attack on a woman near Peterborough. Thus, some local activists favour an early season hunt.

In the northern part of the Canadian province of Manitoba, a polar bear chased and bit a man. Earlier this month, the bear chased Garett Kolsun whilst he was walking home after a night of celebrating with friends in Churchill. It cornered him on a porch, swiped at him with his paw, and sank its teeth into his hip until Kolsun said he managed to distract it with the light from his mobile, which allowed him to flee to safety. The Hudson Bay community has fame as the polar bear capital of the world, and it attracts tourists coming for at least one glimpse of the predator. Nevertheless, the animals pose a threat to residents, and when they’re captured, they’re kept in a holding facility that’s commonly referred to as the polar bear jail.

However, this particular offender got a new home in a Winnipeg zoo. Margaret Redmond, president of the Assiniboine Park Conservancy, said that, within the next few weeks, the bear would be transported from Churchill to the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre. Redmond said that this would be the first polar bear from the wild to be housed at the facility, which the conservancy opened last year. On Saturday, Redmond said, “Otherwise, it was determined that he was going to be euthanised because he was such a danger”. His new home will eventually be part of a new four-hectare (10 acres) exhibit, due to open next June, that profiles northern Canada’s animals and its fragile environment. Redmond said that she hasn’t personally spoken with Kolsun about how he feels about the polar bear’s new home in Winnipeg, but she said that provincial officials talked with him before the decision was made. Kolsun suffered only a few superficial puncture wounds and scratches from the attack. Redmond said, “He feels very good about this option, he sees that this is an opportunity for the animal, rather than having to be euthanised, to serve as an ambassador to his species in what will ultimately be a very large and comfortable area for the bear”.

That was a lucky escape for the Canadian bear, but his black pal captured after it wandered through Athol MA wasn’t that lucky, as Massachusetts Environmental Police euthanised it. They caught the bear after it climbed a tree and police tranquilised it. A spokesman for the state environmental affairs office told the Athol Daily News that, after that, the bear couldn’t be released in New Hampshire or Vermont, as both states are holding black bear hunting season; they have an agreement with Massachusetts that any “chemically immobilized” animal can’t be released into the wild within 45 days of the season’s start. It’s not hunting season in Massachusetts until November. However, the spokesman said Environmental Police euthanised the bear, instead of releasing it, because the chemicals used to tranquilise it are potentially fatal to any hunter who might shoot the bear, then eat it.

Another black bear felt at home in Gatlinburg TN and was caught on camera walking the city’s streets, climbing up the steps of the local convention centre, and even following the crosswalk to cross the street. ABC News said that Tricia Alexander captured a video of the bear, then, posted it to her Facebook page. She was sitting in her car, but not everyone had the good sense to keep at a distance. As the bear made its way through the city’s streets, weaving in and out of restaurant-goers, people clamoured to come within just feet of it in order to get a good picture of with their mobile-phone cameras. Dr Marcy Souza of the University of Tennessee School of Veterinary Medicine told local ABC affiliate WATE, “Unfortunately, a lot of people in our society are getting more desensitised to wild animals, as we move more and more into this digital age, and we don’t actually get out into the woods, so, you don’t encounter these animals very frequently except for on TV. Although he looks cute and cuddly, they can actually be pretty fierce. That bear probably weighed somewhere in the range of 800 pounds (363 kilogrammes) would be my guess, and they can do some serious damage if he got cornered as he did in some of those situations”.

A commenter on Alexander’s Facebook post wrote that he works near where the video was shot and the bear “comes around all the time”. Alexander herself commented that she had another encounter with a bear on the streets of Gatlinburg in 1997 in a hotel parking lot. The abovementioned cases are just a few in a string of human-bear encounters registered in bear-inhabited communities, so their residents should better not banter about Russians and their hungry bears. The borshch-eating bear was at least decent and well-behaved… he finished his meal and left like an Englishman… with no goodbye.

5 October 2013

Voice of Russia World Service

http://voiceofrussia.com/2013_10_05/Russia-beware-of-foodie-bears-7537/

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