Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sin that pays its way - Sermon of Jonah and the Whale in Moby Dic

"Now Jonah's Captain, shipmates, was one whose discernment detects crime in any, but whose cupidity exposes it only in the penniless. In this world, shipmates, sin that pays its way can travel freely and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers. So Jonah's Captain prepares to test the length of Jonah's purse, ere he judge him openly. He charges him thrice the usual sum; and it's assented to. Then the Captain knows that Jonah is a fugitive; but at the same time resolves to help a flight that paves its rear with gold. Yet when Jonah fairly takes out his purse, prudent suspicions still molest the Captain. He rings every coin to find a counterfeit. Not a forger, any way, he mutters; and Jonah is put down for his passage...." - Excerpt from the sermon on Jonah and the Whale from Moby Dick....

Friday, November 20, 2015

Poem by John Crawford

Heart of the heartless world,
Dear heart, the thought of you
Is the pain at my side,
The shadow that chills my view.

The wind rises in the evening,
Reminds that autumn is near.
I am afraid to lose you,
I am afraid of my fear.

On the last mile to Huesca,
The last fence for our pride,
Think so kindly, dear, that I
Sense you at my side.

And if bad luck should lay my strength
Into the shallow grave,
Remember all the good you can;
Don't forget my love.

Pentagon Study Links Prescription Stimulants to Military PTSD -

Traumatic memories are a hallmark of PTSD.
"When you take a stimulant, you enhance learning," said Dr. Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, who was not part of the study. "PTSD is form of learning. Traumatic experiences hijack circuits in the brain."
In a 2012 column for the New York Times, Friedman wrote that the drugs were compounding the psychological damage of the wars. Studies show that 12% of service members in infantry units during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq developed PTSD.
For the new study, published this month in the Journal of Traumatic Stress, researchers started with 25,971 active-duty troops who screened negative for PTSD and followed them from 2001 to 2008.
The subjects are part of the Pentagon's Millennium Cohort Study, which will track the mental health of service members for the next several decades.
Of the 131 service members who were prescribed stimulants over the course of the study, a total of 20 -- or 15% -- also had PTSD. Controlling for a variety of socioeconomic, demographic and health factors, the researchers found that was five times the rate for everybody else. Overall, there were 1,215 cases of PTSD.
Those who had been prescribed multiple stimulants and the biggest supplies of the drugs were the most likely to have PTSD.
The results did not prove that the drugs caused the disorder. In the majority of cases, the data did not tell researchers whether the prescriptions preceded the onset of PTSD.
Other factors might help explain the results, experts not involved in the study said. For example, the researchers did not control for traumatic brain injuries, which are sometimes treated with stimulants to improve cognitive function.
Dr. Charles Hoge, a psychiatrist at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research who was not involved in the study, says that more research is needed on the issue but that he does not believe the drugs played much of a role in overall rates of PTSD.
"The vast majority of people with PTSD did not receive stimulants," he said.
Rachel Yehuda, a PTSD researcher at New York's Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai who was not part of the new study, said the results raise questions about whether service members with a history of attention disorders should be assigned to the battlefield.
While they are "likely to thrive in the organizing context of structured military training, we need to recognize that they are more vulnerable under the chaotic conditions of combat," she said.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Inside ISIS’ Torture Brigades - The Daily Beast

Talking to girls. Fibbing in court. Drinking a beer. A thousand things will get you tortured in the Islamic State. Unless you’re a suspected CIA spy. Then you lose your head.
For all the attention paid to ISIS, relatively little is known about its inner workings. But a man claiming to be a member of the so-called Islamic State’s security services has stepped forward to provide that inside view. This series is based on days of interviews with this ISIS spy. Read part one here and part two here. ...

bth: this is an excellent article in a series on ISIS. Well worth a read.

Qods Force commander spotted with US-designated terrorist in Aleppo - The Long War Journal

Qassem Soleimani, the commander Iran’s Qods Force, the external operations wing of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, has been photographed with Harakat al Nujaba leader Akram al Kaabi, a US-designated terrorist who fought against US troops in Iraq.
Two photographs, posted on Harakat al Nujaba’s official Facebook page, show Kaabi and Soleimani sitting together in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo. Kaabi was dispatched to Syria earlier this month to help President Bashar al Assad’s forces break the Islamic State’s siege of the Kweiris air base in Aleppo province....

-it is always a good idea to keep an eye on Soleimani's whereabouts as that likely indicates the focal point of Qods Force activities

Deputy emir of ‘moderate’ Taliban faction oversaw ‘massacre of thousands of Shiites’ - The Long War Journal

The deputy emir of a new Taliban faction in Afghanistan that is attempting to portray itself as more moderate than the established branch has been directly implicated in the massacre of thousands of Afghans during the 1998 takeover of Mazar-i-Sharif. Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi also helped shelter a former senior Taliban leader who is closely linked to al Qaeda before he was detained and transferred to Guantanamo Bay.
Niazi, the deputy leader of the so-called “High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate,” was accused by Human Rights Watch of inciting and supporting the murder of thousands of Afghans, mostly from the minority Shiite Hazara sect, after the Taliban seized the city in August 1998. He also sheltered Khairullah Said Wali Khairkhwa, one of five former Guantanamo Bay detainees who were exchanged for captive US soldier Bowe Bergdahl....

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Free Syrian Army Faces Mass Desertions Over Low Pay, Fragmented Leadership - Antiwar

... Those familiar with the situation say that poor conditions for FSA fighters and the fragmented leadership are a factor, but the main source of desertion is the low salaries, which are themselves irregularly paid in several of the factions that face constant funding problems.
FSA commanders say that fighters are paid as low as $50 a month to start, and even those fighting for a long time report getting less than $100 a month, when they get it at all. With other rebel factions like ISIS paying $1,000 or more as a monthly salary, the FSA just isn’t a reliable place for rebels to earn a living in a war that seemingly is going to last years...