National Outrage

The Conversation About Race
& Police Brutality Has Started

Thousands of protesters took New York, Washington DC, Boston, Chicago, and other major U.S. cities to demand a stop in the all too apparent racist tinge by which law enforcement agents have been consistently targeting black youth in this country.
Americans seem to have finally reached a break point this week, after two white cops, who killed two unarmed black young men, Michael Brown, of Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner, of New York’s Staten Island, will not be indicted for their acts.
Acknowledging the growing, widespread mistrust on police departments everywhere, the Justice Department has ordered a review of both cases, but haven’t been able, so far, to dispel the public perception that it’s already behind the curve.
While both cases share similarities aside their obvious racial overtones, there are also glaring differences between them. While witnesses may have offered diverse accounts of how Brown was shot, the fatal chokehold that asphyxiated Garner was captured on video.
Their deaths come at the tail of a long, disturbing string of police killings of unarmed black teenagers, that predates Garner‘s death on July 17, and includes the seven who were killed since August 9, when Brown was shot. To dare saying that this is not about race is just downright absurd.
Obviously, other factors should be also taken into account, from an unprepared and ill trained police force, to an increasing contingent of dispossessed and impoverish minorities in the U.S. Yes, income inequality is a big element underlining these tragedies.
But there’s also a need for a real hard, honest, and open-minded look at race relations in America, circa 2014, which is resembling every day more like the 1960s. We could as well take a page from that book on Civil Rights and check how much that we take for granted, we’ve actually forgotten.
Americans may have finally awaken to the shame of living in the richest country in the world while it’s being turned into a playground for the very wealthy, and a holocaust for those at the bottom, with the shrinking middle class Continue reading

Body Building

Corpse Raiders & the
Market for Spare Parts

The FBI is investigating an underground network of human organ sales. Greece has been accused of illegally allowing the ‘harvesting’ of the heart of a dead U.S. Marine. And there’s suspicion that a black market is now a rising global reality. What’s going on?
Welcome to the brave new world of what you don’t like to think about the future. The flip side of modern medical research, which is developing ways to grow and regenerate cells, organs and limbs, is the gruesome traffic of body parts, with or without consent.
Guess who is more vulnerable to selling their bodies (not that way, you perv) for what can never be enough? the poor, naturally. Some would even say that, before its ban, the sale of human blood was a common form of earning cash for skid row denizens everywhere.
Well, even those heartless souls who’d invoke such a grim precendent are finding the mechanics of this new trade too much to stomach. But abstracting the heavy ethical implications, we may not be too far of such a nauseating prospect, in this age of everything has a price.
Not that everyone who could eventually afford such revolting trade would do it, let’s be clear. Morals have no particular attachment or relation to material wealth or lack thereof. Still, it’s unlikely that such a gruesome market would be able to flourish cash free.
Because, face it, money and privilege are the obvious candidates to at least entertain such a possibility. But before we go to far down this rotten route, let’s praise the less Frankenstein-tinged use of medical technology which has, in reality, made great strides.

BIOLOGIC SCAFOLDING
For over 100 thousand Americans, the prospect of a brand new industry focused on developing organs and other ‘components’ of the human flesh and blood machine from stem cells, for instance, is not just exciting, but a source of hope for a radically better life.
Research into nursing cells that will grow to build different organs is far advanced, and has fortunately crossed the phony moral threshold of religious concerns. Demand is overwhelming, which shouldn’t surprised anyone: the U.S. needs more than any other country fresh new organs.
The reason: war, of course. In fact, a considerable percentage of Veterans returning from tours of duty – courtesy of the Pentagon and its steady shipment and deployment of American troops all over the world – are in desperate need for limbs and reconstructive surgery.
As it turns out, restoring at least partially their physical integrity is the relatively easier stage of their lifelong rehab process. And medical Continue reading

Assembly of Errors

Rulers of Poor Nations Come for
U.N. Support, Stay for N.Y. Luxury

Most New Yorkers don’t mind the U.N’s annual General Assembly. Sure, security armies and traffic jams clog the city, and the east side’s all but lost for the count. But what’s that compared to what the organization stands for as symbol of dialog and peaceful resolution to conflicts?
So we may get annoyed with its sluggish politics, but we’re used to it. Now, shopping is a whole other story. And when rulers of some of the world’s most miserable countries are caught on a spree at the city’s most expensive retail joints, well, then forget all about ‘peaceful.’
Never mind the illegal parking. It’s nothing short of criminal to watch their entourages spending public money on luxury items for themselves and their hangers-on. And yet, year after year, such depressing spectacle plays on right under our jaded, despising noses.
The phenomenon is not new, or unique to New York, or even represents too much of a surprise. Two recent worldwide events have only asserted such glaring inequity: the near collapse of the world financial system in 2007, and the Arab Spring that swept north of Africa and Middle East countries less than a year ago.
When the banking structure failed and caused millions to lose their jobs, homes, lifetime savings and even their sanity, it also exposed the inconceivable amount of personal wealth those who caused the crisis had, and still have, access to. So far, no one of that rarefied income bracket has been held accountable for their crimes.
It was not much of a difference with the ouster of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh: the personal wealth of these three dictators amounted to huge percentages of their countries’ GDP, which all have some of the lowest per-capita income, even among Islamic regimes.
As with the bankers that almost bankrupted the world, these deposed rulers still managed to keep large parts of their personal wealth in Continue reading