The research found that dolphins use a unique whistle to signal particular members in their group and spend about half their time announcing their own ‘names’ while swimming in the wild. The researchers played the signature whistle for a particular dolphin and found that the dolphin whistled back its signature whistle when it heard its ‘name’. It begs the questions what they are whistling the other 50% of the time.
Dolphins have a long history of interaction with humans. Lore from ancient sea voyages tells of dolphins aiding sailors out of troubled waters and leading the lost to land with their unique communication skills. It is thought that this is where the mermaid myth stems from.
The new ruling in India will go a long way to conserving dolphins in the country and may have wider consequences for how other animals are protected in the future. Animal rights activists have long been lobbying for legal status for animals in an attempt to limit the cruelty millions of animals face each year at the hands of humans. The Scottish research somewhat dulls the argument from those against this kind of legislation who believe humans frequently anthropomorphosize animals by conveying human characteristics upon them. This may be a small step but it may just be a crucial one for how we interact with the animals that we share the world with.
Oliver Bienkowski, a Berlin light artist, has found himself the latest target of the Euro-American crack down on freedom of expression. Bienkowski projected the image ‘United Stasi of America’ onto the United States Embassy in Berlin last Sunday night referencing Germany’s former secret police and America’s exposed spying ring. The image was projected for 30 seconds before police ordered the artist to take it down.Berlin police are now seeking to interview Bienkowski for violating a rather totalitarian sounding law which prohibits "insulting organs and representatives of foreign countries."
The image projected included a picture of the internet activist and hacker idol Kim Schmitz, also known as Kim Dotcom. Kim Dotcom rose to prominence in the 1990s when he created the file sharing website Megaupload. He is currently fighting extradition to the United States where he is accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million through pirated content uploading.
Bienkowski’s rational for projecting the image on the US embassy was to voice concern about the US’ web surveillance and the subsequent treatment of whistle blower Edward Snowden. Speaking to Der SpeigelBienkowski said his goal is to "do things that people will see and try to get them to think."
Although no formal charges have been brought against Bienkowski as yet he has already put his defence in motion by issuing the following statement through his lawyer. "By making use of the artistic form of satire, which has always been characterized by exaggeration and hyperbole, Bienkowski was protesting in a legitimate manner the massive degradation of civil rights, particularly via the recently revealed attacks on the private spheres of (not just) German civilians through intercontinental surveillance measures,".
A German company is set to take advertising mind control to new extremes as it unveils its latest horrifically invasive device to try to persuade you to part with your cash. Sky Deutschland, the German provider of Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV and an advertiser called BBDO have invented a new device that uses ‘bone conductive technology’. This technology transmits sound directly to your inner ear via vibrations which pass through the skull. The vibrations make it sound as if a voice is coming from inside your head is telling you to do something.
The ghastly Orwellesque technology has already been tried out on commuters on Germany’s public transport service. Every time they tried to get some rest and placed their heads against a window in their train the imbedded technology transmitted a signal to their brains telling them to download the Sky Go smartphone app. As frightening as it no doubt is Sky has big plans to use this type of technology to promote its services in the future.
The technology was unveiled last month at the international Festival of Creativity in Cannes. As innovative as it is the new technology has, unsurprisingly, got a lot of people upset. As a species we are bombarded with advertising from the moment we wake up in the morning until we fall asleep at night. Some of us manage to ignore most of it by blocking it out consciously. Of course subliminally we are completely at the mercy of the money men who wish to exploit us at every opportunity by creating false needs and desires. However, one would at least hope that while trying to grab 40 winks on the way to work in the morning you could manage to shake them off. This will no longer be the case, if Rupert and friends have anything to do with it. The man’s insatiable greed for money, power and control knows no limits. Just when you think whatever next, new depths are plunged.
The Catholic Church is to make Pope John Paul 2nd a saint in December. Pope Francis has cleared the way for his Polish predecessor to become a saint in record time. In the 5 years since the death of Karol Wojtyla the ‘exceptional circumstances’, of the man’s life, according to Francis, warrant the speedy canonisation of Karol Wojtyla. No doubt a sizable portion of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics will be buoyed by this news, but for many around the world this is not something to be celebrated
The Catholic Church reckons this honour deserves to be bestowed on the man they would like to think ended communism and best represented their corporation. They are planning a drama-queen pageant that even Ru-Paul would approve of in December. Think gay-pride without the fun (and of course no gay people allowed!). For those of us gifted with critical thinking skills this ‘honour ‘ they intend on bestowing on a corpse smacks of PR reparation and really is a slap in the face for the millions of people whose lives were destroyed when he presided over a multitude of child sex abuse cover ups, horrific international policy that doomed millions to premature Aids-related deaths and stymied equality movements with the fervour of a medieval witch finder general.
Tact, subtlety and building bridges have never been strong points for the Catholic Church, so why start now. Canonisation appeals to the base market and will allay a lot of disappointment that the German former Nazi youth member Pope Benedict brought to the hard liner members of the Catholic Church. Much in the same way as a right wing politician will appeal to his or her base by promising to roll back on social progression canonisation of someone whose mythical past achievements allow them to forget their current woes and revel in what they believe is central to their identity as ‘true believers’. Francis and friends know this and know that it is an ideal PR move for a corporation in crisis.
But what exactly is a saint, how do you become one and what do they do? According to the Catholic Church a saint is someone with exceptional holiness, sanctity and virtue. So far so abstract. It says that it doesn’t make saints but just recognises them. A minor concession for the all-powerful corporation but when your CEO is God then you can make up the rules as you please.
To become a saint is a little more complicated. First you have to be beatified (a formal ceremony where the Vatican acknowledges you have entered heaven). The CEO presumably clears that. It’s all very Harry Potter hocus-pocus, but you need to perform at least two miracles in addition to beatification. In Kar0ls’ case to comprehend the first ‘miracle’ requires an unhealthy dose of suspended disbelief. He supposedly cured a French nun by astral projection of Parkinson disease after she and her friends prayed to him to intercede on her behalf and cure her. The second miracle is a little less ‘scientific’ and a little trickier on suspended disbelief. A Costa Rican woman dying of a brain tumour supposedly looked at a picture of Karl during his beatification in 2011 and suddenly her aneurism disappeared. No peer reviewed studies, no second opinions, just blind faith. You couldn’t make it up.
And what do they do? A saint is like a spokes-model or celebrity endorser for a particular cause. If you need help with your cause and God is busy you can just go straight to the saint and talk to them about it. True story. You can have a saint for lost things, a saint for travelling, a saint for fireworks (Saint Barbara), a saint for the internet (Saint Isidore), a saint for ugly people (Saint Drogo), a saint for just about anything. Just what the new saint will endorse is as yet unknown but if you have any suggestions you can take it up with Saint Jude the Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
Syrian Rebels Boast of Turning Children into Killing Machines
In its report the UN urged the international community to stop selling weapons to Syria. Last month the EU lifted its ban on selling weapons after Britain and France lobbied the Union to let an embargo on supplying Syrian Rebels with arms. The move was largely seen as a response to Russia pressing ahead with its intention to supply the Syrian regime with a S-300 surface-to-air missile system. Evidently the Syrian civil war is morphing into a proxy war aided by monetary and political interests outside of its borders.
Build up to WW3?
According to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry into Syria “War crimes, crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations continue apace.” The commission identified 17 incidents from January to mid-may which it classifies as massacres. In one of the massacres carried out by government forces the UN state that "children were forced to watch the torture or killing of parents".In addition an authenticated video has surfaced on line of anti-government rebels getting a child to behead 2 of their captives (see below –viewing discretion is advised). So far 80,000 people have died in the 2 year old civil war (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/world/middleeast/un-panel-reports-increasing-brutality-by-both-sides-in-syria.html?pagewanted=all).
Child Forced to Behead Captives
Last month Newstiller reported on the rebel leader Abu Sakar cannibalising the body of a Syrian soldier (Syrian Rebel Cannibalism). The latest report from the United Nations will add to the growing unease those outside of Syria feel toward our governments supporting the Syrian rebel movement. Coupled with the evidence that Assad’s regime is using chemical weapons and has been massacring civilians, a resounding consensus that there are no good guys in this increasingly nasty war is becoming a lot clearer to see.
Trying to perfect your beach body and not having much luck staying away from chips and chocolate? Tried eating nothing but cabbage, liposuction, gastric bands and even the dreaded gym? A new diet fad may just be what you need to shed those pounds. The latest extreme craze making waves in the diet world is sewing a postage stamp sized piece of plastic onto your tongue to stop you enjoying food. The stamp renders moving your tongue and eating so painful that you will duck and cover the next time you even look at a cookie. What’s more, the plastic stamp slurs your speech so your friends and family won’t have to put up with your whining! It’s a win win for everyone!
The marlex plastic patch was pioneered by Beverley Hills’ Plastic Surgeon, Nikolas Chugay, in 2009. It was initially marketed as a last resort effort to curb obese patients’ cravings but has since become the latest fad in diet obsessed Venezuela where the body beautiful is all important. The plastic patch is typically sewn onto the tongue with six stiches and stays in place for the maximum of one month. The plastic used in the patch is porous and has the ability to become embedded in the tongue tissue if left on for any longer.
On average users of the patch lose 30 pounds in a month, so it clearly works. Despite the outcomes the method it uses and the side effects it causes are so painful that eating solid foods becomes impossible. There is a risk of swelling, infection and rejection, but for desperate dieters these are small inconveniences. Users are forced to exist on a diet of liquids while the tongue is in place. While some might welcome a diet of crushed fermented grapes, it doesn’t sound like too much fun overall.
The patch diet hasn’t been approved by the American Food and Drug Administration so as yet it has only been used in a handful of countries with far more lax rules on what you can put into your body. In Venezuela where women spend 20% of their salaries on cosmetics, banks offer plastic surgery loans, syrups that induce vomiting are legally sold and other extreme ‘beauty’ methods are common place, the patch has found its natural home.
While many people will shake their heads in disbelief as to why anyone would put themselves through such abuse, it may just be an extreme response to the social expectations that every one of us face to look a certain way. The mere fact that such an invasive and unpleasant diet control method exists at all says a lot about humanity.
Kenya has been outraged this week by the death of 6 Rhinos in its national parks. The Rhinos, one of Kenya’s most endangered animals and one of its main tourist attractions, are being poached for their horns. In the last week six Rhinos have been gunned down and their horns removed. The current deaths are being attributed to the sharp rise in demand for Rhino horns being used in traditional medicine in Asia. The poachers are merciless in their pursuit of the Rhino horn and frequently hack off the horns with chainsaws while the animals are still alive (see the clip below).
Rhino Attacked by Poachers (viewing discretion advised)
Rhino horns have long been a highly coveted ingredient in European, Asian and Africa cultures. There is a long history of the horn being carved for figurines and amulets. The prized horn was up until recently only affordable to the extremely rich but with the rise of the nouveau riche all over Asia more and more people are able to afford the rare and expensive horn.
Although there isn’t much of history of the horn being used in traditional medicine in Asia (outside of Vietnam where it has been used as a headache cure) it has made huge waves in recent years on the traditional medicine circuit all over the continent. It is now being ground up and used in everything from potions to cure cancer to aphrodisiacs. The current market rate for the Rhino horn is $ 40-50,000/kg – huge profits are assured for the poachers with each Rhino horn averaging at about 3 - 4 kgs.
The black markets of Asia are ground zero for the future of the Rhino. Unless something is done to combat the illegal trade in Rhino, numbers will plummet and the animal will become extent. The following documentary from Al Jazeera explores the trade and exposes the traders and complicit Vietnamese government in the death of the Rhino.