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U.S. Military Prison Officials at Guantanamo Ban a Book Criticizing the Soviet Gulag System
I wonder why...
Human rights group Reprieve International has released this statement about Guantanamo authorities blocking prisoner Shaker Aamer from receiving Alexander Solzhenitsyn's classic book on the Soviet "gulag" prison system, The Gulag Archipelago. The prisoners of Guantanamo Bay do have a library of approved books, and the standards by which they are denied access to certain books have been criticized before.
Solzhenitsyn was a noted dissident and was an outspoken critic of Stalinism and the Soviet-era Russian government, which banned the book as well (until it became mandatory reading in 2009). Solzhenitsyn spent time in the forced labor prison system himself. George Kennan called his book "the most powerful single indictment of a political regime ever to be levied in modern times."
The parity between U.S. prison officials and Soviet Russia, especially in terms of banning books, is not a good look for a country which describes itself as a beacon of freedom.
Below is the text of Reprieve's statement:
The legal team for Shaker Aamer, a British resident who has been detained in Guantanamo without charge or trial for 11 years, attempted to deliver a copy of The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn during a recent visit.
However, Mr Aamer has now told his lawyers that he never received the book.
The move by prison authorities follows reports that they banned the works of John Grisham in July this year – leading to the author penning a strong denunciation of Guantanamo which appeared in The New York Times.
Guantanamo Bay has been compared to a ‘gulag’ in the past, notably by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, as well as by a number of NGOs and media organizations.
Mr Aamer’s lawyers, from human rights charity Reprieve, often bring him books during visits – he has previously described George Orwell’s 1984 as one of his favourite reads. However, Guantanamo authorities have the ability to ban any book from the prison.
Mr Aamer is still held in Guantanamo despite having long been cleared for release, and even though British Prime Minister David Cameron has asked the US to return him home to the UK, where he has a wife and four children, all British citizens.
Clive Stafford Smith, Mr Aamer’s attorney and Director of Reprieve said: “This is yet another demonstration of how Guantanamo is destroying the very values the US once stood for. When your country’s Government starts barring books once banned by the Soviets, alarm bells should ring. Obama could start restoring America’s reputation by releasing those prisoners – like Shaker – who have already been cleared – so why the delay?”
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.