The Earth, and its wealth, at night

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If it were night everywhere at the same time, this is what the Earth would look like (click to enlarge). But that strange statement doesn’t explain the importance of this view. What this image shows us is a representation of global wealth. As Vox puts it:

What you see is that in rich countries, light is largely a proxy for population density. Observe the thick cluster of the US Northeastern Megalopolis and the even bigger cluster in northwestern Europe. In poorer regions, however, the map represents not just population density but also the actual availability of electrical lighting. Huge swathes of Africa are barely illuminated at night, and densely populated India looks rather dim.

But of course, if it were night everywhere, that would mean the sun would be gone and we’d all be dead. Money can’t fix that.

Demonstrations in D.C.

A very busy day in the nation’s capital yesterday (From the Washington Post):

Demonstrations drew thousands of people from around the country to the White House and the streets of downtown Washington on Saturday afternoon in peaceful protests.

In one, participants called for an end to the continued violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, advocates converged in the District to urge President Obama to take administrative action on issues involving undocumented immigrants. Both groups ended up at the White House in the afternoon, seeking a stage to voice their concerns.

The larger group, supporting the Palestinians, arrived by bus from big cities and many others drove hundreds of miles to participate, organizers said

“Free, free Palestine, killing children is a crime,” the crowd chanted. Several people held Palestinian flags, cardboard boxes representing coffins or posters with graphic images of the wounded. …

… At the same time, hundreds gathered — first at the Mall, and then at Freedom Plaza and at the White House — to push for ­immigration-policy reform..

I don’t usually go around the White House on Saturday, but I was biking to Northwest Washington to see a friend headed off to China, and just saw mobs of people everywhere and a huge police presence around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For some reason, there were also a lot of people lined up to go on the White House grounds, and I didn’t think they had tours on the weekend.

And I will say that although this story gives the impression that both demonstrations drew equal attention. the reality is that the immigration gathering was nothing compared to the Gaza demonstration. I biked by Freedom Plaza and saw a very small group of people for the immigration rally. And to be honest, I’ve seen more people at the regular Sunday night tango sessions in Freedom Plaza than at the immigration rally.

For those of you who never pay attention to international news, you are aware, in the abstract, that people are getting killed as Israel and Gaza exchange rocket and missile fire. There are pretend cease-fires, but the minute one is announced, it’s broken. This is the death toll so far (click to enlarge):

Gaza-deathsThis is what the Gaza demonstration was about. The slaughter of children. No one would be demonstrating if it was just soldiers and militants killing each other.

What does your nation’s leader drive?

What’s interesting in the following chart is:

1) The queen of England got ripped off.

2) South American leaders drive cheaply (look at Chile and Uruguay).

3) The premise that you can determine a country’s level of corruption by the cost of a head of state’s car is really stretching it.

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The horrors of childhood in Syria

We can’t conceive of the real-life nightmares children face in other parts of the world. These Syrian children were almost blown up. I would have been catatonic. They just see it as another day of surviving.

 

Forced feedings at Guantanamo

At last count, there were more than 100 detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility participating in the fifth month of a hunger strike.

According to the AP:

Lawyers for prisoners say the most recent hunger strike began in February as a protest of conditions and their indefinite confinement at the U.S. base in Cuba. The military says the hunger strike began in early March and that, as of Monday, 106 of the 166 detainees met the criteria to be declared hunger strikers, a definition that includes missing nine consecutive meals.

Prison medical officials have determined that 45 of the prisoners have lost enough weight that they can be fed liquid nutrients, by force if necessary, with a nasogastric tube to prevent them from starving themselves to death. The U.S. military intends to feed all prisoners, including those on hunger strike, before dawn and after sunset during the Muslim holy period of Ramadan to accommodate the men’s religious practices. Military officials have said the feeding process is not painful and only done to prevent any of the men from dying, not as punishment.

So the military says the process isn’t painful. The rapper formerly known as Mos Def decided to see if that was the case. The following video is not going to be pleasant. You have been warned:

A federal judge this week rejected a bid by a the hunger to block force-feeding at the Cuban detention center, but said that the practice appears to violate international law and urged President Barack Obama to step in.

That’s where it stands.

It doesn’t matter where you stand of the issue of the detainees’ possible guilt or innocence. What you do need to know is that this is what we’re doing in Guantanamo. You may not have known it, but the rest of the world is watching closely.