Photo of the Day

John Hornby’s cabin on the Thelon River as it appeared in 1978.

A Tragic Adventure

This is the story of a tragic expedition by three young Englishmen that went horribly wrong in the barren North West territory of Canada. Against the background of a tragic story of a trapping and a exploring expedition that ran foul of food shortage is the diary of written by one of the victims, a boy of 18 who started off with a boyish zest for adventure, hero worship for his older cousin, leader of the party, and who never flinched, no matter what fearful odds of death and starvation he faced. The diary was kept by the author until the day, he the last survivor died. The skeletons were found, three years later.

No trees. That is the Indian name for the great expanse of tundra…more than half a million square miles…spread across North-Western Canada. Samuel Hearne named it the Barren Ground. It is a wilderness rather than a desert…

Few white men had travelled through that country. One man… John (Jack) Hornby… was determined to learn how to live there. And he died there… of starvation… on April the 16th, 1927….

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Photo of the Day

A child soldier with a human skull resting on the tip of his rifle.Dei Kraham, Cambodia. 1973. Bettmann/Getty Images

Pol Pot

The Brutal Cambodian Dictator

After a solid 30 years of solemnly pledging “never again,” the world stood by and watched in horror as another 20th-century genocide unfolded ? this time in Cambodia.?As head of the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot oversaw an unprecedented and extremely brutal attempt to remove Cambodia from the modern world and establish an agrarian utopia. While attempting to create this utopia, Pol Pot created the Cambodian Genocide, which lasted from 1975 to 1979.

Pol Pot conducted a rule of terror that led to the deaths of nearly a quarter of Cambodia’s seven million people, by the most widely accepted estimates, through execution, torture, starvation and disease.

His smiling face and quiet manner belied his brutality. He and his inner circle of revolutionaries adopted a Communism based on Maoism and Stalinism, then carried it to extremes: They and their Khmer Rouge movement tore apart Cambodia in an attempt to ”purify” the country’s agrarian society and turn people into revolutionary worker-peasants.

Beginning on the day in 1975 when his guerrilla army marched silently into the capital, Phnom Penh, Pol Pot emptied the cities, pulled families apart, abolished religion and closed schools. Everyone was ordered to work, even children. The Khmer Rouge outlawed money and closed all markets. Doctors were killed, as were most people with skills and education that threatened the regime.

The Khmer Rouge especially persecuted members of minority ethnic groups — the Chinese, Muslim Chams, Vietnamese and Thais who had lived for generations in the country, and any other foreigners — in an attempt to make one ”pure” Cambodia. Non-Cambodians were forbidden to speak their native languages or to exhibit any ”foreign” traits. The pogrom against the Cham minority was the most devastating, killing more than half of that community.

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Photo of the Day

Josef Mengele Women’s Camp.

A Monster Among Men

Joseph Mengele

Warning Some Parts of this Story are Disturbing.

The Holocaust seems so distant, so far removed from our reality. For us, it is hard to even conceive of the massive horrors and atrocities committed by Josef Mengele and the Nazis. But the few “Mengele twins” survivors remember. They remember being children when they were spared from outright execution but delivered to a decidedly crueller fate.

He was dubbed the Angel of Death ? the Nazi doctor who tortured and killed thousands of children in grisly experiments at Auschwitz.

Dr Josef Mengele?s medical facility at Auschwitz was perhaps the most horrifying place the Holocaust produced. Who was this man behind it all, and what made him the notorious ?Angel of Death??

In addition to being sites of slave labour and human annihilation, many?Nazi concentration camps also functioned as medical experimentation centres throughout the?Holocaust. Under the guise of researching new treatments or investigating racial eugenics, doctors conducted painful and often fatal experiments on thousands of prisoners without consent. The man most commonly associated with these pseudo-medical experiments is Dr Josef Mengele, whose notoriety among the inmates of Auschwitz earned him the nickname ?the Angel of Death?.

?The Angel of Death, Josef Mengele, was obsessed with twins and performed horrific experiments on them for reasons that still remain unclear. One of his experiments was with eye colour. Mengele or one of his assistants would inject dyes into an eye of a child, preferably a set of twins. The dyes often resulted in injury, sometimes complete blindness, not to mention excruciating pain.

Another series of experiments which Mengele performed was with twins in whom he would inject one with a deadly virus, and after that twin died, kill the other to compare organ tissue at autopsy.

He carried out twin-to-twin transfusions, stitched twins together, castrated, or sterilised twins. Many twins had limbs and organs removed in macabre surgical procedures, performed without using an anaesthetic. Only a few of the estimated 3,000 twins at Auschwitz survived his sadistic madness.

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Photo Of The Day

Picture: CORBIS. American soldier Floyd James Thompson was captured on March 26, 1964 and released March 16, 1973. He spent 10 days short of 9 years (8 years, 355 days) as a POW, he is the longest held POW of the Vietnam war and longest held POW in the United States history.

Picture: CORBIS.
American soldier Floyd James Thompson was captured on March 26, 1964 and released March 16, 1973. He spent 10 days short of 9 years (8 years, 355 days) as a POW, he is the longest held POW of the Vietnam war and longest held POW in the United States history.

?The Glory and Tragedy of a P.O.W.

In the early years of American involvement in Southeast Asia, most Americans were not aware of the situation there. When Floyd J. Thompson told his mother he was being shipped out to Vietnam for a six-month tour in early 1964, she asked, “Where the hell is that?”? He replied, “I don’t know.”

Col. Floyd James “Jim” Thompson of the U.S. Army Special Forces was captured by the Vietcong in South Vietnam in March 1964 and held longer than any other prisoner of war in American history, suffering greatly physically and emotionally.

If there was ever a man who never got a break in his life, it was Jim Thompson. Raised by a domineering and abusive father, drafted into the Army he at first hated military life but then came to love it.?But in the military things did not come easily for Thompson. Commissioned through OCS, he did not volunteer for Special Forces but is ordered into it when the Army, at JFK’s directive, rapidly expands the Green Berets.

Sent to Vietnam, Thompson and his team were sent to one the most remote and potentially dangerous outposts the Army had and he and his team found themselves very quickly in over their heads.

Thompson?s saga as a POW for nearly 9 years was a brutal one, isolation, malnutrition, torture. It is not until he has been a prisoner over 4 yrs that he finally met other Americans, a group of soldiers and civilian personnel captures at Hue during the Tet Offensive. By this point Thompson was reduced to about 100 lbs and looked to the other POWs to be in his 70s when he’s actually in his mid 30s.

After his return is even more brutal, betrayal by his wife, divorce, alcoholism, post-traumatic stress disorder, career problems, totally dysfunctional children, attempted suicide, psychiatric hospitalization.The Thompson family was literally destroyed by the Vietnam War and there were almost no survivors.

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Photo Of The Day

Photographer: Pvt. Ralph Forney. (Army)  This photo has been colourized.

Photographer: Pvt. Ralph Forney. (Army)
This photo has been colourized.

Concentration Camp Inmate

Breaks Out in Tears in W?bbelin

4th of May 1945

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Comment of the Day


Pete (not ours, the other) had a pearler this morning

As I was eating crayfish last night I was wondering who is feeding all those 10,000s of starving kids we keep hearing about who are living in poverty over this xmas New years break while the schools are closed?

I haven’t read any reports of them turning up in droves at A&E suffering from malnutrition …or are they only starving when politicians are not on holiday???

Does Weed Make Food Taste and Smell Better?

Apparently it does and there is some research to back it up…maybe this is why the munchies occur?

[N]ow there?s finally some actual hard science to back up such boasting, thanks to a new study published in Nature Neuroscience that found that the brain?s cannabinoid receptors?promote food intake in fasted mice by increasing odor detection.?

Led by Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux, a team of European neuroscientists proved that THC?the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana?fits into special receptors in the brain?s olfactory bulb, allowing users to smell and taste food far more acutely while high. Since these scientists study neurological diseases, rather than write a column on theintersection of cannabis and cuisine, their report tends to focus on practical medical applications of this exciting new discovery, rather than its role in giving rise to what the New York Times has dubbed haute stoner cuisine.

?Many feeding disorders [like anorexia] are accompanied by altered perception in general,? Marsicano noted. ?Smell is particularly linked to food intake and is particularly altered in different diseases?so smell and its regulation by the endocannabinoid system could represent a future target for therapies against these and other diseases.?

According to Smithsonian Magazine, Marsicano and his team ?began by exposing mice (increasingly used in neuroscientific research because of the surprising amount of cognitive similarities they share with humans) to banana and almond oils as a test of sensitivity to scent. When they did so, the mice sniffed the oils extensively at first, then stopped showing interest in them, a well-known phenomenon called olfactory habituation. Mice that were dosed with THC, however, kept on sniffing, demonstrating an enhanced sensitivity to the scents. These THC-dosed mice also ate much more chow when given the chance, showing an increased appetite.?

When a second set of mice?genetically engineered to lack a cannabinoid receptor in their olfactory bulb?underwent the same experiment, THC had no effect on how quickly they habituated to the scents, or their general level of appetite. That suggests that THC?s effect on these receptors largely accounts for how we get ?the munchies.?

Further, when researchers made some of the non-stoned mice fast for 24-hours, their olfactory bulbs actually began to produce large amounts of endogenous cannabinoids naturally, with the resulting increase in sensitivity to food aromas serving as a powerful incentive to seek out nourishment in large amounts and avoid starvation.

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Gareth’s dream a reality in Belarus

Gareth Morgan dreams of a cat free New Zealand. In Belarus the cats are starving in basements:

The plaintive meows haunt the people of Minsk in the dead of night.

They come, activists say, from hundreds of stray cats who find themselves locked in basements by Belarus authorities – and doomed to starvation.

City authorities have been sealing off apartment block basements to keep out rats. A tragic consequence is that cats get trapped inside, left to waste away.

“My heart aches to hear how the animals, whom they have walled up, are screaming day and night,” said 72-year-old Antonina Gayenko, a retiree who was feeding some cats through small holes in the iron plates used to board up the basements.

“They have doomed them to death from thirst and hunger.”? Read more »

Another of Labour's policy ideas destroyed by facts

Labour have told us that the poor don’t have proper diets. That they need to be encouraged to eat better and that they have the solution to all of this by removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables.

It sounds lovely, it sounds believable, but unfortunately some scientists have rained on Labour’s parade. Simple put the poor aren’t fat.

In both the popular press and academic research, there is the argument that the growth of fast food and energy-dense food has been an important cause of the overweight epidemic in the U.S. and that this has disproportionately affected poor people. [Some] argue that limited economic resources may shift dietary choices toward a diet that provides maximum calories at the least cost. An implication of this line of research is that the poor cannot afford healthy diets.

That is certainly Labour’s contention. But is it right?

Contrary to conventional wisdom, ? the poor have never had a statistically significant higher prevalence of overweight status at any time in the last 35 years. Despite this empirical evidence, the view that the poor are less healthy in terms of excess accumulation of fat persists.

So it isn’t true.

Distribution-sensitive measures of overweight ? [show] that the severity of overweight has been higher for the poor than the nonpoor throughout the last 35 years. ? The strongest relationship between income and BMI is observed at the tails of the distribution. ? For those at the tails of the BMI distribution, increases in income are correlated with healthier BMI values.

In plain english what that means is that there IS a co-relation between poverty and fat ? both the very fattest and the very thinnest people tend to be poor, which then explains why we have an obesity epidemic amongst children and kids going to school hungry as well.

Quite how removing GST off fresh fruit and vegetables will solve that is another matter entirely. I’m assuming that Labour doesn’t have the answers but will employ an expert group to tell us otherwise.