Friday, June 27, 2008

What makes Us Human Documentary

What is it that separates us from our animal cousins and makes us essentially human?

In this documentary we see that while our closest animal relatives have been swinging from the trees, humans have built a world that is vastly more complex. What are the defining features that have allowed us to do this? Are we special, and separate from all other animals, or are we just an especially successful mammal?

Part 1 – Big Heads

Part 2 – Copycats

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Terror of Zimbabwe Documentary

This documentary shows us stories about people like Tonderai Ndira was a shrewd choice for assassination: young, courageous and admired. Kill him and fear would pulse through a thousand spines. He was an up-and-comer in Zimbabwe's opposition party, a charismatic figure with a strong following in the Harare slums where he lived.

There were rumors his name was on a hit list. For weeks he hid out, but his wife, Plaxedess, desperately pleaded with him to come home for a night. He slipped back to his family on May 12.

The five killers pushed through the door soon after dawn, as Ndira, 30, slept and his wife made porridge for their two children. He was wrenched from his bed, roughed up and stuffed into the back seat of a double-cab Toyota pickup. "They're going to kill me," he cried, Plaxedess said.

As the children watched from the door, two men sat on his back, a gag was shoved in his mouth and his head was yanked upward, a technique of asphyxiation later presumed in a physician's post-mortem to be the cause of death. A presidential runoff, scheduled for Friday, was cast into doubt when the opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said Sunday that he would not take part because anyone who voted for him would be at risk of being killed.

"We will no longer participate in this violent, illegitimate sham of an election process," Tsvangirai said.

In the morbid and sinister weeks recently passed, there has been a calculated campaign of bloodletting meant to intimidate the opposition and strip it of some of its most valuable foot soldiers. Even as hundreds of election observers from neighboring countries were deployed across Zimbabwe in the past few days, the gruesome killings and beatings of opposition figures continued.

The body of the wife of Harare's newly chosen mayor was found Wednesday, her face so badly bashed in that even her own brother only recognized her by her brown corduroy skirt and plaited hair. On Thursday, the bodies of four opposition activists turned up after they had been abducted by men shouting ruling party slogans.

The strategic killing of activists and their families has deprived the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, not only of its stalwarts but hundreds of other essential workers who have fled while reasonably supposing they will be next.

At least 85 activists and supporters of the party have been killed, according to civic group tallies, including several operatives who, while little known outside Zimbabwe, were mainstays within it. They were thorns in the side of the government, frequently in and out of jail, bold enough to campaign in the no-go areas where the party of Robert Mugabe - the 84-year-old liberation hero who has run the nation for nearly three decades - previously faced little competition.

"They're targeting people who are unknown, because cynically they know they can get away with it," said David Coltart, an opposition senator.

Monday, June 23, 2008

What We Still Don't Know Documentary

Part 1 - Are we alone?

Hear the word ‘alien’ and what might spring to mind is something approaching HG Wells’ vision of a warlike Martian invader from War of the Worlds. His fantastical dreams of dumpy aliens sporting octopod tentacles and camouflage coloured skin have long been inclined to place the topic of alien life well beyond the realm of intelligent discourse and into the world of weird and wacky belief.

But no longer. In this documentary film - Are We Alone?, Martin Rees puts paid to the flights of fantasy and takes us on a journey of unsettling consequence.

Seth Shostak is one of SETI’s (Institute for the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) leading investigators. He is utterly convinced that there is someone out there. The most compelling evidence is simply in the vast scales of space. There are 10,000 billion billion stars visible from Earth’s telescopes alone, and a conservative estimate places orbiting planets around one in ten of them. Would it not then be very strange if Earth were the only planet out of so many boggling billions to have been a cradle for life?

Peter Ward is a paleontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. He’s an expert biologist and not given to inventing weird alien creatures. But even he has to admit that life elsewhere is more than likely: ‘When you think there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and there are billions of galaxies, we now think that virtually every star has a planet, more than one planet, you’re going to have abodes for life almost everywhere. It’s ridiculous to think it happened on this planet and this planet alone. Life is definitely out there.’

Part 2 - Why are we here?

Philosophers and theologians have long debated our purpose in the universe. We have always assumed that there is some higher purpose for humanity, but the universe it seems may have other ideas.

In Why Are We Here? Martin Rees explains how scientists have had to revise long-held beliefs about the very nature of the universe, and in the process re-evaluate our place here. To do this, Rees presents some of the most fundamental questions about the universe and our own origins: What was the beginning? What is the nature of life? What is the future of the cosmos and the nature of reality?

The answers may not be what you expect. Empty space is not so empty after all. Most of the universe is made up not of atoms, as previously thought, but of a mysterious and elusive substance called ‘dark matter’. Without it the universe simply would not exist.

But working against dark matter is an even more mysterious force that threatens to tear the universe apart – ‘dark energy’.

Part 3 - Are we real?

All life on Earth is nothing more than an elaborate facade created by super-intelligent beings. Humans now exist in a computerized version of the world – a simulation that keeps us happy, while our powers are drained by our creators for use as fuel in their campaign for dominance in the ‘real’ world. This is the premise of the cult sci-fi thriller The Matrix.

‘The simulation hypothesis, that we are currently living in a computer simulation, should be understood literally, it’s not just in a metaphorical sense whereby one could view the universe as a simulation, but literally we would be living in a simulation created by some advanced civilization in a computer they built in their universe. And everything we see and our brains themselves would just be parts of this simulation.’ Oxford University philosopher Dr Nick Bostrom echoes the thoughts of sci-fi writers and scientists alike. The simulation hypothesis is not sci-fi, it’s serious academic thought.

In Are We Real? Martin Rees navigates the extraordinary territory between science fact and science fiction. He reveals the logical steps that have led cosmologists and philosophers to the shocking conclusion that The Matrix scenario cannot be safely relegated to our storybooks. Whether it’s true or not, and it might be, here is a story that is altogether more serious and more deeply disturbing than any sci-fi fantasy could ever be.

Cosmologist Professor Max Tegmark from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warns us that ‘We humans have undergone a series of demotions, a series of blows to our ego.’ Prepare yourself for another.

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bumfights - A Video Too Far Documentary

In this documentary we see that Bumfights is an independent video series originally created by Indecline Films. The videos feature homeless individuals in the San Diego and Las Vegas counties of the U.S. fighting and attempting amateur stunts in exchange for money, alcohol, and other incentives. The first video, Bumfights: A Cause for Concern, was produced by Ryan McPherson, with friends Zachary Bubeck, Daniel J. Tanner, and Michael Slyman, as Indecline Films. Shortly after sales began to escalate, Indecline Films sold the rights to two investors, who went on to produce three sequels.

The videos immediately gained criticism from the mainstream public and became one of the most discussed news stories of 2002. The US-based National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) has stated that Bumfight videos disseminate hate against the homeless and dehumanize them. In April 2006, the four original filmmakers agreed to pay three homeless men depicted in the videos and to not produce any more "Bumfights" videos or distribute videos already made, under a settlement announced as a lawsuit was to go to trial.

The videos have proven to be highly controversial. They have been banned in a number of countries including Great Britain, and most traditional retail outlets have refused their sale. The popular internet auction site eBay routinely cancels listings which contain copies of the video, citing their policy which prohibits the sale of materials which promote or glorify violence. In the state of California, both felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against the producers, as well as civil lawsuits; in 2005, the producers were sentenced to six months in prison for having failed to complete the community service to which they had previously been sentenced. The filmmakers maintain that the production of the video was a mutually beneficial arrangement and that the homeless people depicted freely chose to participate.

The films have likewise been blamed for inspiring a number of violent teenage attacks on the homeless, both in the United States and other countries. In 2004, three teenagers from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, severely beat and killed a homeless man by the name of Rex Baum. The following year, four teenagers from Holly Hill, Florida, attacked and killed Michael Roberts, a homeless man whom they found in the woods. They confessed to beating Roberts for three hours, after which he died. A group of suburban Nevada teenagers, who took on the moniker "311 Boyz", also faced criminal charges, including attempted murder, after filming several violent exploits inspired by Bumfights. The suspects attempted to make a profitable video by instigating fights around their neighborhoods, in some instances imposing on unwilling participants.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Global Dimming Documentary

Noticed less sunshine lately? In this documentary we see that Scientists have discovered that the amount of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface has been falling over recent decades.

If the climatologists are right, their discovery holds the potential for powerful disruption to life on our planet. Already it may have contributed to many thousands of deaths through drought and famine.

Essentially, the phenomenon called "global dimming" may mean that even the direst predictions about the rate of global warming have been seriously underestimated.

Until recently many scientists had never heard of global dimming. Among those who had, a lot remained sceptical. Now, thanks in part to the work of Australian researchers, the debate is set to edge into public consciousness.

This special report from the BBC’s Horizon program reveals how global dimming was gradually unmasked by isolated groups of scientists across the world ... in Israel, Germany, the US and Australia.

Global dimming is a product of the fossil fuels that cause global warming. It is the result of tiny airborne pieces of soot, ash and sulphur compounds reflecting back the heat of the sun.

By allowing less sunlight to reach the Earth, global dimming is cushioning us from the full impact of global warming, climatologists say. They fear that as we burn coal and oil more cleanly, and dimming is reduced, the full effects of global warming will be unleashed.

The worst-case scenario has temperatures rising by up to 10 degrees by the end of the century – twice more than previously thought.

Scientists have also linked global dimming to the failure of rains in sub-Saharan Africa – and the catastrophic droughts that hit Ethiopia in the 1980s. They worry that the same thing will happen again in areas like Asia, home to billions of people.

The overriding concern expressed by climate scientists in this program is that our climate will be radically altered, rendering many parts of the planet uninhabitable - unless concerted action is taken to combat both global dimming and global warming.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Trap Documentary

Fuck You Buddy!! - Part 1

In this documentary, Curtis examines the rise of game theory during the Cold War and the way in which its mathematical models of human behaviour filtered into economic thought. The programme traces the development of game theory with particular reference to the work of John Nash, who believed that all humans were inherently suspicious and selfish creatures that strategised constantly. Using this as his first premise, Nash constructed logically consistent and mathematically verifiable models, for which he won the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize in Economics. He invented system games reflecting his beliefs about human behaviour, including one called "So Long Sucker---Fuck Your Buddy", in which the only way to win was to betray your playing partner, and it is from this game that the episode's title is taken.

These games were internally coherent and worked correctly as long as the players obeyed the ground rules that they should behave selfishly and try to outwit their opponents, but when RAND's analysts tried the games on their own secretaries, they instead chose not to betray each other, but to cooperate every time. This did not, in the eyes of the analysts, discredit the models, but instead proved that the secretaries were unfit subjects.

What was not known at the time was that Nash was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and, as a result, was deeply suspicious of everyone around him—including his colleagues—and was convinced that many were involved in conspiracies against him. It was this mistaken belief that led to his view of people as a whole that formed the basis for his theories. Footage of an older and wiser Nash was shown in which he acknowledges that his paranoid views of other people at the time were false.

The Lonely Robot - Part 2
The second episode reiterated many of the ideas of the first, but developed the theme that the drugs such as Prozac and lists of psychological symptoms which might indicate anxiety or depression were being used to normalise behaviour and make humans behave more predictably, like machines.

This was not presented as a conspiracy theory, but as a logical (although unpredicted) outcome of market-driven self-diagnosis by checklist based on symptoms, but not actual causes, discussed in the previous programme.

People with standard mood fluctuations diagnosed themselves as abnormal. They then presented themselves at psychiatrist's offices, fulfilled the diagnostic criteria without offering personal histories, and were medicated. The alleged result was that vast numbers of Western people have had their behaviour and mentation modified by SSRI drugs without any strict medical necessity.

The Ax Fight—a famous anthropological study of the Yanomamo people of Venezuela by Tim Asch and Napoleon Chagnon—was re-examined and its strictly genetic-determinist interpretation called into question. Other researchers were called upon to verify Chagnon's conclusions and arrived at totally opposed opinions. The suggestion was raised that the presence of a film crew and the handing out of machetes to some, but not all, tribesmen might have caused them to 'perform' as they did. While being questioned by Curtis, Chagnon was so annoyed by this suggestion that he terminated the interview and walked out of shot, protesting under his breath.

Film of Richard Dawkins propounding his ultra-strict "selfish gene" analogy of life was shown, with the archive clips spanning two decades to emphasise how the severely reductionist ideas of programmed behaviour have been absorbed by mainstream culture. (Later, however, the documentary gives evidence that cells are able to selectively replicate parts of DNA dependent on current needs. According to Curtis such evidence detracts from the simplified economic models of human beings.). This brought Curtis back to the economic models of Hayek and the game theories of Cold War. Curtis explains how, with the "robotic" description of humankind apparently validated by geneticists, the game theory systems gained even more hold over society's engineers.

We Will Force You to Be Free - Part 3

The final programme focussed on the concepts of positive and negative liberty introduced in the 1950s by Isaiah Berlin. Curtis briefly explained how negative liberty could be defined as freedom from coercion and positive liberty as the opportunity to strive to fulfill one's potential. Tony Blair had read Berlin's essays on the topic and wrote to him in the late 1990s, arguing that positive and negative liberty could be mutually compatible. He never received a reply, as Berlin was on his death bed.

The programme began with a description of the Two Concepts of Liberty, reviewing Berlin's opinion that, since it lacked coercion, negative liberty was the 'safer' of the two. Curtis then explained how many political groups who sought their vision of freedom ended up using violence to achieve it.

For example the French revolutionaries wished to overthrow a monarchical system which they viewed as antithetical to freedom, but in so doing ended up with the so-called Reign of Terror. Similarly, the Bolshevik revolutionaries in Russia, who sought to overthrow the old order and replace it with a society in which everyone was equal, ended up creating a totalitarian regime which used violence to achieve its ends.

Using violence, not simply as a means to achieve one's goals, but also as an expression of freedom from Western bourgeois norms, was an idea developed by African revolutionary Frantz Fanon. He developed it from the Existentialist ideology of Jean-Paul Sartre, who argued that terrorism was a "terrible weapon but the oppressed poor have no others." . These views were expressed, for example, in the revolutionary film The Battle of Algiers.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Steal This Film 2 Documentary

These are strange times indeed. While they continue to command so much attention in the mainstream media, the 'battles' between old and new modes of distribution, between the pirate and the institution of copyright, seem to many of us already lost and won. We know who the victors are. Why then say any more?

This documentary highlights the fact that because waves of repression continue to come: lawsuits are still levied against innocent people; arrests are still made on flimsy pretexts, in order to terrify and confuse; harsh laws are still enacted against filesharing, taking their place in the gradual erosion of our privacy and the bolstering of the surveillance state. All of this is intended to destroy or delay inexorable changes in what it means to create and exchange our creations. If STEAL THIS FILM II proves at all useful in bringing new people into the leagues of those now prepared to think 'after intellectual property', think creatively about the future of distribution, production and creativity, we have achieved our main goal.

It has been an exciting and demanding year for us and we really hope you'll enjoy the work we've done. It would not have been possible without the thousands of donations you have given us. We have a plan for the future and if you would like to continue to support us, go here. Thank you.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Bush Family Fortunes Documentary

In Bush Family Fortunes: The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, journalist Greg Palast argues persuasively that George W. Bush was allowed into the Air National Guard ahead of other applicants due to his political connections; paints a damning portrait of how over 90,000 Florida voters, predominantly black, were prevented from voting in the 2000 election; discusses the number of government contracts handed out to large corporate donors to Bush's campaign--and that's just the first half-hour.

Palast doesn't have the cinematic savvy of Michael Moore, but Bush Family Fortunes acts as a valuable corollary to Fahrenheit 9/11, exploring certain facets of the same argument specifically, that the Bush family is detrimentally tied to both the Saudi Arabian ruling elite and the American oil industry, with whom they trade influence and money for mutual benefit. Palast's investigations will stir the blood of any Democrat and may raise doubts in some Republicans.

This hour long documentary follows the award-winning reporter-sleuth Greg Palast on the trail of the Bush family, from Florida election finagling, to the Saudi connection, to the Bush team's spiking the FBI investigation of the bin Laden family and the secret State Department plans for post-war Iraq.

These are the hard-hitting reports that have been seen in films like Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, broadcast internationally on BBC Newsnight television, and are found in Palast's international bestselling book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Who Wrote the Bible Documentary

A two-hour Channel 4 special about the Bible opens with images of George Bush – and Osama Bin Laden. The Bible, holy books and the religious faith they inspire are on the news agenda as they've rarely been before, and the presenter of the programme, Dr Robert Beckford, is looking for good answers to what sounds like a simple question: Who wrote the Bible?

It's a question that has preoccupied biblical scholars for several generations but Beckford, who is director of the Centre for Black Theology at the University of Birmingham, forsakes the library and takes to the road in a journey from Jerusalem to Rome and on to the USA (with a stopover in Walthamstow). On the way, he talks to American pilgrims shouldering crosses on the streets of Jerusalem, to the head of the Pope's Bible Institute, to a former criminal and boxing promoter in East London, and many more. Beckford must be the only theologian in the UK who has his own Saturday night radio show, so he looks perfectly at home in the open top, electric blue fin-tail car he drives on the US leg of his quest.

Sitting on a pew with a Baptist minister in Georgia, USA, he hears the most direct answer to his question of who wrote the Good Book: 'Gaaad said it; that settles it; I believe it!' says the minister, Dr Richard Land, who is an adviser to President Bush and has the presidential cufflinks to prove it. Dr Land then goes on to take George Bush to task for not sending more troops into Iraq, giving a chilling glimpse into the way the Bible's more militaristic books might be fuelling the conflict. 'I would have sent 500,000 troops,' he declares.

That revealing episode is just one jolt among many in the programme, showing us that the Bible is not some dusty old tome, locked in the past. The ancient texts still have power, for good and evil. For Beckford, the most memorable moment during filming comes when he talks to a Jewish settler in the Palestinian town of Hebron. 'We're surrounded by soldiers, he is armed and there are a couple of tanks making sure we are not attacked. I ask the settler what it means to be in Hebron and there is a sparkle in his eye as he says, "This is our land, given to us by God."'

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Tibet - Cry of the Snow Lion Documentary

The documentary opens with the memories of a journey to Tibet by two young American adventurers, who suddenly find themselves in the middle of Tibetan demonstrations against Chinese rule. Their riveting story is supported by interviews with Tibetan monks and nuns who participated in the demonstrations, accompanied by a powerful assemblage of images documenting the massacre and crackdown by Chinese forces.

The heroic story of Jampa Tenzin, a monk who rescued prisoners from a burning police station, his subsequent capture, torture and death, leads to a prayer by the Dali Lama, and sets the tone for the epic tale about to unfold: a story of struggle, courage, and compassion.

Ten years in the making, this award-winning documentary was filmed during a remarkable nine journeys throughout Tibet, India and Nepal. CRY OF THE SNOW LION brings audiences to the long-forbidden "rooftop of the world" with an unprecedented richness of imagery… from rarely-seen rituals in remote monasteries, to horse races with Khamba warriors; from brothels and slums in the holy city of Lhasa, to the magnificent Himalayan peaks still traveled by nomadic yak caravans.

The dark secrets of Tibet’s recent past are powerfully chronicled through riveting personal stories and interviews, and a collection of undercover and archival images never before assembled in one film. It is worth noting that there is no appearance by the Dali Lama. A definitive exploration of a legendary subject, TIBET: CRY OF THE SNOW LION is an epic story of courage and compassion.

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A World Without Water Documentary

The world is running out of its most precious resource. True Vision's timely film tells of the personal tragedies behind the mounting privatisation of water supplies. More than a billion people across the globe don’t have access to safe water. Every day 3900 children die as a result of insufficient or unclean water supplies. The situation can only get worse as water gets evermore scarce.

For much of the world, atlases no longer tell the truth. Today, dozens of the planet's greatest rivers run dry long before they reach the sea. They include the Nile in Egypt; the Yellow River in China; the Indus in Pakistan; the Rio Grande and Colorado in the US; the ancient Oxus that once poured into the Aral Sea in Central Asia; the Murray in Australia and the Jordan in the Middle East, which is emptied before it can even reach the country that bears its name.

The dire state of such rivers is the most visible sign of a profound crisis in how the world uses its water - a crisis that reflects water's new place as one of the most important and threatened commodities.

It's a situation that could herald a world in which wars are fought over water.

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Outfoxed - Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism Documentary

"Outfoxed" examines how media empires, led by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News, have been running a "race to the bottom" in television news. This documentary provides an in-depth look at Fox News and the dangers of ever-enlarging corporations taking control of the public's right to know.

The film explores Murdoch's burgeoning kingdom and the impact on society when a broad swath of media is controlled by one person.

Media experts, including Jeff Cohen (FAIR) Bob McChesney (Free Press), Chellie Pingree (Common Cause), Jeff Chester (Center for Digital Democracy) and David Brock (Media Matters) provide context and guidance for the story of Fox News and its effect on society.

This documentary also reveals the secrets of Former Fox News producers, reporters, bookers and writers who expose what it's like to work for Fox News. These former Fox employees talk about how they were forced to push a "right-wing" point of view or risk their jobs. Some have even chosen to remain anonymous in order to protect their current livelihoods. As one employee said "There's no sense of integrity as far as having a line that can't be crossed."

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Life After People Documentary

What would happen to planet earth if the human race were to suddenly disappear forever? Would ecosystems thrive? What remnants of our industrialized world would survive? What would crumble fastest? From the ruins of ancient civilizations to present day cities devastated by natural disasters, history gives us clues to these questions and many more in the visually stunning and thought-provoking special Life After People.

Abandoned skyscrapers would, after hundreds of years, become "vertical ecosystems" complete with birds, rodents and even plant life. One small animal might be responsible for bringing down the Hoover Dam hydroelectric plant. Swelled rivers, crumbling bridges and buildings, grizzly bears in California and herds of buffalo returning to the Great Western Plains: In a world without humans, these would be the visual hallmarks. Our cars would shrivel to piles of dust, our house pets would be overtaken by flourishing wildlife and most of the records of our human storybooks, photos, records would fade quickly, leaving little evidence that we ever existed.

Eiffel Tower Decomposing

Using feature film quality visual effects and top experts in the fields of engineering, botany, ecology, biology, geology, climatology and archeology, Life After People provides an amazing visual journey through the ultimately hypothetical.

Buildings Decomposing

The 1986 nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl and its aftermath provides a riveting and emotional case study of what can happen after humans have moved on. Life After People goes to remote islands off the coast of Maine to search for traces of abandoned towns, beneath the streets of New York to see how subway tunnels may become watery canals, to the Montana wilderness to divine the destiny of the bears and wolves.

Humans won't be around forever, and now we can see in detail, for the very first time, the world that will be left behind in Life After People.

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Sweet Misery - A Poisoned World Documentary

Excellent documentary showing how dangerous artificial sweetener Aspartame is. From its history, to its effects this video is enough to shock anyone into really looking at there food labels next time they shop. Aspartame is a toxic food that came into the world as an investment By Donald Rumsfeld, while ignoring the deadly effects the tests showed. Take a good look at this video, it could save lives.

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names Nutrasweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle's research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death. A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by Aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of Aspartame: Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Click here and here for more information on aspartame.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Inside Burma's Secret War

In Burma's Secret War, Dispatches exposes the new surge in violence inflicted on the Burmese people by their own regime. Enslaved by a brutal military dictatorship which wields absolute power, Burma is a secretive state where suppression reigns and dissent is not tolerated.

Dispatches exposes the new surge in violence inflicted on the Burmese people by their own regime. Enslaved by a brutal military dictatorship which wields absolute power, Burma is a secretive state where suppression reigns and dissent is not tolerated.

Journalist Evan Williams, who is banned from entering the country after reporting on Burma for more than 10 years, goes undercover to investigate the mass ethnic cleansing, forced labour and vicious clamping down of political opposition which characterise the dictatorship.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Equinox - Psychopath

According to popular wisdom, psychopaths are ...crazed and bloodthirsty serial killers. The reality is not ...all so simple. While many psychopaths do commit violent crimes, not all psychopaths are criminals and not all criminals are psychopathic. Psychopaths are found in many walks of life and are often successful in competitive professions. However they are also ruthless, manipulative and destructive.

Equinox reports on techniques developed by psychologists to work out whether a person is psychopathic and shows how brain scientists are coming close to mapping the malfunctions in the brain that cause a person to be a psychopath. In Britain one person in 200 is likely to be a psychopath. However psychopaths are thought to be responsible for half of all reported crimes and to make up between 15% and 20% of the prison population.

The programme looks at the most recent research into the brains and behaviour of psychopaths and assesses the prospects for the treatment or containment of this antisocial group of people who create such a disproportionate amount of destruction. Psychopaths who have been convicted of appalling crimes explain with disturbing clarity what motivated them in their violent and destructive behaviour. They speak without shame, guilt, remorse or empathy with their victims. Though they are articulate and, at times, plausible and charming, they lack the range of emotions experienced by the rest of society. They know the difference between right and wrong but they do not feel it.

Robert Hare, Professor of Psychology at the University of Vancouver, has devised a system of assessment c
alled the Psychopathy Checklist. In specialised interviews, psychologists assess individuals on a scale of 0 to 40 for a series of character traits, including callousness, superficial charm, lack of empathy and many others (for more detail look at How to recognise a psychopath). Anyone whose score is greater than 26 is diagnosed as psychopathic.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cyber War

The cyberwar began after a mid-air collision between a US spyplane and a Chinese fighter aircraft on 1 April. The Chinese plane crashed into the sea killing its pilot while the US plane and its crew of 24 was held by China. The crew was released 11 days later. As the US crew were still being held, US hackersbroke into hundreds of Chinese sites, leaving messages such as "We will hate China forever and we will hack its sites". In response, the Honker Union announced it would launch its own electronic graffiti blitz. Tit-for-tat web defacements followed, causing damage to sites run in both countries.

At the time, the Honker Union called on Chinese software engineers to increase internet security on Chinese websites, which had been attacked by American hackers. Correspondents said companies from both countries scrambled to patch up security systems and to temporarily shut down web sites deemed a security risk. A statement by the Honker Union, carried by Chinese portal Chinabyte, says: "Any attacks from this point on have no connection to the Honker Union." The Honker Union of China statement called for improving network security in China, and said that the sites that were violated were mostly small. "Because of this incident, network security in China will see great improvement. At least more people will become serious about building up network security," the statement said.

Gao Yongan, an executive at the Beijing-based network security firm NSFocus, said many web sites would be vulnerable to hacker attacks until network administrators tightened up the security of their servers. Most hacker attacks, including web site defacements, are made through a chain of passive servers that act as springboards. Mr Yongan, who claims to be a reformed hacker, said: "The only way to solve this problem is to improve the global network safety level, and to make sure that no computers are available for attackers to use."