Soldiers returning deaf from Afghanistan

Another video from the USA used to say about itself:

The Army estimates up to 20 percent of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from TBI, traumatic brain injury.

From the BBC:

Deafness fears for Afghan troops

Hundreds of UK soldiers are reportedly returning from Afghanistan with severe or permanent hearing damage.

Problems ranging from tinnitus to total deafness are said to have been brought on by roadside bombs, close-combat clashes and coalition aircraft.

The Times, which obtained data from the Ministry of Defence through freedom of information requests, said affected personnel were often undeployable.

Senior British officer in Afghanistan believes ‘chronic underinvestment’ in armoured vehicles led to military deaths; and resigns; here.


Robinson Crusoe and archaeology

This video is about Robinson Crusoe Island, Chile, in the Pacific Ocean.

From World Science:

“Real” Crusoe’s isle said to yield clues to sojourn

Oct. 30, 2008

Courtesy Maney Publishing and World Science staff

Cast away on a des­ert is­land, sur­viv­ing on what na­ture alone can pro­vide, pray­ing for res­cue but fear­ing the sight of an en­e­my boat. These are the im­ag­i­na­tive crea­t­ions of Dan­iel De­foe in his fa­mous nov­el Rob­in­son Cru­soe.

Yet the sto­ry is thought to be based on the real ex­pe­ri­ence of sail­or Al­ex­an­der Sel­kirk, ma­rooned in 1704 on a small trop­i­cal is­land in the Pa­cif­ic for more than four years.

New clues sup­port con­tem­po­rar­y records of his stay on that is­land, ar­chae­o­lo­gists say. A pa­per in the re­search jour­nal Post-Medieval Ar­chae­o­lo­gy de­scribes ev­i­dence of an “early Eu­ro­pe­an oc­cu­pant” from a dig on the is­land of Aguas Bue­nas, since re­named Rob­in­son Cru­soe Is­land.

The fore­most ev­i­dence is a pair of naviga­t­ional di­vid­ers which could only have be­longed to a ship’s mas­ter or nav­i­ga­tor, as ev­i­dence sug­gests Sel­kirk was, re­search­ers said.

An ac­count by Sel­kirk’s res­cuer, Cap­tain Woodes Rog­ers, of what he saw on ar­ri­val at Aguas Bue­nas in 1709 lists ‘some prac­ti­cal pieces’ and math­e­mat­i­cal in­stru­ments amongst the few pos­ses­sions that Sel­kirk had tak­en with him from the ship.

The finds al­so pro­vide an in­sight in­to how Sel­kirk might have lived on the is­land, in­ves­ti­ga­tors added. Post­holes sug­gest he built two shel­ters near to a fresh­wa­ter stream, and had ac­cess to a view­point over the har­bour from where he would be able to watch for ap­proach­ing ships and dis­cern wheth­er they were friend or foe.

Ac­counts writ­ten shortly af­ter the res­cue de­scribe him shoot­ing goats with a gun res­cued from the ship, and even­tu­ally learn­ing to out­run them, eat­ing their meat and us­ing their skins as cloth­ing. He al­so pas­sed time read­ing the Bi­ble and sing­ing psalms, and seems to have en­joyed a more peace­ful and de­vout ex­ist­ence than at any oth­er time in his life, ac­cord­ing to researchers.

“The ev­i­dence un­co­vered at Aguas Bue­nas cor­rob­o­rates the sto­ries of Al­ex­an­der Selkirk’s stay on the is­land and pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing in­sight in­to his ex­ist­ence there,” said Da­vid Cald­well of Na­tional Mu­se­ums Scot­land, one of the re­search­ers. “We hope that Aguas Bue­nas, with care­ful man­age­ment, may be a site en­joyed by the in­creas­ing num­ber of tourists.”

Sel­kirk was born in the small sea­side town of Low­er Lar­go, Fife, Scot­land in 1676. A young­er son of a shoe­maker, he was drawn to a life at sea from an early age. In 1704, dur­ing a pri­va­teer­ing voy­age on the Cinque Ports, Sel­kirk fell out with the com­mand­er over the boat’s sea­wor­thi­ness and chose to re­main be­hind on Rob­in­son Cru­soe Is­land where they had land­ed to overhaul the worm-infested ves­sel. He ap­par­ently did­n’t sus­pect five years would pass be­fore he was pick­ed up by an Eng­lish ship vis­it­ing the is­land.

Pub­lished in 1719, Rob­in­son Crusoe is one of the most fa­mous ad­ven­ture sto­ries in Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture. Whilst it is un­clear wheth­er De­foe and Sel­kirk ac­tu­ally met, De­foe would cer­tainly have heard the sto­ries of Sel­kirk’s ad­ven­ture and used the ta­les as the ba­sis for his nov­el, ac­cord­ing to Cald­well and col­leagues.

Conservationists call for drastic action to rescue the Juan Fernández archipelago’s biodiversity from alien invaders: here.

Alejandro Selkirk island marine life: here.

Chile Creates Large Marine Reserve at Sala y Gómez Island: here.

Last week was a fantastic week for the oceans. Chile’s president announced the creation of a marine reserve around Sala y Gómez Island in the Pacific Ocean that will protect a biodiverse marine habitat larger than Montana: here.

US government advocates ‘preventive’ nuclear war

This video from the USA is called Sarah Palin doesn’t know what the Bush Doctrine is.

By Alex Lantier:

US defense secretary expands pre-emptive war doctrine to include nuclear strikes

30 October 2008

In a remarkable speech on nuclear policy delivered October 28 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), US Defense Secretary Robert Gates painted a dire portrait of international affairs and argued that Washington should expand the doctrine of pre-emptive war formulated by the Bush administration to include possible nuclear strikes.

It is widely rumored that, in the likely event that Democrat Barack Obama wins next week’s US presidential election, Obama will keep Gates as defense secretary. Gates’ speech, given in the waning days of the Bush presidency, has the character of a policy declaration of the next US administration.

Gates began by making extended and ominous parallels between the world situation today and that which prevailed at the founding of the Carnegie Institute in 1910, four years before the outbreak of World War I. At the time, he noted, Wall Street was passing through the panic of 1910-1911 and facing a credit crisis, the US had recently put down an insurgency in the Philippines at a cost of 4,200 American lives, comparable to today’s US death toll in Iraq, and “Europe was arming itself to the teeth and forming a series of alliances whose implications were obvious to anyone who cared to look.”

Gates argued that the pacifist illusions promoted by CEIP founder Andrew Carnegie—a US steel magnate at the turn of the 20th century, most famous in the working class movement for the brutal suppression of the 1892 Homestead strike against his company—— should not deter Washington from planning broader war.

He noted, “In August of 1913, Carnegie said that ‘the only measure required today for the maintenance of world peace is an agreement between three or four of the leading civilized powers… pledged to cooperate against disturbers of world peace.'” Gates pointed out that, writing four years later to President Woodrow Wilson, who had been elected in 1916 on a platform of keeping the US out of the world war, “the same Andrew Carnegie encouraged the president in the strongest terms to declare war, because, he wrote, ‘There is only one straight way of settlement.'”

Turning to US nuclear policy, Gates said, “As long as others have nuclear weapons, we must maintain some level of these weapons ourselves: to deter potential adversaries, and to reassure over two dozen allies and partners who rely on our nuclear umbrella for their security—making it unnecessary for them to develop their own.”

This comment gives a sense of the highly tense and unstable character of international relations, and the paranoia of US officials. Gates’ fears about the spread of nuclear weapons are not limited to existing programs of “potential adversaries,” among which Gates included “rogue states such as North Korea and Iran, or Russian or Chinese strategic modernization programs.” His fears extend to the nuclear policy of all states, including current US allies.

Gates later repeated this point: “We simply cannot predict the future. […] our adversaries and other nations will always seek whatever advantages they can find. Knowing that, we have to be prepared for contingencies we haven’t even considered.”

Gates’ list of US-friendly states that have chosen not to develop nuclear weapons was significant: South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, and Libya. Two of the most obvious such countries—ex-World War II enemies Japan and Germany—were not included. Gates did not explain what political factors induced him to omit them.

Gates then issued a remarkable threat: “As long as other states have or seek nuclear weapons—and can potentially threaten us, our allies and friends—then we must have a deterrent capacity that makes it clear that challenging the US in the nuclear arena—or with other weapons of mass destruction—could result in an overwhelming, catastrophic response.

“According to Gates, the US must be able to credibly threaten a nuclear holocaust against any state that “challenges” the US in the nuclear arena or with other “weapons of mass destruction.” By his own words, such a challenge does not require a nation to threaten to attack the US. It does not even require that a nation possess nuclear weapons or other WMD. It is enough for a nation merely to “seek” such weapons for it to become a potential target for a preemptive “overwhelming, catastrophic response” from the United States.

Talking about war: Advocate of Afghan “troop surge” selected as head of British Army: here.

Anti NATO protest in Strasbourg, France: here.