Archive for December, 2013

GENEVA (24 December 2013) – Two United Nations independent human rights experts today welcomed the publication of parts of Sir Peter Gibson’s interim report, an official investigation into the extent of the United Kingdom’s involvement in torture and other human rights violations concerning people detained overseas in the context of counter terrorism operations.

However, the UN Special Rapporteurs on torture, Juan E. Méndez, and the Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, Ben Emmerson, expressed concern that a proposed official inquiry is to be entrusted to a parliamentary body, the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).

“The Gibson Inquiry suffered from a number of procedural shortcomings which were identified in my March report (see below) to the Human Rights Council,” Mr. Emmerson said, stressing that “the UK has, until now, indicated a commitment to the establishment of a judge-led inquiry to take forward the work of Sir Peter Gibson.”

“I am concerned that this proposal appears to have been abandoned in favour of a purely parliamentary inquiry which is likely to suffer from many of the same procedural shortcomings,” he warned. “I urge the British authorities to ensure that the fresh inquiry is given the powers it needs to get at the truth.”

Special Rapporteur Méndez also expressed disappointment that the inquiry would now be handed to the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee to examine and complete the investigations, as announced by the Minister without Portfolio Ken Clarke.

“It is particularly discouraging to know that the decision was handed over to the ISC which is known to have previously failed to fully investigate prior allegations of torture, ill-treatment, rendition and surveillance in the context of counter-terrorism and national-security,” the independent expert said, recalling the findings of the ISC 2007 report which concluded, among other things, that “no evidence [was found] that the UK Agencies were complicit in any ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ operations.”

Mr. Méndez reminded the UK Government of its obligation under the UN Convention against Torture*: “Each Government should undertake a prompt and impartial investigation wherever there are reasonable grounds to believe that torture has been committed, and prosecute suspected perpetrators of torture.”

“The British authorities should take persistent, determined and effective measures to have all allegations of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent, competent domestic authority, as well as whenever there is reasonable ground to believe that such an act has been committed,” Mr. Méndez said quoting the Convention.

The expert stressed that UK Government also is obliged to hold responsible, bring to justice and punish all those who encourage, order, tolerate or perpetrate such acts responsible, including the officials in charge of the place of detention where the prohibited act is found to have been committed.

“The British Government should take note, in this respect, of the Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Updated Set of principles for the protection and promotion of human rights through action to combat impunity as a useful tool in efforts to prevent and combat torture,” he said.

Mr. Emmerson and Mr. Méndez will follow up with the UK Government over the terms of reference and powers of the Intelligence and Security Committee inquiry, with a view to determining whether it is capable of meeting international minimum standards.

(*) The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment:


Ben Emmerson (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity. Learn more, log on to:

Check the Special Rapporteur’s report:

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on 1 November 2010. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law and Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010. Learn more, visit:

1. Want people to trust you? Try apologising for the rain.
“Superfluous apologies represent a powerful and easy-to-use tool for social influence,” the researchers said. “Even in the absence of culpability, individuals can increase trust and liking by saying ‘I’m sorry’ – even if they are merely ‘sorry’ about the rain.”

2. The 100+ most followed psychologists and neuroscientists on Twitter.
When we updated the list in July, the top five were: Andrew Mendonsa (clinical psychologist), Kiki Sanford (neurophysiologist turned science communicator), Sam Harris (neuroscientist and author), Richard Wiseman (psychologist, blogger and author) and Laura Kauffman (child psychologist). Look out for another update next year.

3. Smiling fighters are more likely to lose.
… [UFC] fighters who smiled more intensely prior to a fight were more likely to lose, to be knocked down in the clash, to be hit more times, and to be wrestled to the ground by their opponent (statistically speaking, the effect sizes here were small to medium). On the other hand, fighters with neutral facial expressions pre-match were more likely to excel and dominate in the fight the next day, including being more likely to win by knock-out or submission.

4. A study of suicide notes left by children and young teens.
Contrary to their predictions, the researchers said that “the notes are coherent and do not reveal confusion or overwhelming emotions. The children and young adolescents emphasise their consciousness of what they are about to do and they take full responsibility.”

5. Women’s true maths skills unlocked by pretending to be someone else.
By separating their performance from their own identity, it seems the women performing under an alias no longer felt pressure to avoid being seen as an example of the harmful gender stereotype [that women are weaker at maths than men].

6. Older, more experienced therapists cry more often in therapy.
Looking at the correlates of being a therapist who cries in therapy, it was older, more experienced therapists and those with a psychodynamic approach, who were more likely to be criers. Surprisingly perhaps, female therapists were no more likely to cry in therapy than male therapists, despite the fact that they reported crying more often in daily life than the men.

7. Kids experience schadenfreude by age four, maybe earlier.
The kids of all ages (four to age years) showed evidence of schadenfreude, suggesting their emotional response to another person’s distress was influenced by their moral judgements about that person. That is, they were more likely to say they were pleased and that it was funny if the story character experienced a misfortune while engaging in a bad deed.

8. LEGO figures are getting angrier.

Nevermind increasingly violent video games or the ever-present danger of an uncensored internet, a far more insidious and unexpected change is afoot that could be affecting our children’s emotional development. Researchers have discovered that the faces on LEGO Minifigures are becoming increasingly angry and less happy.

9. The supposed benefits of open-plan offices do not outweigh the costs.
“Our results categorically contradict the industry-accepted wisdom that open-plan layout enhances communication between colleagues and improves occupants’ overall work environmental satisfaction,” the researchers concluded. They added: “… considering previous researchers’ finding that satisfaction with workspace environment is closely related to perceived productivity, job satisfaction and organisational outcomes, the open-plan proponents’ argument that open-plan improves morale and productivity appears to have no basis in the research literature.”

10. Working memory training does not live up to the hype.
The results were absolutely clear. Working memory training leads to short-term gains on working memory performance on tests that are the same as, or similar to, those used in the training. “However,” the researchers write, “there is no evidence that working memory training produces generalisable gains to the other skills that have been investigated (verbal ability, word decoding, arithmetic), even when assessments take place immediately after training.”

Compare this year’s top 10 to last year’s.
See also: the top 10 psychology books of 2013.

Christian Jarrett has edited and written the BPS Research Digest since its inception in 2003 and he created the blog in 2005 (contact him on christianjarrett [@] Christian chooses and writes up the studies covered here. He also compiles the fortnightly Digest email, manages the Twitter and Facebook pages, helps with promotion and advertising, and oversees the new Occupational Digest (edited by Dr Alex Fradera).

The number of teenagers deliberately hurting themselves is on the increase. For example, the latest data for England show that over 13,000 15- to 19-year-old girls and 4,000 boys were admitted to hospital for this reason in the 12-month period up to June this year, an increase of 10 per cent compared with the previous 12-month period. More than ever we need to understand why so many young people are resorting to this behaviour.

A common motivation teenagers give is that non-suicidal self-harm provides a way to escape unpleasant thoughts and emotions. Another motive, little explored before now, is that self-harm is a way to deliberately provoke a particular desired feeling or sensation. A new paper from US researchers has explored this aspect of self-harm, known as “automatic positive reinforcement” (APR).

Edward Selby and his colleagues gave 30 teenagers who self-harm (average age 17; 87 per cent were female) a digital device to carry around for two weeks. Twice a day, the device beeped and the teens were asked to record their recent thoughts of self-harm, any episodes of self-harm, their motives, their actual experiences of what it felt like, as well as answering other questions…

::: click here for piece in full @ BPS Research Digest :::

J citation: Edward A. Selby, Matthew K. Nock, and Amy Kranzler (2013). How Does Self-Injury Feel? Examining Automatic Positive Reinforcement in Adolescent Self-Injurers with Experience Sampling. Psychiatry Research DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2013.12.005

Further reading…

Goth subculture linked with history of suicide and self harm
The attitude of casualty staff towards self-harm
Tattoos, body piercings and self-harm – is there a link?
The sight of their own blood is important to some people who self-harm



With China’s rapid industrialization and urbanization has come a growing interest in traditional Chinese culture on a spiritual level. As a means of restoring and repairing our own psychological lack, there has been a rush to make “the past” material and visible. How does this revivalism fit into contemporary art?

For this issue 艺术界 LEAP have invited experts in various fields including philosophy, art criticism, and architecture to debate the state of revivalism in Chinese contemporary art today. Lu Mingjun explains the 2,000-year-old ideological battle between present and past in Chinese thought, revealing a history of a continual synthesis of and opposition to foreign cultures. Pi Li examines the high points in traditional Chinese painting since the eighteenth century to reconsider and reinvigorate its study in the twenty-first-century, offering specific proposals for the theory, historical framework, and exhibition practice of ink painting. For his part, architect Wang Jiahao presents a very particular socio-historical viewpoint based on the history of architecture.

Meawhile, 艺术界 LEAP present the words and work of artists including Chen Zhiyuan, Hao Liang, Jin Shi, Taca Sui, Xie Fan, Zhang Xiaodi, Zhao Zhao, Shi Qing, and the Yangjiang Group, who treat the past as mentor, friend, family, and interlocutor, in order to question and resist what is inside their hearts, and what is outside. Concluding the middle section of this issue are two artist features. Contributor Freya Chou takes a look at the practice of Taiwanese artist Hsu Chia-Wei, which in its deconstruction and reconstruction of narrative space demonstrates a remarkably calm treatment of composition and objects. Meanwhile, critic Bao Dong analyzes how Liang Shuo deals with the cultural experiences in contemporary China that do not conform to artistic norms, transforming these into a method of inspiring aesthetic vigor…(艺术界 LEAP)

::: just click cover to access :::

“…Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.

The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.

Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live…”

Excerpt of the First Inaugural Address of Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 1933

::: cick here for this and other speeches @ Yale’s Avalon Project :::

“Every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics. You are all stardust. You couldn’t be here if stars hadn’t exploded. Because the elements, the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, iron, all the things that matter for evolution weren’t created at the beginning of time. They were created in the nuclear furnaces of stars. And the only way they could get into your body is if the stars were kind enough to explode. So forget Jesus. The stars died so you could be here today.”

-Lawrence M. Krauss

Lawrence Maxwell Krauss is an American theoretical physicist and cosmologist who is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and director of its Origins Project.

merry jingle bells…mas…


“merry christmas, Herr Murdoch…” gushed the obsequious, fawning abbott, fumbling with his melting, sweaty toupee…”welcome back!”

“K, Abbott. K. Settle!” barked Roopert.

Look, quite frankly, we are so honoured to be graced by your presence this christmas, this white…white Australian christmas…

K. Just tweeted on way in from Kingsford Smith…

Oh, yes, master? An efficient and deeply masterful stroke of…stroke of the pen of modern technology…I just can’t…

S’enough of that, abbott. Settle! Tweet’s “Australia in deep economic trouble left by last six-year wildly incompetent govt. New govt must take quick, painful actions.”

Oh why thank you, Herr Murdoch…Another present? So soon? Why, than…

Caught American Hustle in the Lear on the way down…decadent nonsense ’bout most people ‘ll believe what they wanna believe.

Indeed, herr murdoch, indeed.

Not really, abbott, not at all really. Most people ‘ll believe what I wan’em ta believe…Uncle Roy Cohn taught me that one…

Indeed, herr murdoch, indeed.


A Canadian court Tuesday granted Ecuadorean farmers and fishermen the right to attempt to seize the Canadian assets of Chevron due to a 2011 decision in an Ecuadorean court that found the company liable for nearly three decades of soil and water pollution and the ruined health and livelihoods of people living in nearby areas of the Amazon rainforest.

In the intervening period, the victims have been trying to collect roughly $18 billion in environmental damages. Chevron responded by filing its own lawsuit that argued the verdict was won through fabrication of evidence and bribery.

Paul Barrett of Bloomberg Businessweek talks with “Democracy Now!” on Friday about how oil corporations including Chevron and BP are fighting lawsuits brought against them by attacking the lawyers handling the cases.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly @ 

Written by  on December 18, 2013

The Water Corporation have made a strong statement against Fracking, calling for a ban in areas where it may affect drinking water sources.

“WA’s monopoly water provider has called for the gas drilling technique known as fracking to be banned in areas where it affects drinking water sources, saying contamination risks are unacceptable. The Water Corporation told an Upper House inquiry into the “implications” of fracking in WA that it opposed the practice in drinking water areas. The State-owned utility unsuccessfully asked for its comments to be kept confidential.”
“Water Corporation does not endorse any decision to increase public health risks in drinking water source areas as it runs counter with the fundamental principles of drinking water management,” it said.

 “Such a decision will come at a huge social, financial and ecological cost to the community.”

As “one term Tony’s” backflips and lies become evident, the people of Australia are waking up, opinion polls are starting to sway against this Government. This isn’t what the Australian people wanted or what they voted for. Say what you need to get into power, then do what you like when you get there… One term Tony will not last, and will go down as our worst PM EVER. (source: MassiveClock)


…The more publicity that came Scott Morrison’s way, the more hardline he became. So much so that last February, on the morning when victims of the Christmas Island boat people tragedy were due to be buried in Sydney, he launched an ill-tempered attack on the government for paying for family members to make the long journey from Christmas Island. Among them was Madian El Ibrahimy, a detainee at the Indian Ocean detention centre, whose wife, Zman, four-year-old son, Nzar, and eight-month-old daughter, Zahra, had all died at sea. “Do you think you run the risk of being seen as heartless on the day of these funerals to be saying — to be bickering over this money?” asked ABC reporter Barbara Miller, whose report that morning was broadcast on AM. Morrison replied: “When it comes to the question of do I think this is a reasonable cost then my honest answer is, ‘No, I don’t think it is reasonable.’” Seasoned commentators struggled to recall a nastier instance of gutter politics from a senior politician since the heyday of Pauline Hanson. Labor accused him of “stealing soundbites from One Nation”…

(click here for Nick Bryant’s piece in full @ the Monthly)

Amnesty’s recent report is available to all in free and full – simply click image below for pdf…


here’s an extract re MENTAL HEALTH

…A number of service providers and asylum seekers expressed concern about deteriorating mental health. STTARS and IHMS mental health team are struggling to cope with existing demand for their services, and this is only expected to grow as the population and length of detention increases. Some asylum seekers felt that there was a deliberate “psychological war”177 on them (by the Australian Government). A service provider said, “This is the process of how you break someone mentally,” when describing the conditions in the detention centre.178

“We are dying here… I am dying many times a day.”

—J.K., 15 November 2013


That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by the Guardian last week(1)) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches(2), a youth posing in front of his helicopter(3), endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools, spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse; something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing…

click the pic through to George Monbiot and continuation of this lucid and disturbing story… / By Joan Walsh

“Much of the American right supported apartheid, almost to the bitter end. We must remember that…

…It’s shocking how little American leaders of both parties did to oppose the rise and consolidation of the brutal apartheid regime in the ‘50s and ’60s, but it was Richard Nixon who developed closer ties. The anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and ’80s – where Barack Obama got his political start; I covered the University of Wisconsin’s successful divestment movement with the Daily Cardinal in 1978 — was demonized as the far left at the time. Moderates proposed alternatives like the Sullivan Principles, named after Rev. Leon Sullivan, a General Motors board member, which tried (and failed) to impose a code of conduct on companies doing business in South Africa (Sullivan eventually agreed they weren’t enough)…”

Complaint Filed with Spy Authorities…

A complaint has been filed with the Australian Inspector-General of Intelligence Security.

It calls for an immediate investigation into deeply troubling reports that the Australian intelligence services offered to violate the privacy rights of millions of citizens by handing over bulk metadata to its Five Eye partners.

Australian lawyer, Carly Nyst, Head of International Advocacy for Privacy International, said that “the ASD are violating their own Rules to Protect the Privacy of Australians, as well as the Intelligence Services Act 2001”.

That law prescribes that “an agency must not undertake any activity unless the activity is necessary for the proper performance of is functions; or authorized or required by or under another Act”.

PI’s Media Release is at: complaint-with-australian-spy-authorities-over-five-eyes

A copy of the complaint is at: s-releases/igis_complaint.pdf

In an article for the Guardian, The UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC said Snowden had disclosed “issues at the very apex of public interest concerns”. He said the media had a duty and right to publish stories about the activities of GCHQ and its American counterpart the National Security Agency…

“The astonishing suggestion that this sort of responsible journalism can somehow be equated with aiding and abetting terrorism needs to be scotched decisively,” said Emmerson, who has been the UN’s leading voice on counter-terrorism and human rights since 2011.

“It is the role of a free press to hold governments to account, and yet there have even been outrageous suggestions from some Conservative MPs that the Guardian should face a criminal investigation. It has been disheartening to see some tabloids giving prominence to this nonsense.”

more @ the Guardian (UK edition) :::: click here :::

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