Sunday, July 29, 2012

Brutality, Violence and The Olympics (Link Round-Up 7/29/12)

Venkatesh is the author of the best-selling book Gang Leader for a Day, in which he ran with the Black Kings gang and analyzed their business model. He says large gangs that grew rich and treacherous selling drugs were scattered when many gangbangers were jailed — or killed by each other. Ironically, he says, "gangs for a long time had an interest in keeping the neighborhood safe because if you didn't have violence, you have a thriving drug market. No police were around, you weren't getting arrested." Now, though, there's "just the basic thrill for a lot of these young people of having a gun," Venkatesh says. "Of being able to act like a man, as it were."
People in richer Chicagoland neighborhoods live longer on average
Those with lower income tend to live in less safe neighborhoods with less access to fresh food and quality health care. Of course the segregation splits the city in half. The census statistics also showed that more than a quarter of Cook County census tracts have experienced persistent poverty, "meaning that at least 20% of households have been in poverty for two decades.
The case that rape is a bad thing, but not always the worst bad thing
Though some feminists regard “rape equals devastation” as sacred fact, the notion that a man can ruin me with his penis strikes me as the most complete expression of vintage misogyny available. Common sense instructs us that it is far more “dangerous” to insist to young women that they will be broken by an unwanted sex act than it is to propose they might have a happy, healthy, and sexually pleasant future ahead of them in spite of a sexual assault. Weldon ventured this same conclusion when she said that “defining it as some peculiarly awful crime may even be counter-productive.”
The dwindling Chinese dream of middle class prosperity
It is true that no growth story in history can match China’s—at least as it is viewed by the millions of people it has welcomed into the middle class in a short span of three decades. Still, officials have been known to cook their books under pressure from Beijing bosses. Unemployment, for instance, probably goes under-reported: party officials have been known to offer large packages to workers to “resign” from their factories rather than accept lay-offs, as reported in Foreign Policy. In late June the New York Times suggested that the government could be exaggerating electricity usage statistics to mask the current nadir into which industry has fallen. And for a brief period three years ago, car sales mysteriously took off in China while gas usage sat still, raising questions (and, some would say, conspiracy theories) over whether government-linked bodies were purposely buying up cars that were not being used. It is hard to believe that the struggling souls of Lemos’s study are buying them. 
Is China, therefore, a “paper tiger"? Yes and no. Predicting an imminent Chinese collapse is a cliché among pundits, such as Gordon G. Chang, who has continuously set and then changed his doomsday dates since 2001. (His latest China doomsday is pegged on 2012. Sometime this century he will be proven right.) Lemos tip-toes toward the Chang school of alarmism, but he is shrewd enough not to cross into it—in part because he uses well-grounded examples from the field rather than speculation based on economic data.
China cancels waste management project after facing violent protests
The outpouring of public anger is emblematic of the rising discontent facing Chinese leaders, who are obsessed with maintaining stability and struggling to balance growth with rising public anger over environmental threats.

Such protests "suggest that the middle class, whose members seemed willing to accept in the 1990s that being able to buy more things equaled having a better life, is now wondering whether one's quality of life has improved, if you have to worry about breathing the air, drinking the water, and whether the food you're eating is safe," said Jeffrey Wasserstrom, of the University of California Irvine.

The protest followed similar demonstrations against projects the Sichuan town of Shifang earlier this month and in the cities of Dalian in the northeast and Haimen in southern Guangdong province in the past year.
Koch-backed study shows humans cause global warming
Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases
Ukraine bill proposes prison for positive gay depictions
Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Ukraine, a former Soviet republic, and Russia after the fall of communism, animosity toward gay people remains high in both countries. St. Petersburg, which is Russia’s second-largest city, passed a law this year mandating fines of up to $33,000 for “promoting” homosexuality among minors. A gay pride parade in Georgia, another former Soviet republic, ended in a scuffle with opponents in March. 
The Ukrainian bill follows a decision in May to cancel the country’s first gay pride parade because organizers feared violence. Two Ukrainian gay rights activists have also been brutally attacked in recent months. 
The hostility toward gay people raises wider questions about tolerance in Ukraine as it strives to join the European Union.
A woman's plea for suicide highlights India's problem with acid attacks
Sonali's desperate plea highlights the heinous crime of throwing acid on women in India, the lack of support for victims, and lax laws which have allowed attackers to get away with what activists say is the equivalent of murder.

Acid violence - where acid is intentionally thrown to maim, disfigure or blind - occurs in many countries across the world, and is most common in Cambodia, as well as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India where deep-rooted patriarchy persists.

Around 1,500 acid attacks are reported globally each year, with 80 percent of them on women, says London-based charity, Acid Survivors Trust International, adding this is a gross under-estimate as most victims are scared to speak out.
The Olympian from India's troubled state
"It's just so strange," he says to me. "It's just so strange to be in such a busy city and yet not to see any policemen or soldiers with guns." The civil unrest in Manipur is violent and unrelenting.

Almost every day there are bomb blasts, kidnappings and killings. Just over three years ago, Onler's own father was murdered by rebel gunmen.

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