It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance.

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It may only take 3.5% of the population to topple a dictator – with civil resistance.

The United States has a rich history with effective uses of nonviolent resistance. It’s time to become familiar with it

Many people across the United States are despondent about the new president – and the threat to democracy his rise could represent. But they shouldn’t be. At no time in recorded history have people been more equipped to effectively resist injustice using civil resistance.

Today, those seeking knowledge about the theory and practice of civil resistance can find a wealth of information at their fingertips. In virtually any language, one can find training manuals, strategy-building tools, facilitation guides and documentation about successes and mistakes of past nonviolent campaigns.

Material is available in many formats, including graphic novels, e-classes, films and documentaries, scholarly books, novels, websites, research monographs, research inventories, and children’s books. And of course, the world is full of experienced activists with wisdom to share.

The United States has its own rich history – past and present – of effective uses of nonviolent resistance. The technique established alternative institutions like economic cooperatives, alternative courts and an underground constitutional convention in the American colonies resulting in the declaration of independence. In 20th century, strategic nonviolent resistance has won voting rights for women and for African Americans living in the Jim Crow south.

Nonviolent resistance has empowered the labor movement, closed down or cancelled dozens of nuclear plants, protected farm workers from abuse in California, motivated the recognition of Aids patients as worthy of access to life-saving treatment, protected free speech, put climate reform on the agenda, given reprieve to Dreamers, raised awareness about economic inequality, changed the conversation about systemic racism and black lives and stalled construction of an oil pipeline on indigenous lands in Standing Rock.

In fact, it is hard to identify a progressive cause in the United States that has advanced without a civil resistance movement behind it.

This does not mean nonviolent resistance always works. Of course it does not, and short-term setbacks are common too. But long-term change never comes with submission, resignation, or despair about the inevitability and intractability of the status quo.

And among the different types of dissent available (armed insurrection or combining armed and unarmed action), nonviolent resistance has historically been the most effective. Compared with armed struggle, whose romanticized allure obscures its staggering costs, nonviolent resistance has actually been the quickest, least costly, and safest way to struggle. Moreover, civil resistance is recognized as a fundamental human right under international law.

Nonviolent resistance does not happen overnight or automatically. It requires an informed and prepared public, keen to the strategy and dynamics of its political power. Although nonviolent campaigns often begin with a committed and experienced core, successful ones enlarge the diversity of participants, maintain nonviolent discipline and expand the types of nonviolent actions they use.

They constantly increase their base of supporters, build coalitions, leverage social networks, and generate connections with those in the opponent’s network who may be ambivalent about cooperating with oppressive policies.

Crucially, nonviolent resistance works not by melting the heart of the opponent but by constraining their options. A leader and his inner circle cannot pass and implement policies alone. They require cooperation and obedience from many people to carry out plans and policies.

In the US on Tuesday, dozens of lawmakers have said they will boycott confirmation votes for Trump nominees. Numerous police departments countrywide have announced that they will not comply with unethical federal policies (particularly regarding deportations). And the federal government employs more than 3 million civil servants – people on whose continued support the US government relies to implement its policies. Many such civil servants have already begun important conversations about how to dissent from within the administration. They, too, provide an important check on power.

The Women’s March on Washington and its affiliated marches – which may have been the largest single-day demonstration in US history – show a population eager and willing to show up to defend their rights.

Of course, nonviolent resistance often evokes brutality by the government, especially as campaigns escalate their demands and use more disruptive techniques. But historical data shows that when campaigns are able to prepare, train, and remain resilient, they often succeed regardless of whether the government uses violence against them.

Historical studies suggest that it takes 3.5% of a population engaged in sustained nonviolent resistance to topple brutal dictatorships. If that can be true in Chile under Gen Pinochet and Serbia under Milosevic, a few million Americans could prevent their elected government from adopting inhumane, unfair, destructive or oppressive policies – should such drastic measures ever be needed.



30 Brilliant Ads By Durex That Show You Don’t Need To Objectify Women To Be Creative.

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30 Brilliant Ads By Durex That Show You Don’t Need To Objectify Women To Be Creative.

Durex, the condom brand, has been around for decades now. But what we love about it is that it continues to reinvent itself through its ads. If there is any brand which has been successful in talking about sex without objectifying women, it has to be Durex.

It’s witty print and online advertisements are smart, funny and do the job perfectly! Here are some brilliant online and print campaigns by Durex which are a lesson in advertising for all other brands.

1. For those who keep coming.

Source: Facebook

2. Well.. They #GOT that right.

Source: Facebook

3. One of the greatest erections by a man!

4. Durex Dic-tionary!

Source: Facebook

5. Condoms seem like a better investment.

Source: Facebook

6. The one place you need to visit on every date.

Source: Newsmediaworks

7. After all, coming is the most essential part.

8. For those emergencies.

9. Mind = Ballon!

Source: Dailybri

10. Some tremors can be good too!

Source: Adage

11. For them ‘long’ shooters.

Source: Adage

12. That’s how you showcase your grand size.

Source: Facebook

13. The forbidden fruit.

Source: Facebook

14. Some serious advice on World Population Day

Source: Facebook

15. Because emotions can also flow out of control.

Source: Facebook

16. Just don’t get caught.

Source: Afaqs

17. KLPD!

Source: Pontofinal

17. On sex ratio survey day.

Source: Pinterest

18. Scottish or not, every man’s pride is hidden inside.

Source: EpicAwards

19. Leave your mark.

Source: Connery

20. The twist in destiny.

21. The pin of safety.
Source: Adsoftheworld

22. Speed counts, but not in bed.

Source: Mobypicture

23. Prevent them from over shooting!

Source: Adsandtrends

24. There’s only one winner here.


Source: Facebook

25. Always put on the belt before you go driving!

Source: Facebook

26. A flavored condom a day, keeps unwanted pregnancies at bay.

Source: Facebook

27. Maybe they used a very effective brand back then?

Source: Facebook

28. Earth Day in Durex style.

Source: Facebook

29. So punny.

Source: Facebook

30. On the longest day (June 21st) you need to stay in longer.

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Sweden’s recycling is so effective, the country is running out of trash.

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Sweden’s recycling is so effective, the country is running out of trash.

When it comes to recycling, Sweden sets an example for the rest of the world. Thanks to a government prioritization on sustainability, the Nordic country recycles 1.5 billion bottles and cans annually, a staggering amount for a population of about 9.6 million (in 2013). In terms of rubbish, Swedes only produce a measly 461 kilograms (1,106 pounds) of waste average per year—less than 1% of discard ends up in landfills. This is slightly below the half-ton average in the rest of Europe.

Fastidious Recycling Has Unusual Drawbacks

This impressive commitment to an eco-friendly world has a bizarre effect on electricity production. Sweden participates in a waste-to-energy (WTE) program, and they have 32 of these special plants. If you’re unfamiliar with this unique form of energy production, here’s how it works: furnaces are loaded with garbage and burned to generate steam. This newly-produced gas is then used to spin generator turbines and produce electricity, transferred to transmission lines and the power grid. By using this approach, the country is able to reduce toxins that seep into the ground. “When waste sits in landfills, leaking methane gas and other greenhouse gasses, it is obviously not good for the environment” Swedish Waste Management communications director Anna-Carin Gripwell explained in a statement.

Before incinerating garbage, it’s first filtered by home and business owners. Things that can be recycled are separated (such as food scraps and paper products), and anything that can be salvaged is set aside. Because would-be waste is carefully examined, it leaves relatively little for the WTE program. As a result, Sweden imports garbage from the UK, Italy, Norway, and Ireland to ensure they stay up and running.

Sweden continues to think of innovative ways to stay green. “We feel that we have responsibility to act responsibly in this area and try to reduce our ecological footprint,” states Per Bolund, Swedish Finance and Consumption Minister in a video for AJ+. “The consumers are really showing that the want to make a difference and what we’re trying to do from the government’s side is to help them act, making it easier to behave in a sustainable way.”

One proposed approach rejects the Western practice of throwing things away all together. Things that would normally see their way to a trash bin—such as clothing, shoes, or bicycles—would instead be repaired. The burden, however, would not be put on the owner of these well-worn goods (not everyone can mend a jacket, afterall), but would give way for new employment opportunities. There’s room in the labor market for people that can fix things. These are skilled jobs that can be intellectually stimulating but don’t require a very high level of education, so people can enter the job force in a matter of months rather than years.

Of course, people would still be able to buy things that won’t be able to be repaired—but it’ll cost them. Taxes would be imposed on these items to incentivise consumers in purchasing items with a long life ahead of them.

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The Era of American Global Leadership Is Over. Here’s What Comes Next.

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The Era of American Global Leadership Is Over. Here’s What Comes Next

As in the past, the day will be cold. Melania will hold the Bible. The kids will stand by proudly. The new President will recite his lines carefully, smile broadly and change history. And American international leadership, a constant since 1945, will end with the presidential inauguration of Donald J. Trump on Jan. 20, 2017.

That’s not because Trump is bound to fail where his predecessors have succeeded. Given the rise of other countries with enough power to shrug off U.S. pressure–and other factors, like the ability of smaller powers to punch above their weight in cyberspace–this moment was inevitable. America will remain the sole superpower for the foreseeable future–only the U.S. can project military muscle, economic clout and cultural influence into every region of the world. But Trump’s election marks an irreversible break with the past, one with global implications.

For at least the next four years, America’s interactions with other nations will be guided not by the conviction that U.S. leadership is good for America and the world but by Trump’s transactional approach. This will force friends and foes alike to question every assumption they’ve made about what Washington will and will not do. Add a more assertive China and Russia to the greater willingness of traditional U.S. allies to hedge their bets on American plans and it’s clear that we’ve reached a turning point. Trump is not an isolationist, but he’s certainly a unilateralist, and a proudly selfish one. Even if he wanted to engage the G-7 or G-8 or G-20 to get things done–and he doesn’t–it has become unavoidably obvious that the transition toward a leaderless world is now complete. The G-zero era I first predicted nearly six years ago is now fully upon us. No matter how long Trump remains in the White House, a crucial line has been crossed. The fallout will outlive his presidency, because Trump has proved that tens of millions of Americans like this idea.

Trump’s “America first” approach fundamentally changes the U.S. role in the world. Trump agrees with leaders of both political parties that the U.S. is an exceptional nation, but he insists that the country can’t remain exceptional if it keeps stumbling down the path that former Presidents, including Republicans and Democrats, have followed since the end of World War II. Washington’s ambition to play the role of indispensable power allows both allies and rivals to treat U.S. taxpayers like chumps, he argues. Better to build a “What’s in it for us?” approach to the rest of the world. This is a complete break with a foreign policy establishment that Trump has worked hard to delegitimize–and which he continues to ostracize by waving off charges of Russian interference in the election and by refusing the daily intelligence briefings offered to all Presidents-elect. American power, once a trump card, is now a wild card. Instead of a superpower that wants to impose stability and values on a fractious and valueless global order, the U.S. has become the single biggest source of international uncertainty.

And don’t expect lawmakers to provide the traditional set of checks and balances. It’s not just that the Constitution gives the President great power to conduct foreign policy. It’s also that Trump has succeeded politically where his party’s establishment has continually failed, and as long as he remains popular with the party’s voters, many junior Republican lawmakers will answer to their President rather than to their leaders on Capitol Hill. Expect Trump to use the bully pulpit with a vengeance, often at 140 characters or less, to try to set new rules and rally the faithful to follow his lead.

As for special interests, Trump isn’t much beholden to Wall Street, Silicon Valley or Big Business, since most didn’t support him. Those in the tech class, in particular, are the most liberal of the U.S. business elite, and Trump’s intense criticism of Apple for resisting FBI efforts to hack into the cell phones used by the attackers in San Bernardino, Calif., previews plenty of fights to come between the Trump White House and Silicon Valley. Trump has essentially charged Big Business with treason and threatens to punish–individually–those companies that ship jobs overseas.

He hasn’t yet taken the oath of office, but Trump (and Trumpism) have already begun to create turmoil abroad. In Europe, the new President’s full embrace of Brexit sets teeth on edge in many capitals, and his friendly approach to Russia leaves European governments scrambling for security alternatives to NATO. Transatlantic relations have reached their lowest point since the 1930s. In Asia, his confrontational attitude toward China will bolster U.S. ties with allies like Japan and India that have long-term reasons to resist China’s rise, but it has already made it that much harder to manage Washington’s relations with Beijing, the most important relationship for the future of the global economy. It will also complicate any bid by the U.S. and China to work together, or at least in parallel, when North Korea finally becomes a red-alert-level emergency–which it almost certainly will.

But the election of Donald Trump is just the latest source of G-zero uncertainty and turmoil. Few leaders in today’s world, particularly in Europe, have enough popularity to get anything done, and the current wave of populism sweeping through many E.U. countries calls into question the legitimacy of institutions and governing principles in the world’s most advanced industrial democracies. France will head to the polls in 2017, led by a President too weak to stand in an election in which a leading contender wants to pull the country out of the E.U. In Britain, with European negotiators and members of her own party intent on driving exceptionally hard bargains, it’s far from clear that Prime Minister Theresa May can navigate her divided country through (at least) two years of Brexit negotiations.

In Germany, the lack of any appealing alternative will probably keep Angela Merkel as Chancellor, but domestic backlash against her open-door policy for Middle East migrants will leave her much weakened. In Italy, the failure of Matteo Renzi’s political-reform referendum has upended politics, dooming the country’s 64th government in 70 years. Greece’s financial problems are far from finished. The E.U. is in for a rough ride in 2017, even if its deal with Turkey to sharply limit the surge of Syrian refugees into Europe holds, helping avoid a repeat of the tidal wave of desperate people that roiled E.U. politics.

While there are places where the risk is overblown, the outlook isn’t much brighter in the developing world. The latest round of tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir has made headlines, but both governments want to avoid an escalation of violence that might hurt them at home. In Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, the capital city’s Christian governor has aroused Muslim fury, but President Joko Widodo continues to promote economic reform and much-needed investment in the country’s infrastructure.

China’s top leaders have become increasingly confident in their ability to maintain their monopoly on domestic political power and to develop stronger international relationships with willing partners. But a scheduled leadership transition next fall might create much higher levels of stress in Beijing and a more belligerent attitude from its leaders–particularly if China’s economy begins to show unexpected vulnerability. With that backdrop, Trump’s hostile approach, including treating U.S. policy on Taiwan as a card to play, will generate anxiety.

Vladimir Putin remains firmly in charge in Moscow, and Trump’s win provides an unexpected bonus in better relations with the White House. We might even see an easing, if not an end, of Western sanctions in 2017. But oil prices won’t reach the heights that boosted the Russian economy a decade ago, which exposes a longer-term vulnerability for which Putin has no credible answer. He has more than enough political and financial capital to avoid serious trouble in 2017, but the long-term erosion of Russia’s power and financial reserves will eventually give Putin good reasons to create international distractions. In Mexico, hostility toward (and from) Trump is already stirring up trouble. And economic crisis and political confrontation are headed toward a potentially violent climax in Venezuela.

Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a would-be Putin bent on expanding his authority, has expressed growing hostility toward E.U. leaders who depend on his goodwill to limit migrant flows. South Africa’s scandal-plagued President continues to ignite partisan passions. Protests, a staple of the country’s political culture, have again turned violent.

No region feels the G-zero pressure more acutely than the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, low oil prices, Iran’s release from sanctions, a lack of reliable friends and rivalries within the royal family are creating ever higher levels of stress. The killing continues in Yemen and in Syria, where Bashar Assad has all but conquered Aleppo. Finally, the military defeat of ISIS will scatter surviving fighters across the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, Russia and elsewhere in search of opportunities to wage jihad on new battlefields.

While America’s withdrawal will create uncertainty, no one is rushing in to fill the vacuum. China’s investments in Asia, Africa and Latin America boost Beijing’s influence in dozens of countries, and Trump’s renunciation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous trade deal, gives China an excellent opportunity to expand its web of regional trade ties. But Beijing can’t match Washington’s military reach or cultural appeal. It’s not a major producer of energy, food or the latest advanced technology. And China’s leaders have their hands full at home. They must ensure that the nation’s economy continues to develop and modernize to maintain their monopoly of domestic political power. The reality is that there is no emerging power ready, willing and able to take the leadership role the U.S. will no longer play.

Around the world, populism will decentralize power away from central state actors toward local officials, at the expense of international cooperation. This anger undermines the authority of supranational organizations–the E.U., NATO, the U.N. The pace of technological change threatens the ability of governments to govern. An ever growing number of major decisions are taken by nonstate actors–data-hungry companies, hackers, political interest groups and terrorists.

The international order itself is unraveling. In the past eight years alone, the world has seen the worst financial crisis in decades, a global recession, a historic debt crisis in the euro zone, a wave of unrest across North Africa and the Middle East, civil war in Syria, a migrant crisis that calls into question the future of Europe’s open borders, war between Russia and Ukraine, Brexit, an explosion of cyber aggression and the election as U.S. President of one Donald Trump. Call it geopolitical creative destruction or just the sound of things falling apart, but the grinding of G-zero gears has become too loud to ignore.

In the short term, 2017 will have more than its share of decisive political moments. France will stage the most anticipated presidential election in years this spring, with the country’s future as a European pillar at stake. Marine Le Pen of the far-right National Front hopes to ride Europe’s populist wave toward victory–and sound the death knell for the entire E.U. project. In the fall, Merkel, the last-standing champion of Western liberal values, seeks re-election as Germany’s Chancellor. Both countries fear that Russian hackers will try to disrupt their elections, just as Moscow is suspected of having done in the U.S.

There will also be a presidential election in Iran that might well bring tensions between reformers and hard-liners in that country to a head. Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and others will continue to seek solutions to the existential threat posed to their economies by persistently low oil prices. Angry words between Europe and Turkey will threaten a new surge of migrants across E.U. borders. China’s leadership transition will make Beijing a more unpredictable player in regional and international politics.

And President Donald Trump will lead the United States of America into uncharted waters.

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This school replaced detention with meditation. The results are stunning.

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This school replaced detention with meditation. The results are stunning.

Imagine you’re working at a school and one of the kids is starting to act up. What do you do?

Traditionally, the answer would be to give the unruly kid detention or suspension.

But in my memory, detention tended to involve staring at walls, bored out of my mind, trying to either surreptitiously talk to the kids around me without getting caught or trying to read a book. If it was designed to make me think about my actions, it didn’t really work. It just made everything feel stupid and unfair.

Instead of punishing disruptive kids or sending them to the principal’s office, the Baltimore school has something called the Mindful Moment Room instead.

The room looks nothing like your standard windowless detention room. Instead, it’s filled with lamps, decorations, and plush purple pillows. Misbehaving kids are encouraged to sit in the room and go through practices like breathing or meditation, helping them calm down and re-center. They are also asked to talk through what happened.

Meditation and mindfulness are pretty interesting, scientifically.

Mindful meditation has been around in some form or another for thousands of years. Recently, though, science has started looking at its effects on our minds and bodies, and it’s finding some interesting effects.

One study, for example, suggested that mindful meditation could give practicing soldiers a kind of mental armor against disruptive emotions, and it can improve memory too. Another suggested mindful meditation could improve a person’s attention span and focus.

Individual studies should be taken with a grain of salt (results don’t always carry in every single situation), but overall, science is starting to build up a really interesting picture of how awesome meditation can be. Mindfulness in particular has even become part of certain fairly successful psychotherapies.


Back at the school, the Mindful Moment Room isn’t the only way Robert W. Coleman Elementary has been encouraging its kids.

The meditation room was created as a partnership with the Holistic Life Foundation, a local nonprofit that runs other programs as well. For more than 10 years the foundation has been offering the after-school program Holistic Me, where kids from pre-K through the fifth grade practice mindfulness exercises and yoga.

“It’s amazing,” said Kirk Philips, the Holistic Me coordinator at Robert W. Coleman. “You wouldn’t think that little kids would meditate in silence. And they do.”

There was a Christmas party, for example, where the kids knew they were going to get presents but were still expected to do meditation first.

“As a little kid, that’s got to be hard to sit down and meditate when you know you’re about to get a bag of gifts, and they did it! It was beautiful, we were all smiling at each other watching them,” said Philips.

The kids may even be bringing that mindfulness back home with them. In the August 2016 issue of Oprah Magazine, Holistic Life Foundation co-founder Andres Gonzalez said: “We’ve had parents tell us, ‘I came home the other day stressed out, and my daughter said, “Hey, Mom, you need to sit down. I need to teach you how to breathe.”‘”

The program also helps mentor and tutor the kids, as well as teach them about the environment.

They help clean up local parks, build gardens, and visit nearby farms. Philips said they even teach kids to be co-teachers, letting them run the yoga sessions.

This isn’t just happening at one school, either. Lots of schools are trying this kind of holistic thinking, and it’s producing incredible results.

In the U.K., for example, the Mindfulness in Schools Project is teaching adults how to set up programs. Mindful Schools, another nonprofit, is helping to set up similar programs in the United States.

Oh, and by the way, the schools are seeing a tangible benefit from this program, too.

Philips said that at Robert W. Coleman Elementary, there have been exactly zero suspensions last year and so far this year. Meanwhile, nearby Patterson Park High School, which also uses the mindfulness programs, said suspension rates dropped and attendance increased as well.

Is that wholly from the mindfulness practices? It’s impossible to say, but those are pretty remarkable numbers, all the same.

Source :


Vibrator Maker To Pay Millions Over Claims It Secretly Tracked Use.

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Vibrator Maker To Pay Millions Over Claims It Secretly Tracked Use.

The makers of the We-Vibe, a line of vibrators that can be paired with an app for remote-controlled use, have reached a $3.75 million class action settlement with users following allegations that the company was collecting data on when and how the sex toy was used.

Standard Innovations, the Canadian manufacturer of the We-Vibe, does not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement finalized Monday.

The We-Vibe product line includes a number of Bluetooth-enabled vibrators that, when linked to the “We-Connect” app, can be controlled from a smartphone. It allows a user to vary rhythms, patterns and settings — or give a partner, in the room or anywhere in the world, control of the device. (You can see a video promoting the app’s features here; be advised, it is briefly not safe for work.)

Since the app was released in 2014, some observers have raised concerns that Internet-connected sex toys could be vulnerable to hacking. But the lawsuit doesn’t involve any outside meddling — instead, it centers on concerns that the company itself was tracking users’ sex lives.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois in September. It alleges that — without customers’ knowledge — the app was designed to collect information about how often, and with what settings, the vibrator was used.

The lawyers for the anonymous plaintiffs contended that the app, “incredibly,” collected users’ email addresses, allowing the company “to link the usage information to specific customer accounts.”

Customers’ email addresses and usage data were transmitted to the company’s Canadian servers, the lawsuit alleges. When a We-Vibe was remotely linked to a partner, the connection was described as “secure,” but some information was also routed through We-Connect and collected, the lawsuit says.

The unhappy users allege in their lawsuit that they never agreed to the collection of this data. Standard Innovations maintains that users “consented to the conduct alleged” — but instead of taking the case to court, the company agreed to settle.

An estimated 300,000 people bought Bluetooth-enabled WeVibes, according to court documents, and about 100,000 of them used the app.

Under the terms of the settlement, anyone who bought an app-enabled vibrator can receive up to $199 dollars; anyone who actually connected it to the app can collect up to $10,000. The actual amount paid out will depend on how many people file claims; the company estimates people who bought the app will get around $40, and people who used the app around $500.

The high-end vibrators cost between $119 and $199, if purchased through the We-Vibe website.

Standard Innovation also agreed to stop collecting users’ email addresses and to update its privacy notice to be clearer about how data is collected.

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The Haunting Face of a Man Who Lived 700 Years Ago

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The Haunting Face of a Man Who Lived 700 Years Ago

This may look like a photograph, but the highly realistic face staring back at you belongs to a man who died over 700 years ago. The researchers who performed this unbelievable facial reconstruction say their work is providing new details about the way ordinary people lived in medieval England.

This 13th-century man—dubbed “Context 958″—is one of approximately 400 complete burials found and excavated beneath the Old Divinity School of St. John’s College in Cambridge, England, between 2010 and 2012. Back during the medieval era, this spot was home to the Hospital of St. John, a charitable institution set up to care for the poor and sick in the community. For centuries, the dead were buried in a cemetery right out back.

The reconstruction of Context 958 is part of a collaborative effort between Cambridge University’s Division of Archaeology and the University of Dundee’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification. The Wellcome Trust-funded project, called “After the plague: health and history in medieval Cambridge,” is an effort to catalogue and analyze the burials in as much depth and detail as possible.

Based on an exhaustive analysis of his remains and the burial site, here’s what we know about Context 958.

He was just slightly over 40 years old when he died. His skeleton showed signs of considerable wear-and-tear, so he likely lead a tough and hard working life. His tooth enamel stopped growing during two occasions in his youth, suggesting he likely lived through bouts of famine or sickness when he was young. The archaeologists found traces of blunt force trauma inflicted to the back of his head, which healed over before he died. The researchers aren’t sure what he did for a living, but they think he was a working-class person who specialized in some kind of trade.

Context 958 ate a diverse diet rich in meat or fish, according to an analysis of weathering patterns on his teeth. His profession may have provided him with more access to such foods than the average person at the time. His presence at the charitable hospital suggests he fell on hard times, with no one to take care of him.

“Context 958 was probably an inmate of the Hospital of St John, a charitable institution which provided food and a place to live for a dozen or so indigent townspeople—some of whom were probably ill, some of whom were aged or poor and couldn’t live alone,” noted John Robb, a professor from Cambridge University’s Division of Archaeology, in a statement.

Strangely, he was buried face down, which is rare but not unheard of in medieval burials. Robb and his colleagues are fascinated by Context 958 and those like him. Their analysis shows what it was like to live as an ordinary poor person back then—warts and all.

“Most historical records are about well-off people and especially their financial and legal transactions—the less money and property you had, the less likely anybody was to ever write down anything about you,” said Robb. “So skeletons like this are really our chance to learn about how the ordinary poor lived.”

Of course, facial reconstructions are only as good as the data they’re based on, in this case a highly-weathered skeleton. We can’t be completely certain that this is exactly what Context 958 looked like. But at the very least, it’s bringing his remains back to life. Work on other skeletons found at the site will continue, as the researchers are putting together a kind of biography of every individual studied. It’s a fitting tribute to regular folks whose lives would have otherwise been completely forgotten.

Vegans and vegetarians think they don’t kill animals but they do.

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Vegans and vegetarians think they don’t kill animals but they do.

Last year Claudio Bertonatti, one of the most renowned naturalists in Argentina, wrote an article that triggered an earthquake. The tsunami reached us here and is likely to extend even further.

In his article, The Vegan Confusion, he warns that eating vegetables doesn’t prevent the death of animals. Bertonatti has enraged thousands of vegans and vegetarians, as well as other nature conservationists. However, many who read his article learned something about animal rights that might never have occurred to them otherwise.

We spoke to Claudio about his earth-shattering idea and discussed the most important points of the controversy.

Claudio, you were a vegetarian. What made you decide to become one?

As a teenager, I grew interested in nature. I thought that by becoming a vegetarian I’d avoid killing so many animals. But then I changed my mind.

What happened?

I began studying nature and going out to the countryside to observe wildlife. I noticed that in the fields of agricultural crops there were no birds, and the few that were there were being persecuted. Then I started studying amphibians, mammals, reptiles and fish and I realized that I’d been confused.


As a vegetarian, I was helping to prevent the death and suffering of domestic animals, but not of wild species.

What drove you to write the article?

In Argentina, I encounter many people who claim to be defenders of nature because they don’t eat meat or wear leather. They think that by being vegan or vegetarian they’re preventing animals from dying. It’s not true.


From the moment that humans began to raise cattle and adopt agriculture we generated an impact. There is no animal species whose survival doesn’t result in the death of other animals, whether directly or indirectly. I understand that this can be a painful realization. I’d also like to live in an ideal world, but that’s not the reality. Many vegans and people who only wear cotton seem to believe they don’t cause any deaths, but they do.

When I say this, many people feel like I’m cornering them

Indirect deaths?

Wheat, rice, corn. Most vegans eat these things. The first impact of mass cultivation is deforestation: we force nature out to make room for crops. In Argentina, they set fire to the jungle, burning nests with flamethrowers. Then they must defend the sown land from the birds who come to feed; many landowners do this by scattering poisoned grains. After that, the wild herbivores come looking for the first shoots, so the landowners put up electric fences or hunt the animals down with guns.

If you eat meat, you kill animals, but you also kill them by eating plants

What happens during harvest?

By contrast, he says, in fields dedicated to livestock there are more species of other animals.

The land is fumigated to combat fungi, insects and other plants. The animals that have been driven out move on to other areas which already support animals: the hotel is fully booked. So, the animals go to neighbouring crop fields and another wave of impacts is generated.

There are lots of wild grasslands in Argentina. You can go for a walk there and find everything: amphibians, reptiles, birds. Of course, I’d be lying if I said there’s the same variety of animals as you’d get if the cows weren’t there. The farmer also persecutes wildlife and kills any animals he considers harmful to production. Even so, the impact is less. When I say this, a lot of people feel I’m cornering them.

And many of these species – unlike cows, pigs and goats – were disappearing. So, I went back to being an omnivore.

In what sense?

In the sense that there’s no escape: if you eat meat, you kill animals, but you also kill them by eating plants. A lot of people who care about environmental issues look for good guys and bad guys, but it’s not like that: it’s far more complicated.

Give us an example.

There are lots of people here demonstrating and saying “No to mining”. The slogan should be “No to mining that recklessly exploits resources and people”. The activists use computers that wouldn’t exist without the metals brought up from the mines. I’m surprised they don’t see the bigger picture.

Most slaughterhouses in Argentina are models of cruelty. I could never pretend otherwise!

What do you think of the way in which meat is mass produced – the meat industry?

It’s a tragedy. Feedlot and most slaughterhouses in Argentina are models of unrestrained cruelty. I could never pretend otherwise!

There’s evidence that the resources required for meat are far greater than those required for vegetables. And, that crops make up a large part of these resources: a high percentage of them are used to feed livestock.

That’s true. I know that most soya crops are used for this purpose. I’m not saying vegans are stupid or that they should all become carnivores, I’m just saying that it’s important to be sensible, to adopt an intelligent position and show some solidarity.

To a fundamentalist, it’s a sin to mention death. What else should I call it? Euthanasia?

What is an intelligent position?

Showing solidarity with nature: the lesser evil. It’s important to encourage the responsible consumption and humane killing of animals. But to a fundamentalist, it’s a sin even to mention death. What else should I call it? Euthanasia?

If I understand correctly, your intention is to warn vegans and vegetarians that zero impact is impossible.

Most of us live in cities and know very little about the animal world. Ask your friends if they can name 10 animals and 10 wild plants native to the area they live in.

We probably wouldn’t be able to.

If we don’t know anything about nature and diversity, then we won’t be able to value it. Our universe is limited to what we see: dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, ducks, cows. Our sensitivity extends only towards them. It’s like looking through a keyhole. The world is bigger than that and far more complex, whether you accept it or not.

You talk as if you know a lot of fanatics.

There are fundamentalist carnivores and vegans. As a scientist, when I hear them speaking in that confident tone – so utterly lacking in self-doubt – it scares me. Fundamentalists only pay attention to people who think like they do, and see everyone else as an enemy. It’s a contradiction.

Our universe is limited to what we see: dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, cows. Our sensitivity extends only towards them


For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent.

Have you met violent vegans?

I was the managing director of Buenos Aires Zoo. I resigned because I tried to transform it into a conservation centre for endangered species but couldn’t. There were these vegans who’d demonstrate in front of the zoo, shouting at the families who came in, calling them murderers. That damages veganism. People think: if this is veganism then I want no part of it. Not all vegans are like that, of course. But there are lots of people who develop a great empathy for domestic animals only. Many of them end up hating people and that’s a pathology: it’s not healthy.

For a carnivore to be violent is logical, but for a vegan to be violent is philosophically inconsistent

In your article, you say that if the whole human race suddenly became vegan, it would be a tragedy. But some say if we were all vegan then we’d need fewer crops than we do as omnivores.

I wrote the article as a way of generating debate in my country, where the vegan movement’s grasp on environmental analysis is generally quite shaky. If the whole human race became vegan because of this type of thinking (not counting other philosophical, religious or health reasons that I won’t go into), it would be a tragedy because we wouldn’t be understanding the world’s environmental problems.

You’re not convinced by the statistics.

If a well-understood veganism contributes to improving the natural world, then I’ll gladly become a vegan. My chief concern is the conservation of biodiversity: that the wealth of life on Earth does not become impoverished.

But, again, if everyone in Argentina were vegan, wouldn’t that require fewer crops?

I don’t know. I don’t think you need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity. I’m not a specialist in agricultural production development, but from what I know about the environment, it’s always better to diversify production. There should be crops, cows, beekeepers… diversity.

You don’t need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity

What shortcomings do you see in the vegan movement?

I never see them fighting for the creation of new protected areas or combatting the illegal trafficking of wildlife. I see them protesting bullfighting, which no longer goes on in Argentina, and slaughterhouses. It’s like they only care about domestic animals which, again, are not in danger of extinction. I’m not saying it’s wrong – just that there’s so much more to it.

In general, do you think there’s not enough of a connection between veganism and environmental awareness?

What I find dangerous is that you spend all your energy trying to save the black cat, while knowing nothing about the environment, because maybe you’re wasting your energy; maybe your energy would have a greater impact elsewhere.It’s important to have a broad vision: it could help you analyse your situation better. If, afterwards, you still want to dedicate your life to saving black cats, that’s great, I’m appreciative of it. Defending animal rights is not incompatible with nature conservation.

Clearly, there’s a conflict between environmentalists and animal rights activists and it’s definitely going to have a big impact on the future of humanity. 

It reminds me a little of left-wing political parties: they act like they’re enemies, and yet they’re very similar and should be allies. Do you know who the biggest enemy of nature conservation is?


Indifferent people. A lot of indifferent people believe that everyone who cares about the environment is the same: we don’t eat meat, we’re do-gooding greenies who never have sex. It’s not true. We’re normal people!

Environmentalists tend to think vegans and vegetarians are just sentimental. On the other hand, the indifference of some vegans to wild animals and biodiversity concerns me

Death is a part of nature. Mixing feelings with science doesn’t seem very scientific. On the other hand, human consciousness is important, as is our responsibility for an appalling and heavy-polluting industry. Who’s wrong?

Mistakes are made on both sides. Environmentalists tend to think vegans and vegetarians are just sentimental. On the other hand, the indifference of some vegans to wild animals and biodiversity concerns me: it’s not consistent. I acknowledge the fact that humanity is a machine that devours the world. One anthropologist said that we’re cosmophagic: we devour that which surrounds us.

Are you happy about the stir your text has caused?

A lot of people insult me and attack me by saying I killed a polar bear, which isn’t true. Others provide me with new perspectives for which I thank them! I’m just a journeyman of nature conservation, a gardener, and I’ve been wrong many times. I do my best, but it doesn’t offend me to find out I’m wrong. I think like a scientist, not like a fundamentalist.

You don’t need to be vegan to conserve nature and biodiversity

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