The town of Baga, on the border with Chad, has been largely devastated in hours-long fully-fledged urban combat between regular troops and Islamist insurgents that started on Friday, local government official Lawan Kole told AP on Sunday.The official body count confirms 185 citizens have been found dead. The real number of casualties is much greater, as citizens continue to collect corpses throughout the town and in the suburbs.The streets of Baga were strewn with the corpses of dead humans and animals and about 2,000 private houses and several markets were burnt down in fighting, reported local officials when they returned to the town on Sunday.Most bodies were burnt beyond recognition as fire raged through the town. According to Muslim tradition the bodies were buried the same day, AP reports.This new stage of the conflict started on Friday after Islamic extremists of the ‘Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism’, widely known as Boko Haram (‘Western education is sinful’ in the western African Hausa language), insurgency murdered an army officer. In return government troops blocked a mosque where they believed the militants found refuge, but very soon more militants armed with automatic weapons, heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades became engaged. Heavy gunfire and explosions of the battle sent civilians fleeing into the bushland around the town.They only dared to return on Sunday, when government officials returned to the town, only to find their dwellings and businesses in ashes, vehicles burnt down and scores of corpses on the streets.Brig. Gen. Austin Edokpaye told government officials that the militants were using town’s civilians as human shields during the fighting. He said the fires in the town started because of explosions, including those of caused by rocket-propelled grenades which could have a incendiary effect.But locals also told AP journalist that soldiers were deliberately setting buildings on fire to drive militants out of private houses they used as sanctuary.Many Baga residents have decided to leave the city for good, fearing that the militants will return sooner or later.Nigerian authorities believe the escalation of the violence on the part of Boko Haram insurgency, is due to militants obtaining heavier, military-grade weapons.Boko Haram declares plans to found an Islamic state with strict Sharia law cut out of Nigerian territory. Nigeria, with a population of over 160 million, is a multicultural and multi-confessional country, though its northern border with Chad is predominantly Muslim.Massacres, kidnappings and raids have characterized Nigeria’s extremist insurgency in northern regions of the country since the riot started by Boko Haram in 2009. The riot was suppressed with a price of some 700 human casualties.After that, hit-and-run attacks and suicide bombings continued, claiming at least over 1,500 lives since 2010. …
A special inter-ministerial committee has recommended thatexecutions be carried out by firing squad in the oil-rich Gulfkingdom, saying the new method would not violate Islamic law. ”This solution seems practical, especially in light of shortagesin official swordsmen or their belated arrival to execution yardsin some incidents; the aim is to avoid interruption of theregularly-taken security arrangements,” Egypt’s Ahram dailycites the committee as saying in a statement on Sunday.Reformists within the kingdom have also called for lethalinjections carried out in prisons to replace publicdecapitation.Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where the deathpenalty is implemented by beheading in a public square. In rarecases, decapitated corpses are placed on a crucifix to serve as anadditional deterrent to would-be criminals.Rape, murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, sodomy, practicingwitchcraft and renunciation of one’s faith are all capital offensesin the ultra-conservative state, which has a legal system based onIslamic or Sharia law rather than legal codes and precedents.On Monday, a Saudi national was beheaded after being convicted ofstabbing a countryman to death. His execution brought the totalnumber of beheadings in Saudi Arabia to 18 so far this year, AFPreports.In 2012, 76 people were executed in the kingdom according to an AFPtally, while Human Rights Watch put that figure at 69.The practice has always been a source of contention between SaudiArabia and the international community.In January, Saudi Arabia drew widespread condemnation for thebeheading of a Sri Lankan maid convicted of the 2005 killing of heremployer’s baby.Both the UN and EU voiced “deep dismay” over the executionof Rizana Nafeek, who was reportedly just 17 years old at the timeof her arrest.In February, Saudi Arabia lambasted international reaction toNafeek’s death.“[Riyadh] deplores the statements made… about the execution of aSri Lankan maid who had plotted and killed an infant by suffocatinghim to death one week after she arrived in the kingdom,” agovernment spokesman said.The spokesman further said the kingdom “completely rejects anyintervention in its affairs and judicial verdicts, whatever theexcuse.” …
It’s Hard to Gross Out a Libertarian: Jonathan Haidt on How Our Tolerance for Disgust Determines our Politics
“Morality isn’t just about stealing and killing and honesty,
it’s often about menstruation, and food, and who you are having sex
with, and how you handle corpses,” says NYU social
psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who is author of The Righteous Mind: Why
Good People are Divided by Politics.
Haidt argues that our concern over these victimless behaviors is
rooted in our biology. Humans evolved to feel disgusted by anything
that when consumed makes us sick. That sense of disgust then
expanded “to become a guardian of the social order.”
This impulse is at the core of the culture war. Those who have a
low sensitivity to disgust tend to be liberals or libertarians;
those who are easily disgusted tend to be conservative.
Haidt discussed his views on morality and politics at an event
hosted by the Reason Foundation, which was held on February 19,
2013 at the Museum of Sex.
Haidt’s lecture was followed by a Q&A with New York
Times Science Columnist
For full text and downloadable versions, click below. To watch
the video, click above. View this article.
A still image taken January 11, 2012 from an undated YouTube video shows what is believed to be U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan. (Reuters/YouTube) A US Marine has had his rank reduced and been fined $500 fine for urinating on corpses of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan after pleading guilty at a special court martial in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.Staff Sgt Joseph W. Chamblin pleaded guilty to charges of wrongful desecration, failure to properly supervise junior Marines and posing for photographs with battlefield casualties. Footage of the incident, which occurred during a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in July 2011, quickly went viral after it was uploaded to the Internet in January this year, sparking world-wide outrage. The video shows four Marines in uniform laughing and joking while urinating on the bodies of three bearded men. One of the men says, “Have a nice day, buddy.” A caption identifies them as members of Scout Sniper Team 4.US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the Marines’ behaviour “utterly deplorable” and promised an investigation, while Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the actions as “inhuman”. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also promised that the Marines would be punished after expressing her “total dismay”.However, following an eight-month investigation, the Marine Corps decided on undisclosed administrative punishments for three of the Marines in August. All three had pleaded guilty to misconduct charges, including “wron
gly video-recording” the incident, failing to report it, as well as posing next to the bodies. Their records will also be permanently marked, preventing them from any future promotions or re-enlistments.Criminal charges were only filed against Chamblin and one other, Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola, whose case is still pending. The charges include “being derelict in their duties by failing to properly supervise junior Marines, failing to require junior Marines to wear their personal protective equipment, failing to stop and report the misconduct of junior Marines, failing to report the negligent discharge of a grenade launcher, and failing to stop the indiscriminate firing of weapons.” Chamblin waived his right to a jury and pleaded guilty to the charges, for which he was sentenced to 30 days’ imprisonment, a reduction in rank by three grades and a $2,000 fine. However, the initial sentence will be reduced by a marine general to a $500 fine and one grade reduction in rank, based on a plea agreement. …
Thousands of Kurds have fled Syrian army attacks on the strategic town of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, running for their lives after their homes were shelled and the corpses of fighters left strewn on the streets. With nothing but the clothes on their backs, grandparents, women and children…
Rescuers are abandoning attempts to find survivors, focusing instead on looking for corpses after deadly quake. …