An UnbeLIEvable Story


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This Pulitzer winning article about a serial rapist is more than just an account of crime and investigation, but an insight into our very own stereotypical mindset.

But her misdemeanor had made the news, and made her an object of curiosity or, worse, scorn. It had cost her the newfound independence she was savoring after a life in foster homes. It had cost her sense of worth. Each ring of the phone seemed to announce another friendship, lost. A friend from 10th grade called to ask: How could you lie about something like that? Marie — that’s her middle name, Marie — didn’t say anything. She just listened, then hung up. Even her foster parents now doubted her. She doubted herself, wondering if there was something in her that needed to be fixed.

The complete article

T. Christian Miller, ProPublica and Ken Armstrong, The Marshall Project

Trailer of Unbelievable (Netflix Series)

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‘Pure’ European is a Myth


With all of European media harping about immigration issues in Europe, it is ironic that the latest studies show that almost ALL indigenous Europeans descend from immigrants, most of them from what is now known as the Middle East. This article, by Science, explores the history of migration in Europe, examines the different studies being done by genetic researchers and surprises us with their findings.

When the first busloads of migrants from Syria and Iraq rolled into Germany 2 years ago, some small towns were overwhelmed. The village of Sumte, population 102, had to take in 750 asylum seekers. Most villagers swung into action, in keeping with Germany’s strong Willkommenskultur, or “welcome culture.” But one self-described neo-Nazi on the district council told The New York Times that by allowing the influx, the German people faced “the destruction of our genetic heritage” and risked becoming “a gray mishmash.”

In fact, the German people have no unique genetic heritage to protect. They—and all other Europeans—are already a mishmash, the children of repeated ancient migrations, according to scientists who study ancient human origins.

Full Article Here

Science – Ann Gibbons

Original Scientific Paper – Available for Download

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Lola’s Story


Today’s Needull is the very last article written by the renowned Pulitzer-winning journalist Alex Tizon, his last masterpiece before he succumbed to prolonged illness last month. In the article, he writes about Lola, his household ‘slave’ in the US, who was also his nanny-cum-cleaner-cum-cook-cum-gardener. Lola had joined Alex’s family from his native country, where her family was a victim of classism and casteism spanning generations. In the article, Alex revisits Lola’s past after her death and during his journey through his native Philippines, also takes us on a journey of realisation. As a UAE resident who knows many such ‘slave-owners’, it is an emotional eye opener of sorts for me. Hope it’s the same for you.

We landed in Los Angeles on May 12, 1964, all our belongings in cardboard boxes tied with rope. Lola had been with my mother for 21 years by then. In many ways she was more of a parent to me than either my mother or my father. Hers was the first face I saw in the morning and the last one I saw at night. As a baby, I uttered Lola’s name (which I first pronounced “Oh-ah”) long before I learned to say “Mom” or “Dad.” As a toddler, I refused to go to sleep unless Lola was holding me, or at least nearby.

I was 4 years old when we arrived in the U.S.—too young to question Lola’s place in our family. But as my siblings and I grew up on this other shore, we came to see the world differently. The leap across the ocean brought about a leap in consciousness that Mom and Dad couldn’t, or wouldn’t, make.

Full Article Here

The Atlantic – Alex Tizon

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The Man who brought the Nazis to Justice


70 years ago, the biggest murder trial in history took place as Nazis were brought to justice for the Holocaust. Benjamin Ferencz, at 97 , is the last surviving prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials and has fought for the victims of war crimes all his life. In today’s Needull, an interview by famous CBS reporter Lesley Stahl, he talks about his journey from an immigrant who did not know a word of English to being the main force behind prosecuting 22 members of Einsatzgruppen, Nazi extermination squads responsible for the deaths of more than a million Jews, and many thousands of Gypsies, partisans and others.

Only one piece of film is known to exist of the Einsatzgruppen at work.  It isn’t easy viewing…

Benjamin Ferencz: Well, this is typical operation.  Well, see here, this– they rounded ’em up. They all have already tags on ’em. And they’re chasing them.

Lesley Stahl: They’re making them run to their own death?

Benjamin Ferencz: Yes. Yes. There’s the rabbi coming along there. Just put ’em in the ditch. Shoot ’em there. You know, kick ’em in.

Lesley Stahl: Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

This footage came to light years later. At the time, Ferencz just had the documents, and he started adding up the numbers.

Benjamin Ferencz: When I reached over a million people murdered that way, over a million people, that’s more people than you’ve ever seen in your life, I took a sample. I got on the next plane, flew from Berlin down to Nuremberg, and I said to Taylor, “General, we’ve gotta put on a new trial.”

Full Interview Here

The actual video interview on CBS 60 Minutes

Bonus Read: Interview in Guardian where Ben talks on current issues

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Failure is Neither Fatal, Nor Final


This is another interesting ‘Rare Needull’ I came across in a monthly column at Hazlitt. In this interesting piece, the author examines her varied instances of failures, including her experience with a failed marriage, and how these experiences have affected her outlook on life and her ongoing recovery. The reason why you should read it is simple because her story is your story – after all, haven’t we all failed before!!

Marriage is presumed to be forever. After we married, my husband and I drove to Malibu and sealed our vows inside a bottle, and tossed them out to sea. In our minds, they were promises made like offerings to the universe. Our marriage was a sacred bond between us, so pure, the purest form of love we’d ever felt. We thought it would last for eternity.

Full Article Here

Hazlitt – Sarah Gerard

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Why, On Earth, Would Aliens Invade Earth?


In Hollywood movies, when aliens invade our innocuous little blue planet, they usually have a ludicrous motivation. Sometimes they’re after our water or want to colonise us or are just being plain nasty. Space travel is incredibly difficult and expensive — so why would aliens actually bother to come and invade us? Today’s Needull is an interesting book-excerpt that will give you a more logical perspective on alien attacks.

As an astrobiologist I spend a lot of my time working in the lab with samples from some of the most extreme places on Earth, investigating how life might survive on other worlds in our solar system and what signs of their existence we could detect. If there is biology beyond the Earth, the vast majority of life in the Galaxy will be microbial—hardy single-celled life forms that tolerate a much greater range of conditions than more complex organisms can. To be honest, my own point of view is pretty pessimistic. Don’t get me wrong—if the Earth received an alien tweet tomorrow, or some other text message beamed at us by radio or laser pulse, then I’d be absolutely thrilled. So far, though, we’ve seen no convincing evidence of other civilizations among the stars in our skies.

But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that there are one or more star-faring alien civilizations in the Milky Way. We’re all familiar with Hollywood’s darker depictions of what aliens might do when they come to the Earth: zapping the White House, harvesting humanity for food like a herd of cattle, or sucking our oceans dry. These scenarios make great films, but don’t really stand up to rational scrutiny. So let’s run through a thought experiment on what reasons aliens might possibly have to visit the Earth, not because I reckon we need to ready our defenses or assemble a welcoming party, but because I think considering these possibilities is a great way of exploring many of the core themes of the science of astrobiology.

Full Book-Excerpt Here

LIT HUB – Lewis Dartnell

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‘Sheep’ of You


I was in high school when Dolly was born. Despite Dolly being a domestic sheep, from TIME to National Geographic, all the magazines had Dolly on its cover. Her birth was a milestone as this feeble lamb was the first mammal ever to be cloned. But then, maybe due to our ignorance or because of other discoveries taking prominence, we rarely heard anything on cloning, except sporadic false claims of human cloning and television debates on the morality of it.

Well, it’s time to get updated. Today’s Needull, an article from The Economist, helps you catch up with the developments in cloning technology post Dolly and reveals why, sooner than we think, a human ‘clone’ won’t be just a subject of clichéd Hollywood movies.

The fuss among scientists was due to the fact that many believed cloning animals was impossible. John Gurdon of Oxford University had cloned frogs by nuclear transfer in 1958—but his creations never developed beyond the tadpole stage. All efforts to do the same in mammals had failed. These failures had led biologists to believe that, although all cells in a body shared the same genetic material, they were not equally capable of the same reproductive feats. “Stem cells”, such as those found in early embryos, could develop into the various sorts of specialist cells found in skin, muscle or nerves. But those “differentiated” cells could not change back into stem cells. Development was a one-way street.

Full Article Here

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Juice It… Down!!


Food fads come and go. Some say carbs are the main villain, some put the blame on the sugar content. While some claim tea to be good for health, some term it as extremely harmful. Some swear by coffee, while for some, red wine is the timeless elixir.

But, today’s Needull, authored by renowned medical researchers and diabetes specialists, does the unthinkable. It targets the most innocuous of drinks, the harmless, the ever-so-colourful – JUICE. The authors argue that “fruit juice, even if it is freshly pressed, 100 percent juice, is little more than sugar water“.

Disclaimer: Needull, or your truly, doesn’t endorse or refute the above. As a matter of fact, I have just now gulped a fresh glass of mandarin juice.

At first glance, it is reasonable to think that juice has health benefits. Whole fruit is healthy, and juice comes from fruit, so it must be healthy, too. But when you make juice, you leave some of the most wholesome parts of the fruit behind. The skin on an apple, the seeds in raspberries and the membranes that hold orange segments together — they are all good for you. That is where most of the fiber, as well as many of the antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals are hiding. Fiber is good for your gut; it fills you up and slows the absorption of the sugars you eat, resulting in smaller spikes in insulin. When your body can no longer keep up with your need for insulin, Type 2 diabetes can develop.

Full Article Here

Washington Post – Heather Ferris, Elvira Isganaitis and Florence Brown

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How Rand made US selfish?


“Capitalism and altruism are incompatible….The choice is clear-cut: either a new morality of rational self-interest, with its consequences of freedom, justice, progress and man’s happiness on earth—or the primordial morality of altruism, with its consequences of slavery, brute force, stagnant terror and sacrificial furnaces.”

~Ayn Rand

You might disagree to what Ayn, one of the most controversial novelist – cum -philosopher of modern times, says but you just can’t deny the power this statement holds. Ayn Rand’s philosophy has influenced not just individuals but nations and made them successful yet selfish. In today’s eye-opening Needull, we read about a clinical psychologist’s analysis of Rand’s influence on bright and young Americans, who in turn influenced US’s policy to turn it into the ‘selfish nation’ it is today.

Only rarely in U.S. history do writers transform us to become a more caring or less caring nation. In the 1850s, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) was a strong force in making the United States a more humane nation, one that would abolish slavery of African Americans. A century later, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) helped make the United States into one of the most uncaring nations in the industrialized world, a neo-Dickensian society where healthcare is only for those who can afford it, and where young people are coerced into huge student-loan debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy.

Full Article Here

Raw Story – Bruce Levine

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The Tree of Gold


This is our second ‘Rare Needull’, from the same blogger. In this short account, we get to know about his first visit to a red light district and leaves us with a lot to ponder on.

“Thank you khoka (son)”, the middle-aged lady smiled as she took the condom from me in one of the alleys. Despite being dark, she had smothered her face with powder and her black pan stained teeth were in direct contrast with her white face. It was the same woman I had seen a while ago tying the hair knots of her daughter.

I did not return the smile. In my heart, I was terribly angry at being called a ‘son’ by this plump woman, dressed funnily in a nightgown despite the sun being high up, and someone who let people do anything to her for a few hundred rupees.

Full Article Here

Taboonaut

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