Adonis Diaries

Archive for January 2nd, 2014

Uruguay in Latin America: Voted the Best country this year

How many Reasons do you You Need To Move To Uruguay?

Looking for a new adventure? Maybe you should head down south.

, BuzzFeed Staff, posted this December 10, 2013

1. They have the BEST President ever.

They have the BEST President ever.

Andres Stapff / Reuters

This is Jose Mujica, better known as Pepe.

He’s considered the ‘poorest President’ because he donates 90 percent of his salary to those in need.

Here’s Uruguay, right next to Argentina and Brazil.

Here's Uruguay, right next to Argentina and Brazil.
gibgalich/gibgalich

Home to 3.3 million awesome Uruguayans.

He's considered the 'poorest President' because he donates 90 percent of his salary to those in need.

Handout / Reuters

He even drives his own car, an old light blue Volkswagen Beetle.

He and his wife are super chill.

He and his wife are super chill.

Oscar Cassini / Via fusion.net

And even pose to passersby during their vacations.

His speeches are always pure perfection. youtube.com

To live you need freedom, and to have freedom you need time.

No, really, he’s the coolest President.

No, really, he's the coolest President.

Handout / Reuters

Here he is being all happy with a guitar signed by Aerosmith.

2. It was once dubbed “the Switzerland of America,” mainly for its banking stability.

It was once dubbed "the Switzerland of America," mainly for its banking stability.

Vepar5/Vepar5

So your savings will be safe!

3. Education is free and secular.

Education is free and secular.

4. Same sex marriage is legal – and celebrated.

Same sex marriage is legal - and celebrated.

5. So is marijuana legal

So is marijuana.

JeremyNathan/JeremyNathan

6. It is one of the VERY few countries in Latin America where abortion is legal.

It is one of the VERY few countries in Latin America where abortion is legal.

AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

7. The opposition to the abortion law wanted a referendum but less than 10% of the population supported it so the law was maintained.

The opposition to the abortion law wanted a referendum but less than 10% of the population supported it so the law was maintainted.

AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico

8. Its beaches are one of the best kept secrets in South America.

Its beaches are one of the best kept secrets in South America.

fotoember/fotoember

Very very very nice beaches.

9. But there’s more to see than just sand…

Uruguay is one of the leading meat producers in the world, as that is its main industry.

But there's more to see than just sand... Uruguay is one of the leading meat producers in the world, as that is its main industry.

ToniFlap/ToniFlap

10. It’s estimated that there are 3.5 cows per every person in the country.

It's estimated that there are 3.5 cows per every person in the country.

Tobias Schwarz / Reuters / Reuters

Which means you can either have a bunch as pets or eat a lot of meat.

11. You will hardly ever be stuck in a traffic jam.

You will hardly ever be stuck in a traffic jam.

12. They have a replacement for coffee: It’s called mate and it will amp you up when you drink it.

They have a replacement for coffee: It's called mate and it will amp you up when you drink it.

13. There’s a little town called Cabo Polonio where there’s no electricity ON PURPOSE. Perfect place to get over your Instagram addiction, huh?

There's a little town called Cabo Polonio where there's no electricity ON PURPOSE. Perfect place to get over your Instagram addiction, huh?

joaowendel/joaowendel

14. But if you’re looking for less silence, Punta del Este is considered one of the best party cities in the world.

But if you're looking for less silence, Punta del Este is considered one of the best party cities in the world.

15. Their music will get you out of any chair. youtube.com

Hit play and test yourself.

16. And they definitely know how to party…

And they definitely know how to party...

17. They not only hosted the first World Cup but also won it. And they’re hoping to win again next year.

They not only hosted the first World Cup but also won it. And they're hoping to win again next year.

Pablo La Rosa / Reuters

They have so much confidence they’ll win that when they qualified they made fun of Brazil. youtube.com

Because why not?

18. It’s a fantastic place to buy cheap and beautiful antiques.

It's a fantastic place to buy cheap and beautiful antiques.

19. Uruguayan men are a very well kept secret. Just look at Forlan’s abs…

Uruguayan men are a very well kept secret. Just look at Forlan's abs...

Kevin Granja / Reuters

20. And so are Uruguayan women, like Natalia Oreiro.

And so are Uruguayan women, like Natalia Oreiro.

Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

21. But above all, they’re considered the nicest and warmest people in South America.

But above all, they're considered the nicest and warmest people in South America.

The Economist published this Dec. 21, 2013:

Country of the year: Uruguay in Latin America

HUMAN life isn’t all bad, but it sometimes feels that way.

Good news is no news: the headlines mostly tell of strife and bail-outs, failure and folly.

2013 has witnessed glory as well as calamity. When the time comes for year-end accounting, both the accomplishments and the cock-ups tend to be judged the offspring of lone egomaniacs or saints, rather than the joint efforts that characterise most human endeavour.

To redress the balance from the individual to the collective, and from gloom to cheer, The Economist has decided, for the first time, to nominate a country of the year.

But how to choose it?

Readers might expect our materialistic outlook to point us to simple measures of economic performance, but they can be misleading.

Focusing on GDP growth would lead us to opt for South Sudan, which will probably notch up a stonking 30% increase in 2013—more the consequence of a 55% drop the previous year, caused by the closure of its only oil pipeline as a result of its divorce from Sudan, than a reason for optimism about a troubled land.

Or we might choose a nation that has endured economic trials and lived to tell the tale. Ireland has come through its bail-out and cuts with exemplary fortitude and calm; Estonia has the lowest level of debt in the European Union. But we worry that this econometric method would confirm the worst caricatures of us as flint-hearted number-crunchers; and not every triumph shows up in a country’s balance of payments.

Another problem is whether to evaluate governments or their people.

In some cases their merits are inversely proportional: consider Ukraine, with its thuggish president, Viktor Yanukovych, and its plucky citizens, freezing for democracy in the streets of Kiev, even though 9 years ago they went to the trouble of having a revolution to keep the same man out of office.

Or remember Turkey, where tens of thousands protested against the creeping autocracy and Islamism of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister-cum-sultan. Alas, neither movement has yet been all that successful.

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Definitional questions creep in, too. One possible candidate, Somaliland, has kept both piracy and Islamic extremism at bay, yet on most reckonings it is not a country at all, rather a renegade province of Somalia—which has struggled to contain either.

As well as countries yet to be, we might celebrate one that could soon disintegrate: the United Kingdom, which hasn’t fared too badly, all things considered, since coming into being in 1707, but could fracture in 2014 should the Scots be foolhardy enough to vote for secession.

And the winner is?

When other publications conduct this sort of exercise, but for individuals, they generally reward impact rather than virtue. Thus they end up nominating the likes of Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khomeini or, in 1938, Adolf Hitler.

Adapting that realpolitic rationale, we might choose Bashar Assad’s Syria, from which millions of benighted refugees have now been scattered to freezing camps across the Levant.

If we were swayed by influence per head of population, we might plump for the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) islands, the clutch of barren rocks in the East China Sea that have periodically threatened to incite a third world war—though that might imply their independence, leading both China and Japan to invade us.

Alternatively, applying the Hippocratic principle to statecraft, we might suggest a country from which no reports of harm or excitement have emanated. Kiribati seems to have had a quiet year.

But the accomplishments that most deserve commendation, we think, are path-breaking reforms that do not merely improve a single nation but, if emulated, might benefit the world. Gay marriage is one such border-crossing policy, which has increased the global sum of human happiness at no financial cost.

Several countries have implemented it in 2013—including Uruguay, which also, uniquely, passed a law to legalise and regulate the production, sale and consumption of cannabis. This is a change so obviously sensible, squeezing out the crooks and allowing the authorities to concentrate on graver crimes, that no other country has made it.

If others followed suit, and other narcotics were included, the damage such drugs wreak on the world would be drastically reduced.

Better yet, the man at the top, President José Mujica, is admirably self-effacing.

With unusual frankness for a politician, he referred to the new law as an experiment. He lives in a humble cottage, drives himself to work in a Volkswagen Beetle and flies economy class.

Modest yet bold, liberal and fun-loving, Uruguay is our country of the year. ¡Felicitaciones!

From the print edition: Leaders

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“I worked on the US drone program”: What the public should know…

Whenever I read comments by politicians defending the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Predator and Reaper program – aka drones – I wish I could ask them  a few questions:

1. “How many women and children have you seen incinerated by a Hellfire missile?” And

2. “How many men have you seen crawl across a field, trying to make it to the nearest compound for help while bleeding out from severed legs?” Or even more pointedly:

3. “How many soldiers have you seen die on the side of a road in Afghanistan because our ever-so-accurate UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicle] were unable to detect an IED [improvised explosive device] that awaited their convoy?”

Few of these politicians who so brazenly proclaim the benefits of drones have any real clue of what actually goes on.

I, on the other hand, have seen these awful sights first

Hermes 450 drone

An Elbit Systems Hermes 450 drone. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

I knew the names of some of the young soldiers I saw bleed to death on the side of a road. I watched dozens of military-aged males die in Afghanistan, in empty fields, along riversides, and some right outside the compound where their family was waiting for them to return home from mosque.

The US and British military insist that this is such an expert program, but it’s curious that they feel the need to deliver faulty information, few or no statistics about civilian deaths and twisted technology reports on the capabilities of our UAVs.

These specific incidents are not isolated, and the civilian casualty rate has not changed, despite what our defense representatives might like to tell us.

What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is a far cry from clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited clouds and perfect light.

This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure.

One example comes to mind: “The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?

I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.

It’s also important for the public to grasp that there are human beings operating and analyzing intelligence these UAVs.

I know because I was one of them, and nothing can prepare you for an almost daily routine of flying combat aerial surveillance missions over a war zone.

UAV proponents claim that troops who do this kind of work are not affected by observing this combat because they are never directly in danger physically.

But here’s the thing: I may not have been on the ground in Afghanistan, but I watched parts of the conflict in great detail on a screen for days on end.

I know the feeling you experience when you see someone die. Horrifying barely covers it.

And when you are exposed to it over and over again it becomes like a small video, embedded in your head, forever on repeat, causing psychological pain and suffering that many people will hopefully never experience.

UAV troops are victim to not only the haunting memories of this work that they carry with them, but also the guilt of always being a little unsure of how accurate their confirmations of weapons or identification of hostile individuals were.

Of course, we are trained to not experience these feelings, and we fight it, and become bitter. Some troops seek help in mental health clinics provided by the military, but we are limited on who we can talk to and where, because of the secrecy of our missions.

I find it interesting that the suicide statistics in this career field aren’t reported, nor are the data on how many troops working in UAV positions are heavily medicated for depression, sleep disorders and anxiety.

Recently, the Guardian ran a commentary by Britain’s secretary of state for defence Philip Hammond. I wish I could talk to him about the two friends and colleagues I lost, within one year leaving the military, to suicide.

I am sure he has not been notified of that little bit of the secret UAV program, or he would surely take a closer look at the full scope of the program before defending it again.

The UAV’s in the Middle East are used as a weapon, not as protection, and as long as our public remains ignorant to this, this serious threat to the sanctity of human life – at home and abroad – will continue.

Documenting Syria Civil War: By Russell Chapman

This is one of the selected Editors’ Picks for 2013

Posted on April 3, 2013 by

I have spent a month in Syria looking at the war in order to understand why this war is happening.

At the moment I am in the process of writing about my experience. I had the opportunity to talk to many people from political, military and humanitarian wings of the new Syrian opposition.

My intention is to give as clear a description of what I found as possible.

With that, I also took many photos of what I saw and they form a chronological record of my time in this fascinating country.

After two years of war I find the people very resilient and resourceful.

What really amazed me was the children- how they deal with the war really encapsulates the spirit and determination of this people.

I will be making exhibitions of my pictures from Syria that form a narrative to the human side of what is a very difficult situation for so many people.

Here in this post are a very small number of images that give a taste of what I have done.

Children in the Bab Al Salam refugee camp

The first major battle win by the FSA

Azaz, graveyard of the tanks. The first major battle win by the FSA

This boy was injured by shrapnel. His father is rushing him to a field hospital

This boy was injured by shrapnel. His father is rushing him to a field hospital

I was across the road when a cannon shell hit this apartment building. Fortunately nobody was hurt

I was across the road when a cannon shell hit this apartment building. Fortunately nobody was hurt

FSA fighters. Front-line Aleppo

I had to get into a sniper position to get this photo. Was by far my riskiest shot

I had to get into a sniper position to get this photo. Was by far my riskiest shot

They have no international help. They build shelters with what they can find

They have no international help. They build shelters with what they can find

Note: Currently, the Syrian army, aided by “civilian defense forces” who are fed up with the extremist religious factions are reconquering the lost territories. Basically, Da3esh are still holding on a portion close to Turkish borders called the Edleb district and Deir el Zour district on the borders with Iraq..


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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