“Can we go a little lower? Could we find someone that will do it for board and room, you know, that has such a terrible country, that maybe they’ll just go out of the country and be a free security guard?” So the co-chairman of the Commission of Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan rhetorically asked during a hearing on private security contractors in Washington on June 21, 2010. One year previously, a British private security company providing services for the US government reached an agreement with the Sierra Leonean government to employ up to 10,000 Sierra Leonean ex-servicemen for security contracting in Iraq. In a competition for ‘the lowest price technically accepted’ (LPTA), it was decided that the Sierra Leonean contractors should replace the Ugandan guards against a monthly pay of 250 USD for providing static security in Camp Shield – an American military base in Baghdad.
Sociology is a rather new discipline; while its founding theorists lived during the Enlightenment, seminal figures like Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber shaped the field amid the rise of industrialization and modernity. The scientific and political upheavals of the 19th and 20th centuries brought about a new understanding of how society worked. It is truly a crucial field of study in today’s interconnected world.
April 30th this year marked the 40th anniversary of the massive Rock Against Racism rally and concert in London, at which some hundred thousand people marched into Victoria Park to the sound of punk and reggae bands, including X-Ray Spex, fronted by Afro-British Poly Styrene. The context in which this mass movement arose in the late 1970s UK is uncannily familiar. Police were stopping people of color on the streets under the pretext of the notorious SUS (“suspicious persons”) law. Voices once consigned to the margins of the far-right were thrust into public discourse as the Prime Minister lamented being “swamped” by immigrants. Such was the environment in which punk burst into the global spotlight in the second half of the 1970s.
No matter your religion, political party, or personal philosophy, you’ve likely met someone at one point or another and thought they’ve got it all wrong, or even, wow—this person is an idiot. In the search for moral truth, when we learn what is “right,” we in turn learn what is “wrong.” But how can we know whether our conclusions are sound, or the result of biased reasoning?
PAINWeek, the largest US pain conference for frontline clinicians with an interest in pain management, takes place this year from 4th September to 8th September. The conference focuses on several different aspects of pain management, and indeed many different methods of pain management exist. None is so ancient, widely-known, and controversial, however, than pain management using opioids. Since the time of the ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians, drugs associated with opium have been known as an effective treatment for pain. Opium comes from the sap of the seeds of the opium poppy, Papaver somniferum, and acts as a narcotic. As highly addictive substances, the medical world has battled over the appropriate use of opioids ever since the drug began to be circulated in the early 1700s. While these drugs can provide immensely successful pain relief, the possibility of the patient becoming addicted to opioids is too great to be ignored. Indeed, the US currently faces an epidemic of opioid addiction, largely stemming from prescribed opioids.