Monday, 14 April 2014

Indonesia’s politics of depression

The impact of defeat on the mental health of election candidates is not a subject I have ever thought about but perhaps Jeff Kennett’s  Beyond Blue should put it on its ends. At least if the Indonesian experience, a country where the subject has been studied, is any kind of guide.
The Jakarta Post reported this morning that many candidates who failed to secure votes in the recent legislative election have become depressed after reportedly giving everything they had, including personal funds, in their efforts to win votes. Recent reports from across the country have shown that of 6,600 legislative candidates running for seats in the House of Representatives, a handful have fallen into depression, displayed maniacal tendencies, or even resorted to suicide due to the losses they suffered. A tragic report came from Banjar, West Java, where a young mother hanged herself after losing in the legislative election. Local residents found her body in a bamboo hut in Limusnunggal hamlet, Ciamis regency, West Java.
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Court reporting with a difference – Pistorius is lying his head off

When there is no jury to prejudice, court reporting can be different. This morning’s South African Cape Argus well illustrates that:
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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Who killed the pygmy elephants?

The Owl’s letter to the editor of the week is from the Malaysian Star:
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(Click to enlarge)

CBA under fire at ASIC inquiry

This evidence today  is almost too bad to be true but then the witnesses were bankers. From the SMH website:
Commonwealth Bank’s top lawyer, David Cohen, was rebuked before a senate inquiry on Thursday morning for downplaying systematic fraud within the bank’s financial services arm as ”inappropriate”.
The word ”inappropriate” was suitable to describe an error of judgment in clothing choice, said Mark Bishop, chairman of the Senate inquiry into the performance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, but not the fraud and failure within the bank’s wealth management division which culminated in clients losing millions of dollars in savings.

Global warming scare tactics, the story of the Jews and other news and views for Thursday 10 April

10-04-2014 storyofthejews
  • What a Saga! – a review of The Story of the Jews: Finding the Words, 1000 BC–1492 AD by Simon Schama ”The present book is by no means a history of the Jews, despite its roughly chronological structure and distinct geographical frames. It is, as its title proclaims, a story, for which mere words barely suffice. What Schama has written demonstrates yet again his prodigious ability to write with fluency and panache, and to structure his work in surprising ways.”
  • Global Warming Scare Tactics – “there is every reason to believe that efforts to raise public concern about climate change by linking it to natural disasters will backfire. More than a decade’s worth of research suggests that fear-based appeals about climate change inspire denial, fatalism and polarization.”
  • Search for Malaysian Jet to Be Costliest in History – “Even if searchers are able to pinpoint wreckage from the plane soon, it would open another costly chapter, involving undersea exploration and possibly the recovery of parts of the plane, bodies and other evidence from depths of nearly three miles.”
  • ‘I Will Tear His Head Off’: How the Italian Mafia Is Infiltrating Germany
  • Obama in Malaysia: A Strategic Partnership? – “During his upcoming late April trip to Asia, President Obama will visit two nations in Southeast Asia, Malaysia and the Philippines, in addition to stops in Northeast Asia. The White House already has been briefing reporters on the overall messaging of the trip… In Malaysia, it appears from several news reports and from speaking with several administration officials, President Obama will add to the Malaysian government’s self-promotion that Kuala Lumpur is a successful and democratic nation, an example of other Muslim-majority countries, and a force for moderation in the world.”
  • Philosophy on Top – “… an independent report by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (GDI), a Swiss think tank … recently released a ranked list of the top 100 Global Thought Leaders for 2013. The ranking includes economists, psychologists, authors, political scientists, physicists, anthropologists, information scientists, biologists, entrepreneurs, theologians, physicians, and people from several other disciplines. Yet three of the top five global thinkers are philosophers…”

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The election voting is over so get the psychiatrists ready

The voting is over in the Indonesian parliamentary elections and the psychiatrists are preparing for the consequences. According to a recent Jakarta Globe report, hospital staff and psychologists at hospitals across the archipelago are readying themselves and preparing extra beds for a new batch of losing candidates.
“Most of the legislative candidates who will be prone [to depression] are beginners who are not ready to lose,” Fadhilah Masjaya, the director of Atma Husada Hospital in Samarinda, said in the East Kalimantan capital on Thursday. “Some of them probably have spent Rp 1 billion [$88,000] alone — then it’s wasted and they become distressed.”
Fadhilah added that most candidates would not, however, suffer from major depressive symptoms.
“We’ll treat them no different to other patients,” he said.
In Balikpapan, a booming mining city on the East Kalimantan coast, the local health agency has instructed community health clinics, known as Puskesmas, to make the necessary preparations.
“We’ve opened special posts at all Puskesmas; they’re ready to treat legislative candidates who are mildly or heavily depressed,” Balikpapan Health Agency head Dyah Muryani said. “We’ve also prepared [psychiatrists]. Doctors at Puskesmas can refer patients to hospitals or to psychiatrists.”
The newspaper report said that in the aftermath of the 2009 legislative elections, when parties began randomly recruiting legislative candidates to lure voters, the Indonesian media was packed with reports of depressed also-rans admitted to psychiatric wards, suffering public breakdowns and committing suicide. Most of the cases were attributed to losing in the elections after huge spending, which rendered many of the candidates heavily indebted.
To anticipate recurrence, Social Services Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri last month called on hospitals across the regions, particularly the mental health hospitals, to allocate special wards to treat such patients.
“We predict that there will be a lot of distressed legislative candidates, especially those who lose, after the elections,” Salim said, according to republika.co.id. “Therefore we’ve coordinated with local administrations and hospitals to prepare special wards.”

El Niño Could Grow Into a Monster

The US websites Slate and Mother Jones have used evidence from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology to publicise, as the Owl did earlier this week, the increasing likelihood of an El Niño developing later this year. In a rather more dramatic fashion than the Owl they warn to ”expect soaring global food prices, monsoons in India, drought in Indonesia, and bush fires in Australia.”
The author Eric Holthaus writes:
As I wrote last fall, the coming El Niño could be enough to make 2014 the hottest year in recorded history, and 2015 could be even warmer than that. The 1997-98 super El Niño was enough to boost global temperatures by nearly a quarter of a degree Celsius. If that scale of warming happens again, the world could approach a 1ºC departure from pre-industrial times as early as next year. As climate scientist James Hansen has warned, that’s around the highest that temperatures have ever been since human civilization began.
Indeed, even the forecast is already having an effect: An index of global food prices reached a 10-month high in March, blamed in part on shortages an El Niño may exacerbate. Here’s what else we could expect:
  • A severe drought continues to rage in and around Indonesia, which an El Niño would likely worsen.
  • Australia’s ongoing battles with bush fires may be intensified once its dry season resumes later this year.
But perhaps the strangest impact so far has been in India, where monsoon forecasting is at the heart of national politics. The meteorology department there has accused US weather forecasters of “spreading rumors” and colluding to ruin the Indian stock market by forecasting a return of El Niño.