Syrian President Bashar al-Assad apologises...to Turkey for shooting down a fighter jet. Also, Human Rights Watch investigates Syian torture centres. And there’s speculation about criminal prosecution of the Barclays bankers who rigged interest rates. For one paper that would not be enough, given the distorting effects that unconstrained power has on the brain activity of those running a virtually unregulated banking industry.
Human Rights Watch has investigated two dozen torture centres across Syria, and The Brisbane Times highlights witness accounts in which we read of stapled chests and electric shocks.
In the UK, the Barclays bankers responsible for rigging inter-banking rates could be prosecuted for criminal behaviour. The Independent argued the Chairman’s head should not have rolled though, as interest rate manipulation would have been below his level of oversight. CEO Bob Diamond should be the one to go. (Someone was listening, as Diamond has since stepped down).
In an essay on The Psychology of Greed, the Guardian cites studies which look into the effects of power on the human brain. Bank bosses are more powerful than most elected officials – particularly after decades of deregulation, and holding onto power changes brains by boosting testosterone, which increases the dopamine in the brain's reward systems.
While moderate amounts encourage people to be more strategic and bolder, the logic goes, extreme forms distort personalities, making them egocentric, unempathetic and greedy for financial, sexual and material rewards.
All the while, the excess of unchecked power dulls their perception of risk, even when a storm is brewing.