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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 75,807

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Chris Hedges: Welcome to the Asylum

from truthdig:

Welcome to the Asylum

Posted on Apr 30, 2012
By Chris Hedges

When civilizations start to die they go insane. Let the ice sheets in the Arctic melt. Let the temperatures rise. Let the air, soil and water be poisoned. Let the forests die. Let the seas be emptied of life. Let one useless war after another be waged. Let the masses be thrust into extreme poverty and left without jobs while the elites, drunk on hedonism, accumulate vast fortunes through exploitation, speculation, fraud and theft. Reality, at the end, gets unplugged. We live in an age when news consists of Snooki’s pregnancy, Hulk Hogan’s sex tape and Kim Kardashian’s denial that she is the naked woman cooking eggs in a photo circulating on the Internet. Politicians, including presidents, appear on late night comedy shows to do gags and they campaign on issues such as creating a moon colony. “At times when the page is turning,” Louis-Ferdinand Celine wrote in “Castle to Castle,” “when History brings all the nuts together, opens its Epic Dance Halls! hats and heads in the whirlwind! Panties overboard!”

The quest by a bankrupt elite in the final days of empire to accumulate greater and greater wealth, as Karl Marx observed, is modern society’s version of primitive fetishism. This quest, as there is less and less to exploit, leads to mounting repression, increased human suffering, a collapse of infrastructure and, finally, collective death. It is the self-deluded, those on Wall Street or among the political elite, those who entertain and inform us, those who lack the capacity to question the lusts that will ensure our self-annihilation, who are held up as exemplars of intelligence, success and progress. The World Health Organization calculates that one in four people in the United States suffers from chronic anxiety, a mood disorder or depression—which seems to me to be a normal reaction to our march toward collective suicide. Welcome to the asylum.

When the most basic elements that sustain life are reduced to a cash product, life has no intrinsic value. The extinguishing of “primitive” societies, those that were defined by animism and mysticism, those that celebrated ambiguity and mystery, those that respected the centrality of the human imagination, removed the only ideological counterweight to a self-devouring capitalist ideology. Those who held on to pre-modern beliefs, such as Native Americans, who structured themselves around a communal life and self-sacrifice rather than hoarding and wage exploitation, could not be accommodated within the ethic of capitalist exploitation, the cult of the self and the lust for imperial expansion. The prosaic was pitted against the allegorical. And as we race toward the collapse of the planet’s ecosystem we must restore this older vision of life if we are to survive.

The war on the Native Americans, like the wars waged by colonialists around the globe, was waged to eradicate not only a people but a competing ethic. The older form of human community was antithetical and hostile to capitalism, the primacy of the technological state and the demands of empire. This struggle between belief systems was not lost on Marx. “The Ethnological Notebooks of Karl Marx” is a series of observations derived from Marx’s reading of works by historians and anthropologists. He took notes about the traditions, practices, social structure, economic systems and beliefs of numerous indigenous cultures targeted for destruction. Marx noted arcane details about the formation of Native American society, but also that “lands (were) owned by the tribes in common, while tenement-houses [were] owned jointly by their occupants.” He wrote of the Aztecs, “Commune tenure of lands; Life in large households composed of a number of related families.” He went on, “… reasons for believing they practiced communism in living in the household.” Native Americans, especially the Iroquois, provided the governing model for the union of the American colonies, and also proved vital to Marx and Engel’s vision of communism. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/welcome_to_the_asylum_20120430/

In honor of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy, a little Henry Rollins...............

Cause I'm a liar Yeah I'm a liar I'll tear your mind out I'll burn your soul I'll turn you into me I'll turn you into me Cause I'm a liar, a liar A liar, a liar

David Cameron has insisted there was "no grand deal" with Rupert Murdoch over the BSkyB bid in exchange for support for his party.

"The idea there was some grand bargain between me and Rupert Murdoch – that is just not true," he said on the BBC1 Andrew Marr programme.

The prime minister indicated he regretted attending a Christmas party at the Oxfordshire home of the then News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, in December 2010, and admitted discussing matters with James Murdoch, but insisted he did not have "inappropriate conversations with anyone about this". ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/apr/29/david-cameron-no-deal-murdoch


Nicolas Sarkozy is facing a renewed claim that Muammar Gaddafi agreed to donate up to €50m to his last presidential campaign.

The investigative website Mediapart published what it called "compelling new evidence" that the Libyan regime decided to help finance Sarkozy's successful election campaign in 2007. A document that it said was signed by Gaddafi's foreign intelligence chief, Moussa Koussa, stated that the regime had approved a payment of €50m (£40m).

Sarkozy said the document was a fabrication and a disgrace, and accused the French left of using the reports "to create a distraction". ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/apr/29/nicolas-sarkozy-rejects-gaddafi-claim

Is It Possible To Build An Economy Without Jobs?

AlterNet / By Frank Joyce

Is It Possible To Build An Economy Without Jobs?
Humans will always work. But that whole employee-employer thing is optional. It's time to start looking for another model.

April 29, 2012 |

Suppose that something caused iTunes, Sony Music, "American Idol," SiriusXM and every other commercial music entity to disappear. Would humans still make music? Of course we would.

Although capitalists would prefer we think otherwise, human ingenuity created capitalism—not the other way around. And work long precedes the existence of the capitalist system of jobs. Like music and art, work is intrinsic to the human condition. It is essential not just to our survival but to our progress as a species. It is something we do naturally, regardless of the economic and political systems in place at any given time or place in human history.

Of all the systems that contain and define our lives, perhaps the most opaque is the job system. While it is common for us to think about our individual job—or the lack thereof—it is rare that we consider the job system itself. It seems to us that humans have always been either employers or employees -- and we always will be. It’s the ultimate TINA (There Is No Alternative).

Who do you work for and what do you do are interchangeable questions in daily social discourse. Parents spend many of their waking hours thinking about how to best raise and position their children so they will be attractive to the person or entity that will “hire” them. From Dlibert to National Secretaries Day, we assume that the job-based system of organizing what gets done, who does what and how our effort is compensated is an immutable component of human existence—almost like air, water and food. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/visions/155186/is_it_possible_to_build_an_economy_without_jobs_/

Newt's news conference: 'Can you hear me in the back?' (cartoon)

Noam Chomsky: May Day

Published on Sunday, April 29, 2012 by Zuccotti Park Press
May Day

by Noam Chomsky

If you’re a serious revolutionary, then you are not looking for an autocratic revolution, but a popular one which will move towards freedom and democracy. That can take place only if a mass of the population are implementing it, carrying it out, and solving problems. They’re not going to undertake that commitment, understandably, unless they have discovered for themselves that there are limits to reform.

A sensible revolutionary will try to push reform to the limits, for two good reasons. First, because the reforms can be valuable in themselves. People should have an eight-hour day rather than a twelve-hour day. And in general, we should want to act in accord with decent ethical values.

Secondly, on strategic grounds, you have to show that here are limits to reform. Perhaps sometimes the system will accommodate to needed reforms. If so, well and good. But if it won’t, then new questions arise. Perhaps that is a moment when resistance is necessary, steps to overcome the barriers to justified changes. Perhaps the time has come to resort to coercive measures in defense of rights and justice, a form of self-defense. Unless the general population recognizes such measures to be a form of self-defense, they’re not going to take part in them, at least they shouldn’t. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/29-4

Trousers on Fire

from the Guardian UK:

David Cameron has insisted there was "no grand deal" with Rupert Murdoch over the BSkyB bid in exchange for support for his party.

"The idea there was some grand bargain between me and Rupert Murdoch – that is just not true," he said on the BBC1 Andrew Marr programme.

The prime minister indicated he regretted attending a Christmas party at the Oxfordshire home of the then News International chief executive, Rebekah Brooks, in December 2010, and admitted discussing matters with James Murdoch, but insisted he did not have "inappropriate conversations with anyone about this".

The Sunday Times reported that Brooks, who is under investigation by Scotland Yard for her alleged role in the phone-hacking affair, was ready to disclose text messages and emails between herself and Cameron. The move could be embarrassing for the prime minister, who is believed to have been in regular contact with Brooks by text when she was NI chief. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/apr/29/david-cameron-no-deal-murdoch

The ‘Drone War’ Expands

from Consortium News:

The ‘Drone War’ Expands
April 28, 2012

Military technology continues to spill over into domestic law enforcement as unmanned drones – used to hunt down and kill suspected “militants” abroad – are now touted as the latest tool for monitoring Americans, a development that has drawn scant attention, writes Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

It’s easy to understand why Presidents, politicians and the military love robots. They don’t talk back. They follow orders. You press a button and they do what they are told. They are considered so efficient, and so lethal. These modern killing machines represent science fiction reborn as science “faction.”

Robots and drones don’t burn Korans or pose with the heads of their captives on the battlefield. (Robots also don’t protest wars.) Lose the human factor and you get silent but deadly total destruction. These new toys are used both for surveillance and targeted assassinations.

And that’s why drone warfare has become such a weapon of choice. You have video-game jockeys sitting on their asses in front of consoles of digital displays at an Air Force base outside Las Vegas, targeting suspected terrorists in Afghanistan. After a couple of quick kills, they take the rest of the day off. It’s only later, that we get the reports of civilians decimated as collateral damage.

Oops! ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://consortiumnews.com/2012/04/28/the-drone-war-expands/

Is it time to give up?

from Grist:

‘I withdraw’: A talk with climate defeatist Paul Kingsnorth
By Wen Stephenson

A longer version of this interview appeared at ThoreauFarm.org.

Not everyone is quite ready to hear, or accept, what Paul Kingsnorth has to say.

An English writer and erstwhile green activist, he spent two decades (he’ll turn 40 this year) in the environmental movement, and he’s done with all that. And not only environmentalism — he’s done with “hope.” He’s moved beyond it. He’s not out to “save the planet.” He’s had it with the dream of “sustainability.” He’s looked into the abyss of planetary collapse, and he’s more or less fine with it: Collapse? Sure. Bring it on.

In 2009, he founded, together with collaborator Dougald Hine, something called the Dark Mountain Project. A kind of loose literary collective — with a website, annual Dark Mountain anthology, an arts festival and other gatherings — it’s a cultural response to our global environmental, economic, and political crises. “Uncivilisation: The Dark Mountain Manifesto” appeared that summer and got some attention, mostly in the U.K. Kingsnorth and Hine have summed up their message this way:

These are precarious and unprecedented times … Little that we have taken for granted is likely to come through this century intact.

We don’t believe that anyone — not politicians, not economists, not environmentalists, not writers — is really facing up to the scale of this … Somehow, technology or political agreements or ethical shopping or mass protest are meant to save our civilization from self-destruction.

Well, we don’t buy it. This project starts with our sense that civilization as we have known it is coming to an end; brought down by a rapidly changing climate, a cancerous economic system and the ongoing mass destruction of the non-human world. But it is driven by our belief that this age of collapse — which is already beginning — could also offer a new start, if we are careful in our choices.

The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop.

Some have called Kingsnorth a catastrophist, or fatalist, with something like a death wish for civilization (see John Gray in The New Statesman and George Monbiot in The Guardian). Others might call him a realist, a truthteller. If nothing else, I’d call him a pretty good provocateur. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/climate-energy/i-withdraw-a-talk-with-climate-defeatist-paul-kingsnorth/

It’s official: China now eats twice the meat we do

from Grist:

It’s official: China now eats twice the meat we do
By Twilight Greenaway

If meat eating is a race, China is so far ahead of us we can’t even see what color shorts it’s wearing. Americans still eat about twice as much of the stuff on a per-person basis, but, well, China has a lot more people.

If you like geeking out about who eats what where and how it impacts the environment, you might enjoy spending some time with this very data-rich post about the recent doubling of China’s meat consumption from the Earth Policy Institute (EPI). But, for those who want a cheat sheet, I’ve collected what I think are some of the most memorable bits below.

First, take a look at this very telling chart, which shows plain and clear how fast things have been changing:

Where as Chinese diet has long centered around grains and vegetables (meat and eggs were more like a garnish), it’s clear that pork, chicken, and fish have been taking up a much more substantial place in the national diet. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://grist.org/food/its-official-china-now-eats-twice-the-meat-we-do/

Govt’s Warning to Bradley Manning and Others: “Tell on us, and we will put you behind bars for life"

Col. Ann Wright (Ret.) resigned from the State Department on March 19, 2003 in protest of the invasion of Iraq

April 26th, 2012 8:44 AM
The Government’s Warning to Bradley Manning and Others: “Tell on us, and we will put you behind bars for the rest of your life”

By Ann Wright

The pre-trial hearings for alleged Wikileaks whistleblower US Army PFC Bradley Manning hold some lessons for us all.

One of the issues discussed in Manning’s April 25 pre-trial hearing has relevance for all of us. If soldiers or other government employees expose on the internet or in interviews with journalists government malfeasance, should that person be charged with “aiding and abetting the enemy?” Even if a soldier has no intent to give information to an “enemy,” no “evil intent,” but the enemy could possibly have access to the interview by buying a newspaper that contains the interview, or accesses it on the internet, should the government employee be prosecuted for “aiding and abetting the enemy?”

What if the government is more fearful of its citizens than of al Qaeda and the Taliban and attempts to silence the whistleblowers in the government who alert the citizens of the wrongdoings of its government?

What if the government does not want to hold accountable those in government who are violating regulations and laws? ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/governments-warning-bradley-manning-and-others-tell-us-and-we-will-put-you-behind-bars-rest-your-life

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