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marmar

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Fri Oct 29, 2004, 12:18 AM
Number of posts: 74,621

Journal Archives

Creationist Climate-Deniers Reviewing Texas Textbooks May Help Set a National Standard


(Truthout) Texas educators selected by the State Board of Education (SBOE) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to review textbooks for adoption in November 2013 are insisting upon changes to major science and biology instructional materials that would contradict the widely established international scientific consensuses on the subjects of evolution and human-caused climate change.

If major education publishers such as Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson and McGraw-Hill Publishers buckle under the pressure of religious fundamentalists in Texas aiming to cast doubt on two of the most widely supported scientific concepts in history, the changes that will affect Texas public schools for the next 10 years could become part of a larger trend affecting science education across the nation. Texas could set this national precedent because major publishers typically cater their educational materials toward the large Texas market first then make small changes to those materials for smaller markets around the country.

The Texas SBOE goes through a process of review and adoption of classroom materials every 10 years and throughout the decades the process has come under fire regarding the amount of influence reviewers have in convincing publishers to make crucial changes to science and biology texts.

Members of the SBOE can nominate individuals for the review panels, but individual citizens can nominate themselves to serve. The TEA then looks at the list of nominees and assigns the selected individuals to review teams for specific instructional products. These appointed panels have been evaluating drafts of mostly electronic classroom materials and negotiating the content with publishers since July, with much of the review process taking place in private. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19049-creationist-climate-deniers-reviewing-texas-textbooks-may-help-set-the-national-standard-for-science-education



What We Could Do With a Postal Savings Bank: Infrastructure That Doesn't Cost Taxpayers a Dime


What We Could Do With a Postal Savings Bank: Infrastructure That Doesn't Cost Taxpayers a Dime

Tuesday, 24 September 2013 10:47
By Ellen Brown, The Web of Debt Blog | News Analysis


The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is the nation’s second largest civilian employer after Walmart. Although successfully self-funded throughout its long history, it is currently struggling to stay afloat. This is not, as sometimes asserted, because it has been made obsolete by the Internet. In fact the post office has gotten more business from Internet orders than it has lost to electronic email. What has pushed the USPS into insolvency is an oppressive 2006 congressional mandate that it prefund healthcare for its workers 75 years into the future. No other entity, public or private, has the burden of funding multiple generations of employees who have not yet even been born.

The Carper-Coburn bill (S. 1486) is the subject of congressional hearings this week. It threatens to make the situation worse, by eliminating Saturday mail service and door-to-door delivery and laying off more than 100,000 workers over several years.

The Postal Service Modernization Bills brought by Peter DeFazio and Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, would allow the post office to recapitalize itself by diversifying its range of services to meet unmet public needs.

Needs that the post office might diversify into include (1) funding the rebuilding of our crumbling national infrastructure; (2) servicing the massive market of the “unbanked” and “underbanked” who lack access to basic banking services; and (3) providing a safe place to save our money, in the face of Wall Street’s new “bail in” policies for confiscating depositor funds. All these needs could be met at a stroke by some simple legislation authorizing the post office to revive the banking services it efficiently performed in the past. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19017-what-we-could-do-with-a-postal-savings-bank-infrastructure-that-doesnt-cost-taxpayers-a-dime



Economic incentives (cartoon)





http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/work_incentive_20130922/


Dick Cheney is still having trouble with his gun.......


A gun malfunction kept former Vice President Dick Cheney's team from having a chance at the One Shot Antelope Hunt title over the weekend, an unlucky mishap that earned him mockery from other contestants.

According to K2TV, the two other members of Cheney's team, which included Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R), both hit their bucks. Cheney's shot never fired.

Mead called Cheney an "excellent shot" after the competition and said he hoped the former vice president would return next year.

Not everyone went so easy on Cheney. Jeff "Doc" Sinchack, captain of the Wounded Warrior team, jokingly blamed the equipment, made by Remington, for problems during the event, before poking fun at the former vice president. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/23/dick-cheney-gun_n_3975665.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037



Hackers Say They’ve Already Defeated the iPhone’s Fingerprint Scanner


via truthdig:


Well that didn’t take long. Hackers from the Chaos Computer Club have posted a video in which one of the new iPhone’s major selling points is rendered moot.

In case you missed the news, the new iPhone 5s has a built-in fingerprint scanner that is supposed to prevent strangers from accessing the phone and/or making purchases using the device. At its reveal, Apple claimed that its take on biometrics was extra sophisticated.

The hackers say that just means Apple is using a higher resolution, and by taking a higher-resolution photo of someone’s fingerprint smudge, they were able to defeat the scanner using existing methods. ...............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/hackers_say_theyve_already_defeated_the_iphones_fingerprint_scanner_2013092/?ln



Chris Hedges: The Act of Killing


from truthdig:


The Act of Killing

Posted on Sep 23, 2013
By Chris Hedges


I have spent time with mass killers, warlords and death squad leaders as a reporter in Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. Some are psychopaths who relish acts of sadism, torture and murder. But others, maybe most, see killing as a job, a profession, good for their careers and status. They enjoy playing God. They revel in the hypermasculine world of force where theft and rape are perks. They proudly refine the techniques of murder to snuff out one life after another, largely numb to the terror and cruelty they inflict. And, when they are not killing, they can sometimes be disarmingly charming and gracious. Some are decent fathers and sentimental with their wives and mistresses. They can dote on their pets.

It is not the demonized, easily digestible caricature of a mass murderer that most disturbs us. It is the human being.

Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary “The Act of Killing,” which took eight years to make, is an important exploration of the complex psychology of mass murderers. The film has the profundity of Gitta Sereny’s book “Into That Darkness: An Examination of Conscience,” for which she carried out extensive interviews with Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka, one of the Nazi extermination camps. Oppenheimer, too, presents candid confessions, interviewing some of the most ruthless murderers in Indonesia. One of these is responsible for perhaps 1,000 killings, a man named Anwar Congo, who was a death squad leader in Medan, the capital of the Indonesian province North Sumatra. The documentary also shows the killers performing bizarre re-enactments of murders.

Indonesia’s military, with U.S. support, launched in 1965 a yearlong campaign to ostensibly exterminate communist leaders, functionaries, party members and sympathizers in that country. By its end, the bloodbath—much of it carried out by rogue death squads and paramilitary gangs—had decimated the labor union movement along with the intellectual and artistic class, opposition parties, university student leaders, journalists, ethnic Chinese and many who just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time. By some estimates, more than a million people were slaughtered. Many of the bodies were dumped into rivers, hastily buried or left on roadsides. ......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_act_of_killing_20130923/



Path to Autocracy: Could America Become a Police State?


Path to Autocracy: Could America Become a Police State?

Sunday, 22 September 2013 00:00
By L Michael Hager, Truthout | Op-Ed


In his 1949 novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell said "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." Farfetched? Ask a curfew-confined resident of Egypt, where democracy disappeared overnight in a sea of blood.

In an interview August 21, 2013, with the Huffington Post, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "We have not only the capability of a police state, but certain beginnings of it right now." An exaggeration? Consider the massive resources being expended on arms and "security" that would be at the disposal of a renegade general or a power-obsessed dictator.

Intrusive technologies for surveillance have allowed government agencies such as the National Security Agency (NSA) to circumvent the Fourth Amendment. Leaked documents show that the NSA has collected data on virtually all Americans.

Despite some surveillance limitations in the USA Patriot Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, those statutes give NSA almost unchecked authority to monitor the international calls and emails of American citizens. Furthermore, even the FISA court has acknowledged that it lacks the tools or capability to evaluate the government's representations about its compliance with the law. Our government can now, if it wishes, monitor the private records of citizens, including those involved in legitimate protests. ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18802-path-to-autocracy-could-america-become-a-police-state



Professor Richard Wolff: Debating Capitalism - Redefining Outdated Terms


Debating Capitalism - Redefining Outdated Terms

Saturday, 21 September 2013 09:16
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | Opinion


Reasonable conversation about capitalism is possible again. Debates about its strengths and weaknesses resume. The United States’ post-1950 taboo against honestly evaluating capitalism finally is fading. The public increasingly ignores over-the-top celebrations of capitalism as humanity's peak achievement, God's choice, perpetual prosperity generator or guarantor of individual freedom. Politicians, journalists and academics could stop their uncritical cheerleading for capitalism, although most still pay their bills that way.

The reasons are many. Capitalism no longer "delivers the goods" to most Americans. With consumer debt already high, more borrowing can no longer postpone hard times. The "American Dream" slips farther out of reach. As Cold War memories recede, labels like socialism or communism no longer stifle debate. Destroyed cities like Detroit; students with unsustainable debts; declining wages, benefits and job security; and millions unemployed or foreclosed - to them, the usual rationalizations of capitalism seem hollow and ridiculous.

This July's national survey found 26 percent of Americans believing that capitalism is "not working too well" and another 16 percent that capitalism is "not working at all well." Imagine the consequences if a new political party arose to represent those 42 percent by demanding basic changes in the economic system.

However, that survey and resumed debates about capitalism have not yet faced or solved a shared problem. Widespread confusion and disagreement surround what capitalism means and thus what exactly "is not working." This situation weakens the clarity and appeal of solutions offered by capitalism's critics. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18323-debating-capitalism-redefining-outdated-terms



Professor Richard Wolff: Debating Capitalism - Redefining Outdated Terms


Debating Capitalism - Redefining Outdated Terms

Saturday, 21 September 2013 09:16
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | Opinion


Reasonable conversation about capitalism is possible again. Debates about its strengths and weaknesses resume. The United States’ post-1950 taboo against honestly evaluating capitalism finally is fading. The public increasingly ignores over-the-top celebrations of capitalism as humanity's peak achievement, God's choice, perpetual prosperity generator or guarantor of individual freedom. Politicians, journalists and academics could stop their uncritical cheerleading for capitalism, although most still pay their bills that way.

The reasons are many. Capitalism no longer "delivers the goods" to most Americans. With consumer debt already high, more borrowing can no longer postpone hard times. The "American Dream" slips farther out of reach. As Cold War memories recede, labels like socialism or communism no longer stifle debate. Destroyed cities like Detroit; students with unsustainable debts; declining wages, benefits and job security; and millions unemployed or foreclosed - to them, the usual rationalizations of capitalism seem hollow and ridiculous.

This July's national survey found 26 percent of Americans believing that capitalism is "not working too well" and another 16 percent that capitalism is "not working at all well." Imagine the consequences if a new political party arose to represent those 42 percent by demanding basic changes in the economic system.

However, that survey and resumed debates about capitalism have not yet faced or solved a shared problem. Widespread confusion and disagreement surround what capitalism means and thus what exactly "is not working." This situation weakens the clarity and appeal of solutions offered by capitalism's critics. .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/18323-debating-capitalism-redefining-outdated-terms



“Best pope ever”: Still pretty awful!


from Salon:


“Best pope ever”: Still pretty awful!
Pope Francis may be the best of the bunch, but that really isn't saying much

BY KATIE MCDONOUGH


Pope Francis on Thursday said some good things about how the Catholic Church has become “obsessed” with the issues of abortion, contraception and gay marriage, and that it has done so at the expense of other Catholic doctrine, like loving your neighbor and being generous to those in need.

In an lengthy interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, the pope admonished some in the church for their near-singular focus on these issues, saying, “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.

“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality,” he continued. “I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.” He is also showing some movement on celibacy in the priesthood, has discussed poverty as a central issue of his papacy and elected to live in a modest Vatican apartment over the papal palace.

These are fine things for the spiritual head of the world’s 1 billion Catholics to say and do. ....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.salon.com/2013/09/20/best_pope_ever_still_pretty_awful/



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