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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit, MI
Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
Number of posts: 74,800

Journal Archives

The Psychosis of Permanent War

[font size="4"]Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office—and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. The insistence that austerity and economic rationality, rather than the welfare of the citizenry, be the primary concerns of the government is not politics. It is the death of civic virtue. The government’s system of wholesale surveillance and the militarization of police forces, along with the psychosis of permanent war and state-orchestrated fear of terrorism, are not politics. They are about eradicating civil liberties and justifying endless war and state violence. The chatter about death panels, abortion, gay rights, guns and undocumented children crossing the border is not politics. It is manipulation by the power elites of emotion, hate and fear to divert us from seeing our own powerlessness.[/font]

-- Chris Hedges



[font size="4"]In accordance to the principles of doublethink, it does not matter if the war is not real, or when it is, that victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. In principle, the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects, and its object is not victory over Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.[/font]

-- George Orwell, from "1984"

In the words of Howard Zinn ...........

[font size="4"]Most wars, after all, present themselves as humanitarian endeavors to help people.

When people don't understand that the government doesn't have their interests in mind, they're more susceptible to go to war.

In the United States today, the Declaration of Independence hangs on schoolroom walls, but foreign policy follows Machiavelli.[/font]


The end of the iPod (classic): Goodbye to the little box that changed everything

(WaPo) It came in with a simple promise, a hefty price tag and a man with something white sticking in his ears bopping around his apartment. Soon, it would transform music as we know it, inspire a business model built around pocket change and turn a struggling computer maker into the most valuable company in the world.

Yet the death Tuesday of the iconic iPod just before its 13th birthday went unacknowledged by that company and by a Silicon Valley crowd that wildly applauded the unveiling of a new phone and a smartwatch — products that stood on the slim, metal shoulders of its predecessor. Instead of an announcement, there was only the sad implication of a redirected online page, sending visitors not to information about the iPod Classic but rather to Apple’s home page.

When the iPod debuted, a few weeks after 9/11, it was the latest testament to the idiosyncrasy of Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs. Simplify, he ordered the engineers. A user should be able to do anything with this in no more than three clicks.

Technically, the iPod was little different than any other device on the market that played digitally compressed music. Aesthetically, though, it was a revelation: smaller and lighter than its competitors, sporting an external design inspired by Dieter Rams and, yes, dead simple to operate. It also benefited from the Apple marketing mystique: The first iPod commercial featured nothing more than a man dancing to a track by an obscure electronica band. What made the spot memorable was the promise in the voice-over at the end: “1,000 songs in your pocket.” ..................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-end-of-the-ipod-goodbye-to-the-little-box-that-changed-everything/2014/09/10/983525b2-38f5-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html

Primary Tuesday: A Day of Infamy for Democracy Reformers that No One Noticed

September 10, 2014 |

(AlterNet) The political events of Tuesday, September 9, will soon be forgotten—if they ever were noticed in the first place. But those handful of people who have been paying attention to the downward spiral of American democracy, there’s no nice way to say this. It was a disaster, unless you consider losing everywhere somehow a noble gesture.

What happened? On the three frontlines of the modern democracy reform movement, three different strategies failed to win enough votes to achieve their stated goals. In the U.S. Senate, a constitutional amendment proposal to empower Congress to re-regulate campaign contributions and spending not only devolved into the predictable partisan divides, but Senate Democratic leaders couldn’t even keep enough members present, literally a quorum, to keep debating it. A final Senate vote is expected this week, where there is zero chance that it will get two-thirds majority needed to pass.

Examples two and three comes from Tuesday’s primary elections in New York State and New Hampshire. In these states, candidates embracing political anti-corruption banners, both of whom were promoted by different slices of the democracy movement, also lost. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.alternet.org/election-2014/primary-tuesday-day-infamy-democracy-reformers-no-one-noticed

Nomi Prins on the Credit Derivatives Systemic Risk Bomb


Nomi Prins on the Credit Derivatives Systemic Risk Bomb
Posted on September 9, 2014 by Yves Smith

Yves here. Former Goldman managing director turned journalist Nomi Prins spoke on RT about unresolved systemic risk issues, most importantly, credit derivatives, which for the most part means credit default swaps. Prins stresses the interconnectedness problem, which was earlier identified by Richard Bookstaber in his book A Demon of Our Own Design as “tight coupling.” Processes can spiral out of control when they are so tightly connected that they move through a series of steps so rapidly that they cannot be interrupted. The systemic risk version of that problem is when a failure to perform on certain contracts leads to cascading defaults at other counterparties, quickly turning into an avalanche of failures.

It’s also worth noting that the CDS market is already under scrutiny for alleged price fixing. If these charges hold up, it could be another Libor-level scandal. From Reuters (hat tip Michael Crimmins):

A Manhattan federal judge said on Thursday that investors may pursue a lawsuit accusing 12 major banks of violating antitrust law by fixing prices and restraining competition in the roughly $21 trillion market for credit default swaps.

While dismissing part of the case, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote said investors may press claims that the defendants’ Sherman Act violations caused them to pay unfair prices on CDS trades from the autumn of 2008 through the end of 2013, even as improved liquidity should have driven costs down.

This RT segment starts with a short update on Scottish secession, focusing on the issue of whether Scotland creates its own currency. England says it can’t continue to use the pound. The discussion of systemic risk and credit derivatives starts at 3:20.

Dick, don't go away mad. Dick, just go away.

via truthdig:

In what is hopefully not one of the seven signs of imminent apocalypse, former Vice President Dick Cheney once again darkened the halls of Congress on Tuesday, huddling with House Republicans to strategize about the simmering war zone that is Iraq.

Yes, it is 2014 and not 2004.

Cheney’s customary hawkishness was on display as he addressed his GOP audience, reaffirming his stance on taking aggressive action in Iraq on the eve of President Obama’s announcement about how his own administration plans to deal with recent developments in one of the two nations in which he had aimed to markedly reduce America’s military presence.

The Huffington Post’s Jennifer Bendery and Michael McAuliff brought news of Cheney’s Capitol Hill cameo that day:

Cheney’s remarks might have sounded familiar to most people who have listened to bellicose GOP rhetoric for decades.

“What he talked about was we’ve, Republicans, have had a position on peace through strength. You look at all the Republican presidents we’ve had back to [Dwight] Eisenhower. You know they all understand, if you’re not strong, then you invite aggression. When you invite aggression, you end up with people getting killed,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee who recently returned from the Middle East.

“It’s important to be strong, and that’s what he talked about,” he added.

Although no one challenged Cheney, some Republicans have signaled greater reluctance to respond militarily to every new threat.

Rep. Tom Massie (R-Ky.) said last month that Obama should have sought congressional approval before the latest round of airstrikes. And since Iraq poses no imminent threat to U.S. national security, he said he would vote against authorizing the use of military force in the country.

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/eartotheground/item/here_comes_dick_cheney_to_beat_the_drums_of_war_in_iraq_again_20140909

I did some canvassing yesterday for Mark Schauer and Gary Peters......

...... the Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, respectively, here in Michigan this November.

One theme became abundantly clear: Anger and disgust toward the two major parties (yes, both of them) is widespread. I was in a working- to working middle class suburb of Detroit with lots of union members, one that tends to vote for Democrats but where the majority of the voters identify as independents and there's a good number of Republicans.
At almost every door: "I'm sick of all of them." "They're all liars." "None of them are looking out for everyday people."
Most of the Democratic households identified getting rid of Tricky Ricky Snyder as their top priority, but could identify very little that they liked about Schauer. The Republicans who said they were voting for Snyder almost universally said there's a lot they don't like about him. And there were lots of people who were undecided and dissatisfied with their choices.
I read lots of stats about Americans' unhappiness with Congress, and canvassing kind of crystallized it for me.
As one Democratic voter, whose big issue was women's rights, said, "But we're not really voting for anybody these days, right? We're voting against someone."
Sadly, the (corporately sponsored) tone deafness of the party leadership won't hear her.

Juan Cole: 3 Years War? Obama to Bomb Syria in fight against ISIL

By Juan Cole

Juliet Eilperin and David Nakamura at WaPo report on a Monday evening dinner at the White House attended by foreign policy experts, in which President Obama expressed confidence that he had the authority to bomb ISIL positions in Syria.

In other reports, Obama officials have leaked that they think this is a 3 years war. (Ronald Reagan began vastly increasing the aid to Afghan rebels against the then Communist government in Kabul in 1982, and US counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in that country is still going on in 2014, 32 years later; so three years have a way of becoming multiplied by 10).

Everyone should just understand that the social science literature finds that external interventions typically extend, not shorten, civil wars, as Marc Lynch has pointed out.

At the same time, Obama appears to envisage arming and training the “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army, who have consistently been pushed to the margins by al-Qaeda offshoots and affiliates. Private billionaires in the Gulf will continue to support ISIL or its rival, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front, which has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda). Strengthening yet another guerrilla group will, again, likely prolong the fighting. Moreover, in the past two years, Free Syrian Army moderate groups have gone radical and joined Nusrah or ISIL at an alarming rate. Defectors or defeated groups from the FSA will take their skills and arms with them into the al-Qaeda offshoots. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.juancole.com/2014/09/obama-fight-against.html

What College Students Can Teach Us About Beheadings and Our Own System of Capital Punishment

from truthdig:

What College Students Can Teach Us About Beheadings and Our Own System of Capital Punishment

Posted on Sep 8, 2014
By Bill Blum

Like everyone this side of a serial killer, I was repulsed by the videotapes showing the beheadings of captured American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by a knife-wielding masked executioner of the Sunni jihadist organization that now calls itself the Islamic State. And like most, I was also moved by the dominant American narrative that both condemned the slayings and asserted the moral superiority of Western culture and the value we supposedly place on human life in contrast to the debasements and depravities promoted and practiced by the radical terror group.

But last week, shortly after news of the second beheading broke, something happened to disrupt the narrative, at least for me: I went back to college—not as a student, but to speak at a small undergraduate seminar on ethics and communication taught by Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer at USC.

I arrived on campus without much advance information about what we’d be discussing, told only that the class would be an informal gathering of no more than 15 students, and that I should just show up and be prepared to “schmooze” about my career in the law and as a writer. I had no idea until shortly before the first student poked her head inside the classroom that the topic du jour would be beheading. The students had even less of a hint.

Scheer began the class by reminding his charges that in their previous session they had examined conflicts between ethics and the law, and the fact that despite what we hear in the media and from our political leaders, the law often fails to live up to its ideals. And then he asked, point blank, “Does everyone know about the beheadings?” ...................(more)

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

From Pine Beetles to Disappearing Glaciers, NASA Scientists Tell of "Dramatic" Planetary Changes

From Pine Beetles to Disappearing Glaciers, NASA Scientists Tell of "Dramatic" Planetary Changes

Monday, 08 September 2014 10:31
By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | News Report

Until very recently, popular thinking assumed that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) was in a "slow" period. However, last year, a study published in Geophysical Research Letters showed that the planet had experienced more overall warming in the 15 years leading up to March 2013 than it had in the 15 years before that. In case there was any doubt that the planet is warming more quickly than previously thought, a study published in the August 22, 2014 issue of Science has verified this.

Another study from July addressed how regional climate systems were synchronizing, after which "the researchers detected wild variability that amplified the changes and accelerated into an abrupt warming event of several degrees within a few decades." Shortly thereafter, yet another study showed that rapid warming of the Atlantic waters, most likely due to ACD, has "turbocharged" the Pacific Equatorial trade winds. Whenever that phenomenon stops, it is highly likely we will witness very rapid changes across the globe, including a sudden acceleration of the average surface temperature of the planet.

The vast majority of the myriad studies generating our present data on ACD paint a dire picture of what our CO2 emissions, and now massive methane releases, have done to the climate of Earth.

Truthout recently spoke with several NASA-affiliated scientists about what they are seeing. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://truth-out.org/news/item/25994-from-pine-beetles-to-disappearing-glaciers-nasa-scientists-tell-of-dramatic-planetary-changes

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