Saturday, January 31, 2015

you and I are the past c'est la vie, much respect girl - but now you're my ex-girl & I'm out with the next girl...,

WaPo |  So, while congressional Republicans have been much more in harmony with their grass roots constituents on the issue of Israel, congressional Democrats have not. One reason they are able to do this is that for most Democrats, the Israel issue is not especially central in their electoral decisions. 

Now, it’s different: The Israeli issue has become part and parcel of the partisan tension. If Netanyahu hoped to isolate the president by demonstrating bipartisan support in Congress, on which he has usually counted, the current environment puts congressional Democrats in an untenable position: They are facing a grass-roots constituency that’s very much on the president’s side on this issue, and the issue itself is center stage and deeply about American politics. It’s much harder to fudge, which is why earlier reports that Netanyahu received a “bipartisan” invitation from congressional leaders was quickly challenged by Democratic leaders, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

It is of course too early to tell how Congress, Netanyahu and the White House will alter their postures between now and Netanyahu’s scheduled speech on March 3 – or what Netanyahu would exactly say if he were to deliver such a speech. But my guess is that views of him among the American public, especially Democrats, may have become even more polarized. The most important consequence is perhaps that congressional Democrats may now feel they have to look over their shoulders in Democratic primaries on an issue that has not been traditionally front-and-center in U.S. election campaigns.

softheaded checkers-players stay mad and mean-mugging outside chess tournaments...,

guardian |  Incensed by a report Iran would transfer most of it enriched uranium to Russia, conservatives in Tehran have levelled new criticisms against Iranian negotiators for not standing firm against United States’ demands over the nuclear programme.

The Associated Press news agency on 2 January, quoting two anonymous diplomats, claimed Iran had agreed in talks with world powers to send a large portion of its enriched uranium to Russia, presumably for processing into fuel for power generation. The conservative-aligned website Nuclear Iran, which covers the nuclear negotiations including their technical aspects, noted with alarm that exporting fissile material had previously been regarded as one of the country’s “red lines”. 

Critics of talks in Iran were not appeased by a denial of the AP story by Marzieh Afkham, spokeswoman of the foreign ministry, especially as she did not comment on whether the US had suggested such a transfer during the talks.

Two days after the AP report, in an interview with the conservative website Raja News, parliamentary deputy Javad Karimi Ghoddousi claimed the Americans had presented an eight-page set of proposals that the Iranian negotiators considered “the worst yet”. Karimi Ghoddousi said deputies had questioned members of Iran’s negotiation team, and while he did not explicitly say he had been given details by one of the Iranian team, readers of Raja News would know that Karimi Ghoddousi is a member of the parliament’s national security and foreign policy commission, which often has confidential briefings with negotiators, including Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister.

Among the demands the Americans had made, said Karimi Ghoddousi, backing up the AP story, was the export of Iran’s enriched uranium (which is enriched to under 5%, Iran’s 20% enriched uranium, nearer to weapons grade, has been diluted or converted under the 2013 Geneva interim nuclear agreement) to a third party, which they suggested should be Russia.

turkey’s prime minister compares netanyahu to paris attackers

Friday, January 30, 2015

bibi - hitching your wagon to dumbasses'll get you in trouble every.single.time...,

theatlantic |  Goldberg: Democrats (including, and maybe especially, Jewish Democrats) believe that the prime minister is sometimes disrespectful to the president, and they worry that your government privileges its relations with the Republicans at their expense. Assuming you believe this is wrong, why is this wrong?

Dermer: The prime minister and the president have disagreed on issues, but the prime minister has never intentionally treated the president disrespectfully—and if that is what some people felt, it certainly was not the prime minister’s intention.

In fact, I can tell you, as someone very close to the prime minister, that he has a great deal of respect for the president. He also deeply appreciates the many things that President Obama has done for Israel—from upgraded security cooperation and enhanced intelligence sharing to military assistance and Iron Dome funding to opposing anti-Israel initiatives at the UN.
In an era of intense partisanship here, Israel feels very fortunate that we have tremendous friends on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans alike are committed to strengthening Israel and to strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance, and we deeply, deeply appreciate this bipartisan support.

Goldberg: How does an address to Congress, one arranged by the Republican speaker, not convey the appearance that you're lobbying against the president?

Dermer: I know that people are trying to turn this into a personal or a partisan issue, but for Israel, it is neither. It is about an issue that affects the fate of the country.
In the last couple of weeks, people have heard from Prime Minister Cameron [of Great Britain] and other European leaders about the Iran issue. One would hope that people would feel that the opinion of the prime minister of Israel, a staunch ally of the United States threatened by Iran with annihilation, would also be worth hearing.

Ultimately, everyone will make their own decisions, but we think it is important that Israel’s voice be heard clearly in this debate at this critical time.

Goldberg: Do you believe that an address by the prime minister to Congress will serve the purpose of toughening up the deal?

Dermer: Of course, no one can know for sure what effect any speech can and will have. But I do think the prime minister has a moral obligation, as the leader of Israel and in living memory of an attempt to annihilate the Jewish people, to speak up about a deal that could endanger the survival of the one and only Jewish state.

WaPo bluntly stating what I been tryna tell cats for years..., everything else is merely conversation!

WaPo  |  The “thirst for oil” is often put forward as a near self-evident explanation behind military interventions in Libya, for instance, or Sudan. Oil, or the lack of oil, is also said to be behind the absence of intervention in Syria now and in Rwanda in 1994.

This of course clashes with the rhetoric around intervention, or its stated goal. No world leader stands before the U.N. and says they’re sending in the tanks because their country needs more oil. Such interventions are usually portrayed as serving directly non-economic goals such as preserving security, supporting democratic values, or more generally promoting human rights.

But this is often met with skepticism and media claims that economic incentives played a key role. Was Iraq really “all about oil?” It’s worth asking whether this viewpoint has some mileage, or if it is instead purely conspiracy theory.

It’s a question we’ve addressed in our research on the importance of oil production in attracting third party military interventions. In a new paper co-authored with Kristian Gleditsch in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, we model the decision-making process of third-party countries in interfering in civil wars and examine their economic motives.

Our research builds on a near-exhaustive sample of 69 countries which had a civil war between 1945 and 1999. About two-thirds of civil wars during the period saw third party intervention either by another country or outside organization.

All about the oil
We found that the decision to interfere was dominated by the interveners’ need for oil – over and above historical, geographical or ethnic ties.

to top it off, iran controls 240 billion barrels proven reserves of sweet, light, crude..., figure iraq's into the equation

fp |  With President Barack Obama’s welcome and warmly received trip to India this week, commentators have dusted off the well-worn platitudes associated with the administration’s once-vaunted “pivot to Asia.” The week’s other events, however — from the president’s decision to cut his stay in Delhi short to attend King Abdullah’s funeral in Riyadh to the chaos in Yemen, from ongoing nuclear diplomacy with Iran to Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to ensure his relationship with Obama will be seen as the most toxic in the history of Israel and the United States — suggest this administration’s foreign-policy legacy may ultimately center on a different “strategic rebalancing.” This one will benefit, however, in ways once unimaginable in U.S. foreign-policy circles, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is quite possible that, by the time Obama leaves office, no other country on Earth will have gained quite so much as Iran. Not all of this will be the doing of the United States, of course, and in fact some of it may prove to be the undoing of our interests in the long run. But there is no doubting that some of the remarkable gains that seem to be on the near horizon for Tehran will have come as a result of a policy impulse that was far closer to the heart of the president than is the on-again, off-again Asia initiative (which was really much more the product of the ideas and efforts of a bunch of his first-term aides and cabinet members than it was of his own impulses or those of his innermost circle).

Consider the gains. First, there’s the issue of legacy. With negotiations continuing at a high simmer behind the scenes, the Obama foreign-policy team sees a nuclear deal with Iran as the one remaining brass ring that is there for them to claim. Elsewhere, there is the possibility of some progress on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, but promotional rhetoric surrounding it aside, it’s just not as big a game-changer as its proponents suggest. It’d certainly be a welcome development, but it’s incremental and, of course, doesn’t really improve our relations with Asia’s biggest long-term players, China and India. And beyond that, there’s not much else in the pipeline.

A deal with Iran, if it could be translated into action, would in theory produce a freeze on Iran’s nuclear program. That would certainly be a good thing. But it provides no guarantee that Tehran could not reverse course in the future, break its terms, or do as it has done for the past 30 years — namely, stir up mayhem in the region without the benefit of nuclear weapons. What it would provide — even in the midst of a congressional tug of war over Iran policy, with new sanctions coming from the Hill and presidential vetoes pinging and ponging up and down Pennsylvania Avenue — would be some White House-directed relief for Tehran. Presumably, a nuclear deal would further the thaw in the relations between the United States and Iran, while providing a great incentive for other countries to resume normal trading relations (to the extent they don’t have them already).

israel is already at war with iran...,

economiccollapseblog  |  Israel and Hezbollah are at war.  On top of everything else that is going on in the world, now we have a new war in the Middle East, and nobody is quite certain what is going to happen next.  Israel has been preparing for this moment for more than 8 years.  So has Hezbollah.  According to some reports, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of 50,000 rockets since the end of the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006.  If all-out warfare does erupt, we could potentially see tens of thousands of missiles rain down into an area not too much larger than the state of New Jersey.  And of course the Israeli military is also much more sophisticated and much more powerful than it was back in 2006.  If cooler heads do not prevail, we could be on the verge of witnessing a very bloody war.  But right now nobody seems to be in the mood to back down.  Hezbollah is absolutely fuming over an airstrike earlier this month that killed six fighters and a prominent Iranian general.  And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Israel is “prepared to act powerfully on all fronts” in response to a Hezbollah ambush that killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven.  Just such an incident is what sparked the war between the two sides back in 2006.  But this time, a conflict between Israel and Hezbollah could spark a full-blown regional war.

Earlier this month, Israel launched a surprise assault against a group of Hezbollah fighters that Israel believed was planning to conduct terror attacks inside their borders.

But in addition to killing six Hezbollah fighters, a very important Iranian general was also killed.  Needless to say, Iran is furious

Thursday, January 29, 2015

add that goo-gol aggregate intelligence isht and big-A hives appear to trump little dog packs...,

There are 28 urban areas worldwide with at least 10 million people. By 2030, 12 more are expected to enter the ranks of the planet's megacities.

pheromones and the use of pheromones is the ground level of society. aggregate intelligence REDUX originally posted 11/23/14

radiolab |   What happens when there is no leader? Starlings, bees, and ants manage just fine. In fact, they form staggeringly complicated societies -- all without a Toscanini to conduct them into harmony. This hour of Radiolab, we ask how this happens.

We gaze down at the bottom-up logic of cities, Google, and even our very own brains with fire-flyologists, ant experts, neurologists, a mathematician, and an economist.

up to the task? 'bout to find out... | The 82nd Airborne, and more specifically its 3rd Brigade Combat Team, are no strangers to Iraq.

Since 2003, parts of the brigade have deployed in support of U.S. efforts there on at least three occasions.

Now, more than three years after the U.S. military presence in Iraq was thought over, about a quarter of the Panther Brigade will return with a new mission to help train Iraqi forces to fight the Islamic State.

About 1,000 paratroopers from the brigade will deploy this week as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve mission.

The deployment was officially announced in December and is expected to last nine months.
As his paratroopers prepared for the mission, the brigade commander, Col. Curtis A. Buzzard, has watched tensions boil in the Middle East - and Iraq in particular - as forces have fought against the Islamic State group, also known by the acronym DAESH based on the group's Arabic name, ad-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq wash-Sham.

"We've seen the impact of DAESH over the last year and a half, not just on Iraq, but on the region," Buzzard said. "It's clearly an existential threat.

let's get it started in here...

Newsweek | Dozens of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters have infiltrated a Saudi Arabian border town via Iraq before melting away into the general population, according to claims by the terror group’s supporters on social media.
A famous anti-government Saudi tweeter known as ‘mujtahidd’, not known for ISIS sympathies, posted to his 1.2m followers that an attack was carried out on border guards with the help of a cell inside the Kingdom before they reached the town of Rafha, sparking a search by Saudi intelligence services.
ISIS-affiliated social media accounts started circulating a photo of a border checkpoint they claimed had been captured by the terror group’s militants.
“They claim that they control [the border gate],” says Kovan Direj, a Syrian-Kurdish journalist monitoring the Twitter war. “They [claim they] went to the border gate and after that group melted into the city and now the secret service of the Saudi Arabians are looking for them.”
While analysts have cautioned that no official confirmation of the border infiltration has been released by Saudi Arabia or ISIS, there has been a large-scale propaganda war between ISIS supporters and Saudi citizens using the hashtag #Rafha to claim that the raid either did or did not happen.

cathedral: the coercive system of discourse supported by institutional power now wants to be called empathy culture...,

theatlantic |  For Chait, though, what’s at stake in all this norm-happy rhetoric is American liberalism itself. Political correctness, he writes, “is not a rigorous commitment to social equality so much as a system of left-wing ideological repression. Not only is it not a form of liberalism; it is antithetical to liberalism.”

Here’s a more optimistic—and I also think more realistic—view: We might also think of “p.c. culture” as “empathy culture.” The culture Chait describes, to the extent it can be called a culture at all, doesn’t impede progress. To the contrary, it helps progress along. It is a way of adjusting—fitfully, awkwardly—to an environment, political and otherwise, that gives so many of us newfound exposure to each other.

Some of the mechanics of this adjustment may be overcorrections: We—and the whole point is that there is a "we" at stake here—can care too much, it’s true, about identity as a function of authority. We can be too quick to dismiss otherwise valid arguments as coming from places of privilege. We can be too sensitive. We can be too reliant on categories—white, black, cis, trans—that focus on what we are rather than who. Categories in general can be terrible, brutish things.

But categories, expressed as language, can also be, in their way, expressions of empathy. They are proxies for curiosity, which is itself a proxy for sympathy. Identifying oneself as “cis” rather than “straight,” or offering a trigger warning on a Facebook post, or stepping aside so that someone with a more relevant experience can speak: These are cultural shibboleths. They are awkward, maybe, but they are made in good faith—and that is not a small thing. They say, basically, “we’re trying”—to see things from each other’s viewpoint. And to understand, if not agree with, each other.


thescientist |  Eusocial insects are among the most successful living creatures on Earth. Found in terrestrial ecosystems across the globe (on every continent except Antarctica), the world’s ants alone weigh more than all vertebrates put together. Bees are key pollinators of major crops as well as many other ecologically important plants. Termites construct thermoregulating homes that can dominate the landscape, and that are inspiring new energy-efficient skyscraper designs. The organization and collective decision making of eusocial insects is even yielding new insights into human behavior and what it means to be part of a society. But one of the biggest unanswered questions in our understanding of these complex insect groups is how a single genome can produce such diverse and contrasting physical and behavioral forms, from egg layers, provisioners, and caretakers to soldiers.

In a eusocial colony, reproduction is dominated by one or a few individuals adapted to egg laying, 
while their offspring—colony workers—display physical and behavioral adaptations that help them perform their subordinate roles. These phenotypic adaptations can be extreme. A leafcutter ant queen is 10 times larger than her smallest workers, for example.  (See photograph below.) And some carpenter ant species have evolved a “kamikaze” caste, born with a self-destruct button that causes the insect to explode upon colony attack, killing itself and covering the invading animals in toxic chemicals. Remarkably, differences in the behavior and morphology of insect castes are usually generated through differences in the expression of identical sets of genes. (There are a few cases of genetically determined castes, but this is the exception, not the rule.)

We are now entering a new era of research into eusocial insects. For the first time, scientists are investigating the molecules that underlie eusocial behavior at a depth that was previously unimaginable. New, affordable sequencing technologies enable scientists to examine how genes across the entire genome are regulated to generate different caste phenotypes, the roles of DNA methylation and microRNAs in this differential expression, and what proteins are synthesized as a result. This burgeoning area of research, dubbed “sociogenomics” in 2005 by Gene E. Robinson,1 is revolutionizing our understanding of the evolution of eusociality from a solitary wasp-like ancestor to the million-strong colonies we see today. New work is yielding insights into how genomes interact dynamically with the physical and social environment to produce highly adapted, specialized castes with remarkable phenotypic innovations. These findings are, in turn, illuminating the importance of gene regulation and epigenetics in controlling behavioral plasticity across the animal kingdom.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

rule of law: all your data are belong to us

Motherboard | Tuesday, the federal government continued its offensive against default consumer encryption enabled by Apple and Google and anonymity tools like Tor, saying that greater privacy and security has created a “zone of lawlessness” that law enforcement is having trouble cracking.
Leslie Caldwell, an assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said that the department is “very concerned” by the Google’s and Apple’s decision to automatically encrypt all data on Android and iOS devices. Her comments aren’t entirely surprising, considering that FBI Director James Comey previously said that the agency would push Congress to make automatic encryption illegal, and President Obama has also expressed concern with the development.
The problem that privacy and security advocates have pointed out is that the US government doesn’t really seem to understand what it’s asking for. Caldwell was being interviewed as a part of the annual State of the Net Conference in Washington, DC. One minute, she was vilifying encryption; the next, she was sending a message to the country’s citizens and companies that they need to be “more conscious of cybersecurity.”
“They need to be assuming they are vulnerable, assuming their data can be taken,” she said.

necropolitics: racial neuroses can make you forget your place in the objective scheme of things...,

theatlantic |  Why doesn’t Netanyahu understand that alienating Democrats is not in the best interest of his country? From what I can tell, he doubts that Democrats are—or will be shortly—a natural constituency for Israel, and he clearly believes that Obama is a genuine adversary. As I reported last year, in an article that got more attention for a poultry-related epithet an administration official directed at Netanyahu than anything else, Netanyahu has told people he has “written off” Obama.
I should have, at the time, explored the slightly unreal notion that an Israeli prime minister would even contemplate “writing off” an American president (though I did predict that Netanyahu would take his case directly to Congress). I still don’t understand Netanyahu’s thinking. It is immaterial whether an Israeli prime minister finds an American president agreeable or not. A sitting president cannot be written off by a small, dependent ally, without terrible consequences.

As Ron Dermer's predecessor in Washington, Michael Oren, said in reaction to this latest Netanyahu blow-up: "It's advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House."

Oren, though appointed ambassador by Netanyahu, is now running for Knesset on another party's line. When he was in Washington, he worried more about the state of Israel's bipartisan support than almost any other issue. He recently criticized Netanyahu, albeit indirectly, for risking Israel's relations with the U.S.: "Today, more than ever, it is clear that Israel-U.S. relations are the foundation of any economic, security, and diplomatic approach. It is our responsibility to strengthen those ties immediately."

There is hypocrisy in the discussion of the Netanyahu-Boehner end-run. It is not unprecedented for foreign leaders to lobby Congress directly; the Arab states opposed to Iran do it all the time, and the British prime minister, David Cameron, lobbied Congress earlier this month on behalf of Obama’s Iran policy, and against the arguments of the Republicans.

But the manner and execution and overall tone-deafness of Netanyahu’s recent ploy suggest that he—and his current ambassador—don’t understand how to manage Israel’s relationships in Washington. Netanyahu wants a role in shaping the Iranian nuclear agreement, should one materialize. His recent actions suggest that he doesn't quite know what he's doing.

gaza in arizona?

tomdispatch |  Predator drones, tested out in this country’s distant war zones, have played an increasingly prominent role in the up-armoring of the U.S.-Mexican border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) launched its first Predator in 2004, but only really ramped up drone use in March 2013.  There have been approximately 10,000 Predator flights along that border since. The agency had plans to expand its ten-Predator fleet -- nine after a $12 million maritime drone crashed off the California coast, as those robotic planes are wont to do -- to 24. It was going to dispatch some of them to the Canadian border as well. (You never know, after all, what dark forces might descend on us from the chilly north.) The CBP even got into the chummy habit of encouraging interagency drone-addiction by loaning its Predators out to the FBI, the Texas Department of Public Safety, and the U.S. Forest Service, among other places. You might say that the CBP was distinctly high on drones.

Only one problem: the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general recently audited the use of drones on the border and issued a scathing report, calling them “dubious achievers” and essentially declaring them an enormous waste of money, time, and personnel.  At $12,255 a flight hour (when not simply grounded), military-grade drones turned out to cost way more than the CBP estimated or reported, flew far less often, and helped find a mere 2% of the immigrants crossing the border without papers.  As Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post reported, “Less than one-tenth of 1 percent of border-crossing apprehensions were attributed to drone detection.”  The inspector general suggested that the CBP should, among other things, shelve its plans to expand its drone fleet (at the cost of a mere $443 million).

Based on such a report from the IG -- the CBP is part of the Department of Homeland Security -- you might assume that it would be curtains for the drone program.  But if you’re a betting kind of guy in twenty-first-century Washington, you’re not going to put your money on any self-respecting part of the national security state giving up, or even cutting back, on its high-tech toys.  Drones, after all, are sexy as hell and what self-respecting government official wouldn’t want a machine onto which you could attach even more seductively high-tech devices like Vader (think deep, breathy voice, though the acronym stands for “Vehicle and Dismount Exploitation Radar”), a set of sensors that can detect motion on the ground. So CBP has instead struck back, accusing the inspector general of cherry-picking his data and misconstruing more or less everything.

Meanwhile, the drones continue to fly and the CBP, as Todd Miller who covers the militarization of America’s borders for TomDispatch has long noted, remains gaga for high-tech border toys of just about any sort. Today, Miller and Gabriel Schivone suggest that, whatever waste and extravagance may be involved, our already heavily technologized borders and the increasingly robot-filled skies over them are just at the beginning of an era of border-closing high-tech extravaganzas.  When it comes to visions of how to shut down the world, it’s evidently time to call in the real experts, the Israelis, who live in a country without fully demarcated borders, and yet have had a remarkable amount of experience building high-tech wallsTom

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

nafeez ahmed: how the cia made goo-gol

medium |  In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, western governments are moving fast to legitimize expanded powers of mass surveillance and controls on the internet, all in the name of fighting terrorism.

US and European politicians have called to protect NSA-style snooping, and to advance the capacity to intrude on internet privacy by outlawing encryption. One idea is to establish a telecoms partnership that would unilaterally delete content deemed to “fuel hatred and violence” in situations considered “appropriate.” Heated discussions are going on at government and parliamentary level to explore cracking down on lawyer-client confidentiality.

What any of this would have done to prevent the Charlie Hebdo attacks remains a mystery, especially given that we already know the terrorists were on the radar of French intelligence for up to a decade.
There is little new in this story. The 9/11 atrocity was the first of many terrorist attacks, each succeeded by the dramatic extension of draconian state powers at the expense of civil liberties, backed up with the projection of military force in regions identified as hotspots harbouring terrorists. Yet there is little indication that this tried and tested formula has done anything to reduce the danger. 

If anything, we appear to be locked into a deepening cycle of violence with no clear end in sight.
As our governments push to increase their powers, INSURGE INTELLIGENCE can now reveal the vast extent to which the US intelligence community is implicated in nurturing the web platforms we know today, for the precise purpose of utilizing the technology as a mechanism to fight global ‘information war’ — a war to legitimize the power of the few over the rest of us. The lynchpin of this story is the corporation that in many ways defines the 21st century with its unobtrusive omnipresence: Google.

Google styles itself as a friendly, funky, user-friendly tech firm that rose to prominence through a combination of skill, luck, and genuine innovation. This is true. But it is a mere fragment of the story. In reality, Google is a smokescreen behind which lurks the US military-industrial complex.
The inside story of Google’s rise, revealed here for the first time, opens a can of worms that goes far beyond Google, unexpectedly shining a light on the existence of a parasitical network driving the evolution of the US national security apparatus, and profiting obscenely from its operation.  Fist tap Dale.

why the guardian axed nafeez ahmed's blog

jonathan-cook |  Why is writing about Israel so difficult at the Guardian? There are several reasons.

The first, as I have regularly observed in my blog, is related to the general structure of the corporate media system, including the Guardian. It is designed to exclude almost all deeply critical voices, those that might encourage readers to question the ideological basis of the western societies in which they live and alert them to the true role of the corporations that run those societies and their media.
Israel, as an intimate ally of the US, is therefore protected from profoundly critical scrutiny, much as the US and its western allies are. It is okay to criticise individual western policies as flawed, especially if done so respectfully, but not to suggest that the whole direction of western foreign policy is flawed, that it is intended to maintain a system of control over, and exploitation of, weaker nations. Policies can be dubious, but not our leaders’ moral character.

The problem with Israel is that its place in the global order – alongside the US – depends on it being a very sophisticated gun for hire. It keeps order and disorder in the Middle East at Washington’s behest and in return it gets to plunder the Palestinian territories and ethnically cleanse the native population. It’s a simple story but not one you can state anywhere in the mainstream because it questions not just a policy (the occupation) but Israel’s very nature and role as a colonial settler state.

Beyond this, however, special factors pertain in the Guardian’s case. As Ahmed notes, in part this is related to the Guardian’s pivotal role in bringing to fruition the ultimate colonial document, the Balfour Declaration. For this reason, the Guardian has always had a strong following among liberal Jews, and that is reflected in its selection of staff at senior ranks.

In this sense, the editorial “mood” at the Guardian resembles that of an indulgent parent towards a wayward grown-up child. Yes, Israel does some very bad things (the occupation) but, for all its faults, its heart is in the right place (as a Jewish, colonial settler state practising apartheid).

dayyum brah..., petraeus a partner at KKR, you a partner in cellblock D at leavenworth...,

NYTimes |  Jeffrey A. Sterling, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, was convicted of espionage Monday on charges that he told a reporter for The New York Times about a secret operation to disrupt Iran’s nuclear program.

The conviction is a significant victory for the Obama administration, which has conducted an unprecedented crackdown on officials who speak to journalists about security matters without the administration’s approval. Prosecutors prevailed after a yearslong fight in which the reporter, James Risen, refused to identify his sources.

The case revolved around a C.I.A. operation in which a former Russian scientist provided Iran with intentionally flawed nuclear component schematics. Mr. Risen revealed the operation in his 2006 book, “State of War,” describing it as a mismanaged, potentially reckless mission that may have inadvertently aided the Iranian nuclear program.

On the third day of deliberations, the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Va., convicted Mr. Sterling on nine felony counts. Mr. Sterling, who worked for the C.I.A. from 1993 to 2002 and now lives in O’Fallon, Mo., faces a maximum possible sentence of decades in prison, though the actual sentence is likely to be far shorter. Judge Leonie M. Brinkema of Federal District Court, who presided over the weeklong trial, allowed Mr. Sterling to remain free on bond and set sentencing for April 24.

the hon.bro.preznit that only conservatards can see?

csnnews |  Conservative talk-radio host and best-selling author Mark Levin said the “stench” of the 1930s, referencing the appeasement policies of Neville Chamberlain and the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, was surfacing in the United States today, and President Barack Obama’s actions display “all the signals of an anti-Semite.”

Levin further said, “this president’s anti-Semitism is what’s catching on” across America’s college campuses, across the intellectual landscape, and in some segments of Congress.

“I’m going to tell you something and it’s going to be very uncomfortable,” said Levin on his Jan. 23 nationally syndicated radio program.  “I don’t care how many wealthy Jews Obama surrounds himself with, I don’t care how many wealthy Jews contribute to his campaign.”

“This man has all the signals of an anti-Semite,” said Levin, who is Jewish. “And I’m not going to take that word back. I believe this in my heart and my soul. It’s not about Israel, it’s about what’s in Israel.”

skin in the game and eugenics...,

yaledailynews |  Yalies receiving financial aid are the recipients of something extraordinary, something unavailable to nearly anyone even a generation ago: a nearly free education. Yet that last word — nearly — is the operative one. Upperclassmen, even those on full financial aid, still have to pay this University $6,400 a year in “student effort,” factoring in both the term-time “self-help” and summer contribution (freshmen, meanwhile, pay $4,475). This means that anyone on financial aid will have to pay Yale $23,675 over their four years here — the equivalent of a brand new Chevy Camaro.

Does Yale need this money? According to the admissions office, roughly 50 percent of undergraduates are on financial aid. Thus, Yale raises approximately $16 million from the student effort. To put this in perspective, that number accounts for less than four-tenths of 1 percent of the amount the endowment increased last year alone.

In other words, the student effort is virtually meaningless to Yale, from a financial standpoint. For students, though, it presents a considerable hardship. Students who need to work have less opportunity to join more demanding, supposedly “prestigious” extracurriculars that can help land internships or jobs. In a YCC survey, more than half of respondents on financial aid reported that the student effort requirement limited their potential summer opportunities. Fifty-six percent of students reported “having to tap into family income and/or family savings to cover part of the student income contribution” — this, in spite of the fact that Yale eliminated the family contribution a decade ago. The YCC sent this report to the administration; they know these facts.

So, why keep student effort? The phrase used over and over again in justifying the existence of the student contribution is that students on financial aid should have “skin in the game.” As in, they should have a financial stake — even a small one — in their education.

There is a word for this argument: eugenic. This argument is predicated on the unstated assumption that rich kids deserve their easier lives, that they deserve to be at Yale more. This argument demands that poorer kids work because that is what poorer kids are supposed to do, while richer kids get a free pass. Even the vocabulary of “self-help” and “student effort” is stunningly paternalistic.  Fist tap Big Don.

social welfare for citizens is healthier than sovereign subsidization of banksters...,

Monday, January 26, 2015

if you forget how to live, what exactly are those benefits again?

ICH |  Here's one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right -- it's the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them -- then it's obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here's the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe -- as I used to -- that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander's theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

Autonomous Meaning REDUX originally posted 7/17/08

Extract from William Pensinger's Strategic Assessment Part 10.
I do not consider the essential quandary in the existing global circumstance a mere matter of whether or not Al Qaeda and Associates is going to win “the clash of civilizations”; much, much more is involved in the prevailing historical conjuncture than simply one take on coercive imposition of planetary monoculture prevailing over another such take. But people don't see it; and not seeing it, they cannot see what AQ & A is actually all about; and not seeing what AQ & A is all about, they cannot comprehend its self-organizational initiative; and not cognizing the organizational dynamic, they cannot see how “what AQ & A is actually all about” regressively embodies very large issues the human species is fatally foundering upon. And these non-comprehenders, because of their inability to comprehend, regard such usage as “fatally” in “fatally foundering” as hysterical exaggeration. The human species is not, repeat not, they insist, launched upon a collective and cooperative martyrdom operation modeled upon lemming behavior, no matter what ecologists like Peter Turchin might think. Hah! What else could the editorial exemplars of normotic illness at The Economist possibly conclude? Aye, open up, that yon of yours, and you find… nowt! Bloomin' mercy, it's beginning to notice! And it will soon be all! Nothing is the number when you die! The “why” of their non-comprehension is firstly, even predominantly, a matter of psychological ineptitude, most especially introspective incompetence. An incompetence with consequences. They do not believe that everything is connected to everything else. In spite of the unconscious being infinite sets, they do not believe in Germanic, indeed Hegelian, notions like superintegration and overdetermination. They believe that reality is as fragmented as their inner state, as are their perceptions and proprioceptions, as is the knowledge base -- and that “the mechanism of meaning” and “history as force” (vector sums of Newtonian force-structures) verify, and will continue to verify, truth-value validity of the involved “identitarian” 1T2 outside-inside isomorphism. And they make judgments based on cultivation of this tacitly held imputed schematic isomorphism. Such reliance on mere sculpture! In spite of the haptification of space and the concretion of time.

self-fulfilling diagnosis of normotic illness? REDUX originally posted 1/12/10

ScientificAmerican | California scientists have discovered clusters of autism, largely in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas, where children are twice as likely to have autism as children in surrounding areas.

The 10 clusters were found mostly among children with highly educated parents, leading researchers to report that they probably can be explained by better access to medical experts who diagnose the disorder.

Because of the strong link to education, the researchers from University of California at Davis said the new findings do not point to a localized source of pollution, such as an industry, near the clusters.

“I suspect access to services plays the major role,” said Irva Hertz-Picciotto, senior author of the study published Tuesday in the journal Autism Research.

She added, however, that there could be other reasons why higher-educated parents lead to more autism. Environmental exposures, such as chemicals from consumer products, could be more common in those households, she said.

“Certainly there may be some consumer products to which more educated persons are more likely to be exposed. There is undoubtedly a possibility of higher exposures in the more educated,” said Hertz-Picciotto, a professor of public health sciences and an autism expert at the UC Davis MIND Institute.

For the study, the researchers analyzed the birth records of about 2.5 million babies born in California between 1996 and 2000. Nearly 10,000 were later diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is a neurological disorder involving impaired social development and communication skills. Experts believe that it is caused during pregnancy or early infancy since symptoms often arise by age two or three.

The new research is the first time that anyone has looked for geographic areas with high incidence, or clusters, of autism, according to lead author Karla Van Meter, an epidemiologist.

The 10 clusters were located in: the Torrance, Beverly Hills, Van Nuys and Calabasas areas of Los Angeles County; the Laguna Beach/Mission Viejo area of Orange County; the La Jolla/Del Mar area of San Diego County; San Francisco; the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara area; the Redwood City area; and Fresno. Two other possible clusters were also found in the Norwalk/Cerritos area of Los Angeles County and the Modesto area.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

gray state the rise

activistpost |  This is the raw, uncut an unfinished version of Gray State: The Rise. One upload made, possibly by the original uploader, was then removed out of respect for family and contributors. A news story makes it clear that Crowley was on the brink of releasing the final version a few weeks from December 17th which might be the last time anyone had contact with him. It is unclear if the world will ever see that version. Since the video of his project is publicly available, we have posted one below. Two other upload sources for it are here and here.

The content centers on the ruling elite, government corruption, deliberate economic devastation, police state tactics - militarization of police and brutalization, problem-reaction-solution, mass indoctrination/propaganda, all forms of surveillance, counterterrorism, left/right political paradigms, individualism, communism, cognitive dissonance, military and war.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

aawww.., lack of game recognize lack of game in the comments section...,

theatlantic |  Last month, an improbable Internet exchange inspired many who noticed it to reconsider what's possible when debating politics online. It began when MIT professor Scott Aaronson published a blog post on a sexual harassment controversy. A predictably heated argument ensued in the comments section. Then, 171 comments into the thread, Aaronson achieved a breakthrough: He posted a reply so personal, vulnerable and powerful that it transformed the character of the conversation. And all sides emerged better able to see one another's humanity.

The comment that begat this small Internet miracle wasn't perfect. Neither were the responses to it–as ever online, some needless cruelty and lack of charity followed.

But Aaronson and his interlocutors did transform an obscure, not-particularly-edifying debate into a broad, widely read conversation that encompassed more earnest, productive, revelatory perspectives than I'd have thought possible. The conversation has already captivated a corner of the Internet, but deserves wider attention, both as a model of public discourse and a window into the human experience. It began with the most personal thing that the professor had ever publicly shared.

but do you have to destroy the lectures, problem sets, solutions, and structured materials too?

insidehighered |  Walter H.G. Lewin’s debut as a massive open online course instructor was announced with some fanfare: “Afraid of physics?” a press release asked in January 2013. “Do you hate it? Walter Lewin will make you love physics whether you like it or not.”

That made his MOOCs a good fit for Faïza Harbi, 32, a private English tutor living in Montpellier, France. Harbi spoke openly to Inside Higher Ed but asked that her maiden name be used. She said she decided to take a physics course after struggling with the subject in high school. She was not familiar with the rock star professor, whose more than four decades at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, innovative and hugely popular video lectures and hundreds of scholarly articles had earned him international acclaim.

To connect with other learners in the MOOC, Harbi searched Facebook for groups dedicated to the course but found none, so she created one herself. On Nov. 24, 2013, someone with the profile name Walter Lewin requested to join the group. Believing it to be a parody account, Harbi approved the request and asked for proof. Within minutes, she received an email with a screenshot of her Progress page -- a tool only individual learners and their edX instructor can access (MIT's MOOCs are offered through edX).

Harbi said she was surprised -- not just by the fact that she was communicating with the real Walter Lewin, but also that she was doing well in the course. She takes medications for anxiety and depression, which she told Lewin makes it difficult for her to concentrate. Lewin, Harbi said, told her he would help her regain some self-confidence.

It would take almost a year before Harbi, with the help of MIT’s investigators, said she came to understand that Lewin’s interest in her was not motivated by empathy, and that their first conversations included inappropriate language. Shortly after contacting her, Harbi said, Lewin quickly moved their friendship into uncomfortable territory, and she was pushed to participate in online sexual role-playing and send naked pictures and videos of herself. After about 10 months, Harbi said, she resumed self-mutilating after seven years of not doing so.

The harassment, however, “started day one,” Harbi said. Eventually, she said she discovered she was one of many women, which MIT confirmed.

how those who teach, criticize, and caretake view musical chairs on the deck of the titanic...,

theatlantic |  I’m uncomfortable with any culture that encourages you take on an entire identity, rather than to express a facet of your own identity ("maker," rather than "someone who makes things"). But I have much deeper concerns.

An identity built around making things—of being “a maker”—pervades technology culture. There’s a widespread idea that “People who make things are simply different [read: better] than those who don’t.”

I understand where the motivation for this comes from. Creators, rightly, take pride in creation. In her book The Real World of Technology, the metallurgist Ursula Franklin contrasts prescriptive technologies, where many individuals produce components of the whole (think about Adam Smith’s pin factory), with holistic technologies, where the creator controls and understands the process from start to finish. As well as teaching my own engineering courses, I’m a studio instructor for a first-year engineering course, in which our students do design and fabrication, many of them for the first time. Making things is incredibly important, especially for groups that previously haven’t had access. When I was asked by the Boston-based Science Club for Girls to write a letter to my teenaged self (as a proxy for young girls everywhere), that’s exactly what I wrote about.

Making is not a rebel movement, scrappy individuals going up against the system. While the shift might be from the corporate to the individual (supported, mind, by a different set of companies selling a different set of things), it mostly re-inscribes familiar values, in slightly different form: that artifacts are important, and people are not.

It’s not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with making (although it’s not all that clear that the world needs more stuff). The problem is the idea that the alternative to making is usually not doing nothing—it’s almost always doing things for and with other people, from the barista to the Facebook community moderator to the social worker to the surgeon. Describing oneself as a maker—regardless of what one actually or mostly does—is a way of accruing to oneself the gendered, capitalist benefits of being a person who makes products.

bubble-ology from fracking to student loans, or, "they majored in liberal arts and they're lazy liberal f__ks on top of that...,"

wikipedia |  The higher education bubble is a hypothesis that there is a speculative boom and bust phenomenon in the field of higher education, particularly in the United States, and that there is the risk of an economic bubble in higher education that could have repercussions in the broader economy. Enrollment at more than 40 percent of private colleges and universities declined during 2012, forcing the institutions to offer steep tuition discounts to fill seats.[1] President Obama nearly doubled the federal Pell Grant Program, from $19 billion in 2009 to $36 billion for 2013.[2]

According to the theory, while college tuition payments are rising, the rate of return of a college degree is decreasing,[3] and the soundness of the student loan industry may be threatened by increasing default rates.[4] College students who fail to find employment at the level needed to pay back their loans in a reasonable amount of time have been compared to the debtors under sub-prime mortgages whose homes are worth less than what is owed to the bank.[5]

Friday, January 23, 2015

can't forget kuntsler's recent take on this either

Clusterfuck Nation | Events are moving faster than brains now. Isn’t it marvelous that gasoline at the pump is a buck cheaper than it was a year ago? A lot of short-sighted idiots are celebrating, unaware that the low oil price is destroying the capacity to deliver future oil at any price. The shale oil wells in North Dakota and Texas, the Tar Sand operations of Alberta, and the deep-water rigs here and abroad just don’t pencil-out economically at $45-a-barrel. So the shale oil wells that are up-and-running will produce for a year and there will be no new ones drilled when they peter out — which is at least 50 percent the first year and all gone after four years.
Anyway, the financial structure of the shale play was suicidal from the get-go. You finance the drilling and fracking with high-yield “junk bonds,” that is, money borrowed from “investors.” You drill like mad and you produce a lot of oil, but even at $105-a-barrel you can’t make profit, meaning you can’t really pay back the investors who loaned you all that money, a lot of it obtained via Too Big To Fail bank carry-trades, levered-up on ”margin,” which allowed said investors to pretend they were risking more money than they had. And then all those levered-up investments — i.e. bets — get hedged in a ghostly underworld of unregulated derivatives contracts that pretend to act as insurance against bad bets with funny money, but in reality can never pay out because the money is not there (and never was.) And then come the margin calls. Uh Oh….
In short, enjoy the $2.50-a-gallon fill-ups while you can, grasshoppers, because when the current crop of fast-depleting shale oil wells dries up, that will be all she wrote. When all those bonds held up on their skyhook derivative hedges go south, there will be no more financing available for the entire shale oil project. No more high-yield bonds will be issued because the previous issues defaulted. Very few new wells (if any) will be drilled. American oil production will not return to its secondary highs (after the 1970 all-time high) of 2014-15. The wish of American energy independence will be steaming over the horizon on the garbage barge of broken promises. And all, that, of course, is only one part of the story, because there is the social and political fallout to follow.
The table is set for the banquet of consequences. The next chapter in the oil story is more likely to be scarcity rather than just a boomerang back to higher prices. The tipping point for that will come with the inevitable destabilizing of Saudi Arabia, which I believe will happen this year when King Abdullah ibn Abdilaziz, 91, son of Ibn Saud, departs his intensive care throne for the gloriousJannah of virgins and feasts. Speaking of feasts, just imagine how the Islamic State (or ISIS) must be licking its chops at the prospect of sweeping over an Arabia no longer defined as Saudi! The Saudis are so spooked that they announced plans last week for a kind of super Berlin-type wall to be constructed along the northern border with Iraq. But that brings to mind a laughable Maginot Line scenario in which the masked invaders just make an end run around the darn thing. In any case, Saudi Arabia will already be disintegrating internally as competing clans and princes vie for control. And then, what will the US do? Rush in there shock-and-awe style? Bust up the joint? That’ll make things better, won’t it? (See American Sniper.)

Farmer Brown Gives No Kind Of Phuks About Bringing On Mass Psychosis

washingtonmonthly  |   A new study has documented a remarkable rise in Americans’ use of marijuana. Over the last 30 years, the number o...