Thursday, December 31, 2015

the greatest threat to your species...,

antimedia |  During a Reddit AMA, he argued that the future is wrought with the peril of rampant inequality expedited by an automated machine-based global economic system.

“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed.” Hawking continued, “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”

Predictably, a dramatic response thread followed. Many commenters agreed with Hawking and denounced the globalist oligarchy that is currently consolidating wealth at an unprecedented rate. Responses ranged from calls for a “bloody revolution” to references to the recent films Elysium, Wall-E, and Zeitgeist 2: Addendum. One commenter invoked the anarcho-syndicalist political views of linguist Noam Chomsky.
The main theme of the discussion centered around the automation of labor and how that would affect the human workforce and the global economy. Hawking seems to believe that our current trajectory will make such automation a death knell for the working classes, with the bourgeoisie machine owners exerting total economic control over human civilization. One commenter strongly disagreed with Hawking, referencing recent Journal of Economic Perspective articles and claiming “technology has never, will never, and simply cannot result in structural unemployment.
The comment thread is a treasure trove of wide-ranging ideas that include:
~The efficacy, or lack thereof, of voting
~A “universal basic income
~Techno-socialism, with “an open source decentralized consensus algorithm for the masses
~A post-scarcity society run by strong artificial intelligence

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

why there is no peace on earth

davidstockman |  After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the red army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into what had been a 77-year global war, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations which germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into the world war and cold war which followed inexorably thereupon.

To wit, upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped-out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

I have elaborated more fully on this proposition in The Epochal Consequences Of Woodrow Wilson’s War, but the seminal point cannot be gainsaid. The end of the cold war meant world peace was finally at hand, yet 25 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.
In fact, the War Party entrenched in the nation’s capital is dedicated to economic interests and ideological perversions that guarantee perpetual war; they ensure endless waste on armaments and the inestimable death and human suffering that stems from 21st century high tech warfare and the terrorist blowback it inherently generates among those upon which the War Party inflicts its violent hegemony.

So there was a virulent threat to peace still lurking on the Potomac after the 77-year war ended. The great general and president, Dwight Eisenhower, had called it the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address, but that memorable phrase had been abbreviated by his speechwriters, who deleted the word “congressional” in a gesture of comity to the legislative branch.

So restore Ike’s deleted reference to the pork barrels and Sunday afternoon warriors of Capitol Hill and toss in the legions of beltway busybodies that constituted the civilian branches of the cold war armada (CIA, State, AID etc.) and the circle would have been complete. It constituted the most awesome machine of warfare and imperial hegemony since the Roman legions bestrode most of the civilized world.

In a word, the real threat to peace circa 1990 was that Pax Americana would not go away quietly in the night.

In fact, during the past 25 years Imperial Washington has lost all memory that peace was ever possible at the end of the cold war. Today it is as feckless, misguided and bloodthirsty as were Berlin, Paris, St. Petersburg, Vienna and London in August 1914.

Back then a few months after the slaughter had been unleashed, soldiers along the western front broke into spontaneous truces of Christmas celebration, singing and even exchange of gifts. For a brief moment they wondered why they were juxtaposed in lethal combat along the jaws of hell.

The truthful answer is that there was no good reason. The world had stumbled into war based on false narratives and the institutional imperatives of military mobilization plans, alliances and treaties arrayed into a doomsday machine and petty short-term diplomatic maneuvers and political calculus. Yet it took more than three-quarters of a century for all the consequential impacts and evils to be purged from the life of the planet.

The peace that was lost last time has not been regained this time for the same reasons. Historians can readily name the culprits from 100 years ago, such as the German general staff’s plan for a lightening mobilization and strike on the western front called the Schlieffen Plan or Britain’s secret commitments to France to guard the North Sea while the latter covered the Mediterranean.

Since these casus belli of 1914 were criminally trivial in light of all that metastisized thereafter, it might do well to name the institutions and false narratives that block the return of peace today. The fact is, these impediments are even more contemptible than the forces that crushed the Christmas truces one century ago.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

is the big short intended to hide a bigger story?

zerohedge |  Need some help with this movie. Seems like the movie created the idea that the system as a whole is corrupt and put most of the blame on the rating agencies, and totally bypasses the US government and Federal Reserve, with only a scant mention in the credits that Burry tried to contact the White House and tell them how he figured it out ultimately leading to him being audited four times and being visted by the FBI. 

The main scene that seems to dump the most blame came with Baum and his numbers guy pushing the old lady at Standards and Poor's into saying "if we don't give the banks the rating they want they go down the street to moodys". The movie makes alot of top people look like bafoons who didn't know what was going on like the Bear Sterns guy on stage with Baum as the stock is plumitting saying he would "buy moar". 

All three groups that the movie follows who made a bunch of money on the "big short" are all shown as doing so because of Burry who they portrayed as an idiot savant type who can single handidly digest unlimited numbers while everyone else (Government, Federal Reserve, Freddie Mae, Banks, Investment firms, hedge funds, regulators, etc) are asleep at the wheel. I'm sorry something seems amiss here!! 

Consider me totally ignorant about the finer details of banking, finance, housing, etc, but it seems almost comical that the Federal Reserve Bank whose primary function is setting the feds fund rate did not have a complete model of the impact that rate would have on mortgages in the US? A central theme in the movie is the cascadding effect of the default of sub prime mortgages.

The collapse happens in the last year of Bush's presidency with the most unpopular bill TARP being signed as he is leaving office with no hope of re-election. The bailout is presented only very briefly as Baum speaks in low key amazement that they are going to bail out the banks. Just lucky timing I guess that the largest financial bailout in history and the financial collapse happended a few months before a very unpopular president leaves office and is going to hand over the reigns to the first black president. 

Sure there is the revolving door between SEC and financial firms referenced in the film with the red head in vegas who is trying to bed goldman guys, but her cluelessness is tied to the SEC not being funded when she is asked why they are not paying attention to the ratings of MBS.

Seems like the point of this movie is to leave most watching it (the massess) with the impression that the system is just a mess and made up of greedy people. This just reinforces what I think most people already think. If there is a bigger story in regards to the timing of the collapse coming at the end of the Bush presidency, with the political capital of Obama to over see the coming QEs and the overall takeover of the economy that was provided by the TARP and related legislation, that story is burried in this story of Burry the savant. (I'm not attacking Burry, don't know a thing about him other than this movie)

Hollywoods story is that one idiot savant single handely figured out some corruption in the ratings of securities and made a big bet and won a billion or so as millions lost. Seems like this story, while significant and outrageous and interesting, is designed to hide a bigger story.

how warren buffett intentionally targets and preys on the least of these...,

seattletimes |  After a few years living with her sister, Rose Mary Zunie, 59, was ready to move into a place of her own.

So, on an arid Saturday morning this past summer, the sisters piled into a friend’s pickup truck and headed for a mobile-home sales lot here just outside the impoverished Navajo reservation.

The women — one in a long, colorful tribal skirt, another wearing turquoise jewelry, a traditional talisman against evil — were steered to a salesman who spoke Navajo, just like the voice on the store’s radio ads.

He walked them through Clayton-built homes on the lot, then into the sales center, passing a banner and posters promoting one subprime lender: Vanderbilt Mortgage, a Clayton subsidiary. Inside, he handed them a Vanderbilt sales pamphlet.

“Vanderbilt is the only one that finances on the reservation,” he told the women.

His claim, which the women caught on tape, was a lie. And it was illegal.

It is just one in a pattern of deceptions that Clayton has used to help extract billions from poor customers around the country — particularly people of color, who make up a substantial and growing portion of its business.

The company is controlled by Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest men, but its methods hardly match Buffett’s honest, folksy image: Clayton systematically pursues unwitting minority homebuyers and baits them into costly subprime loans, many of which are doomed to fail, an investigation by The Seattle Times and BuzzFeed News has found.

Clayton’s predatory practices have damaged minority communities — from rural black enclaves in the Louisiana Delta, across Spanish-speaking swaths of Texas, to Native American reservations in the Southwest. Many customers end up losing their homes, thousands of dollars in down payments, or even land they’d owned outright.

Over the 12 years since Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought Clayton Homes Inc., the company has grown to dominate virtually every aspect of America’s mobile-home industry. It builds nearly half the new manufactured homes sold in this country every year, making it the most prolific U.S. homebuilder of any type. It sells them through a network of more than 1,600 dealerships. And it finances more mobile-home loans than any other lender by a factor of more than seven.

In minority communities, Clayton’s grip on the lending market verges on monopolistic: Last year, according to federal data, Clayton made 72 percent of the loans to black people who financed mobile homes.

The company’s in-house lender, Vanderbilt Mortgage, charges minority borrowers substantially higher rates, on average, than their white counterparts. In fact, federal data shows that Vanderbilt typically charges black people who make over $75,000 a year slightly more than white people who make only $35,000.

rule of law: creative exploitation of the least of these...,

WaPo |  Rex Muller has had lots of tenants over the years, but none quite like Terrence Taylor. He moved into a house miles outside of town but couldn’t drive. He was 30 years old but played with toy cars. His face was badly disfigured by burns, but attractive women often accompanied him. Muller nonetheless trusted Taylor more than most. He had lots of money.

When Taylor moved from Fairfax County to Muller’s Martinsburg, W.Va., townhouse in 2012, agreeing to pay $870 in monthly rent, he flashed an insurance document bearing impressive numbers. It said New York Life Insurance was paying him $10,000 every month as a result of a lawsuit settled in 1989. Muller learned that a malfunctioning electric heater had burst into flames when Taylor was a boy, leaving him disfigured — and rich. His settlement would pay him many millions of dollars over the course of his life.

Two years later, in June 2014, Muller watched as a local deputy knocked at Taylor’s door. Muller had just taken his tenant, who had not paid rent in three months, to court and evicted him. He stepped into the darkened home as Taylor, an amputee, descended the stairs and, without a word, limped past him on a prosthetic leg.

Taylor had left behind a mess of toys, dirty dishes and cards written by “go-go girls,” Muller recalled. Strange documents were strewn across the kitchen table. “It was a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo,” Muller said. “A lot of lawyer talk.”

The landlord, however, understood enough to know the tenant had been doing a lot of business deals. “He was selling off his loan,” Muller reasoned.

Not quite. What Taylor had been selling, chunk by chunk, for pennies on the dollar, was a settlement that had a lifetime expected payout of $31.5 million. In numerous deals approved in Virginia courts over two years, Taylor sold everything owed to him through 2044 and was now broke and homeless.

How did this happen, Muller said he wondered as he picked through the detritus.

Monday, December 28, 2015

pretending at racial goodness, granny has worn this tiny fig leaf to a frazzle...,

NYTimes |  In summer 1972, Mr. Clinton was in Miami working on George McGovern’s presidential campaign when Mrs. Clinton traveled from Washington to Atlanta to meet with civil rights lawyers and activists, then rented a car and drove the nearly four hours to Dothan.

“Hillary was not a derring-do type of person. It wasn’t her normal mode,” said Taylor Branch, the civil rights activist and author, who was a close friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton at the time. “But,” he added, “you do these things when you’re young, and this was the era when young people did more of that than normal.”

In Dothan, Mrs. Clinton most likely stayed at the Holiday Inn on Ross Clark Circle, since locally owned hotels might have been suspicious of a single woman with black acquaintances, several people who did the same work said. While Mrs. Clinton favored corduroy bell-bottoms for casual wear, the dress code for the investigative work called for conservative blouses and skirts, her colleagues said.

She drove over the railroad tracks near downtown, east of Park Avenue, to the black part of town. There, she met local contacts who told her over a lunch of sweetened ice tea and burgers “that many of the school districts in the area were draining local public schools of books and equipment to send to the so-called academies, which they viewed as the alternatives for white students,” she wrote in “Living History.”

Years later, Mrs. Clinton does not say she ever felt afraid, but a white woman traveling alone in the South would have been “looking over her shoulder,” said Marlene Provizer, who did similar research into segregation academies in Mississippi and Georgia in the same era.

“There weren’t many folks doing this work,” she said. “I was very conscious of being ‘the other.’ ”

chirac to the potomac: more attentive to downtown interests than to constituents...,

NYTimes |  “Rahm’s particular challenge isn’t whether he leaves office — it’s that he’s going to stay in office at a time that’s particularly demanding,” said David Axelrod, a political consultant and a longtime friend of Mr. Emanuel’s.

“Look, it’s been a painful, difficult time for him,” Mr. Axelrod said. “No human being could be unaffected by this whole episode and by the sort of anger and rancor that it’s stirred. When you talk to him, he clearly feels that he missed it, and that this whole episode has uncovered a problem on which he, himself, would say he was insufficiently focused — that this was not handled well by him or his administration.”

Mr. Emanuel swept into the mayor’s office in 2011, helped in part by what black Chicagoans knew about him at the time: that Mr. Obama trusted him. Four years later, he faced a steeper climb in a city that had gotten to know him better. He was forced into a runoff with Jesus G. Garcia, a county commissioner who was seeking to become the city’s first Latino mayor, partly because of critics who said Mr. Emanuel was too brusque and more attentive to the wishes of downtown interests than the needs of residents from some poorer neighborhoods.

The mayor, whose clash with public schoolteachers helped set off the city’s first teachers’ strike in a quarter-century, drew special anger in 2013 for overseeing the closing of nearly 50 public schools, many of them in black and Latino neighborhoods. After winning the unexpectedly tense campaign in April, Mr. Emanuel promised that he had gotten the city’s message.

The start of Mr. Emanuel’s second term already was complicated by the city’s fiscal problems. Facing mounting pension payments and sinking credit ratings, Mr. Emanuel pushed through the largest property tax increase in the city’s modern history. Also, the possibility of another teachers’ strike looms.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

associated consciousness wars...,

realitysandwich |  The esoteric, Hermetic tradition, forced underground by the rise of material, mechanical science, has suffered, I believe, a full scale, no holds barred assault by the left brain and the deficient mode of the mental-rational structure. Its right brain worldview, with its sense of a living, intelligent universe with which we can participate through our imagination, was targeted for attack by its left brain antagonist. It is not the case, as it is generally accepted, that the Hermetic/esoteric view, anchored in what it erroneously believed was a profound “ancient wisdom,” was, with the rise of reason, rationality and the Enlightenment, simply superseded by a more correct view. It was not simply a case of “superstition” giving way to “science,” or of dogma dissolving in the face of free thought. That “more correct view,” informed by the proselytizing zeal of a competing form of consciousness, seems to have purposely and ruthlessly set out to consciously obliterate its rival. This was, indeed, a real war, one carried out on the fields of consciousness.

In the early stages of its campaign, the anti-esoteric view enjoyed many victories, and it eventually established itself as the sole arbiter of what is true, and what is “real” knowledge and what is not. But now, some four hundred years after Hermes Trismegistus the thrice great sage of magic and the ancient wisdom was dethroned, his usurper’s position seems threatened – or at least the foundations on which it established its supremacy seem somewhat less secure. In our time, the deficient mode of Gebser’s mental-rational consciousness structure has reached its peak, as it were. Developments like “deconstructionism” and “post-modernism” suggest that the western intellectual tradition has begun to take itself apart, with the left brain’s obsession with analysis turning on itself. Even earlier than these, the rise of the “new physics” of quantum theory and related fields in the early part of the last century has shown that the neat nineteenth-century vision of a perfectly explainable mechanical universe is no longer tenable. But there are more pressing concerns. We’ve seen that Gebser in his last days believed that we were heading toward a “global catastrophe,” and the various crises – ecological, environmental, economic, social, political, religious, and cultural – that fill our daily news reports suggest he was not far wrong. Our era has had no shortage of Cassandras, and it would be easy to lump Gebser’s concerns together with other, less eloquent — not to mention researched — jeremiads. But there is a tension, an anxiety about our time that somehow seems to suggest that something will happen, that some dike will burst, and that we will have a flood. As the philosopher Richard Tarnas remarked, “late modern man”– that is, ourselves — is “the incongruously sensitive denizen of an implacable vastness devoid of meaning,” living in a world in which “gigantism and turmoil, excessive noise, speed and complexity dominate the human environment.” Things, many believe, cannot stay this way much longer. As Yeats said long ago, “the center cannot hold.”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

inevitable submission to the will of deez nutz...,

From a biological perspective, which includes a bio-social anthropological perspective, religions function primarily as in-group markers for a breeding population. Human breeding populations have been competing since the birth of your species as long as there are barriers to gene flow between them. Religion is a good barrier for gene flow. The scenario is always the same. An in-group grows > internal dissension (often over beliefs) > group splitting > competition between the groups, which often includes armed conflict. Competition always makes things better, including you deuterostems. As long as religions act as barriers to gene flow between populations, the conflicts will continue.

The metaphor of seeing religion as a mask for the clash of civilizations could be helpful if one thinks of religion-unique masks as in-group markers for a specific breeding population like the religious beard and hat on most Muslim men and the hijab on most Muslim women. These other items, like your metaphorical masks, are also just in-group markers for a breeding population like the gold crosses that some Christian women wear around their neck or the musty black clown outfits worn by Orthodox Jewish men.

The only way the conflicts using religions will end will be when the rest of the world's horny male deuterostems can get at lovely Muslim women with minimal barriers to entry. The Muslim male will not willingly secularize and share access to his women. He will have to be crushed into submission to the will of deez nutz.  Human nature being what it is, this will of course happen. Once that occurs, you humans will have to find other backwards isht to fight over. Political and racial ideologies also act as barriers to gene flow. Race, religion, and politics are about equal in their ability to act as in-group markers that keep breeding populations apart.

Religions decline in the industrialized western democracies correlates with the breaking down of barriers for gene flow between previously separated religious peoples. In the United States in the 1950s, 95% of Jews only married other Jews. Today, only about 30% of Jews marry other Jews outside of Israel. In Europe, now secularized Catholics and Protestants intermarry with some frequency, although there are still barriers to gene flow between previously Christian secularized Europeans and Muslims, most of whom in Europe are still religious. 

Form follows function. If the function is removed, the form becomes vestigial. Everything else is simple-minded conversation...,

Friday, December 25, 2015

chiraq to the potomac: black political class the souled-out slave of apokolips...,

Tribune |  Despite strong efforts at reform, history shows that it often takes atrocity to enact real change.

Before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, President John F. Kennedy tried to pass it and failed. It took horrific images of police hosing black protesters and voters in Alabama, of police dogs attacking them, to enable Johnson to push monumental legislation past an entrenched bloc of prejudiced lawmakers. It took an enraging video from New York last year of a dying Eric Garner gasping "I can't breathe" to force the NYPD to institute an unprecedented policy — one promising serious consequences for police who witness another officer's use of excessive force without reporting it. Sadly, it's now Chicago's turn.

Amid our anger, can we give City Hall a chance to break down previously impenetrable walls? Despite strong feelings about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's decision to delay showing the Laquan McDonald video to the public while a federal investigation continued, we must not confuse facts. Never was there an attempt by the city to withhold the video from investigators or slow down the federal investigation, which started within weeks of the shooting. Emanuel didn't cause this problem. As in too many American cities, issues regarding police using excessive force started decades before he became mayor. But this tragedy may finally enable him to challenge a despicable status quo.

As in 1964, we need leadership to enact change, but atrocity and public commitment must create an opening to do what couldn't be done before. A formidable police union that protects its worst and undermines its best must be challenged. Actions need to be taken ahead of the U.S. Department of Justice findings, and we all must support that effort. The brotherhood of deadly silence can no longer be tolerated.

We can't have it both ways. After pummeling Emanuel for challenging a powerful teachers union, can we really be enraged that he hasn't been able to take on the police union? Even within the force, good officers have been punished for speaking out. Former police Cmdr. Lorenzo Davis, a 23-year veteran, lost his job on the Independent Police Review Authority for refusing to justify certain police shootings of civilians. His review said he showed a "bias against police." How many other good officers hesitate to speak out?

Thursday, December 24, 2015

is the hon.bro.preznit's operation wetback intended to sabotage granny goodness?

WaPo |  This scoop from Jerry Markon and David Nakamura is going to scramble the politics of immigration in the presidential race, and it may create more problems for Democrats than for Republicans:
The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation.

The nationwide campaign, to be carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as soon as early January, would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, those familiar with the plan said. More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, though this migration has largely been overshadowed by a related surge of unaccompanied minors.

The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, according to officials familiar with the undertaking…The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported. The number targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater.
Read the rest for the details, but the short version is that there has been vigorous internal debate inside the Obama administration about this policy, and it has not been signed off on officially. The administration has long signaled that families crossing over illegally who do not qualify for asylum will be deported. But advocates have been urging the administration to treat these migrants as refugees, because experts believe that violence in Central America is a key reason for their efforts to cross the southern border.

In a preview of more to come, a leading immigration advocate, Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, told me that there will be intense pressure on the Democratic presidential candidates — particularly likely nominee Hillary Clinton — to denounce the new policy. Sharry pointed out that this could force Clinton to decide whether to align with immigration advocates and Latinos, as she’s been doing in hopes of winning the Latino vote by a huge margin in the general election, which would mean breaking with the Obama administration and adopting a position that Republicans will attack as weak on immigration enforcement.

“This will be a political nightmare for the Democrats,” Sharry told me. “The specter of raids picking up families and sending them back to violent countries is going to put Hillary Clinton in a difficult position. She’ll have to choose between protecting refugees from Central America, a demand of the Latino community, or standing with the law-and-order position of Obama and Republicans.”

looks like a great matinee..., (viacom vs. the vampire squid?)

theburningplatform |   Ultimately, it is a highly entertaining movie with the right moral overtone, despite non-stop profanity that captures the true nature of Wall Street traders. This is a dangerous movie for Wall Street, the government, and the establishment in general. They count on the complexity of Wall Street to confuse the average person and make their eyes glaze over. That makes it easier for them to keep committing fraud and harvesting the nation’s wealth.

This movie cuts through the crap and reveals those in power to be corrupt, greedy weasels who aren’t really as smart as they want you to think they are. The finale of the movie is sobering and infuriating. After unequivocally proving that Wall Street bankers, aided and abetted by the Federal Reserve, Congress, the SEC, and the mainstream media, destroyed the global financial system, put tens of millions out of work, got six million people tossed from their homes, and created the worst crisis since the Great Depression, the filmmakers are left to provide the depressing conclusion.

No bankers went to jail. The Too Big To Fail banks were not broken up – they were bailed out by the American taxpayers. They actually got bigger. Their profits have reached new heights, while the average family has seen their income fall. Wall Street is paying out record bonuses, while 46 million people are on food stamps. Wall Street and their lackeys at the Federal Reserve call the shots in this country. They don’t give a fuck about you. And they’re doing it again.

Every American should see this movie and get fucking pissed off. The theater was deathly silent at the end of the movie. The audience was stunned by the fact that the criminals on Wall Street got away with the crime of the century, and they’re still on the loose. I had a great discussion with my 16 year old son on the way home. At least there is one millennial who understands how bad his generation is getting screwed.

why do you choose the lies of apokolips over the truths of the working man?

bnarchives |Is economic growth a miracle of the free market? According to mainstream theory, growth is best ensured through conditions of ‘perfect competition’. However, economic growth is tightly correlated with the concentration of power in the hands of large corporations. Why? The capital as power framework provides potential answers that turn mainstream theory on its head: growth seems to be intimately related to the formation of hierarchy.

granny goodness' awkward hispandering backfires - not my abuela...,

nbcnews |  Hillary Clinton's campaign has run into another Twitterstorm over her Latino outreach over a blog that compares her to "abuelas" (Latina grandmothers), displaying the tightrope candidates are walking as they try to woo the community.
The blog post, written by a Latina, is titled "7 Things Hillary Clinton Has in Common With Your Abuela." It drew backlash and accusations of "Hispandering" Tuesday night that continued into Wednesday. The writer listed such things as "worries about children everywhere" and "knows what's best," things that many Latinos might say about their grandmothers. But the writer also says the seven items are ways Clinton is "just like your grandmother."
The Latino Twitterati found the blog's comparison so offensive, they started a hashtag, #NotMyAbuela, and listed ways Hillary is not like their abuela. It follows criticism over Clinton calling herself "Tu Hillary" and using Selena's "Bidi, Bidi, Bom Bom" as a campaign song in San Antonio.
But Clinton's also a candidate who has hired several Latino staffers, as well as a couple of Latino pollsters. She's tacked further left on her own view of immigration and taken positions on issues that many progressive Latino groups back, such as raising the minimum wage and finding a way to bring legal status to the 11 million people in the community who are not here legally.
Traversing the Latino identity landscape is a difficult thing. Republican Jeb Bush is often lauded among Latinos for having married a Mexican woman, speaking Spanish and having a "Hispanic heart." But Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are referred to by some as Latinos in Name Only, despite their Cuban ancestry. While Clinton enjoys heavy Hispanic support, she's regularly targeted in social media.
Democratic strategist Larry Gonzalez said the backlash was a "headscratcher" for him. He saw the blog as the musings of a writer who wanted to share her thoughts on how she feels about Hillary Clinton in relation to her own abuela.
"It's kind of a damned if you, damned if you don't situation," said Gonzalez, a Raben Group lobbyist in Washington, D.C. who is not working with any of the campaigns "You have Latinos on the campaign being given an opportunity to offer their opinions and who are not just window dressing and people don't appreciate whatever thoughts they have to offer."

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

let your imagination run wild with weird science's inevitable endgame...,

NYTimes |  Biologists in the United States and Europe are developing a revolutionary genetic technique that promises to provide an unprecedented degree of control over insect-borne diseases and crop pests.

The technique involves a mechanism called a gene drive system, which propels a gene of choice throughout a population. No gene drives have yet been tested in the wild, but in laboratory organisms like the fruit fly, they have converted almost the entire population to carry the favored version of a gene.

Gene drives “could potentially prevent the spread of disease, support agriculture by reversing pesticide and herbicide resistance in insects and weeds, and control damaging invasive species,” a group of Harvard biologists wrote last year in the journal eLIFE.

A much discussed application of gene drives would help rid the world of pest-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever and Lyme disease.

A gene drive designed to render a population extinct is known as a crash drive. A crash drive being developed for mosquitoes consists of a gene engineered into the Y chromosome that shreds the X chromosome in the cells that make the mosquito’s sperm, thus ensuring that all progeny are male. Unless the drive itself is damaged through mutation, the number of females would be expected to dwindle each generation until the population collapses.

Biologists led by Andrea Crisanti and Tony Nolan at Imperial College London reported this month in the journal Nature Biotechnology their development of mosquitoes with gene drives that disrupt three genes for female fertility, each of which acts at a different stage of egg formation. Because the female mosquitoes are infertile only when a copy is inherited from both parents, the gene drives would be thoroughly disseminated through a population before taking their toll. They could “suppress mosquito populations to levels that do not support malaria transmission,” the authors wrote.

The mosquitoes are not yet ready for release. Because natural selection will heavily favor any wild mosquitoes that acquire resistance to the gene drives, the researchers need to prevent such resistance from arising. One approach would be to target two or three sites in the same fertility gene, giving natural selection a much higher barrier to overcome.

why it's important to keep an eye on weird politics and science...,

SA |  Robert G. Edwards might not be a household name, but the innovation he pioneered along with Patrick Steptoe certainly is. In vitro fertilization (IVF), the process whereby human eggs are fertilized outside of the body and the resulting embryos implanted in a woman's womb, led to the 1978 birth of Louise Brown—the world's first "test tube baby." To date, an estimated five million children worldwide have been born using this innovation. Edwards received the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for this remarkable achievement.

Edwards’s passing earlier this year prompted an outpouring of praise. He has been widely described as a maverick researcher disinterested in personal recognition who simply wanted to give babies to those who couldn’t make them on their own. The New York Times quoted Edwards’s former collaborator, Barry Bavister, as saying “Dr. Edwards’s motivation—his passion, in fact—was not fame or fortune but rather helping infertile women.” Bavister continued, “He believed with all his heart that it was the right thing to do.”

But Edwards’s views on the technology he created and the uses to which it should be put may be more complicated than this portrayal. One detail omitted from the obituaries published around the world was that Edwards was a member in good standing of the Eugenics Society in Britain for much of his career. Recently uncovered documents show that Edwards served on the organization’s Council—its leadership body—as a trustee on three separate occasions: from 1968 to 1970, 1971 to 1973 and once again from 1995 to 1997 after the group euphemistically renamed itself  "The Galton Institute" for the founder of the eugenics movement, Francis Galton. As we consider Edwards’s legacy in light of his recent passing, it is important to think critically about the relationship between Edwards’s development of IVF and his participation in an organization that was dedicated to promoting one of the most dangerous ideas in human history: that science should be used to control human reproduction in order to breed preferred types of people.

Coined by Galton in the late 1800s to mean "well-born," eugenics became a dominant aspect of Western intellectual life and social policy during the first half of the 20th century. It started with the seemingly simple proposition that one's social position is rooted in heritable qualities of character and intellect.

Eugenicists of that era also believed that people with what they considered the least desirable traits tend to have the most children, precipitating what they saw as an inevitable decline in a society’s intellectual and physical vigor. Taking their cue from livestock breeders, eugenicists argued that socially disadvantageous characteristics could be bred out of human populations through policies that limited the reproduction of "the unfit"—the "feebleminded," the poor and the weak. Many eugenicists considered these qualities to be more prevalent among racial and ethnic minorities.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

two kinds of due process in America -- one for overseers and another for the overseen...,

tomdispatch |  In the simplest terms, there is no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have been killed by the police this year nationwide. In just the past few weeks, videos have been released of problematic fatal police shootings in San Francisco and Chicago.
While it’s too soon to tell whether there has been an uptick in violent crime in the post-Ferguson period, no evidence connects any possible increase to the phenomenon of police violence being exposed to the nation. What is taking place and what the police and their supporters are largely reacting to is a modest push for sensible law enforcement reforms from groups as diverse asCampaign Zero, Koch Industries, the Cato Institute, The Leadership Conference, and the ACLU (my employer). Unfortunately, as the rhetoric ratchets up, many police agencies and organizations are increasingly resistant to any reforms, forgetting whom they serve and ignoring constitutional limits on what they can do.
Indeed, a closer look at law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community and should be under civilian control.
And that, when you come right down to it, is the logic of the police state.  
Due Process Plus
It’s no mystery why so few police officers are investigated and prosecuted for using excessive force and violating someone’s rights. “Local prosecutors rely on local police departments to gather the evidence and testimony they need to successfully prosecute criminals,” according to Campaign Zero . “This makes it hard for them to investigate and prosecute the same police officers in cases of police violence.”
Since 2005, according to an analysis by theWashington Post and Bowling Green State University, only 54 officers have been prosecuted nationwide, despite the thousands of fatal shootings by police. As Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green, puts it, “To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way. It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

bond market boondoggle this way comes...,

NYTimes |  The fight over the island’s future is stretching from the oceanside neighborhoods of San Juan, where a growing number of wealthy investors and financial professionals have migrated in recent years to exploit generous tax breaks, to Capitol Hill. Their efforts are being closely watched by financial institutions, labor unions and policy makers on the mainland, where many ordinary investors own Puerto Rican bonds through mutual funds.

Some warn that Puerto Rico could be a test case for the rest of the country, paving the way for troubled states like Illinois to escape unsustainable debts.

Stephen J. Spencer, a restructuring expert representing Puerto Rico bondholders including some hedge funds, said letting the government renege on agreements with hedge funds and other investors would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the integrity of the bond market.

“It’s really a wealth transfer from the bondholders to the municipalities,” Mr. Spencer said.

Others fear a different precedent: A handful of wealthy investors, they argue, are trying to rewrite the social contract of an entire United States territory. Puerto Rican officials say they have already cut public services and slashed central government spending by a fifth to keep ahead of payments to the hedge funds and financiers.

“What they are doing, by getting all the resources for themselves, is undermining the viability of Puerto Rico as a commonwealth,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. “They want their money now, and they want to get the rules set so that they can make money for the next 20 years.”

Monday, December 21, 2015

causally connected to the campus catawampus?

electronicintifada |  During his time as UC president from 2008 to 2013, Yudof ignored a litany of assaults, vandalism and threats against members of Students for Justice in Palestine on UC campuses, but spoke out loudly against alleged “incidents of intolerance” when supporters of Israel were affected.

Yudof admitted he “sought guidance” from the American Jewish Committee, a leading Israel lobby group, following the 2010 divestment initiative at UC Berkeley and the UC Irvine protest by Muslim students during a university-sponsored propaganda event featuring Israeli ambassador Michael Oren.

The students — known as the Irvine 11 — were prosecuted at the instigation of the university administration and eventually convicted in September 2011 of “criminal conspiracy” for their decision to make statements of protest during Oren’s speech. The University of California also suspended the Muslim Student Union at UC Irvine.

Rights groups warned Yudof that the University of California under his administration had “exacerbated” a climate of fear for Arab and Muslim students.

Doubled down
Before he left office, Yudof doubled down on his support for Israel and suppression of speech related to Palestine on UC campuses.

He helped draft a 2012 California State Assembly resolution that conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

In 2013, Yudof participated in a conference organized by Israeli military and political elites — which renowned physicist Stephen Hawking boycotted.

In his talk, Yudof railed against the growing divestment campaigns on college campuses and asserted that the “delegitimization of Israel is an ongoing problem.”

Three years earlier, Yudof had changed the university’s policy to make it much harder to divest. Had his policy been in place a generation ago, it would have prevented the university divesting from apartheid South Africa, as it did in 1986.

Yudof’s fears about the spread of BDS on campus are shared by the presidents of Israeli universities. They are demanding that the American Anthropological Association not move forward with a referendum to endorse its recent vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

Many in Israel already fear that a “silent boycott” is taking hold that is far more threatening to the status quo than even the visible boycott initiatives.

rotflmbao@concrete and unmalleable demands...,

thedailycaller |  Oberlin College students have finally joined dozens of other colleges in releasing a Mizzou-inspired set of demands for their administration, and while the demands come a month late, they make up for it by being very numerous and remarkably extreme.
The list, which bubbled up online over the past three days, is no less than 14 pages in length, and includes a staggering 50 demands, many of which divide into several sub-demands. Not only are the demands numerous, but they are quite severe and are paired with stern rhetoric. The document opens as follows:
Oberlin College and Conservatory is an unethical institution. From capitalizing on massive labor exploitation across campus, to the Conservatory of Music treating Black and other students of color as less than through its everyday running, Oberlin College unapologetically acts as [sic] unethical institution, antithetical to its historical vision. In the 1830s, this school claimed a legacy of supporting its Black students. However, that legacy has amounted to nothing more than a public relations campaign initiated to benefit the image of the institution and not the Africana people it was set out for … [T]his institution functions on the premises of imperialism, white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, and a cissexist heteropatriarchy. Oberlin College and Conservatory uses the limited number of Black and Brown students to color in its brochures, but then erases us from student life on this campus. You profit off of our accomplishments and invisible labor, yet You expect us to produce personal solutions to institutional incompetencies. We as a College-defined “high risk,” “low income,” “disadvantaged” community should not have to carry the burden of deconstructing the white supremacist, patriarchal, capitalist system that we took no part in creating, yet is so deeply embedded in the soil upon which this institution was built.
After continuing in this manner for a while and outlining some broad goals (such as “the eradication hegemony in the curriculum”), the document begins to reel off demands, warning that they are “not polite requests, but concrete and unmalleable demands.” If Oberlin doesn’t capitulate, the document warns of a “full and forceful response,” though, despite the detailed demands, what the “response” would be remains entirely undefined.