Tuesday, December 17, 2013

the lion of gujarat keeps his powder dry on teh gey...,

deccanchronicle | Why did Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi offer no comment on the Supreme Court order making homosexual love a criminal activity again?

Modi is usually quick to climb into an issue and offer his opinion. The issue was, and remains, one of the most debated matters on television. News-papers have been scathing in their editorial criticism of the judgment. The Congress’ leaders spoke out unequivocally in favour of human rights, but there was no word from Modi on this subject.

This is not to say that he has been silent generally, because he hasn’t. He had a thing or two to say (later proved to be false) about how Kashmiri law constitutionally discriminates against its female residents.

He remains pretty active on Twitter and in the same period as the judgement he tweeted to wish various people a happy birthday, including Sonia Gandhi, Sharad Pawar, Pranab Mukherjee and even Rajinikanth. But there was nothing on this important constitutional issue.

To be fair, there was nothing from the rest of the BJP for most of the week either. Party chief Rajnath Singh’s terse statement backing the court on Saturday shows us this is the sort of issue that the Hindutvawadis find distasteful and would rather stay away from. But Modi is the man running for the office of Prime Minister. Why is he silent?

It would have been a good opportunity for him to have shown his more liberal values without damaging his Hindutva, anti-Muslim side. He would not have put off any large part of his constituency if he had said a few words in sympathy to the gay community. He chose not to. So why not?

The fact is that he does have an opinion on this, but it runs counter to the media consensus. The media is liberal and was incensed at the order, saying it was a setback to individual rights and a clinging on to the code imposed by colonialists.

Modi is from the old school of morality and doesn’t like the idea of homosexuals, much less making their activity legal. If he were absolutely pressed to weigh in on the subject, he would say that he agreed with the law and the judgement.

But it would have been politically damaging for him to say this, because the attention of the media would turn to the only person swimming against the consensus. This is why he chose to remain silent instead.

This will disappoint those supporters of Modi who have chosen to vote for him based on his non-Hindutva credentials. But it must be recognised that for Modi, his politics and his beliefs are something deeply held.

Attempts to pick and choose some of his aspects and try and imagine him as a new person will always come to grief. Modi is what he has always said he is: a worker of the Rashtriya Swa-yamsevak Sangh, whose ideas are moulded by that body.

ashy medieval help getting out of pocket...,

LATimes | Indian media reported Tuesday that India has retaliated by summoning U.S. Ambassador Nancy Powell and withdrawing all airport passes for U.S. consulate and embassy vehicles, effectively removing their priority treatment and free parking.

It has also asked the U.S to provide information on the salaries paid to all Indian staff employed at U.S. missions in India and those working as domestic help for American families.

It has removed security from around the U.S. Embassy in the leafy Chanakyapuri district of New Delhi. India has also reportedly asked for the visa and bank account details of all teachers working at U.S. schools in the country to determine whether they’re paying tax or not.

And on Tuesday, several senior government ministers and top politicians -- including Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, and Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family leading India's ruling Congress Party -- refused to meet a visiting Congressional delegation.

Members of the delegation included representatives George Holding (R-N.C.), Pete Olson (R-Texas), David Schweikert (R- Ariz.), Robert Woodall (R-Ga.) and Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam).
The kerfuffle comes in advance of a general election expected early next year. Analysts said India’s government, which has presided over several massive scandals and a weak economy, is wary of being accused of lacking patriotism or going soft on foreign policy.

"We are shocked and appalled at the manner in which she has been humiliated by the U.S. authorities,” said Syed Akabaruddin, foreign ministry spokesman, at a briefing Friday. "We are also reiterating, in no uncertain terms, to the U.S. Embassy here that this kind of treatment to one of our diplomats is absolutely unacceptable."

Analysts said the incident underscored anti-American sentiment that is sometimes just below the surface.

“I haven’t been able to understand how people in New York behaved the way they did,” said K. Shankar Bajpai, an analyst with the Delhi Policy Group think tank and a former Indian ambassador to the U.S. “It doesn’t take much to arouse anti-Americanism. It’ll obviously leave a bad taste.”

brahmina's $3.00/hr illegally smuggled peasant nanny forgotten in the infuriated 1% dust-up

IndianExpress | Political parties expressed outrage over the "shameful and barbaric" treatment meted out to Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York and asked the government to take every step matching US action till it gives an unconditional apology.

"The incidents should be condemned by all. More steps should be taken till the US gives an unconditional apology," Union Minister and Congress leader Kamal Nath said as India announced a slew of measures curtailing privileges of US diplomats here. 

"India should take the lead in sending a message to the US authorities," he said. 

Main opposition BJP asked the government to take up the matter strongly with the American establishment and even demanded arrest of American gay partners in India. 

"The way she was arrested after being handcuffed, kept with drug addicts and strip-searched in the police station, that is condemnable, reprehensible and regrettable and in clear violation of conventions," BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said. 

Taking a dig at the UPA government, he said that the treatment given to the Indian diplomat by the US "does not accord to the level of friendship that the Indian government claims to have with the US". 

"We would urge the Indian government, which tries to match each and every step of the US, to take serious action in this matter to establish the Indian sovereignty and prestige of its diplomatic community," he said. 

Reacting sharply to the arrest of the diplomat, former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha said the government should hit back by punishing same sex companions of US diplomats in India following the Supreme Court ruling on gay sex.

never say anything suddenly got a whole lot to say

cbsnews | No U.S. intelligence agency has ever been under the kind of pressure being faced by the National Security Agency after details of some of its most secret programs were leaked by contractor Edward Snowden. Perhaps because of that pressure the agency gave 60 Minutes unprecedented access to NSA headquarters where we were able to speak to employees who have never spoken publicly before.

Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates. It is often said NSA stands for "never say anything," but tonight the agency breaks with that tradition to address serious questions about whether the NSA delves too far into the lives of Americans.

Gen. Keith Alexander: The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that. Our job is foreign intelligence and we're very good at that.

The man in charge is Keith Alexander, a four-star Army general who leads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.  

John Miller: There is a perception out there that the NSA is widely collecting the content of the phone calls of Americans. Is that true?

your tax dollars at work...,

NYTimes | Not limiting their activities to the earthly realm, American and British spies have infiltrated the fantasy worlds of World of Warcraft and Second Life, conducting surveillance and scooping up data in the online games played by millions of people across the globe, according to newly disclosed classified documents. 

Fearing that terrorist or criminal networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, the documents show, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by digital avatars that include elves, gnomes and supermodels. 

The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers, while also collecting data and contents of communications between players, according to the documents, disclosed by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. Because militants often rely on features common to video games — fake identities, voice and text chats, a way to conduct financial transactions — American and British intelligence agencies worried that they might be operating there, according to the papers. 

Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 N.S.A. document warned, but they had the potential to be a “target-rich communication network” allowing intelligence suspects “a way to hide in plain sight.” Virtual games “are an opportunity!” another 2008 N.S.A. document declared.
But for all their enthusiasm — so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat. 

The documents, obtained by The Guardian and shared with The New York Times and ProPublica, do not cite any counterterrorism successes from the effort. Former American intelligence officials, current and former gaming company employees and outside experts said in interviews that they knew of little evidence that terrorist groups viewed the games as havens to communicate and plot operations. 

Games “are built and operated by companies looking to make money, so the players’ identity and activity is tracked,” said Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution, an author of “Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know.” “For terror groups looking to keep their communications secret, there are far more effective and easier ways to do so than putting on a troll avatar.” 

The surveillance, which also included Microsoft’s Xbox Live, could raise privacy concerns. It is not clear exactly how the agencies got access to gamers’ data or communications, how many players may have been monitored or whether Americans’ communications or activities were captured. 

One American company, the maker of World of Warcraft, said that neither the N.S.A. nor its British counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarters, had gotten permission to gather intelligence in its game. Many players are Americans, who can be targeted for surveillance only with approval from the nation’s secret intelligence court. The spy agencies, though, face far fewer restrictions on collecting certain data or communications overseas. 

"We are unaware of any surveillance taking place," said a spokesman for Blizzard Entertainment, based in Irvine, Calif., which makes World of Warcraft. "If it was, it would have been done without our knowledge or permission."  

A spokeswoman for Microsoft declined to comment. Philip Rosedale, the founder of Second Life and a former chief executive officer of Linden Lab, the game’s maker, declined to comment on the spying revelations. Current Linden executives did not respond to requests for comment. 

A Government Communications Headquarters spokesman would neither confirm nor deny any involvement by that agency in gaming surveillance, but said that its work is conducted under “a strict legal and policy framework” with rigorous oversight. An N.S.A. spokeswoman declined to comment.
Intelligence and law enforcement officials became interested in games after some became enormously popular, drawing tens of millions of people worldwide, from preteens to retirees. The games rely on lifelike graphics, virtual currencies and the ability to speak to other players in real time. Some gamers merge the virtual and real worlds by spending long hours playing and making close online friends. 

In World of Warcraft, players share the same fantasy universe — walking around and killing computer-controlled monsters or the avatars of other players, including elves, animals or creatures known as orcs. In Second Life, players create customized human avatars that can resemble themselves or take on other personas — supermodels and bodybuilders are popular — who can socialize, buy and sell virtual goods, and go places like beaches, cities, art galleries and strip clubs. In Microsoft’s Xbox Live service, subscribers connect online in games that can involve activities like playing soccer or shooting at each other in space. 

According to American officials and the documents, spy agencies grew worried that terrorist groups might take to the virtual worlds to establish safe communications channels.

in math and science, the best fend for themselves...,

NYTimes | In a post-smokestack age, there is only one way for the United States to avoid a declining standard of living, and that is through innovation. Advancements in science and engineering have extended life, employed millions and accounted for more than half of American economic growth since World War II, but they are slowing. The nation has to enlarge its pool of the best and brightest science and math students and encourage them to pursue careers that will keep the country competitive. 

But that isn’t happening. Not only do average American students perform poorly compared with those in other countries, but so do the best students, languishing in the middle of the pack as measured by the two leading tests used in international comparisons. 

On the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment test, the most recent, 34 of 65 countries and school systems had a higher percentage of 15-year-olds scoring at the advanced levels in mathematics than the United States did. The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland all had at least twice the proportion of mathematically advanced students as the United States, and many Asian countries had far more than that. 

Other tests have shown that America’s younger students fare better in global comparisons than its older students do, which suggests a disturbing failure of educators to nurture good students as they progress to higher grades. Over all, the United States is largely holding still while foreign competitors are improving rapidly. 

Federal, state and local governments and school districts have put little effort into identifying and developing students of all racial and economic backgrounds, both in terms of intelligence and the sheer grit needed to succeed. There are an estimated three million gifted children in K-12 in the United States, about 6 percent of the student population. Some schools have a challenging curriculum for them, but most do not. 

With money tight at all levels of government, schools have focused on the average and below-average students who make up the bulk of their enrollments, not on the smaller number of students at the top. It is vital that students in the middle get increased attention, as the new Common Core standards are designed to do, but when the brightest students are not challenged academically, they lose steam and check out. 

Analysts and scholars have studied international trends and identified the familiar ingredients of a high-performing educational system: high standards and expectations; creative and well-designed coursework; enhanced status, development and pay of teachers; and a culture where academic achievement is valued, parents are deeply involved and school leaders insist on excellence. 

But raising the performance of the best students will require the country to do far more. Here are a few recommendations:

no math gene

sciencedaily | What makes someone good at math? A love of numbers, perhaps, but a willingness to practice, too. And even if you are good at one specific type of math, you can't trust your innate abilities enough to skip practicing other types if you want to be good.

New research at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim could have an effect on how math is taught. If you want to be really good at all types of math, you need to practice them all. You can't trust your innate natural talent to do most of the job for you.

This might seem obvious to some, but it goes against the traditional view that if you are good at math, it is a skill that you are simply born with.

Professor Hermundur Sigmundsson at Department of Psychology is one of three researchers involved in the project. The results have been published in Psychological Reports.

The numbers The researchers tested the math skills of 70 Norwegian fifth graders, aged 10.5 years on average. Their results suggest that it is important to practice every single kind of math subject to be good at all of them, and that these skills aren't something you are born with.

"We found support for a task specificity hypothesis. You become good at exactly what you practice," Sigmundsson says.

Nine types of math tasks were tested, from normal addition and subtraction, both orally and in writing, to oral multiplication and understanding the clock and the calendar.

"Our study shows little correlation between (being good at) the nine different mathematical skills, Sigmundsson said. "For instance there is little correlation between being able to solve a normal addition in the form of '23 + 67' and addition in the form of a word problem."

This example might raise a few eyebrows. Perhaps basic math is not a problem for the student, but the reading itself is. Up to 20 per cent of Norwegian boys in secondary school have problems with reading. Sigmundsson also finds support in everyday examples.

"Some students will be good at geometry, but not so good at algebra," he says.
If that is the case they have to practice more algebra, which is the area where most students in secondary school have problems.

Monday, December 16, 2013

one of WW-II's darkest secrets...,

Japan's Dirty Secret: The truth about Japan's secret facility at Harbin, used to manufacture germs that infected and killed thousands of Chinese during World War II.

Memories of Japanese war crimes continue to poison Japan's relations with its neighbours. Many Chinese are still suffering the effects of a vicious campaign of germ warfare.

"Our unit did things no human being should ever do," confesses Unit 731 member Yoshio Shinozuka. His unit developed the deadly pathogens which were used to infect 250,000 Chinese. Japan's refusal to apologise for its actions, or to acknowledge Unit 731's existence, has further upset its victims.

A film by ABC Australia - Ref. 1654

"scientific" racism on the ropes among educated highschoolers...,

evolution-outreach | This research investigated the knowledge of the complex concept of evolution in a sample (n=1108) of final-year high school students of Rome. Particular attention was given to the evolution of Homo sapiens and to human diversity at the biological and cultural level. Obtained results were analysed in relation to the socio-cultural context of the students. The final objective of the research is to provide teachers, curriculum developers and policy makers with results on basic knowledge on evolution and human diversity of students who are to face the University.

Methods - The research was conducted using an ad hoc questionnaire in five scientific (Liceo scientifico) and four humanistic (Liceo classico) high schools of Rome. The research involved the final-year students, those who are supposed to have a global basic knowledge of cultural and biological aspects of the evolutionary theory. The research project, its aims and modes of realisation were presented and discussed in detail with Deans, teachers and students of the Institutions that volunteered to participate.

Results - The results show: (1) good knowledge and substantial acceptance of the evolutionary perspective; (2) that cultural and biological diversity are considered as decisive factors in modelling the present-day differences between human groups; (3) that, nonetheless, more than half the students still hold to a classificatory conception of human populations; (4) that the family cultural background is significantly relevant in the education of children.

Conclusions - Results of the research highlight some useful recommendations that should contribute to the work of teachers, curriculum developers and policy makers as they refer to what students have learned about evolution and human diversity. These results confirm the fundamental importance of investment in education.

why are bacteria different from eukaryotes?

biomedcentral | It is true that over the past 15 or 20 years we have identified a surprisingly large number of molecular similarities between bacterial cells and eukaryotic cells. Of course we have known about the profound similarities across the entire phylogenetic tree of life in many of the machines of the central dogma (ribosomes, polymerases, and so on) and the enzymes of central metabolism, but now we’ve also found homologs of the major eukaryotic cytoskeletal proteins in bacteria and many other surprises. But it is still a fundamental observable fact that the vast majority of bacterial cells are physically small and morphologically simple compared with the vast majority of eukaryotic cells. There are certainly exceptions to this - there are bacteria that are large and complicated and there are eukaryotes that are small and simple - but if you just look at any random bacterium versus a random eukaryote, it is clear that there is a fundamental quantitative and qualitative difference in size and complexity. Archaea, which make up the third major domain of life, have some molecular signatures that seem quite similar to those in eukaryotes [1], but morphologically they look very much like bacteria. Indeed this is the reason that we didn’t recognize them as a distinct domain until very recently [2]. The overall argument about the origins of morphological complexity that I want to make here applies equally to bacteria and archaea, but I’m going to focus on bacteria for specific examples just because we know so much more about them. 

The most obvious difference between eukaryotes and bacteria is that there is a membrane-bounded nucleus in eukaryotes and not in bacteria - again, for the most part: there is a bacterium with the wonderful name Gemmata obscuriglobus that is described as having a double membrane enclosing the DNA in a nucleus-like structure [3], although the structure is apparently contiguous with the plasma membrane [4], so in that sense it is very different from a eukaryotic nuclear membrane and this is certainly a special case. But leaving that example aside, the main consequence biologically of having a membrane-enclosed nucleus is that transcription and translation are uncoupled. So there is a fundamental kinetic and organizational difference between eukaryotes and bacteria in the way that genetic information is expressed in the form of protein and is therefore allowed to be converted into cellular structure, function and organization.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

anyone misunderstanding the genesis of the Evengelii Gaudium simply hasn't been paying attention...,

wikipedia | The 1998–2002 Argentine great depression was a major economic depression that began in the third quarter of 1998 and lasted till the second quarter of 2002.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] It almost immediately followed the great depression of 1974–1990 after a brief period of economic growth.[6]

The depression, which began due to the Russian and Brazilian financial crises and worsened after the dot-com bubble burst,[1][2] caused widespread unemployment, riots, the fall of the government, a default on the country’s foreign debt, the rise of alternative currencies and the end of the peso’s fixed exchange rate to the US dollar.[1][2] The economy shrank by 28 percent.[3][7] Over 50 percent of Argentines were poor, and the indigents amounted 25 percent; seven out of ten Argentine children were poor.[2][7]

By 2002 GDP growth had returned, surprising economists and the business media,[8][9] and the economy began to grow at an average 9% per year.[10][11] In 2005, Argentina’s GDP exceeded pre-crisis level. As of 2013, the default had not been completely resolved, although the government had repaid its IMF loans in full.

FAR more impressed with Pope Francis than I am with myself....,

collapseofindustrialcivilization | What is often lost in our current infatuation with Enlightenment thinking is the degree to which the Pre-Enlightenment Church managed commerce, financing, and general market forces. In fact, the Church maintained an iron hand on issues such as usury, which was condemned and not distinguished from the “normal” practice of charging interest until the late 19th century.

In the age of Church hegemony, which lasted for centuries, it was considered immoral, and grossly so, to profit in any way through trade, charging interest, or commerce which resulted in a profit without actually performing any work. specifically, any rent seeking activity was forbidden.

Things that are considered commonplace today, such as raising prices for items needed in a disaster, (supply and demand) were thoroughly rejected by the Church and considered inconceivable during that time. Thomas Aquinas brought forth these concepts in the theory of Just Price in his Summa Theologica circa 1274 AD. Although this was clearly a Pre-Capitalist economy, much learning was put towards strict management of commerce dating back to the money changers being expelled from the temple in Biblical times- a theme oft repeated through the Dark Ages and well beyond.

For centuries, civilizations knew full well the dangers of markets and unconstrained commerce, and there is more than a passing connection between this realization and theology, present in virtually all religions throughout time.

This reality has been brought to the fore with the recent, and controversial, exhortation Evengelii Gaudium from the Roman Catholic Pope. Pundits have been zeroing in on the more provocative aspects after his release of the document last month. I’ve read all 244 pages of it and I’m here to tell you that he has pretty well burned down the Christian right’s moralistic narrative along with a good bit of the more mainstream conservative cohort.

For those who have dismissed previous Papal exhortations (as well as any other messaging, written or otherwise delivered) as irrelevant and hypocritical drivel, and I count myself on this list, the recent missive is a shocker. Let’s take a look as some selected passages:

if you arrange a society based on science and technology, but the masses are ignorant of science and technology....,

Saturday, December 14, 2013

seduction and fascination of the infrasexual psyche...,

Exemplary Compilation of the Fascist Gestalt

Why A Middle-Aged White Man Allegedly Decided He Was Going To Bomb A Kansas Airport

BI | Federal officials arrested 58-year-old Terry Lee Loewen on Friday as part of a sting operation into an alleged plot to detonate a car bomb at the Wichita, Kansas airport.

The criminal complaint contains parts of conversations between Loewen, who was reportedly self-radicalized, and an FBI agent who was working undercover.

In these online conversations, Loewen allegedly reveals why he was plotting to bomb the airport. Fist tap Big Don.

when knowledge, love, and work are stunted and frustrated....,

Hermes Press Review of Listen Little Man

wikilivres.ca | Listen, Little Man! Is a human and not a scientific document. It was written in the summer of 1945 for the Archives of the Orgone Institute without the intention of publishing it. It was the result of the inner storms and conflicts of a natural scientist and physician who watched, over decade first naively, then with amazement and finally with horror, what the Little Man in the street does to himself; how he suffers and rebels, how he esteems his enemies and murders his friends; how, wherever he gains power as a ‘representative of the – people’ he misuses this power and makes it into something more cruel than the power which previously he had to suffer at the hands of individual sadists of the upper classes. 

This “Talk” to the Little Man was the quiet answer to gossip and defamation. For decades, the emotional plague has tried again and again to kill orgone research (note well: not to prove it incorrect, but to kill it by defamation). Orgone research carries a very heavy responsibility for human life and health. The fact justifies the publication of this ‘Talk’ or a historical document. It seemed necessary for the ‘man in the street’ to learn what goes on in a scientific workshop and also to learn what he looks like to an experienced psychiatrist. He must learn to know reality, which alone can counteract his disastrous craving for authority. He must be told clearly what responsibility he carries, whether he works, loves, hates or gossips. He must learn how he becomes a Fascist, be it the black or red variety. He who fights for the safeguarding of the living and the protection of our children must needs be against the red as well as the black Fascist. Not because today the red Fascist, like the black Fascist before him, has a murderous ideology, but because he turns lively and healthy children into cripples, robots and moral idiots; because with him, the state comes before right, the lie before truth, war before life; because the child, and the safeguarding of the living in the child, remains our only hope. There is only one loyalty for the educator and physician: that to the living in the child and the patient. If this loyalty is strictly adhered to, the great questions of ‘foreign politics’ also find their simple solution. 

This ‘Talk’ does not imply that one should make it the pattern of one’s existence. It describes storms in the emotional life of a productive, happy individual. It does not want a, convince or win anybody. It pictures experience as a painting pictures a thunderstorm. The reader is not asked to like it. He may read it or not. It does not contain any intentions or programmes. All it wants to do is to win for the researcher and thinker the right to personal reaction, which one has never denied, to the poet or philosopher. It is a protest against the secret and unrecognized intention of the emotional plague to shoot its poison arrows at the hard-working researcher, from a safe ambush. It shows what the emotional plague is, how it functions and retards progress. It also attests to the confidence in the tremendous un-mined treasures, which lie in the depth of human nature: ready to be put in the service of fulfilling human hopes. 

The living, in its social and human interrelationship, is naively kindly and thus, under prevailing conditions, endangered. It assumes that the fellow human also follows the laws of the living and is kindly, helpful and giving. As long a. then is the emotional plague, this natural basic attitude that of the healthy child or the primitive, becomes the greatest danger in the struggle for a rational order of life. For the plague individual also ascribes to his fellow beings the characteristics of his own thinking and acting. The kindly individual believes that all people are kindly and act accordingly. The plague individual believes that all people lie, swindle, steal and crave power. Clearly, then, the living is at a disadvantage and in danger. Where it gives to the plague individual it is sucked dry and then derided or betrayed; and where it trusts it is cheated. 

That’s the way it has always been. It is time for the living a, become hard when hardness is needed in the struggle for its safeguarding and development; in doing so, it will not lose its kindness if it sticks to the truth courageously. There is hope in the fact that, among millions of industrious, decent individuals then an always only just a few pestilential individuals who cause murderous mischief by appealing to the dark nod dangerous impulses in the structure of the armored mass individual and lend them to organized political murder. There is only one antidote to the germs of the emotional plague in the mass individual: his own feeling of living life. The living dots not ask for power but for its proper role in human life. It is based on the three pillars of love, work and knowledge He who has to protect the living against the emotional plague has to lean to use the right to free speech as we enjoy it in America at least as well for the good as the emotional plague misuses it for the bad. Granted equal right in the depression of opinion, the rational finally must win out. This is an important hope.

the modern default configuration when isht gets real....,

ecowatch | Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts. The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S.

But within Japan, a new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law “represents a coup d’etat” leading to “the recreation of a fascist state.” The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to “conspiracy” laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been leading Japan in an increasingly militaristic direction. Tensions have increased with China. Massive demonstrations have been renounced with talk of “treason.” 
But it’s Fukushima that hangs most heavily over the nation and the world.

Tokyo Electric Power has begun the bring-down of hot fuel rods suspended high in the air over the heavily damaged Unit Four. The first assemblies it removed may have contained unused rods. The second may have been extremely radioactive.

But Tepco has clamped down on media coverage and complains about news helicopters filming the fuel rod removal.

Under the new State Secrets Act, the government could ban—and arrest—all independent media under any conditions at Fukushima, throwing a shroud of darkness over a disaster that threatens us all.

By all accounts, whatever clean-up is possible will span decades. The town of Fairfax, CA, has now called for a global takeover at Fukushima. More than 150,000 signees have asked the UN for such intervention.

As a private corporation, Tepco is geared to cut corners, slash wages and turn the clean-up into a private profit center.

It will have ample opportunity. The fuel pool at Unit Four poses huge dangers that could take years to sort out. But so do the ones at Units One, Two and Three. The site overall is littered with thousands of intensely radioactive rods and other materials whose potential fallout is thousands of times greater than what hit Hiroshima in 1945.

Soon after the accident, Tepco slashed the Fukushima workforce. It has since restored some of it, but has cut wages. Shady contractors shuttle in hundreds of untrained laborers to work in horrific conditions. Reuters says the site is heaving infiltrated by organized crime, raising the specter of stolen radioactive materials for dirty bombs and more.

Thousands of tons of radioactive water now sit in leaky tanks built by temporary workers who warn of their shoddy construction. They are sure to collapse with a strong earthquake.

Tepco says it may just dump the excess water into the Pacific anyway. Nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani has advocated the water be stored in supertankers until it can be treated, but the suggestion has been ignored.

the longterm unemployed are doomed

slate | There had been a fair amount of buzz around the idea that the budget mini-deal being hashed out between Paul Ryan and Patty Murray might include some extra money to extend unemployment insurance benefits for the long-term unemployed. But Republicans didn't like the idea, and Democrats didn't want to bust up the deal over it, so now folks who've been jobless for an extended period of time are going to lose their benefits at the end of the year.

One consequence of this is that the unemployment rate will almost certainly go down, since some fairly substantial fraction of the long-term unemployed will just stop looking for a job and drop out of the labor force. If you're long-term unemployed, then almost by definition looking for work has not been very successful at getting you work. What it has gotten you is a UI check. Take away the check, there's no point in bothering, and so the denominator in the unemployment rate falls and thus the unemployment rate falls.

The bad news is that the long-term unemployed are screwed.

In effect, when companies are looking to hire people, they scan through the résumés they get in the mail and their first step is to throw out all the résumés of people who've been unemployed for a long time. This is research based on pretty well-designed experiments that control for other variables beyond long-term unemployment. You should feel free to see that as a vile form of discrimination, or as a sensible business heuristic according to your temperament. The point is that the people who are about to lose UI benefits are not going to be able to find jobs. Not today, not after they lose benefits. In fact, they probably won't be able to find jobs ever.

Mailing unemployment insurance checks to people who aren't so much unemployed as unemployable is obviously not an ideal public policy. But simply doing nothing for them is cruel and insane. The time-tested way of re-employing a large mass of long-term unemployed is to fight a major world war with Germany and Japan. The circumstances of mobilizing for major armed conflict in 1940–42 proved that when you really want to put people to work, it can be done. So it's always possible that the Senkaku Islands will come to the rescue. But large-scale armed conflict has a lot of offsetting negative consequences. What we need are targeted "mobilization" programs that don't rely on the outbreak of an enormous war. That would take, I think, two major forms.

One is direct government hiring of the long-term unemployed to do some kind of public service work. Making this happen would require you to go outside the standard civil service and federal contracting frameworks, which obviously neither civil servants nor federal contractors are going to like. But it has the job-creating punch of a major war without all the death and destruction. The other is relocation assistance. The metropolitan areas of Bismarck, Fargo, Grand Forks, Sioux Falls, Ames, Iowa City, Lincoln (Neb.), Midland, Burlington, Mankato (Minn.), Logan, Rochester (Minn.), Billings, Dubuque, Morgantown, Odessa, Rapid City, Omaha, Waterloo (Iowa), Columbia (Mo.), and St. Cloud all have unemployment rates below 4 percent. Those are the kind of places where the labor market is tight enough that discrimination against the long-term unemployed shouldn't be a major factor. There's work to be done in these towns, and evidently most people are reluctant to move to small isolated cities in extremely cold locations (also Midland, which isn't cold). Grant programs to connect the long-term unemployed with job opportunities on the Plains and offer financial assistance for relocation could do a lot of good.

Friday, December 13, 2013

a hero to THEM = a villain to US

medialens |  As discussed, many journalists have rightly praised Mandela's forgiveness. But the state-corporate system also has a generous capacity for excusing torturers, dictators, terrorists, and even former enemies like Mandela - anyone who serves the deep interests of power and profit in some way.

John Pilger noted of Mandela:

'The sheer grace and charm of the man made you feel good. He chuckled about his elevation to sainthood. "That's not the job I applied for," he said dryly.'

But Mandela 'was well used to deferential interviews and I was ticked off several times - "you completely forgot what I said" and "I have already explained that matter to you". In brooking no criticism of the African National Congress (ANC), he revealed something of why millions of South Africans will mourn his passing but not his "legacy".'

Once in power, Pilger explained, the ANC's official policy to end the impoverishment of most South Africans was abandoned, with one of his ministers boasting that the ANC's politics were Thatcherite:

'Few ordinary South Africans were aware that this "process" had begun in high secrecy more than two years before Mandela's release when the ANC in exile had, in effect, done a deal with prominent members of the Afrikaaner elite at meetings in a stately home, Mells Park House, near Bath. The prime movers were the corporations that had underpinned apartheid...
'With democratic elections in 1994, racial apartheid was ended, and economic apartheid had a new face.' (See Pilger's 1998 film, Apartheid Did Not Die, for further analysis)

In 2001, George Soros told the Davos Economic Forum: 'South Africa is in the hands of international capital.'

Patrick Bond, director of the centre for civil society and a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, commented:

'I happened to work in his office twice, '94 and '96, and saw these policies being pushed on Mandela by international finance and domestic business and a neoliberal conservative faction within his own party.'

Bond paraphrased the view of former minister of intelligence and minister of water Ronnie Kasrils, 'probably the country's greatest white revolutionary ever', who described how 'as a ruler Mandela gave in way too much to rich people. So he replaced racial apartheid with class apartheid'.

Bond argues that 'big business basically said, we will get out of our relationship with the Afrikaner rulers if you let us keep, basically, our wealth intact and indeed to take the wealth abroad'.

In the Independent, Andrew Buncombe reported that 'for many in Alexandra, and in countless similar places across the country, the situation in some respects is today little different' from before Mandela began his liberation struggle:

'Figures released last year following a census showed that while the incomes of black households had increased by an average of 169 per cent over the past ten years, they still represented a sixth of those of white households.'

Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook also recognised Mandela's 'huge achievement in helping to bring down South African apartheid'. But:

'Mandela was rehabilitated into an "elder statesman" in return for South Africa being rapidly transformed into an outpost of neoliberalism, prioritising the kind of economic apartheid most of us in the west are getting a strong dose of now.'

And Mandela was used:

'After finally being allowed to join the western "club", he could be regularly paraded as proof of the club's democratic credentials and its ethical sensibility... He was forced to become a kind of Princess Diana, someone we could be allowed to love because he rarely said anything too threatening to the interests of the corporate elite who run the planet.'

This helps explain why Mandela is feted as a political saint, while late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who profoundly challenged economic apartheid in Latin America, was a 'controversial', 'anti-American bogeymen', a 'people's hero and villain' who had 'pissed away' his country's wealth, for the BBC. Chavez was a peddler of 'strutting and narcissistic populism' for the Guardian. Rory Carroll, the paper's lead reporter on Venezuela between 2006-2012, commented:

'To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.' 

For the Independent, Chavez was 'egotistical, bombastic and polarising', 'no run-of-the-mill dictator'. He was 'divisive' for the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph, and 'reckless' for the Economist.

Chavez's real crime was that he presented a serious threat to the state-corporate system of which these media are an integral part.

welcome to the memory hole...,

tomdispatch | Even if some future government stepped over one of the last remaining red lines in our world and simply assassinated whistleblowers as they surfaced, others would always emerge. Back in 1948, in his eerie novel 1984, however, Orwell suggested a far more diabolical solution to the problem. He conjured up a technological device for the world of Big Brother that he called "the memory hole." In his dark future, armies of bureaucrats, working in what he sardonically dubbed the Ministry of Truth, spent their lives erasing or altering documents, newspapers, books, and the like in order to create an acceptable version of history. When a person fell out of favor, the Ministry of Truth sent him and all the documentation relating to him down the memory hole. Every story or report in which his life was in any way noted or recorded would be edited to eradicate all traces of him.

In Orwell's pre-digital world, the memory hole was a vacuum tube into which old documents were physically disappeared forever. Alterations to existing documents and the deep-sixing of others ensured that even the sudden switching of global enemies and alliances would never prove a problem for the guardians of Big Brother. In the world he imagined, thanks to those armies of bureaucrats, the present was what had always been -- and there were those altered documents to prove it and nothing but faltering memories to say otherwise. Anyone who expressed doubts about the truth of the present would, under the rubric of “thoughtcrime,” be marginalized or eliminated.

Government and Corporate Digital Censorship
Increasingly, most of us now get our news, books, music, TV, movies, and communications of every sort electronically. These days, Google earns more advertising revenue than all U.S. print media combined. Even the venerable Newsweek no longer publishes a paper edition. And in that digital world, a certain kind of “simplification” is being explored.