Friday, February 21, 2014

the face of the watcher that was never to be seen...,

browsing zerohedge from behind the watchers' firewall...,

tomsdispatch | Here, at least, is a place to start: intelligence officials have weighed in with an estimate of just how many secret files National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden took with him when he headed for Hong Kong last June. Brace yourself: 1.7 million.  At least they claim that as the number he or his web crawler accessed before he left town.  Let’s assume for a moment that it’s accurate and add a caveat.  Whatever he had with him on those thumb drives when he left the agency, Edward Snowden did not take all the NSA’s classified documents.  Not by a long shot.  He only downloaded a portion of them.  We don’t have any idea what percentage, but assumedly millions of NSA secret documents did not get the Snowden treatment.

Such figures should stagger us and what he did take will undoubtedly occupy journalists for months or years more (and historians long after that).  Keep this in mind, however: the NSA is only one of 17 intelligence outfits in what is called the U.S. Intelligence Community.  Some of the others are as large and well funded, and all of them generate their own troves of secret documents, undoubtedly stretching into the many millions.

And keep something else in mind: that’s just intelligence agencies.  If you’re thinking about the full sweep of our national security state (NSS), you also have to include places like the Department of Homeland Security, the Energy Department (responsible for the U.S. nuclear arsenal), and the Pentagon.  In other words, we’re talking about the kind of secret documentation that an army of journalists, researchers, and historians wouldn’t have a hope of getting through, not in a century.

We do know that, in 2011, the whole government reportedly classified 92,064,862 documents. If accurate and reasonably typical, that means, in the twenty-first century, the NSS has already generated hundreds of millions of documents that could not be read by an American without a security clearance.  Of those, thanks to one man (via various journalists), we have had access to a tiny percentage of perhaps 1.7 million of them.  Or put another way, you, the voter, the taxpayer, the citizen -- in what we still like to think of as a democracy -- are automatically excluded from knowing or learning about most of what the national security state does in your name.  That’s unless, of course, its officials decide to selectively cherry-pick information they feel you are capable of safely and securely absorbing, or an Edward Snowden releases documents to the world over the bitter protests, death threats, and teeth gnashing of Washington officialdom and retired versions of the same.

the face of money when nobody's supposed to be watching...,

nymag |  As I walked through the streets of midtown in my ill-fitting tuxedo, I thought about the implications of what I’d just seen.

The first and most obvious conclusion was that the upper ranks of finance are composed of people who have completely divorced themselves from reality. No self-aware and socially conscious Wall Street executive would have agreed to be part of a group whose tacit mission is to make light of the financial sector’s foibles. Not when those foibles had resulted in real harm to millions of people in the form of foreclosures, wrecked 401(k)s, and a devastating unemployment crisis.

The second thing I realized was that Kappa Beta Phi was, in large part, a fear-based organization. Here were executives who had strong ideas about politics, society, and the work of their colleagues, but who would never have the courage to voice those opinions in a public setting. Their cowardice had reduced them to sniping at their perceived enemies in the form of satirical songs and sketches, among only those people who had been handpicked to share their view of the world. And the idea of a reporter making those views public had caused them to throw a mass temper tantrum.

The last thought I had, and the saddest, was that many of these self-righteous Kappa Beta Phi members had surely been first-year bankers once. And in the 20, 30, or 40 years since, something fundamental about them had changed. Their pursuit of money and power had removed them from the larger world to the sad extent that, now, in the primes of their careers, the only people with whom they could be truly themselves were a handful of other prominent financiers.

Perhaps, I realized, this social isolation is why despite extraordinary evidence to the contrary, one-percenters like Ross keep saying how badly persecuted they are. When you’re a member of the fraternity of money, it can be hard to see past the foie gras to the real world.

what blood vs. money conflict looks like

angelfire | If you ask me what caused this war the shortest answer it is war of money against people. On one hand we have no support from West because our government made of uber rich who very well connected to wealthy elite on the West. On the other hand our president have support from bloody dictator Putin. Combination of this two factors works for president and works against people of Ukraine. 

This is what Spengler meant when he was talking about final struggle of money against blood. (Oswald Spengler "Decline of the West") 

the ukraine situation explained in one map

zerohedge |  Sadly, everything you need to know about the crisis in Ukraine in one worrisome map which summarizes all the relevant "red lines."

Given this - is there any doubt this will not end with peaceful resolution.

As Martin Armstrong warned this morning:
BOTH the USA and EU will now fund the rebels as Russia will fund Yanukovych. At the political level, Ukraine is the pawn on the chessboard. The propaganda war is East v West. However, those power plays are masking the core issue that began with the Orange Revolution – corruption. Yanukovych is a dictator who will NEVER leave office. It is simple as that. There will be no REAL elections again in Ukraine. This is starting to spiral down into a confrontation that the entire world cannot ignore.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

don't let the weed babysit your seed...,

mainstreet |  A Libertarian pot advocate turned opponent, Dr. Christian Thurstone, is at ground zero in the marijuana legalization battle. The medical director of a large Colorado youth drug treatment clinic; an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver; and one of a small number of doctors board certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry, he has unique insight into the marijuana momentum sweeping the nation.

Thurstone believes that marijuana legalization is a disaster in the making. He is not shy about saying so. His experience with Colorado toe-in-the-water legalization of marijuana for medical purposes was his epiphany.

He noticed back in 2009, when Colorado began providing "medical" marijuana for its residents, that his clinic's clientele tripled: 95% of his patients came for marijuana addiction. He learned from his teenage clients that "medical" marijuana was easy to score on the streets. But the potency was increasing from medical grade. Soon his young clients would tell him how marijuana was their preferred medicine for relieving stress and anxiety.

Eventually, these young addicts came in with "medical" marijuana licenses. It was at this point Thurstone felt he needed to act. He wrote a piece for the Denver Post criticizing medical marijuana laws in January 2010 titled "Smoke and Mirrors: Colorado Teenagers and Marijuana."

Thurstone made some fighting points. "What Colorado has created is a backdoor way to legalize marijuana, and it has done so in a manner that makes a mockery of responsible medicine," he wrote.

He elaborated on this point by writing: "Let's stop talking in terms of smoked marijuana's medicinal value because we're not even close to knowing what that is. Let's instead answer the question that's truly at the heart of all of this political wrangling: Is smoking marijuana a civil right? Before answering that question, Colorado should carefully study the social costs of accidents, aggression, school dropouts, STDs and teen pregnancy that will inevitably be the result of increased marijuana use."

Five years later Thurstone continues his crusade. During an interview on Denver's KUSA television station in January, Thurstone was quoted as saying, "We're seeing a lot more patients, a lot more youth coming to treatment for marijuana addiction....If somebody tries marijuana before the age of 18, one in six develops an addiction to the drug. If someone waits until after 18, the number is more like one in nine."

"We have good reason to believe from both animal and human studies that exposure to marijuana during this important time of brain development can permanently change the way the brain develops," he added. "We have good evidence showing that marijuana exposure in adolescents confers up to an eight-point drop in IQ from age 13 to 38. We know that youth who use marijuana are two times more likely to develop psychosis as young adults."

is the war on weed a war on the elderly?

ladybud |  The War on Weed is actually a War on the Elderly. Prohibition causes millions of our parents and grandparents to die earlier and in more pain because they have no knowledge or access to one of mankind’s oldest safest medicines. I’m a scientist currently doing research for a graphic novel about the human endocannabinoid system. It took me a year and a half in the scientific literature before I realized the truth: cannabis is the closest medicine humans have to a panacea for the many diseases of aging.

Anyone reading this article understands the criminal stupidity of denying the medical benefits of cannabis. However, few of us realize the extent of this injustice against the elderly. The sheer expanse of diseases is astounding and the mountains of evidence overpowering. Cannabis helps with so many basic problems of aging: it lowers inflammation across the body, lessening aches, migraines and arthritis. By itself, it’s helpful against pain and it enhances the other painkillers so a patient needs less addictive opiates with just a few puffs of pot. It eases nausea from chemotherapy, treats sleep apnea, raises bone density for osteoporosis and protects the GI tract. It prevents heart attacks and lessens the neurotoxicity of strokes if applied immediately (the federal Health & Human Services even has a patent for this cannabinoid neuroprotection. This makes it even more ironic when the DEA claims ‘no medical benefit’). For as yet unknown reasons, cannabis works especially well for movement disorders like Parkinson’s and the self-attacking autoimmune disorders like Crohn’s disease

Cannabis slows the viruses of herpes and HIV, the prions of Mad Cow disease and even destroys the MRSA bacteria in a test tube (this drug resistant staph infection now kills more people than HIV every year and we have no new antibiotics left to kill it – except for the cannabinoids from that wicked weed). Our brain overflows with cannabinoid receptors that protect against MS, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. Cannabis attacks and prevents cancer by several different pathways and it often eases depression. As the colorful Colorado activist Bill Althouse says, “If you’re over 50 years old and you don’t have 50 mg of CBD in your system every day, you’re an idiot.”

banks still redlining weed bidnis

usatoday | The marijuana industry just got a critical boost in its effort to become a massive and completely legitimate business.

On Friday, two federal law-enforcement agencies released coordinated statements clearing the way for banks to take deposits from and offer financial services to marijuana producers and retailers without fear of prosecution for money laundering.

To say that this will ignite a revolution in the still upstart industry would be an egregious understatement.

"It is imperative that this legal industry have access to banking the same as every other business sector," said Mike Elliot, executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. "To continue doing business on a largely cash basis creates serious safety issues for owners, employees, and customers."

An industry awash in cash
As the legal marijuana industry develops in Colorado and Washington entrepreneurs have run up against a major problem: Banks won't provide them financial services or, for that matter, even accept their deposits, leaving retailers and wholesalers awash in copious amounts cash.
The reason is that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal law. As a result, banking statutes and regulations make it a crime for financial companies to handle the proceeds of any business engaged in the production, distribution, or sale of the drug. In short, it would be considered money laundering.

While the coordinated guidance issued at the end of last week by the departments of Justice and Treasury doesn't change this, it does send a strong signal to financial institutions that they won't be prosecuted for providing services to the marijuana industry so long as their customers don't run afoul of eight "enforcement priorities" laid out by the Justice Department in the middle of last year.
These include preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, and preventing the interstate trafficking of marijuana, among others. Short of "significant" violations like these, the Justice Department is now instructing its law-enforcement officers to concentrate their "limited investigative and prosecutorial resources" elsewhere.

colorado weed market exceeds tax hopes

yahoo |  Colorado's legal marijuana market is far exceeding tax expectations, according to a budget proposal released Wednesday by Gov. John Hickenlooper that gives the first official estimate of how much the state expects to make from pot taxes.

The proposal outlines plans to spend some $99 million next fiscal year on substance abuse prevention, youth marijuana use prevention and other priorities. The money would come from a statewide 12.9 percent sales tax on recreational pot. Colorado's total pot sales next fiscal year were estimated to be about $610 million.

Retail sales began Jan. 1 in Colorado. Sales have been strong, though exact figures for January sales won't be made public until early next month.

The governor predicted sales and excise taxes next fiscal year would produce some $98 million, well above a $70 million annual estimate given to voters when they approved the pot taxes last year. The governor also includes taxes from medical pot, which are subject only to the statewide 2.9 percent sales tax.

Washington state budget forecasters released a projection Wednesday for that state, where retail sales don't begin for a few months.

Economic forecasters in Olympia predicted that the state's new legal recreational marijuana market will bring nearly $190 million to state coffers over four years starting in mid-2015. Washington state sets budgets biennially.

In Colorado, Hickenlooper's proposal listed six priorities for spending the pot sales taxes.
The spending plan included $45.5 million for youth use prevention, $40.4 million for substance abuse treatment and $12.4 million for public health.

"We view our top priority as creating an environment where negative impacts on children from marijuana legalization are avoided completely," Hickenlooper wrote in a letter to legislative budget writers, which must approve the plan.

anslinger (oops, I mean bensinger) crying like a little...,

yahoo | These days, former DEA administrator Peter Bensinger is like a lonely voice crying out in the wilderness – an anti-drug crusader who served three American presidents, now battling the perils of pot at a time when legalization is all the rage.

“I think it’s a disaster,” he told “Power Players” of the rapid growth in sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington and medicinal pot in 18 other states.

It “will damage the young people in that state. It will damage the industries in the state, and put the highways in jeopardy,” he said. “Plus, it's against federal law and the Constitution and our international treaties.”

Bensinger argued that the public, and politicians now pushing to legalize the drug, have been duped by the “myth” that marijuana can do no harm.

“You'll dissipate a drink in about an hour per drink; marijuana can stay in your body for a week,” he said. “It goes to where we're fattest, which is our brain. … It causes short-term memory loss if used chronically. It impacts on the immune system if used regularly. It affects your depth perception.”
He said recent statistics show a spike in traffic fatalities from drivers high on pot and a significant influx in hospital emergency room visits due to overuse of the drug.

As for President Obama’s claim in a recent interview with “The New Yorker” that marijuana isn’t more dangerous than alcohol, Bensinger said it’s just flat wrong.

“I don't agree with the president at all and neither does his director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, nor the American Medical Association. They both say marijuana is not safe,” he said. “The Food and Drug Administration, not legislators, should decide what's medicine. And the Congress should decide, not the president of the United States, what's legal.”

The Obama administration’s decision not to enforce federal statutes that conflict with the legal distribution of pot in Colorado and Washington also puts many DEA field agents in those states in a bind, Bensinger said.

“You think that this world is strange because you took an oath of office to uphold the law and the constitution of the United States and enforce the federal laws,” he said of the DEA agents in states where marijuana is legal. “And you've got a president who is unwilling to do it.”

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

common sense and human perspective....,

kcstar |  The streets of Kansas City are for everyone. White people, black people, rich people, poor people and everyone else.

When young people gather in one place or another, they tend to operate on their own rhythms and their own systems of friendship, fun and social interaction. Sometimes a few young people out for a good time cause problems for others. 

Sometimes those problems are internal — within their own groups, that is — and fights need to be broken up. This is the eternal history of kids. But, sometimes the problems are provocative and extend beyond their groups, prompting, when necessary, efforts on behalf of public safety.

When crowds of black youths gather on the Country Club Plaza, there is no inherent problem. This is their town, too. Sure, some of them, like other unruly kids, ought to be better behaved and better controlled by their parents and their peers.

Still there is no public crisis unless real violence erupts, as when gunfire disturbed a summer night on the Plaza in 2011 and wounded three teenagers. 

Last Saturday night, as many as 150 black youths strolled and congregated on the Plaza. At 8:15, a few unruly teens had been ejected from a movie theater and disturbances broke out in the streets nearby. It took Kansas City police nearly two hours to restore order, and once again it caused citizens to wonder what could or should be done.

A summertime curfew did not apply in this case, and organized weekend activities for kids were not available as they are in warmer months.

Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté properly vowed to crack down on rowdy teens, intending to send more officers, some of them undercover, to watch for troublemakers on the Plaza, especially on Saturday nights. And he urged more cooperation by civic leaders and parents to address the problem of wandering teens with nothing better to do than jaywalk and assert their toughness.

A city youth commission — including teens, college students and representatives of youth organizations — will surely take up the issue. It should be the commission’s top priority.

Kansas City has a history of fear and racial tension. White suburbanites and others have long questioned the safety of going into the city — their loss, of course — and you could see some of that knee-jerk reaction following last weekend’s news from the Plaza. Citizens and city leadership should take care not to blow incidents like this out of proportion.

Kids will be kids. But it takes a village, doesn’t it — good ideas, proper guidance, a sense of community, an absence of fear — to ensure that kids can also do better on the streets and as citizens, too.

unless WW-III jumps off, that younger brother's SOL...,

NYTimes | We take as our text today the parable of the prodigal son. As I hope you know, the story is about a father with two sons. The younger son took his share of the inheritance early and blew it on prostitutes and riotous living. When the money was gone, he returned home.

His father ran out and embraced him. The delighted father offered the boy his finest robe and threw a feast in his honor. The older son, the responsible one, was appalled. He stood outside the feast, crying in effect, “Look! All these years I’ve been working hard and obeying you faithfully, and you never gave me special treatment such as this!”

The father responded, “You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.” But he had to celebrate the younger one’s return. The boy was lost and now is found. 

Did the father do the right thing? Is the father the right model for authority today?

The father’s critics say he was unjust. People who play by the rules should see the rewards. Those who abandon the community, live according to their own reckless desires should not get to come back and automatically reap the bounty of others’ hard work. If you reward the younger brother, you signal that self-indulgence pays, while hard work gets slighted. 

The father’s example is especially pernicious now, the critics continue. Jesus preached it at the time of the Pharisees, in an overly rigid and rule-bound society. In those circumstances, a story of radical forgiveness was a useful antidote to the prevailing legalism.

But we don’t live in that kind of society. We live in a society in which moral standards are already fuzzy, in which people are already encouraged to do their own thing. We live in a society with advanced social decay — with teens dropping out of high school, financiers plundering companies and kids being raised without fathers. The father’s example in the parable reinforces loose self-indulgence at a time when we need more rule-following, more social discipline and more accountability, not less.

It’s a valid critique, but I’d defend the father’s example, and, informed by a reading of Timothy Keller’s outstanding book “The Prodigal God,” I’d even apply the father’s wisdom to social policy-making today. 

We live in a divided society in which many of us in the middle- and upper-middle classes are like the older brother and many of the people who drop out of school, commit crimes and abandon their children are like the younger brother. In many cases, we have a governing class of elder brothers legislating programs on behalf of the younger brothers. The great danger in this situation is that we in the elder brother class will end up self-righteously lecturing the poor: “You need to be more like us: graduate from school, practice a little sexual discipline, work harder.”

But the father in this parable exposes the truth that people in the elder brother class are stained, too. The elder brother is self-righteous, smug, cold and shrewd. The elder brother wasn’t really working to honor his father; he was working for material reward and out of a fear-based moralism. The father reminds us of the old truth that the line between good and evil doesn’t run between people or classes; it runs straight through every human heart.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

old men who run their mouths are scared to death of young men who run their mouths...,

My daughter attended an elite private independent school, the best of its kind in this part of the U.S.  When she was a junior in high school, there was a heavily attended Jr/Sr. party held downtown. Parents were in attendence as chaperones. A couple of fathers were working the door. In the course of the party, some of the kids were so intoxicated and so obnoxious that they needed to be escorted from the premises. As in, their parents were contacted to come and retrieve their drunk, belligerant and nasty brats. At checkpoint Charlie, where the bad seed were being handed off to their retrieving parents, the father of one particularly notorious young trollop being dismissed, and the father working the door at the party venue, were accosted by several athletic adolescents males who objected to young Miley Ray being ejected from the venue. Mayhem ensued, and the two fathers summarily got their asses whooped by these boys.

So let's break down what all had happened here. It was an established fact that these idle rich kids were going to behave badly. The goal of the parents was to contain and control any consequences and any liability attending to the known and predictable bad behavior of their children. Nobody wanted this mess in their home, nobody wanted this mess in a public place where bouncers, random public, and potentially the gendarmes might intervene and implement harsh reality-correcting measures. Some pampered, protected, roided up little monsters got out of pocket and assaulted and battered a couple of men volunteering and acting so as to protect and keep these children out of trouble with strangers and the law. I was not in attendance at this party as a chaperone, so I didn't witness any of this first hand. My daughter was in attendance - and I'm relating what she reported to me as an eyewitness and what I subsequently heard from some of the other parents.

Now, let the record show, I don't particularly like adolescents. They're loud, obnoxious, butt-sniffing, hormone-addled know-it-alls just itching for trouble. Some days, I don't even like my own adolescent, so you can be damn sure I don't like yours. In the aftermath of that incident, I swore up and down that there was no way, no how, under any conceivable circumstance - that I would ever go out like those two dads who got straight whooped by a gang of boys. That incident served as somewhat of a wake up call. I started back at the gym, started making sure I was "moving it" so as not to lose it, etc.., In the intervening three years, I've managed to lose a lot of weight and get into pretty good shape. Not get into pretty good shape for an old man, but get into pretty good shape.

While I pride myself on advanced barbarian skills, it takes a considerable amount of time, effort, and work to maintain those skills.  My motto is simple, loose meat and tight joints are a useless tragedy. You've got to maintain tight meat and loose joints if you want the creature to maintain the dignity of the man in the context of a slippery sidewalk where you might otherwise slip and fall on your ass, or, in the context of the slippery slope where you're summoned to safely and authoritatively regulate the antics of young killer-apes.

Yesterday was a federal holiday, so given the time off, I was at the YMCA in the morning in the weight room. The place was packed with the active elderly. Boisterous, busy, loud, territorial old men who socialize more than they exercise, and who give voice to all the nitwit nonsense they've picked up off of Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage radio broadcasts. One old, long retired marine, was busy setting up the bench press and had a couple of 35lb weights on the bar. He didn't do any presses, just set it up and walked away to the other side of the room whereupon he proceeded to jaw-jack. Knowing how these old fart knockers think and operate, I dared not just take the bench and get to work, even though he had no intention of doing anything with it for several minutes. He had clearly marked his territory and would be deeply offended.

So I strolled straight up to him, "good morning sir, mind if I quickly jump in there at the bench?"

"Oh no, not at all, go right ahead"

So I take his little 35lb discs off, put three 45lb discs on each side, put the clamps on and grind out three sets of bench presses. (I'd warmed up on the machines in the other weight room) So I'm sweating and pretty swole up, and am in the process of taking the weights off and putting it back like he had it. "You sir are a true scholar and gentleman" and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...., "when you get old like me, you just don't have the testosterone to push that much weight - a youngster like you still full of sap, can still do all that" - whatever cheddar.

I shave my head and don't grow out too many whiskers - so all my telltale grey signs of AARP membership are concealed. Guy thinks I'm 15 years younger than I am. He's as happy as an old dog can be that I showed him his propers (proper respect) in the weight room. As far as he's concerned, I can do no wrong and he's perfectly at ease holding forth, pontificating, and repeating the crap he's heard on Rush and Savage Nation with me too. I smile, excuse myself, ignoring the rest of his prattle and getting on with my business with other weights and machines.

An hour or so later, I'm in the lobby waiting for my wife to finish up on the ellipticals so we can leave. All the old dogs are gathered in their masses yakking about this past weekend's antics on the Plaza and the Michael Dunn/Jordan Davis verdict. The old marine is the main talker and he's wound up in his speechifying. "Dunn should've walked. I would've shot up that car cause you never know these days. Take what happened at the Plaza on saturday, they just don't know how to act."


I don't say a word, and thankfully my wife swings into the lobby and we're out just in the nick of time. 

why mine can't be anywhere near this area on friday and saturday evenings...,

kctv5 |  Problems with youth traditionally have been a problem at the Country Club Plaza in warmer months when school is out, but issues are again flaring up. 

Police Chief Darryl Forte said the issue is one for the community but said he is working to complete a plan to deal with the issues. He said he will then share the plan with stakeholders and hopes to get wrapped up by the middle of the week.

Councilman Jermaine Reed said the council may need to look at tightening up the city's curfew law. He praised the police department's handling of the situation Saturday night.

"Kids need to be behave appropriately when out in public," he said.

Kansas City police were first called to Cinemark Palace, located at 500 Nichols Rd., about 8:15 p.m. on a large disturbance involving about 150 juveniles.

Police said they dispersed the unruly group; however, they scattered through the Plaza.

There were three fights reported with four getting ticketed for the problems. 

Three of those ticketed were in their late teens and are considered adults. One was a juvenile.

The citations were issued based on behavior, not race, Forte said in a Twitter post.

"Expect more citations to be issued in the near future," Forte said.

Forte said that more citations are likely to follow. He said police will do everything in their power to tackle this issue.

"Plaza is a great place to visit. Most kids are well behaved. The few disorderly kids stand out. We'll give the non-compliant attention," Forte wrote. "We're going to continue to do everything we can to identify and impact the few deviants while allowing others peace."

smdh, in my backyard, WHERE MY CHILDREN PLAY!!! - read the comments

tonyskansascity |  So, earlier this year we reported a rise in Flash mob activity and now mainstream media is paying attention to the trend . . .

KCTV5: Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte said 150 juveniles had to be cleared from the Plaza Saturday night after things got unruly.

This event elicits promise of a crackdown . . .

KMBC . . . Forte: Public should expect more enforcement after Plaza brawls

And once again in Kansas City we learn that even slightly nicer weather has negative consequences.

Developing . . .

Monday, February 17, 2014

bias towards power IS corporate media objectivity

medialens | The key to what is precisely wrong with corporate journalism is explained in this nutshell by the US commentator Michael Parenti:

'Bias in favor of the orthodox is frequently mistaken for "objectivity". Departures from this ideological orthodoxy are themselves dismissed as ideological.'

Examples of bias towards the orthodoxy of Western power are legion every day of the week. On January 30 this year, David Loyn reported for BBC News at Ten from Bagram airbase in Afghanistan as US troops prepared to withdraw from a blood-strewn occupation. Standing beside a large US military plane, he intoned:

'For all of the lives lost and money spent, it could have been so much better.'

The pro-Nato perspective of that remark masquerading as impartial journalism is stark. By contrast, Patrick Cockburn summed up the reality:

'After 12 years, £390bn, and countless dead, we leave poverty, fraud – and the Taliban in Afghanistan...60 per cent of children are malnourished and only 27 per cent of Afghans have access to safe drinking water...Elections are now so fraudulent as to rob the winners of legitimacy.'

The damning conclusion?

'Faced with these multiple disasters western leaders simply ignore Afghan reality and take refuge in spin that is not far from deliberate lying.'

BBC News has been a major component of this gross deception of the public.

The BBC's 'objective' bias in support of power also imbues the 'impartial' stance of alpha-male interviewer Jeremy Paxman, who recently disparaged 'extreme' WWI conscientious objectors as 'cranks'.

BBC political editor Nick Robinson is another safe pair of hands. He once described his 'objective' role in the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq (when he was ITN's political editor):

'It was my job to report what those in power were doing or thinking . . . That is all someone in my sort of job can do.' (Nick Robinson, ' "Remember the last time you shouted like that?" I asked the spin-doctor', The Times, July 16, 2004)

We tweeted a reminder of this remarkable admission by Robinson of his stenographic role as a channeller of state propaganda:

'The skewed way in which @bbcnickrobinson sees his role as BBC political editor can only lead to bias towards power.'

US journalist Glenn Greenwald responded pithily:

'That'd make an excellent epitaph on the tombstone of modern establishment journalism'

After we had repeatedly challenged Robinson about his bias towards power (see this recent media alert), he finally responded via email (January 27, 2014):

'We could have this debate forever I suspect.'

But in reality 'this debate' never gets an airing on the BBC. It is simply taboo.

cognitive biases

wikipedia | Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways. Cognitive biases can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioral economics.

Although the reality of these biases is confirmed by replicable research, there are often controversies about how to classify these biases or how to explain them.[1] Some are effects of information-processing rules (i.e. mental shortcuts), called heuristics, that the brain uses to produce decisions or judgments. Such effects are called cognitive biases.[2][3] Biases in judgment or decision-making can also result from motivation, such as when beliefs are distorted by wishful thinking. Some biases have a variety of cognitive ("cold") or motivational ("hot") explanations. Both effects can be present at the same time.[4][5]

There are also controversies as to whether some of these biases count as truly irrational or whether they result in useful attitudes or behavior. For example, when getting to know others, people tend to ask leading questions which seem biased towards confirming their assumptions about the person. This kind of confirmation bias has been argued to be an example of social skill: a way to establish a connection with the other person.[6]
The research on these biases overwhelmingly involves human subjects. However, some of the findings have appeared in non-human animals as well. For example, hyperbolic discounting has also been observed in rats, pigeons, and monkeys.[7]

wikipedia | Bias arises from various processes that are sometimes difficult to distinguish. These include
  • mental noise
  • the mind's limited information processing capacity[13]
  • emotional and moral motivations[14]
  • social influence[15]
The notion of cognitive biases was introduced by Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman in 1972[16] and grew out of their experience of people's innumeracy, or inability to reason intuitively with the greater orders of magnitude. Tversky, Kahneman and colleagues demonstrated several replicable ways in which human judgments and decisions differ from rational choice theory. Tversky and Kahneman explained human differences in judgement and decision making in terms of heuristics.

Heuristics involve mental shortcuts which provide swift estimates about the possibility of uncertain occurrences (Baumeister & Bushman, 2010, p. 141). Heuristics are simple for the brain to compute but sometimes introduce “severe and systematic errors” (Tversky & Kahneman, 1974, p. 1125).[17]

For example, the representativeness heuristic is defined as the tendency to “judge the frequency or likelihood” of an occurrence by the extent of which the event “resembles the typical case” (Baumeister & Bushman, 2010, p. 141). The “Linda Problem” illustrates the representativeness heuristic (Tversky & Kahneman, 1983[18] ). Participants were given a description of the target person Linda which implies Linda could be a feminist, as she is interested in discrimination and social justice issues (see Tversky & Kahneman, 1983). Participants are asked whether they think Linda is more likely to be a “a) bank teller” or a “b) bank teller and active in the feminist movement”. Participants often select option “b)”. Tversky and Kahneman (1983) termed participants choice as a “conjunction fallacy”; whereby participants chose option b) because the description relates to feminism. Moreover, the representativeness heuristic may lead to errors such as activating stereotypes and inaccurate judgements of others (Haselton et al., 2005, p. 726).

Alternatively, critics of Kahneman and Tversky such as Gerd Gigerenzer argue that heuristics should not lead us to conceive of human thinking as riddled with irrational cognitive biases, but rather to conceive rationality as an adaptive tool that is not identical to the rules of formal logic or the probability calculus.[19] Nevertheless, experiments such as the “Linda problem” grew into the heuristics and biases research program which spread beyond academic psychology into other disciplines including medicine and political science.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

whatever happened to hip-hop?

dissecting the odious new menage sitting atop the rhyming and posing garbage heap...,

cathedral-style defense of the indefensible....,

theroot |  Zaheer, I'm glad you made note that the image is being misread, that she's placing herself in the position of Malcolm. And I thought your points on stamps were compelling. But there's a point I think that's being missed. I'm going to mirror a post I had commented in another facebook group discussing this issue:

She's holding Malcolm's rifle, and pointing the master's weapon against her oppressor. She's trying to aim at the thing that has threatened the lives of Black women, paralleling threats to Malcolm's life. (Rape culture, misogyny, etc.) She's going in and starting a conversation, and she's appropriating the weapons used against us to do it. She's pissed off. She's using a similar platform that Malcolm did, riling people up with words. I think she's asking, what's it like to feel humiliated by listening to a song? To have you reduced to parts and cast you in a role where you are there for her own carnal pleasures and ego boosting? To make you feel less than if you don't have what it takes to please someone like her?

Like you stated, the stamp didn't get as much heat as Minaj gets, precisely because she's a Black woman employing the tools that have been used against her. I personally don't think it's the right approach, but it sure got brothas' attention, because talking, caring, writing, and saying no did not, for the most part. I think this is the conversation we should be having here - why is it that we resort to the master's tools to get our perpetrators to feel? I sure felt hurt for the lookin' ass nigga she was talking to in the video, and then remembered that the hurt is the same kind I feel when I listen to most hip-hop lyrics performed by men.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

xkeyscore renders the security state more powerful than the 1% (deep state)

targetfreedom | Apparently the criminals in the United States government now have a vested interest in keeping Edward Snowden alive and safe. A classified briefing was given to members of Congress on Wednesday Feb. 6, 2014. Leading members of the House Armed Services Committee emerged from the classified briefing “shocked” at the amount of information Edward Snowden reportedly took with him when he left the country.

Congressional members were informed that Snowden possesses: A complete roster of absolutely every employee, and official, in the entire US Government. The names, home addresses, unlisted personal home telephone numbers, personal cellular phone numbers, dates of birth and social security numbers of every person involved in any way, with any department of the US Government.

This database even extends to government contractors, bankers, Corporate Boards Of Directors and the entire private support apparatus for the Federal government. As a contractor at the National Security Agency Edward Snowden, became angry at the massive US government spying on its own citizens. Snowden apparently decided to do unto the government exactly as they were doing unto us. Over time he accumulated multiple “doomsday” packages of information, which he took with him when he departed the country.

The bulk of this information seems to have come from Glenn Greenwald, of The Guardian. Glenn Greenwald has received information directly from Edward Snowden. The NSA has admitted that they do not know the extent of what Snowden has. Government is now using shills to distract attention from this story. Government is attempting to create a public prejudice against factual information, by flooding the internet with alternative versions, coming from discredited sources. This is the old intelligence trick called “Poisoning the well”: promotion of fiction or exaggeration to be blended with the actual truth. Purpose is to discredit truth by association with fiction or exaggeration. Embellishing the actual truth tarnishes the truth by association with fiction or exaggeration. When that outlandish fiction or exaggeration is discredited, then many people might dismiss the actual truth; which the Disinformers were able to associate with those outlandish exaggeration.

wikipedia | On January 26, 2014, the German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk asked Edward Snowden in its TV interview: "What could you do if you would use XKeyscore?" and he answered:[1]
"You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information."

“…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.”
According to The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, low-level NSA analysts can via systems like XKeyscore "listen to whatever emails they want, whatever telephone calls, browsing histories, Microsoft Word documents. And it's all done with no need to go to a court, with no need to even get supervisor approval on the part of the analyst."[6]

He added that the NSA's databank of collected communications allows its analysts to listen "to the calls or read the emails of everything that the NSA has stored, or look at the browsing histories or Google search terms that you've entered, and it also alerts them to any further activity that people connected to that email address or that IP address do in the future"