Sunday, February 08, 2015

secrecy has no place in our criminal justice system

silive |  Do grand juries really protect the public against overzealous corrupt prosecutors? Was the Fifth Amendment provision of the U.S. Constitution requiring grand jury presentment for felony crimes really included in the Bill of Rights in 1791 to protect the public? I truly believe that this provision was intended to protect the rich and powerful who wrote the Constitution and controlled the wealth of the new nation. Consider the fact that only white male property owners were permitted to sit on grand juries and that everyone non white and non-male was excluded from the judicial and legislative process. Thus, the rich, white and powerful were guaranteed that only their true piers would judge them and determine their criminal liability.

Now I didn't start this race business, I'm just dealing with reality. Supreme Court Justice Roger B. Taney started it in 1857 when Dred Scott asked for his full rights of citizenship. Justice Taney denied his plea, stating: "The framers of the constitution believed that a black man had no rights that a white man was bound to respect."

You remember the Central Park jogger defendants? Swiftly arrested and indicted by a grand jury based upon incomplete evidence and police coerced confessions. All defendants were convicted and sentenced to lengthy prison terms before the guilty party confessed and exonerated them all. Its nice to believe that all prosecutors will be fair and honest, but we need only look at the record of former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.  Convictions by Hyne's office of 11, yes 11, black men have been overturned following the revelation that the testimony and evidence offered by the assigned detective and accepted by the courts, was false, shoddy and manufactured. None of these men benefited from a secret grand jury proceeding, an honest prosecutor or a courageous judiciary.

We have entered an era when more rather than less openness is sought in legislative, regulatory and judicial proceedings. Is a witness more inclined to tell the truth if his/her secrecy is guaranteed or are they more likely to lie and slip the truth if they know that their identity and testimony may never see the light of day or the eyes of a competent defense attorney? I'll take openness and transparency over protection and secrecy any day.

rule of law: not just the DoD, G-Dub salted the DoJ with dominionists too...,

salon |  The Republican’s strategy should be clear by now: at the most superficial level, it’s about base mobilization, not trying to persuade those in the middle. Whitehouse was right about that much. But this doesn’t mean the GOP isn’t targeting the middle, and doing it more successfully than Digby might suggest—they’re just not doing it directly. At a deeper level, their play is simple: go hard right with no concern for facts or any other standard, and pull the “both sides do it” brain-dead centrist journalists, pundit class and the rest of Washington along with them, so that they do the actual work of moving everyone in the center to the right.

With so many attacks made so continuously, even the reporters who’ve helped debunk them come to accept the situation as normal. But the bottom line of normal in this instance—the GOP charge that the DOJ under Holder has suddenly become politicized—is precisely the opposite of the truth. It was actually the Bush DOJ that was politicized like no other in modern history, save Nixon’s post-Watergate, and Obama’s biggest mistake (as in so many other things) was in giving them a pass in hopes of fostering bipartisan cooperation going forward.

It wasn’t just Democrats complaining about politicization under Bush, either. The watershed event—though far from the only violation involved—was the U.S. attorneys scandal—an unprecedented set of politically motivatied high-level firings that eventually had politicians of both parties shaking their heads in disbelief. The scandal took some time to decode, but in late February 2007, Salon identified one key aspect—that high-performing U.S. attorneys had been forced out to make way for perceived Bush loyalists. McClatchy played a key role in reporting many of the differently inflected twists and turns, while Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo, who first raised the alarm widely, was key in drawing attention to the political core of what was happening. As he explained in March 2007, as the outlines were still coming into focus:
The issue here is why these U.S. Attorneys were fired and the fact that the White House intended to replace them with U.S. Attorneys not confirmed by the senate. We now have abundant evidence that they were fired for not sufficiently politicizing their offices, for not indicting enough Democrats on bogus charges or for too aggressively going after Republicans. (Remember, Carol Lam is still the big story here.) We also now know that the top leadership of the Justice Department lied both to the public and to Congress about why the firing took place. As an added bonus we know the whole plan was hatched at the White House with the direct involvement of the president.
That same month, Salon highlighted the role of bogus voter fraud claims in the years leading up to the firings. That story briefly touched on New Mexico, where, “in 2004, U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, one of the two fired U.S. attorneys who allegedly failed to pursue electoral fraud cases, took a pass on an especially dubious prosecution,” but it focused intently on Missouri, where Salon noted, “three different [Bush era] U.S. attorneys have launched investigations into electoral fraud… indicting nine people”—not a very large haul, which was part of the problem. In Missouri, the replacement U.S. attorney—appointed without Senate approval, as was then possible, due to a Patriot Act loophole—was Bradley Schlozman, who had previously supervised the voting section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, which we’ll soon see was another hotbed of politicization within the Bush DOJ.

But it wasn’t just Democrats and a handful of remaining “good government” Republicans who were upset. By late August, McClatchy’s Marisa Taylor reported widespread internal criticism based on extensive interviews with “current and former department officials,” as well as at least one anonymous federal judge. “Charges of cronyism and partisan politicking have sunk the Justice Department’s reputation to levels not seen since Watergate and damaged the Bush administration’s ability to fight crime, pursue the war on terrorism and achieve its other goals,” Taylor reported in late August 2007.

william bennett's confused and confusing defense of marijuana prohibition

Forbes |  “With marijuana,” declare William J. Bennett and Robert A. White in Going to Pot, their new prohibitionist screed, “we have inexplicably suspended all the normal rules of reasoning and knowledge.” You can’t say they didn’t warn us.

The challenge for Bennett, a former drug czar and secretary of education who makes his living nowadays as a conservative pundit and talk radio host, and White, a New Jersey lawyer, is that most Americans support marijuana legalization, having discovered through direct and indirect experience that cannabis is not the menace portrayed in decades of anti-pot propaganda. To make the familiar seem threatening again, Bennett and White argue that marijuana is both more dangerous than it used to be, because it is more potent, and more dangerous than we used to think, because recent research has revealed “long-lasting and permanent serious health effects.” The result is a rambling, repetitive, self-contradicting hodgepodge of scare stories, misleading comparisons, unsupportable generalizations, and decontextualized research results.

Bennett and White exaggerate the increase in marijuana’s potency, comparing THC levels in today’s strongest strains with those in barely psychoactive samples from the 1970s that were not much stronger than ditch weed. “That is a growth of a psychoactive ingredient from 3 to 4 percent a few decades ago to close to 40 percent,” they write, taking the most extreme outliers from both ends. Still, there is no question that average THC levels have increased substantially as Americans have gotten better at growing marijuana. Consumers generally view that as an improvement, and it arguably makes pot smoking safer, since users can achieve the same effect while inhaling less smoke.

But from Bennett and White’s perspective, better pot is unambiguously worse. “You cannot consider it the same substance when you look at the dramatic increase in potency,” they write. “It is like comparing a twelve-ounce glass of beer with a twelve-ounce glass of 80 proof vodka; both contain alcohol, but they have vastly different effects on the body when consumed.” How many people do you know who treat 12 ounces of vodka as equivalent to 12 ounces of beer? Drinkers tend to consume less of stronger products, and the same is true of pot smokers—a crucial point that Bennett and White never consider.

When it comes to assessing the evidence concerning marijuana’s hazards, Bennett and White’s approach is not exactly rigorous. They criticize evidence of marijuana’s benefits as merely “anecdotal” yet intersperse their text with personal testimonials about its harms (e.g., “My son is now 27 years old and a hopeless heroin addict living on the streets…”). They do Google searches on “marijuana” paired with various possible dangers, then present the alarming (and generally misleading) headlines that pop up as if they conclusively verify those dangers. They cite any study that reflects negatively on marijuana (often repeatedly) as if it were the final word on the subject. Occasionally they acknowledge that the studies they favor have been criticized on methodological grounds or that other studies have generated different results. But they argue that even the possibility of bad outcomes such as IQ loss, psychosis, or addiction to other drugs is enough to oppose legalization.

rule of law: while slackjawsjacked about crusades, bratton asked for resisting arrest to be made a felony...,

observer |  NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton today called for the state to change resisting arrest to a felony charge.

Mr. Bratton testified today before a joint hearing of four State Senate committees, where he made a number of recommendations—including suggesting that the penalty increase for resisting arrest. Currently, resisting arrest is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum punishment of one year, which Mr. Bratton argued does not deter the nearly 2,000 resisting arrest charges each year.

“I think a felony would be very helpful in terms of raising the bar significantly in the penalty for the resistance of arrest,” Mr. Bratton told reporters after speaking at the hearing in lower Manhattan.

The top cop reiterated previous statements that resisting arrest is impermissible, and endangers both law enforcement and civilians.

“We need to get around this idea that you can resist arrest. You can’t. You just can’t do it. It results in potential injuries to the officer, to the suspect. And we need to change that, and the way to change that is to start penalties for it,” he said.

He acknowledged that many cases may not be legitimate—advocates complain that resisting arrest is often the only charge against someone who was not resisting arrest for something else and that it’s often tossed out. Mr. Bratton said the department would expand its CompStat tracking program to monitor how many such charges are vacated.

“The vast majority might end up being dismissed,” he said, though he suggested district attorneys at times dismiss such charges out of hand. “We’re asking district attorneys to treat them more seriously than they have been treated in the past.”

Mr. Bratton also called for laws instituting more severe penalties for fatally assaulting an officer, for attacking a school safety agent or auxiliary cop and for wearing a bullet-proof vest. He also recommended measures mandating bulletproof glass in all police cars, and for tighter regulations on civilian window tinting, as well as punishments for anyone who would publicize the address and other personal information of a police officer.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

this crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while...,

NYTimes |  President Obama personally added a reference to the Crusades in his speech this week at the National Prayer Breakfast, aides said, hoping to add context and nuance to his condemnation of Islamic terrorists by noting that people also “committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

But by purposely drawing the fraught historical comparison on Thursday, Mr. Obama ignited a firestorm on television and social media about the validity of his observations and the roots of religious conflicts that raged more than 800 years ago.

On Twitter, amateur historians angrily accused Mr. Obama of refusing to acknowledge Muslim aggression that preceded the Crusades. Others criticized him for drawing simplistic analogies across centuries. Many suggested that the president was reaching for ways to excuse or minimize the recent atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.

“I’m not surprised, I guess,” said Thomas Asbridge, a medieval historian and director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the West at the University of London. “Any use of the word ‘Crusade’ has to be made with great caution. It is the most highly charged word you can use in the context of the Middle East.”

internet infiltration for manipulation, deception, and reputation destruction

firstlook |  One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today: Fist tap Arnach.

Friday, February 06, 2015

situational awareness

The Art of Manliness | There’s a scene at the beginning of The Bourne Identity where the film’s protagonist is sitting in a diner, trying to figure out who he is and why he has a bunch of passports and a gun stashed in a safety deposit box. Bourne also notices that he, well, notices things that other people don’t. Watch:

That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.
As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.
But it’s also a skill that can and should be developed for reasons outside of personal defense and safety. Situational awareness is really just another word for mindfulness, and developing mine has made me more cognizant of what’s going on around me and more present in my daily activities, which in turn has helped me make better decisions in all aspects of my life.
I’ve spent months researching and talking to experts in the tactical field about the nature of situational awareness, and below you’ll find one of the most complete primers out there on how to gain this important skill. While the focus is primarily on developing your situational awareness to prevent or survive a violent attack, the principles discussed can also help hone your powers of observation in all areas of your life.

these old republicans pretending to hide their purses and clutch their pearls tickle me...,

WaPo |  President Obama has never been one to go easy on America.

As a new president, he dismissed the idea of American exceptionalism, noting that Greeks think their country is special, too. He labeled the Bush-era interrogation practices, euphemistically called “harsh” for years, as torture. America, he has suggested, has much to answer given its history in Latin America and the Middle East.

His latest challenge came Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast. At a time of global anxiety over Islamist terrorism, Obama noted pointedly that his fellow Christians, who make up a vast majority of Americans, should perhaps not be the ones who cast the first stone.

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history,” he told the group, speaking of the tension between the compassionate and murderous acts religion can inspire. “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Some Republicans were outraged. “The president’s comments this morning at the prayer breakfast are the most offensive I’ve ever heard a president make in my lifetime,” said former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore (R). “He has offended every believing Christian in the United States. This goes further to the point that Mr. Obama does not believe in America or the values we all share.”

the return of intimate killing...,

theatlantic |  “We must make this battle very violent,” wrote the Islamist strategist Abu Bakr Naji in his 2004 book The Management of Savagery. Naji—whose thinking paralleled that of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the deceased leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has since morphed into ISIS—argued that merciless violence was necessary for the creation of a “pure” Sunni caliphate. Softness, he warned, spelled failure, citing the example of the Companions of the Prophet, who “burned [people] with fire, even though it is odious, because they knew the effect of rough violence in times of need.”

The conventional wisdom holds that ISIS’s savagery will be its undoing—that it will alienate ordinary Muslims, and that without their support the group cannot succeed. But what this view overlooks is that ISIS’s jihad, as its progenitor Zarqawi well understood, isn’t about winning hearts and minds. It is about breaking hearts and minds. ISIS doesn’t want to convince its detractors and enemies. It wants to command them, if not destroy them altogether. And its strategy for achieving this goal seems to be based on destroying their will through intimate killing. This, in part, is what the group’s staged beheadings are about: They subliminally communicate ISIS’s proficiency in the art of the intimate kill. And this terrifies many people, because they sense just how hard it is to do.

The beheadings also serve as a dramatic counterpoint to al-Qaeda’s use of remote improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in attacks, and to Western shock-and-awe-style military campaigns. The subtext of the videos appears to be: You—America and your allies—kill with drones and missiles. We—the true Muslims—kill with our bare hands. You hide behind your military hardware and lack the courage to fight. We stand here tall, holding aloft our swords and the Quran. We will conquer you because our will is greater than yours, because there is nothing we will not do in defense of our just and holy cause.
One could argue that there is precedent in Islamic theology and history for this kind of ruthlessness. But the approach also has echoes in the Western world. Consider the logic behind the Allied shock-and-awe “area bombings” of German cities during the Second World War, where thousands of innocent civilians were murdered for the purpose of ending the war and stopping the advance of fascism in Europe. Or the logic behind the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. “The policy of attacking the civilian population in order to induce an enemy to surrender or to damage his morale,” wrote the American philosopher Thomas Nagel, “seems to have been widely accepted in the civilized world.”

hashemite tribe not at all confused about what's next

hbdchick |  make no mistake about it, there is noooo talk about forgiveness in jordan in the case of jordanian pilot lt. muath al-kaseasbeh who was killed by members of isis:

“Hostage pilot’s murder: Jordan promises Islamic State an ‘earth-shaking’ revenge”
“By: Reuters | Amman | Posted: February 3, 2015 10:38 pm | Updated: February 4, 2015 9:14 am

“Islamic State militants released a video on Tuesday appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive in a cage, a killing that shocked the world and prompted Jordan to promise an ‘earth-shaking’ response.

“A Jordanian official said the authorities would swiftly execute several militants in retaliation, including an Iraqi woman whom Amman had sought to swap for the pilot taken captive after his plane crashed in Syria in December….

“‘The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan,’ army spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al Ameri said in a televised statement confirming the death of the pilot, who was seized by Islamic State in December.

The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the country’s Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and some Jordanians have criticised King Abdullah for embroiling them in the U.S.-led war that they say will provoke a backlash by militants….


“In the pilot’s hometown of Karak in southern Jordan, people demanded:

“‘I want to see Sajida’s body burnt and all the other terrorists in Jordanian prisons … Only then will my thirst for revenge be satisfied,’ said Abdullah al-Majali, a government employee among dozens of demonstrators in the centre of Karak.

this is quite a different sort of reaction than the kind often seen in western nations where the families of victims often forgive — in public — whoever killed their family member(s).
“Relatives of the pilot also gathered in Karak and urged calm after anti-government protests broke out in the town. They said it was up to the government to take revenge for them….”

can shinzo abe help japan recover a little testicular fortitude?

NYTimes |  In Japan, where conformity takes precedence over individuality, one of the most important values is to avoid "meiwaku" — causing trouble for others. And sympathy aside, the two Japanese purportedly slain by the Islamic State group are now widely viewed as troublemakers.

So is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Many Japanese feel that if the hostages had not ignored warnings against travel to Syria, or if Abe had not showcased Tokyo's support for the multinational coalition against the Islamic State militants, Japan wouldn't have been exposed to this new sense of insecurity and unwelcomed attention from Islamic extremists.

"To be honest, they caused tremendous trouble to the Japanese government and to the Japanese people. In the old days, their parents would have had to commit hara-kiri (ritual suicide) to apologize," said Taeko Sakamoto, a 64-year-old part-time worker, after first expressing sympathy over the deaths of Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa.

Sakamoto also sees Abe as part of the problem, for not being more mindful of the risks at a time when he had already been pushing to expand Japan's military role, which is limited to its own self-defense under the U.S.-drafted pacifist constitution after its defeat in World War II.

"I don't want Mr. Abe to do anything else that may be seen as provocation, because that's what would put us at a greater risk," Sakamoto said.

msnbc fired arsalan iftikhar for telling the truth about "bobby" jindal

Time |  Modern America might be a different place if the distinction between a lighter-skinned Jindal and a darker-skinned Jindal was a mere question of artistic vision. But today, in an age of expanded civil rights, this pick-and-choose attitude toward race has only heightened. The decision whether to dissect or ignore the paint color of Jindal’s portraits is but a small yet important choice among larger, modern issues. It’s about whether post-9/11 airport security unfairly targets those who appear to be Middle Eastern; whether affirmative action is anti-Asian; whether grand juries would return different decisions if the defendant were not black. At its core, what Plotkin decries as “race-baiting” is question of who has the power to decide when an issue deserves to be investigated in racial terms. Choosing to throw the “race-bait” accusation is simply a convenient disengagement from these issues, all of which are complicated by histories that conflate complexion with race, and race with power.

Because, really, why would anyone inherently enjoy the idea of unwanted racialization? As Plotkin’s tweets suggest, that stuff is just plain annoying.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

it's not merely a civic responsibility to speak out against waste, fraud, and abuse!!!

theatlantic |  So we return to recent revelations that the Drug Enforcement Administration has spent many years engaged in the bulk collection of both phone records and license plate data.

These news stories have been discussed on successive episodes of Baker's podcast, where he makes clear his position that these tactics shouldn't be considered a violation of the Fourth Amendment. Unlike Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor, who has expressed discomfort with prevailing executive branch logic, Baker believes that civil liberties ought to be safeguarded by limiting how metadata in the government's hands can be used, not what can be collected, and that even a nationwide system of cameras that snap photos of license plates to track the movement of cars isn't a violation of Constitutional privacy rights since everyone puts their license plate on their bumper for anyone to see.

Baker also recognizes that even if these practices are constitutional, that doesn't resolve the separate questions of 1) whether they are prudent policy, and 2) whether it was appropriate for the DEA to implement them in secret. That's where I want to focus. On Baker's podcast, Rebecca Richards, the Director of Privacy and Civil Liberties at the NSA, discussed that surveillance agency's need to maintain some secrecy even as it offers the American public an undefined degree of transparency.
In that context, Baker said, "My faith in transparency is shaken by these DEA stories. They hid this not even classified—this was law enforcement sensitive—program, they kept it hidden for 25 years, it was a mass collection of data in support of a legal regime that is deeply controversial. Colorado has opted out of the regime. And the reaction, unlike the reaction to NSA, has been, 'Oh yeah, cops do that.'"

That aside struck me so powerfully.

Out of nowhere, Baker adeptly summed up why the DEA's behavior was objectionable: In a country meant to be governed by the people, it hid a program with huge privacy implications, knowing full well that it would be deeply controversial, despite the fact that it wasn't classified or vital to national security. That was objectionable, even if one thinks the program was legal and effective.

As noted, Baker went a bit farther. For him, the very value of transparency got called into question when no outcry was sparked even by a program with all those strikes against it.

While I agree that these revelations about the DEA made barely a blip in the news, and that they ought to have sparked a bigger outcry, objections have been raised. Last month, I wrote that the DEA's behavior was "an affront to self-government." The American Civil Liberties Union said, "It’s unconscionable that technology with such far-reaching potential would be deployed in such secrecy. People might disagree about exactly how we should use such powerful surveillance technologies, but it should be democratically decided, it shouldn’t be done in secret.’’

transparency and consistency would go a long way toward restoring public trust...,

salon |  The success of vaccination – of all public health campaigns – relies on trust. We put faith in medical professionals that they’re acting in everyone’s best interest, and that faith is undergirded by decades of medical research. The benefits of vaccination are well documented and vital to our collective health (you don’t see many people afflicted with smallpox these days). The arguments against vaccinating have been so thoroughly debunked that it’s impossible to mount a coherent argument against the practice. But even still, trust can be eroded when the people we put in positions of authority give unwarranted deference to discredited ideas.

And that brings us to Rand Paul, United States Senator from Kentucky and doctor of medicine. The last few months have witnessed two high-profile public health scares: the resurgence of measles as a consequence of anti-vaccine activism, and the Ebola panic. Few people in positions of authority have acted as irresponsibly in addressing these health concerns as Sen. Paul.

When health scares are in the news, print and broadcast networks inevitably ask Rand Paul for his opinion because he is a doctor (of ophthalmology, but a doctor nonetheless) and a likely 2016 presidential candidate. On vaccinations, Paul went on television yesterday and endorsed the centerpiece of the junk anti-vaccine argument: that the injections somehow induce autism and other mental disorders in young children. “I have heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said on CNBC. He may as well have laid blame for mental illness on an imbalance of the humors – he’d have been no less inaccurate.

He also presented the vaccination argument as a question of “freedom” from government tyranny. “The state doesn’t own your children,” he argued. “Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health.” That’s a very strange way of describing the parent-child relationship, but he’s right that the state does not own your kid. The state does, however, have a compelling interest in making sure your child/property isn’t a vector for highly contagious diseases. But behaving in a way that is dangerous – both for your child and the community – is your “freedom,” so fight the power and show big government that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the pertussis-laden saliva of toddlers.

saudi princes, tangled webs, and public trust

telegraph |  Senior members of the Saudi royal family were major al-Qaeda donors and were intimately involved with Osama bin Laden's terror network in the 1990s, one of the group's former members has testified to a New York court. 

Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "twentieth hijacker" who had taken flying lessons but was arrested weeks before the September 11 attacks, made the claims in a long-running lawsuit alleging Saudi Arabian involvement in the plot to bring down the World Trade Centre.
Moussaoui, a 46-year-old French national who was diagnosed with delusional paranoid schizophrenia but declared mentally fit to stand trial in 2006, told lawyers that he had been ordered by bin Laden to compile a database of influential supporters.
"Shaykh Osama wanted to keep a record who give money ... who is to be listened to or who contribute to – to the jihad," he said in broken English, according to the testimony that was first reported by the New York Times and has been seen by The Telegraph.
Among those listed were Prince Turki al-Faisal, then the Saudi intelligence chief; Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longtime Saudi ambassador to the United States and Prince al-Waleed bin Talal, a prominent billionaire investor.
Moussaoui claimed he was sent on a visit to Saudi Arabia on a private plane when he met both Prince Turki and Prince Bandar and hand-delivered a letter from bin Laden. Prince Turki allegedly then gave Moussaoui two letters in return.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

musical chairs: bass, faces, races in american public spaces

interfaithradio |  A few weeks ago, Duke University quietly announced it would begin broadcasting the Muslim call to prayer from its Christian chapel. It was meant as a gesture of interfaith solidarity, though not requested by Muslim students themselves. A few days later, after an outcry by evangelist Franklin Graham and others, the historically Methodist school decided to pull the plug, saying the idea was “not having the intended effect.” And that’s when the story got kind of crazy.

Two Duke students tell us how all of this got started, then three experts consider the deeper issues: the proper role of Islam in the public square, why the Muslim call to prayer makes some people nervous, and even the wisdom of using one holy space for two different religions.

Rachael Clark, member of Duke's Presbyterian Campus Ministry
Noura Elsayed, member of Duke's Muslim Student Association
Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist
Nihad Awad, Executive Director and Founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Isaac Weiner, author of Religion Out Loud: Religious Sound, Public Space, and American Pluralism

cathedral: bass in your voice is the substance of what you say, not the sound of how you say it...,

npr |  So what do we do? We really have to think about who is the public in "public media". The demographics of race and ethnicity are changing in the United States. The sound of public media must reflect that diversity. So get on it. It's time to make moves.

2015 already looking to be an exciting year

IEEE Spectrum | Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. First reported by Robert X. Cringely (a pen name) inForbes, about 26 percent of the company’s global workforce is being shown the door. At more than 100,000 people, that makes it the largest mass layoffat any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Cringely wrote that notices have started going out, and most of the hundred-thousand-plus will likely be gone by the end of February.
IBM immediately denied Cringely’s report, indicating that a planned $600 million “workforce rebalancing” was going to involve layoffs (or what the company calls “Resource Actions”) of just thousands of people. But Cringely responded that he never said that the workforce reductions would be all called layoffs—instead, multiple tactics are being used, including pushing employees out through low ratings (more on that in a moment). And some managers are indeed admitting to employees that their job has been eliminated as part of Project Chrome, leading employees to coin a new catchphrase: “Getting Chromed.” 

U.S. delivering a staggeringly low 44% of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population 18 years and older...,

linkedin | Here’s something that many Americans -- including some of the smartest and most educated among us -- don’t know: The official unemployment rate, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor, is extremely misleading.

Right now, we’re hearing much celebrating from the media, the White House and Wall Street about how unemployment is “down” to 5.6%. The cheerleading for this number is deafening. The media loves a comeback story, the White House wants to score political points and Wall Street would like you to stay in the market.

None of them will tell you this: If you, a family member or anyone is unemployed and has subsequently given up on finding a job -- if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks -- the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed. That’s right. While you are as unemployed as one can possibly be, and tragically may never find work again, you are not counted in the figure we see relentlessly in the news -- currently 5.6%. Right now, as many as 30 million Americans are either out of work or severely underemployed. Trust me, the vast majority of them aren’t throwing parties to toast “falling” unemployment.

There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 -- maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn -- you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find -- in other words, you are severely underemployed -- the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.

There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.

And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity -- it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.

Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older. We need that to be 50% and a bare minimum of 10 million new, good jobs to replenish America’s middle class.

I hear all the time that “unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren’t feeling it.” When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth -- the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real -- then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t “feeling” something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives. And we will also quit wondering what hollowed out the middle class.

fukushima ecocide transcends climate change...,

Orange County Register, Jan 25, 2015 (emphasis added): … Marine mammal experts say the numbers could hit even higher levels than in 2013 [a record-setting year for sea lion strandings], which federal officials called an unusual mortality event… The difference this year: Starving pups showed up as early as December. Sick females and juveniles are also being found“The difference [now] is we’re not just seeing little pups,” said Lauren Palmer, a veterinarian [with the Marine Mammal Center at Fort MacArthur]. “Females and yearlings are coming in… It’s really hard to wrap our head around the story of what’s happening.”

David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro, Jan 19, 2015: “What we’re seeing that’s different is we are seeing a wider array of species and age groups, so in other words [in 2013] we were seeing primarily California sea lion pups, this year we’re also seeing harbor seals and fur seals as well as some sub-adults and adults.”

Daily Breeze, Jan 19, 2015: This year, [Bard] said, there is more diversity among the animals being brought in. “There was a distinct pattern in 2013 of malnourished (sea lion) pups,” he said. This year, harbor seals and adult animals are also affected. “We’re looking at that and any other red flags so that as we move further into the season we may get more answers.”

L.A. Times, Jan 30, 2015: [P]ups aren’t the only ones in trouble.  California marine mammal rehabilitation centers this month have treated record numbers of sea lions of all ages… “We’ve had 67 strandings of sea lions of all different ages,” said JohnsonThe whole population is getting hit hard… It’s a real shock to us,” he added. The story’s much the same in Southern California. “It’s shaping up to be a very, very bad year as far as rehabilitation,” said David Bard, operations director at the Marine Mammal Care Center in San Pedro. There were 75 animals at the center as of the end of January. Like its sister center in Sausalito, the facility was seeing a wider age range of sea lions in January, as well as a greater cross-section of species.

KPCC, Jan 27, 2015: [Justin Viezbicke, California Stranding Network coordinator for National Marine Fisheries Service said] numbers include more older animals than are usually found.

Laguna Beach Independent, Jan 19, 2015: So far this year, [the Pacific Marine Mammal Center] has also seen an increase in adult sea lion rescues needing medical care. “We are concerned”… executive director Keith Matassa said. Reuters, Jan 29, 2015: … emaciated adults are also turning up, Matassa said.

CBS Los Angeles, Jan 27, 2015: Further alarming the center’s experts is an influx of varying species, according to Executive Director Keith Matassa. “The difference this year is we’re also seeing different species we don’t normally see down here,” Matassa said. In 2013, a record-setting year, the problem of sea lions coming ashore was limited mostly to Southern California, but now the entire coast is being affected, Matassa said.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

there's no such thing as anthropogenic climate change, there's no such thing as...

Iowa Now | Can smoke from fires intensify tornadoes?
“Yes,” say University of Iowa researchers, who examined the effects of smoke—resulting from spring agricultural land-clearing fires in Central America—transported across the Gulf of Mexico and encountering tornado conditions already in process in the United States.
The UI study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, examined the smoke impacts on a historic severe weather outbreak that occurred during the afternoon and evening of April 27, 2011. The weather event produced 122 tornadoes, resulted in 313 deaths across the southeastern United States, and is considered the most severe event of its kind since 1950.
The outbreak was caused mainly by environmental conditions leading to a large potential for tornado formation and conducive to supercells, a type of thunderstorm. However, smoke particles intensified these conditions, according to co-lead authors Gregory Carmichael, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering, and Pablo Saide, Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER) postdoctoral fellow.
They say the smoke lowered the base of the clouds and increased wind shear, defined as wind speed variations with respect to altitude. Together, those two conditions increased the likelihood of more severe tornadoes. The effects of smoke on these conditions had not been previously described, and the study found a novel mechanism to explain these interactions.

adam curtis bitter lake

hitchensblog |    Years ago I first read of the extraordinary meeting between Franklin Roosevelt and King Ibn Saud (also known as AbdulAziz) of Saudi Arabia. This took place soon after the Yalta summit which handed much of Europe to Stalin (and not long before Roosevelt’s death,  in Warm Springs, Georgia with his mistress, Lucy Rutherfurd, at his side).

There’s a full account of this momentous meeting here:

Note that it mentions in passing Winston Churchill’s belated, ill-mannered and failed attempt to emulate the meeting soon afterwards (Churchill knowingly ignored the King’s loathing of smoking and drinking, and alienated him in other ways. The more cunning Roosevelt took great care to please the King, and so got what he wanted ) . Churchill’s meeting went wrong in every conceivable respect.

There are also several pictures, and some colour film, of the Bitter Lake Summit. Roosevelt looks close to death. Ibn Saud looks as a King should look, immensely self-possessed and full of unquestioned power.

The fascinating, picturesque and momentous event, which ought to be world-famous, is almost entirely unknown. The embarking of the King at Jeddah with his entourage (including an astrologer),  the carpeting of the decks of the destroyer USS Murphy, and the erection of a tent among her torpedo tubes and gun turrets, the corralling of sheep at her stern, the transfer of the monarch by bosun’s chair to Roosevelt’s ship, the heavy cruiser USS Quincy, are all wonderful enough anyway.

But the subject matter of the meeting is even better. First, there are the beginnings of US military protection for Saudi Arabia in return for American dominance of the Saudi oilfields (which had begun to flow only in 1938 and which the US oil companies had penetrated in competition with the then powerful British Empire and its oil interests). Then there is the King’s absolute refusal to countenance American support for Jewish settlement in what would soon be Israel.

Roosevelt completely accepted this, and wrote to Ibn Saud soon afterwards:


I have received the communication which Your Majesty sent me under date of March 10, 1945, in which you refer to the question of Palestine and to the continuing interest of the Arabs in current developments affecting that country.

I am gratified that Your Majesty took this occasion to bring your views on this question to my attention and I have given the most careful attention to the statements which you make in your letter. I am also mindful of the memorable conversation which we had not so long ago and in the course of which I had an opportunity to obtain so vivid an impression of Your Majesty’s sentiments on this question.

Your Majesty will recall that on previous occasions I communicated to you the attitude of the American Government toward Palestine and made clear our desire that no decision be taken with respect to the basic situation in that country without full consultation with both Arabs and Jews. Your Majesty will also doubtless recall that during our recent conversation I assured you that I would take no action, in my capacity as Chief of the Executive Branch of this Government, which might prove hostile to the Arab people.

It gives me pleasure to renew to Your Majesty the assurances which you have previously received regarding the attitude of my Government and my own, as Chief Executive, with regard to the question of Palestine and to inform you that the policy of this Government in this respect is unchanged.

I desire also at this time to send you my best wishes for Your Majesty’s continued good health and for the welfare of your people.

Your Good Friend,


Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman,  would later override this by recognising Israel in 1948, and committing the USA to its support.  His decision is believed to have been based on electoral considerations. The tension between the two positions has endured in US policy ever since.

So in many ways the foundations were laid for the modern Middle East, the overpowering of a failing British empire by an ambitious America, a contradiction at the heart of American policy between its Saudi alliance and its friendship for the Zionist project, all floating upon a sea of oil.

So I knew I had come to the right place when I noted that the meeting provided the title and the main opening scene of Adam Curtis’s astonishing new documentary ‘Bitter Lake’ (the Roosevelt-Ibn Saud meeting took place on the Great Bitter Lake, part of the Suez Canal) .

Anyone interested in this occasion must have an unconventional (and therefore interesting) approach to postwar history. He must be able to tell the difference between what was important and what was famous.

malcolm x was right about america

truthdig |  Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed. 

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.” 

King was able to achieve a legal victory through the civil rights movement, portrayed in the new film “Selma.” But he failed to bring about economic justice and thwart the rapacious appetite of the war machine that he was acutely aware was responsible for empire’s abuse of the oppressed at home and abroad. And 50 years after Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem by hit men from the Nation of Islam, it is clear that he, not King, was right. We are the nation Malcolm knew us to be. Human beings can be redeemed. Empires cannot. Our refusal to face the truth about empire, our refusal to defy the multitudinous crimes and atrocities of empire, has brought about the nightmare Malcolm predicted. And as the Digital Age and our post-literate society implant a terrifying historical amnesia, these crimes are erased as swiftly as they are committed.

“Sometimes, I have dared to dream … that one day, history may even say that my voice—which disturbed the white man’s smugness, and his arrogance, and his complacency—that my voice helped to save America from a grave, possibly even fatal catastrophe,” Malcolm wrote.

The integration of elites of color, including Barack Obama, into the upper echelons of institutional and political structures has done nothing to blunt the predatory nature of empire. Identity and gender politics—we are about to be sold a woman president in the form of Hillary Clinton—have fostered, as Malcolm understood, fraud and theft by Wall Street, the evisceration of our civil liberties, the misery of an underclass in which half of all public school children live in poverty, the expansion of our imperial wars and the deep and perhaps fatal exploitation of the ecosystem. And until we heed Malcolm X, until we grapple with the truth about the self-destruction that lies at the heart of empire, the victims, at home and abroad, will mount. Malcolm, like James Baldwin, understood that only by facing the truth about who we are as members of an imperial power can people of color, along with whites, be liberated. This truth is bitter and painful. It requires an acknowledgment of our capacity for evil, injustice and exploitation, and it demands repentance. But we cling like giddy children to the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. We refuse to grow up. And because of these lies, perpetrated across the cultural and political spectrum, liberation has not taken place. Empire devours us all.

“We’re anti-evil, anti-oppression, anti-lynching,” Malcolm said. “You can’t be anti- those things unless you’re also anti- the oppressor and the lyncher. You can’t be anti-slavery and pro-slavemaster; you can’t be anti-crime and pro-criminal. In fact, Mr. Muhammad teaches that if the present generation of whites would study their own race in the light of true history, they would be anti-white themselves.”

the left realizes too late that political correctness is a virus...,

nationalreview |  Once upon a time, “political correctness” was little more than a benign left-wing version of old-church-lady tut-tutting. Today, by contrast, the designation is used to describe what has become a sprawling, unhinged, and invariably unfalsifiable conspiracy theory that can be used to dismiss anybody who violates this morning’s edition of the progressive catechism. “Gosh,” one can almost hear DeBoer and Chait asking themselves, “have we unleashed a brigade of poorly educated, parodically self-indulgent, and chronically illiberal morons into our movement, the better to destroy it from within? And, if we have, will we ever be able to rid ourselves of them?”

The answer to the latter question, one suspects, may well be “No,” for as Hollywood has taught us repeatedly over the years, it does not pay to unleash unpredictable viruses into the ecosystem — even if one gains temporarily by doing so. And make no mistake, “political correctness” is a virus — a nasty, cynical, destructive sickness that is akin in both theory and in practice to the sort of irritating malware that pushes endless streams of nonsensical dialogue windows onto your grandmother’s computer and prevents her from e-mailing her friends. In the “politically correct” settings that Chait and DeBoer are describing, no sooner has a freethinking person started to say, “Well, I think” — than a grotty little pop-up box has appeared to interrupt him with a stream of tosh. “Error 349xxf9: Privileges unchecked,” a typical response might read. Or, if we are dealing with a more serious case: “Error 948xxer11: Tolerance Level Low: Fault at LGBT Sector Cis*Trans*Kin: Intersectionality Improperly Allied.” As within computing, the genius is the panic that this provokes. Just as scareware thrives on the elderly’s touching belief that they can “break” the computer by clicking on the wrong buttons, so today’s young are so terrified of politically-correct bullying that they fail to do what is obviously necessary, which is rolling their eyes, clicking quietly on “cancel,” and uninstalling the problem completely. The Left is arguing about the right level of “political correctness”? A plague on all their houses. Want to go to the pub?

Monday, February 02, 2015

good thing melissa was there to save you bra, bet you cried inconsolably in your pillow...,

wkamaubell |  Quickly Melissa gathered herself and our daughter and we left. Much sooner than we would have wanted to in a perfect world… or even in just a kind of okay world. Melissa talked to your employee. Melissa explained that although we had eaten there twice that day and even though she loved the Elmwood Cafe that we would not be back after the racism that we had just experienced.

That’s when your employee told my wife, “I don’t think it was a race thing.”

Ummm… actually a black man being told to leave a restaurant because the restaurant believes that his presence is harassing four white women and their kids, even though there is literally no evidence to support that is TEXT BOOK racism. It is so old school it has a wing in the racism museum, right between the sit-ins at lunch counters and a southern redneck telling a black man on a business trip, “You ain’t from around here, are ya, boy?” My wife told your employee in no uncertain terms that we ABSOLUTELY knew it WAS a race thing, because we live with this shit everyday. Full disclosure, I heard about this exchange after it happened when we were headed home. While my wife was talking to your employee, I was cooing at my daughter in the car, for two reasons. 1) I love my daughter’s fat cheeks and big hazel eyes. And 2) I knew if I stood over my wife with my 6’4”, 250lb frame that it could very easily be spun that I was standing over your employee, and maybe that I was trying to intimidate her, or even worse that I was getting aggressive. I didn’t want to end up a hashtag. Again, we live with this shit everyday.

And look I understand that on College Avenue in “Berserkeley” that you might get some characters coming through your establishment that you might not want to serve. And it is your right to refuse service. For example, when we had breakfast that morning, there was a white guy with dreadlocks sitting directly across from your doorway spare change-ing everyone who went into and out of your restaurant. And I could understand if a business thought he was bothering people and if that business had asked him to leave. But he was there the entire time we had breakfast, at least an hour, and I didn’t see anyone tell him to, “SCRAM!” But when I stood amicably talking to my wife for a few minutes, it was a different story.

scientific authori-tay shouted down by popular skepticism...,

WaPo |  Not surprisingly, many scientists — whether they design climate models or genetically engineer crops — feel they are under assault. In just five years, since the latest survey in 2009, the number of AAAS members who feel that “today is a good time for science” has plummeted from 76 percent to 52 percent. There is increasing skepticism about American global leadership in science and the way science is taught in schools. Scientists are also increasingly dismayed that government regulations — particularly on food safety and environmental management — are influenced more by public sentiment that scientific evidence. It now costs tens of millions of dollars to get a new genetically modified crop variety past cautious government bureaucrats, because of the public’s fears of modified food; whereas new seeds developed using chemical or radiation mutagenesis can go straight to market and even be labeled organic.

There are serious implications for democratic governance when large minorities — or even, in the case of GMOs, majorities — of the general public ignore or disbelieve the scientific consensus. With vaccines the implications can be immediate: witness the recent measles outbreak in California. On climate change, public support for urgent decarbonization measures is being undercut, while food security and agricultural sustainability is under threat by activists aiming to prohibit technological innovation in seeds.

Lobbyists and activists who promote their ideological agendas and financial interests over those of good science and public policy must take much of the blame for this situation. But scientists also have to be better communicators. With social media, everyone has a megaphone, however well- or ill-informed they are. If scientists want the public to understand their research, they have to spend more time sharing and explaining it to the public. This is the goal of the newly launched Cornell Alliance for Science, which aims to bridge the gap between scientists and the rest of society — in particular on genetically modified crops.

Effective governance in a democratic society depends on voters being able to make choices based on accurate information. If the voices of scientific experts continue to be drowned out by those of ideologues, whether from left or right, America risks moving even farther away from the Enlightenment values on which the republic was founded. Such a shift would harm everyone – whether or not they believe the Earth is warming.

can softheaded yahoos and dingalings be scholastically maneuvered through their cognitive bottlenecks?

newrepublic |  Climate is changing and climate has always changed and always will,” Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a recent address to the Senate. “The hoax is that there are some people who are so arrogant to think they are so powerful they can change climate. Man can’t change climate.” Inhofe has been arguing for years that only God and His natural worksnot the activities of humankindcan affect the climate. "[M]y point is, God's still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous," he said in a 2012 address given to a Voice of Christian Youth America radio program. And in his theological belief that the environment is outside of humanity’s control, Inhofe is not alone.

For evangelical Protestants, accepting climate change but attributing it to God’s direct or indirect intervention, rather than human activity, appears to be the new party line, despite the efforts of evangelical climate scientists like Katharine Hayhoe. Recent polls suggest evangelicals are more likely than any other religious cohort to chalk worsening natural disasters up to the apocalypse, instead of human impacts on the environment.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

once war, famine, energy shortages, depression hit - we'll see what things are politically acceptable to openly state....,

the military understands that civilization, even the most rigid is only six missed primary meals thick...,

royalsocietypublishing |  Impulsivity, the widespread preference for a smaller and more immediate reward over a larger and more delayed reward, is known to vary across species, and the metabolic and social hypotheses present contrasting explanations for this variation. However, this presents a paradox for an animal such as the honeybee, which is highly social, yet has a high metabolic rate. We test between these two competing hypotheses by investigating the effect of hunger on impulsivity in bees isolated from their social environment. Using an olfactory conditioning assay, we trained individuals to associate a small and a large reward with or without a delay, and we tested their choice between the two rewards at different levels of starvation. We found an increase in impulsive behaviour and an associated increase in dopamine levels in the brain with increasing starvation. These results suggest that the energetic state of an individual, even in a eusocial group, is a critical driver of impulsivity, and that the social harmony of a group can be threatened when the energetic states of the group members are in conflict.