Tuesday, April 21, 2015

rule of law's slow, cold, vicious violence...,

Guardian |  There are many things about Palestine that are not easily seen from a distance. The beauty of the land, for instance, is not at all obvious. Scripture and travellers’ reports describe a harsh terrain of stone and rocks, a place in which it is difficult to find water or to shelter from the sun. Why would anyone want this land? But then you visit and you understand the attenuated intensity of what you see. You get the sense that there are no wasted gestures, that this is an economical landscape, and that there is great beauty in this economy. The sky is full of clouds that are like flecks of white paint. The olive trees, the leaves of which have silvered undersides, are like an apparition. And even the stones and rocks speak of history, of deep time, and of the consolation that comes with all old places. This is a land of tombs, mountains and mysterious valleys. All this one can only really see at close range.

Another thing one sees, obscured by distance but vivid up close, is that the Israeli oppression of Palestinian people is not necessarily – or at least not always – as crude as western media can make it seem. It is in fact extremely refined, and involves a dizzying assemblage of laws and bylaws, contracts, ancient documents, force, amendments, customs, religion, conventions and sudden irrational moves, all mixed together and imposed with the greatest care.

The impression this insistence on legality confers, from the Israeli side, is of an infinitely patient due process that will eventually pacify the enemy and guarantee security. The reality, from the Palestinian side, is of a suffocating viciousness. The fate of Palestinian Arabs since the nakba has been to be scattered and oppressed by different means: in the West Bank, in Gaza, inside the 1948 borders, in Jerusalem, in refugee camps abroad, in Jordan, in the distant diaspora. In all these places, Palestinians experience restrictions on their freedom and on their movement. To be Palestinian is to be hemmed in. Much of this is done by brute military force from the Israeli Defence Forces – killing for which no later accounting is possible – or on an individual basis in the secret chambers of the Shin Bet. But a lot of it is done according to Israeli law, argued in and approved by Israeli courts, and technically legal, even when the laws in question are bad laws and in clear contravention of international standards and conventions.

The reality is that, as a Palestinian Arab, in order to defend yourself against the persecution you face, not only do you have to be an expert in Israeli law, you also have to be a Jewish Israeli and have the force of the Israeli state as your guarantor. You have to be what you are not, what it is not possible for you to be, in order not to be slowly strangled by the laws arrayed against you. In Israel, there is no pretence that the opposing parties in these cases are equal before the law; or, rather, such a pretence exists, but no one on either side takes it seriously. This has certainly been the reality for the Palestinian families living in Sheikh Jarrah whose homes, built mostly in 1956, inhabited by three or four generations of people, are being taken from them by legal means.

what a 1.5 million mentholated americanized negroe shortage means in practice

NYTimes |  In New York, almost 120,000 black men between the ages of 25 and 54 are missing from everyday life. In Chicago, 45,000 are, and more than 30,000 are missing in Philadelphia. Across the South — from North Charleston, S.C., through Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi and up into Ferguson, Mo. — hundreds of thousands more are missing.

They are missing, largely because of early deaths or because they are behind bars. Remarkably, black women who are 25 to 54 and not in jail outnumber black men in that category by 1.5 million, according to an Upshot analysis. For every 100 black women in this age group living outside of jail, there are only 83 black men. Among whites, the equivalent number is 99, nearly parity.

African-American men have long been more likely to be locked up and more likely to die young, but the scale of the combined toll is nonetheless jarring. It is a measure of the deep disparities that continue to afflict black men — disparities being debated after a recent spate of killings by the police — and the gender gap is itself a further cause of social ills, leaving many communities without enough men to be fathers and husbands.

Perhaps the starkest description of the situation is this: More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.

“The numbers are staggering,” said Becky Pettit, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas.
And what is the city with at least 10,000 black residents that has the single largest proportion of missing black men? Ferguson, Mo., where a fatal police shooting last year led to nationwide protests and a Justice Department investigation that found widespread discrimination against black residents. Ferguson has 60 men for every 100 black women in the age group, Stephen Bronars, an economist, has noted.

what a lake mead water shortage will mean in practice

Lake Mead Water Level
inkstain |  There is a clear possibility of a shortage declaration on Lake Mead in August, which would force a reduction in Lower Colorado River water deliveries, primarily to Arizona, in 2016. Nevada and Mexico would also see small shortages. Neither California, nor the states of the Upper Basin (New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming) will see any curtailments.

This is a big deal, but it is almost entirely an Arizona big deal. Arizona currently has the slack in its system to absorb the reductions, including possibly deeper cuts if Mead continues to drop, without major disruptions. The Phoenix and Tucson metro areas are not going to dry up and blow away.
Longer details below:

Built in the 1930s in a canyon on the Arizona-Nevada border, Hoover Dam impounds Colorado River water in Lake Mead. It protects valleys along the lower river from flooding, and stores water during wet years for use during dry years in Nevada, Arizona, California, in the United States, and Baja and Sonora in Mexico. From the beginning, California has taken its share of water through an aqueduct that carries water to Los Angeles, and a second that carries farm water to the Imperial Valley. A significant share of the river’s water also supplies farms and communities in Arizona along the river itself, from Parker south to Yuma. But for the first three-plus decades of the dam’s existence, Arizona had no way to get the river’s water to its major population centers in the state’s central desert valleys.

In 1968, in return for political support from California to win federal funding for the Central Arizona Project, Arizona cut a deal: California would not block the project, which would use federal money to build a canal to carry 1.6 million acre feet of water per year up from the Colorado River and into Phoenix and Tucson. In return, Arizona would agree to subordinate its priority for the 1.6 maf water to California’s. (This Reg Manning Arizona Republic cartoon suggests some hard feelings about all this.)

That means that if the river is short, essentially all the cuts come to Arizona’s share of the Colorado River’s water. This is important point number one:
  • It takes many more years of shortage before California loses a drop.
Southern California – mostly farmers in the Imperial Valley but also urban/suburban LA and San Diego, won’t lose any water. They’ve got enough to worry about right now with their own drought. Drought in the Colorado River Basin won’t add to their problems.
Important point number two:
  • Arizona’s major on-river agricultural water users, primarily the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the farmers of the Yuma area, also would not lose a drop under a shortage. Their rights are older, and not crimped by the 1968 California bargain.
But what does “shortage” actually mean, and who gets to decide when the river has a shortage and deliveries are to be curtailed?

The legal authority rests with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, but back in 2005-07 the federal government and states decided the rules for making the decision were too squishy, so they came up with a really crisp definition: when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s August version of its monthly planning document known as the “24-month study” shows that Lake Mead is expected to drop below a surface elevation of 1,075 feet above sea level, a shortage shall be declared.

Monday, April 20, 2015

compulsory community labour? non-negotiable doesn't end well

Before "Greening"
After "Greening"
BBC | In the pink-streaked twilight, a river of humanity is flowing across Tigray's dusty Hawzien plain. This cracked and desiccated landscape, in Ethiopia's far north, occupies a dark corner of the global collective memory. Thirty years ago, not far from here, the BBC's Michael Buerk first alerted us to a biblical famine he described as "the closest thing to hell on earth".
Then Bob Geldof wrote Do They Know It's Christmas? - a curious question to ask of perhaps the world's most devoutly Christian people - and thereafter the name Tigray became synonymous with refugees, Western aid and misery. The Tigrayan people were depicted as exemplars of passive suffering, dependent on the goodwill of the rest of the planet just to get through the day without dying.
But here, outside the village of Abr'ha Weatsbaha, I'm seeing a different version. From all directions, streams of people are trickling into that human river. You hear them before you see them - some chatting excitedly, others singing hymns - as they converge on a viciously steep valley at the edge of the plain. They were summoned before dawn by horns, an Old Testament echo calling every able-bodied man and woman over 18 years of age to report for the first of 20 days of compulsory community labour. Their job, quite simply, is to tame the desert.

"This is how the Axumite kings got stuff done 2,000 years ago," says my guide Zablon Beyene. "With the same tools, too."
By 10 in the morning, some 3,000 people have turned up. Using picks, shovels, iron bars and their bare hands, they will turn these treacherous slopes into neat staircases of rock-walled terraces that will trap the annual rains, forcing the water to percolate into the soil rather than running off in devastating, ground-ripping flash floods.
"Sisters are doing it for themselves," says Kidane, a pick-wielding Amazon whose arched eyebrow suggests I might want to put down my camera and do some actual work. Brothers, too: from strapping, sweat-shiny youths to Ephraim, a legless old man who clearly ignored the bit about being able-bodied and sits on his stumps, rolling rocks downhill to the terrace builders.
Overseeing this extraordinary effort is 58-year-old Aba Hawi, Abr'ha Weatsbaha's community leader. Short, pot-bellied and bearded, he darts from one side of the valley to the other, barking orders into his mobile phone, slapping backs and showing the youngsters the proper way to split half-ton boulders. Rumour has it that Aba Hawi once took up arms to fight for Tigrayan independence, but these days he prefers to describe himself as "just a farmer".

the anthrax coverup exposed

PCR |  Update: Both Senator Leahy and Senator Daschle were in positions capable of blocking
the neo-Nazi PATRIOT Act. Both senators had negotiated with the Bush regime changes in the act that made it less tyrannical. However, the changes were not in the final draft of the act sent to Congress. Consequently, Leahy and Daschle were resisting the rush to passage. I have often wondered if Leahy and Daschle understood the anthrax letters to be Washington’s warning: “Get out of the way of Tyranny or we will kill you.”

Graeme MacQueen’s 2014 book, The 2001 Anthrax Deception: The Case for a Domestic Conspiracy, has been vindicated by the head of the FBI’s Anthrax Investigation. 

Four and one-half months ago I posted a review of MacQueen’s book. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/12/02/2001-anthrax-deception-case-domestic-conspiracy/ The hired government apologists, the despicable presstitute media, and the usual gullible patriots greeted the book with screams of “conspiracy theory.” In fact, MacQueen’s book was a carefully researched project that established that there indeed was a conspiracy–a conspiracy inside the government.
MacQueen’s conclusion stands vindicated by Richard Lambert, the agent in charge of the FBI anthrax investigation who has turned whistleblower. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2015/04/head-fbis-anthrax-investigation-calls-b-s.html

It was obvious to any person familiar with the techniques that governments use to erode liberty by destroying the protection given to citizens by law that the purpose of the anthrax letters, especially the letters to senators Patrick Leahy and Tom Daschle, was to raise the fear level in order to guarantee the passage of the tyrannical PATRIOT Act. 

The PATRIOT Act was a decisive blow against American liberty. The act has served to negate the US Constitution in the 21st century and to endow the federal government with unaccountable and tyrannical powers.

municipal, county, state, and feds all engage in intentional personnel mismanagement...,

SacBee |  A new state audit concludes that California state departments illegally pad their budgets with millions of tax dollars earmarked for employee salaries by manipulating their payroll to make it appear they have more employees than they do.

The report released Friday on the Department of Finance’s website did not include an estimate of how much money departments hoard by breaking the law, but it confirms a 2014 Sacramento Bee investigation that concluded tens of millions of tax dollars earmarked to pay workers is hoarded and funneled to other purposes.

By law, departments are supposed to forfeit money for a position that goes unfilled for six months, returning it to its source fund for reallocation. But as The Bee’s report and the new state audit found, departments deceptively move employees between jobs ahead of the six-month deadline. They accomplish the phony transfers by altering the identifying job numbers to make it appear that a position was filled with a transferred employee, thus avoiding a cut to their budgets.

The unspent salary can then be used for other operating costs, such as paying off leave balances, covering office rent, purchasing new equipment or funding employee raises. The Bee found instances of employees “transferring” between positions in as little as two days. In one instance, a Department of Food and Agriculture worker moved 14 times through nine positions in one fiscal year. Her title and workplace never changed, but the serial numbers the state used to identify her position changed repeatedly.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/investigations/the-public-eye/article18239552.html#storylink=cpy

big thinker says seattle has too much water

Yahoo! Tech | William Shatner. Wow. He’s 84 years old, looks 65, and juggles a schedule that would exhaust a team of 10. Book projects, TV projects, tech projects, horse-riding projects, charity projects. And his willingness to embrace the tech world is impressive; he’s got YouTube channels, he’s conducted Kickstarter projects, and he has a huge Twitter presence: more than 2 million followers. (He’s tweeted 30,000 times so far — and yes, it’s really him.)
The hour he spent with me in a Yahoo Tech Mix interview wasn’t even enough to scratch the surface.
We’ll post more of that interview shortly, but this bit couldn’t wait: “You’re gonna get a scoop here,” Shatner told me. This is it.
“California’s in the midst of a 4-year-old drought,” he said. “They tell us there’s a year’s supply of water left. If it doesn’t rain next year, what do 20 million people in the breadbasket of the world do? In a place that’s the fifth-largest GDP — if California were a country, it’d be fifth in line — we’re about to be arid! What do you do about it?”
Here’s the plan: 
“So I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign. I want $30 billion … to build a pipeline like the Alaska pipeline. Say, from Seattle — a place where there’s a lot of water. There’s too much water. How bad would it be to get a large, 4-foot pipeline, keep it aboveground — because if it leaks, you’re irrigating!”

Sunday, April 19, 2015

pan-troglodytic deuterostems are simply incapable of being reasoned with...,

firstlook |  Almost half of all Americans want to support Israel even if its interests diverge from the interests of their own country. Only a minority of Americans (47 percent) say that their country should pursue their own interests over supporting Israel’s when the two choices collide. It’s the ultimate violation of George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address warning that “nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded. … The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

It is inconceivable that a substantial portion of Americans would want to support any other foreign country even where doing so was contrary to U.S. interests. Only Israel commands anything near that level of devoted, self-sacrificing fervor on the part of Americans. So it’s certainly worth asking what accounts for this bizarre aspect of American public opinion.

The answer should make everyone quite uncomfortable: it’s religious fanaticism. The U.S. media loves to mock adversary nations, especially Muslim ones, for being driven by religious extremism, but that is undeniably a major factor, arguably the most significant one, in explaining fervent support for Israel among the American populace. In reporting its poll findings, Bloomberg observed:
Religion appears to play an important role in shaping the numbers. Born-again Christians are more likely than overall poll respondents, 58 percent to 35 percent, to back Israel regardless of U.S. interests. Americans with no religious affiliation were the least likely to feel this way, at 26 percent.
The primary reason evangelical Christians in the U.S. are so devoted to Israel is simple: their radical religious dogma teaches them that God demands this. In 2004, Pat Robertson delivered a speech entitled “Why Evangelical Christians Support Israel” and said: “evangelical Christians support Israel because we believe that the words of Moses and the ancient prophets of Israel were inspired by God,” and “we believe that the emergence of a Jewish state in the land promised by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ordained by God.” He added that “God’s chosen people” — Jews — have an obligation to God to fight against “Muslim vandals” so that Israel remains united in their hands

pan-troglodytic deuterotypes programmed for denial..,

do-the-math |  I started Do the Math in 2011 as a way to reach a larger audience than a handful of students every year or two in an energy course at UCSD. I had (and still have) deep concerns about the assumptions we make as a society based on our fossil fuel trajectory over the last century or so. Trying to steer policy from the top seemed a losing proposition: feckless politicians hew to their constituents’ desires via a mechanism we call democracy, so why not try to get people on board directly?

I never imagined creating a blog that would get millions of pageviews, although this by itself falls well short of having an impact on a grand scale. But I figured I owed it to myself to reach as many as I might. What I have found is that a select few seem to share my concerns. And some vocal contributors to comments strongly disagree that we need to worry (why then make the seemingly wasted effort to respond to—in their eyes—doomsaying kooks if in fact we need not be concerned?). 

But most people simply don’t care enough to tune in. They’ve learned to ignore prognostications of any flavor, perhaps. Lately, even fewer people are entertaining ideas of resource limits owing to increased global oil production (led almost entirely by U.S. shale oil) and a recovering economy.
But I think there is something more fundamental going on here. I think we’re dealing with personality traits cooked into human nature. Are we capable of mitigating a far-off potential calamity via proactive efforts decades ahead of a putative crisis? In this post, I’ll use some survey data suggesting that we may be in trouble.

primed primates believe climate change is happening, just not to them...,

slate |  On Monday, researchers from Yale and Utah State University unveiled a new statistical technique that allows an in-depth accounting of Americans’ attitudes toward global warming. The resulting maps—down to the county level—reveal some interesting takeaways.

First, Americans overwhelmingly agree that global warming is happening. Out of 3,143 total counties in the United States, majorities of just 39 counties disagree. That means nearly 99 percent of all counties in the country “believe in” global warming—with the holdouts confined to deeply conservative places like Limestone County, Alabama, or coal-producing Putnam County, West Virginia. That aligns broadly with a recent 98-1 Senate vote that global warming is real and “not a hoax.” The lone holdout in that vote was Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker.

Looking at the science, perhaps climate denial in Mississippi and Alabama can be expected: According to the recent National Climate Assessment, they’re the only two states that haven’t warmed significantly over the last two decades.

But the basic fact of rising temperatures is about the only point where public opinion matches the science. The new data also show that a majority of U.S. counties remain unconvinced that global warming is caused “mostly by human activities.” Majorities in a whopping 2,717 of 3,143 counties (nearly 80 percent) disagree with that sentiment, among them the liberal bastions of Brooklyn, New York, and Prince George’s County, Maryland. (Technically, these county-level data are estimates of public opinion based on statistical extrapolation from demographic data and 12 national surveys over the last seven years. At the county level, the result has a margin of error of +/- 8 percentage points.)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

why you pan-troglodytic deuterostems will get exactly what you deserve...,

sciencedaily |  Most partisans -- average Democratic and Republican voters -- act like fans in sports rivalries instead of making political choices based on issues, according to a new study with a University of Kansas researcher as the lead author.

"What is the consequence of today's polarized politics? What's motivating partisans to vote in this climate?" said Patrick Miller, a University of Kansas assistant professor of political science. "For too many of them, it's not high-minded, good-government, issue-based goals. It's, 'I hate the other party. I'm going to go out, and we're going to beat them.' That's troubling."

Miller and Pamela Johnston Conover, a distinguished professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are co-authors of the study "Red and Blue States of Mind: Partisan Hostility and Voting in the United States," published recently in the journal Political Research Quarterly.

The researchers analyzed the attitudes of voters nationwide in survey data from the 2010 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. They found that many average voters with strong party commitments -- both Democrats and Republicans -- care more about their parties simply winning the election than they do either ideology or issues. Unlike previous research, the study found that loyalty to the party itself was the source of partisan rivalry and incivility, instead of a fundamental disagreement over issues.

The survey showed that 41 percent of partisans agreed that simply winning elections is more important to them than policy or ideological goals, while just 35 percent agreed that policy is a more important motivator for them to participate in politics. Only 24 percent valued both equally or expressed no opinion.

When it came to uncivil attitudes, 38 percent of partisans agreed that their parties should use any tactics necessary to "win elections and issue debates." When those who agreed with this view were asked what tactics they had in mind, the most common ones they offered were voter suppression, stealing or cheating in elections, physical violence and threats against the other party, lying, personal attacks on opponents, not allowing the other party to speak and using the filibuster to gridlock Congress. Democrats and Republicans were equally likely to express this opinion.

"This is the first research to show that strong partisans who are motivated by partisan conflict are endorsing uncivil attitudes about the political process," Miller said. "This comes to an important point. If our politicians are polarized and uncivil, maybe it's because many voters are polarized and uncivil."

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Anti-Ghetto

ratchetmessreturns |  Since the 1960s, Black America has been plagued with a growing cultural epidemic, beginning with the most poor and underexposed and then spreading beyond the inner cities where they lived. Over the past half-century this counterproductive culture of negativity has permeated both the entertainment and sports industries, and now affects Americans of all races and walks of life. Characterized by escapism and materialism, this culture calls irresponsibility freedom, glorifies crime, violence, and hypersexuality, defies all authority, and acts as a coping mechanism for those who feel rejected by mainstream society and economy.

This culture is being “ghetto”.

Now reaching far beyond housing projects, slums, and other depressed urban areas, ghetto culture attracts ‘wannabes’ who wish to identify with the either hardness and struggle or the criminal element of  many people living in poverty. Being truly “ghetto” is universal. Because  prostitution is one major aspect of the criminal economy of inner cities, the relative degradation and abuse of women is a part of the culture that members of every walk of life can participate in. The abuse of drugs and alcohol as well as the preoccupation with flashy, expensive clothes and cars is attractive and accessible to anyone who has the money and time to spend seeking pleasure in these things. So, you clearly don’t have to live in the ghetto to ‘be’ ghetto; thanks to the entertainment industry, the gospel of the ghetto has been spread far and wide, promising fleshy satisfaction to all who would exchange civility for vulgarity and rebellion, and who will live for today instead of planning for tomorrow.

Hopefully, my description of ghetto culture depresses you, at least a bit. If not, you may indeed be desensitized due to overexposure.

In case you are wondering, I believe I understand ghetto culture because I was born and raised in the hood (I will break down the difference between the two in another article) and lived in the midst of various ghettos in Detroit, Michigan, a city thoroughly infused with ghetto culture. My wife however was raised in an upper class family and has never once been seen in any shady area around town. I never fully immersed myself in it, but I have been and still can get a little ghetto, even to this day. 

Some of it really is harmless fun.

Most of it, however, is not.

While I don’t judge people I do judge things, and ghetto culture is one of those things that inner city dwellers need to graduate from. It was fostered by the rise of government social services and welfare programs and nurtured by a warped, maternal family structure born out of war, underemployment, and crime. When men ceased to be the head of families in urban areas, ghetto culture spread like a disease. Now, America’s metropolises are plagued with restless, ignorant, self-serving, deviants and those who validate them by sharing in the customs and entertainment of ghetto culture. No, you may not break into people’s homes and rob them, but you sing along with the rapper who glorifies such actions. You may live conservatively during the week but on the weekends you party in the ghetto, with the ghetto, or like the ghetto, further validating the negativity of ghetto culture. While you may not live in a poor area, you like to flash your designer goods and expensive cars in areas where ghetto people can admire you for owning them.

So, even though you aren’t in the ghetto, if the ghetto is in you, you are part of the problem.

We have to graduate from ghetto. People living in ghettos often use ghetto culture as a way of coping with a seemingly hopeless situation; if there is no way out, I should just make the best of what I have. However, when those who are not confined to the ghetto validate the self-destructive culture of the ghetto, it only confirms that there is no need to strive for anything else! People now work to get out of the ghetto just so they can live “ghetto-fabulous”! What kind of sense does that make? Leave the ghetto so I can live like a king in the ghetto, except outside the ghetto, kinda? The idea should be to get out of the ghetto so that we can live safe, productive, responsible lives that ensure our children never have to live in a ghetto. How does spending exorbitant amounts of money on clothes, intoxicants, vehicles, and recreation build a future for you or your family? It may be fun for now, but what happens when later comes?

Oh, that’s right; the government is supposed to give you what you need then because you couldn’t ‘afford’ to think ahead when you did have means and opportunity to build.

That’s their job, right?

No, it’s ours; that is why for every ghetto, there must be an anti-ghetto. The anti-ghetto is simply the sphere in which any person or group from or in the ghetto simply refuses to conform to the expectations and the culture of the ghetto.

Someone who subscribes to anti-ghetto culture:
  • Refuses to listen to music or support artists that glorify ghetto culture and ideals
  • Refuses to degrade themselves in speech, dress, or demeanor as ghetto culture allows and encourages
  • Refuses to be depend on government assistance as a way of life, especially when the benefits are not necessary for survival
  • Refuses to glory in ignorance but values education in all forms, both formal and informal
  • Makes empowerment not only a goal, but a lifestyle
  • Respects themselves and others
  • Obeys just laws and works to change unjust laws
  • Honors their own bodies through proper nutrition, exercise, and moderation in delicacies and non-nutritional consumables
  • Speaks with dignity and respect for self and the environment he or she is in
  • Seeks to act as an agent of change and shine as a beacon of hope for others who wish to live above and beyond the ghetto
It’s time for the anti-ghetto element to rise in the inner cities and abroad.


medialens |  We live in a time when compassionate rhetoric is used as a weapon of state-corporate control. The rhetoric focuses on ethical concerns such as racial, gender and same-sex equality, but is disconnected from any kind of coherent ethical worldview. Corporate commentators are thereby freed to laud these moral principles, even as they ignore high crimes of state-corporate power.

Thus, it was deemed 'historic', even 'epoch-making', by our corporate culture that Barack Obama was elected the first black president of the United States. And it certainly was a triumph for racial equality. But the moral significance was hailed by a media commentariat that proceeded to gaze with blank indifference at the ethical trailblazer's bombing of seven countries, his deep involvement in four ongoing, full-scale wars, his devastation of Libya, and his abject failure to address the apocalyptic threat of climate change.

Alongside these horrors, Obama's involvement in the Honduran coup, his diplomatic and military support for Egypt's blood-soaked military junta, and his $90bn in arms sales sent (in the last four years) to a Saudi Arabian tyranny wreaking havoc in Syria and Yemen, are mere footnotes.
None of this matters: for our corporate media, Obama remains, above all, the inspirational first black president.

Similarly, in evaluating Obama's possible successor, the Guardian's editorial 'view on Hillary Clinton' focuses on the problem that she is 'hammering the glass ceiling (again)' of gender inequality:
'with four years as her nation's chief diplomat on the world stage under her belt, Mrs Clinton's personal gravitas is even harder to quibble with than it might have been in 2008'.
So, for the Guardian editors, Clinton has more 'personal gravitas' now - she actually has more dignity, should be taken more seriously. A remarkable response, as we will see. The Guardian continues:
'On foreign policy, her spell as secretary of state leaves her with a somewhat clearer record - she is associated with a rather more interventionist approach than Mr Obama. Her admirers would describe her as a happy mix of the smart and the muscular; doubters will recall her vote for the ruinous invasion of Iraq in 2003, and prefer the Obama-esque oath to first do no harm.'
The cognitive dissonance could hardly be more glaring: Obama's colour and Clinton's gender are key ethical concerns, and yet Obama's responsibility for mass killing is not only not a concern, it is not even recognised. Instead, he continues to be presented as a benevolent non-interventionist who has consistently chosen to 'do no harm'.

annex to the clinton plan for africa...,

FP |  In the end, the fate of Rwanda’s victims hardly figured at all in U.S. calculations about the international community’s response to what turned out to be the worst mass killing since the Holocaust, according to hundreds of pages of internal White House memos.

On the contrary, Richard Clarke, a special assistant to President Bill Clinton on global affairs in the NSC and Rice’s boss, had already been looking for a way out of Rwanda for months. Rwanda’s descent into mass killing, paradoxically, provided a fresh opportunity.

“We make a lot of noise about terminating U.N. forces that aren’t working,” Clarke wrote on April 9, just three days after the genocide started. “Well, few could be as clearly not working. We should work with the French to gain a consensus to terminate the U.N. mission.”

The Clinton administration’s failure to muster a credible international response to Rwanda’s mass murder has been amply documented over the past two decades. President Clinton and his key aides — including National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, and Rice, who has since risen to become President Barack Obama’s top national security advisor — have all publicly expressed regret that they didn’t do more to stem the killing.
But the recently declassified documents — which include more than 200 pages of internal memos and handwritten notes from Rice and other key White House players — provide a far more granular account of how the White House sought to limit U.N. action. They fill a major gap in the historical record, providing the most detailed chronicle to date of policy instructions and actions taken by White House staffers, particularly Clarke and Rice, who appear to have exercised greater influence over U.S. policy on Rwanda than the White House’s Africa hands.

The National Security Archive and the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide obtained the documents during a two-and-a-half-year effort to amass long-secret records of internal deliberations by the United States, the U.N., and other foreign governments. They add to a collection of some 20,000 declassified documents from Britain, France, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and the United States. They were mhttps://temple3.wordpress.com/the-clinton-plan-for-africa/ade available exclusively in advance to Foreign Policy before their public release Thursday, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The White House documents, which were secured through Freedom of Information Act requests, largely confirm previous accounts that portray the Clinton administration as reluctant to play the role of global police force, stung by peacekeeping setbacks in Bosnia and Somalia and faced with a hostile Congress bent on cutting funding for new U.N. adventures.

But these documents also alter the public record. It was the White House, not a beleaguered Belgian government that had just suffered the brutal murder of 10 of its soldiers, that was the first to advocate a pullout of U.N. blue helmets from Rwanda during the genocide, where they served as a last line of defense for tens of thousands of terrified Tutsi civilians.

A midlevel crisis
The documents provide few fresh insights into the thinking of President Clinton, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, or other top officials, reinforcing indications that Rwanda policy was left to midlevel bureaucrats. They place Clarke and Rice — who were overseeing a far-reaching review of U.N. peacekeeping — at the crux of American efforts to limit U.N. involvement in Rwanda in the face of mounting congressional pressure to rein in U.N. peacekeeping costs. The death of 18 U.S. Rangers in Mogadishu while participating in a raid on a Somali clan on Oct. 3, 1993, less than six months before the genocide began, only hardened the administration’s resolve to say no to an ambitious new peacekeeping operation in a country with few historical links to the United States.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

jew-hating misery conservatards like the ones opposing the preznit on iran...,

WaPo |  One month before his suicide, Tom Schweich announced that he was running for governor. He looked pale and tired, with dark crescents under his eyes, but he spoke with precision and force. He told supporters he had learned to fight liberals by attending Harvard and Yale, to fight corruption by serving as state auditor, and to fight terrorism by serving the U.S. government in Afghanistan.

“At the State Department, I negotiated with everybody from Chinese bureaucrats to Afghan warlords,” he said. “And I’ll tell you: Negotiating with Afghan warlords was really good practice for Missouri politics.”

On the morning of Feb. 26, Schweich put a .22-­caliber handgun to his left temple and pulled the trigger. He left behind a wife, two children and a Missouri Republican Party divided over the meaning of his death.

Four weeks later, Schweich’s loyal spokesman, Spence Jackson, also fatally shot himself. The two suicides stunned political observers far beyond Missouri’s borders and drew attention to the darkest undercurrent of a race that had quickly turned nasty: allegations that one of Schweich’s GOP rivals had made an insidious appeal to anti-Semitism.

The rival denied the charge, and a police report released this week found little evidence of a sustained campaign. But Schweich’s friends insist that the whispered bigotry was real and that it devastated the emotionally fragile Schweich — who, the report said, had threatened suicide in the past. As the governor’s race continues without him, his death has sparked a debate in Missouri over the ugliness and innuendo that pervade modern politics.

please sir, I want some more...,

NYTimes |  The average citizen of Nepal consumes about 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity in a year. Cambodians make do with 160. Bangladeshis are better off, consuming, on average, 260.

Then there is the fridge in your kitchen. A typical 20-cubic-foot refrigerator — Energy Star-certified, to fit our environmentally conscious times — runs through 300 to 600 kilowatt-hours a year.

American diplomats are upset that dozens of countries — including Nepal, Cambodia and Bangladesh — have flocked to join China’s new infrastructure investment bank, a potential rival to the World Bank and other financial institutions backed by the United States.

The reason for the defiance is not hard to find: The West’s environmental priorities are blocking their access to energy.

A typical American consumes, on average, about 13,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year. The citizens of poor countries — including Nepalis, Cambodians and Bangladeshis — may not aspire to that level of use, which includes a great deal of waste. But they would appreciate assistance from developed nations, and the financial institutions they control, to build up the kind of energy infrastructure that could deliver the comfort and abundance that Americans and Europeans enjoy.

Too often, the United States and its allies have said no.

The United States relies on coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power for about 95 percent of its electricity, said Todd Moss, from the Center for Global Development. “Yet we place major restrictions on financing all four of these sources of power overseas.”

in this game of musical chairs - pensioners will be ruthlessly flung from the deck of the Titanic

RT |  A top Federal Reserve official indicated Tuesday that the municipal bankruptcies of Detroit, Michigan, and Stockton, California, could mean further such filings in the future, more so that current bond ratings suggest.

At a workshop on the US bankruptcy code for local governments, or Chapter 9, New York Fed President William Dudley spoke of the possibility for more US cities to fall into bankruptcy before long. 

"While these particular bankruptcy filings have captured a considerable amount of attention, and rightly so, they may foreshadow more widespread problems than what might be implied by current bond ratings," Dudley said, according to a text of his speech

"We need to focus our attention today on addressing the underlying issues before any problems grow to the point where bankruptcy becomes the only viable option," he added. 

Dudley did not mention any specific municipalities that could join the likes of Detroit, but he did say that cities borrowing money to pay for a current year's operating budget is "equivalent to asking future taxpayers to help finance today's public services."

Chicago is one city that is facing unfunded pension liabilities of more than $35 billion, according to the Civic Federation. Chicago received a warning just last week -- the same week it reelected Rahm Emanuel as mayor -- from Standard & Poor's over its debts, as the city has $8.3 billion in general obligation bond debt. 

"In our view, if the city fails to articulate and implement a plan by the end of 2015 to sustainably fund its pension contributions, or if it substantially draws down its reserves to fund the contributions, we will likely lower the rating," Standard & Poor's wrote. "This is regardless of whatever relief the state legislature may or may not provide. We will likely affirm the rating and revise the outlook to stable if Chicago is able to successfully absorb its higher pension costs while maintaining balanced budgetary performance and reserves at or near their current level."
Unfunded pensions across the US could be as high as several trillion dollars, Dudley said.

say mister, I love the way you wear that hat...,

RT |  The Tennessee House of Representatives has voted to make the Bible the official state book. Legislators backed the measure despite questions raised by the state’s attorney general about the bill’s constitutionality and the governor’s stated disapproval.

Republican state Rep. Jerry Sexton, a pastor for 25 years before being elected in November, sponsored the bill to make the Bible a state symbol. 

“History's going to tell us where we stand on this. I'm grateful to have the opportunity to have the side that I'm on,” Sexton said after the vote. “It may be kind to me in the future and it may not be kind, and that's OK. I made a decision for today and I feel good about it.”
The House was initially set to vote on the bill on Tuesday, but waited until Wednesday after receiving the state attorney general’s legal opinion on the issue, as requested by state Rep. Bill Sanderson (R). The legislation passed 55-38 over the legal objections of Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III. 

“Yes, designating The Holy Bible as the official state book of Tennessee would violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the federal Constitution and Article I, § 3, of the Tennessee Constitution, which provides ‘that no preference shall ever be given, by law, to any religious establishment or mode of worship,’” Slatery wrote in his legal opinion.
“When the legislature chooses an official state symbol, it is in effect saying that the symbol, whether it be a poem, a flag, a rock, or a glass of milk, stands for and represents the State and its values in a positive way,” Slatery wrote. “Thus, these designations of ‘official state symbols’ inherently carry the imprimatur and endorsement of the government.”
Rep. Marc Gravitt (R) said the attorney general's legal opinion made it clear Tennessee could spend millions of dollars in a losing effort to defend the measure if it becomes law, Reuters reported.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

conservatards want a can't we all just get along dialogue now...,

NationalReview |   One of the most frustrating aspects of the loud and vitriolic debates over police shootings is the extent to which they ignore common sense and human nature. In the quest to find grand narratives, we’re too quick to discount the simple realities of how human beings react during times of stress, and we minimize the reciprocal moral and legal responsibilities that citizens owe police and police owe citizens. 

First, when wary, angry, and/or frightened citizens interact with wary, angry, and/or frightened police — often at odd hours and in moments of maximum stress — there will inevitably be a certain number of both tragic mistakes and heinous crimes. Thus, it stands to reason that we should endeavor to decrease — not increase — such interactions. Yet our regulatory state keeps criminalizing more and more conduct. In two of the worst recent incidents, Eric Garner’s choking death and Walter’s Scott’s apparent execution, the victims were facing prosecution for violating petty or stupid criminal laws — selling loose cigarettes in Garner’s case and failing to pay child support in Scott’s case. Regarding child support, it’s idiotic policy to lock deadbeat dads in debtors’ prisons. According to one study of South Carolina jails, one out of every eight inmates was behind bars for falling behind on child support. Yet inmates are notoriously poor earners, and stints in prison tend to exacerbate chronic unemployment.

bill o'lielly declares "it's open season on christians and white men...,

TPM |  Fox News host Bill O'Reilly said Monday night that Hillary Clinton has an edge in the 2016 presidential election because white men and Christians are under attack in the U.S.

O'Reilly added that he will be "fair" but "tough" to Clinton during the election.

"I don’t think gender matters one bit, and if this war on women business is resurrected, we’ll have something to say about it," he said.

He also warned Clinton against aligning with "smear merchants" like Media Matters.

Watch the clip via Media Matters: